SEO, or search engine optimization, is one of the hottest topics in the marketing world. There's an aura of mystery when it comes to SEO, since it's one of the few marketing tactics largely outside of your control. But that doesn't mean you can't influence it for the better.
It's by far the most formidable channel for new business because users coming in from search have much higher intent to buy than the average visitor. They have a problem or a question and are searching for a solution. When putting together a solid SEO strategy, there's a few things you'll need to keep in mind:
How is the channel already performing?
First, take a look at how the channel is performing. What percentage of visits to your website are coming to search? What's the average traffic per month? How many people end up signing up for your service or buying a product through search?
To find what percentage of your overall traffic already comes from search in Google Analytics, go to Acquisition-->All Traffic-->Channels:
From there, you can dive deeper to see changes in traffic over time. Then, to find your overall percentage, click the pie chart icon in the top right.
Note that you'll need to change your default date, and to find signups or conversions, you'll need to set up your goals in Google Analytics. That's far beyond the scope of this blog post, but it goes to show: Analytics is key here.
What are your goals?
You can see from our data above that search is a pretty robust channel for us, about 50% of all visits and a ton of traffic. However, search engines like Google are constantly changing its algorithm, and without continued optimization, we could see the ROI of this channel decrease rather than increase.
Next, you must define your goals, which should be based off of how much you want to grow. For us, we're looking to double down. Generally, you'll want to increase traffic coming from this channel, and to do that, you must increase the % of your rankings on your keywords that fall between #1-3. This is because traffic from search for top keywords is exponentially higher than #4-10 or on page 2. Think of it this way: When's the last time you clicked on Page 2 of a google search? You probably picked something in the top results because it's at the top for a reason.
Ranking on search engines consists of two parts: Relevance and popularity. Each activity must impact one of those two metrics.
What keywords should you rank for?
Related: What do keywords tell us?
What it is: The foundation of any SEO strategy relies on the keywords you're trying to rank for. Keyword optimization is all about aligning content with actual needs and questions your ideal customer is actually asking. If you want to be a part of that conversation, you’ll need to understand which keywords align with your products.
How to get here: Start with your messaging and key topics related to your product. Then use a tool to see what people are searching for the most and prioritize those keywords with the highest amount of traffic.
Activities: Keyword research
Tools: Moz, Screaming Frog, Google's own tools, Similar Web
Is your content optimized for those keywords?
What it is: Making content and web pages rank in the top #1-3 for your target keywords. Part of this is also making the right pages rank for those keywords so that someone with high intent (a searcher) can easily find exactly what they're looking for (ideally, your product as a solution).
How to get here: Your keyword research determines which keywords to target. From there, you can assess your individual web pages for copy and alt text and work on making sure each blog post is fully optimized.
Activities: Blog post optimization, historical optimization of blog posts, web page optimization and copy, metadata creation, redesigning the blog, redesigning Community
Tools: Moz, Yoast Wordpress Plugin
Is your information architecture set up so search engines can easily crawl your website?
What it is: Essentially, organizing the website and information architecture in a way that makes sense to search engines. Including structural, back-end optimizations so that it makes it easier for search engines to crawl the site. These are foundational changes to the structure that allow you to rank higher for all keywords. The good news about these changes is that they're also usually better for user experience, making your site easier to navigate and faster, so any changes you make for search engines are also good for users.
How to got here: Perform an audit of your website. Moz has a great tool that finds errors, but talking to your engineering or web team is essential to understand what's going on and how things are organized.
Activities: Cleaning duplicate content, Cleaning redirects, Organizing website navigation, redesigning navigation, increasing page speed
Do you have strong inbound and outbound links?
What it is: Search engines view backlinks to your web pages as a sign that your site is trustworthy and relevant, which help increase your links. It can also help rank for specific keywords if search engines can find us referenced for those keywords (also known as anchor text). There are two types of links: Internal and External.
How to get here: Making sure your site has internal links between each page; external linking relies on PR, partners, influencers, and outreach.
Activities: Partner marketing, PR, outreach
Build your own strategy
Evaluating your website or your blog for SEO isn't easy. It's time consuming, technical, and not for the faint of heart. But doing so can mean an exponential difference in traffic—and many more people ready to purchase your product.