12 Primary SEO Objectives of Any Successful Campaign

Finding success in search engine optimization (SEO) means more than creating content. Don’t get me wrong—quality content is essential. However, holistic SEO requires a proper roadmap. 

Roadmaps act as guides. Each step helps us accomplish primary SEO objectives, resulting in better content, improved online authority, and higher ranking. 

Here lies the issue—SEO is such a broad term. We’re here to break it down to the fundamentals. By the end of this guide, you’ll get a better understanding of the following:

  • Why we do SEO
  • The primary objectives of SEO
  • Key SEO metrics for success
  • Best practices to consider

Why We Do SEO

SEO can be categorized into three main disciplines: On-page, Off-page, and Technical SEO. Optimizing for these disciplines aims to get websites to rank high on search engine results pages (SERP).

But we don’t want to get tunnel vision. Here are the reasons why we do SEO beyond rankings: 

Cutting Content Fluff

Google’s primary purpose is to direct users to what they need. On-page SEO guides you on how to cut the fluff to ensure content is relevant, informative, and worth showing on SERP. 

This includes optimizing all content-related elements on a website, such as headers, metadata, visuals, and user navigation. The faster users can get to what they want, the better. 

Improved User Experience

SEO teaches us that our audience should always come first. This shifts our focus from trying to rank first to delivering quality content and a better user experience. 

We can achieve both by showing E-A-T and implementing technical SEO strategies like site-speed optimization, breadcrumb navigation, and mobile optimization. 

Showing Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T)

More than rankings, SEO helps us become trustworthy and authoritative experts in our niche. EAT (expertise, authority, and trustworthiness) is one of the core ranking metrics. 

This applies to the content, the writer, and the site’s overall content. Showing authority, however, can be difficult for newer sites. This is where link building comes in. 

Building Links and Relationships

Great SEOs are content creators, developers, and marketers. Off-page SEO helps you forge relationships with webmasters and influencers in your industry to get quality and relevant links.  

When reputable websites link to yours, it signals to Google that your content is relevant, valuable, and authoritative. It’s like an online vouching system. 

Primary SEO Objectives

google search console

SEO is like an onion—there are layers to it. Each layer is more complex than the next. To find success, we need to break SEO down to its primary objectives.

Content Optimization

Optimizing for content means structuring content in an easily understandable way for both humans and Google’s web crawlers. Start with your meta titles, descriptions, and headers. 

You want to use three main headers to help users navigate your content: h1, h2, and H3. Use h1 for the title or main topic, h2 for the subtopics, and h3 for subtopics within a subtopic. 

Content optimization also includes keywords for our headers, metadata, and overall content. If we want to rank fast, analyzing what keywords to go for first can be one of our main objectives. 

This requires keyword research and competition analysis. 

Keyword Objectives

Finding relevant keywords for your site’s niche is fundamental to any SEO strategy. Our goal is topical authority—creating libraries of in-depth content branching out from our main keywords. 

To help us find the right keywords, we use tools such as Ahrefs or SEMRush. Free tools like Google Keyword Planner can also give us a general idea of what to go for. 

When looking for keywords, we consider their volume (how much traffic it gets), difficulty (how hard it is to rank for), and relevancy (how well it fits within the context of our business). 

Most SEOs recommend newer sites to focus on low-hanging fruit. But with the right tool, you could find cracks in your competitors’ keyword profiles you can take advantage of. 

Competition Analysis

Researching and implementing SEO strategies and finding the right one that fits your business takes a lot of time and resources. So, why not steal what works from the competition? 

We’re not saying we steal their content. Instead, we look at their best practices. Aggregate the data, fine-tune it, and make necessary adjustments to fit our strategies. 

To make the most out of competitor analysis, use SEM (search engine marketing) tools. These reveal keywords competitors rank for, what they don’t rank for, and where they get backlinks. 

Link Building and Brand Awareness

Link-building is where SEOs become marketers and PR people. Remember, Google ranks authoritative and trustworthy sites. One of the best ways to show authority is through backlinks.

There are several strategies you can use for backlink building. Most of these strategies require outreach campaigns like cold emails or building relationships through social media. 

Learn how to market your site on different platforms to build brand awareness. You can use link-building tools for this. The more quality links you get, the higher your domain authority. 

Improving Domain Authority

Domain authority (DA) is a third-party metric that can be measured with tools like MOZ, Ahrefs, or SEMRush. However, each of these tools has its own factors to calculate DA. 

Although DA isn’t necessarily a ranking factor, it shows you how authoritative your site is and how your link-building efforts have progressed. As with all SEO efforts, improving DA takes time. 

But there are always things you can optimize in the short term that can result in long-term benefits. A prime example of these is the technical optimizations you can do on your site. 

Technical Optimization

There’s a lot you can do when it comes to technical optimizations. Some require developer knowledge, and others you can quickly learn through watching guides or reading how-tos. 

For starters, you can optimize your robots.txt file to help crawlers identify what they can or can’t crawl on your website.

Let’s say you have a live test page that isn’t ready for the public just yet. You can set your robots.txt file to ignore indexing on that page so it won’t appear on Google results. 

Technical optimization also includes creating optimized URL structure, navigation menus, creating Schema markups, and improving site speed. 

Improving Site Speed

Google uses site speed as one of its ranking factors. To test site speed, use Google’s Page Speed Insights tool. It runs a quick site audit, measures page speed, and shows you how to improve your metrics for both mobile and desktop users. 

