Basic SEO plan in 7 steps

Starting a SEO Plan is not a difficult exercise. However, for many people, getting started with a SEO plan sounds daunting and rather confusing.  I’m here to tell you it needn’t be. With some basic processes in place you’re site will start to climb the search ranks organically and won’t cost you a penny (cent)

SEO research

If you know your website - its structure and content – then creating a SEO plan is more about order and process and then staying on top of it to monitor its success. Whilst I’m not going to delve into specific SEO techniques (url submission, white-hat tricks, content optimisation, link building etc) I’m am going to concentrate on the sites information structure and how that relates to optimisation. My SEO plan can be used across different types websites so there are no limits to it.

Before you embark on this process you need to firmly establish goals – absolute goals. For example, By 30th May 2009 the keyword ‘seo’ will rank within the top 50 on Google.co.uk. If you look at this goal statement nothing is unclear – date, keyword, position and search engine. Make it clear and unambiguious. Also, to help identify keywords / key phrases I’d suggest use your team – you/marketing, sales, management… people who really know this market and do not use terms/phrases that use the same name as your url/domain/title. For example, Apple would not use the keyword ‘Mac’ as a measure – it’s obvious that the term ‘Mac’ would naturally rank highly anyway. 

The basic SEO plan in 7 easy steps:

1. Research.
Look at your existing analytical data (website report) and see what visitors are searching. This is a great starting point and can tell you a lot about your visitors behaviour and needs. Remember to eliminate the url/domain/title from this list. These people already know the product/title exists so no need to optimise it.

2. Targets.
Make sure you have an objective and achievable targets set in place (see ‘Mac’ example above). Then do some benchmarking so you have a starting point.

3. Collaborate.
Use your team – you/marketing, sales, management… people who really know this market – to identify not only keywords, but key phrases too for every part of your website (for multi-channel websites).

4. Filter/Sort.
When you have a pool of data (feedback) sort it and remove generic terms that you know no one would search for e.g. water. DON’T bother with data that includes your url/domain/title – that should be picked up naturally with little effort.

5. Prioritise.
You can’t target every single keyword/phrase at once. Look at starting off with the top ten or top three (multi-channel) and ensure your team knows what’s been targeted.

6. Documentation.
Make sure all your research, your plans and keyword/phrase identification is clearly documented and shared. Circulate this list of agreed keywords/phrases to your team so they all know what’s been targetted.

7. Monitoring.
To ensure you stay on track and can see progress you need to set up some sort of monitoring and record/log it. There are many ways you can do this. A fantastic free tool called Rank Checker, SEOBook.com is a Firefox add-on which allows you to check and export your SEO ranking.

In summary, the SEO plan sets out to provide you with a guide of what to do – a logical step-by-step guide.  The SEO plan only gets you started, it does not cover implementing your plan.

Ensure that you re-evaluate and adjust your activity if it’s not working and do more of the same if you find your activitie increase your SEO rankings.

Your Twitter profile

Listen and observe

Social Media experts often advise that your profile (that describes you or introduces you) is an important part of your online identity and existence. Without a concise and relevant biography visitors to your profile have no way of knowing who you are or what interests you? Remember, for people to join your world there needs to be that shared interest. How does a potential follower know there’s a common interest immediately? Your profile.

Know the detail

Twitter profile panel (@robenslin)When you begin constructing your Twitter profile spend time piecing the detail so that makes human sense (not marketing sense) – as if you were introducing yourself to someone for the first time perhaps? Make sure it’s not waffle and that it says what it is – short, concise and accurate. Your public profile detail includes: Name, Username, More Info URL, One Line Bio, Location. Ensure that when you set up your account you give careful attention to these five fields.

If you don’t have a website (blog) leave it blank – do not add some random url in that field.

Twitter by it’s nature only allows you limited field length to describe yourself so be prudent. The best way to know whether your biography reads correctly is to read it out allowed – to yourself (or better someone else) and humanise (amend for humans) if required.

The avatar and background

Avatar with faceIn a social networking world (here we’re using Twitter) you are your brand. Your face is key. There are successful Twitter users who have abstract images or non-face-like avatars with many followers, however to build your Twitter community and connect, seeing a face ‘tells’ the viewer that there’s a real person on this account.  Having a face for your avatar is like meeting and being introduced to a group of people for the first time – people can see you and start to understand you. This human element is partly how ambient intimacy develops between followers, trust then develops and communities formed. If you need more profile information or branding, Twitter has a customise background option which is very useful. Here’s a great example of a funky background which supplements this Titter account well.

Expert view

Julius Solaris (Why your Twitter profile matters.)

With every online profile, the rule of thumb is either you have a good one or you don’t have one at all.

An incomplete profile not only unhelpful in facilitating conversation of whatever your objective is with a social network, but it can actually cause harm to what you are aiming for. My basic suggestion is to complete a profile each and every time where there is a prompt by the platform.

If Twitter asks you for your location, it’s a good practice to include your actual location you live in. I don’t  tend to follow people who answer “citizen of the world” or indicate just their country. If the objective of having a Twitter profile is fun and personal that may be relevant, but if you actually value Twitter as a great tool to exchange timely and relevant information, that is not the case.

Most people suggest having a customized background with your picture and other information. On one hand that may indeed be helpful, however on the other hand sometimes not and I’ve witnessed incredible abuses of the latter, with extremely flashy adaptations. When in doubt leave it as it is or choose simple backgrounds that facilitate reading of your tweets. Noise is not a good thing.

Your twitter name is the most important aspect of your profile management. Every time (100%) you start with a funny name, you will end up changing it causing a lot of distress for your followers. That happens for two main reasons:

  • Firstly, because most of us start using Twitter as a fun tool, then they discover that it is actually more serious than that. Therefore, chatting with your boss as @thecooldrunk becomes immediately irrelevant.
  • Secondly, there are more and more Twitter events which use name tags with your Twitter name on it. It’s not appropriate to mingle and meeting new people as @lonelycreep.

Lastly, another key point in choosing your Twitter name is to keep it short so that when people need to @reply you they don’t waste much of their precious 140 (letter characters) real estate. Again, as a rule of thumb variations of your first name with initials of your surname are fine. @NameSurname is also fine provided you do not have a very long name.

[with thanks to Julius Solaris]