How to SEO Work?
There's a common misconception that SEO is a "one and done" task - that you clean up and optimize a site, and once that's done, you can focus your efforts elsewhere. There's so much more to the day-to-day work of an SEO, though, and in today's Whiteboard Friday, Rand walks us through those ongoing parts of the job.
For reference, here's a still of this week's whiteboard!
Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week I want to tackle a question I get sometimes about the day-to-day activities of an SEO and what should you do after you've completed that first site audit, sort of fixed the problems, what does the day-to-day work look like?
A lot of SEOs, especially those coming from consulting backgrounds or who've joined companies as in-house SEOs who've had kind of this big project based SEO work to do, find themselves struggling after that's done. Typically, that process is pretty straightforward. You kind of do an audit. You look at all the things on the site. You figure out what's wrong, what's missing, where are opportunities that we could execute on. Maybe you do some competitive analysis, some market analysis. You identify those fixes. You work with teams to make those changes, validate the results have been completed, and then you're sort of in this, "Well, do I go back and audit again and try to iterate and improve again?"
That doesn't feel quite right, but it also doesn't necessarily feel quite right to go to the very, very old-school SEO model of like, "All right, we've got these keywords we're trying to rank for. Let's optimize our content, get some links, check our rankings for them, and then try to rinse and repeat and keep improving." This model's pretty broken I'd say and just not reflective of the reality of opportunities that are in SEO or the reality of the tactics that work today.
So the way that I like to think about this is the SEO audit, an SEO focused audit - which is trying to say, "What traffic could we get? What's missing? What's broken and wrong?" - only works at the low level and the very tactical trenches of a marketing process or a business process. What you really need to do is you want to be more incrementally based, but you need to be informed by and you need to be evolving your tactics and your work based on what is the business need right now.
So this process is about saying, "What are the top level company and marketing goals overall? For everyone in the company, what are we trying to accomplish this year, this quarter, the next three year plan? What are we trying to achieve?" Then figure out areas where SEO can best contribute to that work, and then from there you're creating tactical lists of projects that maybe you're going to positively move the right needles, the ones that you've identified, and then you're going to evaluate and prioritize which ones you want to implement first, second, and third in what order, and test implement those.
So, hey we've figured out that we think that a new blog section for this particular piece of content, or we think that getting some user generated content, building up some community around this section would be terrific, or we think outreach to these kinds of publications or building up our social stats in these worlds will expose us to the right people who can earn us the amplification we'll need to rank better, etc., etc. Okay, this is a fine process, and you're going to want to do this, I would say, at least annually and maybe even think about it quarterly.
All this work is essentially centered on a customer profile universe, a universe of people. I've got my person X, Y, and Z here, but your customer universe may involve many different personas. It may involve just one type of person you're targeting that you're always trying to reach over and over again, but it probably involves also the people who influence that direct subsection of your market.
From there, you can take the, "Hey, you know what, person Z is really interested in and consumes and searches for these types of content topics and these kinds of keywords, so we're going to start by taking keyword set A or content set A and figure out our keyword list and our content list. We're going to create, launch, and promote work that supports that." It could be content pieces, could be video, could be some combination of those things in social media, all forms of content. It could be tools, whatever you want, an application.