How to Run an SEO Campaign in 6 Steps

How to run an SEO campaign

This article is part of an SEO series from WooRank. Thank you for supporting the partners who make SitePoint possible.

So you’ve decided to start an SEO campaign for your website. Congrats! Unfortunately, you don’t know where to start. Or maybe you know where to start, but don’t know how to continue.

With Facebook, retargeting, AdWords and other PPC channels, setting up a campaign is pretty easy to understand. You build landing pages, create ad creative and then bid on your keywords/impressions. However, with SEO, maybe it isn’t quite as straightforward.

The good news is that it’s actually not too complicated, even for digital marketing novices and newbies. The even better news is that we’re about to tell you how to plan and execute an SEO campaign for your website.

1. Define Your Goals and Strategy

As the saying goes (and as college me learned first-hand), if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. The same goes for your SEO campaigns. The first major thing you need to decide is how you’re going to define success and how you’ll measure progress toward those goals.

When it comes to SEO, your first thought might be “This is obvious. I want the top ranking in Google. That’s what SEO is all about!”

Unfortunately, you need to dig deeper than just ranking in Google, or even website vanity metrics like traffic, bounce rate and engagement. What you really need to do is ask yourself three questions:

  1. Who am I trying to reach by ranking at the top of Google? Answering this question will define your target audience and create your marketing personas. Just saying “digital marketers” isn’t going to be very helpful because that’s a very diverse group of people. Here at WooRank, we’ve got at least six different personas with their goals, challenges, wants and needs along with what messaging we will use to reach them.
  2. Why am I trying to bring these people onto my website? What is the overall goal you are trying to achieve with this campaign? Again, don’t get sucked into focusing solely on vanity metrics like website traffic or engagement rates. Instead, decide what business goal you’re trying to achieve. Lead generation? Sales? List building? Be specific and concrete.
  3. How will I measure progress/achievement related to my goals? These are hard numbers used to calculate how successful your efforts are. Common metrics here are conversion rate, or email and retargeting list membership. If you can’t come up with a metric here to measure goal progress, you probably need to pick a better-defined goal.

You might be tempted to skip this first step and move right to the nuts and bolts of an SEO campaign, but the importance of this part can’t be overstated. It will be really, really hard for you to succeed if you don’t even know what success will look like. If you need more help coming up with your SEO, we’ve got a handy guide for you.

2. Keyword Research

Keywords are still really important parts of search marketing and SEO. However, the way you go about researching and optimizing around them has changed. You can thank Google’s Hummingbird and RankBrain for that. These two algorithms are focused on interpreting the context of words used in a search query and what the purpose behind a query is. It’s how Google figures out if your search involving “apple” is about computers, records or a fruit.

In SEO, this context is known as search intent. There are three main categories of search intent:

  • To learn more about a topic: As you probably guessed, these people want to find more information on a topic, the answer to a question or the solution to/cause of a problem. Long tail informational keywords usually include words like “how to”, “do I need” or “what is”. Head keywords are typically informational keywords.
  • To evaluate their options: These people already know something about the topic those first searchers were looking for and are now weighing their options. They’re deciding which product or solution is right for them. These keywords typically use phrases like “review”, “top 10”, “best” or “comparison”. They also use words like “cheap” and “deals”, which are great indicators that they’re about to flip from this category to the next.
  • To complete an action: Whether it’s making a purchase, signing up for a service or creating an account, these people know what they want and are ready to make it happen. They expect to achieve their goal directly on the landing page. They typically have lower volume but higher conversion rates.

The great thing about this development in keyword research is that search intent helps inform you where the searcher is in the conversion funnel.

Conversion funnel with search intent

If you’re struggling to come up with good keyword ideas in any phase of the funnel, there are lots of great tools out there that will help you find the right keywords. Here are some of my favorites:

Check out the keyword research guide for an in-depth look at the keyword research process.

3. Audit, Audit, Audit

Ok, you’ve come up with your personas and goals, and done your keyword research to find the best ones for your audience and funnel. The foundation of your SEO campaign has been laid. So now it’s time to build. That first building block? SEO audits.

Technical Audit

Technical SEO is the process of building a website in a way that makes it crawlable to search engines. If it’s not right, a website could struggle, or even fail, to get indexed. That means no search results for you!

When starting your SEO campaign, you need to get off on the right step by making sure your site is setup correctly. When auditing your website, check the following technical SEO elements:

  • XML sitemap: Search engines use a website’s sitemap to find and prioritize your URLs, an important SEO function (even if it’s not a ranking factor).

  • Robots.txt: Like sitemaps, robots.txt isn’t a ranking factor, but it will help you influence how your site is crawled. Prevent unimportant, duplicate or otherwise less valuable pages from being indexed so search engines can spend more of their crawl budget on what matters. Plus, you can put a link to your sitemap here to make that easier to find.

  • Page speed: Load time is a crucial part of user experience and, therefore, SEO. No search engine wants to recommend a slow site. There’s a lot of reasons your site could be slow. With WooRank’s technical SEO audit, we’ll alert you to slow page speed and possible causes.

    WooRank audit Speed Tips

  • URL structure: Make sure you’re following URL best practices for SEO. Make them concise and accurate to the page content, and avoid using underscores to separate words. Use hyphens instead. If you use parameters in your URLs, use Google’s URL Parameters Tool in Google Search Console to help Google deal with potential duplicate content issues.

  • Meta tags: Page titles and descriptions are super important to your on-page optimization. Even though only titles work as a ranking factor, descriptions can still convince users to click on your link in search results and keep them engaged on your site. These are two very important parts of maintaining relevance to your target keywords.

Crawl Your Site

For bigger, more complicated sites that have lots of pages, it’s worth it to use a crawler to audit your website. Crawlers work by accessing every URL on a website and collecting information about those URLs. Which is how Google’s crawlers work.

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Source: Sitepoint