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Operation Optimize: The Beginner's Guide to SEO

Business.com / Last Modified: February 12, 2018
Image credit: Creativa Images/Shutterstock

Are you ready to get your site ranking? Cue Operation Optimize. This article lays out how to get started, build out your SEO road map and measure your project's success.

So you want to get your site ranking. That's great, but where do you start, what do you do, and how do you see if it's working? Before you can run, you must walk – and that means learning the basics.

SEO stands for search engine optimization and, by Moz's definition, is the "practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results." In other words, you are working to rank at the top for a target list of keywords, which will increase your quality organic traffic and help you gain quality leads.

Now that we've got that covered, let's discuss what you came here for: Operation Optimize. 

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Getting started: The hardest part

Yes, we all know the hardest part of any task is getting started. The same is true for SEO work. But once you do your research and create a plan (we'll help you there), you'll be ready to go in no time.

First, conduct an audit of your own website as well as a technical and digital audit of your competitors. Take note of what they are doing – and if they are succeeding or failing. Analyze data like their domain authority, linking root domains and even social media followers.

After completing the audit, conduct in-depth keyword research. This task is a pivotal part of an SEO project, as the keywords you choose to target are the heart of this operation. You want to make sure you are ranking for terms that 1) your target audience will search for and 2) will attract the highest-quality visitors.

Creating a plan: The road map to SEO stardom

Once your research is complete and you have your keyword list, it's time to create your project road map, including your initial optimization plan and ongoing monthly initiatives. Upfront, you will want to ...

  • Complete on-page optimizations to your current SEO landing pages.

  • Create new optimized landing pages for clusters without existing landing pages.

  • Analyze and address all technical website errors.

Once you've created the foundation for an SEO masterpiece, create a plan for ongoing monthly initiatives. This will include the following:

  • Monthly outreach

  • Guest blog writing

  • Internal content writing (e.g., landing page updates)

  • Weekly technical updates

OK, are you ready to walk the walk?

Implementation: Into the thick of it

Let's use our road map to bring this operation to life. Step 1: Complete all of the on-page optimizations you noted, whether that is making edits to a current page, creating a new landing page or addressing errors. Once the site is completely updated, you can begin your off-page work, which leads us to Step 2 ...

Create a list of reputable, relatable websites on which you would like to gain a link. The top thing to keep in mind here is quality. SEO is no longer about the sheer quantity of link backs to your site; it's about the quality of said links and how valuable they are in a search engine's eyes. Once you've got your list, conduct outreach to gain guest blog opportunities – or even ask for a link back to one of your top resources. It all counts!

Finally, write the content, submit to publishers, and gain link placements. It's as easy as that. But make sure you aren't breezing through the writing part – you'll need a strong piece to achieve results.

Producing results: KPIs for success

Here is the most important thing you'll need to remember about SEO: Results take time. Unlike other digital campaigns, where you can see the immediate fruits of your labor, SEO work may take weeks to months to see the progress you would like.

As for how to determine success, there are several KPIs to keep your eye on:

  • Domain authority. Track your website's DA, a search engine ranking score created by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank in search engine results.

  • Keyword rankings. Monitor keyword rankings for terms chosen during your keyword research.

  • Organic traffic. Use Google Analytics to monitor organic traffic to your website on a weekly or monthly basis.

  • Organic leads. Within Google Analytics, set up goals to monitor your conversion rate for organic traffic.

Which KPIs take precedence will be determined by the ultimate goal of your SEO project. Are you looking to increase brand awareness and traffic to your website? Are you looking to drive a certain number of organic leads per month? Once you determine your focus and ideal outcome, you can identify the measurements and benchmarks you need to hit.

Finally, check in on these metrics about once a month. Where can you improve? What should you focus on to meet your goals? Optimize your plan accordingly, and you'll be an SEO guru in no time.

Don't worry if you're feeling overwhelmed; that's completely normal. It takes a lot of time and effort to get your site ranking for your targeted keywords and achieve your goals. If you feel like you need more help, contact an SEO agency for advice and assistance in creating and implementing strategic optimization plans.

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