Before beginning a search engine optimization (SEO) project, it is important to understand the process involved in an effective SEO campaign. To that end, we break the process down into the six steps shown below and describe the activities involved in each of these steps.
- Reporting & Goal Setting
- Content Building
- Page Optimization
- Social & Link Building
- Follow Up Reporting & Analysis
Keyword phrase research involves identifying a group of keyword phrases that will be used in optimization. This step is critical and requires a considerable amount of time to find a good set of phrases that offer a balanced combination of two important factors: high usage by searchers and relatively low competition within the search engines.
REPORTING & GOAL SETTING
After establishing your targeted keyword phrases and starting position relative to the site’s competitive set, it is important to understand what the subject site’s starting position is within the search engines. Doing so ensures that you know the specific areas that need work and provides a baseline against which to gauge the subsequent campaign’s success.
After developing a complete picture of the site’s starting position, goals are set for the SEO plan. These goals are measurable (one big advantage of SEO over other advertising options) and tied to the specific business objectives of the site. In the ongoing progress of reporting and follow up, progress towards the plan’s goals are analyzed and reported. Adjustments to the SEO plan can be made according to the findings of these progress reports.
Content is king in search engine optimization. The search engines love text; high volume, high-quality content related to your business will serve you in a couple of important ways.
First, a site loaded with high-quality content of interest to site users will give them a reason to stay and a reason to come back. After all, the reason they came to your site was to find information. Second, you will receive the added benefit of serving up exactly what the search engines want – content. Search engines will have more information to store about your business and products; that information will translate directly into the ranking they give your site for related keyword phrases. For more information on content development and specific ideas about ways to expand your site’s content, read our, Content is Still King.
We often find in the Competitive Research phase that the client’s site is falling behind its competitors in the amount of indexed content. In those cases, this phase of the process takes on additional importance.
Following the addition of new, high quality content, we tackle on-page optimization. See our piece on Page Optimization Basics for more information on this topic.
- Page Titles – Make sure that your site’s page titles say something other than just your company name or “welcome.” Ideally, they need to lead off with your targeted phrase for that page and then follow with your company name.
- Prominence of Targeted Keyword Phrases – It is not enough to have your keyword phrase(s) somewhere on the web page, the placement and prominence given to them also affects your search engine placement. For example, leading off the site’s first paragraph with your keyword phrase gives it more weight than burying it half way down the page in the middle of a paragraph. Also, using larger font sizes and bolding the text can emphasize its importance and positively affect the page’s ranking for that phrase.
SOCIAL & LINK BUILDING
In marketing, you fish where the fish are. And, the fish are using social media in increasing numbers. The power of online sharing through social media provides tremendous opportunities for companies willing to commit the time to using it. During this phase of the process, we help clients establish a social media presence and consult with the client on how best to use those social media profiles to share site content and connect with customers and potential customers. Of particular importance to local businesses, we consult with our clients on how best to use Google My Business to increase visibility for local searches. We have specific Local SEO packages for local businesses.
FOLLOW UP REPORTING AND ANALYSIS
The same reporting done in the initial phase of the campaign is done again at regular intervals, post-optimization. Rankings, site traffic levels, social signals and other key metrics can then be compared to pre-optimization levels, giving measurable results to the SEO campaign. The specific metrics used in an SEO plan will depend on the goals of that site.