- Have a strategy. Understand which keywords you want to target and why.
- Benchmark yourself. Have a clear understanding of how you rank now on the keywords you are targeting yourself against.
- Decide you how you want to roll out your changes – all at once or one at a time. Sometimes if you do it all at once you don’t necessarily know what worked/what didn’t.
- Sit and wait. Sometimes it can take a couple of months to see improvements in rankings.
- Make Google Webmaster Tools your friend and if you use Google Analytics, get the two linked together as this is quite a formidable pairing.
I wrote an email to an Accenture colleague with some thoughts on SEO. She had forwarded on an email from other Accenture colleagues that had loads of important information on the more technical side and how to implement good SEO. But there was nothing there about how to find the correct keywords to target, benchmarking where you are now and accurately measuring where you want to get to.
While this is in no way a solution to or finalised approach, it will hopefully give you enough of an idea of a good approach to setting an SEO strategy with some useful tools that you can use as well.
This was my email:
The main thing to remember with SEO is that its not just a technical solution – having the correct tags and well-structured html is only a part of it. You need well thought out copy and have many high quality sites linking to you with relevant keyword rich anchor text.
The first thing that I would do would be to come up with a strategy. What is it that we are trying to achieve? Which keywords do we want to improve on? What does success look like? Who of my competitors are doing well? Where are the gaps that I can take advantage of?
Some tools that I would recommend would be industry standard ones such as Hitwise, Google Trends and ComScore. Hitwise offers you the ability to look at which keywords drive traffic to yourself and to your competitors. It can also compare you against an industry, individual sites or a group of sites that you define yourself. This helps you to identify where the opportunities might be that you can capitalise on.
Google Trends is a free tool that gives you an idea of how often nominated keywords are searched for in different territories. It doesn’t give you actual numbers but does give you an indication.
Then there’s the tech side of things. Reviewing your HTML, looking at microformats and other more granular html tags that Google and some other search engines still support. In addition, site speed is also quite often taken into account so using Firefox plugins like yslow and other online tools to help speed up the rendering of pages in a browser is also important. In addition to this looking at how your site is cached and trying our different pre-warming techniques can also help with this.
Another great tool in the SEO arsenal is landing pages. If you are trying to compete on specific keywords, create bespoke landing pages for these keywords with relevant keyword rich copy and with links through to relevant product – again with keyword rich anchor text.