What you will learn: How to create a workable SEO strategy.
Who should read this article: Marketing leadership.
What Is a Strategy?
Before getting into the details of what an SEO strategy should look like, reviewing what a strategy in general should look like may be helpful.
A strategy has three essential attributes:
- Focus – A limited number of objectives that drive a specific set of tactical activities.
- Time Frame – A defined period of time during which objectives are to be reached.
- Measurement – A method of quantifying progress toward the objectives and ultimate results of the strategic campaign.
No SEO campaign can succeed without a strategy. Without one, expensive SEO activities amount to little more than a flurry of activity producing no particular or predictable outcome.
The Four Elements of an SEO Strategy
Element 1: Discovery
Every SEO strategy begins with a high-level decision about which products and/or services will be top priority during the period in which the strategy is executed. Typical campaigns run for one quarter or six months. Your firm’s direction about which products/services to optimize enables your SEO company to take the appropriate next steps.
Based on the strategy, the SEO company does research to identify the best keywords to support the targeted products/services. The keyword strategy serves both onsite and offsite optimization activities
Element 2: Onsite Optimization
Website pages focused on those keywords are identified or created. All targeted products/services must have a unique site page to which organic search traffic is directed.
These strategic pages are then optimized for the targeted keywords. Optimization usually includes edits to text and title tags, and additions of or modification to calls to action.
Finally, site-wide optimization takes place. Typical activities include modifying the internal link structure, fixing broken links, and making backend or frontend tweaks to improve page-loading time.
Element 3: Offsite Optimization
Offsite SEO is comprised of activities that change based on the strategy, as well as activities that remain more or less constant from one strategic campaign to the next. Typical offsite activities include:
Directory Listings and Business Profiles – While directories have generally declined in SEO value, certain listings continue to be extremely valuable. Directories are evaluated based on their relevance to both your business in general and to the strategic products/services.
Guest Blog Posts – Topics for offsite articles should emphasize the products/services targeted during the strategic campaign. Ideally, links to your site in these articles point to pages about these products/services.
“Linkbait” Campaigns – “Linkbait” has a negative connotation in some circles, but an effective linkbait campaign is both legitimate and excellent business! For example, a campaign might center on a visually powerful infographic that addresses a significant problem for your target audience. The infographic is then marketed to relevant industry websites and blogs, as well as supported by press releases and offsite articles. Linkbait campaigns often generate a significant number of natural, relevant and authoritative links, as well as a significant number of brand mentions through social media.
A side note about linkbuilding: Linkbuilding methods continually change, as they fall in and out of favor with Google. But even techniques given bad press by Google are viable, as long as they are done with discretion.
Element 4: Measurement
In terms of your strategic campaign, measurement must include:
- The amount of organic traffic driven to target site pages
- Tracking the sources of that organic traffic
- Tracking phone and form inquiries from target site pages
- Validation of phone and form leads from target site pages
During the campaign and at its conclusion, these data points enable you to determine how much traffic and how many actual sales leads were produced. Our next post will describe in detail what your SEO reporting should look like.
Going Forward: Tactics
An SEO strategy defines what products/services will be optimized during a given period of time. Of course, the SEO campaign doesn’t end there; in actuality, the strategic plan is just the beginning.
Once objectives are defined, the SEO company must create a detailed list of tasks that support those objectives. Without a tactical process, SEO execution is haphazard, with activities that overlap, go in opposite directions or are forgotten. Haphazard execution is neither functionally nor financially cost-effective. In a future post we will discuss the elements of an SEO task list.
Contact Straight North to discuss your SEO strategy.
Call us at 855-883-0011 or request a quote online.