What are the 6 critical steps for launching a successful SEO website? If I had to list them in order, it would go something like this…
1 – Having a Reasonable Goal in Mind: Having a reasonable goal means understanding that depending on your strategy, resources and competency you will either have to spend lots of time fine-tuning your campaign, or pay someone else to.
Most competitive keywords take up to a year to secure with consistent optimization applied. Hence, managing expectations means understanding the competitive thresholds for your keywords and the degree of trust required for a website to “break loose” and start climbing over competitors.
With the competitive landscape becoming more challenging by the day, the range of competitors fighting for topical relevance and keyword positioning can overwhelm those who are easily discouraged and seeking short-term gratification.
There are only tens spots available for any given keyword; and depending on if those keywords are candidates for commerce determines how many companies, businesses or individuals will have them locked in their sights.
The idea is to target keywords within your reach initially, but build the more competitive keywords into the site architecture, link structure and off page SEO to brand each page with a purpose, which leads to the next point.
2 – Create Pages for Specific Purposes – Just because visitors arrive does not ensure success. You need compelling content infused with overtones of intent. Instead of overwhelming visitors with a bland one-size-fits-all approach, try segmenting your traffic by offering one specific conversion objective per page; unify your message, images & call to action.
Search engines look at singular and plural keywords in a unique fashion. For example, just because you rank for one variation of a keyword does not ensure you will rank automatically for the stemmed or plural or synonymic variant.
Most people search in plural format by default “bank accounts vs. bank account” for competitive 2 word key phrases and tend to use modifiers and / or alternate keyword synonyms.
With this in mind, make sure you have a predefined destination page for each variation or create a page for multiple keywords by using the singular, plural and alternative keywords in the title or meta data. For example, a page about pricing could use keywords on the page about SEO rate, rates, fees, fee, costs, cost, SEO pricing, etc…
If that does not work, then try utilizing conversion paths vs. traditional landing pages by offering a selection of 2-3 choice/selections to clarify consumer intent.
Example: I am here for (a) SEO Services (b) SEO Consulting or (c) Free Themes and Downloads, then based on which option they click, tailor your message to get to the next layer of engagement. By segmenting conversion paths instead of pages is an effective way to deliver a targeted message to the right visitors at the right time.
3 – Structure your website to facilitate rankings – Creating a tiered structure of relevance from the onset and matching your keywords to pages created specifically for those keywords is a must.
You can theme and silo (use a series of topical categories) for your website or use flat site architecture and keep all of the naming conventions relevant that incorporate exact match keywords. The idea is to use unified titles, url structure, h1 tags, meta data and internal and external links to define each page with SEO.
4 – Employ Staggered Link Diversity – Different links work better for different stages of your website’s development. For example, to warm things up, Yahoo Directory, Business.com, Best of the Web and other trusted directories work wonders to escalate trust (here is a great list from SEOCompany.Ca).
After adding the base layer of links, invest time and energy looking for niche related links from notable aged sites in addition to fresh editorial links from news, press releases, blogs and social media to balance the mix.
It’s better to get deep links to specific pages with specific anchor text (5-15 links per page) rather than just acquiring random links to the homepage. No one said building links is easy, but it is a mandatory step to distinguish your pages in search engines (and increase your potential exposure for readers).
5- Add Fresh Content Regularly – Industries are competitive, which means you need to offer something worthwhile to search engine spiders and human visitors alike to encourage them to consider your website as an authority on a subject.
The ultimate objective of SEO is to develop authority; from there rankings are produced from the on page and off page synergy of trust, citation and the coherence and / or synergy of the collective content within your website.
6 – Pay Attention to the Long-Tail – Long tail keywords (keyword incorporating 3 or more words and or modifiers) are responsible for 80% of the traffic to most websites.
Rarely do websites start from zero then jump to the top for competitive keywords. First they show signs of traction with one or more keywords then that phenomenon continues to stem as additional keywords cross the tipping point and become buoyant.
The key is to use analytics, referral data to study where that traction occurs, then intersect the intent of those keywords with additional pages within your website that have a related theme.
If you pick up on a keyword “breaking lose” then feed it with additional editorial pages using similar titles and / or internal links to polish the ranking factor to create more traction through keyword stemming.
1) define your site in advance, top level keywords, categories, landing pages and on page copy for conversion, 2) add another layer with a blog or CMS (content management system) to add topical content to support your cause, 3) track your results with analytics to gauge the effectiveness of a campaign, 4) build a base level of aged links and then 5) use deep links via editorial linking from articles, blogs & social media while 6) targeting long-tail traffic until your site can devour more market share as a result of age, trust and authority.