This article will outline how to start an SEO campaign; that’s assuming you have a website that’s already got some traffic and some links.
Table of Contents
- SEO is no different from any other marketing campaign
- Where are you now versus where do you want to be ?
- Set a goal
- 3 SEO Strategy options
- Improve existing page to rank higher and increase organic traffic
- Research for page/asset to earn backlinks
- Create new pages with topical research to grow organic traffic
- Create content to satisfy Google and the user
- On Page Optimisation
- Internal and external links
- Page Promotion
- Measuring an SEO Campaign
SEO is no different from any other marketing campaign
An SEO campaign is no different from any other type of marketing campaign.
You review your current position, set a goal, devise a strategy, create and implement the campaign tactics then measure the results afterwards.
Oh and you need time, resources and a bit of budget.
Where are you now versus where do you want to be ?
When I provide SEO reports to clients and prospects I always show them a competitor comparison report.
You can compare your website with competitors using most premium keyword report tools or even a free tool like SimilarWeb.
Simply compare the organic traffic, domain ratings and referring domains like this.
A competitor report is quite an eye opener for many web professionals and business owners.
I want to inspire results driven website owners with a feeling of “I want the traffic these competitors are getting”.
We know from the Ahrefs search traffic study that there is a relationship between referring domains and organic traffic.
So more backlinks generally equate to more organic traffic.
Top page reports
Rather than examine the ranking position of individual keywords I prefer to review the organic traffic and number of ranking keywords of separate pages.
You can do this inside Google Analytics by looking at the landing page report under the search console section of Acquisition.
Search console performance report
Or you can use the performance reports directly inside Google Search Console.
If you don’t have access to either, then use a 3rd party research tool such as Ahrefs top pages report.
By examining your top pages you can estimate the organic traffic potential of the SERPS results (SERPS = search engine ranking pages).
Search console; donkeys and unicorns
I have a process that I “stole” from Larry Kim that extracts your Google Search Console data into Google Sheets to generate a donkeys and unicorns report.
This report helps me decide which web pages I should give priority in improving.
This strategy is included within membership to SEO Box.
Lastly you can go full steam ahead and identify on page SEO issues, duplicate pages, broken links and technical errors with an SEO audit.
You can do this with Ahrefs or perform a mini site audit with tools such as Screaming Frog.
After doing this analysis you should understand where exactly you are before determining an SEO goal.
Set a goal
Having taken a tumble and recovered from the Google Medic update in August 2018, I’m setting myself a goal to double organic visits per month by December 2019.
Remember, the end is just is the beginning.
If you can picture or visualise the end result and the timeframe that’s a start in goal setting.
To get there, you need an SEO strategy.
3 SEO Strategy options
Now you know where you are and where you want to be, it’s time to get strategic.
There are, broadly speaking, 3 options open to starting an SEO campaign.
- Improve existing page to rank higher and increase organic traffic
- Create page/asset to generate backlinks
- Create new pages with topical research to grow organic traffic
Improve existing page to rank higher and increase organic traffic
In another SEO study, it was found it takes around 2 to 6 months to rank brand new web pages in Google’s top 10 search results for experienced SEO practitioners.
From personal experience, this page took around 12 weeks to rank on page one and start earning organic traffic.
So improving already ranked pages is a faster route to increased traffic.
Take your top page report.
For me to achieve the goal of doubling organic traffic, I’d need to go from Ahrefs estimated 402 visits per month to 804.
But is this achievable ?
Look at the keyword with the highest search volume of your top page and look at its position and current traffic.
In this example :
- The top keyword for the top page is : business ideas uk
- The position in Google is 12
- The search volume is 3200
- The traffic is 96
Now look at traffic to the pages in the top 10 search results.
- Compare the traffic to your page with the traffic to the top pages.
- Calculate the average traffic to the top pages; in this example 1459 visits per month.
- Compare that figure with your page traffic eg: 269.
So a page one ranking is potentially worth another 1200 organic visits per month.
But not so quick.
You need to compare the domains linking to the top pages and the number of keywords the top pages rank for.
In my example, I have 4 domains linking to my page; the top pages have much more.
- I would need to make my page more of an asset or resource.
- Or reach out to those people linking to similar pages with an incentive to link to me.
- Or use some of the page promotion tactics shown below.
Or If I want my page to earn more traffic, I need to rank for more keywords.
I’d undertake a content gap analysis to examine the keywords the top pages rank for that you don’t rank for.
Then add the “missing content” to my existing page; ie: upgrade my existing page.
The most asked SEO question I get is how do I get links to my website ?
Firstly, you don’t GET links, you EARN links.
You earn links by creating an asset that another website wants to link to.
An asset is a resource such as a quote, study, image, graphic or survey that another website or content creator wants or needs to link to.
They typically link to your asset because it’s useful, supports their point of view or they think it’s just so awesome.
Have a look at this image that explains how links to a page can increase your overall rankings and traffic.
Most people approach their SEO campaign to build links the wrong way round.
They start by seeking to build links to already created pages; such as their service or product pages.
