Latest in search engine marketing planning, strategy and winning tactics. This week brings a universal guide on developing a comprehensive SEO strategy with a break down of each step and key takeaways for taking full advantage of new changes to the local SEO after the launch of Google Pigeon. Finally, no SEO plan is complete without a handy tool and that’s why I included a hands on review of Splunk for technical SEO.
SEO Strategy & Planning
A Universal SEO Strategy Audit in 5 Steps – Whiteboard Friday
by Rand Fishkin, moz.com @randfish
The only reason I make this SEO round-up on Fridays in Whiteboard Fridays. Seriously, if you don’t have time to keep up with SEO best practices and news all week just make a habit to catch Whiteboard Friday a weekly video on SEO and Online marketing by Moz. This week’s Whiteboard Friday is on forming a comprehensive SEO strategy. I’m only going to share some key insights here but you should totally go ahead and watch the video at the end.
Key insights from this week’s Whiteboard Friday
Let’s start with this question. If some one asked you to explain your SEO strategy in 1 minute what would be your answer? Explaining SEO to someone can be exhaustive and in general filled with a lot of jargon. Great strategies are simple and extremely lightweight. That doesn’t only come in handy when explaining your strategy to others, sure that’s important. but more important than that is to allow yourself you keep a handle on its elements. Include too many moving parts and you’re bound to loose track of one or the other.
What’s not an SEO strategy?
If your SEO strategy is focused on technical elements of SEO than you don’t have an SEO strategy. What you have is a manual on technical SEO not a strategy. Similarly if all your strategy talks about is optimising for sales i.e. making revenue then you’re running after the wrong goal. SEO does not make money on its own. If you are looking at a document that is focused on a few tactical components of SEO then you don’t have a strategy. A comprehensive SEO strategy is not limited to tactics instead it details the larger business objective.
What to include in your SEO strategy?
Strategy simply put is deciding to win at something. Once you’ve made that decision and defined your focus you can look at steps or tactics required to make that happen. How you can successfully achieve your business objectives with a comprehensive SEO similarly comes down to starting with deciding solve a problem better than anyone else. That starts by asking yourself this question.
1. What solutions do people search for that our product delivers? – How would a person ask for what you’re selling and how would they phrase that question? In other words what would someone write in a search bar that would lead them to your product. That means that after defining which problem you solve and in what ways people refer to it, you’ll have to ask yourself the next question.
2. What is unique about your solution? – I’ve been an entrepreneur myself and while I was attending my business school I was an active part of the start-up circle at our campus. I know from experience that only a very select number of people actually have a convincing reason for why someone would want to buy their product over what’s already available in the market. Knowing that you can zero in on exactly what you’re going to win at. Is it innovation, convenience or affordability? It can be anything but it needs to stand out and withstand public scrutiny.
3. Who is going to amplify your message? – Successful SEO isn’t limited to meta tags, source code and keywords. Search engines love relevance and for that reason they value reputation above everything else. I’m not saying that technical SEO is redundant, but if you only focus on that you’ll not be as successful as you could be with an outreach plan. You’re going to be so glad that you answered the first 2 questions right at the start because knowing where and how people can benefit form your product will help you locate people who can help you reach the right people. Gaining relevance, trust and reputation through amplifying your message with they help of such partners is a MASSIVELY important component of SEO.
4. How would you convert search traffic into sales? – Drum roll please. This is the million dollar question and so much of SEO and CRO (conversion rate optimisation) is based around finding the best answer. Visitors aren’t going to turn into customers on their own. That’s why success at SEO can’t be measured in revenue. If you’ve been successful so far at delivering the right traffic to your website now you have to be successful at turning those searchers into paid customers by creating a process to gather productive leads, qualifying them and converting them. There’s no one way of doing it and it’s totally up to you how you will effectively use the resources your business has to convince people into doing business with you.