Common strategies include using plugins that boost site speed, optimizing images by converting them to modern file types like WebP, and caching. You want faster page speeds, especially on mobile.

Improving site speed improves user experience, boosts rankings, and reduces bounce rates. 

Decreasing Bounce Rates

Disregarding how short-form media gutted our attention spans, slower page speed makes users more likely to click away from our site. But there are other optimizations we can do to decrease bounce rates aside from page speed. 

We can structure our content better, improve navigation, and make our site easier to search. Doing so decreases bounce rates and helps improve our overall traffic and the time users stay on a page. 

Boosting Traffic and Time on Page

Let’s say you have a keyword ranking high on SERP. Chances are, a lot of users are going to click on that page. You want to keep these users engaged now that they’re on your site. 

Users who find value in your content stay longer, are more likely to share your content and are more likely to explore your site. We can aid them through optimized internal linking. 

Optimized Internal Linking Structure

Internal links guide your audience on what to read next. Some concepts and ideas can’t fit within the confines of an h3 header or subtopic and need their own space to shine. 

This is where an optimized internal linking structure comes into play. Four main ones to consider include: contextual, navigational, footer, and sidebar links. 

We need to choose quality anchor texts to optimize our internal link structure. These are words or phrases relevant to the page you’re linking.

For example, an article about “How to Take Care of Stray Kittens” could have an H2 header about “What to Feed Stray Kittens.”

The anchor text could be “best milk formula brands for kittens,” which directs you to a page with an extensive list of kitten formula brands. 

Not everybody has a site dedicated to caring for cats. That’s why one of the most important SEO objectives is the creation of tailored strategies. 

Tailored SEO Strategies

Search engines like Google constantly evolve to provide a better user experience. SEOs need to adapt. The best way to do so is through dynamic SEO strategies. 

Here’s the catch—Google comes second. Your audience comes first. So, it would be best to tailor your strategies, especially content, to your audience and business model. 

But SEO that works for other businesses might not work for you specifically. Fundamentals will. 

For example, a site selling wet cat food might benefit more from local SEO strategies. However, a business in SaaS might need aggressive backlink building or paid Google Ad strategies. 

Still, both sites need to have fundamentals like fast site speed, easy navigation, and great content. More importantly, both need to align SEO with business goals. 

Aligning SEO with Business Goals

Aligning business goals with SEO helps you answer the question, “Why do you need SEO?” If you don’t know where to start, try strategies like SMART goal setting. 

The SMART methodology helps you create specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals. Once you’ve set your goals, you need a way to measure success. 

Interpreting Data: Key SEO Metrics for Success

The best part about SEO is its data-driven nature. With the right tools (Google Analytics, Search Console, or SEM tools), you get all the data needed to measure success. 

We can use over a dozen metrics to measure our SEO campaigns’ success. But for most businesses, here are five of the most important metrics to look out for:

New Referring Domains

Building backlinks is one of the most important aspects of SEO, as it is a direct ranking factor. But backlinks from the same domain get you diminishing returns. 

You want to build new backlinks from relevant, high-quality domains as you grow. To measure the success of your link-building campaigns, conduct regular backlink audits. 

See where you’re getting your new referring domains from. Find similar sites. And continue building a healthy backlink profile through outreach and linkable content.   

Keyword Rankings

A clear indicator of SEO success is keyword ranking. You want to rank high on “branded” keywords. These keywords include your business name or niche terms specific to you. 

More importantly, you want to rank high on keywords relevant to your industry. For example, if you’re an eCommerce site selling sports apparel, you might want to rank for “men’s gym shoes.”

You can use tools like Google Search Console, SEMRush, AHrefs, Mangools, and a number of other SERP trackers. 


You get an impression each time you end up in a search result, even if a user didn’t click on your site. Impressions are an early sign of SEO success. 

You’re not getting traffic yet, but Google already recognizes you exist. Once you hit the top of SERP, expect your impressions to balloon. 

To track impressions, go to Google Search Console’s “Performance” tools. 

Click-Through Rates (CTR)

CTR measures the ratio of impressions to clicks. Let’s say 1000 users see your article on SERP. If 100 users click your page, you get a 10% CTR. 

The higher your keywords rank, the higher your CTR becomes. You get more clicks if you rank within the top 3 search results. If your keyword ranks 1st, it could get 39.8% of the clicks

You could also track CTR on the Search Console’s Performance tool. 

Organic Traffic

Every SEO campaign aims to bring more traffic to a site. If you see no improvements in organic traffic, underlying issues need to be addressed. Remember, an increase in organic traffic results from quality content campaigns, link-building, and technical SEO efforts. 

For example, poor site speed can instantly cause users to skip your site, even with great content and backlinks. So, look at your data and identify what needs remedying. 

Organic traffic can be tracked using Google Analytics or SEM tools. 

Conversion Rates

Conversion rates are where SEO and Business goals align the most. We want traffic to convert into paying customers. This is where customer and content quality comes in.

Let’s say you have high organic traffic but poor conversion rates. The issue could be that you’re attracting the wrong customers.

The keywords you’re ranking for might not be relevant to the customers you want. Or, maybe the issue lies with your call-to-actions.

Experiment, find what needs adjusting, and iterate on what works. 

