How to create an SEO strategy which really works is something I get asked a lot about both by newbie webmasters and by SEO specialists who have to deal with their own clients. The post here is aimed more at those who will optimise their own website but it can easily be adopted in terms of approach and strategy by a seasoned SEO specialist who does SEO for a living.
In order to work an SEO strategy needs to be implementable and capable of being broken down into actionable steps. For that to happen it needs a very clear direction and this is determined by two things: goal and budget. The latter of these is self explanatory so I will go to the former first.
Yes, the general and very broad aim of any SEO strategy is to promote a website to search engines and make it more visible online. SEO however has so many different aspects that it is not realistic to expect to cover them all in one strategy without having large manpower at your disposal and a lot of cash to burn. Most business I know, do not and most people I talk to try to do as much as possible themselves so it is important to fix the direction of your SEO strategy right from the start.
Decide what you want your SEO strategy to achieve
Sometimes the important factor is brand recognition which means that your SEO strategy is going to focus on brand and this will inform everything you do from the backlinks you create to the content you post, to the press releases you issue and the keywords you choose to optimise for.
At other times it will be traffic, or sales of a particular product or membership sign-ups or action calls on a page. The point is that once you decide what you want to focus your campaign to achieve you can then go on and formulate an SEO strategy which really works for you.
Every SEO strategy will comprise of some things which are done on the page itself and actions which need to occur in a certain order, away from the page. Not everything is relevant to everything, so the first step to formulating your SEO strategy is to decide on the practical steps which need to be taken. Once you have a list of practical steps then you need to decide what is a one-off, what will need to happen every two-three months and what will need to happen a lot more frequently. This will give you an SEO plan which will have a series of actions which need to be taken and their exact frequency.
More than that. By having a very precise idea about what needs to be done, where and when and keeping a close eye on your Analytics, you can actually gauge the effectiveness of what you do in your SEO. This allows you to fine-tune your strategy on the fly in order to have the desired effect.
Decide how much you want to pay (or cost)
When you work for yourself there is a tendency to see that the time you put in your business is free. You feel that because the business is yours and you are emotionally invested in it there is no point in costing your time and effort. You are prepared to do what it takes for it to take off. That approach however is wrong. There is a cost to everything and by failing to take this into account you open the door to becoming engaged in activities which seem easy because there is no apparent cost but which will bring little in return.
This is where your budget comes in. Whether you decide to implement your SEO strategy yourself or farm it out to a third party you still need to cost it fairly and assess it properly. After all every second you spend promoting your website is not going to come back to you. It is a second which has cost you money and you really need to justify it through a healthy return.
This is where your entire SEO strategy takes its final shape by allowing you to allocate an exact sum for your SEO, each week, and then work to fit that into the activities which need to be done. Remember that you want this to be successful but also you do not want to end up doing more work than is actually necessary. If you do this, the chances are that you will have diverted resources from elsewhere and some other part of your business, just as vital, is going to suffer as a result.
Bottom line is that if you are serious about creating an SEO strategy rather than simply engaging in the opportunistic optimisation of your website as time and inclination allow, then get into the habit of running it as a properly disciplined business driven by a cost/profit orientated SEO plan.