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Our 8 Step Playbook for SEO Success (You can copy it)

December 13, 2023

As a small or medium business owner, the world of search engine optimization (SEO) might seem quite complex. There are various strategies, tools, and techniques that can help your business rank higher in search engine results, ultimately driving more traffic and sales. One such comprehensive guide to navigate the SEO landscape is the SEO playbook. By understanding its essentials and following a step-by-step approach, you can boost your website's performance and stay ahead of your competitors.

The SEO playbook focuses on several aspects of optimization, ranging from researching the most suitable keywords for your business to crafting content that resonates with your target audience. It also explores the critical role of backlinks and why it's necessary to monitor your website's technical health regularly. By effectively implementing the strategies outlined in the SEO playbook and keeping a pulse on your optimization efforts, you can witness measurable progress in your business's online presence.

Our 8 Step Playbook for SEO Success

Key Takeaways

  • Understand and implement the SEO playbook to drive more traffic to your website
  • Focus on keyword research, content creation, and technical SEO for better search engine rankings
  • Continuously measure and optimize your online presence to stay ahead of competitors

The SEO Playbook Essentials

Understanding SEO: It Doesn't Have to be a Mystery

As a small to medium business owner, you might find SEO intimidating at first. But let me assure you, it doesn't have to be a mystery. In simple terms, SEO refers to the techniques and strategies used to improve a website's visibility in search engine results. From local businesses to eCommerce websites, every type of business can benefit from understanding the basics of SEO. I've broken down some of the core components for you below.

Core Components of SEO

  1. Keywords: These are the phrases or terms that users search for in search engines, like Google. Identifying the right keywords is crucial for increasing your website's visibility in search results.
  2. Content: Informative and engaging content is at the heart of any successful SEO strategy. Quality content that addresses your target audience's needs will naturally attract more visitors and increase your chances of ranking higher.
  3. On-page Optimization: This includes optimizing your website's HTML code, like title tags and meta descriptions, as well as internal linking and making sure your site is mobile-friendly.
  4. Off-page Optimization: This involves building a strong backlink profile and increasing your website's authority in the eyes of search engines. Some off-page strategies include guest posting, influencer outreach, and social media marketing.
  5. User Experience (UX): Your website's overall user experience plays a significant role in how well it ranks in search engine results. Factors like site speed, design, and easy navigation are essential for good user experience and can impact SEO.

SEO Strategies Defined

Now that we've looked at the core components of SEO, let's explore some common SEO strategies tailored for different types of businesses:

Local SEO: Local SEO is crucial for small businesses trying to attract customers in their immediate vicinity. With this strategy, you'll want to optimize your website by including local keywords, creating Google My Business listings, and encouraging customer reviews.

Local SEO Search Results

eCommerce SEO: If you run an online store, your SEO strategy should involve optimizing product pages, using descriptive URLs, and implementing schema markup to provide detailed product information for search engines.

eCommerce SEO Search Results

Organic SEO: This strategy focuses on improving your website's overall visibility in organic search results. It typically involves a combination of the core components mentioned above and thorough keyword research to ensure you're using the most relevant and high-traffic keywords associated with your business.

Organic SEO Search Results

From my experience, a solid SEO strategy combines these strategies with your business's unique goals and needs. By understanding the fundamentals of SEO and tailoring them to your business, you can make informed decisions that ensure success in the long run.

Step 1: Keyword Research & Analysis

As a business owner, I understand the importance of having a solid SEO strategy to help your business become the go-to option in your community. One critical aspect of SEO is keyword research and analysis. In this section, we'll briefly cover the process of identifying target keywords, discovering them using various tools, and analyzing their potential and difficulty.

Identifying Target Keywords

To start, I focus on finding keywords that are most relevant to my business and the products or services I offer. This process involves brainstorming topics related to my primary niche and then breaking them down into specific search queries that potential customers might use. For example, if I own a bakery, I'll consider keywords such as "best cupcakes in town," "birthday cake delivery," and "gluten-free pastries."

SEO Keyword Research

Understanding Keyword Intent

What is Search Intent?

Search intent, or user intent, is about figuring out why someone is conducting a search. Are they looking for information? Do they want to buy something? Or are they trying to find a specific website? Matching your content with what people are actually searching for is key to ranking well on search engines like Google.

