You want TRAFFIC!? Then PLAN for it! You wouldn’t walk up to investors without a business plan. Not if you expect their serious consideration. Along the same reasoning, you wouldn’t want to present your website to search engines without an SEO plan.
It is an absolute recommendation that you take the time to outline a strategy as the process will not only demystify online success but also help you evolve with the changing tides of search engine algorithms.
YOUR SEO PLAN IS YOUR ANCHOR
To keep the success of your digital business steady, you are going to have to come up with a comprehensive strategy that enables you to pinpoint problems immediately.
Oh, the things we do for attention and RANKING!
Your plan is your guide to getting noticed. Having already set your traffic goals, understood your product/service, described your implementation techniques, conducted your keyword competitor analysis, researched threats and opportunities, set your advertising budget, created a schedule, marked out deadlines, assigned responsibilities, and made future projections, your plan will breathe confidence into you.
That being said, let’s take a look at the steps of putting together an SEO Plan.
1. SET SEO S.M.A.R.T GOALS
Most people won’t fail at SEO because it is an esoteric field. They will struggle because they didn’t begin with well laid out goals.
With solid objectives and an SEO plan, you will find that you are always prepared to respond and you never fade into the noise of the crowded internet. But we don’t just set any ole goals. We follow the S.M.A.R.T format.
SPECIFIC:- In which search engine are you focusing? By exactly how much do you want to increase traffic? In what sense will you be monitoring traffic? Are you only worried about rankings or are you considering conversion, or are you looking to receive more engagement? Are we talking leads, views, revenue? Be specific. Don’t just tell me “get to page one.”
And when you think you have been specific enough, be more specific.
MEASURABLE:- Percentage growth and concrete numbers are your friends here. You can track just about everything that has to do with your website. The number of visitors, the amount of time they spend on your site, from where your traffic originates, and how often your content gets shared, every data point is accessible to you. It shouldn’t be too tricky to set measurable goals for your plan. It may help a beginner to think in regards to what is measurable before setting specific goals.
ATTAINABLE:- Are you realistic? How many people do you have on your team and how much time can they devote to SEO? What is the skill level of the person assigned the most challenging task, do you have any idea just how complex that work maybe? What tools do you want to rely on, how often do you want to use these resources? Are they too expensive? When and how often will your action items be executed, can you keep this up? Perhaps it is time for research. Do not set specific goals that are unattainable.
I am not going to run like Usain Bolt by training once a month. You aren’t going to beat certain media giants at ranking for general keywords. You can, however, sneak up on them by thinking of your keywords as a niche business. What can you realistically focus on with the most manageable competition?
RELEVANT:- SEO is all about understanding your competition, but that does not mean you have to become your competition. What exactly are you trying to accomplish with your business and how will SEO help? Is fame just an ego trip? Are you better off focusing on a smaller audience so that you may later move them towards another platform? Make sure your goals not only address the needs of your customers, maximize the value you offer but also set you up for the next stage of your business. SEO can play a relevant role in the big picture of your business.
TIME ORIENTED:- Have you spent enough time predicting by when you ought to accomplish your objectives? What are the deadlines for your action plans? Your SEO success will quickly become a pipe dream if you do you not hold your feet to the fire. Time to be disciplined and take your digital success seriously.
SEO is a full-time job, and this project requires deadlines.
CAUTION! Your goals should be ethical. Do not involve Black Hat techniques. Not only because I want you to play fair but because you will tend to waste money on gimmicks set up to take advantage of your confusion and desperation. But worse, without you expecting it, you just may find your website banned by search engines.
Trust your plan. Consistently make adjustments and do as much research as possible. SEO can be fun if you allow yourself to enjoy it.
2. SEO KEYWORD ANALYSIS
IMPORTANT!!!!! USE YOUR COMPETITION!
You are best served by focusing on keywords that reflect your unique selling proposition. These keywords aren’t that difficult to think up if you know your business, but it is also likely that the competition already dominates these sweet but general keywords. Not to worry you can still stand out.
In the article: ‘HOW TO SELECT SEO KEYWORDS TO DRIVE YOUR BRAND,’ I explain how to go about your keyword analysis.
Here is a listed summary:
- List rough draft of possible Keywords
- Enter keywords into search engines to make a note of successful competitors (5) who rank high on the Search Engine Results Page.
