Setting SEO Priorities: What do I do First?

I’ve already addressed the idea of outsourcing SEO or hiring someone to do it for you.  Well, the other option, of course is doing it yourself.   I’ve recently gotten several emails from friends and connections who are attempting to do just that.

While I can give the basics on keyword research, optimizing content, optimizing images, and so on, that would be an exercise in repeating what’s already been said all over the web.  Needless to say, there is a lot that can be done to a website to make it friendlier for search engines.

I find that these small business owners are running into the same problem time and again while attempting to optimize their home-grown sites on their own: they get overwhelmed.

Trust me, this is my full-time job. I know it can be overwhelming, particularly if you have a business to run on top of the SEO project!

Here are 5 tips to help you prioritize your on-page SEO project so you can get the most out of it right away:

  1. Set up Analytics. If you don’t already have an analytics program running on your site, this is a mandatory first step. You can’t make key decisions if you don’t know what people are doing when they visit your site. Do this a month or two before you plan to get started.
  2. Use the Analytics to identify your goals for your SEO project, identify 2-3 competitors for your keywords, and research your keywords so you can use that information later in your project.  Are you selling a product or service? What counts as a “conversion” from a web visitor to a sales lead? What counts as a “conversion” from a lead to a sale? How will you track that so you can improve it later?
  3. Optimize your homepage. Make sure it is fast and light, that you are encouraging clicks to deeper in your site, and that you provide basic usability on this page.
  4. Know your top-selling pages, products and topics.  Start there. If you sell more of one product than any other, work on the landing pages, product pages, and content that is relevant for that product first.  Organize the rest of your project in descending order from there. This will give the money-makers more oomph, and help you pay for the time you’re spending on optimizing your site.
  5. Keep going.  Use your analytics to check in with progress and to decide the best direction. Touch your homepage frequently, tweaking links to subpages as they gain importance and relevance, testing to see if you can get more conversions or fewer bounces.
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