Why It Matters:

No matter how good your content is, if it doesn’t align with what searchers want, it won’t rank well. Search engines have gotten better at understanding and prioritizing search intent. They want to deliver the most relevant answers to searchers, so understanding the intent behind queries is essential for SEO success.

The Evolution of Search Intent:

Over the years, the focus has shifted from using exact keywords to understanding the broader intent of a search. This includes recognizing longer, more specific queries (long-tail keywords) and adapting to the rise of voice search, which often involves more natural, conversational phrases.

Types of Search Intent:

  • Informational: Looking for information.
  • Navigational: Searching for a specific website.
  • Commercial: Considering a purchase and wanting to compare options.
  • Transactional: Ready to buy.

Learn more about Keyword Intent Here

Tools for Keyword Discovery

There are plenty of tools available to help discover even more keywords related to your niche. Some of my personal favorites include Google's Keyword Planner and Ahrefs Keywords Explorer. These tools provide valuable data such as search volume and click-through rates. By exploring different tools, you'll likely find a wealth of keywords related to your target topics, making it easier to optimize your website for search traffic.

Analyzing Keyword Potential and Difficulty

Once I have a list of keywords, it's essential to evaluate their potential and difficulty. Keyword potential refers to the estimated amount of search traffic a keyword receives, while difficulty represents how challenging it might be to rank for that specific keyword. To assess keyword potential, I look at factors such as search volume, competition, and current rankings for similar businesses. For difficulty, I analyze the websites that already rank for these keywords and determine what it would take to outrank them. This process helps me prioritize which keywords will be most beneficial to target in my SEO strategy.

By following these steps and considering the factors mentioned above, I am well on my way to crafting a comprehensive keyword research and analysis plan that can drive more targeted search traffic to my business.

Step 2: Tracking Keywords

What You Measure, Grows

In my experience, keeping track of keywords is essential for achieving success in SEO. It's important to monitor the progress of your selected keywords to know which ones are performing well and which need more focus. By regularly monitoring keyword performance, you can optimize your website's content and increase your search traffic.

keyword tracking

What metrics should be tracked to evaluate the success of an SEO program?

To evaluate the success of your SEO efforts, it's essential to track a few key metrics:

  1. Keyword Rankings: Monitor the position of your keywords in search engine results pages (SERPs).
  2. Organic Search Traffic: Measure the volume of visitors coming to your website through organic search results.
  3. Conversion Rate: Track the percentage of visitors who take the desired action on your website (e.g., making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter).
  4. Bounce Rate: Determine the percentage of visitors who leave your website after viewing only one page. Low bounce rates indicate that users are finding your content engaging and relevant.
  5. Click-Through Rate (CTR): Measure the ratio of clicks on a specific link to the total number of views. A high CTR often indicates that your content is capturing your audience's attention.

My Favorite Keyword Tracking Tool: Keyword.com

Personally, I like to use Keyword.com for tracking my keywords. This tool provides accurate keyword ranking data allowing me to monitor my website's progress in the SERPs. It also helps me identify which keywords are driving more traffic to my website, so I can focus on improving my content accordingly.

keyword.com

Local Map Pack Tracking: Localfalcon.com

Local SEO is crucial for small to medium businesses, as it helps you stand out in local searches and attract customers within your area. One aspect of local SEO that can't be overlooked is tracking your presence in the Google Local Map Pack. For that, I recommend using Localfalcon.com, which allows you to monitor your local search performance and identify areas that need improvement to increase your visibility.

local falcon

Step 3: Technical SEO Fundamentals

When I'm working on improving the online visibility of my small or medium-sized business, one of the key areas I pay attention to is Technical SEO. In simple terms, technical SEO involves making sure that my website is easily accessible and understandable by search engines like Google. This way, my website has a better chance of ranking higher in search results. In this section, we'll explore two essential tools that have helped me a lot in this area: Google Search Console and Screaming Frog.

Using Google Search Console for Technical Audit

Google Search Console is a free service by Google that helps me monitor my website's performance in search results. I use it to identify technical errors and make improvements to my website. During a technical SEO audit, it is important to identify crawlability and indexability issues. These issues can prevent search engines from properly crawling and indexing my website's pages, which would negatively impact my rankings.

