True SEO strategy is of course a lot more involved that just choosing some keywords and implementing those into your site structure, content, and off-page strategies (link building). Just like any other marketing effort, SEO should start with a foundation of core business goals. Whether you are doing this for your own company, outsourcing to an SEO company, or a hybrid of the two, make sure to follow these steps for building a great strategy that the whole company can stand behind. This article spends less time on the technicalities behind on page SEO and places more emphasis to how marketing and off page efforts enhance the overall strategy.
Define the company goals: The “discovery” process is probably the most important opportunity for getting the strategy defined right out of the gate. The company goals will of course the be applied to the keyword research and keyword assignment. This discovery process should involve company owners, executives, marketers, content providers, and possibly accounting. The bottom line is that everone has to be on the same page as to what drives the company forward, what keywords relate to both the brand and the products/services, etc. You should also look at what keyword phrases drive revenue (or have the potential to drive revenue).
Apply the goals to the keyword strategy: Even companies that have been doing “SEO” for a while often need to put on the breaks and redefine the strategy. You can of course apply all the research you need to help you refine the goal (i.e. competitive analysis, website analytics, etc.). Start by dialing down on your top 25 or so “money” keyword phrases. Make sure the list is a mix of both broad and long tail terms. This task is more complicated than it sounds and can take time. For example, if you have an e-commerce platform and sell hundreds of products it might seem impossible to dial down to 25 keywords. Keep in mind this is a starting point and should be developed throughout the campaign.
Apply keyword strategy to the keyword assignment: Now that you have your list and everyone from the CEO to the marketing team has signed off on it, apply the keywords to the website. Keyword assigment should start with the home page and work down from there. Remember to follow best practices such as charater limits, the use of hypens to separate title words as opposed to underscores, page hierarchy, etc.
Make sure to have a blend of SEO and “marketing” in the application: SEO is not just about having your top keywords associated with the page in the title tag. Getting rankings is only the first step. You then have to entice clicks. If your not getting the clicks, who cares about the ranking. That is where marketing comes into play. Your title pages are what will appear for your search result listing so make sure you use a structure that is appealing as well as keyword appropriate.
Have a comprehensive off page strategy: The fundamental goal of the off page SEO effort is to distribute content and build links. Good links start with compelling content. The old link building strategies won’t do you much good anymore. The natural link building efforts take more time, more energy, and forces you to develop great content that people want to consume and share. This may include but is not limited to the use of blogging, social media, SEO focused PR, engaging your local community, engaging you online communities, and continually developing great articles, blogs, videos, podcasts, and any other content that is relevant and that will add value to your users.