Principles of creating an SEO strategy:
- Make sure you understand how search engines work – http://www.google.com.au/insidesearch/howsearchworks/thestory/
- Understand the searcher persona workflow – how users search, find your website and the motivations that drive them in order to conduct your desired action/conversion
- Create SEO goals that align to your business goals and therefore impact the bottom line
- Develop an ongoing process of executing and making improvements – Users habits and issues aren’t static. Therefore an ongoing process of continuous improvement is required in order to continually be in touch with a users needs.
The steps towards creating an SEO strategy (similarly outlined in the Google Webmaster Tools SEO strategy video):
- Develop an understanding on the website you are working on by :
- Benchmarking the websites current performance and crucial macro and micro conversions
- Identifying the businesses key services, keyword targeting priorities, competitors and leading industry sites. A combination of SEM Rush and Similar Web can be used to gather this context.
- Identify existing promotional activities – This can be done for the website and it’s competitors using link research tools like Majestic SEO and social media monitoring tools to identify the most recent online pr or reputation building activities.
- Gather audience insights (from the website) – Identify specific demographic and behavioural information which can help shape the current users experience and situation. Whilst existing provider tools aren’t 100% accurate with this regards, using Google Analytics Audience & Interest reports (with modified tracking) can help mine some insights. Otherwise customer analytics tools such as Woopra, Kiss Metrics or secondary research like surveys and industry reports can suffice. Be sure that tracking is setup well in advance before making any general conclusions.
Overall are essentially looking to surface information about the client, the customer and the industry.
2. Map out the existing searcher persona workflow by –
- Outlining search consumer purchase cycle – Use the basic consumer funnel process (awareness, familiarity, consideration, purchase, loyalty) and map the applicable queries (whether informational or transactional) to the appropriate stage
- Reviewing existing search queries driving impressions to the site, using Google or Bing Webmaster Tools. In essence this can give you an indicator of how effective your overall marketing efforts have been to date.
- Listing the sites top ranked pages – To give you an idea of how users enter the site and what they see before clicking to visit the site
- Reviewing the sites page content/site architecture – To review how the site has been built and the common categories.
- Reviewing the internal linking and overall navigational design – To see how visitors effectively navigate through the site and the motivations that lead them to the point of conversion.
3. Determine the company goals and website goals – using the steps above and through internal data.
4. Audit the website – In order to factor:
- The websites audience targeting priorities
- The technical website gaps and opportunities to help it better display and rank
- The website content gaps which can help cater to the search users needs
- The website linkbuilding/earned media priorities that will help better the sites reputation and authority online
- The overall user navigational experience (and not conversion) to help prioritise more important pages, but more importantly lead to better user outcomes.
5. Execution Plan – Create timelines around your priorities with deadlines and KPI’s attached inorder to achieve your goals. Questions and things to factor include:
- The specific next steps – what is the next tactic or task that will help achieve your goals?
- Time – How much time do you need in order to complete the next step? What are my overall deadlines and milestones?
- Resources/Doability – What are the requirements and what is the level of difficulty in order to achieve these goals?
- Stakeholder involvement – Who needs to get involved? What is their role in achieving the overall goal? What are the internal processes required? Are there any changes required in order to achieve my goal?
- Consistency – How do I consistently communicate and be in touch with my target audience?
Use a strategic roadmap to enter in all the site goals, the names of the team members involved and the vision and mission of the project. Other tools such as a project management tool, a content calendar and reporting dashboards to keep you and your team accountable on an ongoing basis.
6. Review and iterate – Use the lean analytics methodology in order to review and improve on existing performance, in addition to scheduling performance review meetings for your campaigns (on a fortnightly, monthly, quarterly and yearly basis).