Now that everyone’s warmed up a bit, between a lovely hot breakfast and walking the floor visiting different sponsor booths, we move on to the second session period. I am sitting in the SEO session, which will be discussing SEO and improving revenue. The sessions speakers include Seth Besmertnik, CEO & Co-Founder of Conductor, and John Cole, Director of Search Engine Optimization at AT&T Interactive. Here’s a quick rundown of the 5 stages of SEO maturity, as presented by Seth & John.
1. Try | SEO is a consistently changing industry, so it might be pretty intimidating when deciding how and where to start. Do your research, find the results, define the value. You’ll need to approach upper management or the person who controls the budget, and convince them why they should put company dollars towards SEO. Once you get the approvals and go-aheads necessary, you should establish your goals for SEO efforts. In the beginning, don’t complicate things. That will come later. Focus on the basics to get started:
2. Invest | Establish your SEO budget. You should define your overall SEO budget first, and then figure out how it will be allocated to different tasks. If you decide to do SEO in-house, you should ideally have someone where 50%, 70%, or 100% of their time is devoted to organic search efforts. A good model for budget allocations, as suggested by Seth, includes personnel, engineering/production, SEO technology, content, and link building. In this phase, you will be working on keyword focus expansion, content creation, and link curating. If you find someone who links to your site, and uses the anchor text “Your Brand Name,” you might want to reach out to that site and request that they change the anchor text to one of your keywords that doesn’t already rank as well as some of your brand terms might. There are several tools you can use to discover sites that link to you, one of the free ones includes Google Webmaster Tools.
One major thing to keep in mind when optimizing your site for SEO is accurately setting expectations. You want to set realistic expectations for the results of these efforts. You can’t own every word, and it will take some time to get rankings up on the keywords you’ve selected as higher priorities.
3. Measure | Although you may be pretty excited about increased rankings for a tough keyword, your boss may not care. All she wants to know is measurable ROI coming from this increase. Be sure to measure both your SEO metrics (traffic, rank, link counts, etc.) and your business metrics (ROI). As Seth mentions, you’d be pretty surprised at how many people do not know the ROI resulting from their SEO efforts.
4. Scale | Figure out what your most important keywords are and focus on those; from the presentation: “organize and prioritize.” As you grow, you want to be sure you have a plan and are completely organized so you can move gracefully into the future. In time, you may end up developing a team devoted to your company’s SEO efforts. A suggested team structure in this presentation includes a content writer, an analyst/strategist, a project manager, a link builder, and a “keyword jockey.” Starting out, the ideal situation would be to get one full-time person devoted to SEO, and build on that, creating a full-on team as your data and efforts grow.
5. Compete | Once you have begun delving more into your SEO efforts, and have been doing it for a while, think about reporting on your market share in regards to SEO. Seth suggests creating quarterly SEO market share worksheets to monitor where you stand in comparison to your competitors.