We all get the calls and the spam emails promising to make us number one in Google. These come from companies all over the world, promising things that we know they cannot possibly deliver. We know logically that someone can’t promise you that they can get you number one rankings without even knowing your business or even what you’d like to be found for! Still, search engine optimization is something we all work on, whether you do it yourself, hire a management company, or an outside agency. But, before you do anything here is a list of 5 things you should determine before starting any search engine optimization campaign.
What do you want to be found for?
This is the most basic, but also the most important thing. Seems simple, but a lot of companies and businesses can’t tell you. Until you determine what key phrases you want to be found for, you should not proceed. Because no matter how legitimate the company you’re working with is, if they don’t know what to shoot for, then chances are they will fail.
Are you looking for local or broad search engine ranking improvement?
This is very important. Depending on what you do, you can focus all your energy on local search improvement which is a much faster and many times a more successful process. For instance, if you are a plumber in Smalltown, USA, Getting found for Smalltown USA plumber is a lot easier than being found for plain old “plumber”. This is simple, in small town USA there are a limited number of plumbers, where as nationwide there 10s of thousands. Now if your company is an e-commerce company selling to customers nationwide or even globally, the process is much different.
Where are you today?
Before you start a campaign, you need to know where you are ranked at this moment in time. Otherwise you will not be able to see if your SEO work paid off or not. Simply type in the search phrase looking to be found for, and see where you come up. There are also many free SEO tools to do some preliminary tests. But be aware, many of these are trying to sell you something, so be sure you don’t get yourself tied into some kind of commitment.
Set reasonable expectations.
Before you start, try and come up with a reasonable measurement. What would you view as a success? Now, it is simple to say I want to be number 1 for 300 key phrases. (wouldn’t we all?) But that isn’t reality. If you have a much more competitive key phrase, then perhaps being on the first page of Google is a solid goal. This is also very good test of the company you’re working with. If you tell them you want to be number one for 15 or 20 key phrases and they say no problem, then it is a good time to end the relationship.
Be ready to commit time and resources.
A lot of of true search engine optimization has to do with adding consistent, quality content. A lot of that is in the form of news and blog postings. Now, while you can hire people to write it for you, the best material is likely written by you or someone that works for your company. Because you don’t want content to be written just for search engines, because that fails. Search engine’s are looking for the best possible search results, not ghost written garbage. So if you aren’t willing to put in the time or at least have a resource in your company put in the time, then perhaps should not be planning and SEO campaign.
Search engine optimization is not an instantaneous process. It requires research, and ongoing improvements. Since the Internet is still a very relatively new science, a cottage industry of SEO companies have propped up and made false promises for years. So, follow these five steps before you even speak to an SEO firm and you will be better off in the long run.
Originally published July 7, 2017 on Business2Community.com