How to Create Your SEO Strategy

How to Create Your SEO Strategy

Creating your SEO strategy is not that difficult. What may appear initially as a daunting task can be greatly simplified by breaking the development of your SEO strategy into more manageable steps as shown below.

Audit, Listen

An Ascend2 report 48% of respondents identified keyword/phrase research as a most effective SEO tactic with 34% citing frequent website updates. Source:Web Presence Solutions
Keywords are what user’s type into search engines to find sources of information on a topic of their choice. Keywords form the basis of both our SEO and PPC efforts. Keywords are clues. Keywords represent what searchers are looking for when they type in an individual or multiple keywords. The idea of undertaking keyword research to get started aligns very well with the axiom that “All good marketing starts with the customer.” Keyword research involves gathering keywords from a number of sources and then grouping them into logical clusters. To do so, we start with idea generation before moving on to the other steps in the keyword research process.
    • Idea Generation

      Idea generation makes use of free thought to develop a starting list of keywords based on the thoughts and idea soft hose in the business. The concept here is that the collective experience of the employees should yield some potential keywords. One way to do this is to start with a product list. By then taking the time to identify specific characteristics of theproducts, anextensive keywordlistcanbe developed as shown below:

Products Material Size Colour
Bedding Silk King queen double single White Black Blue Green Yellow
Cotton King queen double single White Black Blue Green Yellow
Blend King queen double single White Black Blue Green Yellow

Today, keyword research requires more than the simple type of research shown above. As Google has moved to improve their interpretation of what the intent is behind a search, the concept of semantic keywords has been increasingly important. The full explanation of semantic keywords is a topic for another day or post. However, doing semantic keyword research should be a part of your SEO strategy With your initial keyword research completed, there are additional sources which should be consulted, including:

  • Website analysis

Examining your existing website for potential keywords makes sense. Look for product or service keywords, navigation keywords and any others that standout. Assuming that there is some form of analytics tool associated with the website,it should be able to determine the keywords searchers used to arrive at yoursite. As the search customer-driven, this is a valuable way to gather potential keywords.

  • Marketing collateral

    Review your existing marketing collateral to identify the keywords used in it. It stands to reason that some thought went into the creation of content for the marketing collateral initially. We can now leverage that original thinking to identify possible keywords for our SEO efforts.

  • Competition

    Take some time to review the competitions’ communications. Their websites should provide some ideas for potential keywords in just the same way as your website did. A review of the competitions' marketing collateral is another source for potential keywords.

  • Tools

    Fortunately, there are tools available to aid in keyword research. A quick online search reveals a number of keyword tools. One of the easiest to use is the Google Keyword Planner, and it is free. The planner allows the user to perform a search on potential keywords. Using the tool, a number of things can be identified, including monthly search volume, competition level, and trends. It is also possible to filter keyword searches based upon a variety of options, such as geography, or language. Other keyword tools to consider include SEMRUSH, Market Samurai, MOZ Keyword Explorer and KWFinder which is of help in determining semantic keywords.

Analysis

On-page SEO works with the technical issues associated with the pages in your website. On-page SEO consists of a number of components, including:

  • HTML Code

    HTML is a markup code for webpages. Search engines use HTML to help determine what a webpage is about. HTML for SEO includes such things as meta titles and meta tags, headings and image identification (web crawlers don’t see images as we do).

  • Links

    Links are the highlighted and underscored words or phrases in a page that connect to content on another website. Having a number of high-quality links is an important aspect of how Google ranks webpages, as it views this as a demonstration of authority. From a link perspective, SEO manages these links by seeking to acquire additional high-quality links and removing low- quality links.

A66% of marketers say improving SEO and growing their organic presence is their top inbound marketing priority. Source:
Source: http://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics
  • Site Maps

    I bet you thought that site maps on websites were there to make things easier for website visitors. Nope. Site maps are essential tools for the web crawlers that evaluate your website and determine its ranking. Maintaining these site maps is another on-page SEO activity.