- Review competitors websites for SEO specifications
- Create SEO specs for your site with consideration to what is working for your competition
- Create a list of narrowly focused long tail keywords with attention to Product/service, using the 5 W’s
- Use Google Keyword Planner to identify competitiveness of possible keywords after adjustments.
- Finalize keyword targets.
3. THE SITE BREAKDOWN
Every page deserves your attention, but not every page is as important as the other. Which pages do your users care about the most?
Where is the link to your ‘Sales’ page placed? Is it titled properly? What sort of copy are you including, are the images optimized for speed and relevant tags? Do you need a video to engage potential customers? And which pages need video? Does your contact page include Geotagged map? How detailed, yet brief are your meta descriptions? It sounds like a lot more work than it is. It all becomes elementary when you begin to budget your time and attention.
The pages most integral to your success get the most attention. Rank them and optimize them.
P.S If these pages are so relevant to you, you should be asking, ‘how can I guide my users to what I want them to see?
4. THE SEO ON-PAGE CHECKLIST
There are off-page SEO factors that will participate in your success, but let’s keep the plan simple for now.
You should have an on-page SEO checklist page in your plan, in case you ever need to refresh your memory on what needs to be done on every page.
Next to every action item be sure to include a note of what works for you. For example, you may prefer your meta descriptions always to mention your most popular product.
In the article, ON-PAGE SEO KEYWORD FACTORS FOR KEYWORD SUCCESS, I explain the details of this checklist. For now here is a list of what you need to get right on every page:
- Site Speed
- Server Type
- Meta Descriptions
- Domain Name
- Videos and Images (with tags)
- Sitemap and Index
5. SEO SITUATION ANALYSIS
Almost like a SWOT analysis.
Where does your brand stand regarding Search Engine Optimization? What are the SEO strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats you face? How far off track are you and what needs to be addressed?
We already spoke about measurable goals, but how are we going to measure progress if we have no idea where we started. Good news, this is easy.
There are many free tools keen on letting you know just how much work you need to do to improve your site. I refer you WOORANK or AHREFS.
Woorank and AHREFS do a complete dive into the metrics of your website. You even get a score. Don’t fret about where we are now, the whole purpose of the plan is to work our way to perfection, the worse we are today, the more we can celebrate in the future.
Enter your domain into the WOORANK or AHREFS query bar and take note of what information is most pertinent to your goals. What ought to be fixed immediately, what can wait?
Depending on other goals you have set, I assure you there is a free tool available online that can’t wait to bring you up to speed. Take a deep breath before you run Google Analytics for traffic stats, that one can be a real pride killer for a start-up. But hey, that’s why we have a plan!
6. SEO STRATEGY IMPLEMENTATION
Especially after conducting your keyword analysis and the page assessment, you will have an excellent idea of critical pain points. You will get a sense of how long it will take to achieve your goal. Time to work on the part of your plan that actually solves problems.
Some questions you may want to start asking:
How are you going to increase engagement? More images and video?
How often are you going to update the website?
Are there any tools you may consistently rely on?
Are you going to start blogging? What sort of content could you post? Can you afford to outsource this responsibility?
Do you need to reach out to influencers as part of your to-do list?
How much money can you afford to spend on advertising?
What other sort of marketing have you embarked on and is there a link to your SEO plan you may have missed?
Do you have a credible directory list on hand?
Who is going to do what?
7. PUTTING THE SEO PLAN TOGETHER
After being patient enough to digest all of this information, you should be able to put together a document which includes:
- An SEO summary page (An overview of your goals and where they will take you)
- Product/Service page
- Keyword Analysis
- Page Priority list
- On-Page Checklist
- Situation Analysis
- Strategy Implementation
- Team Page (Who is going to do what? Eg. update blog posts)
- Schedule and Deadlines Page
- Future projections pages
Now that you have your plan, time to put in the work. Depending on your budget to sweat ratio, I recommend giving yourself six months of discipline before you start to expect much from search engines.
Search engines want to love you, and they will. They just want to make sure you are serious about satisfying online users before they trust you with the attention you seek. Good thing we have a plan to impress.
Once you are done putting this together, pat yourself on the back but don’t discard your document.
Your SEO plan is something you are going to want to revisit, almost as often as search engines are likely to adjust their rules.
Once you achieve your goal, don’t forget to set another. Dream big. Because the truth is, the sky is not even the limit. There are none.