SEO Roadmap


A 50,000-Foot Overview


If you’re going somewhere you’ve never been, you need a map to get there. Besides knowing your destination, you need to know the most important stops along the way and where the dangers are, so you don’t haplessly wander off a cliff. A good SEO strategy is no different. As Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” In this case, you need to formulate a plan that helps you avoid problems, gets you where you want to go and makes the process as smooth and successful as possible.

A successful SEO strategy first determines your needs (analysis), and then defines the necessary specifics (keywords, architecture, file nomenclature, etc.). Then, it decides how you’re going to put those details to use (branding, copywriting, graphic design), and how you’re going to maintain and adapt for the long haul (SEO management). For SEO success, the journey is never over.

Roadmap Tour

SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap
SEO Roadmap
SEO Roadmap

Determine Your Destination

An SEO strategy is really a marketing campaign. Aside from having a product or service to sell, the first step in any marketing campaign is to know who your target audience is—and not just who they are, but what they want and what their pain points are.

  • What problems do they want to solve?
  • What information do they need?
SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap
SEO Roadmap
SEO Roadmap

Research

Content may be king for your website; but for SEO, data is king. Even though you’ve identified your clients and their needs, there’s a lot more to know: How does your target audience search for information? What words do they use to indicate what they are interested in? A keyword analysis parses out those words and phrases that are most used by the people you want to reach.

SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap
SEO Roadmap
SEO Roadmap

Plan Your Route

How you’re going to get there is one of the biggest factors of any trip. Taking all of that research and creating a plan of action with multiple moving parts is no small task. Many different factors must be taken into account:

Web Development – Building an attractive, easy-to-navigate website is essential—and not easy.

SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap
SEO Roadmap
SEO Roadmap

Budget for Your Trip

Ask any project manager: every project needs a scope, a schedule and a financial plan. To carry out a successful SEO strategy, you will need to know what you want to achieve, when individual items need to get done, and what kind of commitment you’re willing to make in terms of money and time.

Remember, SEO is marketing, and a marketing campaign lasts for the life of your product, service, business or blog.

SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap
SEO Roadmap
SEO Roadmap

Check the Engine

It’s not just keywords, keyword density and article length that count; the technical aspects of your site have a big effect on your page rankings. These are the data pieces that Google and other search engines gather, measure and make judgements on that elevate your site to lofty, attention-getting rankings or sentence it to sad, buried-somewhere-on-page-34 oblivion. Page titles, meta descriptions, headers, tags, file names, settings,

SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap
SEO Roadmap
SEO Roadmap

Hit the Open Road

Now you’re cruising. Here is where you begin implementing the plan you have so carefully put in place. Use that critical keyword research to produce fresh content, create engaging headlines and name your files and images—but keep that research up-to-date. The Internet is a fluid, dynamic entity where the only constant is change. Keep up with the latest keyword research and implement accordingly.

On the road, you’re going to want to keep your eyes on a lot of different things—providing fresh content,

SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap
SEO Roadmap
SEO Roadmap

Invite Others Along for the Ride

One of the best ways to increase your page rankings and click-through rates is to be an active part of the online community. Two great habits for all website owners are (1) Cultivate Quality Backlinks; and (2) Actively Participate in Social Networks.

Links back to your site (backlinks) from relevant, respected

SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap
SEO Roadmap
SEO Roadmap

Watch for Hazards

Always remember that your reputation is everything. Strive for following ethical business practices; striving to provide a quality product or service; creating a wonderful customer experience; addressing customer or client issues swiftly; playing nicely with your articles, links, and comments; and otherwise behaving well.

Even if you’re absolutely law-abiding in every way and you use only white hat techniques for SEO growth, you need to keep a sharp eye out for changes in the Internet landscape that will wreck your progress.

SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap SEO Roadmap
SEO Roadmap
SEO Roadmap

Check Your Gauges and Your Rear View Mirror

Tracking your numbers is a critical part of your success. How will you know if you’re doing well or not without measuring from where you’ve been? How will you know how you’re doing against your competitors without taking a peek? Are they gaining ground on you? Is there a competitor you’re close to catching, and with just a little more effort you could pass them?

