5 Questions You Need to Know the Answers to Before You Begin SEO
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a time-tested staple of online marketing, and when done right, it can bring a constant stream of highly targeted traffic to your website with virtually no out-of-pocket cost. While the benefits of SEO are hard to beat, they don’t come easy; in fact, there are several subtle but highly important aspects of SEO that must be taken into account before you even begin using this powerful marketing method. If you’re thinking it’s time to delve into the world of SEO, just be sure that you can answer the following five questions before you begin SEO, so that you can start off on the right foot when the time comes.
1. Who is your intended audience?
More than likely you have a general idea of who your target consumer should be, but you need to thoroughly define the specifics of your intended audience to ensure that every element of your SEO efforts will move you toward attracting that particular ideal customer. Having a clear, well-defined picture of who you’re planning to reach will set you up for success in terms of keyword selection, site design, content development, etc. Be sure not to skip this step, because it will prevent you from wasting your time catering to an audience that isn’t really looking for what you have to offer.
2. What keywords do you intend to rank for in the search engines?
All SEO begins with a search engine query, and if you’re not sure what keywords you intend to rank for in the search engines, your SEO efforts will be doomed before they even start. What type of search queries would you like for people type into Google, Yahoo or Bing in order to find your site? What do you want your site to be known for? Be careful with your answers, because if you settle on keywords that are too generic, you could end up in “SEO no man’s land” due to a lack of ranking authority for those terms.
For example, if you own a real estate brokerage, the last thing you should waste your time doing is trying to rank for the term “real estate.” Why? Because that keyphrase is far too generic to reveal the intention of the searcher. You have no idea whether they’re looking to relocate to a particular area or if they’re interested in learning about real estate as an investment. Not only is the keyphrase “real estate” insanely competitive (which means that garnering a high ranking for the term could take years), but it may not be worth it in the end if the vast majority of your traffic has no interest in buying or selling a property. Conversely, if your real estate brokerage is in San Francisco and someone types in “San Franscisco houses for sale,” now we’re talking. Make sure that you have developed a very clear list of relevant keywords that you plan to rank for in the search engines before you even begin.
3. Is your content relevant to your target audience?
As the famous mantra goes, “content is king,” and if your website content is not relevant enough to your target audience–and specifically to their keyword searches–then your chances of ranking well for those target keywords will be greatly diminished. Your content should be keyword-focused, but not to the point of sounding unnatural or spammy.
Not only should your content be adequate in terms of quality, but you should also have a substantial quantity of content as well. If the text on your web pages is very sparse, search engine spiders simply won’t have enough content to crawl, recognize and properly index in order to determine a ranking value. If you focus on writing significant amounts of unique, high-quality content that addresses the typical search queries of your audience in a very natural way, you’ll have no problem making your site relevant, which will ultimately help your site rank better in the search engines.
4. How well does your site perform in terms of usability?
Usability is a huge factor in search engine rankings. A site that takes forever to load, has a non-user-friendly layout, or is bogged down by several heavy scripts will not score well with search engines. Make sure that your site focuses on delivering a quality user experience by offering an uncomplicated layout, intuitive navigation and sufficient compatibility with all modern browsers.
5. Are you able to invest at least six months to a year before seeing a return on your investment?
While organic SEO can provide you with a consistent stream of free traffic, bear in mind that it usually takes a significant initial investment of time and effort before you begin to see any substantial results. If your current business model requires a quick turnaround in terms of marketing investment, you may want to explore other options first to help get your company on solid footing before venturing into the world of SEO.
SEO is one of the most effective strategies for increasing your visibility in search engine results , but it’s not something you should rush into without making the proper preparations. If you make sure to answer the five questions outlined above before beginning your SEO efforts, you’ll stand a much better chance of realizing success.