For organizations serving either B2B or B2C audiences, search engine optimization continues to be a priority for driving new traffic.
There are several articles suggesting the proper techniques to help you deliver that traffic. However, within this piece, I want to provide some key elements to think through before you even begin the optimization method.
Understand Your Audience
The first of these preliminary steps is to know your audience.
If your business has not taken the time to develop personas, start now. Personas are a set of representative profiles that communicate the necessary behaviours, goals, wants, needs and frustrations of particular audience segments along their decision-making journey.
Effective personas are driven by primary & secondary data and used to gain a focused understanding of how a particular persona profile uses a particular “application” among a given context.
The next step, once you have known your audience, is to perform an SEO audit.
This method helps to sort the site you’re trying to drive traffic toward. Does the site have technical problems that are making it tough for search engines to crawl? Is the content structured in a manner that's confusing, not only to the user but to search engines as well? Is the website mobile friendly?
Presenting a mobile friendly website is becoming even more necessary in anticipation of the upcoming splitting of the Google indexes, in which mobile will be the priority index and desktop will be refreshed less usually.
Another way to help get the most out of this SEO audit is to request Analytics and Google Search Console access for the domain.
Up next is the content analysis.
Now that you understand what is driving your audience, their wants, and what you should work on from an SEO viewpoint, you'll fully concentrate on understanding how the content that you currently provide fits the requirements of your personas, and where it falls along their decision/purchase funnel.
The key to this analysis isn’t to force content to fit these needs, however instead to recognize content that does fit and to identify any gaps.
Your content is what will help expose your website to your target audience at the correct moment in their journey & it’s worth it to get it right. The other step that should be part of your content audit is to review content themes.
Do similar pieces of content really need to be separate or are they are more powerful as one piece of content? For content and keyword themes, the focus needs to be on the intent behind the query: what the searcher is looking for.
Finally, a thorough competitive analysis will help to develop how you should set your expectations.
How hard are your competitors hitting the marketing channels? Are your competitors keeping current with what is necessary for their customers, or still telling their customers what is important? Are you in a position to put your content in head-to-head competition and be the expert? How do you rank when it comes to trustworthy and authoritative content that your audience needs?
The idea here isn't just to “spy” on your competitors, however, to know how you can set yourself up for success and how to attract the most relevant audience for your specific website.
One other important think about this process is to look past your “standard” competitors & see if another company sites appear for some of your high priority queries. These may be organizations that you haven’t considered as competitors before, however that make sense to keep an eye on.
Following these steps to establish a stronger understanding of your client, content and competitive landscape can probably pay dividends as you dive into specific SEO techniques.
These areas of understanding may affect each other holistically as well, for example, findings uncovered in the competitor analysis might highlight a necessity to classify pieces of content differently than before. Performing this analysis before executing your SEO strategy can set you up for a better chance at success.