The Practical SEO Guide: Part 1

We receive dozens of questions about SEO each day, so, we decided to create an informative, practical and tactical SEO Guide.

SEO Guide

The Practical SEO Guide

You have to know what to build, why to build it and where to start when structuring your SEO campaign if you want to avoid lackluster returns or results which stall or plateau.

The purpose of this guide is to touch on each nodes of a campaign, then, provide additional links to “more specific” posts from each segment for additional elaboration.

Our SEO Guide Starts with:

  • Budget
  • Scope
  • Keyword Research
  • Site Architecture (based on keywords)
  • Template Selection
  • Landing Page Selection
  • Supporting Article Creation
  • Coding and Content Management
  • On Page Optimization (preferably built into CMS)
  • Internal Links (Link-Flow Sculpting)
  • Off Page Augmentation (link building)
  • Promotion (social media and otherwise)
  • Feedback and Refinement (analytics and split testing).
  • Reinvestment into additional content, links and promotion.

First up, the most important thing of all, your budget.

Budget

You either have it or you don’t, there is no way around this one. For those with a steak appetite on a hamburger budget, SEO is not about mood-making, it’s about determining how much of an impact you or how big a player you can afford to be in a given market.

The barrier to entry is different in each market, but keep in mind, whatever your monthly budget is, there are some competitors spending that per day to create the rankings they have; working smarter not harder is the critical metric that is the SEO yardstick.

There are layers of processes that must be executed properly in order for an SEO campaign to be successful – no amount of finagling will offset the work load required. So, find a professional that knows what they are doing with a proven track record and pay them what they are worth vs. trying to find the cheapest solution and waste months waiting for results that “may or may not kick in”.

Here are a few posts from the past discussing SEO costs in greater detail.

The adage, you get what you pay for has never been more true, particularly for SEO service providers. Sure, you could scrimp on links, spin content (to save money) and then end up with subpar content, in a supplemental filter or flagged as a bad neighborhood from using low quality links.

Scope

Good SEO costs money, but it can produce exponential ROI in the long run. My suggestion is to know which keywords you want (target phrases within your reach) and know what they are worth (from a conversion standpoint) then map out what you can spend to acquire that keyword.

Don’t target 200 keywords if you can only afford 10, otherwise you may end up in limbo (on page 2 or beyond) instead of above the fold (in the top 3) for a solid keyword that can produce a return on your investment.

Keyword Research

This is where the magic happens, get this part wrong and you’re like a dog chasing their tail and waiting for money to fall out of the sky. Keyword research is the most critical aspect of any SEO campaign. This is the part where you (a) determine your budget (b) assess the market and the competitors swimming in that space (c) refine which keywords that “buyers vs. browsers” use and then (d) embark on the content development, on page and off page optimization to get ranked for those phrases.

Keyword research should start based on (1) budget and (2) ROI – meaning how much you get back per sale for every visitor that converts from an offer.

If there are multiple stages involved in a conversion, such as someone having to find your website, click through, find another page or go to another site (if you are an affiliate) before they check out – then you need to factor attrition in the conversion path and determine the bottom line based on past performance of your offer to get a grip on what you can afford to spend.

If you are selling $8 items, then SEO applied to each product may not be an option, you may have to ball-roll the category and select a category that is broad enough and has proven search volume (based on the product) to then entice click throughs by sending them to a page that has 20 products on it (to offset costs vs. ROI).

If you are selling a product for $100 or $1000, then you have the ability to target more aggressive traffic bearing keywords. You have to pay to play with SEO, the ROI requires more time, the bottom line is conversions are the basis of budget, hence, you need to develop the conversion process through conversion optimization simultaneously in order to “afford SEO”.

Here are additional posts on keyword research and its importance as part of the SEO process:

A properly optimized keyword (it does not have to be competitive to yield profits) coupled with a high conversion rate is the ideal 1-2 punch for search engine optimization. This way, you can afford to reinvest the profits into capturing more keywords and scale that traffic over time (without crimping your cash flow).

For more information about keyword research – download our FREE ebook named “Organic Search Top Modifiers Revealed” using the link provided.

Site Architecture

Site architecture is where you map out which type of site you are going to build. The structure depends on (a) how competitive the keywords are (b) whether or not you are emphasizing certain landing pages, category pages, product pages or cyclical pages as the primary focus of your campaign.

Based on the keywords you are intent on ranking for, the competitors and which methods they are astute at as well as what type of weight you are willing to commit (time, energy, content, links, etc). all determine which type of site architecture is ideal.

While I could ramble for hours on this topic, I would rather provide a few links to other more relevant posts on the topic which we have covered previously on the SEO Design Solutions Blog.

The takeaway here is that there are hundreds of variations and some are more effective than others, but essentially it boils down to.

  • Flat site architecture (often used in ecommerce) to build hundreds or thousands of lateral pages in the root folder (to share the link equity of being closer to the primary / home page).
  • Tiered site architecture (ideal for sites with multiple categories) similar to a tree structure (think amazon.com).
  • Theming and siloing (also good for sites with multiple categories or creating laser-like niche sites that rank themselves with minimal inbound links).

We will continue this discussion in part 2 moving on to the remaining topics:

  • Template Selection
  • Landing Page Selection
  • Supporting Article Creation
  • Coding and Content Management
  • On Page Optimization (preferably built into CMS)
  • Internal Links (Link-Flow Sculpting)
  • Off Page Augmentation (link building)
  • Promotion (social media and otherwise)
  • Feedback and Refinement (analytics and split testing).
  • Reinvestment into additional content, links and promotion.

Stay tuned for part 2 and part 3 of this practical SEO guide by SEO Design Solutions blog.

Or Stick Around and Read More Posts

2 Comments

  1. Sameera
    Posted February 4, 2011 at 4:02 am | Permalink

    Hi,

    I was wondering on your thoughts about .info domains.

    Even if you have an exact-match keyword domain with the .info TLD can another .com KW exact-match domain outrank it… given that they both have the same PR, SEO, Backlinks, etc??

    Thanks.

  2. Jeffrey Smith
    Posted February 4, 2011 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    Not as strong a ranking signal, I will bake in a segment on theme relevance and TLD’s in the off page segment of the SEO Guide series when I get to that portion.

    Thanks…

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