Strategic SEO management: My process to reaching Google’s page 1

Picture this:

You’ve just published your new site, you’ve launched a paid ad campaign on Facebook with a serious media buyer, and you’re ready to lean back and watch the results roll in. Except you’re not converting as many leads as you’d likeeven after running retargeting ads. 

What gives? No matter how much you spend, test, and tweak, the leads are poor, and the acquisition cost is way too high. 

Here’s another scenario:

Imagine you’ve got enough trustworthy and authoritative content pieces on your site (only a handful), but they’re driving a decent amount of traffic. And not just random traffic, but traffic that’s converting at a healthy rate. At this point, you decide you want to scale with paid ads. (In other words, you want to scale what is already working.) 

And boom. It works. 

Nice. But what’s that got to do with Strategic SEO management, exactly?

Not so fast. First, let’s cover what an SEO does. 

As a business owner, you should know that an SEO is someone who works to rank your pages higher in Google. But it’s not just that. It’s to ensure they’re driving the right organic traffic to your business (traffic that’s likely to convert, or to help meet any other business objectives). 

SEOs typically fall under one or more of these categories:

On-page SEO: This SEO focuses on content that’s on the page. In other words, think of this person as a highly skilled content writer who’s also data driven and understands how to write for your target audience and keep them engaged. (That’s moi.)

Off-page SEO: This SEO focuses on link building. Think of this person as a PR specialist who uses data to identify potential contacts worth reaching out to (authorities who are likely to link back to your site). Such an individual will be highly skilled in establishing relationships and cold emailing to move the target to take action. 

Technical SEO: This SEO focuses on the good stuff like page speed optimization and making sure your site looks smashing on mobile (and other devices too, of course).


Can we talk about Strategic SEO management yet?

Strategic SEO management is the strategic execution of your SEO. It involves executing your SEO strategy to boost your organic visibility and fulfill your business objectives. On a more granular level, this might entail producing content based on a solid content and keyword plan as well as link building (reaching out to relevant authorities to get them to link back to your site). 

But not just any content. The content has to be solid enough and based on enough data for the SEO to know that it’s got a pretty good chance to rank on Page 1 of Google. 

It differs from “just” SEO management because you can easily hand off your business to an agency to manage your SEO, but one common issue is that these agencies tend to narrow the focus onto their specialization, rather than looking at where SEO fits in terms of your overall business strategy. 

A lot goes into it, which is why many major businesses with marketing departments, as well as many marketing agencies, choose to outsource their SEO management efforts to remote SEOs (or content writers well versed in SEO, who aren’t real SEOs; instead, they’re writers who understand the principles behind SEO, but don’t use the necessary tools to track things like search volume and keyword difficulty when assessing the potential to rank for a certain keyword or topic).


So do I need to hire someone in-house? Or hire a freelancer?

That depends, but hiring a remote worker comes with a whole can of problems, mainly concerning reliability, communication, trust, and meeting deadlines over time. Someone who can make you look good and knows what they’re doing, and uses paid and professional tools to stand out from the competition. Someone who makes your job easier and gives you peace of mind.

Or you could hire an agency. But such considerations are outside the scope of this article. For now, let’s assume you want the DIY option. In that case, below I share with you my exact process and my thoughts and reasoning behind each, so you can follow along.

 

An SEO Strategy to rule them all

If you currently don’t have an SEO strategy in place, here’s a diagram giving you a general overview of the entire process.


Step 1. Audit your business

An audit always starts with your website. This is your home base. Think of your social media channels as extensions of this, where you ultimately want to drive traffic to, and convert. The objective of the audit is to determine where your strengths are, and where your weaknesses lie. Pretty simple, right?

This step involves diving into Google Analytics and Google Search Console, as well as the platform your site is based on, be it WordPress, Shopify, or something else. It may also involve using an SEO tool like Ahrefs to determine your top ranking pages and keywords, and to see things like what percentage of traffic you get from specific pages on your site. 

But this isn’t just a content audit. 

The results of your audit should spit out actionable information that gives you clear guidelines on where to take your business. But not all of it involves data. Here’s where a great content writer can do wonders for your brand voice. 

They can also lend an outsider’s eye, one that’s critically trained. I’m sure you agree that every brand has a personality, and if the business is on the right track, it’s been blessed with a voice as well. If your business has a blog, it’s got these. So the SEO writer’s job would be to flesh out this voice with the content, while ensuring that it resonates with your target audience and furthers your goals.


Protip: Don’t just know your target audience. When it comes to SEO, you must know your target audience’s authorities.

 

You’ll have heard it a thousand times. Know thy target audience. But in terms of SEO, it just isn’t going deep enough. That’s because it’s all fine and good to write something your target audience will love reading. 

But to get that piece of content ranked on Google? It won’t help if a few of your targets share it on social media, or even a link from their blog. To rank with the serious folks who rank consistently on Page 1 of Google, you need to produce content that your target audience’s authorities will link back to.

People they read and follow. This not only tells Google that authorities in your space trust you; linking to you means you’ll get greater exposure and access to the authorities’ audiences, who’ve done all the work for you by building up their base over time. 


Step 2. Analyze the competitive landscape

It takes research to determine who your real competitors are. When I was agency creative director at Right Hook Digital, many business owners I spoke with in the ecom space were almost always off the mark when I asked them who their competitors were.

