Featured Partner: Cort Tafoya on SEO Campaign Tactics & Strategy
Cort Tafoya is a professional SEO and content marketing strategist in San Francisco. The brains behind SEOshrugged.com, he also teaches, writes, and consults on SEO and content marketing for design agencies, marketing agencies, and startups. He returns to PARISOMA for an encore of his popular Understanding SEO workshop on Thursday, August 20.
What goes into an SEO campaign and the strategy that is needed to be successful has filled entire ebooks, so this content is by no means a definitive answer. It’s also important to understand that SEO goals and tactics can be way different depending on what marketing assets you have and where you currently rank in search. But in the process of explaining how I work to potential clients, this is generally what I tell them.
Generally, SEO work consists of new web page and article creation. Unfortunately, you will first likely need a technical site audit to review your web page hierarchy and navigational structure. PageRank or "link juice" is an important component of Google's algorithm, and poor design can screw up PageRank flow throughout your site. The way your blog is setup, other websites you own and subdomains all need to be reviewed before content creation can begin to be sure they are working in a SEO friendly way.
Once that's done you'll start editing current content and creating new content. The goal of these new pages and articles is to target keywords and phrases that a company is not ranking well for. The articles would be published in the blog. The new web pages would be located somewhere in the top level navigation. (Note: it's easier to rank with web pages, which get more PageRank from the home page, than with articles which rest in the blog. But articles give you more freedom to create and go longtail).
Categorization and interlinking of these new pages/articles is also crucial to the success of SEO.
SEO Rankings, Tracking
This is done with Moz, Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics. Reports of a keywords progress in rankings can be exported and emailed monthly or weekly. Using Google Analytics, you can get an idea of the traffic generated by a page/post or phrase you targeted, even though there is the whole 'not provided' issue (Google Analytics doesn't show 90% of the keywords leading people to your site for "privacy concerns".)
Just click secondary dimension / landing page when viewing organic search in GA. If you know what phrase each page is targeting (and any good SEO marketer does), then you can see the actual traffic and conversion value of each search phrase.
Tracking user behavior on the site is usually accomplished with event or goal reporting in Google Analytics. This allows you to gauge the ROI of your SEO efforts and see how many conversions from search you’re getting.
In an effort to increase PageRank and domain authority, exploiting opportunities where a company can get additional links to their website is important. There are many ways to do this, but it is one of the tougher parts of SEO. Ideas for acquiring links include:
- Creating industry relevant infographics that other sites may want to use or link to
- Creating high quality, premium content that other writers in your industry are likely to link or refer to
- Where there is a mention of your brand online, you may email the writer or webmaster to include a link on the page they mentioned your company
- Contacting anyone in your professional network and seeing if they could provide a link to your website
- Occasionally and in the right context, writing a guest article on a relevant website to promote your brand (while also getting a linkback) should be attempted
- Some social media sites provide a do-follow linkback just by creating a profile on them
Content Marketing Strategy
Particularly in a competitive industry, it’s important to create content that is superior in information and relevance than other easily available resources. This is the best way to get to the top of page one. I recently wrote a 3500 word article that achieved page 1 rankings for numerous phrases we were targeting. Such content is favorable to readers and search engines.
Writing anywhere from 1200 to 2000 words is not unusual, nor is making great video or multimedia content. This premium content should achieve the following:
- Be comprehensive, like an “ultimate guide”
- Contain multiple headers
- Provide unique, eye popping data
- Be rich with multimedia
- Link to other high quality resources about the same subject
- Explore a topic thoroughly
- Be socially shareable and encourage engagement and commenting
Initial Keyword Difficulty Assessment
Moz provides a keyword difficulty tool with scores 1-100. A score of 48% or lower is generally pretty easy to get traction or page one rankings for. Using this tool helps find low hanging fruit and fruit that will know will take a lot of time to eat.
Social Media Posting
Social media has an impact on the search ranking of content. Google looks at social media shares as votes of confidence and a sign of popularity. For this reason, all new content / blogs need to be disseminated on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn at a minimum.