Determine Goals

The most obvious goal for SEO is to rank high on the search engines,  but it isn’t such a simple task. How your site will fair on the search engines becomes a conglomerate of all of the content you publish (and who is linking to that content). It is very important to determine clearly the subject matter you want to be an authority on to keep your content on track with this.

Defining your domain of authority (subject matter expertise) is key to approaching Keyword Research appropriately.

Here are some questions to consider when defining these goals

  • What does our company do?
  • What do our users need to know about?
  • What can we teach our users about this subject they might not know already?
  • What websites are currently an authority on this subject?

Keyword Research

With a good understanding of where you want to be, after defining the goals for your site. It’s time to start researching keywords. Using a tool like Ahrefs or SEMRush (there are great tools too) will decrease the time spent on Keyword Research and also provide deeper insights than one would find by doing individual web searches.

Competitive Analysis

During the initial goal setting session, you may have already determined “What websites are currently an authority on this subject?”  If so, then you are ready to start researching those companies. Run comparisons of their activities and gauge that against your research.

Technical SEO Checklist

These are some not so exciting parts of the SEO equation that most beginners aren’t too familiar with, but paying attention to these details can be the difference between your competitors and you.

  • Heading usage + content hierarchy
  • Internal Linking
  • Meta-Descriptions
  • Image Alt-txt
  • Schema Markup
  • Duplicate Content
  • Speed Check
  • XML Sitemaps

Set Up Tracking

There are paid services that can be installed on your website to track traffic and user behavior, but for those looking to get started for free Google provides some powerful tools for tracking purposes.

Three essential tools provided by Google are:

  • Google Analytics
  • Google Tag Manager
  • Google Search Console

Sign up for access to these tools through a Gmail account, and you will have access to the same tools many Fortune 500 companies are using heavily.

To get these working, copy and paste the tracking code into the HTML header on your website to make sure these scripts are loaded when your web pages load.

Create Conversion Goals

Now that you are tracking traffic on your website, determine the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that are most important for you to keep track of. Setting up your KPI as a “Goal” will make it easier to analyze your performance for achieving that goal.

A common KPI would be a form submission. If your website has a contact form, you should create a Goal that records each time a form is submitted.

When you have that created, you will be able to measure things such as:

  • What are the sources of your contact form submissions?
    • Search Engines?  Social Media? direct traffic? Your email list? Paid Ads?
  • What “User Path” do your form submissions come from?
    • Do users who enter your site on a certain page convert to contact more often than others?

Goals can be created for almost any behavior you value keeping track of and being able to quickly analyze.

Some more examples of possible Goals:

  • Clicks on a certain link
  • Time spent on a Page
  • Purchase of a Product on E-Commerce store
  • Downloads of files

Thinking about SEO, you will be able to look at what Keywords result in the Goals you’ve set. Giving the insights needed to optimize your strategy around Keywords that produce the results you want, not wasting time creating content that will have zero impact on what you really want to happen.

Analyze the results, optimize based on findings.

Once you have all the initial SEO basics set up, all you can do it wait to see what happens. The results are not immediate, you won’t magically get traffic unless you are paying for it with Paid Ads or your site is linked to from external sites (maybe an article gets written about your company). I generally give it 90 days to make a real opinion on how things are going.

During this time, content should be produced and published. You are at the top of the mountain trying to start an avalanche with a snowflake, keep building your snowball until it takes off on it’s own and starts to crush all the competition in your way!