As a top San Diego SEO firm, when we sit down with business owners for the first time, our conversations are almost always about desired results: improved page rankings, increased traffic, more linking from other websites and ultimately, more sales. SEO best practices are important, but how do we get there from an under-performing or non-existent website?
Best SEO Strategy for 2020
SEO strategy development is a long-term marketing play that can deliver huge business results. Our clients know that SEO improvements require an investment of time with an evolving plan to funnel customers to their business using the power of search engine optimization. Over time and across many client projects, we’ve developed a comprehensive process for long-term SEO best practices regarding strategy:
- Determine the ranking factors you are interested in attempting to achieve.
- Use content marketing to create valuable insight that people actually want to read.
- Make sure that the main keyword you are going after is actually ranking.
- Use internal linking of blog posts and link building to push people to where conversions can happen.
These aspects to your digital marketing campaign are critical to the successful implementation of a healthy, goal-oriented strategy. If you are considering outsourcing or hiring an SEO expert we recommend you read more on what to look for and what to stay away from. But, if your digital marketing partner is not explaining the strategy behind their approach to developing an SEO strategy, you should know something just isn’t right.
The realm of search engine optimization has grown exponentially in the past 10 years. Initially, search engine algorithms were well understood and easy to solve – simply add the right keywords on a few pages, make sure the website was error-free and your rankings would improve. Over time, web marketers and search engine designers have mastered their craft and the modern search engine algorithms have surpassed simple on-page optimization.
We can guarantee that your most successful competitors have sophisticated and evolving SEO strategy development plans, targeted content, and creative technical execution. This is how they are ranking ahead of you in a google search query. To surpass your competitors’ rankings, it is imperative that your web presence outperforms that competition by developing an SEP strategy plan.
In the planning phase, our San Diego SEO consultants perform a competitive analysis of the market, taking in to consideration keyword difficulty, monthly search volume, website traffic and total backlinks. How these stats compare to your site provide the baseline and potential for your SEO strategy development. Our free website report can provide a baseline for these figures. However, without a competitive analysis, it is impossible to make a comprehensive plan for long-term SEO implementation. The tasks we perform for our clients in the SEO planning phase are listed below:
Site Audit – technical performance and current state of SEO
Strategic SEO Plan
Key Performance Indicator Creation
Developing an SEO Strategy Plan
Understanding how you are performing as a baseline to your competitor’s performance can help you make informed decisions in the planning phase of your SEO strategy development. We break down these requirements in the first 5 tasks of developing an SEO strategy plan. Once we’ve benchmarked your market-specific needs, we can consider your goals and devise an SEO website strategy plan using the KPIs we have created.
The next blog entry in the SEO Best Practices series will look at the implementation phase of SEO – including strategies behind content creation, technical and creative on-page SEO tactics, domain focused SEO strategies and the importance of backlinking.
If you are interested in learning more, we encourage you to read about WordPress Plugins For Beginners. That is a good place to get started with optimizing your WordPress website quickly without any expenses or too much time getting up to speed. Or, if you feel like you already have a bit of SEO knowledge, please skip ahead and learn what our San Diego SEO Experts have to say about building a strong search engine optimization strategy that will provide your site with further visibility.
Implementing SEO Techniques
The techniques you should start with are basic search engine expectations like title tags, meta descriptions, and ALT tags. What this means, is that if you are using WordPress like the majority of website owners are, you should make sure that you have installed the Yoast SEO plugin. This is literally the most basic possible way to begin to understand the basic on-page improvements you can make to the web page.
Don’t forget about user experience (UX) when you are creating content that the search engines will like. If you do, you will realize that noone will click to visit your website because it appears that it was written for a computer — not a human. Have you ever seen a result show up when you are searching for something somewhat obscure and it is obvious that the person who wrote that is keyword stuffing the headline and text you can see?
Most likely, you haven’t seen that recently because the search engine algorithms are pretty smart now and don’t let that fly. Another thing that will help you during the early implementation stages is to make sure to identify and fix any broken link. Unfortunately, too many website owners that we come across are not using google search console or SEMrush to identify where they are missing the mark in their website health. Removing potentially penalties for a lack of website maintenance is equally as important as a solid content strategy.
SEO Strategy Review & Reporting
At the end of the day, marketing stakeholders care about one thing: high-quality leads. Reviewing SEO plan performance is a crucial, yet commonly ignored part of the SEO strategy process. All leads are not created equal. This means it is important to seperate organic traffic generated from SEO efforts from other marketing channels. Then it becomes possible to review the success of your SEO plan. The following steps outline how to perform this review.
1) Keyword Rank Reporting
To properly track revenue generated through SEO-based marketing tactics, an understanding of the marketing funnel is neccesary. The first step is determining which keywords are the most valuable to your company. This keyword research can be done by targetting specific services or products that you offer, what your biggest competitors are currently ranking for, and the most descriptive terms that define what your business does.
Once these keywords have been identified, additional research should be done to locate highly relevant terms that may have additional value. This research is best done on a platform like SEMRush or even Google’s keyword planning tool. It is highly recommended to take these keywords and create projects and reports in SEMRush to help track the long term performance of each individual keyword.
The reports created will identify the ranking position of each keyword, the estimated traffic generated, and the cost of that traffic if it were spent on pay-per-click advertising. If SEO tactics are implemented properly, there should be consistent growth in all three categories.
2) Impression, Click, & CTR Reporting
As keyword rankings begin to improve, the number of user impressions for your website in search engine query results will also increase. Google Search Engine is by far the largest source of potential customer’s internet searches. So, the best tool for monitoring the number of impressions garnered for organic search terms is Google Search Console.
The verification process can be problematic for novice website administrators but there are four ways to verify ownership of a website: through Google Analytics, adding an HTML tag, using Google Tag Manager, or associating a DNS record through your domain name provider. Once verified, all organic search data becomes available including impressions, clicks, click-through-rate, and average keyword position. Additionally, data can be sorted by keyword, landing page, and date to capture the information needed.
At the highest level, SEO reporting should be set up to include month-over-month impression, click, and CTR. Automated reoccuring reports can be created using Google Data Studio as well.
3) User Behavior & Conversion Reporting
After a potential lead views a search engine result from your website and makes the click to view your web page, they become a website user. It is critical to deleniate between an impression and a click for this reason. Once a user visits a website, the best tool to analyze their behavior is Google Analytics. User behavior is often overlooked by SEOs; this can prove to be a fatal mistake because the Google search algorithm incorporates the user behaviors such as bounce rate, time-on-page, and number of pages viewed per session into their search rankings.
Within Google Analytics, there are plenty of options for reporting. However, the basics must be addressed on a monthly basis. This includes reporting on SEO fundamentals like number of users and traffic by source (particularly important is the organic channel). However, the most valuable metric Google Analytics offers is the conversion data.
In order to access conversion data, events and goals must be set up. The most important conversions to track include form-fills, phone number clicks, newsletter sign-ups, and purchases (if possible). Then, regular reporting should be done to indicate the frequency of conversions, where they occur, and a comparison between organic conversions for SEO value and overall conversions from other channels.