Note: I spent a while looking for appropriate photos for a post on different SEO strategies–guys in different outfits, two different suits hanging from a rack, etc.–but none if them were as cool as this baby on a surfboard, which has nothing to do with anything. Enjoy!
Most business owners know that search engine optimization (SEO) is important to their online business. Most business owners don’t know that strategies for search engine optimization vary by industry.
Think about it. If you’re going to a meeting with your financial advisor, you’re going to dress differently than you would to talk to the guy cutting your lawn. Why? Because these are different industries that we innately understand have different expectations from us. If you want to appear responsible, as we might when we visit a financial advisor, you’re going to dress up; if you know your lawn care expert doesn’t care how you look, you’re probably just going to wear what you already have on.
The same goes for SEO: there are different expectations for different industries. SEO cannot involve a static strategy that never changes, no matter the client; it must change with the industry. That said, some things never change.
SEO Elements that are Constant Across Industries
There are and always will be foundational, on-site elements of SEO that must be done for any website, no matter the industry. These include:
- Keyword research
- Title tags
- META descriptions
- Keywords in content
- ALT tags.
Whenever an SEO campaign begins, these will most likely be the areas of focus. There are, however, elements that will vary significantly based on industry.
Based on the industry, the importance of these elements may change. A photographer with an image-rich website will depend more heavily on ALT image tags than a financial advisor, who will be more focused on the content on their pages.
SEO Elements that Vary Across Industries
- Link building
These elements tend to be part of your ongoing SEO strategy, and if you don’t understand how these things are done in your industry, you’re destined to fail.
If you’re looking for a lawn care expert, you may be more concerned with online reviews from sites such as Yelp. While online reviews will certainly help the financial advisor as well, in that instance you may additionally be concerned about professional accreditations. When you approach a lawn care expert, you may be in casual attire. In the link building world that means you’ll be satisfied by more casual online references to the business, such as listings on multiple directory websites and review sites. When searching for a financial advisor, you may be concerned about their education and certifications. Search engines are likely concerned about the same thing and expect to see links from educational institutions and professional organizations.
While there are many types of content, including videos, posts, infographics, and graphs, they all fall under one of two categories: content for your site and content for other sites.
Content on your site should help establish your authority in the minds of your visitors (and search engines); content on other sites should help build your reputation as a credible expert in the industry. For content on other sites, you need to focus on that site’s interests, not your own.
How to Identify Industry Trends
There are two easy ways to identify trends in your industry:
Link trends can be identified by running competitors’ sites through a paid program such as Ahrefs or a free tool such as this Inbound Link Checker. When you analyze your competitor’s links, you’ll begin to see some trends. A top competitor for a lawn care expert may have guest post links on DIY gardening blogs, relevant directories, Home Advisor, Yelp, a Chamber of Commerce, and partner company sites such as hardscaping experts and landscapers. A financial advisor may have links from financial websites such as Go Banking Rates, universities from which the advisors graduated, and registries of financial advisors. Every industry will be different.
Once you’ve identified trends in your industry, you can begin a link building campaign to seek out those same links and similar links for your website.
Content trends can be identified using a program such as BuzzSumo, which has free and paid options. After entering a keyword phrase into the query box, you’ll be served up the most successful pieces of content related to that keyword phrase. These should give you some good ideas for your own content.
How Do You Stand Out?
If you’re thinking that your competitors may be trying a similar strategy, you’re probably right. The trick to getting ahead is not going to the same places they’re going (although that’s a good place to start), it’s going where they have not or cannot.
Links – The strength of a link is determined by that link’s quality. Go for the high-quality links that can only be achieved by providing high quality content. If you write better content, you can get guest posts posted to top quality sites, and links and referrals from higher quality sites carry more weight. Seek out a list of blogs that accept posts in your industry, such as this one for small business or this one for healthcare, and start going for the heavy hitters, such as Forbes and Huffington Post. It’s not going to be easy to get posted on these sites, but they’re worth the extra time and effort.
Content – After running keyword phrases through BuzzSumo, seek out opportunities to expand upon existing content. Backlinko has a full post on the skyscraper technique. Look at existing content and make it longer and more in-depth.
These strategies focus on the most important element of any SEO campaign, providing quality. Consider that in all you do and your SEO will be a success.