SEO: a (brief) guide for business owners
There is little doubt that SEO can be a technical topic which are not easy to grasp for the non-specialist.
But from the point of view of the business leader, SEO should be about measurable improvement. And for most businesses this means increased sales and profitability.
So how can you, as a business owner, use SEO effectively to improve your business bottom-line?
By knowing what your business objectives are for the website. The problem is that often SEO objectives are vague, such as “increase organic traffic” or “page one ranking” to your site. This is not clear enough. Instead you need an objective like “increase sales by X% from increasing organic traffic”. Key Performance Indicators which will measure the efforts of the SEO campaign.
Business Objectives >> SEO Objectives >> SEO Results >> Business Results
Working out what the KPIs are isn’t always easy. This is where your Web Analytics is so powerful. Understanding the web data for your site will enable you and your SEO consultant to construct an agreed set of campaign objectives. Creating website goals is a powerful way to measure activities on your site that are important to your business. See my Article on Goal Setting.
A constructive discussion with your SEO consultant.
- Agree what your business objectives are (e.g. increases in sales or profitability).
- Review the SEO’s objectives and activities based on the priority list below.
- Use agreed KPIs to track progress against business objectives.
Agreeing SEO priorities
It is easy to jump into a whole raft of SEO tasks. At any one time there could be a huge list of potential to-do’s. The following is a list of types of SEO work, which I have put in order of importance:
- Site crawlability
This might sound obvious but unless humans and the search engines can crawl all the pages on your site then you are not going to have optimal business results. This is vastly more common than people believe. Many sites have pages that are broken, or not linked properly from other pages, images are broken.
Bottom-line: if your content is not visible it can’t help you do business.
- Site indexability
This links to (1) above but unless the Search Engines are aware of what content you have on the site then it won’t be able to put your website into the search results. Many sites can engage in practises that provide obstacles to proper indexation by Google. In serious cases you might incur a penalty which could hugely impact traffic.
Bottom-line: if the search engines can’t index your site, searchers won’t find you.
- Site Architecture
Does your site work well for visitors and search engines? Does the site navigation make sense? Are all pages linked? Are important pages difficult to get to? Is content on your page relevant and up to date?
Bottom-line: well structured site navigation and content are important for visitors and as signals about site quallity to search engines.
- Ranking well
This is clearly an important aspect of SEO but often this is the first task that many SEO’s focus on. However, unless the tasks in 1-3 are completed then you may end up spending time and effort on various ranking activities without achieving what you need.
Bottom-line: This is important but make sure the basics for site visibility and good onsite experience are in place first.
- Content (this can take the #4 spot if content on your site is weak)
Providing high quality content is continuing to be a key factor in keeping your website relevant to visitors and the search. However, content creation and curation can be an expensive business. And increasingly, there is an argument that instead of flow of average quality content, sites should concentrate on 10x content. 10x content is content that is 10x better than other content. This is based on 80/20 rule. Typically twenty percentage of (the best) content gets eighty percent of readership and social mentions.
Bottom-line: invest in good quality content for your site so that your visitors can complete their tasks.
- You don’t have to be a SEO expert.
- Focus on realistic business objectives (usually sales or profitability)?
- When you agree objectives with your SEO consultant, make sure that the SEO objectives will contribute to your key business objectives.
- Use Analytics to ensure that you have KPIs in place that both you and the SEO can access. You may be interested to read my post on using Analytics to help you avoid expensive SEO mistakes.
- Use the SEO strategy priority list to help you discuss which tasks to begin with.