Google Search Console

To get started with Google Search Console, you can follow the beginner's guide available online. Once I have set up my account, I can use the various reports provided within the console to identify and fix potential issues. Things like robots.txt file errors, XML sitemap issues, and understanding site architecture can all be checked and improved upon using Google Search Console. Regularly performing such audits helps me maintain the health of my website and improve its performance in search engine rankings.

Screaming Frog: A wonder tool

Another amazing tool I've been using to assist with my technical SEO efforts is Screaming Frog. It's a powerful website crawler that helps me analyze my website's pages and identify potential issues. As I run the tool, it crawls my website's pages and reports back any issues it finds.

ScreamingFrog

For example, it highlights issues related to page speed, which is essential for both user experience and SEO. Slow-loading pages can cause visitors to leave my website, while search engines, like Google, may penalize slow sites by ranking them lower. Screaming Frog not only helps me identify slow pages but also provides suggestions on how to improve their speed.

Some of the key aspects Screaming Frog helps me with include:

  • Identifying broken links and redirect chains
  • Spotting duplicate content issues
  • Analyzing page titles and meta descriptions
  • Checking the responsiveness of my website

Overall, using both Google Search Console and Screaming Frog has allowed me to perform regular technical SEO audits, ensuring that my website remains in good shape for better search engine rankings. By keeping an eye on technical SEO, I can make sure that search engines can easily find, crawl, index, and understand my website, which ultimately leads to better visibility for my small or medium-sized business.

Step 4: Build Your Content Roadmap Strategy

How do you create a roadmap?

When planning your content strategy, it is essential to build a comprehensive content roadmap. This is a document outlining the steps you need to take to execute your content marketing plan effectively. I recommend starting with keyword research to identify the topics most relevant to your target audience, and then constructing a timeline for your content creation.

Next, I suggest analyzing your competition to gain insights into the kind of articles or blog posts that resonate with your potential customers. This can be done by examining the content published by your competitors and looking for gaps in the information, or by identifying unique angles to approach the subject matter. Don't forget to give it another shot if things don't go as planned initially.

Once you've gathered this information, it's time to create a content calendar that outlines the publishing schedule for your articles, blog posts, and other content pieces. Be sure to set achievable deadlines for each piece of content, and consider factors such as seasonal trends or industry events when planning.

Importance of planning before writing content

Proper planning before writing your content is crucial for ensuring the success of your content marketing strategy. This process enables you to target specific keywords to increase your organic traffic, resulting in better online visibility and potentially higher conversion rates.

Moreover, planning your content in advance allows you to strategically position your articles or blog posts to engage with your target audience. It gives you the opportunity to create content that addresses their pain points, provides valuable information, and showcases your expertise in your field.

In conclusion, developing a content roadmap strategy is an essential step in maximizing the impact of your content marketing efforts. By establishing a clear plan and adhering to a timeline, you can provide engaging and valuable content for your audience while enhancing your online presence and growing your business.

Step 5: Optimize Your Google Business Profile

To boost your local search visibility and attract more customers, it's essential to optimize your Google Business Profile (GBP). In this section, I'll share the key steps to making the most out of your profile.

Getting Google Reviews

Positive customer reviews are essential for online reputation and local search ranking. Encourage satisfied clients to leave reviews on your GBP, as they carry significant weight in Google's local search algorithms. If you need help simplifying the process of gathering positive reviews, consider a service like Local SEO Partners.

Complete Your Entire GBP Profile

An accurate and complete GBP ensures that potential customers can easily find the information they need about your business. Fill out all the sections, including contact information, hours of operation, a detailed business description, and the categories that represent your offerings. For a comprehensive guide on profile optimization, check out Whitespark's guide.

updated google business profile
  • Contact Information: Ensure your business's name, address, and phone number (NAP) are accurate and consistent across other online listings.
  • Hours of Operation: Clearly list your current hours, and update them for holidays or special events.
  • Business Description: Write a brief, appealing description that highlights your business's unique selling points.
  • Categories: Select the most relevant categories to enhance your visibility for your target audience.

Post Updates & Photos Regularly

Regularly posting updates and photos on your GBP establishes an active online presence, which can positively impact your visibility on Google Search and Maps. Sharing engaging content, like promotions, events, or behind-the-scenes insights, can make your business stand out.

