As a search and social media “expert” (boy did I fool them!), I speak at a number of conferences through the year. I talk about the techniques behind ranking well but I rarely speak about the fundamentals and with the changes in Google’s algorithm this is more important than ever. Starting from a solid foundation will mean the difference between ranking well and failing. Starting with a solid foundation and following all the rules means you are also less likely to get hit by negative algorithm updates.
Businesses are experiencing increases in online transactions and more than ever, consumers are using search to drive both online and offline purchasing. Here are some tips about what you could do to help:
Have a strategy and a set of goals to ensure you understand what targets you are aiming for. It may seem overly basic but I have encountered countless businesses who have demanded a social media or search strategy without knowing themselves what success would look like. If your business has a target of being on Twitter, understand how it works and what the point of being there is for you. I can recount dozens of disaster stories for businesses on Twitter and speak about them as well.
Once you have a strategy and have mapped out the goals for a year (yes, 12 months. less is pointless unless we’re talking PPC) and understand what success looks like, map out the steps you are taking to get there and understand the time scales involved. Once you have optimised a website it can take up to three months to get those changes picked up in search. While we do have techniques in the industry to speed that up, misusing those techniques will get a site banned. Get a specialist in where necessary to map things out and deploy a task force of staff who will deliver the work needed to make sure your search or social media strategy can achieve success.
Do not treat social media sites as campaign platforms. Launching strongly in Facebook or on Twitter is fantastic but a long-term strategy is needed for these platforms unlike with a paid search campaign. Once a campaign has ended, if the Facebook page remains live it can become littered with spam and customer complaints. Failing to address these complaints can cause a long-lasting reputation issue that can cause customers to turn away.
Map out everything including keywords to pages, links that exist going to your site and your competitor’s site, your social media profile, the average competitors’ social media profile and your publishing table for the year ahead. Doing this will make search and social media campaigns much more successful. Failing to do this will mean you are not only left behind but a hap-hazard approach to publishing content may leave you with a gap at key holiday times. Failing to understand what most of your competitors are doing in the social media space can lead to unpleasant surprises and a perception of being ‘old fashioned’ or ‘behind the times’. Failing to map keywords to pages will leave both your SEO and PPC strategies lacking and your link building strategy will suffer for it as will rankings.
By starting with the basics now and mapping everything out for the next 12 months, not only will this help your site rank better but also help your link building go more smoothly, your content be seen by more people and your sales increase. Trying to make fast SEO changes risks disaster to make sure your plan covers a full 12 months.