So you tell your boss, I think we need SEO for our company website. Maybe you're going to learn how to do it yourself, or maybe you're thinking of hiring an expert. Either way, Boss raises his/her eyebrows. Okaaaay, so how do you plan to go about that? What's the gameplan? What's your strategy?
Strategy - what a dull important word. Gag, I'd rather hug a cactus than have to hunker down for hours and strategize. Every successful venture begins with a well-thought-out strategy. How do you come up with a strategy, though, for a service you don't know much about?
Thankfully, if your company just thinks broadly about online marketing and SEO - and how it helps you accomplish your business goals - you can come up with general strategies that will help, without knowing all the specifics of SEO. Whoever actually does SEO for your company will fill in the blanks.
All you need is to understand who you want to reach, what those people are doing online, and what you aim to do to connect with them online. Then the strategy you come up with will help the person who implements your strategy focus their efforts and optimize their time to accomplish your goals as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Why you need a strategy before you begin SEO
Every company has strategies for how they will accomplish their business goals. A strategy takes you from point A to point B. It maps out your direction, the supplies you'll need, and the stops you'll make along the way.
So why wouldn't you create a strategy for your SEO? Great question - of course, you would! SEO strategy's essential for the same reason that you need an overall marketing strategy: you've got to know how to focus your efforts. Think about strategic games like Risk, Settlers of Catan, or even checkers. Play haphazardly, on a whim, and you will lose.
But if you plan your moves, evaluate your opponents, and think one step ahead, you'll be much more likely to WIN.
SEO is a brilliant move that you should take at the right time. It should help you get to the final outcome: accomplishing your marketing goals. Like a piece in the puzzle, it should snap easily into place with the rest of the pieces and contribute to the beautiful whole.
5 questions to help you create a great SEO strategy
Feeling at a loss when it comes to SEO strategy? Here are five questions to prompt you to discover how SEO can be an important, effective add-on to your marketing plan.
1. What is the goal of our marketing plan?
Think about the messages you want to share with your audience and the steps you want them to take. Consider all of your efforts - what is the end result? Most likely, your final goal involves sales and revenue. You're looking to propel customers across the millions of options out there and choose you. But specifically, what outcomes do we want to see, and what are we currently doing to ensure as best we can that these outcomes will become a reality?
Remind yourselves of where you stand relative to your marketing goals - if you're struggling to achieve them, or if you're outperforming them.
2. How can a better online presence help us reach our marketing goals?
You might already have a website, social media accounts, and local pages with reviews and contact information. Or you might not. Think about how you could improve your online presence, first of all. Is your website outdated? Are you interacting on social media on a regular basis?
Then ask how this ties in with your marketing goals. If you want to reach a national audience, visibility in the search results will be a fast, effective way to "be everywhere at once," so to speak, without spending a bajillion dollars advertising in various geographic locations. Or maybe by showing up at the top of the search results for various keywords, you can establish trust with your prospective customers, who will see you as the top choice in your field and be more inclined to purchase your products or services.
3. Where do our customers interact with our brand already - and how much of that is online?
If you're a traditional business, maybe you have a lot of physical advertisements, TV spots, or coupons in local mailers. On the other hand, maybe you're already interacting with customers on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, advertising on Google or Facebook, and getting mentions on the Internet. Either way, it's important to consider how much visibility you already have online. Depending on your reputation and the number of links you already have, your strategy may be more foundational - building a great online reputation - or aggressive - creating stellar content and website pages that show up higher in the search results and convert faster than those of your competitors.
4. What keyword phrases do/should our customers use to find us?
It's helpful to get into the mind of your prospective clients. What are their issues, and what are the problems or circumstances that lead them to your business? Do some simple brainstorming of words and phrases that these people might type into Google's search box that could potentially lead them to you. Also think of words/phrases that are unique to your business, that you want to be known by - words that convey and describe what you uniquely offer as a business. For instance, maybe it's "award-winning," "home-cooked," "safe," "cheap," or "fast."
5. Are we prepared to wait for a few months before we see a return on our investment?
Patience is a virtue when it comes to SEO, and if you think long-term, you'll be able to implement your strategy and implement it right. Good SEO is often slow at the beginning, but then it picks up incredibly. Talk with your department and your company to make sure your strategy can be a long-term one that will eventually pay off. For short-term results, you may want to consider other advertising or marketing efforts.
If you have comments on strategy, SEO, or marketing in general, write away in the comments below. We love to hear from you.