Google Business Profile Post Updates
  • Promotions: Share special offers or discounts to incentivize customers to engage with your business.
  • Events: Announce upcoming events, workshops, or webinars to keep your audience informed and engaged.
  • Behind-the-Scenes Insights: Give customers a glimpse into your company culture and the people who work there.

By following these steps, you can maintain an optimized GBP that showcases your business at its best on Google Search and Maps. Remember that investing time and effort in your GBP, along with creating quality content and employing effective content marketing strategies, can significantly impact your business's online visibility and growth in organic traffic.

I asked my friend Elizabeth over at Snowmad Digital for a few of her favorite tips for optimizing your GBP.

"Add at least 100 photos to your GBP. Make sure to snap some photos of your business to give potential customers a taste of what they can expect. Studies reveal that 88% of consumers rely on visuals to guide their purchasing choices. So, by showcasing some stunning images, you're significantly boosting your chances of attracting more traffic. Make sure those same 100 photos also live on your website.

Also, add 10 or more questions to your Q&A section. Think of this as an FAQ section from your website. Better yet, it’s another place for you to add in a few relevant keywords."

Step 6: Create Content & Publish

As a business owner, it's essential for me to create high-quality content that helps my website rank higher on search engines. I focus on several key aspects of content creation and publishing, which I'll explain in the following subsections.

Matching Search Intent

When creating content, it's crucial to match the search intent of my target audience. I need to understand what they're looking for and provide valuable information that satisfies their needs. Researching popular keywords and analyzing the top-ranking pages for those keywords helps me create content that resonates with my audience.

Build Out Money Pages

To generate revenue, I focus on building "money pages" that target high-value keywords and address my audience's pain points. These pages promote my products or services and typically include a call-to-action (CTA) that encourages visitors to take the desired action (e.g., make a purchase, request a quote, or sign up for a newsletter).

Build out a supporting hub of content with interlinking

In addition to money pages, I create a supporting hub of content around related topics to establish my expertise and showcase my in-depth knowledge. This hub includes articles, infographics, and videos that cover various aspects of the main topic. By interlinking these pages, I help search engines and users navigate my content easily, improving overall user experience and on-page optimization.

On-Page SEO Tips

Lastly, optimizing my content for on-page SEO helps me rank higher on search engines. I follow these on-page optimization tips to boost my content's visibility:

  • Use descriptive title tags and meta descriptions
  • Include header tags (H1, H2, H3) to structure content effectively
  • Optimize image file names and alt tags
  • Add internal links to related content on my site
  • Ensure a proper keyword density

By focusing on these key aspects of content creation and publishing, I can improve my website's visibility and drive more organic traffic to my business.

Step 7: Build Your Backlinks

As a small to medium business owner, I understand the importance of building a solid online presence. To achieve that, one key factor is building high-quality backlinks to your website. In this section, we'll discuss some strategies to help you build your backlinks.

NAP Consistency & Directories

The first step in building backlinks is to ensure your business information, also known as NAP (Name, Address, Phone number), is consistent across all online directories. Tools like Citation Builder by BrightLocal can help with this task. Maintaining consistency makes it easier for search engines to recognize your business and improves your local search rankings.

Citation Builder

Build Foundational Backlinks

Once you have established NAP consistency, it's essential to build foundational backlinks that boost your website's credibility. Working with a backlink acquisition service, like Local SEO Partners, can help you earn quality backlinks, which in turn help you climb local search rankings.

Linking Strategies

Developing a strong strategy is crucial for link building. Some popular methods include:

  • Creating high-quality, shareable content
  • Guest posting on relevant industry blogs
  • Collaborating with influencers in your field

You might also consider leveraging the services of a link-building agency such as Rhino Rank or FATJOE, which can help simplify the process and save you time.

Monitoring Backlinks

Monitoring your backlinks is an essential part of your link-building strategy. This video might help you understand the importance of monitoring your backlinks. It's crucial to track any new, lost, or broken links and adjust your strategy accordingly.

Grow your backlinks

By implementing these strategies, you can effectively build quality backlinks that improve your website's authority and help you rank higher in search results.

Step 8: Optimize Your Content

Using ChatGPT alongside Search Console

As a small-to-medium business owner, I understand all the information out there about SEO can be overwhelming. But luckily, I discovered that combining the power of ChatGPT with Google Search Console data is a great way to improve my content. ChatGPT can analyze the search queries and popular keywords from the Search Console to give me suggestions on how to make my content more engaging and relevant. With this strategy, I can better target my audience and improve my website's ranking.

