Ranking in search engines requires a lot of effort, patience, and
resources. However, businesses still adopt SEO strategies due to
their many benefits. When you adopt these strategies, you will first
watch your business succeed in the search engines. When your
customers put in targeted keywords, your website is one of the first
resources they will see.
Increased visibility online then leads to increased recognition and
traffic. Customers will associate a product or service with your brand,
and more people—people searching for the service you offer—will
visit your website.
All of the elements above ultimately lead to more conversions. SEO
can help your business sell more of your product or service, generate
better leads, etc. You’ll achieve these results once your website and
brand work together to create customer trust.
2012 - 2015
1998 - 2008
2009 - 2011
1994 - 1997
Based on the benefits SEO provides, you can see why site owners
have tried everything to increase their sites’ rankings on search
engines. Here are some tactics used throughout the history of search
Social Media, High Quality Content,
High Quality Links, Meta Tags,
Meta Tags, Content, Content Age,
Domain Name, Links (PageRank)
Social Media, High Quality Content,
Meta Tags, Links (PageRank),
Meta Tags, Keyword Stuffing,
All of these tactics may have worked at one point or another, but search engines soon realized that some
practices gave businesses an unfair advantage or resulted in a website that wasn’t user-friendly. Search
engines want to deliver the best results to their users. Therefore, they prohibit some SEO practices and
allow other, more natural techniques.
We classify these different versions of SEO as white hat, black hat, or gray hat.
White-hat techniques are the clean and safe way of performing
search engine optimization. These tactics are usually performed
over a long period of time (1 to 2 years). White-hat tactics tends
to look more natural. For example, you would obtain links from
creating engaging, shareable content for a specific audience. Site
owners experience broad results with some higher rankings for
target keywords. The overall goal is to increase brand recognition
and create a great customer experience.
With black-hat techniques, search engine manipulation is the
name of the game. These methods include quick tricks that
help your website rank fast. Site owners tend to get specific
target keywords to rank with little or no association to broader
keywords. The goal is to gain momentum for products (credit
cards, pharmaceuticals, loans, etc.) quickly to make sales. Some
site owners also try to tank their competitors’ websites, so search
engines penalize the competitor.
The concept of gray-hat techniques has recently become a
phenomena, though the tactics are certainly nothing new. These
tactics represent a middle ground between black-hat and white-
hat techniques. Site owners produce shareable content and
promote it themselves to gain links. This type of SEO takes 6
months to a year to produce results. Gray-hat SEO tends to yield
specific target keywords and some broad keywords.
ARSENAL If you want to practice white-hat SEO, you need to pay attention
to today’s leading factors in determining search engine rankings.
What does it take to create “quality” content? Beyond including target keywords and synonyms, you
need to create content that’s usable and engaging. Send a clear message to users and search engines
about your products or services. And since capturing someone’s attention online is more difficult
than ever, you need to include text, pictures, videos, and calls to action that work together.
Search engines can see more user data than ever before. They consider factors that measure how
people use your site, including bounce rate, click-through rates, and dwell times. Websites need clear
navigation and engaging web design, which may include elements like parallax scrolling and more
photos and videos.
Social media has influenced, but never shown a direct correlation with, search engine rankings. Site
owners should use social media platforms to amplify their content. You can bring in more traffic,
conversions, and even links using these platforms. Social media can also assist business owners
in customer communication if they are consistent with their messaging and the frequency of their
Branding is arguably one of the most powerful components to ranking better in search engines. You
want potential customers to associate your brand with a particular product or service. Successful
brands have a unique identity with a consistent voice, and they also provide valuable information
with a natural charisma to build trust. Keep in mind that creating and building your brand requires a
lot of hard work and perseverance.
Since Google’s Penguin update, people link to other sites less in fear of being penalized or providing
a bad customer experience. Today, people determine a quality link by its relevance to other content
on the website. Create purposeful and useful links.
Site owners must be concise but provide enough detail when describing a page in meta tags. You
should provide your brand name and any information that might help a user click onto your page.
Meta descriptions don’t have as much influence as a direct ranking factor, but they do have the
biggest influence in click-through rates from search engine results pages.
SEO started out as the Wild West of marketing.
Every tactic was up for grabs. Nowadays,
SEO isn’t as chaotic; in fact, SEO is now very
controlled. You need to create great content
and share it with the right audience to rank.
The time and effort necessary to optimize your
website has changed, and along with it, the cost
of effective SEO has changed. The goals of SEO
have also evolved for different websites and
business needs. The audience, reach, and goals
will be different for each campaign. Through
this whole evolution of SEO, however, one
element stays constant. The right tactics will
always lead to conversions.
To see why different types of SEO campaigns
exist, consider the different types of businesses
and the various audiences you could be targeting.
Local campaigns aim to sell services and products to the
community where the business physically resides. The
business may also be willing to send employees to the
These businesses provide some sort of paid or free entertainment. This
entertainment could be in the form of music, podcasts, or videos. Companies
in this group traditionally earn revenue through advertising or subscriptions.
