In SEO, as in any other area, consistency is important. Clear planning and understanding how and in what order to act is an important component of successful promotion. This is why building the right strategy is one of the most important aspects of working in search engine marketing.
Analyzing the site itself and the competitive environment, combined with the accumulated experience and the use of the right tools, saves time and budgets. In 2018, most entrepreneurs are already realizing the importance of SEO to their business. The only problem is that it is not entirely clear from which side to approach all this.
So, let’s break down the basic principles that will help you develop an effective SEO strategy and move confidently towards building a powerful online presence for your business.
Determining the goals
Understanding the specific goals, you face makes it easier to achieve them. For example, in a year, increase the traffic of an online store to 5,000 visitors per day and receive at least 50 sales per day.
It also allows you to track the dynamics of growth, understand at what stage of progress towards the goal you are and, if necessary, adjust tactics on the fly.
The main goals that can be achieved with SEO are:
- Increase attendance;
- increase brand visibility;
- increase in conversion from search.
This is more correct than, for example, setting the bar for sales. As traffic growth and brand awareness increase often equals sales growth.
The main thing is that the goals are set realistic. Since it seeks to get 5,000 visitors a day on the topic of building houses from a bar in Ryazan, it is at least illogical. It will be difficult to achieve such a volume of traffic in this niche and in this region.
Another important point: at what level are you going to act, regional or all-Russian? For example, with a limited budget, a more correct solution would be to focus on the local market. Especially if most of your audience is concentrated in one city / region.
Dominating a small market will help ensure faster growth and higher return on investment than trying to reach a wider geography. At the Russian level, most likely there are already companies that have spent years on promotion and invested millions in budgets.
Local SEO requires slightly different approaches, in particular, working with Yandex.Directory, Google My Business, aggregators, regional media and opinion leaders. All this must be taken into account in your strategy.
Analyzing available resources
You can plan anything, but will you be able to put it all into practice? Much depends on the resources at your disposal. In our case, we are talking about a promotion budget, which includes:
- payment for the work of SEO specialists;
- the cost of creating content;
- cost of work on external promotion (links, etc.);
- payment for the work of programmers, layout designers and other performers who may be involved in the process of working on the site.
The list of items can be expanded or reduced not only depending on the budget, but also based on the internal resources of the company.
Perhaps you have a couple of employees on staff who are not only professionals in their field, but can also share their experience with others, creating content for a corporate blog. In this case, the cost of copywriting on the side can be safely minus.
If the budget is small, then you can stretch some of the tasks at the start in time, taking up their study later. Correct prioritization decides, but as already mentioned, for this you need to understand what you can start from.
Conduct an audit of the site
A detailed study of the site, demand and niche allows you to identify possible obstacles along the way and eliminate them first. Due to various technical errors and problems in the structure of the site and landing pages, the study of other factors may not give the desired result.
You will probably have to update and expand the semantic core, remove duplicate pages, work with adaptability (depending on the degree of neglect of the “patient” state).
During the audit, special attention is paid to technical aspects as well as the current state of internal optimization. In particular:
- completeness of indexing by search engines;
- presence and correctness of sitemap.xml / robots.txt files;
- presence of Title and Description meta tags and their quality;
- audit of analytics systems and webmaster panels;
- check for duplicates and “404” errors on the site;
- quality of content on landing pages;
- the quality of the site’s current link profile, etc.
The audit checklist of an experienced specialist has dozens of items and may differ depending on the type of project being analyzed. For example, for an online store, the list will usually be larger than for a service site.
An important point that is often overlooked is the issue of usability. Content and optimization should definitely be a priority. But user experience is steadily starting to enter the list of Top factors that influence rankings.
Almost all of your opportunities for influence are within the site itself. At the very least, make sure your site meets the following criteria:
- has a convenient and intuitive navigation;
- the pages can be reached in no more than 3 clicks;
- its loading time is no more than 4 seconds;
- the content on the pages is informative and designed in an easy-to-read form;
- the order forms and process are simple and do not contain a lot of fields;
- there are no “broken” links that lead to non-existent pages.
If on any of the points we get flaws, then we put the appropriate work into our future strategy.
This is necessary in order to understand the current level of competition in the niche and understand how much effort will need to be made to squeeze out the current “TOP inhabitants”. Search traffic is a finite value, and to get it on the pages of your site, you need to take it from someone else.
Usually, at the stage of drawing up a strategy, only the main indicators are analyzed without page-by-page comparison. In particular the following:
- domain name age;
- number of pages in the index;
- estimated attendance by SimilarWeb;
- visibility in search and most visited pages;
- availability of an adaptive version of the site;
- quality of internal page optimization;
- level of external optimization (number and quality of links);
- the presence of a blog or section with informational articles on the site;
- availability of customer reviews and their format;
- the presence of interactive elements (for example, a calculator for calculating the cost of services), etc.
All this allows us to make the strategy more detailed. Sometimes it is enough competent internal optimization and a little “feed” with links to get Top in a few months. And it happens that after analyzing competitors it becomes clear that a long history awaits us, we will have to work in all directions and fight fiercely for each low-frequency device.
Well, and one more useful point – the analysis of competitors allows you to find many interesting ideas for improving your own site. No one bothers you to adopt the best practices if you want and the budget allows.
Define directions and prioritize
At the stage when all the data will be collected, it is possible to determine with a more specific list of tasks and draw up a step-by-step plan for their implementation. Based on the goals set, the state of the site and the level of competition, we begin to list the methods for achieving the desired results.
For example, the following areas of work can be distinguished:
implementation of recommendations, correction of errors and improvement of the site based on audit results;
- creating an adaptive version of the site;
- optimization and revision of existing pages;
- creation of new landing for important query clusters;
- work on content marketing within the site itself;
- external content marketing (guest posts);
- building the link mass by other methods, for example, crowd marketing;
- highlighting conversion requests and “pushing” them to the Top-1;
- work on improving usability, etc.
As you can see, the list is already quite large, and for each of the points you can still detail a lot. So no less important is to prioritize correctly based on the available budget and free hands. First of all, you should always start by working out internal factors and correcting mistakes.
Form a list of KPIs
It is extremely important to track the dynamics of progress towards the goal, what works and what does not, and what effect the completion of a particular task gives. And the sooner you start doing it, the better.
For this, key performance indicators (KPIs) are used, the use of which provides transparency in work, understanding the dynamics of growth and allows you to assess the return on investment.
With regard to SEO, the following list of the main KPIs that you need to monitor during the promotion process can be distinguished:
- the volume of organic search traffic and other channels;
- site visibility in search results by semantic core;
- the cost of attracting visitors;
- the cost of attracting a potential client;
- ROI (return on investment).
The topic of KPIs itself is quite extensive and more than one article can be devoted to it. What have we already done?
Therefore, we recommend reading about how to get started with SEO KPIs and how to determine the right KPIs for your project in previous posts.
As a tracking tool, you can use both Google Analytics and Yandex Metrica, as well as a specialized service for automating reports SEO-Reports.ru.
No one can give you a recipe for a one-size-fits-all SEO strategy that guarantees success, as it simply doesn’t exist. Everything is individual, and each project requires a special approach, taking into account its strengths and weaknesses, available resources and the characteristics of the competitive environment.
In addition, search engine algorithms change regularly, affecting the weight of certain ranking factors, forcing you to reconsider your action plan and reallocate resources accordingly.
Having a well thought out SEO strategy is critical to successful promotion. Only with a step-by-step work plan at hand can you focus on the things that really matter, gradually improving the site itself and achieving good long-term results.
What else, in your opinion, should be considered when developing a website promotion strategy? Share your opinion in the comments!