Using Query Hunter

Another tool that I find really helpful in my SEO strategy is Query Hunter, a Chrome Extension designed to streamline the content refining process. As a business owner, this tool is essential, saving my time and helping me identify underserved search queries. I can use it to optimize my content for better rankings and increase my website's traffic.

Always Optimizing and Refreshing Content

Ranking high in search results is important, but it's not a one-time task—optimizing and refreshing content is an ongoing process. I make sure to monitor my website's analytics, keeping an eye on important metrics like click-through rate (CTR) and bounce rate. By regularly reviewing and updating my content with new data and findings, like those from On-Page.ai, I can boost my website's ranking and avoid over-optimization penalties. In summary, making content optimization a priority and routinely assessing these metrics is crucial for the overall success of my website.

Measuring SEO Success: What to Expect

Timeline to get ranking for your Keyword

When I started my journey to improve my website's search engine ranking, I learned that SEO is not an overnight success story. It takes time for a website to move up in search engine rankings for specific keywords. On average, it can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months to see noticeable results. This timeline depends on factors like your website's age, your target keywords' competition, and the SEO strategies you implement.

Here are some key milestones to consider:

  • 0-3 months: Research and strategy development, website optimizations, and content creation.
  • 3-6 months: Monitor progress, adjust strategies as needed, and continue creating quality content.
  • 6 months onwards: A steady growth in rankings and organic traffic.

Local SEO Partners' Case Studies

One of the best ways to understand the potential impact of SEO on your business is to look at real-world examples. I found case studies from successful Local SEO agencies particularly helpful. These case studies highlight how small to medium businesses have achieved significant increases in organic traffic, improved search engine rankings, and increased revenue through SEO. By learning from their experiences, I could relate to their challenges and achievements.

Why SEO is a snowball for revenue growth

From my perspective, approaching SEO as a long-term investment has been a game-changer. As my website climbed the search engine rankings, the organic traffic continued to grow, leading to increased revenue.

I learned that the more time and effort I invested in SEO, the more growth and success I saw. SEO helps in building your online presence, increasing your website's trust and authority, and ultimately, driving more customers to your business.

It is important to track your progress regularly using SEO metrics such as:

  • Keyword rankings: Where your targeted keywords rank on search engines.
  • Organic traffic: The number of visitors coming from search engine results without using paid advertisements.
  • Conversion rate: The percentage of website visitors who complete a desired action (like making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter).

By leveraging analytics, it's possible to understand the impact of your SEO strategy on your business and make data-driven decisions to grow your online presence and revenue continuously.

FAQs

Can I hire you to complete this playbook for us?

Yes, I can help you complete this SEO playbook for your business. My goal is to simplify the steps and provide a clear understanding of SEO concepts to help small to medium business owners achieve better results with their online presence. Together, we can tailor a plan that focuses on specific tools and strategies suited to your unique situation.

What are some common mistakes to avoid while executing an SEO plan?

When working with business owners like you, I've seen a few common mistakes that can hinder your SEO efforts:

Ignoring the basics: Make sure to cover essential aspects like optimizing page titles, meta descriptions, and header tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.).

Focusing too much on keywords: While keywords are important, stuffing them into your content unnaturally can actually harm your SEO. Aim for a balance between keyword usage and reader-friendly content.

Not monitoring progress: Regularly tracking the performance of your SEO plan helps you identify areas that need improvement or adjustment. Use tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console to stay informed.

Learning and Development Resources

To become more proficient in SEO, I recommend the following resources:

  1. SEO Tools: Utilize popular SEO platforms like Ahrefs, Moz, and SEMrush to gain insights and optimize your website's performance.
  2. SEO Checklists: Comprehensive checklists can guide your approach to SEO. Here's a helpful Managing SEO playbook to get you started.
  3. Library & Educational Material: Many reputable SEO experts offer exceptional learning resources, such as Search Engine Optimization Playbook from the American Marketing Association. Additionally, consider enrolling in online courses, attending webinars, or reading informative blog posts from industry leaders.

By accessing and using these resources, you can strengthen your SEO knowledge and execute a successful SEO plan for your business.

Contact us today for a free consultation.

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