Whether or not you’ve ever done Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for your business in the past or not, taking the plunge requires planning, and lots of it. That can be said for most marketing efforts, but SEO is a little special, just because it’s much more slow-burning than most other communication channels.
It requires commitment to a strategy.
That strategy needs to be rock solid from the start.
Social media or display advertising campaigns are very transient. They can be set-up in a matter of minutes and can also be stopped with the click of a button. It’s all relatively immediate.
SEO is not.
Once you’ve committed to an SEO plan, it’s essential that you stick to it, because results reveal themselves significantly more slowly.
And changing tacks midway through the year will slow you down.
However, the results can be phenomenal.
68% of all internet experiences start with a search engine.
The effort you put into SEO is worth it. If you’re not present, you could be missing out on two-thirds of your potential audience.
What to do before 2022
There are countless excellent guides available online that will take you through the process of getting yourself set-up with SEO.
But sometimes they’re long. Informative, but a bit tedious.
Before you set out on your SEO journey, we’re going to lay out the foundations that you’ll need to really get it right. Most of these have relatively little to do with the technical side of SEO, but are absolutely essential to your success on search result pages.
1. Get your KPIs sorted
If you read our most recent article in the Planning for 2022 series, we discussed goals & KPIs. There, we go into detail about how important it is to know exactly what you’re measuring and why.
Both from a business and a technical perspective.
Depending on your business type, the ultimate goal you might want to achieve with your SEO efforts can differ wildly. eCommerce sites need sales, content sites need quality traffic, B2B sites need leads.
So figure out the key one or two metrics that your business needs to grow and hold on to them. Make sure that every other number you measure is ultimately going to affect that golden KPI.
2. Identify core audiences
Hopefully you’ve done this already at some point during your marketing efforts, but if not, you’ll definitely need them for SEO. Understanding who your core audiences are and how they behave in relation to your business is essential. Make sure you have demographics that are primarily based on behaviour and customer journey rather than age and gender. You’ll see why in just a minute.
Once you have a shortlist of these audiences, you can move on to the next step.
3. Keyword research
We could write several articles on the subject, but here are the basics. Go through each of your customer personas and begin writing as many possible search terms as you can. Start with broad search terms that cover as many relevant categories as possible, then get into slightly longer keywords that are a little more specific. You’ll need to make sure people actually do search these terms. For that, you’ll need a tool such as this one.
Once you’ve created your list, start filtering by volume and keyword difficulty. You should end up with a list of valuable keywords that are exactly relevant to your audience in relation to your business.
4. Work on the content plan
Take a look at which websites are already ranking at the top for the keywords you’ve chosen. What sort of content do they offer? Based on the fact that they’re at the top, that’s the sort of content that Google thinks searchers want. So you’ll basically have to do better.
Take a good look at your own landing pages and spend your resources on making those pages that absolute best that they can be from a content perspective. Always keep in mind that Google will lift your rankings if it provides real value to those who are searching.
5. Look at the technical side
Is your website loading fast enough? Is it up to the high standards that Google has been imposing on websites to rank well? Are your main services pages optimised with the right keywords?
If you don’t have the individual knowledge to answer these questions, get in touch with people who do. You can have the absolute best content targeted towards the most relevant keywords, but if it takes 15 seconds for your homepage to load on mobile, you’re in deep trouble.
Getting all of the above sorted out is no mean feat. SEO takes time, patience, and resources, but there is absolutely no doubt that it’s worth it. It’s been proven time and time again that organic search traffic is the most valuable.
So get cracking.