Key Takeaways

SEO is a long journey. There’s a lot to do, and results are seen in the long term. However, understanding the 12 primary SEO objectives gives a clear roadmap for success. To make the most of this journey, remember the following: 

  • Align SEO with your business goals
  • Optimize for content relevant to your niche, business model, and audience 
  • Set keyword objectives and slowly build topical authority
  • Steal best practices from competitors through competition analysis
  • Learn basic technical SEO like site speed optimization to decrease bounce rates
  • Measure success with relevant key performance indicators (KPIs)

Get in touch with the team at Spacebar Collective if you’re looking to fast-track your SEO objectives!

Are Toxic Links Worth Disavowing? Yes. Here’s Why

Backlinks boost our site’s reputation, authority, and Google ranking. But we don’t want every backlink. Not every backlink has the same value. Some can even harm our site.

These are called “toxic links.” We must disassociate our domain from toxic sites linking to us through “disavowing.” So, how do we find these toxic links and disavow them?

We’re here to guide you through it. By the end of this article, you’ll understand the following:

  • What is a toxic link?
  • What is disavowing?
  • How to identify toxic links
  • How to disavow harmful links
  • Is there a need to disavow toxic links?

What are Toxic Links and Where to Find Them

how to remove toxic links

Backlinks from relevant and reputable sites signal search engines like Google that your domain is authoritative and trustworthy.

The opposite happens with links from spammy sites. Your site can get associated with toxic links through black hat SEO practices and channels such as:

Link Farms: Toxic links are backlinks that come from spammy, untrustworthy sites. Buying backlinks from link farms is a surefire way of getting toxic backlinks. 

These sites are created to sell backlinks. Link farms can have tons of spam content across multiple topics irrelevant to each other. Most of which are likely automated. 

Spammy Listing Sites: Listing or resource sites are great for building backlinks—if they’re not spammy and irrelevant. But sometimes, webmasters can create link top lists with excessive outbound links. 

Pages overloaded with outbound links signal to Google that it might be for link manipulation. This can lead to SEO penalties, potentially harming the sites they link to. 

Hidden Toxic Backlinks: In an attempt to trick Google, black hat SEOs try to hide toxic backlinks. Some common methods include text manipulation or hiding links behind background colors. 

Webmasters can also hide toxic backlinks within CSS elements on their sites. Humans might not see it, but Google’s web crawlers can still see these links.

Forums or Comment Links: Some black hat SEOs automate link building with the help of bots. These bots can link to your site through spammy comments on forums or blogs.

Links like these can come in the hundreds or thousands. Link farms can even use foreign forums. Sites associated with these comments can potentially get penalized. 

Negative SEO Attacks: Everybody knows that buying spammy, irrelevant links can lead to penalties. In rare cases, competitors can buy those links for your site, flooding you with toxic backlinks. Luckily the solution here is simple—disavowing. 

What is Link Disavowing?

If spammy sites link to yours, disqualify their backlinks with a disavow. It’s like saying “no thank you” to those toxic links and signaling Google that you have nothing to do with the link.

We disavow to maintain a healthy backlink profile. But before disavowing, we need to identify where the bad backlinks are coming from. 

How to Identify Toxic Links

Tools like Ahrefs or SEMRush can help you find toxic links through backlink audits. Here’s a quick look at how to identify these toxic links using Ahrefs. 

Enter your domain into Ahref’s site explorer tool and click on the Referring domains report. You’ll get an in-depth view of all sites that link to your domain. 

A tell-tell sign of toxic links usually comes in the form of low DR (domain rating). However, a low-DR site doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a toxic link.

You should review these sites. There’s a high chance that they’re just new sites. Look at the anchor text, domain name, or top-level domain (sites with .ru or .cn, for example).

Once you have a list of unwanted referring domains, export it and submit it to Google’s Disavow Tool. 

How to Disavow Toxic Links

link disavow

Disavowing toxic links is as simple as uploading a text file on Google’s Disavow Tool. You can find it within Google Search Console. 

Formatting for Disavow File

The file format for the file should be encoded in UTF-8 or 7-bit ASCII. You can upload a maximum text file size of 2MB or 100,000 lines. 

The link format is as follows: domain:toxicwebsite.com. If you want to add comments, start a line with “#”. Google will ignore these lines. 

You can specify if you want to disavow a single page or an entire domain. With your list properly formatted, all that’s left is to upload your text file. 

Uploading the File to the Disavow Tool

Go to Google’s Disavow Tool. Select your property (a disavow list only applies to one property). Then, click the upload button and choose the text file created. 

If the file has errors in formatting, Google will show a warning. When successful, Google will incorporate your disavow list as it recrawls the web. 

Do We Need to Disavow Toxic Backlinks?

There’s been a debate about whether or not disavowing bad backlinks is necessary. Some SEOs say that we need to maintain a healthy backlink profile.

Others say disavowing is only necessary when links cause manual action. And that you should focus on building relevant and high-quality backlinks instead. 

Disavowing won’t remove bad backlinks. They’ll still be in your backlink profile. But they won’t be associated with your domain from Google’s perspective. 

No matter your opinion on disavowing the matter, protecting your site from potentially harmful links is always a positive. Plus, it’s not that time-consuming to do.

Just be careful not to disavow sites that actually benefit your backlink profile. 

Key Takeaways

Building a robust and healthy backlink profile is critical to the success of any SEO campaign. However, blackhat SEO practices, link farms, and bots can lead to our site getting toxic links. 

