When you’re a business owner looking to get started with search engine marketing, it can often be difficult to know where to start. What makes it even more challenging is the fact that SEO is an ever-changing minefield. It isn’t something you can just do, it takes time, effort, and a lot of careful planning. These days, being found online is vital to the success of your company. It’s all about giving your potential customers what they want. Above all, with a good SEO strategy, you should also be able to stand out from your competition and increase conversions by giving your customers exactly what they want.
What is SEO?
Before you can even come up with a plan, it’s important that you fully understand what search engine optimisation is. Putting it simply, it’s about ensuring that your products or services are being found by those searching for a specific term or phrase. Everyone’s target is Google’s top spot, and the competition can be quite high. Hundreds, thousands, or even millions of other companies will be fighting to be number one, which is why having a plan in place can really help.
SEO is an organic discipline, meaning you don’t have to pay for your efforts like you would with PPC. There are both technical and creative elements involved, and you need to know how they go hand in hand to achieve the best results from your work. Remember, having a website that’s technically sound and well put together isn’t the be all and end all of appearing in SERP’s. You also need to make sure that you’re actually delivering what users want, too.
What to Include in Your Strategy
Think long term. Don’t think where you want to be at the end of the week, think about where you want to be at the end of the year. This way, your goals are likely to become far more achievable when you put your plan in place. The key things to remember about SEO are relevancy, authority, and user experience. So, when creating your strategy, keep those three things in mind at all times.
In your plan, the areas of focus should be on-page, off-page, and technical search engine optimisation. To keep on top of it all, it may be best to do this in three-month stages.
Before You Start
If you want to rank highly, there are a few things you ought to think about before you begin optimising your website. After all, what’s the point in doing all the hard work if you’re unable to track your efforts? It’s best to get all the prep work done prior to everything being implemented, this way you’ll gain an accurate representation of the progress made. Three key things you need to set up are:
- Google Analytics
- Google Tag Manager
- Google Search Console
High-quality, relevant, and user-friendly content is key to organic success. Not only does it give Google something to read, but it offers users an insight into what you offer. This is where you get to show off your company, so be sure to think about what you want to say and how you want to say it very carefully.
In order to get this done to the best possible standard, competitor and audience analysis is essential. It’s always worth checking out what other people are doing, as this will help you to understand what works and what doesn’t. When it comes to your target market, it’s likely you already know who utilises your services/products. This should help when it comes to creating on-page content as you’ll be able to tailor it to their needs and wants.
Creative marketing copy is a must as your audience doesn’t want to read the same thing over and over again. It helps to use synonyms and persuasive language as the words will connect better, making the user experience more enjoyable for the reader.
A good SEO strategy shouldn’t just include what you’re doing on your website, it should be about what happens off it, too. Off-page work generally refers to content marketing such as link building, blogging, online PR, and social media. All of these elements are important because searchers typically have a strong appetite for whatever it is they’re looking for. People want good content but they don’t want to feel as though they are being forced into the purchase. Research shows that decision makers are far more likely to convert from a piece of engaging content rather than traditional, old-school marketing efforts.
You can’t forget about what goes on behind the scenes. Yes search engines like websites that are technically sound, but users do too as it improves their overall experience. Technical SEO covers a broad range of areas, but some of the most important are:
- XML sitemap
- Robots.txt file
- Broken links
- Duplicate content
- Noindex and nofollow tags
- Mobile friendliness
- Fast site speed
Read our blog on why technical SEO is an important aspect of your overall marketing efforts: https://www.colewood.net/blog/why-technical-seo-is-important/
Why Invest Your Time
Research shows that, in most cases, the majority of website traffic is organic, as opposed to paid or referral. Search engines are the primary method for people visiting your website. However, if you’re new to the game, it may be worth noting that it doesn’t happen overnight. Just because you write a couple of meta descriptions and submit a sitemap, it doesn’t mean you’re going to appear straight away. As mentioned earlier, it’s something that takes time.
Without carrying out search engine optimisation, it makes it incredibly difficult for Google to understand your website. It won’t know the message you want to give to your customers, so it won’t know where to place you in search results.
There’s no way anyone - no matter how skilled - will be able to pull off successful SEO without a well-thought-out plan. Digital marketing can be a tricky task to take on, but it will be worth it in the long run. Remember the old saying ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’? Well, this certainly applies here. The more time you can put into researching and creating an SEO strategy, the more likely you are to reap the benefits.