The goal of search engine optimization is to have search engines find your site and reward pages based on relevance and quality of the content with higher rankings. The process of optimizing your website is not a one-time deal, but requires maintenance, tuning, and continuous A/B testing.
There are four main components of a successful search engine optimization strategy: website analysis, research and development, content optimization and A/B testing. Let's dive in a bit deeper!
Marketing is no longer measured by hunches and opinions; it is more of a science, than just a work of art. With the emergence of the internet, businesses have access to excessive amounts of data that pave the path for all future marketing decisions. But where to begin?
How does your website rank? Does your site function properly? Combing though your current website will give you a start point; it can help identify any lost or broken links and locate areas that are not meeting your goals. A proper website analysis can tell you about the traffic to your site, where it comes from, how long they are staying on your page, when they leave, bounce rates, and why visitors might not be staying on your page long.
First and foremost, is your web page mobile-friendly? The mobility of your site directly affects would websites ranking, as well as your user's experience. 80% of internet users are searching from a mobile device, therefore your website must accommodate this.
Do you have appropriate calls-to-actions and lead capture forms? These will help to guide your visitors through their buyers journey.
Are you developing content? Content marketingcost 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about 3 times as many leads.Blogging, a form of content marketing, is an opportunity to generate more leads, improve your search results and establish your brand as a thought leader in your given realm. We recommend blogging at least once per week.
Do you have a social media presence? Some people do not look at social media as part of their website, but it is - It’s an important extension of your website. Do you have links to these social media pages? Are your social media pages linking back to your website? Social media is a great way to drive visitors to your website, start conversations and build relationships.
Do you have analytics and sitemap installed? Google analytics is free and they provide a ton of free guidance on how to use the platform. It’s a great tool to understand where people go, how long they stay and what they do on your site. A sitemap allows search engines, like Google, to search and index your website. If you don’t have one, or if Google can’t find it, than search engines will not be able index your site, making it near impossible to be found!
How do you measure up to your competitors? A competitive analysis helps you evaluate your competition’s strategies to determine their strengths and weaknesses relative to your brand. Learn from what they do well and avoid their least successful efforts. You should look through your competitors platforms, content, audience and conversations.
A great places to look for content, audience, and conversation is social media. Check out the various social channels of your competitors for a better look into their brand. You’ll be able to see how they interact with their audience and might be able to identify some of the things their audience thinks of them that you can improve on.
How is your audience finding your site? Keyword analysis is the process of analyzing the keywords or search phrases that bring visitors to your website through organic and paid search. You should start your analysis by reviewing competitive lists and other pertinent industry sources. Use your preliminary list of keywords to determine an indicative number of recent search engine queries and how many websites are competing for each keyword. Prioritize keywords and phrases, plurals, singulars and misspellings. Analyzing these keywords allows brands to:
Optimize Spend: Distribute more budget to successful keywords and eliminate wasteful spending on those that aren't producing results.
Increase Conversions: Identifying and focusing on well-converting keywords is good for increasing conversion rate optimization and return on investment (ROI).
Eye Trends: Knowledge of keyword search frequency provides insight into market behavior, which you can apply to multiple aspects of your business.
Prioritize Your Time: Keyword performance guides campaign importance - spend your time optimizing areas that have the biggest impact on your bottom line.
Find New Markets: Use the keyword analysis to expand your long-tail efforts and discover more specific keyword queries and corresponding warm leads.
Research and Development
Once you have a general understanding of the current status of your website, it is time to develop a plan to move the needle with your search rankings.
Baseline Ranking Assessment
You need to understand your current status in order to accurately assess your future rankings. A simple way to log your baseline is with an Excel Sheet to measure your progress. Begin by checking weekly. As you get more comfortable, check every 30 to 45 days. Improvements in organic website traffic is a key indicator of progress for your keywords!
Goals and Objectives
Clearly define your objectives in advance so you can truly measure the return on investment from any programs you implement. Start simple, but don’t forget this step: SET SMART GOALS.
You may decide on a goal to increase website traffic from a current baseline of 100 visitors a day to 200 visitors a day over the course of the next 30 days or you may want to improve your current conversion rate by 1.5% within 3 months. You may begin with top-level, aggregate numbers, but you must drill down into the specific pages that can improve products, services, and business sales.
This is a process in which a web page and its content are optimized to become more attractive, useful and functional to its users. The optimization process typically includes fixes and improvements on technical performance (ex: page speed) and content copy for it to perform and rank better on search engines.
CREATE PAGE TITLES: Keyword-based titles help establish page theme and direction for your keywords.
CREATE META TAGS: Meta description tags can influence click-through, but are not directly used for rankings. (Google doesn't use the keywords tag anymore)
PLACE STRATEGIC PHRASES ON PAGES:Integrate selected keywords into your website source code and existing content on designated pages. Make sure to apply a suggested guideline of one to three keywords/phrases per content page and add more pages to complete the list. Ensure that related words are used naturally to help search engines quickly determine what the page is about. In the past, 100 to 300 words on a page was recommended. Many tests show that pages with 800 to 2,000 words can outperform shorter ones. In the end, the users, the marketplace, content and links will determine the popularity and ranking numbers.
DEVELOP NEW SITEMAPS FOR GOOGLE AND BING:Make it easier for search engines to index your website. Create both XML and HTML versions. An HTML version is the first step. XML sitemaps can easily be submitted via Google and Bing webmaster tools.
Test, Measure & Test Again!
As we discussed before, optimization is not a one-time process, but rather an ongoing evolution based on content and experience for visitors on your website. Things change - industries, businesses, the internet. In fact, Google has reported changing its algorithm from 500-600 times each year. Therefore, you must continue to test and measure in order to improve.
Test and Measure
Analyze search engine rankings and web traffic to determine the effectiveness of the programs you’ve implemented, including assessment of individual keyword performance. Test the results of changes, and keep changes tracked in an Excel spreadsheet, or whatever you're comfortable with.
Ongoing addition and modification of keywords and website content are necessary to continually improve search engine rankings so growth doesn’t stall or decline from neglect. You also want to review your link strategy and ensure that your inbound and outbound links are relevant to your business. A blog can provide you the necessary structure and ease of content addition that you need. Your hosting company can typically help you with the setup/installation of a blog.
The most important thing to keep in mind, is your strategy must stay flexible and always keep your end user in mind. By following the process above, you will work through key steps to successfully optimize your website.
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