It’s best practice to disavow these links to prevent potential harm or penalties. Here’s a quick rundown on how we can do this:

  • Find toxic links through backlink audits using tools like Ahrefs or SEMRush. 
  • Export the list of domains with potentially toxic links to your site in a text file.
  • Format the text file as “domain:examplesite.com.” You get one disavow per line. 
  • Upload the text file to Google’s Disavow Tool.

How to Build Relevant Backlinks and Improve Rankings

Do you already have volumes of high-quality content but still struggle to rank higher on search engines? Sometimes, all it takes is relevant backlinks to see significant results! 

Unfortunately, backlinks are now a commodity. Natural backlinks are scarce. What you need is a proactive strategy to help you build relevant backlinks. We’re here to help. 

By the end of this guide, you’ll be able to learn the following:

  • Are backlinks necessary?
  • Realistic backlink-building strategies
  • Backlink building best practices

Are Backlinks Worth It?

Short answer?—Yes! They signal search engines like Google that your content is valuable, authoritative, and worth sharing. 

The issue is not all backlinks have the same value. Some may even harm your site. That’s why routine backlink audits are essential in every SEO strategy

You want backlinks relevant to you, your audience, and your content. Imagine being a SaaS company with dozens of backlinks from lifestyle websites. It’s not a good look. 

But with relevant backlinks boosting your domain’s prominence, you’re on your way to significantly improved rankings. You just have to know the right strategies to get them. 

Relevant Backlink-Building Strategies

The strategies we’re about to show are a mix of content-driven approaches, outreach, and prospecting. It is tedious work, but the payoff will be worth it. 

So, find a strategy that resonates with you, test it out, and adjust as necessary. Here are 12 strategies that can help you build relevant backlinks no matter the industry:

Link Prospecting

Link prospecting is a proactive approach to backlinking. It follows the same principles as any sales prospecting strategy. But instead of customers, we’re looking for potential link partners.

With backlink-building tools such as Ahrefs, prospecting is as easy as three steps:

  1. Find relevant websites open for link-building
  2. Finding the web admin’s contact information
  3. Contacting web admin’s and sending your link-building pitch

We’ve made an in-depth link prospecting guide using Ahrefs. If you want to prospect manually, avoid link farms at all costs. They typically appear when you search “keyword + guest blog.”

These sites often cover multiple niches and exist solely to sell backlinks. You’d be better off spending that money on a HARO subscription instead. 

Help a Reporter Out (HARO)

HARO is the perfect place to look for high-quality backlinks from journalists, news sites, print publications, and universities.

You can create a free account that offers media opportunities thrice a day. Or, pay for a subscription to get filtered keyword alerts. 

how to build relevant backlinks

The platform works as a middleman for reporters and sources (what you want to be to get a backlink here). You can send a pitch once you find a media opportunity relevant to your niche. 

Remember, these reporters need credible sources. Include citations, quotes, facts, or specific details in your pitch to improve your odds of being accepted.

Unfortunately, getting the right media opportunities is sparse, especially on a free account. If you want something more immediate, you can start by creating linkable content.  

Creating Linkable Content Through Topical Authority

Backlink building is easier when you can publish quality content in high volumes. Establishing topical authority helps with just that. 

Topical authority means covering every angle on a topic. For example, if you’re in SaaS selling an email marketing tool, you could write topics on:

  • Email marketing tools
  • Cold email best practices
  • Metrics to track in email marketing 

Use keyword themes to find supplementary content from those initial topics. Cold email best practices could have a subtopic about email warmup and so on…

Exhaust every topic as much as possible without cannibalizing keywords. With a robust content library, your audience benefits, and you get more chances of getting backlinks naturally. 

However, there will be times when your site or content is cited without a proper backlink. When this happens, there’s no harm in asking for credit where credit is due. 

Asking Credit From Unlinked Mentions

Sometimes sites will cite information from your research or give credit, but don’t link back to the source. It happens a lot. A quick reminder can quickly remedy this issue. 

We can find these brand/business mentions through tools like Google Alerts, Screaming Frog, or Ahrefs. Don’t hesitate to reach out once notified of an unlinked brand mention. 

They’ve already cited you as a source. Chances are, they’d be happy to link back to the original material.

But whether or not they respond is out of our control. What we can control is the type of content we publish. Make sure that it includes original research, case studies, and insights. 

Publishing Original Research/Case Studies

Relevant data is one of the most valuable things you can offer in exchange for a backlink. Think case studies, infographics, or unique strategies. 

When publishing these types of content, think about context. Do your unique insights benefit your audience? If so, in what way? 

Answering these questions helps you package dense data into contextually understandable pieces of content. It’s great for building backlinks and supporting “ultimate guides.”

Ultimate Guides

Ultimate or definitive guides provide massive value to readers. These are long-form content that covers the A-Z of a topic. Of course, you want to prove that your “ultimate guide” works. This is where your original research, case studies, or infographics come in.

Backlinko and BuzzSumo did a study suggesting “why,” “what,” and “how to” posts, along with infographics, get the most backlinks. All are perfect for ultimate guides. When writing, go in-depth.

Cover everything you can about a topic. This is much easier with a robust library of linkable content and original data. With such a large volume of information, you must also create contextual internal linking structures in your guides.

Of course, your guide would take a while to rack up traffic and get backlinks naturally. So, why not share it with peers on social media?

