How to Build a Successful SEO Campaign: 7 Steps

Plan SEO Campaign

SEO is by far one of the best ways to get free traffic to your website. But just how do you get started? Just think of it the way you would any other strategy. Like a campaign.

You’re just going to make a series of actions for a set purpose. The short-term purpose is to get your page or post ranked high by the search engines. Long term, well, that’s up to you.

To get the high rankings, you need to do things that cause the algorithm (or equation) that the search engines use to rank you higher.

In this post, I’ll explain what actions to take. By the end, you’ll know how to plan your SEO campaign.

Know your audience

Step 1: Set Your Goals With Your Customers In Mind

The first thing to define is what set purpose you want to achieve. There are two parts to this.

First, think about your customer.

This is one of the best practices of marketing: always start with your customer in mind. The idea is to serve them, to make their life better.

Start by thinking about who you are trying to reach? All your customers, or just a portion of them?

Maybe you want to target women, or younger people. Or people who’ve bought more than once from you. Define your audience clearly.

Then think about value are you going to deliver to your audience on the page you want to rank for? Will it provide how-to guide for solving a problem, deliver information that will help them make a decision, or something else?

Let’s say your goal is to teach your customer how to choose the colors for their company logo and website. He or she will read your page and be more confident they know how to make this decision.

Once you know that, set your business goal.

Why do you want them to come to your page? Obviously, one reason is so they read your great advice about choosing colors, but what then? Do you want them to join your list? Download a report? Buy a book? Hire you as a design consultant?

Then figure out how you will measure your success. This could be how many people joined your list, downloaded your book, or filled out the form to request consulting services.

If you can’t think of a way to measure your results, then you’ll need to think more about what you want to achieve.

Step 2: Research Your Keywords

Keyword research is getting more, not less important. This is because Google and other search engines are becoming more sophisticated about how they rank pages. They’re starting to add customer intent to their algorithms.

What this means is that based on the keyword used by the customer, the search engine decides what the customer’s intent is for that search.

For example, if I do a search for “cast iron skillets,” Google will interpret that as I am looking for information only. Maybe I’m a school student writing a paper on cooking tools. Maybe not.

Suppose I am searching for how to use a cast iron skillet. Or how to do anything. The search engines will interpret my search as a quest for information, and will deliver informational sites to me.

Things change when the words “best,” “review,” “comparison of,” or “top” are added to the search, as in “top cast iron skillets.” Now purpose of the research has shifted from just information to comparing options and alternatives. These people are seriously considering making a purchase.

The search engines are now more likely to offer sites that are selling products.

Then there those people who search using phrases like “where to buy.” These people are ready to pull out their credit cards. The search engines respond by delivering sites that are selling the product the person is searching for.

So what does this mean to you? If your goal is sales, then keywords with “where to buy” or any of the phrases that showed the person was comparing alternatives.

If your goal is more getting subscribers to your list or to sign up for your class, the informational keywords will serve you better.

You also, of course, want to find keywords with lower competition and higher search volumes. If you’re not sure how to do that, try these free tools:

Ubersuggest

Answer the Public

Or read my post comparing Google’s keyword planner with two other options.

If your goal is sales, set up a PPC campaign as a test to see which keywords convert the best to sales. You can find out how in Neil Patel’s excellent post.

Step 3: Create Stellar Content

First and foremost, Google will reward great content. You might get everything else right, but bad content won’t get you what you want.

Which is people who regularly return to your site, who subscribe to your list, and buy your products.

What makes for great content?

Unique

Don’t just rewrite someone else’s article or post. Add your own opinions, experience or knowledge. Give your opinion and state it boldly.

And write directly to your customer. Back in step one, you defined who you are trying to reach. Think about them as you create your content. Ask yourself what value you are providing to them.

Readable

Ever go to a webpage that was written in tiny font and in single paragraph? I don’t even bother to read those any more.

Use at least 10-point font and write in short sentences. Keep your paragraphs from three to five lines. And break up your text with headers.

The idea is to make it easy for your readers to skim your material. If they want to slow down and absorb the details, they will.

Visual

Include at least one image that has some relevance to your topic. It doesn’t have to be exact, either. If you are writing about setting goals, you could have a picture of a pole vaulter running toward the bar. A vivid metaphor can work just as well, if not better.

Infographics, gifs and videos can all add to the value of your content.

Relevant

And since I mentioned relevance, I’ll throw this in. Make sure your content is relevant to what the person was searching for. You could write the most beautifully written, informative article on webhosting services, but if I searched for how to install WordPress, I’m not going to be interested.

I may even be a bit annoyed.

Actionable

Give your readers something they can use. Three steps to deciding which car to buy. A template for an action plan. A method to follow. Help them understand how to solve their problem or answer their questions.

OnPage SEO

Step 4: On-Page SEO

Now that you’ve got your engaging and helpful content written, it’s time to think about the factors that will get you those high rankings. Search engines typically break these factors into on- page and off-page.

On-page factors have to do with what your page or post is about. The off-page factors help the search engines decide how popular or authoritative your site, page or post is.

George Zlatin of Digital Third Coast provides an easy to understand summary:

“Put simply, what you rank for is largely determined by on-page factors, while how high you rank in the search results is largely determined by off-page factors.”

While both on-page and off-page are critical to the success of any SEO campaign, Zlatin points out, poorly done on-page SEO will hurt you less than poorly done off-page.

Having said that, many of the on-page SEO tactics are simple to execute, so there’s no reason to ignore them. Take a little time to learn how to do these properly, and you’ll have the groundwork laid for your off-page strategies.

