We live in a digital world, and for companies vying to capture the attention of customers online – most of whom are inundated by advertisements – securing the first page of Google is a crowning achievement. But capturing the top spot can feel easier said than done. As a result, you may find yourself asking questions like, “How can I get my website to show up first on Google?” and “Is SEO still relevant in 2021?”
To answer these questions, AMA Chicago and SEO expert Steve Krull joined up for the workshop Tools & Technology to Develop a Successful SEO Strategy. As the CEO and co-founder of Be Found Online, Steve has many years of experience optimizing SEO using site audits, analytics, and technology-driven solutions. Continue reading to learn what tips and tricks Steve shared for bringing your website’s SEO game to the next level.
Develop a Successful SEO Strategy
If you’re new to SEO, one of the first questions you’ll need to answer is, “What is a SERP?” Even if the term sounds unfamiliar, you can rest assured that you’ve interacted with thousands, if not millions, of SERPS. It’s what you see every time you put a search term into Google. The acronym stands for “Search Engine Results Page,” and it displays a comprehensive list of web pages relevant to your search.
Your main goal is to be at the top of the SERP. This coveted spot is not just a fun feather in your organization’s cap but one of strategic importance. According to SEO platform MOZ, organizations on the first page of Google capture up to 92% of search traffic clicks. The second page? Only 6% of clicks. Yikes!
It’s also important to note that SEO is “free” (a.k.a “organic”) advertising. That sets it apart from paid ads which appear at the top of the Google results on the page. By comparison, the SEO results appear at the center of the page, which is still prime real estate!
Set your SEO strategy goals
Steve makes SEO goal setting easy with the S.M.A.R.T. model. This method for setting goals is based on an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Some questions Steve recommends asking yourself during the goal-setting process include, “What do I want to accomplish? How will I know when the goal is accomplished? How long will it take to accomplish the goal?”
Once your S.M.A.R.T. goals are set, the next step is to determine metrics. Steve describes metrics as, “What will be measured to prove our success?” In other words, your metrics are the goalposts you use to measure how close you are to the finish line. Some of the most common SEO metrics are ranking, traffic, leads, revenue, and engagement. Depending on your specific project, you may wish to use all of these metrics or a smattering of the ones most relevant to your SEO goals.
Assemble your SEO toolbox
While there are countless tools to choose from, Steve recommends starting with a core SEO toolkit of Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Google Keyword Planner. These tools will help you cover the basics in terms of auditing your website, tracking your goals, and optimizing your website content.
When it comes to additional tools, the sky is the limit! You can find a variety of tools, both free and paid, depending on what features you need. You also have the flexibility to choose from all-in-one tools like SEMRush and MOZ, in addition to tools that focus on specific functions like site crawling, browser tools, and content tools.
Let’s do an SEO audit!
Now that your goals and metrics are crystallized, it’s time to jump into the audit. Steve recommends approaching your audit with a game plan. If you wing an audit, you may miss key insights and observations that would otherwise have a major impact on your future SEO strategy. That’s why it’s essential to begin your audit with an audit checklist. The checklist will help you understand crucial aspects of the audit process, including when you’re finished, what’s important, and how to organize the work.
Although your SEO checklist can include as many items as you desire, Steve recommends starting with the basics: site crawl, tech checks, and meta tags. You can also customize which areas you want to focus your SEO audit on. Some core areas include web basics, security, mobile, and core web vitals. For example, your website may look visually stunning on a desktop browser like Chrome, but the mobile version may be choppy, hard to use or load very slowly. It’s important to be aware of these nuances and distinctions!
Once you’ve completed your checklist, you’ll have a rich stockpile of data to evaluate. This data will give you key insights into what your website is doing well and what areas need additional improvement.
Now comes the fun part! With the results of your SEO audit in hand, you can get creative with solutions for improving the site’s overall SEO. Steve recommends starting with the basics. He lives by the rule, “If the tech is bad, the SEO can’t be good.” That means ensuring your site is accessible and functional from a technology standpoint. Once those items are completed, you can move on to bigger projects like content, multimedia, and visual design. By roadmapping your project with S.M.A.R.T. goals, you’ll keep yourself on a productive pace without feeling overwhelmed by your SEO to-do list. And before you know it, you’ll see your site sitting proudly on the first page of Google!