Social Media Outreach and Engagement

A huge part of link-building is outreach and establishing relationships. One of the best ways to do both is by being active on social media and building an online presence. 

Let’s say you’ve finished writing a high-value guide. The next thing you can do is promote it on social media platforms like X. But you don’t just want to share a link to your article. 

Instead, package it in a way that makes sense for the platform. In X’s case, this comes in the form of threads. Bite-sized snippets of your ultimate guide. 

how to buildbacklinks
Chris Tweten on X @ctwtn

This thread is an example of a link prospecting guide repackaged for a social media audience. 

You also want to engage with your community while posting your content. Comment on other people’s posts or Tweets. Provide value. Offer solutions to problems. Build relationships. 

Doing so will make it easier for you to build relevant backlinks through guest posts or resource citations. 

Creating Linkable Roundup Posts 

Roundup posts are articles on the “best, top, and must-haves” in an industry or niche. First, find a topic that can be turned into a roundup post. 

For example, “Best Lead Generation Tools to Look Into In 2023.” The concept is simple, you write about the best tools you could find and make sure it’s link-worthy. 

Don’t just run through the features of each tool. Focus on how it benefits the users. Find unconsidered needs or unique strategies using the tools. 

Then, reach out to the websites you’ve linked. They might share your article with their audience since it’s something valuable. Of course, for outreach, we recommended going with email.

Email Outreach for Guest Posts

Email outreach will be your go-to strategy for contacting web admins for a backlink or guest post. Most of these web admins probably don’t know you or your brand. 

This means you must learn about cold email marketing strategies specifically for backlink-building. As a quick rundown, all you need is:

  • An email list of web admins to send a guest post pitch to
  • Solid email copy 
  • Volumes worth of linkable content

Cold emails for backlinking are more effective with the help of email tools like Instantly.ai. If you want to do things manually, that’s fine as well. Just remember to hyper-personalize each email. 

Your goal is to have web admins publish your article. So, look at your pitch from their perspective. What are the benefits your article gives? Is it relevant to their audience? 

To answer these questions, research your link-building prospect’s website. Find the type of content they publish and find gaps you can fill with yours.

Be specific with how you found them and how you can benefit them. After that, it’s time to draft your pitch. Here’s an example template you can use:

Hey, {{first name}}, 

I recently saw your LinkedIn post on {{topic}}, and I loved your insights—so I had to check out more on your site! I noticed you regularly post about {{industry}} best practices.

I’ve been in {{industry}} for {{X years}} now and have a lot of insights I want to share, especially on {{niche topic}}. I think {{prospect’s website}} is the place to do so. 

I believe your audience can get a lot of value because of:

  • {{value proposition 1}}
  • {{value proposition 2}}
  • {{value proposition 3}}

I’d love to send you some of my previous work if you’re interested. 

Thank you for hearing me out. Looking forward to hearing from you soon. 

{{your name}}

Key Takeaways

Building relevant backlinks significantly improves your authority, signaling search engines that others are vouching for your content. This ultimately results in improved rankings. 

But if you want to build relevant backlinks, you need to use strategies like the ones mentioned above. To make the most out of these strategies, follow these best practices:

  • Leverage backlink prospecting tools like Ahrefs to find opportunities faster
  • Join platforms like HARO to connect with high-authority publications
  • Build a robust library of linkable content, ideally with original data
  • Find unlinked mentions using tools like Screaming Frog
  • Build relationships with prospects through social media or email outreach

Subdomain vs. Subdirectory: Which is better for SEO?

Most opinions on the subdomain vs. subdirectory for SEO debate take the “It depends” stand. 

That’s not the most exciting answer, but it makes the most sense. 

Every business is unique. How a website is structured, whether based on subdomains or subdirectories, depends on the business and its intended audience. 

Here’s the caveat—If you want the most value from your SEO efforts, subdirectories are king. We’re here to expand on that idea and attempt to take a firm stand. But first, we need to learn: 

  • Subdomain Vs. Subdirectory 
  • How subdirectories and subdomains affect SEO
  • When to use subdomains and subdirectories
  • Why subdirectories are (for most scenarios ) better for SEO

Subdomain vs Subdirectory

Both subdomains and subdirectories have their pros and cons. At the end of the day, how one or the other is used becomes a business decision. To help you decide, here’s a look at both:

What is a Subdomain? 

A subdomain acts as an extension of your main website. You can easily spot a subdomain as it is always in front of your main domain. 

Subdomains act as different entities from your main domain. But Google Search Central says Google is smart enough to know that your subdomains and main domains are related. 

The issue is several case studies prove otherwise. We’ll get into that later.

First, let’s look at an example of a subdomain from Semrush. “Semrush.com” is the main domain. Meanwhile, “careers.semrush.com” is a subdomain specifically for hiring new talent. 

What is a Subdirectory?

A subdirectory lives within your main domain and comes after the main domain. You’re probably familiar with subdomains like domain/blog or domain/contact.

Think of a tree. That entire tree is your domain. All the branches it has can be subdomains. The only difference is that subdirectories can branch out infinitely. Trees can’t. 

But just because you can have infinite subdirectories doesn’t mean you should. It has to be based on your business model, the type of content you need, and your audience. 

Take Salesforce as an example. Unlike Semrush, it uses subdirectories for its careers page.

subdirectory example

As mentioned earlier, using subdomains vs. subdirectories is a business decision. In this case, Salesforce decided a subdirectory for their careers page was better for their business.  

