There are about 200 million active websites out there on the internet, all vying for visitors. That level of competition makes running a successful website more than just good luck.
You need a strong foundation that lets you build up your digital marketing strategy over time. When it comes to websites, that strong foundation is search engine optimization.
Of course, good SEO doesn’t happen automatically or overnight. You’ll need an SEO campaign that will likely span weeks or months to really see the magic happen.
So, how do you plan a good SEO campaign? Keep reading for crucial tips and SEO strategies that will make your SEO plan a success.
Do an SEO Audit
Before you can really worry about SEO marketing or formulating an SEO plan, a good first step is an SEO audit. There are two main ways of approaching this.
First up, you can look for an SEO audit checklist. You work your way through the checklist and look for problems on your website. The problems you find become a big part of your SEO campaign.
If you don’t know where else to start, a checklist can prove very helpful.
There are a couple of problems with checklists. A checklist can’t give you tech skills, and some SEO problems are technical problems. You can’t fix problems you can’t identify or understand.
The other main problem with a checklist is that it’s time-consuming. You can waste a lot of time looking at things that already work.
Another option is using an automated SEO audit tool. These tools aren’t perfect, but they can help you identify and prioritize critical problems on your website. Just as importantly, they can pin down technical issues you might otherwise miss.
Determine Your Goals and Relevant KPIs
Success can mean very different things depending on the kind of website you run. Let’s say that your run an e-commerce store. For you, success boils down almost entirely to sales volume.
That means that your key performance indicators will almost all relate to your sales.
Which pages or products see the most traffic? Which pages or products produce the most sales? Which pages or products produce the most profit?
Your main goals will revolve around optimizing your site to enhance your sales volume, preferably on the highest profit items.
Now, let’s say that you run a general interest website that consists entirely of articles in a variety of categories. Your version of success and relevant KPIs become much more complex.
Odds are good that your site generates profit from a couple of different sources. You probably generate some profit from ads that appear on the site via an ad network. You may also generate some profit from affiliate links to major online retailers.
Your relevant KPIs will include things like:
- Traffic volume
- Session length
- Bounce rate
- Click-through rate
Knowing what you care about will shape how you approach and optimize your site.
Regardless of the type of website your run, there are some technical SEO concerns that apply across the board. While Google goes into great detail about what it wants, there are some key areas to watch out for as you go. These areas include:
- Mobile readiness
- Page load speeds
- Link health
- XML sitemaps
- Secure socket layer or SSL certificate
- Structured data
Some of these problems offer relatively easy solutions. If you use a content management system, for example, you often get mobile readiness as a baked-in feature. The CMS automatically adjusts the site for the visitor’s screen size.
Dealing with technical SEO often requires a professional touch. If you don’t already work with an SEO agency, you can search online for an “SEO agency near me.”
Keywords and Topics
You cannot talk about an SEO campaign without giving consideration to keywords and topic selection. While keywords do matter, they often receive outsized weight in the discussion.
Yes, you need the right keywords, but what is the right keyword? Traditional internet marketing wisdom holds that a good keyword strikes a balance between search volume and competition. You want one that gets decent traffic, but that isn’t so highly contested that you can’t get on page 1 results.
In practice, the right keyword is almost never one keyword. It’s a primary keyword, backed up by several secondary, related keywords.
When it comes to topic selection, it should incorporate your primary or secondary keywords. Equally important is that the topic should relate to your site or business in a meaningful way. More on this in the next section.
Search engines put a high value on a regular stream of new, high-quality content appearing on your site. Retail or e-commerce sites usually rely on their blog for this. On sites where the content is the draw, you must pay special attention to the high-quality element.
High quality means that your content offers advice or insight that is relevant to your audience. On a general interest site, that typically means relevant in a specific category.
On a business site, your content must prove relevant to your direct customers. A pool service, for example, might publish a post about winter maintenance. A post about interior decorating, no matter how well-written, lacks relevance to that business’s customers.
Good content also leverages good sources. Good sources are other articles or research that come from high-authority websites. Preferably, they are websites closely related to your main business or keyword.
Building Your SEO Campaign
A successful SEO campaign must cover a lot of ground. It takes time and informed planning.
Informed planning starts with a good SEO audit. The audit will help you identify technical SEO problems that you might otherwise miss.
You also need a clear picture of your goals and the KPIs that relate to those goals. Tracking the wrong information won’t help.
Your campaign must also identify one or more keywords that you will build your site and content around. In terms of content, focus on quality and relevance.
Looking for more digital marketing tips? Check out our Technology section.