In many instances, a service or product page just isn’t a strong enough resource or asset to link to.
Perhaps e-commerce pages get linked to since they can contain images but generally business to business services pages are hard to earn links,
So you should start by examining how competitors earn their links and why people link to these pages.
You can do this by looking at the best links to your competitors website.
In this example, I found that 43 websites link to a page about beating your competitors.
Then there’s an image about marketing strategy that 29 websites link to.
So my strategy should be to create 2 better resources like these on my website.
Then reach out to the people that linked to the competitors or linked to similar content, then that’s my opportunity to earn links to these resources.
Create new pages with topical research to grow organic traffic
This SEO strategy involves examining what people are searching for and what they want as a result of finding your page.
There are some many approaches here so I’ll describe a few strategies.
List post research
Moz found in a study that the most shared and linked to type of content were list posts.
A list can very useful, inspiring and education.
For example, I created this list of Chrome Extensions for SEO professionals.
List posts are definitely easier to create than other forms of content but do people search for list posts and do Google display list posts ?
If I do keyword research or examine the top 10 research for the search query “best seo chrome extensions” I can clearly see most of the top results are list posts.
How do I know this ?
They contain the words “best” or “top” along with the search query “seo chrome extensions”.
So when do you keyword research make sure to pick a topic and filter keywords that contain “top” or “best” to identify topics to create.
Supplier keyword research
A client in the industrial business sector was having trouble generating more traffic from Google.
The client was complaining that paid advertising was generating traffic but not the right enquiries.
So I decided to research his suppliers websites and products and find out how they were getting their website traffic.
I found the search volume and organic traffic to the top search results for their competitors products.
Since the client is fully experienced with all aspects of their suppliers products, they were in a position of authority to create product review pages.
If a person is searching for a suppliers product and your product review page is listed underneath their result, there’s a good chance some people will click your page.
If the user searches for a client’s product, there’s a good chance that’s your type of customer.
This strategy works well when you are an installer, specifier or provide support for such products or services.
One part of the consumer buying journey is called the evaluation of alternatives process.
Say you are in a shop trying on shoes, you may be unsure if the shoes are the right choice, the right colour or the right price.
You might ask the shop assistant if they have similar shoes in black or brown or at a lower price.
We tend to display this behaviour when we’re not sure what to buy.
We evaluate alternative products when we are unconvinced or unsure what to buy.
And this behaviour is no different online.
Less than a year ago, the company Adobe left a bad taste on web professionals with their behaviour in ending the life of one of their products.
So I created a guide “alternatives to adobe business catalyst”.
Here’s my page ranking on page one.
So all you need to do during your keyword research is use keyword modifiers such as “alternative” or “similar” along with your seed keyword to identify these opportunities.
One of my suppliers created a great alternative guide; a bit cheeky !
And the page earns highly targeted and relevant traffic.
Competitors backlink research
As far as I know, only Ahrefs, can estimate the traffic and links to websites that link to you or a competitor.
You only resort to this strategy when you are really stuck for content creation ideas.
In fact the page you’re reading right now was created and inspired by competitor backlink research.
- Enter your website into Ahrefs
- Click Backlinks
- Filter by do-follow and language
- Set a traffic filter for greater than 100
- Then sort by descending to ascending domains.
This will show you websites with over 100 visits per month with no referring domains.
These results represent the easy opportunities for you to create or create a better version of.
Look at this example; “why trying podcasting” in the above video.
- 1408 organic visits per month
- 316 ranking keywords
- No backlinks to their page
- Domain ranking of 48.
As part of my advanced keyword research training course, I’ve researched over 100 of these opportunities.
If I pursued this opportunity it will most likely help me reach the goal I set above.
Create content to satisfy Google and the user
The content you create will depend on the research you’ve done, which of the strategies above you are pursuing and what the search intent is telling you.
- If the top pages show list posts, create a list post.
- If the top pages show a product comparison guide create comparison.
- If it’s a recipe, produce a recipe.
- If it’s a step by step guide, write a step by step guide.
This is called search intent; or giving Google and the end user what they want.
That’s why you need a number of content frameworks.
They help speed up your content creation process.
But there are a number of factors you should consider when creating content in your SEO strategy.
Produce content that is better than existing results.
Content already exists for the keywords, phrases and topics you are targeting.
Therefore, to outrank these top pages, you need to provide better content and a better answer for the users’ search queries.
When you search and get an answer Google don’t always display the best results.
It’s your job to give the user and Google a better result.
Go and look at the content on the top pages.
- Is the content crap or out of date ?
- Could you produce better ?
In turn, Google should reward you with the extra organic traffic you seek to reach your goal.
Long form content
Brian Dean produced research that outlined that the top pages in Google search results have, on average, 1890 words.
So far this article is 3354 words in length and it’s taken me 8 hours so far to create an outline of the article.
And another working day editing and revising the page and adding useful images to support the page.
If you are spurting out page content in a couple of hours or less I doubt it could be a better page resource than what already exists in the top 10 results.
Better quality content takes time to research, write, proof, format and design then typical pages.
