There is no such thing as a cookie-cutter SEO strategy (and if someone is trying to sell you one, be sure to dig deeper and get second opinions!). There is a difference between best practices, which are universal, and a business and website-specific SEO strategy. The ever-changing, dynamic nature of the search marketing industry requires constant diligence, and SEO professionals must maintain a research process for analyzing how the search landscape is changing.
The following factors must be taken into account when developing your SEO strategy:
- What the organization is trying to promote (service, product, content)
- Who the target market is (can be as simple as “women” or as detailed as personas)
- Brand (includes copy & messaging)
- Website structure (includes site architecture, navigational elements, and file/URL naming conventions)
- Current site content assets (includes images, videos, PDF files, white papers, case studies, articles)
- The ease with which the content and site structure can be modified (involves the CMS & web development teams)
- Editorial resources and calendar for content development (what content is developed, by whom, and on what timeline)
Learning about the specific market a business is in is an obvious first step towards developing industry familiarity, trends, and vernacular – but it often makes sense for two businesses offering the same products in the market to use different SEO strategies. For example, if Competitor 1 published its website four years ago, and Competitor 2 is just launching their site now, Competitor 2 may gain the most traction by focusing on specific vertical areas where Competitor 1’s offering, or SEO implementation, is weak. It is important to not underestimate the importance of a well thought out SEO strategy. Skipping over this process, or not treating it seriously, can hamper your prospects for growth.
Developing an SEO Plan Prior to Site Development
- It is widely understood in the SEO industry that SEO should be built in, as early as possible, to the entire site development strategy – from choosing a content management system (CMS) and planning site architecture to creating, optimizing, and publishing site content.
SEO plans have many moving parts, and decisions made in consideration of SEO can and usually do have a significant impact on other departments such as web development, content development, and editorial, other marketing groups (direct, offline, etc), and sales. Integrating these moving parts and aligning them with each other is essential to developing an SEO-friendly website and establishing a strong foundation for enduring organic visibility.
Business Factors That Impact Your SEO Strategy
Here are some examples of business issues that can impact SEO: Revenue & business models
The effective SEO strategy takes into account the purpose of the site – whether it is to sell products, sell advertising, obtain leads, or gain membership signups.
Who are you trying to reach? This could be an age group, a gender group, or as specific as people looking to buy a house within a specific neighborhood of San Francisco, CA.
The competitive landscape is another big factor in your overall strategy. Competition may be strongly entrenched in one portion of the market online, and it may make sense to focus on a different segment. Or you may be the current leader in your market, and want to protect this position while continuing to build your customer base.
There may be search terms for which it is critical that you have top search exposure, for branding reasons.
An important part of SEO and general online success is the creation and optimization of high-quality content for your users. For most businesses, your capacity to create quality content on an ongoing basis can significantly improve your SEO efforts, both from a content-availability perspective (more content in the search engines) and from a user engagement and link development perspective (great content breeds great links and social sharing, both of which can positively influence SEO).
How people search for products like yours
Understanding what customers do when they are searching for products or services like yours is one of the most basic functions of SEO. This involves mapping the actual search queries your target customers use when they go to a search engine.
Understanding Your Audience and Finding Your Niche
Determining your target audience should be something incorporated into the initial site design, and should inform your SEO and content development strategies. As you will see in this section, many factors enter into this including the competition, the particular strengths or weaknesses of your own company, and more.
Mapping Your Products and Services
Successful SEO requires a thorough understanding of your business. What products, services, and types of information and resources do you have to offer your site visitors and potential customers?
As we outlined in the preceding section, a critical SEO activity is understanding who is searching for what you are trying to promote, which requires thoroughly understanding all aspects of your offering. You will need to understand the broad and specific market categories that your products fall into, as each of these categories might relate to sections of your website that you will likely need to create. By having content areas of the site for those categories, you create the opportunity to obtain organic search traffic related to those categories.
You also should consider business development and the company’s expansion strategy at the outset of the SEO planning process. Consider Amazon, which began as a bookseller but has evolved into a general purpose e-tailer; sites that go through these types of changes may need to be substantially restructured, and such restructurings can be a source of major SEO headaches. Anticipating and planning for these types of changes in advance provides the opportunity to recommend appropriate architectural approaches to develop and optimize the site.
Ref: Mr. Eric