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I’ve Set Up Search Engine Optimization As I Was Told, What Do I Do Now?

We all know a business owner who has asked this question. Wanting to be seen to know the jargon, but not interested in the thing itself, they maintain a public front of competence but need their hands holding behind the scenes. 

Whoever told them to set up SEO either assumed the business owner already knew what to do, or withheld that information to force them to pay for more help. Now you will know without having to ask. 

This is what you need to be doing to improve your company’s search engine rankings and drive more organic traffic. No longer will you be blindsided by the experts – this is what they themselves will be doing, and armed with this information you can control the process.

Monitor your search engine rankings

The goal of SEO is to rank higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs) relating to your target keywords. So the first thing to do is establish a baseline of your current rankings. 

Use a rank tracking tool to see where you stand for each of your target keywords. Track your rankings on a weekly or monthly basis, as defined by you, to see how they change over time. 

Pay attention to any major fluctuations. When you have identified their cause (e.g. a Google algorithm update, change to your website, new competitor, etc.) adjust accordingly before continuing with the rest of the process. 

Analyse your website traffic

Ranking higher is great, but what really matters is how much qualified traffic your website receives from organic search. Use web analytics tools like Google Analytics to track your organic traffic. 

Monitor total organic sessions, new users vs. returning users, bounce rate, pages per session and average session duration. See which pages are getting the most organic traffic and which ones have high engagement. 

Set up goals to track important actions like form submissions, phone calls and sales. Tracking tools are available for this, but if you can develop your own, it will increase your confidence in the process and others’ confidence in you. 

Identify your top-performing content

Your web analytics will tell you which pages have the highest organic traffic and engagement. These are your top-performing pieces of content. 

Analyse them to understand what makes them successful – the topic, the format, the length, the design, the calls-to-action? Then create more similar content. 

Also look for pages which rank well but are not getting much traffic. Optimise their title tags and meta descriptions to improve click-through from search.

Do fresh keyword research

The keywords you initially targeted may not be the only ones worth using. As you create new content and your website grows, you may find new keyword opportunities. 

Use keyword research tools to find related keywords, long-tail variations and question-based queries. Then work these into your existing content or use them for new content ideas. 

Monitor your website’s search analytics in Google Search Console to see what queries are actually driving impressions and clicks. This may reveal some useful new keywords.

Update and expand your content

Google loves fresh, comprehensive, high-quality content. Regularly updating your website with new content shows Google that your site is active and relevant.

But don’t just create content for the sake of it. Make sure each new piece of content is substantive, provides value to your target audience, and is something you can directly answer queries about. 

Review and update your existing content to keep it current, expand on topics and improve the depth and quality of your information. Content freshness is a known ranking factor.

Optimize for on-page SEO

On-page SEO is the elements on each webpage which affect its search engine rankings. These are things like the title tag, meta description, header tags, image alt text and page content. 

Make sure each page is optimised for its target keyword. Use the keyword naturally in the page title, headers and throughout the content. 

Avoid keyword stuffing – prioritise creating content which reads well for humans. Also make sure your pages load quickly and are mobile-friendly, as these are important ranking factors.

Build high-quality backlinks

Backlinks (links from other websites to yours) are one of the most important off-page SEO factors. Google sees each link as a “vote of confidence” in your website, so the more high-quality, relevant websites which link to you, the more authority your site will have in Google’s eyes. 

Focus on getting links from well-established websites in your industry. Create content other sites will want to link to, such as original research, in-depth guides and useful tools. 

Reach out to other websites to let them know about your content and ask for a link. But avoid spammy tactics like buying links or participating in link schemes.

Promote your content

Creating great content is only half the battle. You also need to actively promote your content to get it in front of your target audience. 

Share your content on social media platforms where your audience hangs out. Post about it in relevant online communities and forums, and reach out to influencers and thought leaders in your industry to let them know about your content. 

Consider running paid social media ads or PPC ads to amplify your content. The more eyeballs you can get on it, the more likely it is to earn natural backlinks and social shares.

Monitor your backlink profile

In addition to building new backlinks you also need to monitor your existing backlink profile. Use a backlink analysis tool to see who is linking to your website and what pages they are linking to. 

Look for any spammy or low-quality links which could be hurting your rankings. Reach out to the website owners responsible and ask them to remove the links, or use Google’s disavow tool as a last resort. 

Also look for any broken backlinks (links to pages on your site which no longer exist). Either restore those pages or redirect to relevant new pages.

Analyse your competitors

Monitoring your competitors’ SEO efforts can give you valuable insights and ideas for use in your own strategy. Use competitor analysis tools to see what keywords they are ranking for, what content is performing well for them and who is linking to their website. 

Look for elements and gaps in their strategy you can capitalise on. For example, if they are ranking well for a keyword you aren’t targeting, consider creating content around that topic. 

If they have a lot of backlinks from a particular type of website, reach out to similar websites in your niche. If those sites won’t link to you, review your content.

Stay up-to-date on SEO best practices

SEO is a constantly evolving field. Google makes hundreds of changes to its search algorithms every year, and new best practices emerge all the time. 

To stay ahead of the curve, make sure you are keeping up with the latest SEO news and trends. Follow SEO blogs and publications, attend industry conferences and webinars and participate in online forums and communities. 

The more you educate yourself about SEO, the better equipped you will be to adapt your strategy as needed. This then feeds into the fulfilment of your overall business goals.

Measure your SEO ROI

The success of your SEO efforts should be measured by the business results they generate. You should therefore set up tracking to measure the leads, sales and revenue coming from organic search. 

Use UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) parameters in your URLs to track the source of your organic traffic. Of the five UTM parameters, only the first three (source, medium and campaign) are required for Google Analytics, but also include the other two, term and content, to gain extra intelligence.   

Calculate your SEO ROI by dividing the revenue generated by organic search by the costs of your SEO efforts (e.g. agency fees, content creation costs, SEO tool subscriptions etc.). This will help you justify your SEO investment and make data-driven decisions about where to allocate your resources.

Invest in ongoing SEO efforts

SEO is not a one-time project – it’s an ongoing process which requires consistent effort and investment. As your website grows and evolves, your SEO strategy will need to adapt. 

Make sure you are budgeting for ongoing SEO tasks like keyword research, content creation, link building and technical optimisation. Develop time protocols to ensure this complements rather than disrupts the general workflow.

If you don’t have the time or expertise to handle SEO in-house, consider hiring an SEO agency or consultant to help you stay on track. But read this article thoroughly so you can deal with them from a position of strength.

By following these steps, and continually optimising your website for search, you can improve your organic search visibility, traffic and revenue over time. It takes time and patience to achieve SEO results, but by staying committed to the process and adapting to changes you can build a sustainable source of qualified traffic and leads.