1. Audience targeting
The very first step in your SEO plan should be to identify your target audience. This makes sense doesn’t it? It might sound obvious, but in the past – indeed the present – too many sites made the mistake of simply spewing – yes spewing – out as much content as possible and stuffing it with keywords that they thought would drive visitors to their site. But how would they know which keywords their target audience was using if they hadn’t stopped to figure out exactly who they are?
Once you know your buyer personas inside out then it’s time to move onto the next stage.
2. Keyword categorization
When carrying out your keyword research based on the buyer persona you’ve drawn up, it’s a good idea to split your keywords into different categories.
Why? I hear you ask.
Well first, you may have identified more than one buyer persona. Second, your site will probably cover different topics related to your content. It’s useful here to use an Excel spreadsheet to organize your keywords.
Use a different worksheet for each buyer person, within which you’ll have a different tab/spreadsheet for each of your various topics and subtopics. Here, it’s a case of the more tabs the merrier, meaning you should categorize the hell out of your keywords so in the end you’ll have a nice tight set for each topic and subtopic for your various buyer personas.
Yes… the more categories you have, the more work this might take, but the added insight you’ll gain will be well worth it.
3. Gap finding
By “Gap Finding,” I mean finding gaps in your content offering and opportunities to grab more highly-targeted search traffic to your site. More precisely, you’ll want to compare search volume – how frequently your keyword phrase is being searched within a specific time frame, with referral volume – how much of that traffic you are getting to your site.
If you then find that one of your pages contains high-volume search terms, but you aren’t ranking well for it, that’s a gap you’ve discovered and it needs to be addressed. On the other hand, you may have high-volume search terms that aren’t covered by your existing content. This would represent an opportunity to develop new, high-quality content to address this.
With your various categorized lists of keywords you’ll next conduct analysis on them all to determine their search volume, meaning how many times in a certain time period each keyword or keyword combination is used, but you knew that anyway.
Naturally the high-volume keywords will be the main ones you’ll be interested in at first, so you’ll start by prioritizing those. It’s useful here to highlight the tabs in your Excel workbook that contain high-volume keywords.
For example, you might have a tab with terms about widgets with bells on and another about widgets with whistles. You see that a lot of people are searching for widgets with whistles, therefore, you’ll want to highlight the whistles tab as that’s a category you’d want to concentrate on initially for content creation.
4. Competitor analysis
This like the title suggests is looking for competitors in search results for the high-volume terms used in your field. One simple way of course to find them is simply to enter searches and see who shows up in the search results.
There is a bit more to it though.
You want to break things down into your categories and find competitors in each one and even in each subcategory. For instance, remember the category of widgets with bells on? Someone will rank highest in Google for that. However, by breaking things down further someone else might be top for green widgets with bells on and someone else for yellow widgets with bells on.
You need to learn who is top and who your competitors are for each category. You’ll want to run numerous searches for each category and subcategory then log the competitors you find in a new Excel spreadsheet. Have a separate tab for each category and within each tab list the competitors and the search terms for which they score highly.
Now it’s time to do a little snooping on your competitors. For those that rank highly you’ll then go about comparing your site and content to theirs. You’ll want to ask:
- What are they doing differently?
- How are they using social media?
- Is their content simply better than yours?
- Do they have targeted landing pages?
- How are they capturing visitor data?
- Does their site have content that would encourage repeat visits?
- What type of calls-to-action do they use?
This isn’t an exhaustive list; there are many different angles to view competitors. The longer the list of questions you come up with here, the more insight you’ll gain and the more thorough you’ll be able to be.
Interesting new strategies for you to consider adopting will emerge if you go about this thoroughly enough.
6. Strategy customization
You’ll want to take all the information you’ve gleaned from your various analyses and compile a strategy that you’ll use to boost your SEO. Start by listing the insights you’ve gained from competitors and the things they’re doing that could bear fruit if you adopted them. It needs to be emphasized here that you should always keep in mind who your target audience is and the persona you are speaking to. Adopting or tailoring any part of a competitor’s strategy should only be done if it fits with that audience’s needs.
Regarding your buyer persona and their wants and needs, scan through the highlighted keywords in your Excel spreadsheet. Does a lightbulb turn on in your head when you do so? Does an unidentified buyer-need suddenly manifest? Perhaps you missed her, but your competitors had not?
The next step is to leverage your discoveries to formulate a sound strategy with concrete specific action-steps that address each area.
7. Ongoing SEO
SEO is evolving by the second. Your competitors are improving their strategy by the day. You cannot afford to look at this as a time-limited or one-time project, after which, you can sit back with your beer acknowledging your success at slaying the SEO beast!
Nope. Sorry. Afraid not. You cannot afford to sit back and rest on your laurels (what the heck is a laurel?). If a major (or even minor) change is made to Google’s search algorithms that you’re not prepared for, it could send you crashing down Google’s search rankings. This can often mean a big loss on revenue and opportunity.
Sadly this happens all the time. Business owners want to save a nickel or dime for a month or a quarter. They think, “Well, I’ve spent a lot of money getting my page one rankings for all my keywords! I’m gonna recoup some of it and coast on my great success.” Big mistake.
Quantifying the Value and the Return of your SEO Investment
Securing high-quality, ongoing SEO pays for itself. Because today’s buyers do all of their research online before they buy local – or anywhere for that matter. If that’s the case, why would you risk losing those hard earned search engine results (SERPs) if remaining high in search results in your buyer finding you? A couple of months after you kick back and sip on that cold beer, your competition will be wanting to buy your beer because he is reaping the rewards of your un-informed decision.
If you are an older Gen-Xer or a Boomer, you remember the Yellow Pages. That was our Google. When we needed to find a provider or vendor, we used the Yellow Pages. They were so limited. Then we wrote the address down – yes – we used a pencil and paper. But wait… it gets better.
Then we hand-wrote the directions to the location of the business or we used a paper map!
Where am I going with all this? The Yellow Page ad, that the business owner paid to have drafted and designed… cost an average of $800 per month. That was for about 1 ½ inches by 1 inch. It was so important to get the ad right because if your competition came out with a great one… one that stood out better than yours, she’d get the calls and the business. Then a year later when it was time to renew, you could update your ad to compete with last year’s best ad.
Today, your SEO is your Yellow Pages. High-quality, ongoing off-site SEO starts around $900 and goes up from there depending on the plan you get.
What is the Lifetime Value of Your Ideal Client?
Is it expensive? I think so. But, what is more expensive is losing one client because I tried to save $900.00. What is the lifetime value of one client to you?