Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of those things a lot of people talk about -- it’s something that not only can increase your traffic and your website rank in keywords, but eventually will lead to more sales. And who doesn’t want more sales?

Related: 10 Tips for Combining SEO and Content Marketing

The problem is, with so many people talking about SEO, there are many strategies floating around as to what is the best way to go about implementing SEO on your website.

Sure, the task at hand sounds very easy at first, but using the wrong strategy will lead you to waste time and money and possibly get you in trouble with Google -- which is something you definitely do not want.

To make things easier for yourself, below is a guide that essentially explains what you should be looking for in an SEO strategy. What makes one strategy better than another? Why should you ignore some strategies completely?

Here is the first step to becoming an expert at discerning what strategy may work over another.

What are the main features of any SEO Strategy?

When it comes to SEO, you need to be aware of two main components:

  1. On-page SEO
  2. Off-page SEO

On-page SEO

This type of SEO is done to your website directly; basically, it involves multiple parts of your website in determining search engine rankings. For the most part, you can make on-page SEO changes yourself, using the following list:

  • Page content
  • Title Tags
  • Meta descriptions
  • Headings
  • URL structure
  • Loading time on pages
  • Internal linking
  • Schema* (I highly recommend adding this into your website)

The purpose of on-page SEO is to ensure that your website is readable by search engines; the easier it is to read the structure and content of your website, the better you will ultimately rank.

Related: 5 Ways to Optimize Local Search Results and Compete With the Big Guys

Schema is important for your on-page SEO, and you will probably hear the word in conversation with anyone that works with SEO; if you don’t, show him or her the boot!

You will also likely be confused as to what Schema really is (outside of sounding really cool): Schema is a specific vocabulary of tags that you add to your HTML to improve how your page is represented in search engine result pages (SERPs). By adding Schema to your website’s HTML, you'll be enhancing how the snippets of information will be displayed in SERPs. You'll also make it easier for Google, Yahoo and Bing to understand what your website/page is about.

Making it easier for the search engines gives you a better chance of ranking higher.

Major Tips

  • Make sure your website loads within three seconds.
  • Make all your images web friendly.
  • Activate Gzip Compression and implement a content delivery network (CDN) into your website.
  • Make sure that the first word in your title tags is a keyword.

Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO occurs off your website, hence the name. It includes:

  • Link building
  • Social media shares

There are a few more tactics employed in off-page SEO, but the two mentioned are among the more popular methods, with link building being by far the most important strategy.

Off-page SEO, especially link building, is something that needs to be done right, but a lot of people take shortcuts which negatively impact their website. In life, there are no shortcuts, and the same rule applies to SEO.

In fact, link-building quality is extremely important, more so than the quantity of links. Therefore, creating high-quality content is important, in order to draw in users from other websites, to link to you.

You should not be buying links; that will be only a temporary solution. And Google will ultimately penalize you for trying to manipulate the system. To avoid any problems with the search engine giant while trying to improve the SEO for your website, grow your network organically. This involves reaching out to various contacts you have in your industry. When you reach out to people, they may agree to point a link toward your website.

You can also have people do guest posts on your site, and do the same on their sites, filling your articles with keywords that will ultimately direct back to your website. En route, remember that you do not want to guest post or have links pointing from just "anywhere." The website of origin needs to be reputable for the effort involved to have a positive effect.

There are other link-building strategies outside of guest posting and reaching out to your contacts. Another one involves directory submissions. But I say that with some trepidation, ever since Google began going after directories. Specifically, it went after spam-like directories. Fortunately, Google does like directories edited by humans. In this context, directories like JoeAnt, Yahoo Directory and DMOZ are all worth submitting to.

Local Directories, otherwise known as local citation, present another great strategy. So, submit your business on local directories like:

  • Google My Business
  • Bing Places for Business
  • Yelp
  • YP.com

There are many more great local directories to use. They are all a great way for the search engines to learn more about you.

How to calculate ROI on your SEO expenditure

As with any marketing effort, it all comes down to whether or not you can make money. With SEO, calculating your ROI comes down to directly knowing how much your SEO efforts are costing you, and how much the total value of your sale(s) has been.

To begin the process of checking your ROI, and assuming you use Google Analytics (the most popular analytics tool online), first go to the acquisition tab (sidebar) in Google Analytics. Next, select "channels" to view the traffic generated by each channel.

You will want to view organic results, as that will consist of the traffic from all search engines. Now, if you have Google Goals active, you will be able to see revenue/lead conversions directly generated from the organic search. If you don't have that feature active, you will have to manually calculate the results.

You can use the simple formula below to calculate your ROI as well:

ROI = (Revenue from SEO Efforts – Cost of SEO Project)/ Cost of SEO Project x 100 percent

ROI = ($25,000 – $10,000)/ 10,000 x 100 percent

ROI = 150 percent

This means that the return is 2.5 times the investment. Realistically, for any SEO project, you want to see at least 2 times the return on your investment.

So, there you have it: a comprehensive guide on to what to look for in identifying the best SEO Strategy. Hopefully, when you look into SEO for your own business, these tips will help you determine whether or not your SEO specialist knows what he or she is doing.

Related: Do Keywords Still Matter?