First Things First: Prioritizing Your SEO Campaign
SEO is a long-term investment that requires careful planning and research, and that means prioritizing your efforts for maximum effectiveness. Before you even think about getting your first backlink, you need to have a solid foundation to start from, and the best starting point for that is provided by an SEO audit.
An SEO Audit Provides the Blueprint to Build Your SEO Campaign
An SEO audit starts by examining a number of components of your website that are critical to the success of your SEO efforts. After this, you need to analyze at least five of your competitors to help identify the best opportunities for exploiting competitive strengths and weakness. Finally, keyword research is conducted to guide you in selecting the most profitable and least competitive search ranking opportunities.
Phase One: On-Site Analysis
- Overall site health check. Conduct a Google search of your domain name as well as your brand names. Note the total number of pages indexed, and identify and remove any duplicate content.
- Review your content. Grade your content in terms of quality, length, and ease of reading. Your content should be written for human readers and not search engine robots.
- Site usability. Test your site load time, home page layout, and the keyword focus of all interior pages.
- Response codes. Check for server response codes that may indicate potential problems such as 301, 302, 307, 404, 410, 500, 503 codes.
- Individual page structure analysis. Examine each page for search-friendly URLs, relevant and complete title tags, relevant and unique Meta descriptions, number of inbound links, varied link anchor text, and the relevant use of graphics.
Phase Two: Competitive Analysis
- Competitive sites. Identify the top 5 to 10 competitors for your primary market, the top 3 to 5 competitors for your secondary market, and as many influential industry or niche sites as you can find.
- Note the amount of traffic going to each site; Alexa.com, Semrush.com, and Compete.com all provide tools that can help you evaluate competitive traffic counts.
- For each competitor, evaluate their content in terms of the top-ranked rages, content type, quality, uniqueness, and frequency of new content. Note the various calls-to-action.
- Using tools such as MajesticSEO and Open Site Explorer, conduct an analysis of your competitors’ inbound link profiles: number and source of links, number of linking domains, and link quality. Note any link-building possibilities for your website.
- Social media activity. Note the type of social channels used, frequency of posting, number of followers and shares or retweets.
Phase Three: Keyword Research
- Using the Google Keyword Planner tool, enter both your own website as well as the sites of your competitors; you’re looking for keyword ideas relevant to the primary product, and its most important features and benefits.
- Use Google Analytics or a similar tool to compile a list of the best keywords currently driving traffic to your site.
- Additional sources for keyword ideas include conducting a survey of past and current customers, social media tools such as Social Mention and Topsy, and topical research tools such as Soolve and Ubersuggest.
- Rate all possible keywords by relevance, volume, competitiveness, and estimated value per conversion.