  • The Dreaded “Error 404 - Page Not Found”

    Broken links and lost content are not well received by the web crawlers and can have a negative impact on your rankings. In this case, on-page SEO tracks these issues and corrects them.

Analysis

Off-page SEO focuses outside the website, largely on positive link-building and social engagement. Off-page SEO activities include:

  • Directory Submission Submissions to well-respected directories, e.g., the Yahoo Directory, remains a valid SEO activity. There is an issue, however, with directory submissions as there are a large number of fly-by-night directories out there, where submissions could hurt your search ranking. Engaging in directory submission, therefore, requires a proceed-with-caution approach.
  • Link-Building Link-building involves establishing links to your website from other websites or blogs. One way to think of links is to look at them as voters in an election. Google evaluates websites in part based upon the number and quality of the links, or votes, that a website has. More high-quality links mean that that website is winning the election for search engine results. As is typically the case with SEO there is discussion concerning the value of link building, with some proposing eliminating it completely, as shown below:

Chart Source: Neil Patel

  • Social Signals

    Social signals are related to social media traffic. Examples of this type of activity would be Twitter or Facebook posts. Google reads social media pages just as they do website pages. There is much discussion these days on the subject of social signals. Specifically, there is debate regarding their value as an SEO tool. What it comes down to is correlation, not causation. The question here is: What causes a large volume of social media traffic to come to a website in the first place? If we assume it is high-quality content, then it is the content that is the cause for the traffic. The high volume of social media signals is simply correlated to the fact that the website has some really good content. So, spend some time social networking to build your contact base. However, you had better also spend time developing quality content.

Analysis

With the analysis of the SEO strategy process complete, it is time to turn to the development of SEO strategy.

SEO Objectives

Getting started with SEO means setting your SEO objectives. What is it that you want to accomplish as a result of your SEO activities? SEO is both technical and creative in its scope. As a result, SEO can be oriented towards the accomplishment of a wide variety of goals. Some typical SEO objectives include:

  • Generating sales
  • Generating traffic to your website
  • Improving competitive positioning
  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Lead generation
  • Product promotion
  • Reputation management

It’s possible to come up with other objectives for the use of SEO than those listed above. What the list does manage to convey, however, is the flexible nature of SEO for use in business. The next step, therefore, is choosing the objectives for the SEO service. In doing so, the issues identified as part of the SEO analysis effort must be kept in mind. For example, a decision to select a lead generation objective would have to include the correction of issues uncovered in the analysis phase, such as missing meta titles (meta titles identify the name of the webpage). Missing or poor meta titles would hurt the search ranking for the website and negatively impact any lead generation efforts.

Analysis

Managing the ongoing SEO process involves measuring, evaluating and revising.

Measurement of SEO results is obtained from a number of sources. A good starting point for this exercise is the website. The analytics package associated with the website can provide a wide variety of reporting. Google Analytics offers a series of reporting elements specifically for SEO, including:

  • Actual number of clicks on your website's URL’s from the SERP.
  • Number of impressions, or times your website URL was presented as a search option in the SERP.
  • Search queries typed into the search engine to reach your site.
  • The average position for your website URL as it appears in the SERP.
  • The ratio of clicks to impressions for your website’s URL’s
  • What landing pages searches landed on upon arriving at your website?

Once the SEO performance data has been collected, it must be evaluated to determine its meaning, and revisions made to the current SEO strategy to reflect what has been learned from the evaluation exercise. If you would like to learn more about digital marketing strategy, the process outlined in this post is from a chapter in my book on creating successful marketing plans "Think, Plan, Prosper" .There are free chapter downloads of the book available on my website www.vwmarketingsolutions.ca

Scott Van Wagner
Scott Van Wagner is a senior marketing strategist. His marketing experience includes roles as a Sales Rep, Product Manager, Service Director and General Manager and the Author of “Think, Plan, Prosper - How to Create Successful Marketing Plans in the Digital Marketing Age.” This practical experience is enhanced by marketing knowledge developed delivering courses on marketing strategy and management at the University of Western Ontario, Brock University, McMaster University, the University of Guelph and the University of Guelph-Humber.
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