Grace's Guide to SEO

December 28, 2016

SEO is a pillar of any search engine marketing strategy and should be something you devote time to on a weekly and monthly basis. SEO can be a difficult concept to grasp, so Grace, our Digital Executive, has created this comprehensive beginner's guide to SEO to help get you started.

What is SEO?

Search engine optimizationis a methodology of strategies, techniques and tactics used to increase the amount of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search results page of a search engine - including Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines. There are two different types of SEO optimizations you can perform to achieve higher ranks for certain keywords:

On page SEO - is the act of optimizing different parts of your web site that affect your search engine rankings - title tags, headings, url structure, alt text for images, page load speed, page content, internal links, etc.

Off page SEO - focuses on increasing the authority of your domain through the act of getting links from other websites - link building, blogging, link exchange, press release, etc.

Determine Your Goals

The first thing you need to do is define your goals to make sure that your SEO efforts are serving your overall business and website needs. Answer the following questions to help define your goals:  

Q1: What do you want to achieve when improving the SEO?
A1: Understand the reason of search engine optimization, for example, you might want to show up in position 2 for a certain keyword on Google in a specific geo.

Q2: Why do you want people to find your website?
A2: Understand the unique selling point of your business and the value of this content/product.

Q3: Do you want people to take any action on your website?
A3: Write down the possible goals of your users, do you want them to download a pdf document, request a quote or do you want them to read your content.

Keyword Research

The onboarding stage of any SEO efforts should include a robust keyword discovery document that can be used to identify high performing keywords within a certain area and offer some insight as to the competition surrounding those keywords.It is important to understand the keywords you want to rank for and how the SEO efforts you perform impact your organic performance. This keyword document will be a constant 'work in progress' as your business landscape continues to develop and grow.

To get started brainstorm and write down search queries - What words might people type into the search engines to look for your company?

Keyword research sources:

  • Moz Keyword Explorer
  • Google AdWords Keyword Planner Tool
  • Google Trends
  • Microsoft Bing Ads Intelligence
  • Wordtracker's Free Basic Keyword DemandAfter you understand what are the most searched keywords and phrases, create a list and use it to optimze existing content on your website that isn't performing and to create meaningful content later on.

Competition Benchmark

It is important to understand how your competition is ranking for certain keywords so you can measure growth as you begin to work on SEO. Take the following steps to analyze your comp set performance:Analyze the current search engine results pages for your keywords - who is ranking? What are they doing effectively? Investigate and get to know your competition - check their content, website design and structure, url structure and so on. Create a list of your competitors and use it later on to understand how other sites were able to get into your targeted SERPs.Evaluate the visual design of your website - If the site drives people away, no amount of SEO efforts will help. It may be time to reset completely starting with a new web design with SEO support.

4 Tools for SEO Success

Luckily for search engine marketing professionals, there are plenty of tools out there to help measure and analyze SEO performance. Use the following tools to monitor the success of your SEO efforts:Sign up and verify with Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools, and Bing Webmaster Center.Let Google Analytics run for two weeks before doing any SEO analysis - This allows analytics to collect data and provides you with a baseline. Use the SEO Spider Tool or in order to crawl any website and identify existing issues. Google Page Speed will help you check the speed and usability of your site on multiple devices.SERPs Rank Checker will help you see where your site ranks for certain terms.SEO Site Checkup runs through a fast audit of your site, checking for proper tags and surfacing any errors that might come up.

HTML Optimization

There are changes that you can make to the HTML on a page that can significantly support your SEO efforts. Here are some SEO tips to success with HTML:

  • Look at the HTML code and optimize all of the SEO related tags.
  • Keyword in title tag (unique for each page, include keywords)
  • Keyword in H1 on each page
  • Keyword in text
  • Optimize URL architecture
  • Create 301 redirects if you rename pages
  • Information architecture - as few clicks as possible
  • On relevant images include keywords in alt tags and in filenames
  • Nofollow appropriate links
  • Add a robots.txt - This is how you can specify exactly what pages major search engines can crawl

SEO impact can take several months to come into fruition and it can be difficult, beyond certain keywords, to understand what makes the most impact. However, all of the above SEO tips are great as a baseline strategy to get started. In addition to the above optimization efforts, make sure to keep an eye on the Google Algorithm changes to ensure your website isn't hit by any of the major updates from Penguin, Panda, Mobile, Possum and so on.

Need support with your SEO efforts - give us a call.

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Written by
Alexander Rauser
Alexander Rauser


Alexander Rauser is the author of Boardroom Guide to Digital Accountability and Digital Strategy: A Guide to Digital Business Transformation, and creator of the DSX Program, a digital strategy and transformation program for Enterprises.

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