You start by doing three things; I will get to those in a minute. As a consultant I hear a lot of things, but I often hear people talking about optimizing their sites or paying someone to optimize their site(s). And then I ask some questions :). Typically, the answers I receive make me want to bang my head on the wall, hard. Some advice:
There should not be ANY attempt to optimize a site or even begin to create an optimization strategy until the following things are done.
#1. Determine What You Want to Accomplish & Evaluate Your Goals Carefully
Typically, good SEO starts with goals. Goals must be determined to give the SEO and marketing strategies direction. Without direction you cannot move forward. If you can’t move forward you can’t determine what is working or failing. Without goals you will fail at all things related to SEO, content marketing, social media and traditional marketing. <- Please read that again.
Sit down and determine your goals AND THEN heavily evaluate whether or not your goals will help your business in anyway. If your goal is to be #1 in the SERPs why is that? What does that accomplish? If you assume being #1 will bring you more clicks you may be right, but when people enter your site are they finding what they need or want? Are you the right company for the visitor? How have you made this clear to the visitor quickly when they enter your site? Is there an ROI? Will your strategies help your business remain open?
Your goals should include ways to answer each of the questions I just asked above. Goals to consider:
- Overall goals for increasing revenue – how, when, why – think carefully.
- To meet each goal what needs to be said to the audience? How should it be said? How can you get your message across quickly to grab & hold onto your visitors?
- What targets must be met to determine if your message(s) to your audience are working?
- Which audiences do you want and need to target?
You do nothing in regards to optimization or marketing until deeply considered goals are determined, evaluated and modified. Your goals will determine how and without “how” you have nothing!
#2. A Complete Site Audit is Done (regularly)
I have turned down a lot of work over the years because people want me to “optimize” their site, but their sites are so bad that “optimizing” it would essentially do nothing. All business sites need to be evaluated at a minimum of every 18 months. Personally, I think every 9-12 would be optimal. Ignorant business owners are opposed to site audits and change. They just don’t understand why things need to be done and it is up to the consultants and the agencies to properly explain the “whys”. Business owners need to be open to understanding that the web is constantly changing & change will be constant; money must be spent.
Business owners need to know if their coding is up to par, if their site architecture is solid, if their navigation makes sense, if their site is user-friendly, what features are working/not-working and most importantly they need to know EXACTLY what needs to be changed to increase the likelihood of SEO/marketing success. You CANNOT have effective SEO without a solid website, without good architecture, without a planned navigation, without the right kind of content and lastly, without a plan for getting a return WITH to track the effectiveness of this plan.
#3. A Complete Competitive Analysis Has Been Done
You can’t decide how to optimize until you know what you are competitors have done, what is working for them and what optimization strategies would be a waste of time for you. No business can assume that they have just created a great strategy and no one else has thought of it. All businesses need a breakdown of their competitors SEO strategies, social media strategies, ad strategies and a breakdown of how the competitors have integrated online and offline marketing. There is a lot to research, but it will save a business a lot of time and money if a complete competitive analysis is done first.
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