SEO Campaign Management
When you begin your SEO campaign, it is helpful to analyze your competitors across your market, to determine what they are doing, and how you can do it better than them. Most competitor analyses should be in-depth, with strategic initiatives to coordinate your overall SEO strategy.
The first step of any SEO campaign should be to perform a website audit, then a competitor analysis. The competitor analysis should reveal the numbers, and strategic information behind your top competitors in terms of what they are doing for links, content, technical on-site SEO, and much more. This is the only way you will be able to understand what it will take to become least imperfect among those competitors.
Also, a competitor analysis can unearth competitors you didn’t even know you had. These competitors may even surprise you. This is especially true if you’re in an industry with variety, and you have been focusing on the competitor down your street or your industry friend who you want to beat.
Analyzing Your Competition
When you begin an SEO campaign, you must assess the competitors in your market vertical, what they are currently doing with their SEO initiatives, and what they could be doing next in order to gain an edge in their SEO efforts. This will allow you to become the least imperfect among them. I enjoy working with the Bruce Clay methodology of becoming least imperfect. Because it is impossible to reverse-engineer an algorithm with more than 200 ranking factors, the next best thing (which is actually the most realistic) is becoming least imperfect.
By focusing on the attributes that your competitors are changing, and moving forward with changes designed to improve your rankings, you can achieve first-page rankings with this. It is much more attainable than making changes to factors that are likely less than .01% effective across the entire algorithm. Plus, because Google is its own entity and keeps the algorithm proprietary, becoming least imperfect allows you to become competitive among these SERPs.
Your Competitors: Find Out 5 Things About Them
These 5 things include the following: the competitor’s content, their link profile, the existing state of their keyword verticals, their social media activity, and the current state of their on-page optimization efforts. Anything else is simply gravy.
When you look at these things, it is possible to formulate a potential strategy that can be implemented in order to beat your competitors.
Create a Strategy From Your Analysis
The overall strategy you come up with should accomplish several things. It should be an overall strategy to take your SEO to the next level, and it should contain more granular elements such as what you should do for each SEO element that the analysis examines.
Without a strategy that will help you increase your SEO efforts from top to bottom, you are simply shooting in the dark and hoping something sticks. If you overlook keywords, you could be leaving money on the table. Search volume is not the only indicator of course, but if you don’t have search volume, and no CPC, that could be a clue that the keyword is not viable. Shooting in the dark without metrics to support your decision never helps anyone.
Next: Keyword Research and Strategy
Once you have the data in place from the competitor analysis, and you know what your competitors are doing, you must formulate a strategy to beat them.
Thorough keyword research and targeting is a fundamental aspect of all SEO practitioners.
If you are not doing keyword research and targeting, then you are leaving money on the table.
While keyword research in recent years has shifted towards topics, conversational search, and voice search, it is still a big part of figuring out what the next steps in your strategy will be.
Otherwise, you are flying blind and you will never hit your target.
Even if you are coming in late in the game on a project, you must perform refreshed keyword research to identify viable keyword targets. These keyword targets will form the basis of your SEO content strategy.
Modern Keyword Research: Entities and E-A-T
In the past few years, there has been a shift in keyword research. It’s no longer just about words and phrases.
Instead, it’s more about the meaning and context behind words and phrases, and how they play into entities and E-A-T, or expertise, authoritativeness, and trust.
What is an entity?
As Dave Davies of Beanstalk Internet Marketing says, “an entity is anything that is singular, unique, well-defined, and distinguishable.”
It’s also a topic. And a shift has happened that has taken the emphasis away from specific keywords and phrases to topics and topical focus.
Should you ignore keywords and phrases and focus only on entities?
When link building, yes. When thinking about the overall picture of an SEO campaign, yes. But keywords and phrases should not be left out of the loop.
Next, there is E-A-T. In recent years, E-A-T has become a significant part of modern SEO. It’s about building the trust and authority of your brand and online persona.
However, it must be said – E-A-T is a framework for Google’s Quality Raters, who work in an entirely different department from search.
It has no bearing on the current search algorithms due to its use and purpose.
But, it still should be paid attention to if you want a more stable online presence because there is an intrinsic value to be had from optimizing your site with an E-A-T framework in mind.
Keyword research should never be ignored, however. The practice is still very much needed today as it always has been, and no successful SEO strategy would be complete without it.
Content Modeling, Topic Research, and Content Strategy
Once you perform your keyword research and you have devised your initial content targets, you must perform content modeling and topic research.
Content modeling is the task of coming up with the types of topics that will be defined in your entire brand’s content ecosystem.
This modeling will allow you to stay on task and achieve a coherent focus of your overall SEO content marketing strategy.
You may be able to get away without content modeling at the outset but at the cost of even more work that will be needed later.
Why not take care of this early on in the beginning?
You will help improve your overall site quality, create a better user experience, and above all, you will help create a cohesiveness on site that may rival those of your competitors.
Did you know that there are many different types of content frameworks that you can take advantage of in an online marketing campaign? It’s huge, and not just limited to on-site content. But, just to go over a few different frameworks you can use include:
- How-to content
- Questions and answers
- Product demos
- Product reviews
- Expert roundups
- Rants & opinions
- Personal stories
- Success stories
- Facts and statistics
- Failures and what not to do
On top of this, the types of content formats are also just as varied, and include:
- White Papers
- Training Courses
And much much more.
