As I continue to work on my optimization blog series (I’ve already talked about PPC and display), I am reminded of how much effort goes into managing digital campaigns. It’s true, a lot of work goes into optimizing digital campaigns 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year, but the return – on both investment and in professional development – is unsurpassed.

Optimizing organic search is not for the faint of heart. The time it can take to actually see the return on your time investment is much longer than the optimizations we make in paid media. Optimizing your SEO is like putting a down payment on a house – you build a foundation that pays off in two folds: position ownership and qualified return on investment.

Okay enough analogies. Let’s jump right into what it means to optimize your SEO. I will continue to use my optimization graphic, and this time I am going to align the optimizations into steps:


Step 1: Assess the Data

The first step in optimizing your SEO is to find your starting point. Complete a site crawl. There are multiple tools you can use; my personal favorites are MOZ and Screaming Frog. Find where your major, moderate, and minor levels of errors are. Do you have 404s? Are you missing page titles and meta descriptions? Do you have duplicate content? Understand the issues with your site. This will give you a starting point to plan out your optimization efforts.

Step 2: Report the Situation

This next step focuses on utilizing your analytic tools. Every website has a goal and most are focused on acquisition and revenue for both new and existing customers. When you are reporting on SEO traffic, think about what it takes to achieve the goals. Initially you will want to look at your analytics data to see the percentage of new site visitors that are coming from SEO traffic. This can be a step goal to achieving overall goals – e.g., “increase volume of new site visitors.”

Next, decide on the category terms that you want to optimize your SEO content for to achieve more new site visitors. You can use the tools I mentioned above to understand the keywords you are already ranking for, but also make sure you look at the search volume and competitive nature of those keywords. It is good to set lofty goals and work your way up to owning a high volume category term, but start with your quick wins and focus on getting from page 2 to page 1 in the search results for the terms you are already ranking for. There are some paid tools I have used that give really good competitive insights and quick win suggestions. BrightEdge and Conductor are examples.

Finally, use your analytics to help define the path you want new visitors to take when they visit your site. Do you want to capture an email signup, a form fill, or, better yet, do you want them to call your business? Make sure you give SEO the attribution for these goals, especially call attribution, which can get lost if you aren’t using call attribution technology.

Step 3: Implement Strategy

Okay, it’s time to build your plan on how you will implement your strategy to optimize SEO. I mentioned earlier that you should have a keyword list that you want to rank for – specifically the category terms that you want each URL to rank for. It’s now time to prioritize the URLs you will focus on first. My recommendation is to prioritize by page traffic. Now do you remember when you crawled your site for errors? It’s time to fix those errors. I recommend defining your keyword strategy first, because you can build your page titles, meta descriptions, and alt and header tags around those keywords. But don’t forget about the technical errors – prioritize those as #1 because your keyword strategy won’t shine through if technical errors exist.

Optimizing your SEO channel is a lengthy and never-ending process. Continue crawling your site for errors and report on progress weekly. While drastic improvement can take time, seeing small improvements will keep your team motivated. Don’t forget to check out my other blog posts on optimizing PPC and Display.