The standard tactics include:

  • Title Tags
  • Post/Page URL
  • Meta Descriptions
  • Natural Keyword Use
  • Headers
  • Internal Links with Good Anchor Text
  • Images Titles and Tags

I explain these in more detail in this post.

Step 5: Site-Wide SEO (Otherwise known as Technical SEO)

You knew it was coming, didn’t you? The scary technical stuff. I know, my eyes glaze over when I think about these things. But don’t worry, it’s not as bad as it seems.

Just think about this group of tactics as more on page SEO, just a little more technical.

When Google or the other search engines do their rankings, they aren’t just looking for the most relevant or helpful content. They also consider the user experience with your website as a whole.

So things like how fast your site loads or how easy is it to navigate your site are put into the algorithm. Examples are:

Page Loading Speed

The faster your page loads, the better. To find out how yours stacks up, use a tool like Google’s PageSpeed.

Mobile-friendly Design

The number of people using mobile devices to surf the internet passed the number of people using desktop devices back in 2014. This trend isn’t going to reverse itself.

Which means search engines, in their quest to improve the user’s experience, are evaluating how mobile friendly a site is. And they have been known to punish sites that do not work well on mobile devices.

XML Sitemap

A sitemap is like roadmap to your site. It helps the web crawlers find pages. If you want a page to rank, it needs to be in your sitemap. Make it easy for the internet bots to find the content you want to rank for.

Robots.txt

These are text files that can be found in your site’s root directory. Basically, they function like traffic cops, telling the web crawlers which files they can and can’t crawl.

In other words, if you have a page you don’t want indexed, the robots.txt file keeps the internet bots that look for new pages to index from including it in the search engine results.

If you have a WordPress site, here’s a plug in that can help with lots of the on page and technical SEO issues for you.

Links of a chain

Step 6: Get Some Links (aka Off-Page SEO)

You’ve already got some internal links, connecting your page to others in your website. Now it’s time to get some from other places.

Facebook

You can start your linking efforts with Facebook. Put a teaser post on your business page, and link back to your website.

Blogs

Find some influencer blogs and comment on their articles or posts. This means helpful and thoughtful comments that add to the discussion. “I love posts like this” won’t cut it.

After you’ve commented on a few posts, you’ve started to build a relationship with that blogger. Then and only then you could add a link to your own page, if and only if it is relevant and adds value.

A good example would be if someone reading this post provided a link to a post they had written about other tools that assess a web page’s loading speed. That’s relevant and helpful.

Another way to leverage top bloggers in your area is to simply email them and let them know about your page or post, and why it would be of interest to them and their readers. If you’ve already created a relationship by commenting on their blog, you might get a decent conversion rate from this.

Forums

Forums are another place you can link back to your page. Some won’t let you post links until you’ve been an active member for a while. Here again the idea is to contribute helpful information.

Occasionally you can link back to your pages or posts when that information provides greater detail on the topic under discussion.

Article Directories

Article directories like ezinearticles.com are another great way to get links. There are two great things about article directories. First, you can add a link to your site in your signature for every article you write.

Second, these articles are up there forever, silently pointing people to your site. I still get occasional comments on articles I wrote four years for a niche and website I am no longer working with.

To find other article directories, check out this list at VRE Toolbar.

Social Bookmarking Sites

Social bookmarking sites offer other opportunities for links. People who use these sites bookmark web pages so they can keep track of content they want to save or share. Since these bookmarks are public, others can use the bookmarking site to find pages of interest to then.

This can be a great source of fresh traffic.

Some of the most popular are:

Digg

Del.icio.us

Stumble Upon

Repurposing Your Content

Repurposing your content is another way to make the most out of the work you put into creating it in the first place. You can make a blog post into a YouTube video. Then post that video on your Facebook page. Take a few quotes and turn them into tweets. Create a slideshow from your original post and share it on LinkedIn.

In every case, include a link back to your site or landing page.

Graphs of results

Step 7: Check Your Results

Back in the 90s, Continuous Quality Improvement was hot. Everyone was getting into it.

For good reason. It worked. Still does.

Which is why we all need to pay attention to what it taught us.

The main idea was Plan-Do-Check-Act.

We’ve planned our campaign, we did what we planned to do. Now we check.

Did we get the results we wanted? Whether it was new subscribers or sales, we need to watch these metrics. Other metrics to check include:

  • Search engine rankings
  • Bounce rates
  • Percentage of new visits

You can track all these with Google Analytics.

While you’re at it, check your page loading speed or for broken links.

Then take action on what you learned. Need to tweak your content? Or look into what’s causing a high bounce rate? Make these adjustments and any others that you spot.

Finally, use all you learned when you create your next SEO campaign.

If you want to read a really comprehensive guide (this will tell your more than you probably want to know) check this out.

I wouldn’t call it a tutorial. It’s more like an intense crash course. But it’s an excellent, detailed guide.

Meanwhile, here’s a handy checklist for easy reference:

  1. Set Your Goals With Your Customers In Mind
  • Who is your audience?
  • What will you provide to them?
  • What is your business goal?
  1. Research Your Keywords
  2. Create Stellar Content
  3. On-Page SEO
  • Title Tags
  • Post/Page URL
  • Meta Descriptions
  • Natural Keyword Use
  • Headers
  • Internal Links with Good Anchor Text
  • Images Titles and Tags
  1. Technical SEO
  • Page Loading Speed
  • Mobile-Friendly Design
  • XML Sitemap
  • txt
  1. Off-Page SEO
  • Facebook
  • Blogs
  • Article directories
  • Social bookmarking sites
  • Repurpose your content
  1. Check Your Results
  • Conversions
  • Search engine rankings
  • Bounce rates
  • Percentage of new visitors

 

Now you’re all set to start planning your next SEO campaign.