That might not be the case for your specific business, especially if you want the best results from SEO efforts. So, how do both affect your SEO? 

How Subdomains and Subdirectories Affect SEO

Before getting into the nitty gritty, let’s step back and look at things from a macro perspective. Businesses generally invest in SEO to attract customers by ranking higher on search results.

The best way to do this is through high-quality content published at scale. 

Here’s where the debate starts. Where should you put your content? You have two options: First, use subdirectories. Most would use the subdirectory “blog.”

Option two is using a subdomain. Instead of “domain/blog,” you get “blog.domain.”

Which is better? Let’s dive in! 

Subdirectory Pros

In most cases, subdirectories provide the most benefits for your SEO efforts. When using subdirectories, expect the following advantages:

Shared Link Equity

Let’s say you have a high-traffic article in the “blog” subdirectory. Since that subdirectory is under your main domain, the main domain also gets SEO benefits like link equity earned from backlinks to blog content. 

Better Site Architecture

Using subdirectories also provides a better site architecture and content context, making it easier for Google’s web crawlers to index your site. 

Site-Wide SEO Applications

Subdirectories make it easier for site owners to apply domain-wide SEO best practices. Subdomains are treated as entirely different sites.

You’d need to reapply those best practices (in most cases, a different SEO strategy) for a subdomain altogether. 

Convenient Navigation and Better User Experience

Consider how many clicks users need before getting to the content they need. Users would be redirected to another site if that content is on a subdomain. 

Think about the user experience and their convenience. Subdirectories provide better sitelinks from Google. If you look up Spacebar Collective, you’ll get this result. 

Spacebar Collective sitelinks

These sitelinks help your audience get to what they need most from your business. Again, reducing the number of clicks it takes to go from point A to B. 

Subdirectory Cons

Creating subdirectories can be tricky if you haven’t strategized on site architecture beforehand. This can lead to the disorganization of subdirectories and disadvantages such as:

Confusing Content Categorization

For example, users might struggle to find the blog they want to read if they have volumes of content about various topics.

But this can easily be solved by creating subdirectories within subdirectories. Let’s say you have a lifestyle-centered website. It can have subdirectories for food, mental health, or workouts.

Lack of Flexibility

Another con, and probably one of the main arguments for subdomain vs. subdirectory, is the latter’s lack of flexibility. Subdomains are treated as entirely different websites in the eyes of Google.

Site owners can customize a subdomain’s design, function, and overall content. Subcategories are typically  limited to the main domain’s CSS, themes or templates.

Subdomain Pros

Using a subdomain is a sound idea if your business has an arm or segment that strays away from your main domain and targets specific audiences. Let’s use Semrush again as an example. 

Its main audience is businesses that want to scale SEO campaigns with their tools. So, it makes perfect sense for them to separate “Careers” as a subdomain. 

Subdomains are great for targeting audiences outside your main domain’s primary ones. And you can build upon keyword clusters tailored to a niche that might not apply to the main domain. 

Subdomain Cons

Businesses that achieve SEO success with subdomains do so despite it, not because of it. Creating subdomains isn’t practical for most businesses from an SEO standpoint. Here’s why:

Complex Tracking and Analytics Set-up

Subdomains require more complex cross-subdomain tracking. Plus, you’d need to link each subdomain to an analytics tool as it acts as its own website.

Setting up the necessary analytics alone is already time-consuming and can cost more in the long run. Hosting services can charge more if you want a plan that includes subdomains. 

Subdomain Benefits Don’t Immediately Apply to Your Main Domain

Regarding SEO and ranking specifically, you’d be better off using subdirectories. Remember, Google treats subdomains as its own entity.

All the link equity from backlinks and topical authority won’t directly impact the ranking of your subdomains. It would be like starting SEO from scratch without strategic internal linking

Content Curation

Finally—content. One glaring issue with subdomains is keyword cannibalization. If you have topics on your main domain similar to your subdomains, you’d be competing against yourself.  

When To Use Subdomains Vs. Subdirectories

As a rule of thumb, we use subdirectories for content that fits within the context of our main domain. These include our blog content, services, and other verticals. 

Using subdirectories to house relevant content creates better trust, consistency, and topical authority. All of these are essential for ranking higher on search engine results pages (SERPs).

But, if you need to target a specific audience that doesn’t fit contextually with your main domain, go for a subdomain.

The most common subdomains include support, careers, or specific landing pages. Here’s an example from Apple’s customer support arm. 

Apple support subdomain

Apple’s support subdomain has a specific target audience—users needing support with their products or services. Here, Apple tailors the entire subdomain for different support services. 

However, using “blog” as a subdomain can work in specific scenarios—like in the case of Hubspot. They have an entire subdomain dedicated to their blog content. 

HubSpot blog subdomain

The main reason this works is because Hubspot is a content machine. The amount of volume they can pump out in such a wide variety of topics demands its own subdomain. 

But we recommend focusing on subdirectories for most businesses, especially those just starting with SEO. Here’s why.

Why Subdirectories are Arguably Better for SEO

The best SEO strategies for ranking higher on SERP are pretty basic and boring. You just need to create high-quality content for your audience and build relevant backlinks. Then repeat. 

Doing this process repeatedly for your main domain builds authority over time. And you have the added benefit of concentrated cumulative growth from your keywords as they rank higher. 

