For most small business owners SEO is an afterthought when it comes to building a website.
But this is a huge mistake and leads to problems down the track. Ultimately, making the project much more expensive than it needs to be.
Unless you have super deep pockets to promote your website on all channels. Targeting keywords to bring you traffic should be a priority.
In this blog post, I will cover why SEO planning should be at the beginning of every website project and not after it.
What is an SEO plan?
When you start to build a new website or even a website redesign you need an SEO plan.
An SEO plan in this scenario involves keyword research, user intent, and search engine results analysis.
If you understand these aspects of SEO before starting a website project you will see amazing results.
1. Keyword research
When planning your website researched keywords should determine the content, not be shoved in afterward.
It is easy to let your bias shape your creativity. But what you think people search for is often completely wrong.
Effective websites all start with keyword research because keyword research provides insight into what your potential customers are looking for. In turn, this allows you to satisfy those wants with your content.
There are many ways to conduct keyword research but the most effective include:
- Google Keyword Planner
- Moz Keyword Tool
- Google Search Results
- Google Search Bar Suggestions
2. User intent
Once you have a list of relevant keywords for your website from your keyword research, the next step is understanding intent.
This step is often left out but expanding your research to include this step will supercharge your website. Extended keyword research can give us a lot of insights into what content the user is looking for. The main insights we want to pull out here is:
- What type of information is needed
- Who needs the information
- Where searchers are in the buyer’s journey
To gather this information we want to search our keywords in Google and analyse the results. We are looking to find:
What Information does the user need? If our keyword shows a lot of results that are focused on beginner information, definitions and guides, then we can assume that keyword has a learning intent.
If this is the case, we want to create content tailored towards teaching something. On the other hand, if we are seeing a lot of pricing or product pages, reviews or company landing pages. The user has purchase intent and we want to be selling to them.
Who needs this information? Again we want to use the search results to get insight here. If content in the results is more technical and detailed, we can assume the audience are end users or contributors.
But if the search results are high-level and thought leadership, we can assume the audience are decision makers or executives. We can take this insight and tailor our content to the keyword.
What part of the buyer journey is the searcher in? The insights we can pull here are super valuable. If the search results for a particular keywords are introductory content we can assume they are in the awareness phase.
Alternatively, if keywords result in product comparisons or detailed product reviews we can assume they are in the decision phase.
By taking our keyword research further and gauging user intent it allows us to be much more precise in our content creation.
Ultimately, this results in much better CTR rates, lower bounce rate and higher average time on site. And of course better rankings!
3. Search Engine Results (SERPS) analysis
Perhaps the most underused keyword research technique is SERPs analysis. What better way to understand how to rank your keywords than look at what is getting people on the front page.
Seems like a no brainer, right? SERPs analysis lets us understand what Google’s preferences are and what type of content earns higher rankings.
You might find an awesome keywords with high volume but when you analyse the SERPs the results might be not what you were expecting. And you may be wasting your time trying to rank for this keyword.
Some high-level information you want to grab from this analysis include:
- Are the results filled with video or image content?
- What is the average word count for the first 10 results? Long or Short?
- Are the results primarily blog posts or website pages?
- Are the results filled with big name brands or niche websites?
Getting down and dirty with this information can help you greater understand what is ranking well. And if the keyword is a good fit for your brand. Sometimes the top 10 results will be filled with major brands and you won’t have any chance of ranking.
Next steps for your SEO plan
To get started with your SEO plan your next step is to do some keyword research. Identify the top 10 keywords you want to rank your website for. Then dig into some more detailed research to understand the user intent and what Google already ranks for these keywords.
Once you understand your top keywords in great detail you can start to develop your SEO plan for the content you require on your website.
Tom Donohoe is the founder and digital marketing consultant at tomdonohoe.com.au. Tom is an evangelist of all things digital, tech geek and frequent blog contributor.