Search Engine optimization is one of those things that is never really finished. Things change with your website, with the internet and with search engine algorithms. This puts your SEO initiatives in a constant state of evolution. Because of this, it’s easy to get lost (or paralyzed) in the shear amount of work that needs to be done to get your website to the top of SERP’s. Managing your SEO project and outlining goals for yourself can make you much more effective at ranking your pages in organic search.
Define Your SEO Goals
Most other work you perform in regards to SEO will be pointless unless you define why it is you are using SEO. Is it to generate more leads for your business? Do you want to get more exposure for a specific page on your website? Bring awareness to a cause? Show pictures of your cat to as many people on the web as possible? It doesn’t matter what your goal for using SEO is but it does matter that you define it. Everything else you do for your website in terms of optimization will depend on what your ultimate goal is. For instance if you are trying to increase sales of a certain product, you will target specific keywords, you will build pages for that product and optimize them with your chosen keywords. You may build specialized social media properties for that branded product. If you are just performing optimization techniques because it’s the new thing or because you know you should be doing it, you won’t be as successful as you would by targeting a specific goal.
Practice SEO Project Management
I have a basement in my home and it is filled to the ceiling with stuff that could probably just be thrown away. Every time I go down there I think “Oh geez, I’ll never get this organized”. Part of the reason we think this way about big projects is because we assume that everything is dependent and the entire project must be completed at once. In terms of SEO, optimizing all the pages of your site can seem like a monumental task, especially when your site may have hundreds or even thousands of pages. If this is the case, you are right; you will never get it done. Create an SEO project plan and break large projects up into smaller segments that are more manageable. Create note cards and assign a manageable chunk of pages to each one. Assign a notecard to each day of the week over a time period or even each week of a month over a longer time period. This way all you have to do is focus on the pages for that specific day or week that need to be optimized for search or whatever SEO task you have in mind. When breaking apart the overall project into tasks, make sure that the tasks you define are not dependent on other tasks. For example it would not make sense to put the task of performing on-site SEO before the task of doing keyword research because you need keywords to be able to do most of your on-site optimization. The idea here is to not look at your project as a whole but as steps leading up to completion of a larger goal. There is that old saying that Rome was not built in a day and I think if the Romans were told that it had to be, they would not have even tried.
Managing Your Content Schedule
If you have even been passively paying attention to search marketing, you know that content is at the forefront of being visible in search. New, useful and shareable content is what gets websites noticed. Whether you are just starting out adding content to a blog or in some other fashion or even if you have been doing it for a while, you may have noticed that being consistent can be difficult. Once you have your content strategy developed (i.e. blog content, video content, social media, etc) make an editorial calendar of topics that you can write about and the times you will post them. It helps to pinpoint times over a 2 to 3 month period where you will post to your blog and what the content will be. Try and write as much content as you can up front and schedule posts into the future. WordPress , Joomla or Blogger blogs have built in features that allow you to schedule posts. That way you aren’t scrambling to get something out at the last minute which can often mean poorly written and researched content.
Tracking Your Progress
When optimizing your website for search, you must establish a starting point so that you can measure how far you have come. If you haven’t already, install some type of tracking software on your site. Google Analytics is a great free tool however there are also many others. Before you begin any SEO tasks, take note of where you are ranking with your targeted key terms, the amount of traffic your site is receiving, the amount of referral traffic you receive from search engines and the amount of new vs returning visitors. You should also take note of your current page rank and backlink profile using one of the many free or paid services out there. For instance you can use the free version of Rank Tracker to establish where you fall in the SERP’s for certain key terms. You can use a free tool like SEMRush to check out your backlink profile. If you are looking for detailed information though you may be better off with a paid version of one of these packages. These metric are just examples and you should also take note of any other metrics that you are attempting to influence with SEO before you begin a campaign. The purpose here is to set a beginning point so that you can measure how successful your efforts are overall. If you don’t set these markers up front, you will have (at best) a vague idea of which tasks were successful or how you are doing with SEO overall.
SEO for any type of website can be a dizzying and complex process with many different tasks that need to be completed. Set goals for yourself and define the tasks that are needed to complete those goals. This will make the entire process much more manageable for you and for whom ever you have working with you.
What are some other goals that you should set for your SEO initiatives?