Web Page Design
Not only do we have to design web pages for desktop devices but also tablet and mobile devices.
Most content management systems use responsive frameworks that takes care of page design.
But web design also includes the ability to read the page and communicate your answer.
Fonts, header styles, size and spacing
Within the stylesheet of my website, I can define the font sizes for the H1 – H6 page headers along with the spaces between each sentence and paragraph.
I have paragraph font size set at 18 pixel so the copy is easy to ready on smaller device sizes.
The user should have a good experience reading your page and paragraph and heading styles can enhance this experience.
I try to ensure that each sentence is no more than one and half lines in length.
I have a line height 50% greater than the font size and a 24 pixel margin after each line.
I use sentences like a paragraphs to avoid cramming multiple sentences into a hard to read paragraph.
LSI keywords and phrases are those than related to the topic of your page.
Imagine you created a page that was a recipe on making banana bread.
You would have ingredients; such as banana, bread, milk, egg, salt, yeast and so on.
Then you’d need equipment such as a bowl, spoon, oven, mixer and so on.
Then you’d have instruction on how to turn the ingredients with the equipment into your recipe.
Those keywords such as milk, egg, spoon, oven are the LSI keywords relevant to making banana bread.
Here’s how I discovered the LSI keywords for this page.
Take the main keyword and enter it into seo-hero.tech and choose your country and hit return.
- Export the CSV into Google Sheets
- Export the report and import it into Google Sheets; choosing replace data at selecting cell and custom and a semicolon (;) as the separator type.
- Choose Data – Create a Filter
- In the concept column, select tiny funnel icon, then filter by condition, select text contains and put a spacebar in the box and hit OK
- Now Make a Column to the the right of the 5 import columns.
- Type Top 10 DF in a cell,
- Underneath choose and enter the first 10 unique DF (Document Frequency) search queries,
- Now filter the columns by Occurrences and Z to A,
- Underneath choose and enter the 10 unique Occurrences search queries (that aren’t in your list above),
- Now filter the columns by Concept column and A to Z.
- Now choose and enter more unique phrases that aren’t included in the 2 selections above.
Make the content shareable
You can add shareable links at the top, side or bottom of an article or turn sentences into Tweetable content using Click To Tweet (if you have a WordPress powered website).
Convert that traffic
The content you created may not have immediate commercial intention but that does not prevent you for turning website visitors into prospects for the future.
I utilise content upgrades on most of my web pages.
I offer downloadable guides on my pages in exchange for the users’ email address.
The user joins my mailing list (opted in with GDPR permission) and I can market to users on an ongoing future basis.
On Page Optimisation
After this investment in research and content creation, you can increase your ranking chances by explaining to Google and users what your page is about with good on page optimisation.
Research has shown that a short url helps to better rank a web page.
Start with main keyword & use modifiers related to your page topic to describe your page.
Use 55 characters.
The heading of the web page should be wrapped with an H1 tag with your main keyword.
Use the main keywords at the start of the description and be fairly persuasive to encourage users to click on your result in Google.
Use 155 characters.
Page Length and Topic
Average top 10 result contains 1890 words and pages around a topic or multiple keywords rank better.
Your main keyword should be in the first paragraph of your page.
Related keywords help to determine the page relevancy and help to rank for multiple keywords.
See above LSI keyword process or use the SEO Writing Assistant from Semrush.
Images, GIFs and Videos
Images, gifs and videos can add to page quality and keep people on the page longer.
I’m making it a mission this year to create short gifs to communicate some processes and information on my articles.
Call to Action
Include a get in touch button, download, buy, share or post a comment.
Adding related posts or articles at the end, in context or to the right hand side of an article can help retain the user on the website, reduce bounce rates and introduce them to other pages you have.
Your page should have an outbound link to authority site to help Google understand the page and include 3 links to other pages on your website.
80% of your SEO campaign activity should involve promoting the content you’ve researched and created.
There are tools such as Buffer App and Quuu that can help you to share your page quickly, easily and repeatedly on your social channels.
Whilst sharing content doesn’t necessarily result in people reading and linking to your content, it does give your content some visibility.
Likewise, push your article to your Facebook page and use a post boost to promote your article to an audience you decide upon.
Once you’ve published article then you should promote it to you email database; if you have one.
I promote most of my new articles to my segments of my email list.
Should the strategy you pursue be to create a link building SEO campaign then outreach will form a key tactic in your page promotion.
In my SEO Box membership, there are two link building modules that teach outreach for infographic and broken link building.
Measuring an SEO Campaign
I mentioned above that I prefer to track and measure web pages rather than individual keywords.
Tracking keywords will drive you, your team and clients crazy.
You can use Ahrefs Rank Tracker to track your pages, keywords you rank for and positions over time.
Alternatively, you can set up a monthly email alert inside Google Analytics for the organic performance of a page.
If you’re doing a link building campaign, then your link builder should be manually capturing links earn.
In addition, Ahrefs will report any new links acquired with their Backlinks Alerts feature.
Next Step ?
Just f**king do it – I’ve given you the plan, now act on it.