This post was inspired by Mackenzie Fogelsons’ talk over at SEO Moz.
SEO marketers can be an unstable bunch. With constant changes in Google, the SEO blogosphere often reacts like the stock market, over analysing and letting tips and trends run rampant. However, once everything settles, also much like the stock market, it is often those who have stayed level headed and stuck to the fundamentals (quality content, solid links, consistent social media) that come out on top.
Fogelson makes a good point that SEOers often rely too heavily on tools, scouring the net for the next opportunity to capitalise on their respective markets. Whilst in due time we often do find that new internet based tools emerge as important platforms for our SEO, Google Plus being the most recent, much of the time this can be likened to trends. So without further ado here is an SEO process you can follow to ensure your strategy rests on good fundamentals.
Developing an SEO campaign that provides you the best ROI is a matter of calculated trial and error. What that means is having an idea of what you want for your business, testing some tactics and techniques, measuring the results and adjusting accordingly. A good place to start when setting goals for your SEO is to use the SMART method; specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-based. Examples of smart goals may include:
Key performance indicators are specific metrics you use to measure the effectiveness of your campaign. The indicators need to be quantitative as opposed to qualitative and should be as specific as possible. It’s a good idea to look for something you can correlate with revenue, cost and conversions. Here are some basic key performance indicators that you may want to consider looking at for your SEO strategy.
Though it is important to focus on where you lie in the Google rankings for each of your keywords, don’t over emphasise this metric. Google can now recognise synonyms and therefore individual keywords are having less and less importance. A mistake many marketers make is to put too much energy into a link building campaign with not enough focus on content creation. Though this may mean more direct search traffic in the short term, this will ultimately not be as effective in the long term.
Increasing traffic volume is important but what is more important is having a method for measuring and improving the quality of your traffic. You also want to determine from what source the traffic is coming, such as inbound links from other blogs or directly from search engine results. This varies from industry to industry and can help you choose the most effective area on which to focus.
Conversions are a good way to measure the quality of your traffic. Their effectiveness is based on your individual key performance indicators. So for example, if your intention is to build an email list and improve your paid subscription service, you may measure conversions based on the percentage of people that reach your landing page and enter their details for a subscription.
When creating an SEO strategy it is good to split your strategy into time periods, I recommend 3 month segments so you get enough data to make a useful analysis. Another effective way to structure the strategy is to chunk tactics into categories; link building, content marketing and social media are three good places to start, but understand that there will be a lot of overlap.
Execution is relatively straight forward. Basically once you have set your goals, performance indicators and strategy, you just need to follow through and do what you set out to do within the time frame. Ensure you do everything you have planned to do and do it consistently. The key to here is to make sure you stick strictly to the plan so the results aren’t skewed or jeopardised. Continually take note of what works and what doesn’t so you can incorporate the findings into the analysis.
The analysis is the part of the SEO process where you take a look at your results and determine where you need to go. You should ask yourself questions that are as specific as possible and related to your key indicators, but from a broader perspective, some of the types of questions to ask yourself are;
So there it is, a five step process to follow for SEO experts. Make sure you stay up to date with changes in the SEO sphere so your techniques and knowledge is fresh. Though specifics may change, the process in and of itself is one that will be relevant over time, so make sure you become familiar with it as soon as possible.