Stop 1 – Determine Your Destination

An SEO strategy is really a marketing campaign. Aside from having a product or service to sell, the first step in any marketing campaign is to know who your target audience is—and not just who they are, but what they want and what their pain points are.

  • What problems do they want to solve?
  • What information do they need?
  • What purpose will you or your product serve for them?
  • What value do you provide?
  • Do others in the same area provide a similar product or service?
  • If so, how will you be different?
  • Where do they rank, and what are they doing (or not doing) to affect that?
  • What is your ultimate goal (to educate, to generate revenue, etc.)?

Finding the answers to these questions and more will give you tremendously valuable insights and help you better set priorities that benefit you and your site. Without knowing all these things, you will go nowhere.

Stop 2 – Research

Content may be king for your website; but for SEO, data is king. Even though you’ve identified your clients and their needs, there’s a lot more to know: How does your target audience search for information? What words do they use to indicate what they are interested in? A keyword analysis parses out those words and phrases that are most used by the people you want to reach.

Also, you can’t map out a trip if you don’t know where you’re starting from. This is where benchmarking comes in, to determine where you are (financially, strategically, functionally) and even more importantly, where you are in relation to your competitors. You are not the only one on the road, and you need to know where the other travelers are and what they’re doing.

You can (and should) amass as much data as you can, and crunch those numbers before you make any decisions. Data-driven decisions will have the greatest positive impact for your SERPs and your ultimate success.

Stop 3 - Plan Your Route

How you’re going to get there is one of the biggest factors of any trip. Taking all of that research and creating a plan of action with multiple moving parts is no small task. Many different factors must be taken into account:

Web Development – Building an attractive, easy-to-navigate website is essential—and not easy. It not only needs to be eye-catching to an increasingly sophisticated Internet audience, it needs to please the search engines that determine your ranking. Some things that help are:

  • making sure your website is organized and complete (no unfinished or ‘under construction’ pages)
  • providing ways for users to contact you and/or interact with your site
  • working key words into your website as a whole—not just your articles
  • adding a sitemap, and regularly maintaining it as your website develops and evolves

Branding – Your brand is your identity—it’s how the public will recognize you, and make assumptions about you before they even experience what you have to offer. In the end, your product or service will make or break your brand, but for now, your domain name, logo design and online ads will either grab them and draw them to your site, or let them slip away.

Copywriting – You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again: content is king. Supplying fresh content to your site will be a never-ending, time-consuming quest. The latest research says that longer articles (500-1000 words) perform better than shorter articles. That’s a lot of text. In addition, each article, post or video on your site must be original, relevant and provide value to your audience. Duplicate content is frowned upon by search engines, and will work against what you are trying so hard to achieve. Even if it’s completely original, but not relevant or valuable, no one will want to see it. If they somehow click to see it and aren’t impressed, they’ll bounce off your site faster than you can blink, and it will hurt your rankings. Quality content will help establish you as a subject matter expert and it will influence readers to do business with you.

Graphic Design - Design layout, videos and images are more important than you may realize for your site. A good graphic designer can absolutely enhance your site with visual elements, lending more professional feeling to your site and even making the navigation more intuitive. Calls to action can be even more effective with a punch of design. Google loves images and your website visitors do, too. (Think about how many people visit YouTube and Pinterest.) Along with being attractive, images are great ‘white hat’ places to add keywords.

Stop 4 – Budget for Your Trip

Ask any project manager: every project needs a scope, a schedule and a financial plan. To carry out a successful SEO strategy, you will need to know what you want to achieve, when individual items need to get done, and what kind of commitment you’re willing to make in terms of money and time.

Remember, SEO is marketing, and a marketing campaign lasts for the life of your product, service, business or blog. Because there are such a wide variety of elements in an SEO campaign, you may want to realistically look at what you can do (and what you have time for). Do you have the expertise you need? Do you have the time to devote to research and development of your SEO strategy? Do you have the financial cushion to carry you through a less-than-optimal execution of your strategy (just in case)? If not, you may want to think about hiring someone to do this for you.

