Top 6 Tips on How to Start your SEO Process (Interview on RSS Ray)
Today, I had the pleasure of being interviewed on WSRadio.com by RSS Ray on the topic of Search Engine Optimization.
In the interview I shared 6 tips on how to get started with SEO to make sure you are going in the right direction, and I thought I’d share them with you. This post is useful to anyone tasked with improving SEO, and isn’t sure where to begin.
1. What are the first three steps that you recommend for a company just starting their SEO efforts?
I recommend that companies think strategically before they dive in and start making changes to their site.
- First, perform an SEO Audit to benchmark and understand your On-site and Off-site SEO strengths, weaknesses opportunities and threats, especially in comparison to your top competitors.
- Second, perform an SEO Marketshare Report that will help you understand your current and potential share of the market, as well as calculate the potential ROI of your SEO efforts so you can make a clear business case to your management team.
- Third, Create an SEO Action Plan that prioritizes your on and off-site SEO efforts based on value, complexity, resources, budget and competition. Often times there is low hanging fruit that can be quickly addressed, and removing these issues can cause an improvement in rank.
Review our SEO Process for the complete SEO roadmap. Keep in mind – improving SEO is a marathon, not a sprint.
2. How do you establish sustainable organic/non-paid traffic?
Focus on content quality and high quality links. You need a significant amount of content to rank for competitive broad terms, but don’t think volume. Attempting to rank with massive amounts of low quality content and links provides unpredictable rankings that are highly susceptible to changes in search engine algorithms. See the recent article by Ezine Articles that validates the danger in creating low value content for the purposes of ranking. You don’t want to wake up and find out your traffic and revenues have dropped by 35% or more, like Ezine Articles did. Avoid this by providing content that users see as valuable and relevant, and search engines will see it that way as well.
The next step is to distribute your content across relevant online marketing channels (Local Search, Blog, Social, Email, Video, PR, Article, etc) to raise your overall visibility, deliver content how and where people want to receive it, and increase links back to your website. We refer to this as Connected Marketing. Keep in mind that your website should be optimized first before spending a lot of effort distributing content to other channels.
3. Why should the focus be on Click-Thru Rate (CTR) and not rank?
Rank is what most people focus on and it is only the first step toward driving quality visitors to your website. What most companies overlook is the Click. It is critical to optimize your page title and meta description so that it:
- stands out with both the quality of the copy and the bold emphasis placed on keywords that match the search query
- matches the searcher’s expectations
- is clearly differentiated from the other listings
- and persuades people to click.
Long-term if you don’t get the clicks you will lose your rank. We have helped many clients who have lost impressive rankings because they didn’t spend time on the quality of their content and just focused on the keyword optimization aspect. This is the topic of the detailed guest blog post that I wrote for RSS Ray’s blog called “The Achilles Heel of SEO: The Click.”
4. Why is it important to set and measure SEO KPIs?
Understandably, we have clients call us in a panic when one of their SEO KPIs drop massively. For example, when their indexed pages drop by 80%, links drop by 50% or their page rank drops. But most of the time, if you are tracking your competitors KPIs you can see they also dropped, indicating that it was only a change in the search engine or the tool that is reporting the data. Nothing changed specifically on the client’s site and thus this isn’t anything to worry about.
Of course, there are definitely times when this is a critical issue, but if you track your SEO KPIs you will be more likely to identify and fix issues faster.
5. What is a top SEO tool that is free and commonly overlooked?
Google Webmaster Tools is an extremely valuable tool. We use this in SEO audits to help clients understand how Google sees their website in respect to both on-site and off-site SEO. For example, Webmaster Tools can help you identify and diagnose:
- crawl errors
- broken links
- missing, duplicate, short page titles
- missing, duplicate, short meta descriptions
- search query CTR
- internal link quality
- external link quality
- keyword significance factors
Watch for a forthcoming post on how to use Webmaster Tools to measure and improve your website.
6. What is the top missed opportunity in SEO?
Local Search – most businesses haven’t even claimed their Google places listing, much less their other listings on yelp, super pages, yellow pages, and other local map and review sites.
If you are a locally based business, local search should be seen as a Gold Rush because most of the search engine results page real estate is reserved for local listings results, when a business is seen to be locally relevant. There are huge potential returns to optimizing your local listings especially with Mobile traffic surging. Most of our clients mobile traffic doubled in the 2011 and is steadily increasing. Take advantage of the fact that people are out and about when they’re online, and they want the most locally relevant results.
Have anything to add? Please post your comments below.