This is why content modeling should be done to determine your organization’s content types, and how they fit into your overall content strategy.
When you do topic research, you should be figuring out everything that your audience expects to see, review, and digest based on research into top posts in your industry based on these topics.
This topic research should dive into all of your different types of topics. You can even do a deep dive into different types of keywords, different types of topics, different content types, and on and on and on.
Topic Research vs. Keyword Research
When you first think of topic research, it may look like keyword research has shifted a bit in its focus. However, there are major differences between topic research and keyword research.
With topic research, you are defining the topics that will make up your content strategy. Topic research can begin with defining the traditional topics that will be featured in your editorial calendar and then a deep dive into the details of your piece.
Keyword research, however, refers to identifying viable, specific, targeted keywords and phrases that your audience is using to find your offerings on Google search.
It’s important to know these differences because there are some internet marketers who use these terms interchangeably, and this should never be done at all.
By putting together a robust keyword, topic, and entity research step in your online marketing strategy, this can mean the difference between success and failure.
Define Your Content Strategy
Once you have done all of this, you can then get to work on defining your content strategy by research into your audience, their pain points, and their desires, wants, needs, wishes, and dreams.
This should all evolve into a comprehensive plan of attack for your market and how you plan on executing your SEO.
After putting together your plan of attack, then comes execution.
And you can finally perform all of the SEO surrounding your content strategy.
And then you can build links…but did you know that you’re not actually supposed to build links?
Your content is supposed to build links for you, if you want to stick to a sustainable plan. It should earn links from your community, its influencers, other readers outside your industry (if applicable), and be vetted as a high-quality source of factual information.
If you want to do black hat, and you don’t have patience, then modern SEO is not for you. Sustainable results should be the goal of any SEO campaign.
It’s also not for people who are looking for a quick financial fix, or who expect riches overnight. SEO doesn’t work that way.
And, in fact, sustainable SEO does not work that way.
And guess what? The game has changed.
Most queries worth ranking for have serious competition in their own right.
While quick fixes are possible, it’s not as possible as it used to be. Your competitor saturation has a lot to do with how effective any “quick” fixes will be. For smaller, competitive niches, quicker fixes may be possible. But, if your market is a large one, and highly saturated with many competitors? Forget it.
You will need at least a year or two of sustainable SEO efforts to see results. If there is a way around it, black hat techniques are involved and these sites will be hit by the next major algorithm update. Even some SEO techniques could take a hit in the next algorithm update. But, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are black hat. They could be grey hat, skirting around the edges of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, and all of a sudden the site is hit in the next update. Google could all of a sudden decide that they don’t like a technique because it’s too “unnatural”.
On the subject of the different “hats,” I’ve come to believe that the different hats are just labels. There are tools and techniques, and different ways of doing things. Whether they are or are not against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines is easily discussed as being white hat or black hat. While black hats are labeled as being against their guidelines, and the industry as a whole has a black hat vs white hat philosophy, different aspects of the algorithm must be learned from experimentation if you hope to be successful. Note: I am not advocating using techniques against Google’s guidelines. What I am advocating is the use of extensive testing to understand what does and doesn’t work, so you can be more effective at implementing your SEO techniques on client sites.
Then there’s the matter of churn and burn sites, or sites where SEOs will burn them with so-called black hat techniques. These sites, while some may make it through Google’s algorithm, are mostly not sustainable because of their nature. They could be hit by a later update as well. But, these SEOs seldom need these sites for longer than a few months, and then they move on to the next one. It’s a good strategy if you can use it well in your niche. Most of these types of sites utilize black hat techniques to the nth degree, which is why they are churn and burn. Unfortunately, some well-meaning people fall for these techniques thinking they are sustainable. That’s why it’s our job as SEOs to help dispel some myths about non-sustainable techniques, so others can see the errors of their ways and these issues continue to happen less and less.
That’s why black hat techniques are not sustainable. Google’s algorithm has gotten better at identifying nefarious techniques, although there are still holes they can break through.
If all of this sounds confusing, you are not alone. That’s why it pays to have a search engine optimization professional in your corner, who can advise you every step of the way.
In 2019, all of the following statistics apply to content marketing, according to insights.newscred.com:
- “In 2019, 84.5% of US companies with at least 100 employees will utilize digital content marketing strategies. (eMarketer)
- 55% of marketers say blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority. (Hubspot)
- 55% of business professionals say a great story captures their focus and keeps them engaged with content. (Prezi)
- B-to-C content marketers have increased their use of audio/visual content, written content, and images vs. one year ago. (CMI and MarketingProfs)
- The top 3 types of content used by B-to-B marketers in the last 12 months are long-form content (in-depth articles, guides), video snippets, and social media stories. (CMI)
- By 2019, 20 percent of brands will abandon their mobile apps. (Gartner)
- By the end of 2019, Cisco estimates show 80% of all internet traffic worldwide will be video. (via IAB)Key takeaway: Although voice content, innovative apps, and AR content get a lot of attention, high-quality written hub content (mobile-optimized) and compelling visuals are still providing core value to both B-to-B and B-to-C audiences.”
If you are overwhelmed by all of this, don’t worry.
Finding the right SEO professional to help you with the ongoing management of your SEO campaign is key to achieving those results that you want.