As I’ve mentioned before, “SEO” is a term that’s thrown around a lot with like a 7% understanding of what it means. That’s not meant to be snarky, just to clarify that this is a behemoth industry with some significant complexity. SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is popular among marketers because it’s one of two basic approaches to online advertising.
As a business owner with a digital marketing strategy, you can either invest in:
- Paid ads (PPC, social ads, etc.)
- SEO (website improvements)
The first can be expensive (some of my clients spend 10-12k/week on PPC). It can also be fast. If you have a PPC genius, they can achieve some great results in a short amount of time. What’s more, you know right away if your strategy is working. It’s almost like watching the stock market. There are immediately identifiable trends and tricks to employ. This can be gratifying. Compared to SEO.
In contrast to PPC, I like to tell clients that SEO is like growing a sequoia, not a perennial. There are deep roots. There is a lot of underground work that doesn’t have immediate, or even fast, results. It takes so much digging. You have to understand every single facet of what’s happening in your industry (from a website perspective). If you are willing to put in the time, SEO is an investment in your website, which is your only asset that will increase in value over time. But you do have to put in the work (or pay someone like me a couple grand, minimum, a month).
SEO is all about building organic traffic. This requires a lot of understanding and the application of some manual processes. Let’s look at the research and then the three basic steps an SEO specialist should take to improve your website.
Research for SEO Success
Here are some of the key data points that you need to understand if you want to create genuine improvement in your SEO strategy or for your website. You need to understand:
- What keywords you do rank for
- What keywords you want to rank for (this is a complex process but there are some software tools that can help)
- Who your keyword competitors are (not always the same as your marketplace competitors)
- Who your target audience is
- What your target audience does online
- What your target audience responds to/interacts with
- Basic marketing knowledge, such as your customer life cycle
- How much each new customer procurement costs online (PPC)
- What average traffic you need to fill your customer pipeline (how many leads/day)
- What your lead conversion rate is (from web leads)
- Where your current website ranks
This is not exhaustive. It’s more of an iceberg-tip of the kind of deep dive an SEO specialist would do. But these are some of the data points for which you have to establish a baseline if you’re going to intentionally improve your search rank.
3 Steps an SEO Specialist Will Take
There are three introductory tasks an SEO specialist will begin to get a baseline and start the punch list for site improvement. These are:
- Site Audit
- Keyword List
Site Audit for SEO
A site audit will probably happen in one of the many SEO software programs. This will give you insight into how your page is currently performing, what keywords you are ranking for, what kind of organic traffic you get, etc. This establishes a baseline. This audit will also identify issues on your site, from toxic backlinks to 404s and more. From here, a basic structural improvement plan can begin.
Keyword List for SEO
Building a keyword list is, to me, one of the most tedious but essential aspects of improving a site’s SEO. This is because SEO and SERP is all about keywords. Integrating them strategically is paramount. But, if you don’t have the right list, the integration is meaningless. So, you have to begin at the beginning. This requires a deep dive into your current keywords, desired keywords, competitor keywords and more. It’s long and precise but you should end with a list of rich keywords that drive your copy improvements.
Link-building for SEO
One key metric of SEO is link-building. I’m using this catch-all phrase to refer to both inbound and outbound links. This means auditing for existing links and creating an ultimate link list of both internal and external connections. Interlinking credentials your site to the Google bots. External linking and backlinking create networking opportunities, connecting your site to credible sources and authorities in your industry. Both are essential strategies to implement, though they take time and constant monitoring.
Improve Your SEO: Hire an SEO Specialist
There are many companies that specialize in SEO. Hiring an SEO specialist may be the only way to really invest the right amount of time in site improvements. If you’re passionate about ranking and understand the time it will take (both in man-hours and simple elapsed time), contact us to learn more about what an SEO specialist can do for you.