Again and again, we find in new SEO projects that search engine optimization was not previously associated with a strategy or clear goals. Individual optimization measures were carried out in isolation and were not coordinated. But only those who know where they want to go and pursue this goal with an end-to-end strategy get there too.
I would like to show you why an SEO strategy is so important to us in the agency, which building blocks are taken into account and how companies can independently develop a strategy.
SEO strategy – what is it?
Search engines are the number one point of contact on the Internet. In order for your products and services to be found on the World Wide Web and to properly position your brand, you should consider SEO as an important part of your online marketing strategy. You do not get good rankings overnight. Many factors play a role and only those who correctly coordinate the individual components will be successful in the long term.
An SEO strategy will help you. For us, it is the measure planning and approach to achieve defined SEO or website goals.
Possible goals or partial goals are, for example
- Positioning with relevant keywords
- Increase organic traffic
- Increase conversions
- International placement
- Local findability
When developing an SEO strategy we have 3 phases: analysis, evaluation and action planning.
Phase 1: SEO analysis
Before we start planning the SEO measures, we subject each website to an SEO audit. With his help, we identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and risks of the website. At the same time it serves to determine the digital positioning of the company and its competition and environment. The analysis is the basis for all further steps. Through them we can see where the problems of a website are and how we can fix them. Only when we have all the relevant data together can the project be tackled efficiently.
To be able to assess the project correctly, we first ask a few points from the customer. This includes:
- Which target group should be addressed with the website?
- Is a regional or international presence desired?
- Which topics and keywords are particularly important?
- Which products are in focus?
- Which industry should be filled?
- Which competitors (online & offline) are there?
This shows us a rough direction in which the project should go. Whether the information later proves to be correct or there are, for example, completely different competitors in the online market, we check in the evaluation phase.
For the analysis, we use various tools such as the Google Search Console , Screaming Frog, Sistrix, SEMRush, Searchmetrics and Google Analytics (or the web analysis tool that the customer is currently using, eg AT Internet, Webtrekk, etracker or Piwik). These tools provide us with the following data:
- Visibility (desktop and mobile)
- Keywords and rankings
- Indexed pages
- Technical website structure
- Existing content
It is important to evaluate them correctly, because the mere collection of data does not help us. Usually we refer to Google. Upon request, other search engines such as Bing, Yahoo, Yandex or Baidu can be considered.
Phase 2: evaluation
Once all the data has been determined, the evaluation follows: What is going well, what is going on less well and where is there an urgent need for action? In the evaluation phase, we bring together the analysis data and the previously named goals.
I. Goal definition
What are the “true goals”? What should be achieved in the course of optimization? From our point of view – and also from the point of view of Google – goals are not to be in position 1 with a predefined keyword set. This may seem reasonable in the short term, but in the long run this is not meant to be far enough. Targets can include the generation of more relevant traffic, leads or conversions. Top rankings and high visibility are partial goals.
What is the Internet appearance compared to the competition? Which other providers are found to relevant keywords? It is important that not only the classic competitors are considered, but above all, who at Google ranked on the front seats. Online and offline markets sometimes differ very much from each other. Many companies are unaware of who makes them competing in Google.
3. Onpage factors
From the analysis phase we can deduce which technical and structural problems the website has. Now it’s about identifying the factors that negatively affect the visibility of the site. Can all content be properly read, interpreted and indexed by Google? For example, is structured data really excellent?
Here we differentiate between tasks with relatively little effort, but which quickly show results, and tasks that can not be solved overnight, but in the long run lead to success. The first category includes, for example, the optimization of meta-snippets . On the other hand, a restructuring of navigation is more complicated.
Which content is relevant and has potential? And what search terms are users looking for? Using topic and keyword analysis , we identify relevant topics that fit the website’s offerings. In addition, we look at who is already working on the corresponding keywords and whether a placement in this environment is realistic.
By comparing existing content and rankings we determine which topics are already well represented, which still need to be optimized and where content is missing. Another helpful feature is a content audit . This not only provides an inventory of all content on the site, but also a rating based on the traffic. On this basis, a content strategy can then be developed.
