Last Updated on 2nd January 2024
SEO can be daunting for small businesses entering the world of digital marketing for the first time. Expectations are high, and quite often unrealistic, and your strategy feels like you have a mountain to climb wearing flip-flops.
It helps to have some understanding of what search engine optimisation involves and what you should can reasonably expect to achieve. To help you we have outlined a six month plan for guidance.
Research and discovery
Before steaming ahead with your SEO campaign, you need a strategy. You should already have an idea about your target market, but do you know how to connect with them online?
To get the best results from your SEO campaign, you will need to be active on social media networks to help raise your visibility.
There are several choices so you need to decide which will work best for your business. It is impossible to manage them all, so choose two and stick with them.
Use social media to find your target audience and get a feel for the type of content they are engaging in. You should also learn about how to best manage social media marketing campaigns.
You also need to address technical issues with on-page SEO. Is your website optimised for search engines? In other words, do you have keywords that are relevant to your business in the right place (headlines, sub-heads, metadata).
It is important that you have a good spread of keywords for search engines to index. Keywords should be relevant to your industry and feature the search terms you would expect end-users to type in search engines.
The final task for the first month is to plan out a content strategy. If you don’t already have a blog, get one. Ideally you should be posting at least two articles a week on your blog and feeding it through your social media networks.
Start content creation
Content creation is a big ask and it is best to get started as soon as possible. The first place to start is your website. Is your sales copy converting browsers into buyers. Do you even have any sales copy or just an image with the product details?
Search engines and customers appreciate information so give them something useful on every page. If you sell products, write a brief product description and describe the benefits. Let the customer know how long they can expect to receive their order.
Start publishing content on your blog and posting to your social media networks. Don’t worry if you do not get a lot of reader engagement immediately, it can take several months before you start to make an impression. However, if your content is good enough, you can expect to generate traffic and leads.
Build on social and content
In the third month, concentrate on building social media followers and building your content portfolio. Your content should be varied; short articles, long articles, images, infographics.
Monitor social media followers for people liking and sharing your content. Send them a quick note to thank them for showing an interest. Don’t try to sell them anything!
Building a healthy link profile
Link building is an important aspect of building trust and authority with search engines so that you are rewarded with a higher standard in search engine rankings.
Month four is a good time to start a link building strategy as by now you already have some content on your blog to play with. Start by internal links. Your content strategy should refer back to some earlier posts so include links back to that page in current content.
You should also be including outbound links to third party sites that are relevant to the content you are writing about. This may be an article that contains information to back up a point you are making, or a recommendation for you readers.
For example, if you sell electronic goods, you should point outbound links to industry magazines. This might be to a specific product, or a list of recommendations such as the best camera phone for 2015.
Building an online profile
By the fifth month you should be looking to raise your visibility and build an online profile. This means writing for third party sites such as online industry magazines or other bloggers that cover subjects related to your business.
You can also raise you online profile through social media networks. A new wave of social networks such as Medium and Quora encourage users to publish content in specific categories.
Research new social media networks and determine which is the best fit for your business. The benefit of these networks are that you have a ready-made audience who actively look for content on subjects you are writing about so increase your chances of engagement.
Overtime, you can also position yourself as an expert in your field which increases your visibility and attracts more visitors. It also increases your chances of natural inbound links which are great for your trust and domain authority in search engine rankings.
Analyse content engagement
After six months you should be in a position to pull some reasonable analytical data to determine what type of content is receiving the most engagement. This is an important task at this stage as it will shape your content strategy for the next six months.
The sixth month is also a good time to assess your lead generation and conversion rates. If they are lower than expected, are there any improvements you can make to you on-page content or your sales funnel.
It takes around six months before SEO really starts to have any effect on your search engine standings and engagement. From here you can expect to gradually build and improve your SEO and ultimately increase your sales profits.