Search engine optimization is a process that never stops. This just isn’t “set it and forget it” gig. We can always be building new content, finding new keywords and promoting our content to garner more links. Always.
But you have to start somewhere.
Here is a list of components I recommend including in your SEO setup projects. These kinds of operations get the organic search ball rolling and set a foundation for long-term success.
SEO Technical Audit
This is your chance to peek under the hood. See how the site is built. Find out if there are any barriers to Google et al from indexing the site properly.
Want to see a list of items to evaluate? Here’s a few factors for your SEO technical checklist. Once technical updates are made, create Google and Bing Webmaster Tools accounts.
There are plenty of serviceable keyword research tools out there including WordTracker and Wordstream, but I tend to rely on the Google Keyword tool to uncover opportunities existing and new pages. Categorize your keywords to create a resource you can refer to again and again. Include keywords in your editorial calendar for new content development. Use them to uncover potential opportunities to solve a need or meet a customer demand.
Spruce up existing content by including target keywords in page titles, meta descriptions, headlines, page text, image alt tags and internal links to other pages on your website. Every page on the website is a possible entry point. On-page optimization ensures all pages have a “welcome” mat. Match keywords with existing pages and other key content to improve rankings, traffic and activity from search.
Link Acquisition Plan
I’ve said before that SEO is like an political election. Be your site’s chief campaign manager. Ever since 2003, the game has been about how to encourage other sites to link to us. Devise a strategy and plan of attack to garner inbound links from relevant sources. Common strategies include correcting broken links, guest blogging, and public relations. If you are wise, that plan to earn virtual endorsements will likely involve social media.
Content Development Calendar
Ultimately, the best way to garner new links is not to force-feed them, but rather to attract them naturally. Your keyword research process will not doubt uncover a fat roster of relevant terms. In the case where you have a relevant term that is not currently represented with site content, start building. Create blog posts, infographics, slide presentations, ebooks, downloadable assets and anything else that passes the “would I share this?” test. Publish and promote it according to a well-planned content editorial calendar.
As the final step, develop your reporting structure. What are your primary business objectives? How can you draw a straight line from those chief marketing goals to your search engine optimization tactics? As much as reports can explain what keywords are effective, when search visitors arrive, where they move throughout the site and how long they stay, the most important questions that your SEO reports should answer are why? and what next? Include relevant statistics and trend lines related to traffic, activity and sales-oriented behavior, but also demonstrate how to improve results further at every reporting interval with thoughtfully constructed notes and insights.
What other components do you include in your SEO engagements? Every project and client is different, but does this resemble your process?