SEO involves a lot of “stuff.” Some of it is essential, and some of it … not so much. Here is a quick checklist of must-do SEO actions. Cover them all, and your SEO campaign will produce results: that is, driving relevant organic traffic and referrals that convert into leads or e-commerce revenue.
- Self-assessment: What is your current organic search traffic volume? What pages are organic users landing on?
- Self-assessment: What does your current backlink profile look like? How many links? How many high-quality links? (Chances are, not many.)
- Keyword research: What terms does it make sense for you to target in your campaign. Learn what to look for, as discussed in this article, because this step is vital.
- Content strategy: Match website pages (existing or ones to be created) that match with your targeted keywords. Every primary keyword must have an individual page (probably a product or service page).
- On-site audit: Set up and use the Google Search Console to identify and fix SEO problems on your website. Run the diagnostics tool monthly or quarterly to identify new problems; they always crop up. Items that crop up frequently that hurt your SEO performance include the following: (see more here)
- Broken internal and external links.
- Duplicate content issues.
- Improper composition of title tags and URLs.
- Improper or no use of 301 redirects.
- No robots.txt.
- No XML sitemap.
- Site speed issues.
- Title tags: Make sure each page of your website has a unique title tag, incorporating the most important primary keywords for that page.
- Meta description tags: Make sure each page of your website has a unique Meta description tag, a snippet of text that tells search engine and social media users what your page content is about.
- Set up and use Google Analytics to capture important data about your website. It allows you to evaluate the progress of your campaign and make continuous improvements. Important items to track include:
- Traffic, especially new organic sessions, referral traffic and direct traffic.
- Event tracking, which measures ways users interact with your content, such as how many times an internal link was clicked.
- Goal tracking, which allows you to track completed activities such as the submission of an inquiry form. Tracking completed form submissions or completed orders is THE most important metric for your SEO campaign, since leads and revenue generate ROI.
- Conversion rate tracking, or the measurement of percentage of users who complete a conversion activity.
- E-commerce tracking, which measures various transaction- and item-related data.
- Create an off-site strategy. The main purpose of off-site SEO is to build high-quality inbound links—critical for small businesses.
- If you are a local business, focus on obtaining the right directory links, NAP citations and user reviews. Understand more about local SEO and how best to utilize it.
- If you are not a local business, focus on off-site article writing. Article writing is a winning tactic for small companies.
- Tracking: Make sure to set up phone tracking, described in this article, for your website, so you can tell how many phone conversions come from your SEO campaign.
- Tracking: Implement a validation system to separate actual sales leads from form and phone submissions that are not leads. Form submissions, for instance, can include sales solicitations and spam. By looking at conversions only (which Google Analytics provides), you may grossly overestimate the lead production of your SEO campaign.
- Big picture: Make sure your website is mobile friendly. Not sure? Take five seconds to run your website through the Google Mobile-Friendly Test. An SEO campaign without a mobile-friendly website has a shaky foundation.
There is a lot going on in these 12 areas, but remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day and your SEO campaign needn’t be, either. It’s far better in the long run to take steps patiently and methodically than to skip steps and launch a half-baked campaign. SEO is never a get-rich-quick scheme, but when done systematically and thoroughly pays handsomely over time.
Related Article: 5 Most Common SEO Mistakes Made by Small Businesses
Author: Brad Shorr is the B2B Marketing Director at Straight North, an Internet marketing firm that specializes in SEO, PPC and web design. With his many years of writing experience, Brad’s work has appeared on sites such as Forbes and Moz.