Getting Started with SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) may feel like a daunting, nebulous thing to start to tackle for your organization. Algorithms. Keywords. Core Web Vitals. Canonicalization. Where to start?

Search Engine Optimization isn’t JUST about being on the first page of Google. In short, you want to be discovered. You can be discovered via a search on Google, or on Yext, or on a social network… SEO, Content Strategy and Content Governance go hand-in-hand supporting each other.

Let’s touch briefly on the 3 main aspects of SEO and provide some strategies for getting started.

First: Your “Owned” Content

Your site, social channels, and other owned properties are under your direct purview. What you say, how you say it, how the content is organized and how the pages are coded are just some of the many aspects of your site that search engines seek to understand. This is where a well-defined Content Strategy can come in extremely helpful by identifying who your targets are and what content you wish them to find or consume.

Your largest owned property is most likely your website. During our SEO audits, we evaluate your site against 40+ factors to establish baseline performance and identify improvement areas. These factors include the following categories:

  • Technical – The way your pages are built and the technical markup of your site have a direct impact on search engines’ ability to index and understand your site. By evaluating your site against Core Web Vitals and reviewing how your pages are coded, we are setting the foundation for the rest of your SEO efforts to be as impactful as possible.
  • Information Architecture – These factors ensure your site can be easily navigated and that the content is organized in a way that is helpful to users.
  • On-page – Here we evaluate the content of your site, including keyword usage, meta descriptions, image alt-text, file sizes, and internal linking structure.
  • Off-page – Inbound links, local listing sites and other external factors have an impact on your site’s organic rankings.
  • User Signals – Here we evaluate how users are behaving on your site. What content is resonating? What pages do they interact with the most?

Second: What Others Say About You

How other people talk about you, who they are, the words they use to describe your content, and the way they link to your site are all external indicators that search engines measure to judge the worthiness of a particular site and/or page.

  • Backlink Audit – As mentioned previously, sites that link to your content are a key factor in SEO rankings. But not all links are created equal. A backlinks audit reviews all links to your domain(s) and allows you to identify and remove toxic backlinks, see trends in what content is being linked, and even identify what domains are not linking to you.
  • Outreach Strategy – Developing and implementing an outbound communication strategy helps your content get discussed on other sites and can grow your backlink profile. Typically, this will take on a collaborative approach, where both parties gain something for working together. For example, engaging an influencer to trial your product in exchange for them discussing it on their channels.

Third: How Users Are Searching

Your content will have a much greater chance of being surfaced in search results if it matches the query the user is searching. Say for example you put all your time and energy into ranking for “Janitor Towels” as that is what your company makes. The problem is nobody is searching for this phrase, instead they are looking for “janitorial supplies” or “cleaning rags.”

Performing a keyword research study provides you insights on what keywords or search phrases to incorporate to help elevate your content in organic search results. As a bonus, it often provides key insights into content gaps your site may have!

One Way to Start

While there is not necessarily an absolute right way to get started, here’s what we have found works best:

  1. Start with the foundations – ensure you have completed an SEO audit on your digital properties.
  2. Have an overarching discoverability strategy. Map out what your goals are, what content you have and need to get there, and all the channels that can impact it.
  3. Align content creation to this strategy.
  4. Work on an outreach program to get your voice added to other arenas.
  5. Measure your work. It will not be overnight. A solid SEO and content strategy takes a while to bring visible benefits.
  6. Take the outputs from bullet 5 and apply them back to bullet 2

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