That’s because they were thinking of who they wished their competitors were, but their data pointed elsewhere. More than competitors, these were brands the client aspired to be like. But in actually competing for market share, fat chance. Not even a blimp on the radar. 

Another important point to consider is whether you can actually outrank your competitors for your chosen topics (which ties in nicely with the next step of the process).

But hey, here’s a really quick and easy way to do this for free: 


Step 1. Think of your key term and input it into Google. If you’re a dog brand selling leashes, maybe “dog leashes”. 

Step 2. See what types of articles come up on Page 1. Are there any patterns in terms of topic? What sorts of articles would you be writing about that are similar to these? 

Step 3. Note down the domains. Some of these will be competitors. Others will be authorities we want links from. 

And that’s it! The free, quick, and easy way. 


Step 3. Devise a content strategy based on keyword & topic research + competitive analysis + audit

This is where it all comes together.

See, a content strategy isn’t just a list of content ideas with keywords we can rank for. We can bring in all the traffic in the world, but in a way, raw traffic is just a vanity metric. That’s because there’s no guarantee that the traffic will purchase.

That’s why we have to devise a content strategy that takes into consideration your business objectives. Need more leads? Then we’ll research content that mainly drives traffic with this search intent. Have an affiliate site? Then we’ll target those who want to purchase the products you’re featuring in your articles.

Every business is different, so you need to ensure that your objectives are in line as well. For instance, if you want to drive only local leads, then another thing to consider is to make sure you’re signed up with Google My Business, and the keywords you’re targeting are locational (example: “real estate office near me”). 

Finally, instead of focusing on keyword research, focus on topic research. Google’s algorithm is getting smarter. That means the good ole’ days of keyword stuffing are gone. That means content is reigning even harder than ever before. 

You ever hear the expression, “Content is King”? By that standard, today, exceptionally well-written content is god. 


So two questions to ask yourself before you pick a topic:

  1. Can you rank for that topic?
  2. Can you match the search intent for your target audience? (In other words, will driving traffic to this chosen topic result in more money to line your pockets?) 

 

Step 4. Optimize your site

We’re not just sweating the technical stuff here, like page speed, UX & UI, and mobile responsiveness. Here, if you’re savvy enough, you’ll take a more holistic view, one involving some light conversion rate optimization (CRO) techniques, as well as putting on your marketing strategy hat to ensure that all your funnels are correctly in place, the steps are linked up, and you’re ready to run with it and track your results.

For instance, if you’re an ecom store, you should be displaying your IG feed on your product pages, or at least featuring testimonials. Are your product photos of the highest quality, and do they lend a tactile feel to the shopper? Are there enough trust signals in place? Are you doing bundles? How are you packaging your offers? How are you maximizing your customer lifetime value by getting customers to come back for more? 


Step 5. Receive monthly reports (and take action!) 

Some marketing heads gloss over monthly reports, and who can blame them? They’re busy people. But these reports carry a ton of actionable value, and they just need a bit of interpretation to extrapolate meaningful data. 

If you gloss over them, you won’t act on them, and unfortunately, many SEOs (agencies included) simply deliver an automated data sheet, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get a few comments here and there, but it won’t come with a list of actions you need to take. 

So real quick, below I provide a little context for the key metrics you should be focusing on. 


The gold in your monthly reports

Keyword tracking: Although topics have taken on greater importance over keywords in SEO, your keywords tracked still give you the best indication of search volume and what you’re ranking for, as well as your position relative to your competitors. 

Competitor tracking: Tracking your \competitors yields real results over time, since competing in terms of SEO means you’re essentially competing for “free” traffic. This means the content you produce and promote are competing against these websites for the top results on Google.

Number of backlinks: The number of backlinks is one of the most crucial metrics you should track, because this metric tells Google algorithm NOT just how many people are linking back to you, but whom.

The who is important here because a link from a major brand’s blog is much more valuable than from a random blog. As I mentioned earlier, this is also a great indicator to gauge if people influential in your place actually deem your content to be linkworthy. 

Domain ranking: This one’s a critical gauge of your overall authority. This one’s important because the higher it is, the fewer backlinks you’ll need to rank, because Google knows people trust your domain. However, keep in mind that Google places less importance on the domain level over the page-specific level.

And don’t take this as an excuse to skimp out on link building either. Even with a high domain authority, a lower competitor might view it as an opportunity to attack your position if they can score some seriously awesome links with great content. 

Conversions: Last but not least, if you’ve got a business, then you’ve got business goals. Your primary goal? Conversions. Whether that’s an immediate sale or a lead generated via your contact form, the objective is to meet, or ensure that we’re well on your way to meeting your goal. 

In the end, we study these monthly reports to see where you’re gaining versus losing, and what actions you need to take to continue to improve and build. This is why SEO management is ongoing: You’ll need to continue to publish amazing content to keep climbing the ranks and boost your domain authority. 


SEOooooo…. What do you think?

Think you’ve got what it takes to try it out yourself and rank your articles? What do you think about this overview? Can you think of a better way to run your SEO strategy? 

As I think you can tell from my article, I’ve barely grazed the surface. SEO management isn’t so cut and dry, and everyone has their own “best” way to execute their system. But irrespective of whether you choose to learn to do it yourself or hire someone, as a leader in your business, I hope this overview was helpful and will give you the confidence to take on your SEO goals. 

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