Should Your SEO Program Have a Roadmap?
One of the few areas really ever discussed in so many SEO circles is the formal process that must take place within any size SEO program.
Just Google “how to learn SEO” or “How to perform SEO on a website” and you get pretty much the same results, just various different publishers all saying virtually the same thing.
You’ll see step by step guides on how to tactically do SEO. You see all kinds of “DIY” or learn for free, or lists of SEO tools.
But, all that is useless if you’re a professional SEO looking for a formal method to practice with. Whether you’re an SEO in-house, Agency side, or consultant, you may be really new but what seems to be missing is what do you do once you learn how to conduct keyword research or write effective title tags?
First develop the process by which your SEO roadmap is created.
What Does an SEO Roadmap Process Example Look Like?
Determine the business objectives and goals
Make sure to start with this before any SEO begins.
What is the lifetime value of a customer ?
This assists in determining SEO ROI
Establish the SEO Strategy
One of the most overlooked details in SEO program development
Develop an SEO Timeline of tactical activities over a period of time
Use a Gantt Chart, or a simple timeline to help visualize the timeline of your project. Make sure to have project management principles applied early and throughout the program
Review the SEO Strategy
At every three months you should review the KPIs, performance and readjust the program as needed
In an effort to provide some instruction and process by which you can start your SEO process from I’ll provide you with some foundational framework to start with and if you’d like even more in depth material, go here and check out my Kickstart SEO Roadmap course...
Start by following each step I outline below.
This will help you start to think through what your process might look like. It’s important not to avoid any one of these steps - each has their own place in your SEO program.
I'll break each one of those I listed above into more detail so you can have a clearer understanding as to how I'm thinking about all this, and hopefully you can envision your program the same way.
Determine Business Goals and Objectives
Every SEO project, large or small must start with this understanding first. This will help you shape your SEO program. Is it Local, Ecommerce, International? Are they trying to build brand awareness, or capitalize on their well known brand name through new products?
Start every SEO project, large or small by learning what matters most to this site, and business. Make it a point to never start any SEO work without knowing what success means to your client or employer.
Why do they support SEO? What are their expectations of how your program will operate? Do they expect traffic and rankings to increase on day 1?
You need to be 100% clear in your communication and in the expectations you set. Yes, the pressure is on you, not the client or your boss.
That’s one of the reasons SEO can, and should be, expensive. It takes great human intervention, strategy, management and understanding as to how to positively impact sales and revenue for the site.
What is the Lifetime Value of a Customer?
Knowing what a customer is worth also helps from an ROI standpoint. Find out what an average sale is worth, then you can easily understand the worth of their organic traffic.
For example if the customer sells software for, on average, $30,000, monitoring the organic traffic that flows into those pages that bring leads into the sales team is something you can directly attribute to specific impact to the company’s revenue.
Make sure to set up goals in Google Analytics to be sure you have a way to monitor this.
Knowing this will help your client or boss understand how SEO works and how valuable it really can be.
You might ask, “What if the client’s sales aren’t as easy to figure out.?” Maybe they offer a wide variety of products or services. In that case, you’ll try to prioritize your work by starting with a section of the site you’ll initially focus on. Let’s say they sell life insurance and wealth management.
Those are two different types of products and the amount that comes into the client is also very different.
For example if they sell life insurance they might have to sell 10 policies in order to make $1000. If they have a wealth management client with a $1M in assets to manage, they might get 1% of that or $10,000 a year. So if you help them get 3 new wealth management clients that would be worth $30,000 a year to them, which would easily pay for your SEO program.
Establish the SEO Strategy
With just about every SEO program that runs, another SEO strategy goes missing.
When managing any size SEO program, you must develop an SEO strategy.
Do not rely on your client or employer to develop one, because you’ll find yourself wondering and waiting. Instead, once you’ve uncovered the answers to the first two preceding questions, you’ll have more information to develop your SEO strategy.
The strategy, by the way, is NOT a list of tactics!! That’s what supports the strategy you develop.
If the goal is to increase sales to a particular product page by X% by end of year, by increasing qualified, targeted organic traffic to that product category.
Then you can determine which set of tactics, or activities you need to employ to accomplish that set strategy. You do this, and you’ll make your life a lot easier
Develop and SEO Timeline
If you’ve gotten this far, you should notice that each of these steps should be conducted in order as they’re listed here. It’s a logical and structured format informed by strategy and data.
Now that you’ve accomplished your strategy, you need to outline the plan visually to your client, or employer. The way to accomplish this is to develop a Gantt chart, or timeline that shows what steps occur.
Make sure to include deliverables, meetings, and other activities your client or employer should be aware of. This also ensures you and your team are held accountable, keeps you and your team organized, and for those clients who like to jump ahead, keeps them in check too.
Review the SEO Strategy Quarterly
This is a great time to re-evaluate the progress of your SEO program. This isn’t to say that you should see 100% improved rankings in 90 days, but you should show performance incrementally increasing over that period. You can and should also make adjustments as needed.
Need more links to a newer, less trafficked area in the site? Maybe you need to build out more navigational content? Where are the visitors dropping off? Maybe you're driving an explosive amount of traffic to a page but the conversions are insanely low - so adding conversion rate optimization might be something that happens in the next three months.
Learn from the performance reporting, and share and inform your client or employer often.
Communicate what’s working, and, just as importantly, what’s not working.
All these points are a must in every SEO program. You’ll be perceived as a much smarter SEO when you do consider each. And when you do all this right, you can and should charge more.
- Take my SEO Program Management course: Kickstart SEO Roadmap
- Learn something about Agile project management
- Develop your SEO Strategy & Plan
Once you understand how incredibly important it is to organize your work, you’ll be forced to develop your own plan. The freelancer SEO who has an occasional SEO client with a few pages might not see a need for this formal method, but if they expect to grow and scale their business they should quickly adopt this mindset early.
By adopting some organized framework for your SEO programs you’ll bring clarity and understanding to your work, and your clients or employer will also have a much clearer idea of what’s actually involved in their SEO program.
Establishing an SEO roadmap with a plan also helps to de-commoditize SEO. Instead, it can more appropriately be looked at as the legitimate digital marketing channel that it is.One that continues to bring in more traffic and sales than any other digital marketing medium.
Now it's your turn. Let me know in the comments below what your process or framework looks like.
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