The goal of your SEO strategic plan should be to earn steady organic traffic. A site that is well maintained with great content will earn you that traffic. There are three major areas of SEO you need to include in your strategic plan to get you there.
Organic traffic comes from people clicking on the listings in the search results. The first key thing about organic traffic is… you have to earn it. It’s not something you can buy or pay for or ask for. Your website earns this traffic because of its quality. The search optimization process helps Google recognize quality.
The second key thing about earning organic traffic is… this a long term relationship. It’s something that you continue to grow and build upon over time and it will help grow your business. If you’re looking for something that’s a quick hit, you need quick leads right now, not tomorrow. This is not the strategy for you. You need to think about something else. SEO is the idea of building long-term value in your business and your business website.
An SEO strategy needs to have three basic components. Technical SEO, Content Optimization, and Promotion, either local or online. If you’re a business that needs customers to be in a certain geographical area? You need a Local Search strategy as part of your Promotion plan.
I’m going to come right out and say this, Technical SEO is best left to the experts. Technical SEO is the process of making sure when Google visits your website, Google has easy access to the content of your website. This is a key component to your SEO Strategy. If Google can’t get to your pages, SEO is not going to happen. Very hard to rank text it cannot read. A lot of Technical SEO comes down to how well built your website is and how well you continue to maintain it. Technical SEO is the part of your SEO Strategy that will change most often. This is where you see a lot of the disruption in rankings and on-going work happening on your website.
Technical SEO impacts Sales Numbers
We had a customer who started with us in February on a maintenance plan. They had been steadily losing search traffic since August. When they contacted us, they had not had a sale off of their website in weeks. They continued to work on content. Even paid an outside vendor to create more content for their website. But they could not figure out why they weren’t getting any organic search traffic.
We discovered that Google had removed all their webpages from its search results. The site had been de-indexed. And this was not a small website we’re talking about. 22,000 pages of this website disappeared out of Google. How did it happen?
Well, the problem was not an uncommon scenario. Someone on the marketing team was having trouble completing a task on the website. So they thought, “I’ll see if I can’t solve it myself and I’m going to install a plug-in. (This is a WordPress site.) See if the problem goes away. ”
The new plugin created conflicts with stuff already on the website. The site started throwing-off error messages left and right. So when Google went to visit that site, all it saw was error messages. Google assumed, “there’s no good pages here” and stopped crawling the site. Once we found the issue, got rid of the offending plug-in, worked through Google and cleared the error messages. It was like the site was new again. I’m happy to report that this customer had the biggest week of sales this past month since the site launched.
This is why Technical SEO is so important and why having an expert on hand helps too. Keep in mind that there’s nothing automatic about Technical SEO. It’s a process. We work on this every single week. It’s something where actual activity needs to take place on the website. If you don’t know if somebody is actually doing this work on your website, then assume that it’s not happening.
The go-to resource for Technical SEO is Google Search Console. If you want to know if your website is having technical problems, Search Console will flat out tell you. What you will need to do is create a plan and a schedule to address the issues you find.
How to Get Started on Your Technical SEO Plan
If your site is old and you are running old software, make software updates your top priority. It will be hard to overcome old code. Other tasks to add:
- Clean-up and get rid of anything you are no longer using. Limit plugins. Clean out your media library. Make sure you don’t have a bunch of backup files on your hosting server.
- Review your hosting environment. A slow site will have SEO issues. Is your hosting environment up-to-date? Has your site grown and you need more space? If you need to upgrade or switch providers, schedule the move.
- Get a Google Search Console account and get it connected with your website.
Content Optimization requires, yes, working on your website content. Either adding new content or improving existing content. Here are three key content areas to include in your plan.
EAT = Experience – Authority – Trust
Decision makers are using your company website before they call. They look at your webpage for deeper research to make purchasing choices. E.A.T. stands for expertise, authority and trust. E.A.T. content gets visitors to spend more time on your website. They visit more pages when they trust you. When they stay, you get more leads off your website.
Focus on providing the content that visitors want to see. What do visitors need to know to help them take that next step towards a sale? Build content items that show your credibility. Things like testimonials, case studies and professional certifications. Providing articles, blogs or helpful downloads help prove your expertise.
If you’re feeling like your website is lacking leads, pay close attention to your online forms. The pages where people fill out that form and become a become a sales lead. Are you losing trust with complicated forms? This could be the first place to start to improve your E.A.T factors.
Your Keyword Strategy should include two approaches. The first is to improve performance on keyword phrases already creating traffic. The second is to find new keywords you need to rank for and generate new content for those phrases.
Google Search Console is not only good for Technical SEO, it is a good tool to help with content. Look at the report called “Performance”. This report tells you what keyword phrases your website ranks for in Google.
Look at the phrases that are sitting at an average ranking between eleven and twenty one. See if any of those phrases are key phrases for your business. Search Console will also tell you what pages of your website Google is ranking for those phrases. Is there anything you can do to improve these pages and talk a little bit more about the subject you are ranking for?
If you’re already on page two, with a little extra effort, it wouldn’t be that hard to get you on page one. Getting on page one will be a boost to your search traffic. Because we all know that very few people actually look at page two of search results.
How to Pick New Keywords for Your Website
Ramp up the Quality of Your Current Content
We hear all the time that we need “quality” content on our websites. Google Webmaster Guidelines reference “Magazine Ready” articles as a benchmark for quality. That does not mean copying text from other people’s websites, or a manufacture’s catalog. It means content that is unique to your business and provides value to those who use it.
Think about what articles look like when published in a magazine. They look good. The text is well formatted and easy to ready. Articles include photos to help support the text. On the web that can also mean videos and interactive tools.
Magazine articles have a word count and fill a required amount of space in the pages. Short content won’t fill the pages and Google is not looking for short pages either.
Finally, articles that are well written include references to research material. This may not apply to all web pages, but its a great way to get external links in your copy. Also something Google likes.
How to Get Started on Your Content Strategy
- Pull your Performance Report and review your Queries list.
- Schedule a Content Review of your current pages.
Promote Your Site
Finally the last part of your SEO Strategy should be promotion of your website.
Now you may ask, isn’t SEO promoting my website? Yes, that’s true. But to generate search traffic, you have to have Google’s attention. You may need other means to help get your website on the radar.
This list of promotion ideas comes straight from Google’s Guidelines:
- Google My Business
- Email Marketing
- Get Referrals
First, I cannot emphasis enough the importance of Google My Business. Especially if you are looking for local business traffic. I have a couple of customers that are just killing it by landing reviews and keeping their profile up-to-date. You can see it in their search data.
“Get Referrals” appears several times in the Webmaster Guidelines. What Google is referring to is getting other sites to link to your content. Producing good content will earn you links from other sites. I want to emphasize that you cannot buy links. Do not sign-up for a service that says they will link your site to hundreds of others. It will not help you, and this warning is also included in Google Guidelines.
How to Get Started on Promoting Your Website
- Start paying attention to your Google My Business Profile.
- Create a schedule of other promotion methods, like email, blogging or social media.