Examples: BuzzFeed, YouTube, Netflix, Twitch, Blogger, etc.
Examples: Plumbers, Lawyers, Retail Stores, Restaurants, etc.
These businesses sell digital goods, physical goods, or services online.
Examples: Amazon, Walmart, Nike, Cabela’s, eBay, etc.
Along with your audience, you also have to consider how many
people you want your SEO campaign to reach. For example, a
plumber could start a local campaign because he or she only needs
to reach the surrounding community. Other campaign types include:
The reach for a local campaign is
often one city with some neighboring
cities. These campaigns usually reach 10 to
100 people a month depending on the business.
With this campaign, business
owners target all locations and cities within a given
area, including localized areas, metropolitan areas,
suburban areas, or counties. The reach can be from
500 to 10,000 people, though one should consider that
conversions will make up a much smaller portion.
Going national is no small task. The goal of this
campaign is to reach every state and local area. The
overall reach of a campaign this large is 6 million to 100
million. Bear in mind that you cannot accomplish this
reach with one medium.
This type of campaign attempts to cover an entire
state, with an overall reach around 100 thousand to
MULTILOCAL (MULTIPLE LOCATIONS)
These campaigns target multiple cities and locations.
A multilocal campaign could lead into a regional
campaign but often spreads too far. The reach grows
with each added location (two locations = 20 to 200
people, three locations = 30 to 300 people, etc.).
Finally, SEO campaigns may differ based on potential conversions and
your company’s goals for the products or services you sell. Businesses
Products range from inexpensive (food,
toiletries, drinks, etc.) to fairly pricey (razors,
clothes, movies, etc.). The average individual
cost of these items is often much less
than the cost of services. Consumers also
purchase more frequently, with 1 to 2 items
being purchased daily.
These items include cars, boats, TVs,
refrigerators, or any other expensive items.
Consumers typically purchase one large
product per year.
A company’s services involve some sort
of skilled labor (mechanical services,
hairstyling, plumbing, etc.). Some services
are fairly inexpensive, while others cost quite
a bit. Consumers tend to buy a service once
every 1 to 3 months.
Rather than offer physical goods, many brands offer content
for users to view or read, such as videos, blog posts, etc. These
businesses earn money through advertisements. Today ads come
in many shapes and forms, such as a video before a user’s desired
All of the potential goals of a business, along with the varying
beliefs and opinions of business owners and SEOs, result in a wide
range of SEO tactics. No one organization is right.
With this offering, consumers pay for digital
services or goods (like Netflix, Spotify, etc.)
or even physical goods delivered monthly
(Loot Crate, ShoeDazzle, The Produce Box,
etc.). Subscriptions can have a nominal fee
and are typically purchased weekly, monthly or yearly.
The SEO industry holds businesses to very
generic standards, such as including great
content and structuring your website well. These
standards are set by experts within the industry
and by information from Google itself.
However, to rank or achieve better success
within the search engines, businesses need
to turn these general guidelines into specific
actionable items. If I told you to “create highly
shareable content,” would you know how to do
that? What topics within your industry would
An expert can come in and provide you with
these specific action items for your website.
Whether you choose an in-house specialist or
an external consultant, these experts will look
at your website and your specific situation and
identify key action items to help you.
We point this out because the blogs within
the SEO industry provide general advice. Even
if they dive into a specific subject or issue,
these websites do not dive into a specific issue
surrounding a specific industry or a specific
website. This information wouldn’t benefit
the majority of readers. General SEO advice is
great but should not dictate work for a specific
campaign. Just like anything else, take industry
blogs with a grain of salt.
BUDGET DICTATES ALL
Money drives almost every aspect of a business, and this concept applies to search engine
optimization as well. When it comes to budget, businesses have to consider how far they
would like the campaign to reach and how much effort will be required to obtain that
reach. If a business chooses a short, competitive keyword with high search volume, the
campaign will become more expensive.
It pays to have experts to guide your SEO efforts or even perform the optimization
themselves. Businesses can involve an expert in these four ways.
One-Time / Monthly / Yearly
Consultants provide specific action items or needs around SEO.
They work with specific providers to fulfill those SEO needs.
Monthly / Yearly
Agencies often provide white-label SEO services to small
marketing firms. Agencies tend to work with small to
Monthly / Yearly
Similar to agencies, boutiques provide more
customized SEO services. Their work includes
large marketing initiatives for medium to large
Companies bring in their own
specialists when the company is
large enough. They have individual
departments dealing with each
aspect of a company’s marketing.
SPAM MANUFACTURED ORGANIC
Creating a link for the sole purpose of
getting a link. Spammy content usually
disregards user experience or relevance
to the product or service.
Building a link that’s relevant to the
company. This type of link building
may involve writing a comment or
publishing content on an external site.
The purpose of this method is to build
a link, but the content around the link is
relevant to users.
