Search Engine Optimization (SEO) should be a top priority for your company website. But without an effective strategy and implementation plan, your SEO efforts could be in vain. Search engine optimization is the cornerstone of a robust marketing agenda. Done properly, SEO can dramatically improve your brand’s online visibility, driving prospects and users to your site and feeding them into your conversion path.
Yet, many organizations struggle to identify and execute the right SEO tactics. Should I start by addressing page titles or should I implement a site map? Should I change page URLs to include keywords or is it better to begin by adding unique META descriptions?
Make no mistake: SEO is a highly strategic exercise. To achieve maximum impact, your brand’s SEO activities need to be implemented in a manner that leverages each step of the process as a building block for subsequent steps and initiatives.
1. Site Configuration. Good SEO begins with proper site configuration. The issues that need to be addressed at this stage include domain name selection, web server configuration for error handling and search engine crawler access, Content Management System (CMS) configuration, SEO friendly website analytics and other features that set the stage for all of your SEO initiatives.
2. Keyword Research. Once you have determined your brand’s SEO and business goals, you will need to identify targeted keywords and phrases that can be leveraged to attract users and prospects to your site. This will most likely include both branded and non-branded keywords. Consider of all phases of the sales cycle when determining what your prospects are searching for and how they align to your offerings.
3. On-Page or Page-Specific SEO. Effective SEO makes it easy for search engines to discover all the content that is contained on each page of your website. To facilitate page-specific discovery, you will need to optimize your page titles, descriptions, header tags and more.
4. Architecture. Information architecture plays an important role in SEO because it allows search engines to discern in-site connections and hierarchically prioritize your site’s content. In many ways, information architecture boils down to site navigation – the manner in which links for main navigation, category navigation, sitemaps, footers, tag clouds, breadcrumb trails and other features create connections with your website.
5. Awareness Building. After you have successfully laid a foundation for SEO by addressing the items previously mentioned, it’s time to move on to more well-known SEO strategies to create awareness about your site. Techniques like syndication, XML site maps, link building and social media optimization should all be utilized to tell the world (and search engines) about your site and its content.
6. Acceleration. Over time, useful content always captures the attentions of search engines, delivering a payoff in search engine result page (SERP) rankings. But there are also several things you can do to accelerate the process. By expanding keyword research, building strategic links and generating buzz about your website, you can speed up the process and achieve faster returns on your SEO efforts.
7. Assessment. Many brands are ultimately disappointed with their SEO efforts because they fail to routinely assess and review search results against business goals. Analytics, advanced keyword research and other tactics should be used to measure search performance and to find new opportunities to create additional targeted content to your website.
Your SEO strategy should start with an assessment of the current state of your SEO in each of the seven building blocks. Start by reinforcing the foundation of your website’s SEO, by addressing key issues in Configuration, Keyword Research and On-Page before moving to the upper building blocks such as Information Architecture, Awareness and Acceleration.
Despite what you may have heard, there are no magic pills in SEO. Successful SEO leverages a deliberate strategy that addresses fundamental search features and equips your brand with the ability to drive a constantly growing volume of traffic to your site.