When you’re planning your marketing and business strategy for a new year, it’s an energizing time to dive into learning something new. So, if you haven’t ever worked on your website’s search engine optimization, 2019 is a great time to start.
SEO can be a technical and overwhelming subject. If you’ve ever thought, “I need to do some SEO”, and then got lost in where to start, I feel you. So before you dive into into the wilds of Google, let’s talk through an SEO plan that you can follow step-by-step in 2019.
Step 1: Understand where you rank now
Any good plan should start with understanding where you are now. If you’re not sure what keywords your website ranks for right now, I recommend signing up for a free Moz account and using their Keyword Explorer tool.
In the Keyword Explorer, change the search setting to “root domain.” Then, type your domain name in the search box.
What you’ll see on the results is your Site Overview, including the number of keywords ranked. Make sure to click over to “See all ranking keywords” to see the top 50 keywords your site is ranked for.
Look through the keyword list to see any keywords you’d like to rank higher for and make note of them. Save the results by exporting them so you can monitor your improvements later.
Step 2: Make a list of keywords you’d like to rank for
To start better optimizing your site and improving those rankings, you now need to brainstorm a list of keywords that are relevant to your website and business. These are the keywords you’d like to show up for when they’re searched on Google.
Here are a few places to look for inspiration:
- The Moz keyword list you just generated
- A competitor’s website—run their site through the Moz Keyword Explorer and see what they rank for
- Your own website—look for phrases you use and possible keywords in the descriptions of your own services and projects
- Google suggestions—Try searching on Google for a few of the keywords on your list. See what Google suggests as you type, and what they list as “related searches” at the bottom of the search results.
- Customer reviews—look at what words customers use when they write reviews about your product or service
Once you have a big list of keywords, highlight or circle which ones are most important to you.
Step 3: Decide which page will target each keyword
This is the step I see skipped most often in articles about SEO. They may tell you to “use your keywords”, but that might tempt you to just sprinkle the same keywords throughout your entire website. Instead, I highly recommend choosing one page on your website that you want to optimize for each keyword you selected.
Google is looking for the pages on the internet that are most relevant and helpful for a specific search. So, make it clear which page on your site is the best result for a particular keyword by optimizing it well for that one word or phrase. That means you’re not just using the keyword “event planner” as much as possible throughout your site, but that you’re optimizing one page really well for “event planning services”.
A few examples:
- Optimize your “Peanut Butter Dog Treats” product page for the keyword “peanut butter dog treats”
- Optimize your “Interior Design” service page for “interior design in Austin, TX”
- Optimize your “Where to find a calligrapher” blog post for “where to find a calligrapher”
Step 4: Make a content plan
Making time to do the work for SEO is the hardest part. So for your 2019 plan, commit a set weekly time to your content work. This may mean better optimizing old content or writing new content to target keywords. Either way, plan out the work you want to do and give yourself due dates. You might want to set up a content calendar spreadsheet like the one I use:
As you’re writing your content, I recommend following these best practices for content optimization.
Step 5: Watch your results
Put your head down and work on your website content for a few months. Keep in mind that it takes Google time to recognize the changes you’re making to improve the content on your website. Then, after about three months, check out a few metrics to see how you’re doing.
- Run your website through Moz Keyword Explorer again. Are you ranking for more keywords? Are you ranking higher?
- Review your website analytics. Are you getting more website visitors (especially Organic Search traffic over time)?
Make note of any pages or posts that are performing well and see if you can create more content around similar topics. SEO is an ongoing process of website and content improvement, so don’t give up! Keep generating keyword ideas, adding to your content plan, creating helpful content your target customers would love to find, and watching your site improve in the rankings.