Producing content purely for user
experience. This method does not
guarantee a link, but if the content is
engaging, useful, and meaningful, users
will share the content and generate
links without any prompting.
ORGANIC VS. SPAM
No matter which type of SEO expertise best fits your business, most
SEO tactics fall into one of the three categories explained below.
A lot of factors contribute to an SEO campaign,
from the content produced for the website to
the branding a company has established. No
two businesses are the same—so no two SEO
campaigns will the same. A businesses should
Tactic Name Short Description Approximate
Adding the business to an online directory listing websites
typically by category.
Adding the business’s site to a website where you can
store your favorite links and share them socially.
Finding an industry-relevant website and leaving a
pertinent comment with a logical link back to the
Adding the business to an online directory (such as Google
Maps) that typically requires some sort of verification.
Posting a blog on an external site with industry content.
The blog will contain a link back to your website for credit
or more information.
Posting a more authoritative version of a blog. This
content contains more research and cited sources.
Creating a blog for the business’s own website. The topics
for these blogs relate to the industry, but they could be
informative or more fun.
Producing a researched piece of content to post on a
relevant, external site that allows external writers to
Creating a graphic that displays data or a process.
Businesses create infographics in hopes that they will
become popular and be shared.
Creating a tutorial, company introduction, or some
other form of video to convey information in a quick and
Posting on platforms created for users to share and talk
with other people, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.
Reaching out to websites that have content relevant to
a customer and acquiring a link through various means
(blog, lists, citation, etc.). Custom outreach has become the
new standard of link building.
Manually sharing content, such as infographics or videos.
Businesses hope to get this content in front of the right
people and draw attention to the company.
customize its SEO campaign to fit the website.
The following examples show what tactics
businesses may use as part of an SEO campaign
SEO CAMPAIGN TACTICS:
T H E I R C O S T S A N D I M P A C T S
Many different tactics play a part in any effective SEO campaign. Each has its own benefits and costs, and each
operates most effectively within a particular timeframe. The costs and results of any campaign vary depending on
where you choose to invest your resources, but typically lower spends are less impactful on search rankings.
For instance, a directory
submission project is
inexpensive, requires only entry-
level data input skills, and takes only a
short time to complete. However, it is likely to
have only a minimal impact on your search rankings,
even if you submit scores or hundreds of links to your site.
Search engines do not normally rate links from business
directories as “high quality” or “authority” links, which are
they types of links they like to see before suggesting a site
to their users.
ONSITE CONTENT MARKETING
Onsite content marketing is one of the most powerful tools
at your disposal, but it is also one of the most expensive.
A long-term content creation strategy is one of the main
differences between a low budget and a high budget
SEO campaign, since it requires considerable time and/
or financial resources. However, it can be extraordinarily
effective at improving your website rankings and driving
traffic. The more high quality content your site boasts, the
more favorably search engines view you when assembling
search results and the higher you rank in the SERPs.
In a website optimization audit, we analyze the content on
every page of your site to make sure it is optimized to be
“Google friendly.” We bring to bear a variety of important
SEO tactics such as examining keyword density, optimizing
title tags, composing compelling meta tags, and examining
HTML-to-text ratios. A comprehensive analysis takes time,
but it can dramatically improve your website’s performance
in the SERPs.
In Search Engine Optimization (SEO), every word counts,
so—to break this example down to a page-by-page basis—
stretching your budget to optimize a second page instead of
only one can have a significant impact on results.
On the other hand, offsite content marketing (better
known as “guest posting”) can have a profound impact on
your search rankings and—as a result—on your website
traffic. This is especially true if you choose to guest post
on high Page Rank sites that are relevant to your niche or
industry. Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines
view such sites as authoritative, so links to your website
from such authority sites are considered high quality, and
thus carry a lot of “link juice,” or reflected glory.
Guest posting is also a powerful tool because it helps build
your brand, positions you and/or your organization as
industry thought leaders, and builds trust relationships
with your audience members. However, the financial costs
of hiring high quality content creators, or the time and
opportunity costs required to compose the offsite content
yourself, are significant. Moreover, the amount of time this
tactic takes to bear fruit—i.e. to create a network of high
quality guest posts that direct interested readers to your
site—is considerably greater than that of other tactics.
To give a visual idea of the differences between local and true enterprise SEO, think
about the purpose of various ships.
If you wanted to sell fish around your community, you wouldn’t need a battleship. A small boat would
be enough to carry your stock and take you a short distance. Likewise, the tactics of a local SEO
campaign will help you reach your specific audience.
A FINAL EXAMPLE
Commercial Fishing Boat
Colton has worked as a Digital Marketer for Boostability for over
five years. He has substantial experience in sales, consultation,
account management, and strategy, all with emphasis on SEO.
He has worked with spends that ranged from $50 - $50k a
month. He feels passionately about Search Engine Optimization,
and he continually seeks ways to share his knowledge while
learning more. He currently works as a Senior SEO Strategist for
Boostability. In his spare time, he works on his personal life-style
SENIOR SEO STRATEGIST