From the analysis we know how many backlinks a website has, where they come from and where they lead. Compared to the competition, we determine whether a link strategy is necessary to build new links and possibly break down old links.
According to Google, more than half of all search queries are made via mobile devices such as smartphones. In addition, Google began in March 2018 for the reviews of websites their mobile version to use . It is therefore important that a website can be properly displayed and operated on smartphones.
We look at whether there is a mobile version of the website, whether this is technically correct and optimized for mobile devices. The structure and structure of a website are often different for mobile devices and desktops. It must be ensured that also the mobile version can be crawled correctly and subpages are correctly linked. Responsive design alone is not enough here.
Another important point is the page load time of a website. If users have to wait a long time for URLs to load, it will result in a poor user experience. With every additional second that passes, the likelihood that the user jumps back into the search results and calls another website increases. Especially when surfing on the go with a smartphone, the quality of Internet connections is often poor and slow websites cause additional frustration. This has long been recognized by Google and declared the page load time in July 2018 the official ranking factor for mobile search results .
Reason enough to check whether the website can keep up with the competition in terms of performance and where there are still opportunities to improve page load times.
8. Web analysis
Using web analytics tools like Google Analytics, we can get even deeper insight into the quality of the website and its content. How much traffic does the internet presence currently receive? How does the organic search traffic relate to the traffic of the remaining channels? How much traffic comes for example via direct access or social media? What can be said about the bounce rate? How do desktop users behave compared to mobile users?
Based on the data analysis and the assessment, we can assess how far the site is from the desired goals and how the site should be optimized.
9. Website-dependent special cases
Depending on the website type, there are other issues that need to be reviewed and evaluated. Special cases are for example:
- SEO for online shops
- SEO for International Websites
- Website relaunch
- Construction of a new internet presence
- Optimization of the local search
Phase 3: Action planning
After identifying, in close consultation with the customer, where the website is, what is good and what is bad, we work together to clarify where our actions need to be. It is therefore important to plan the concrete measures and to draw up a project plan.
- Which measures serve to reach the chosen goals?
- What are the priorities, what is prioritized?
- Which points do we approach when?
In the project plan, we define the individual sub-steps. This includes the coordination of the timing and the clarification of responsibilities. What tasks can we take on our own, where do we need feedback from the customer, and in which areas do we need the support of IT?
SEO strategy for eternity?
Now you could assume that the elaborated SEO strategy and the associated measures can be easily processed. But at the latest since the Google Panda and Penguin updates, it has become apparent that Google likes to put a stop to our calculations and that certain measures can no longer fulfill their purpose or become obsolete through appropriate updates. Measures then suddenly have to be prioritized quite differently.
And also the search behavior of the users changes. Due to the increased use of smartphones, more and more searches are being made on the go. Content therefore has to meet very different requirements than just a few years ago. And voice search is changing the way content needs to be optimized.
A regular questioning of the measures and a review of their success are therefore very important. If a measure does not achieve the desired effect, you have to be flexible enough to undo or modify it. Regular quality control is therefore part of a good SEO strategy for us.
Tip: If you decide for an SEO agency, you should pay special attention to the fact that behind the SEO measures there is also a well thought out strategy. Checks the following aspects: Are goals defined? Are there clear key figures to be achieved? Where is it going?
The SEO strategy in the marketing mix
What we notice again and again in SEO projects is that the SEO activities and measures, and therefore also the strategy, are seen detached from other marketing processes in the company. It is very important for success in Google and other search engines that all marketing measures are coordinated, such as product launches, advertising (even in the offline area) or mailings.
The presence on the Internet and the orientation there should reflect the company as it presents itself to its customers. This includes all marketing measures. The coordination with marketing, IT and management is therefore very important for us.
SEO and the importance of Google have long arrived in companies. As an SEO consultant, we no longer have to explain the importance of search engine optimization in marketing. It’s about getting the right measures to get better rankings and more relevant users to the site. With our SEO strategy, we try to achieve continuous optimization that promises long-term success. Important for this is
- to continuously analyze and evaluate a website
- To question measures
- and above all to observe current developments in the search engine market
- while retaining the flexibility to respond promptly to key trends.