Developing Your SEO Strategy
Is your website under performing, and can’t figure out why? If so, read on or call me now at 781-862-3126 for a free consultation.
Creating Your SEO Road-Map
Optimizing your company website to generate traffic, leads and conversions is the first step in improving website performance, but there is more, much more. You will have to optimize your entire company eco-system across a number of dimensions that have unique SEO requirements in many cases. To start developing your SEO strategy you should develop a complete SEO Roadmap that includes the follow activities.
- Define your entire business eco-system.
- Identify social media assets and requirements.
- Understand the implications for the development technologies / platforms you use.
- Develop a sustainable content strategy.
- Conduct advanced keyword research – understand consumer search behavior in your market segment.
- Identify the SEO task you need to execute to achieve your goals. These include:
- Not a requirement, but very useful – understand how search technologies work.
The above topics are outlined in a little more detail in the remainder of this article. This will help you develop a complete list of your company’s SEO needs, and focus your discussion with your SEO consultant. You should also consider why it is easy to fail at SEO. It’s not hard to get it all wrong.
It’s important to develop a clear map of the eco-system that you operate in, so that you can extend your SEO strategy (especially linking opportunity) beyond your corporate website. This will include all your business relationships and other company owned websites.
Company Controlled Assets
- Corporate Website(s).
- Micro-sites (e.g., custom landing pages for PPC).
- Business Partners (e.g., VARs, Partners).
- Business Providers (e.g., Consulting firms).
Social Media Assets
Your social media initiatives are an important part of your total eco-system. Your SEO strategy should initially be designed around your company goals, and the Social Media platforms that support those goals. All these social media assets contribute to your SEO strategy:
- Company Blog – content creation.
- Syndicated Media – content distribution.
- Company Twitter Account – engagement and promotion.
- Executive Twitter Accounts – engagement with a human face.
- Facebook Company Page – B2C conversations.
- Pinteret – B2C conversations.
- LinkedIn Company Page – B2B conversations.
Technology and Coding
Infrastructure and Tools
Yes, the technologies you use to develop and manage your website can have adverse / positive effects on your SEO strategy. For example:
- Technology choices (e.g., inflexible CMS platforms where tags and pages are hard to edit).
- Web 2.0 tools (e.g., gratuitous use of Flash – especially as menus).
- Site maps (e.g., missing HTML and XML sitemap).
- URLs with meaningless character strings (session IDs).
Often websites organically evolve without thought to quality and architecture. The driving paradigm to create a website as inexpensively as possible can be a mistake because Google does look at information architecture, quality of the source code and page load times as clues to how important your website is. A few examples:
- Information Architecture (e.g., excessive distance from the home page to important information).
- Coding Standards (e.g., source code elements can’t be parsed by the crawler).
- Validate Links (e.g., broken links – didn’t bother to validate codes and links before shipping).
The money you saved hiring the cheapest web developer will be spent fixing the problems later.
Content is king, and if you do not have a well thought through strategy to develop and deploy content on a scheduled basis, you will be wasting your time trying to optimize your website. Good content drives:
- User engagement.
- Your linking strategy (pagerank).
- Your relevancy in search results.
Search engines are very clear about their preference for fresh, well-written, high-quality and topically relevant content. Content types that can augment your content strategy include:
- Blog postings
- Case studies
- Product descriptions
- Slideshare presentations
- Press releases
- White papers
- Specialty landing pages
- Social media content
- Spreadsheets (Tables)
- Documents in PDF
Without good content you can’t play in the game.
Selected SEO Expertise
Your linking strategy requires three parts: linking strategically to other companies who are topically related to you; generating links from other high-quality sites back to you; and your Intra-site linking strategy. Think of these as the:
- In-Bound Link strategy.
- Out-Bound Link strategy.
- Intra-site Link strategy.
Linking is the most complex and hardest part of SEO to execute properly, and requires a solid foundation in strategic content. You can build your linking footprint by developing links / relationships with:
- Global Directories.
- Local Search Engine Services’ Portals and Directories.
- Business Listing Services.
- Business Relationships.
- Business Networks.
- Non-Profit Organizations.
- Individual People (board members, employees, consultants).
- Events / Link Baiting Content.
- Polls and Contests.
- Syndicate Content through Social Content Websites.
These are good examples, but their are hundreds of other opportunities available to improve your linking footprint.
Optimizing your company website to take advantage of consumers searching for local products and services requires several discrete tasks that in aggregate put you in the best position to competitively appear in localized search results. These activities include:
- Registering your business with Google’s, Bing’s and Yahoo’s local search services.
