SEO is unpredictable…Results are never guaranteed.
Having a process to execute SEO mitigates risk and puts your website in the best position to succeed.
We have that SEO process.
It’s been dubbed “The Blueprint” and I’m going to share it with you.
I developed The Blueprint to help deliver high quality, scalable SEO services to clients. After I sold my agency, I started using The Blueprint on my own assets. It’s a scalable SEO framework that can be applied to any SEO campaign.
Phase 1: LEARNING
It’s critical to understand as much as possible about the website you’ll be working on. This helps us determine the best strategy the coming campaign.
This is even more important when working with clients, as you need to gather knowledge and insights while still meeting client demands to complete work.
Tasks performed during Phase 1:
- Onboarding questionnaire. A set of questions to dig into the details of the website, marketing history and business performance. This is an easy way to bring yourself up to speed on a new campaign, quickly.
- Kickoff analysis. Looking into the website’s data (Google Analytics (GA), Google Search Console (GSC), Ahrefs, SEMrush) to understand their past performance. It’s recommended to use Google Data Studio (GDS) to pull and display this data. It makes analysis a breeze.
- Internal kickoff meeting. You can’t do SEO alone, even if you’re a pre revenue soloprenuer. Use this time to get on the same page with everyone who will be working with you on the campaign.
- Competitor analysis. Deep dive into a handful of competitors to understand the market. Ideally you’ll reverse engineer their success into your strategy.
- External kickoff meeting. If you’re working with stakeholders (investors, clients or executives at your company) this is the time to get to know each others expectations. This is also a good time to give them your initial strategy.
- Project planning. There’s now enough information to build a sound project plan for the next 6 to 12 months.
- This is a tedious process (1 – 2 months), but so necessary. Phase 1 will prevent a lot of headaches in the future by getting the campaign going on the right path.
Phase 2: IMPROVING
The fastest turn around in organic traffic comes from small tweaks to existing pages. We do this through a number of audits and data crosswalks to identify key pages that can be improved to deliver a fast turn around in traffic.
Tasks performed during Phase 2:
- Website Quality Audit (WQA). A full site crawl crosswalked with important SEO data. From there, we can classify each URL on a site with an “action”. This action will determine how you deal with every page on a website (i.e. 301 redirect, update it, delete it, etc).
- Technical SEO audit. Technical SEO matters…a lot. But in all fairness, it greatly depends on the website. For example, you won’t need to do much to a small WordPress site (we use the WQA instead of a tech audit). But an enterprise eCommerce site needs hundreds of hours of tech work. Removing technical roadblocks results in instant traffic gains.
- Keyword research. Finding the right keywords (and intent) for key pages on a website. I like to look only at existing pages at this stage in the campaign. The goal is to find a better set of keywords that will allow key pages to rank better.
- Target page selection. Here is where we clearly define the key pages and their current performance. This focuses reporting on the impact of the campaign on the pages that matter most to the business.
- On page improvements. Cleaning up text, improving page titles, metas, Schema markups and keyword optimizations. Good ol fashion SEO here, and it still works really well.
- We can save resources by focusing on the assets a website already has. This pays off big because the easiest way to get more organic traffic is by improving upon what you already have.
Phase 3: BUILDING
Now we can turn our attention to creating new assets that will help drive organic exposure. This is done through finding keyword “gaps” on your website and building content to fill them.
Tasks performed during Phase 3:
- Audience persona development. Putting on paper our ideal organic visitor – who is searching for your site? Why? How can we assist them?
- Deep content audit. The WQA focuses mainly on business pages (service pages, product pages, etc). The content audit digs deep into your blog to make decisions about how to handle it. Should we rewrite it? Get rid of it? This audit is also an inventorying process – it helps us to not create new content that already exists.
- Keyword gap analysis. A scrape of your competitor websites to understand they keywords they have, that you don’t, that’s driving traffic.
- Content topic generation. Using these keyword gaps we can build out topics for content creation.
- Content management. Ensuring that content gets created, consistently.
- The steady creating of new content on a website is a cornerstone of SEO. It not only helps us rank for additional keywords, but gives us shareable assets on our website that let us join the conversation on social media.
Phase 4: PROMOTING
As you know, it’s not enough to just do “on page” corrections and create quality content. To get explosive traffic gains, you need to promote your website by acquiring links and mentions on relevant industry websites.
Tasks performed during Phase 4:
- Link audit. A deep review of the types of links you have, and the ones you should have. This will also tell you the types of links to target for your campaign (i.e. guest posts, influencers, etc).
- Link prospecting. The process of finding link opportunities.
- Link outreach. The process of pitching websites for inclusion.
- Link management. The consistent back and forth communications, negotiations and project management to ensure links are getting placed.
- Links remain an important ranking factor in SEO and they’ve gotten increasingly difficult to land. The best practice is to build a small outreach team to help you manage.
Phase 5: EVALUATING
After an SEO campaign, we go through an evaluation process to benchmark progress of the campaign. Even if you aren’t working with clients, it’s an important step to take to track the progress of your website over a certain period of time.
Tasks performed during Phase 5:
- Monthly reporting. Doesn’t matter if you’re working with clients or it’s just you, get in the habit of building ongoing reports. Again, Google Data Studio is by far the best option.
- SEO split testing. Changing page titles, metas, content types, conversion rate optimization…there’s a number of things you should be doing to make sure you’re delivering the optimal organic experience.
- Ad hoc reporting. Everything from website speed checks to closeout reports, you should have a number of reporting templates in your arsenal for all occasions.
- SEO is an ongoing process. Make sure you’re consistently checking the data and making adjustments accordingly.