You’ve mapped your company’s holiday marketing plan, and you’re now implementing it. Soon you’ll turn your attention to the coming year.
Use these four steps to create your search engine optimization strategy for 2019.
Start with keyword research. The idea is to understand the market for keywords — what consumers are searching for relating to your offerings and in what volume. Then use that information to gauge current organic search performance and identify achievable goals.
The idea is to understand … what consumers are searching for relating to your offerings and in what volume.
For example, if your goal is to increase traffic for, say, pickled herring, but you’re already dominating keywords related to pickled herring, your goal may fail.
Head over to your favorite keyword research tool, such as Google Keyword Planner. Aggregate the data so that keywords that have the same words or intent are added together. For example, you might roll the keywords “cowboy boots” and “dress boots” into an overall “boot” category to understand the value of that keyword theme compared to other forms of shoes.
2018 Performance Analysis
Next, measure performance to date for 2018 compared to 2017.
Part of the measurement will be in Google Search Console, looking at the keywords that drove traffic to your site compared to your keyword research. This is your baseline performance. Use it to determine reasonable goals, as well as to know when you’ve achieved those goals.
Don’t get too hung up on the exact numbers — Google approximates them in Keyword Planner. You’re looking for a rough guide to current performance to have something to base your goals on.
Look, also, at the pages that drove your natural search performance. Which pages could be performing better? Are there some that are missing from the analytics report entirely, meaning that they’re not driving any performance? Tackle those pages in 2019.
The performance of keyword themes and unique pages will give you ideas on where to focus.
The first step to creating a strategy is understanding what you want to achieve. Without goals, a strategy is directionless.
When setting goals, use the S.M.A.R.T. framework.
- Specific. What exactly will you achieve? “Improving performance” is too general. Are you aiming for revenue growth or traffic? Is your goal specific to SEO or does it include paid media and other channels?
- Measurable. How will you know if you achieved it? A goal needs a yardstick to measure progress.
- Achievable. Is your goal possible? There’s a fine line between setting stretch goals that push you to achieve more and making them so unattainable that they’re demoralizing.
- Relevant. Does it matter? The goal needs to have a meaningful relationship to profitability. Make sure the goals directly impact your site’s performance.
- Time-bound. When will you accomplish your goal? A goal without a timeframe contains no urgency.
Using the S.M.A.R.T. method, a meaningful ecommerce goal for 2019 could be “Increase revenue from natural search traffic in 2019 by 10 percent over 2018.”
Aim for three to five SEO goals. Setting too many can be overwhelming and dilute your focus in too many directions.
Aim for three to five SEO goals. Setting too many can be overwhelming and dilute your focus…
Defining SEO Strategy
You now know where the keyword demand lies and how you perform against it. You know what you want to accomplish. The strategy is simply a statement of how you will achieve those goals.
For example, your goal may be to increase natural search traffic for “boots” keywords by 10 percent in 2019 over 2018. How will you do that? You may need to optimize the content on certain pages. It may require improving the crawl path to high-demand categories of boots. Perhaps you could publish an article on boot care or waterproofing boots.
Also, consider major holidays, events, and campaign launches for 2019. Research keyword data and historical sales performance relevant to each. For example, maybe rain boot sales have spiked every April in other channels but have remained flat in natural search. That could indicate an SEO opportunity in 2019.
Your SEO strategy can be a hand-written set of goals that you pin to your wall with one line under each goal describing how you’ll achieve it. Do what works for you. But don’t put off doing it.