- Registering your business with the top business data providers.
- Registering your business with local hubs and local search portals.
- Registering with vertical search services and directories.
- Marking up your webpage using all the important regional indicators.
- Adding Geo-tags to the webpage source code.
- Submitting a XML-geo sitemap to Google.
- Developing and distributing Geo-tagged content.
Remember, Local Search has it’s own Index, Crawler and Rules that dictate whether you can be included or not.
The foundation for your mobile SEO strategy needs to be based upon traditional SEO techniques, and augmented by the unique content optimization requirements that make a difference in the mobile search experience. Keep in mind that mobile search exist in a world of its own. For example:
- Mobile content is found in a dedicated mobile search index.
- Mobile content is indexed by a different crawler.
- Mobile pages have dedicated markup languages (XHTML).
- Mobile websites require dedicated site-maps and meta.txt files.
- Mobile sites have stricter requirements for rendering existing content.
- Search engines will transcode websites if necessary.
20% of all consumer searches originate on a hand-held device.
Multilingual SEO presents a set of problems that must be dealt with on a number of levels. Not only do you have the problem of properly translating your English-oriented website into another language, you also have to deal with a number of technical issues that impact your SEO footprint. These issues include the flexibility of your content management systems, your domain name strategy, the software platform that you’re using and real estate display issues, such as getting text to fit in the original allotted space (e.g., buttons and menus). Issues in more detail:
- Content Management Systems (does it have foreign language support).
- Domain Name Strategy (.com vs. country-specific URLs).
- Language Issues (translation by locals vs. US-based translators).
- Identify country-specific search engines (there are hundreds of them).
- Understand the rules for getting into country-specific search engine.
- Webmaster Tools have foreign language rules and requirements.
- Keyword Research (e.g., can’t translate English keywords into another language).
- Regional Search Behavior – You have to consider idiomatic search customs.
- Regional Linking Strategy – Your US-based linking equity will not provide any value to your foreign language website.
SEO Site Audit
You don’t know what kind of problems you need to deal with until you know what is wrong or right with your current website. A site audit can range from a quick review of tags to a full analysis of how you stack up against the competition. The following are the top areas for an SEO audit.
- Navigation analysis.
- Keyword density analysis.
- Page markup analysis.
- Content analysis / Duplicate content detection.
- Canonical review.
- Link analysis (internal / external).
- Platform analysis (Web 2.0 tools).
- Source code validation.
Search Behavior / Advanced Keyword Research
A consumer search behavior model is a data-driven process for classifying consumer behavior for each search query to a specific source, type or subject. It’s a reflection of the total consumer buying behavior experience for products and services in any single market segment. Why are Consumer Search Behavior Models important? These models help you to better understand the factors and influences of consumer search/buying behavior. These behavior models are important because they have direct impact on:
- Product Requirements – Search behavior models provide extraordinary focus.
- Content Strategy – Search behavior model should be one of the primary variables in developing and deploying content.
- Information Architecture – Search behavior models provide you with an organizational strategy for website information architecture.
- SEO Strategy – The data in a search behavior model will drive your SEO strategy.
- Global Application – The insight gleaned from a search behavior model can be used to govern the management of your company’s social media initiatives.
Advanced keyword research drives all aspects of your SEO strategy.
Understanding Search Technologies
It’s not a requirement, but it really helps. If you take the time to understand how search technologies work, you will find that it will provide insight that will help you more effectively drive your content and SEO strategy. Areas to investigate include how:
- The indexing process works.
- Search relevancy & Page Rank impact search results.
- Crawlers function.
Find Out More
If you are interested in finding out more about SEO and Search Technologies send me (Mark Sprague) an email at: Mark@MSprague.com, or call me now at: 781-862-3126
If you are interested in developing a custom SEO Roadmap for your business, please get in touch to discuss your needs.
About Lexington eBusiness Consulting
Mark Sprague’s 25 years of product development experience, which includes expertise in Search Engines, Information Products, SEO platforms and Social Networking applications provide in-depth expertise to help you refine products and services, and improve your websites performance by:
- Developing a superior data-driven SEO strategy for your website.
- Understanding your customers’ search behavior and normalizing it to your content strategy.
- Understanding how search engine technology practically impacts SEO and content strategies.
- Understanding how search technology impacts content in a social networking environment.
- Developing a superior user experience based on sound information architecture, usability and coding standards.
Mark Sprague, CEO
580 Lowell Street
Lexington, MA 02420