However, repeating this process for a subdomain means growth for that specific subdomain only. The benefits don’t immediately apply to your main domain.

There could be an argument that traffic from the subdomain could carry over to your main domain. But why go through all that effort when it could’ve been done on the main domain in the first place?

So, unless there’s a specific business need for a subdomain, your SEO efforts are better suited for subdirectories. As previously mentioned, dozens of case studies support this theory. 

Here’s one from Alyeda Solis. Here data shows the massive difference when she migrated the site’s blog content from a subdomain to a subdirectory.

Before Migration:

subdomain to subdirectory migration (before)

After Migration:

subdomain to subdirectory migration (after)

Key Takeaways

While subdirectories are arguably better from an SEO standpoint, subdomains still have beneficial use cases. This all depends on your business model, content, and audience. 

So, the final verdict?—Use subdomains when it makes sense for your business. But, if there’s no real need for a subdomain, subdirectories offer the most benefits regarding SEO, such as:

  • The ability to apply site-wide SEO best practices
  • Sharing SEO benefits between subdirectories and the main domain
  • Boosting link equity from backlinks to the overall domain
  • Better user experience and content consistency
  • Organized and easy-to-navigate site architecture for faster indexing

Redefining Your Sales Strategy in 2023

One of the best ways to succeed in sales is with a repeatable, measurable, and dynamic system. But, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all all strategy for every sales team. 

What works for others might not be effective for you. You need to create your own. We’re here to help! In this article, we’ll be going over:

  • The importance of developing a dynamic sales strategy
  • Examples of proven sales strategies
  • Step-by-step guide on creating your unique sales strategy

Why is a Sales Strategy Important

Without a sales strategy, you’re going in blind. Intuition is necessary. But trusting your gut won’t work for every scenario. Instead, decisions need to be data-driven. 

With data on your side, you can create the fundamentals for a solid sales strategy. Doing so provides your sales team with the following benefits:

Long-term Growth

In every sales playbook, the goal will always be achieving long-term growth. A clear and defined strategy helps you get there. That’s because sales don’t have a linear path—it’s dynamic. 

Strategies need to be flexible. Assess issues from different angles. You might need a strategy that works across multiple platforms. Other times, a strategic relationship with other businesses.

Improved Buyer Personas

Buyer personas allow you to attract and retain the customers you want. It boosts engagement, streamlines the sales process, and lets you focus on your customers’ needs. 

Remember, one of the most powerful tools in sales is personalization. A strategy with improved buyer personas allows you to segment customers better, making personalization streamlined. 

Diving deeper into your buyer personas ensures your business decisions are driven by the voice of your buyers. This grants you the ability to understand buyer expectations and market for it. 

Revenue Boost

You can boost revenue through a variety of methods. A sales strategy helps you find the most efficient and cost-effective one. With a system in place, you can make data-driven decisions on increasing revenue.

Can you increase prices? Should you focus more on cold email outreach? Or is it time to branch out and develop new products or services? A solid sales strategy answers all of this for you. 

Reduced Acquisition Costs

Customers are the lifeblood of any business. They keep businesses running and help them scale. However, finding new customers can be costly. 

With a sales strategy, your business can focus on how you can reduce acquisition costs whether that be lead nurturing, creating loyalty programs, or customer feedback loops. 

Sales and Marketing Language Stay Consistent

Your brand image doesn’t start and stop with your ads on social media. It extends across the entire customer journey. From the get-go, you need to deliver consistent and clear messages. 

This starts with identifying your target audience. Once that’s done, your sales team needs to strategize on how to bring them value as they go further down the sales funnel. 

But, the language has to be consistent. Emphasize certain words, phrases, and themes. Done right, it helps keep your brand top-of-mind. 

Sales Strategies You Should Steal

sales strategy examples

The High-Low Strategy

This strategy plays into our psychology. You don’t give a potential customer what they want immediately. 

Instead, you show them something out of their price range and then show them the product they want. The stark contrast creates that illusion of choice. 

Let’s take Apple as an example, they make it work on both ends. They show you something expensive then show you something more affordable.

So, are you going for the more affordable iPhone 14 for $799? The Plus variant is only $100 more! But you’d get more features with the iPhone Pro. And, for another $100, you can get the Pro Max. Now, the choice to go higher seems way more justifiable.  

Freemium Pricing

The strategy is quite simple: offer free services and charge customers for advanced features. You offer free use of your core services—but if customers want to do more, they’d need to pay up.

Google and Apple are great examples. Google Drive and iCloud are free cloud storage services available to all Google and Apple users. However, customers need to pay a regular subscription plan monthly or yearly for bigger storage.

Nurturing Existing Customers

Most of the time, the best source of revenue is right under our noses. In this case, it’s our existing customers. They already trust our brand and are more likely to buy our products. 

So, we should always nurture customers even after a sale is closed. Happy customers have higher average order values (AOV) and are easier to cross-sell or upsell. 

With a CRM tool, you can easily personalize email nurture campaigns to keep them in the loop for product updates, promotions, and discounts.

Don’t forget to offer excellent customer support. Your customers will be more inclined to go to your business. They can even become advocates of your brand through word-of-mouth. 

How to Create Your Own Sales Strategy 

building a sales strategy

As mentioned earlier, strategies that work for others might not work for you. But, you can always create your strategy with these simple steps:

Set Goals

Goal setting is the most important step in any sales strategy. To streamline goal setting, use the SMART method. It outlines a strategy that’s specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. 