5. What tactics do you need to achieve your goals? – This is where you need to create a plan to reach your customers and potential customers. Notice that this is the last step because without knowing what phrases people use, their search habits and intents, your ability to differentiate yourself and a process to convert leads into sales you won’t be able to create comprehensive content plan. A comprehensive content plan delivers information on what people are already looking for in elation to your product. The magic ingredient is using your content as an active source of creation unique value and in the process differentiating your business just as you did while answering questions 1 and 2.
Local SEO: 5 Advanced Tactics for Greater Visibility
by Brad Miller, searchenginewatch.com @ibradmiller
I most common question I get asked by people about search engine marketing is about how to get your link positioned higher on a search engine result page (SERP). The reason why so many people worry about it is because that’s the first thing you notice when you use a search provider like Google or Bing. A lot of times we take a very technical approach to SEO. It’s true that SEO is a series of both big and small which are in fact technical in nature to craft a well organised approach to SEO. But technical SEO is just one way of looking search marketing, the other is optimising for user experience. That’s exactly what search engines want from us.
Google Pigeon has introduced some really positive changes in local SEO that are beneficial for local businesses. There’s no arguing that you have to start by getting your technical SEO up to speed. Today that means paying attention to how your web property is tagged and using Schema.org markup correctly. That again is technical SEO but not surprisingly the changes introduced in Pigeon are designed to improve local SEO by focusing on improving the way we experience local search. That means local search rankings, reviews and listings play a critical role in your search rank.
Key takeaways for successful local SEO
1. Focus on relevance: That means focusing on local listings and platforms where people generally go and look for information. By updating your information in those listings you will be increasing the visibility by improving on the relevance of your links for someone using the search engine. Google now lists links from local listings and forums like Yelp and Quora so actively helping people in these forums is good for your SEO health.
2. Develop a search mindset: I know everyone and their cat will tell you that but what does it really mean? SEO changes so fast and not so long ago it was enough to focus on the technical aspects of SEO, today however that isn’t enough. When I say develop a search mindset I mean optimising for all types of search – links, videos and images. This links back to the previous point I made about being relevant but really it’s not enough to simply rank high, instead you want to be relevant for both the query and the medium of search. When updating your SEO plan, see what results show up for different keywords (use longtail keywords) in all 3 types of search results to learn more about search intent and improve your content.
3. Take advantage of Google +, Google Maps & Google Places: I must confess I have not been big on using Google +. I have used Google Maps and Google Places in small business marketing but amid all it’s ups and downs Google + is still a great tool to complement your online marketing. I know in 2014 I wasn’t certain if Google + is worth the time but in 2015 it will be one of the tools I will be using. There’s no question that Google+ is no Facebook but it’s one of the most effective SEO tools out there. From collecting reviews to sharing updates, reaching people and creating conversations, Google+ will be an amazing addition in your local SEO toolbox in addition to other Google services.
7 Ways To Use Splunk For Technical SEO
by Eli Schwartz, searchengineland.com @5le
Devil is in the details. No SEO plan is complete without a well defined approach to keeping an eye on your crawl data. Crawl data includes information about link structures, broken links and 404’s that can be damaging your page rank. It’s like taking care of a machine with many moving parts requires making sure that each and every single part is functioning at its best. keeping an eye on your crawl data let’s you monitor the components of technical SEO that aren’t readily visible to you. Google Webmaster tools is a great place to start. It’s user friendly and provides on meaning insights on every aspect of how your website is being crawled and which links are being indexed.
I use Google WB tool myself but I like to try other tools as well because some tools offer certain specific features that are better suited for some projects and some people than others. It pays off to try new things and learn new tricks. One such tool is Splunk that offers deeper analytics and integration with business intelligence. Splunk makes it easier for you to see the insights that are important for you saving you the trouble of going through custom Excel sheets. That also means its easier to find and share key insights! The free version of Splunk allows you to process 500 MB of data every day saving you time and as Avinash Kaushik would put it, ‘Making you an analytics ninja.’ – Agile and decisive.