Anyone who has been an SEO consultant knows that SEO is often bolted-on as an after-thought.
Which is, of course, the worst way of doing SEO.
Part of the problem is that SEO is often thought of, by clients, as a fix. It is a fix applied to solve the unforeseen problem of not showing up in search engine result pages.
Whilst some businesses get it, we know most never will. But this fact is to your considerable advantage if you build and run your own sites :)
Relevant Traffic Is Everything
We know that a site without traffic is like a billboard in the desert. If no one sees it, it doesn't matter how pretty it is, it is useless.
A site without relevant traffic is a cost, not a benefit. Traffic that "just passes through" presents a major opportunity cost. What did that traffic really want to see, and why aren't I providing it?
Someone else will be.
We know that search is the ultimate internet marketing research tool. Search is marketing nirvana. Visitors tell us what they want, using a keyword query, and all we need to do is match that query up with our site.
Most people, outside search, still do not get this.
But we do.
Integrating SEO At Every Step
One thing some SEOs may not get is that SEO needs is an integral part of business strategy.
SEO is not just about positioning a site in the search rankings, it's about positioning a site in the market.
For example, it is pointless getting a #1 ranking for "cheap t-shirts" if a site sells designer t-shirts. Whilst this may result in a few rogue purchases, the site will constantly lose out to sites that offer cheap t-shirts.
Because the visitors will reformulate their search queries until they find the service that is most relevant to them. From a business point of view, it may be better to run two sites - one offering cheap t-shirts, and one offering designer shirts.
That's what being relevant really means. Being relevant to a target market.
An SEO strategy should look like this:
- Identify the target market
- Conduct a competitive analysis
- Create a business plan that shows how you will compete in that market
- Research keywords
- Create a brand identity related to those keyword terms
- Create a search-friendly site
- Get links
SEO flows naturally out of the demands of the target market.
The visitors tell us what they want. We look to see if anyone else is providing it. If they are, could we do better? We create a basic plan showing how we will supply the need, and how much money we'll make, after costs, if we succeed. We develop a strategy, as opposed to tactics. We investigate the many ways people phrase queries. We create a "language" for our site copy, and brand, that includes those queries, and addresses the intent behind them. We build a crawlable, well-ordered site and then we tell the world about it. We hope the world will talk about it, the send some attention our way.
SEO Is Ongoing
Just as business strategy is something we must do each day, so too is SEO. Integrate SEO into all you do. Even sending out a bill is an opportunity to ask someone to engage with your site. And hopefully link to it.
Ask your friends, associates, suppliers and customers to link to you. Do the same for them. Create a personal link network of like-minded people and grow that network wider and wider. Think of it as a circle of trust.
Your keyword referral stats are pure gold. Find the keyword terms people have used to find you. Use them as ideas for new page topics. Integrate their language into your copy. Repeat. Grow organically based on the demands of visitors. It's just a case of "listening" to them. And responding with new pages.
Join related clubs, forums and organisations. Find out the top sites in your niche that accept advertising, and advertise on them. Write articles for them. Contribute to discussions. Go to wherever your potential visitors are.
Every page should link to another page on your site in a strategic, meaningful way. Think of any page you write as the start of a funnel that leads to other areas of your site. You want to subtly direct people to the page or action where they'll engage with you. For this to work, you need to have a clear business directive in mind. What is it you want people to do? Every page is a step leading to that point.
Be newsworthy. And remarkable. What do you do that's really interesting? Social media thrives on, and rewards, the different - the thing that is new. Same-ness - not so much.
Position for both business and rankings :)
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