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How Hard is it to Learn SEO?

Understanding SEO is a valuable skill for any marketer. Organic search is a significant marketing channel for nearly every business, and that will continue to be the case. But where do you start when learning about SEO? There is a lot involved with running a successful SEO program, so learning about SEO can be intimidating at first.

But learning SEO does not have to be a complex and lengthy process. With Demandwell’s Keyword Lifecycle Maturity Model, you can understand the important milestones in SEO and learn how SEO strategy changes at these different milestones. This article will cover the stages of keyword maturity and how to improve SEO performance, even for marketers completely inexperienced in SEO.

Stage One: Keyword Not Ranking

The first stage in Demandwell’s Keyword Lifecycle Maturity Model starts when keywords are not yet ranking. The majority of the time, the best thing to progress a keyword from stage one to stage two is to publish more content, specifically SEO performance content.

Publishing SEO performance content does a few things. When you publish SEO performance content targeting one particular target keyword, you can improve your chances of a search engine ranking that page for your target keyword by adding closely related keywords to your content. Another benefit is establishing yourself as an authority on a given topic. When you publish a lot of content on one topic, then that signals to search engines like Google that you have expertise on that topic, so this depth can give a boost to every single page as you publish more for that topic.

One final benefit of publishing SEO performance content is control. When you publish a page intended to rank for one particular keyword, then you can predict what users are looking for when they land on your page and provide value to them. This is going to help you later down the line when you try to capitalize on the organic web traffic visiting your website.

Stage Two: Keyword Ranking, But Not On Page One

Your first milestone for a keyword is when one of your web pages is ranking for it. When someone searches for your target keyword, your website is one of the many results. While your SEO performance content can help you start ranking for keywords, you will need to do more work to improve your keyword ranking.

The best thing to do for stage two keywords is to publish supporting content. Supporting content gives you a great opportunity to add internal linking pointing to the main page you want to rank for your target keyword. If you’re wondering about internal linking, you are adding a hyperlink from the supporting content and linking to your main content. This signals to search engines that your main page is the main source of information for a particular keyword and can improve rankings.

Stage Three: Ranking On The First Page, But Below The Fold

The next big milestone is ranking within the top 10 results for your target keyword. In other words, you now rank on the first page. This is an important crossroads for SEO strategy because now you are probably generating some organic traffic to your main page of content. You should begin to put effort into the design of your page and begin to think about how you can deliver value to the users finding your website through your target keyword.

In terms of what to do next to improve keyword ranking, there are a few options. In terms of endorsements, internal linking from other parts of your website can help as well as external links coming from authoritative third-party domains signaling to Google that your information is valuable and trustworthy. As always, there is always the option to publish more content for other topically related keywords. However, that won’t have as direct of an impact as endorsements.

Stage Four: Ranking In The Top Three Results

Stage four of Demandwell’s Keyword Lifecycle Maturity Model begins when your content ranks in the top three search results on Google. This is a major milestone for SEO. Typically, the majority of organic traffic is reserved for the top three results for a keyword. Ranking within the top three can generate exponentially more traffic than ranking at the bottom of page one.

Now that you rank in a great position, the focus should be on click-through rate (CTR) optimization. It’s pretty straightforward to optimize CTR. All you have to do is update the title tag and metadata description in your CMS. That vocabulary may sound intimidating, but the title tag and metadata description is just the technical name for the title and description you see for every Google search result. Depending on the keyword you are targeting, it may also be appropriate to add Schema code to your web page to customize the design of your search result to stand out against other results.

Getting a user to choose your site over other results is crucial because it helps you capitalize on all of the impressions you are getting for your target keyword.

Stage Five: Driving Traffic, But Not Quite Converting

The final stage of Demandwell’s Keyword Lifecycle Maturity Model occurs when your content ranks highest in Google search results and is driving significant traffic to your site with a high CTR.

When your content reaches this stage, you can prioritize conversion rate optimization(CRO) and improve the overall experience for users. The main goal of CRO is to make it as easy as possible for users to convert on your landing page and to maximize how many users convert. Setting your conversion goal will vary depending on which keyword you are targeting, so you may ask users to book a demo or you may have another goal such as a downloadable piece of content.

Final Thoughts

This is not a complete picture of SEO, but it is a basic walkthrough of how you progress over time with a target keyword. When you are first starting an SEO program for your website, you will spend the majority of your time publishing content for lifecycle stage one and two keywords. As your SEO program matures, you will be splitting your time equally between all five lifecycle stages and you will balance publishing new content with optimizing existing content.

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