But, before setting your goal, you still need to assess your own business. What are the resources available to your department? Do you have the right email marketing tools to find leads?  Aside from goal setting, make sure you’ve put your team in the perfect conditions to succeed. 

Understand Your Unique Value Proposition

In most markets, pricing for similar products and services is competitive. You’d often find products A and B having almost identical pricing. 

What makes you stand out is your unique value proposition. To identify what this is, you can start by answering the following questions:

  • Who are our ideal customers?
  • What specific issues can we solve for them?
  • What can our competitors give our target customers?

The last question can easily be answered by conducting a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis. Talk with your team and strategize. 

Build Buyer Personas

Understanding customer needs is only half the battle. Once you do, segment the customers who are most likely to buy. To do this, you need to gather information on your ideal customer. 

Get demographic, behavioral, or psychographic information. This is best done through a mix of surveys, interviews, or gathering data from your CRM.

Paid databases are an option, but you’d need to be extremely careful. Ensure the data is from a legitimate source. Use email validation tools to make sure you’re sending to the right people.

Here’s a quick checklist of what to look for:

  • How old is your persona?
  • What are the potential job titles they might have?
  • What are their career goals? 
  • Where are they located?
  • What hobbies do they like outside work?

Create Action Plan

After figuring out what to go for, you need to ensure your sales team is on the right page. This is best done through an action plan. It outlines what your sales team should do based on the research you did in the previous steps. Here are some examples:

  • Conduct lead generation campaigns through Quora, LinkedIn, and Reddit social platforms. 
  • Run through support tickets and determine the customers who could benefit most from your offer.
  • Upsell or cross-sell previous customers. Highlight the benefits; don’t focus too much on the features. Emphasize straight away how the upsell or cross-sell adds value. 

Maintain Sales Pipeline

Your sales team should be prepared to handle each step of the sales pipeline. Each pipeline differs depending on the business, but as a rule of thumb, it should look something like this:

  • Prospecting: Lead generation through social media, email marketing, or website. 
  • Qualifying Leads: Using buyer personas as a template to identify sales-ready leads.
  • Demos: Scheduling a demo with qualified leads
  • Proposals: Defining the price of products, services, or custom-made solutions. 
  • Closing the sale: Explaining what’s next after the sale (onboarding, implementation, expectation setting). 
  • Nurturing: Following up with customers to ensure satisfaction with products or services. 

Measure and Analyze Performance

Set your key performance indicators (KPIs) based on your goals. Review sales performance quarterly or annually to identify what strategies work, what needs fine-tuning, and which strategies to let go of. 

Best Practices in Building Your Own Sales Strategy

Now that we know the step-by-step outline, let’s make sure we make the most out of it. Here are five best practices to help you create your best sales strategy:

Add Context To Data

It’s easy to cite statistics and data online. But, without the proper context, even the most helpful cold sales statistics become boring old numbers.

To add context, try incorporating a story. Make it relatable. You can’t just ask people what they want and say you’ve got what they’re looking for.

They’ve probably heard that spiel a hundred times over. Instead, tell them what they need through context. Include case studies and real-life examples. Compare your customer’s data with yours and show them what’s missing. 

Sales and Marketing Should be a Team

When creating your sales strategy, the marketing team should be a key player. You don’t want sales and marketing to be individual departments doing their own thing. 

Businesses need marketing and lead-generation tools to help sales find the right sales-ready leads. If they’re not on the same page, it can create gaps in your strategy that lead to failure. 

Sales should become the starting point for any marketing campaign. The brand message, tone, and overall image should be consistent.

Build a Strategy Around Customer Expansion

A lot of businesses spend a chunk of their resources on lead generation or customer acquisition. But, most revenue comes from existing customers. 

Even after closing a sale, your existing customers have a lot of untapped revenue. The challenge is getting the right message across.

You need to reinforce your brand as the ultimate solution to their problems. Be proactive when it comes to delivering these messages. Stay consistent with the messages across all platforms.

Avoid Choice Overload

You need to be careful if your sales strategy involves additional or premium services. As a rule of thumb, you don’t want to complicate your buyers’ decision-making. 

Adding more “value” through extra services might seem like the differentiator between you and a competitor. But, there will be a chance that customers will go into choice overload. 

Don’t go overboard. Instead, try to look into your prospect’s unconsidered needs. For the same service or product, prospects get added value from these “unconsidered needs”. 

Create Urgency Through Change

Committing to change is difficult. As they say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. That’s why emphasizing features and benefits isn’t as effective as it should be. 

On paper, even if you’ve got better features than competitors, prospects would still be reluctant to change. That’s because change is often associated with risk. 

We mentioned earlier that we should create context around our data. We’ll use that here to break through to our prospects. Make a compelling case for change. 

Compell them to change first before trying to convince them to switch to you. Try offering alternative solutions. But, position yourself as the ultimate choice. 

Key Takeaways

Sales strategies can easily define how successful a business can become. Without it, businesses remain stagnant. To ensure growth for the long term, follow these sales strategy best practices:

  • Set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals. 
  • Lead generation should always be paired with lead qualifying to build buyer personas.
  • Always nurture existing customers to improve their AOV. 
  • Measure and analyze performance to fine-tune and optimize your sales. 
  • Utilize CRM and email marketing tools to support your sales endeavors.