Are you failing to plan or planning to fail? Here are seven important stages of an SEO strategy plan.
An SEO strategy plan is a blueprint for your Search Engine Optimization activities that can be mapped out in seven definitive steps. It is a long term solution to drive pre-qualified traffic to your website, improve conversion rates and boost your online revenue. When done properly and with focused goals, you may only start seeing results in the first few months of your campaign – if you work closely with an SEO company you can get the best return for your investment.
The first step of an SEO strategy plan is to complete a through analysis of the website and its competition. During an analysis (or when it is a top-to-bottom analysis with a reporting component, an SEO audit) the consultant can see firsthand the strengths and weaknesses of the current technical infrastructure of the site, what keywords have been targeted previously, the on-page content, the link building profile and competitor analysis. It is essential that clients are straightforward with optimization experts about techniques they have used in the past.
During this process, the SEO consultant will look at considerations such as:
- Site structure and page trees
- Internal and external linking
- Inbound links or “backlinks”
- Metadata, including metatitles and meta descriptions
- Header tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.)
- Content length and quality
- Content update frequency
- Infrastructure files and code, including scripts, tracking codes, redirects, robots.txt, sitemap.xml, and more
- Competitor data (including an analysis of the above for competition)
Report and Recommendations
Based on the initial analysis, an SEO consultant identifies specific deficiencies on the site, as well as opportunities for targeting new search traffic, and prepares a report for a search engine optimization campaign. This report will include recommendations for both on-site and off-site tactics that will support the overarching SEO strategy. The SEO will provide these recommendations to your so that you can begin optimizing your website, or the SEO can implement recommendations herself (often with the assistance of a qualified web developer). A professional company ideally will offer SEO solutions tailored for your individual circumstance. This will depend on factors such as the size of the site, if it is operating in a competitive or saturated market, whether it is a new website, is focusing on growth or ongoing maintenance and so on.
Typically, the number of keywords targeted depends on the size and scope of the SEO project. Once an SEO strategy plan has been mapped out, the analyst will have a better idea of the number of keywords, a plan can be developed for how those keywords fit in with optimized pages and link submissions necessary to make progress in the SERPs. Analysts start by researching keywords and coming up with a shortlist both the agency and client are happy with. This may include several research methods including keyword recommendations from the client, customers and suppliers, surveys, using keyword research tools and so forth.
Keywords also vary widely in search intent and length. Short tail keywords like “Indian restaurant” may have large search volume, whereas long tail keywords such as “Indian restaurant serving breakfast in Chicago” will have lesser search volume. The SEO analyst’s job is to strike a balance between types of keywords and the amount of search volume behind them.
This is the exciting part of SEO strategy plans. The agreed changes to your website are implemented on your pages either directly by your consultancy if you have a content management system (CMS) or they will liaise with your web developer for them to code the changes required. The off-page optimization including link building and options such as optimizing Google Places pages is also done at this critical stage. This is the core of an SEO strategy – the on-the-ground work that helps to increase your site’s visibility in search engines.
During your campaign, you should be given progress reports by the SEO expert you have hired. Bear in mind that Search Engine Optimization is a long term strategy, and you will not be able to see results straight away. As a rule of thumb, agencies will provide clients with monthly reports. Communication is recommended throughout the process, but this is your opportunity to ask any questions about the campaign or tweak it slightly. Typically, the results of an SEO campaign can take anywhere from 3 months to a year before showing up in reporting.
Once you are happily ranking on Search Engines, you will need to discuss with the experts at your SEO consultancy whether you should expand your keyword portfolio and target more keywords or choose to maintain the optimization of your site. This will depend again on factors such as how many pages your website has, the competition in your industry, the traffic driven to your site, your conversion rate and so on.
Typically, others in the industry will be maintaining ongoing SEO on their sites, so it’s usually advisable to continue with monitoring, tweaking, and expanding your SEO strategy as time goes on. The logic is that if you’re not acting on your own search visibility, but your competitors are, it’s likely that you’ll eventually lose any hard earned progress in search engine rankings.
SEO strategy plan reviews such as the keywords targeted, optimized pages, link building submissions, SEO copywriting and so forth should be done at least every six to twelve months. If you are operating in an industry that is very competitive, you may want to do this even sooner. It will depend on the recommendations of your specialist who will be monitoring changes in the industry and SEO trends throughout the entire process.
At seoWorks, we have a list of packages together that are suitable for sole traders through to multi-million dollar global enterprises and can be customized to your individual business. Contact us and find out more about our SEO experts and how we can help you find the best solution to suit your future and present needs and work closely with you to implement an SEO strategy plan to achieve optimum results for your site.
This article was updated with the latest industry information on September 9, 2016.