Jun 23, 2011
Having an effective SEO (Search Engine Optimization) campaign is critical to the success of every internet enterprise. In order to successfully complete all tasks required in a comprehensive SEO campaign, it is helpful to organize those various tasks and tactics into relevant categories. This allows us to have an organized approach to consistently addressing all elements of an SEO campaign. It also allows us to describe SEO in a way that people can understand and serves as the foundation for a consistent process and approach to SEO as a service.
Before embarking on an SEO campaign, let’s define Successful SEO – processes that result in significant rankings for targeted keywords with steadily increasing traffic from all organic sources including search engines, referral sites and the social media. In addition, Successful SEO results in maximized conversion rates based on onsite design elements that establish clear calls to action often including a well designed conversion funnel.
Now prior to moving onto the BASICS of running a successful SEO campaign, for simplicity purposes we divide the SEO landscape into 3 categories: Onsite, Off Page and Site Wide.
This is basic but essential stuff and refers to aligning the content and meta data of a Web page with the targeted keyword phrases that the page is relevant to. Alone, onsite SEO will not result in significant results … however, without well executed onsite SEO, you will not stand a chance of significant rankings for your targeted keywords. Some of the most important pieces of onsite SEO are:
- URL selection: obviously for a new web site, try to choose a URL domain name that includes your best keyword and make sure you use a dotcom domain if you are a normal small business. However, do not choose a very long domain name just to include the keywords in your domain.
- Titles: It is important to remember to use your most relevant keywords in your website pages. Search engine spiders will ‘crawl’ the title of each page first, so title tags are very important to get right.
- Meta description: Meta descriptions are surely important; they need to be “efficiently descriptive” to tell the spiders precisely what the page is all about using targeted and economical use of words.
- Content: Many people overlook the value of content on their website as it relates to SEO. Be sure to create original unique content for your entire site, first focusing on your main page and the introductions. This content should include your keywords, but be careful not to overuse them – search engines don’t ‘like’ keyword stuffing. Write for people, not for search engines. With well written content, the SEO will take care of itself.
- Blogs: Set up a blog and faithfully post to it as often as possible. Be sure the content is fresh and relevant to your readers.
- Analytics: Analytic software is the best way to monitor the traffic your site receives. Use it to track where your visitors come from, how they found you and what they do once they arrive at your site. This information can then be utilized to tweak your SEO campaign appropriately.
- Monitor: When you first begin your SEO campaign, your website is not likely to rank very high, but the longer you work at it, the higher your rankings should be. Be sure to check your rankings on a regular basis.
Off page SEO
Optimization refers to aligning the link connectivity of the website to the keyword phrases that are most relevant for the situation. Off page optimization is further divided into two sub categories: Internal off page optimization and external off page optimization.
- Internal link optimization is concerned with site elements like the global navigation template and breadcrumb navigation.
- External link optimization is primarily focused on third party links that point to your website and what keywords are being used in those links.
Site Wide SEO
Until not long ago, this model was a precise impression of the matters that need to be concentrated on in any SEO campaign. But as search has become sophisticated and new metrics have evolved that affect search engine rankings, a new model is necessary to encapsulate the array of new tasks that are important to any successful SEO campaign.
- On Page
- Off Page
- Site Wide
- Universal Search
- Social Media
Definitely there is a lot more to the search engine optimization process in this new model, and that’s because a lot has happened in the world of SEO in the last couple of years. So today I would like to put some context behind this new model and explain what else it covers.
The first aspect in the new model is called Discovery. This segment of the SEO process refers to all activities that are required to understand the parameters and goals of the campaign. The Discovery phase includes keyword research, competitive analysis, understanding the business model and a review of the current analytics landscape including keyword rankings to understand as much as possible the “current state” of the SEO campaign and what the goals of the campaign are moving forward.
Universal Search Optimization refers to all activities that affect rankings for universal search elements like video, images, news, shopping, reviews and local listings. Activities include but are not limited to optimizing video content and title tags, image alt tags, shopping feeds through Google base, and local optimization through the Google Business Center.
Usability is a separate Web discipline that focuses on user experience. Until recently, the correlation between usability and SEO was implied but not well defined. With the recent advent of the Google Web site Speed Test and all of its associated recommendations, the first concrete metrics that tie usability to search rankings have been established and more will follow soon. It’s in the best interest of search engines to reward websites that have superior user experience, so you can be sure that an increasing amount of emphasis will be put on usability metrics going forward.
Social Media has long been a favorite tool of SEO practitioners for link building, reputation management and user generated content. But now that real time search has become a prominent feature of the major search engines, the subset of social media activities that affect SEO is worthy of special attention and those activities need to be part of any successful SEO campaign.
Analytics is the engine that allows you to make decisions about your SEO campaign in terms of understanding performance and deploying resources on an ongoing basis. Having an understanding about the differences in paid and organic traffic, brand versus non brand keyword performance and the long tail performance of your campaign are a few of the basic essentials that must be in place to strategically run a successful SEO campaign.