Stop 5 – Check the Engine

It’s not just keywords, keyword density and article length that count; the technical aspects of your site have a big effect on your page rankings. These are the data pieces that Google and other search engines gather, measure and make judgements on that elevate your site to lofty, attention-getting rankings or sentence it to sad, buried-somewhere-on-page-34 oblivion. Page titles, meta descriptions, headers, tags, file names, settings, URLs, site speed, site layout, site searchability and a plethora of other factors have a large cumulative impact on your spot in the SERPs.

Stop 6 – Hit the Open Road

Now you’re cruising. Here is where you begin implementing the plan you have so carefully put in place. Use that critical keyword research to produce fresh content, create engaging headlines and name your files and images—but keep that research up-to-date. The Internet is a fluid, dynamic entity where the only constant is change. Keep up with the latest keyword research and implement accordingly.

On the road, you’re going to want to keep your eyes on a lot of different things—providing fresh content, making sure your site runs and operates effectively and drawing readers, customers, or clients. Here is where you will begin to implement ‘outside’ strategies, like email marketing. As you amass lists of potential customers, you can use email to speak directly to them. Newsletters might be another direct path to potential customers. When they come from your email or newsletter to your site, you not only (hopefully) gain a customer or client, you also get an SEO boost.

Don’t overlook the power of online advertising (pay-per-click). This is an effective and rapidly-growing way to increase traffic to your site. The targeted audience you capture with online advertising is especially valuable and as you drive that traffic, search engines will see you as more relevant—and boost your rankings. There are a lot of different avenues to online advertisements, and you will have to evaluate which ones work the best for you.

Stop 7 - Invite Others Along for the Ride

One of the best ways to increase your page rankings and click-through rates is to be an active part of the online community. Two great habits for all website owners are (1) Cultivate Quality Backlinks; and (2) Actively Participate in Social Networks.

Links back to your site (backlinks) from relevant, respected sources do great things for your rankings because they show the community that you are also someone to be trusted. One way to get these valuable backlinks is through in-person relationships, but another way is by simply linking to them in an authentic, relevant article, post or comment. You scratch their back, and they should scratch yours.

Social networks (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.) do a similar service in that they are a way for someone not invested in your company (i.e. a customer) to recommend you to others. When someone shares, you become more credible and trustworthy to other users and to search engines. When people share your content, search engines recognize your relevancy and move you up in the ranks. Best of all, every time someone shares something of yours, it’s free advertising. You can integrate social media on your site by including “Share” buttons on your site, and by sharing items yourself on your own (or your company’s) social media accounts.

Stop 8 - Watch for Hazards

Always remember that your reputation is everything. Strive for following ethical business practices; striving to provide a quality product or service; creating a wonderful customer experience; addressing customer or client issues swiftly; playing nicely with your articles, links, and comments; and otherwise behaving well.

Even if you’re absolutely law-abiding in every way and you use only white hat techniques for SEO growth, you need to keep a sharp eye out for changes in the Internet landscape that will wreck your progress. For instance—not long ago, the mobile-friendliness of your site didn’t factor into SERPs…but now it does. Search engines update their algorithms regularly, and failing to be aware of these changes or new requirements can cause dramatic drops in the SERPs.

Stop 9 - Check Your Gauges and Your Rear View Mirror

Tracking your numbers is a critical part of your success. How will you know if you’re doing well or not without measuring from where you’ve been? How will you know how you’re doing against your competitors without taking a peek? Are they gaining ground on you? Is there a competitor you’re close to catching, and with just a little more effort you could pass them?

You need to constantly monitor your keyword relevancy, backlinks, search rankings, site traffic, visitors’ time on page, click through rates, bounce rates, conversion rates, competitors…let’s just say, everything.

Consistent, regular evaluation of all these factors (and more) is key to determining how well you’re doing and what you should be focusing on next.

Sometimes you can’t know what works until you try it—and you will always have to make adjustments as you go. The landscape constantly changes, and we have to change with it. Every SEO journey is just a little different. Recognizing that it’s an exciting adventure and being willing to learn, adapt, and adjust will keep you moving toward success.

Evaluation, re-analysis and re-implementation of your SEO strategy is an ongoing process that must be consistently applied throughout your journey; but when you do, the return on your investment will be a fantastic reward.

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