What Are the Most Important Priorities for a New SEO Campaign?
There's a lot to do, and months, or even years of work ahead of you. So what are your biggest priorities? What should you tackle first if you want your campaign to take off as soon as possible?
Starting an SEO campaign from scratch can be difficult. You have no established domain authority, you probably don't have any content developed yet and you may not have a strategic direction for your campaign. There's a lot to do and months — or even years — of work ahead of you.
So what are your biggest priorities? What should you tackle first if you want your campaign to take off as soon as possible?
The complexity of SEO
First, we need to address the complexity of SEO and what makes it so complex.
Two major forces are making this strategy intimidating and difficult for newcomers. The first is Google's ranking algorithm. There are hundreds of different ranking factors taken into consideration when choosing which content to rank. Understanding all these ranking factors takes time, and even if you're familiar with all of them, it's difficult to sort out which ones are most important for your website at a given time.
The second is competition. Even if you're a true innovator, starting a new industry, you're going to face at least some competition when ranking for commonly searched keyword terms. How are you going to navigate that?
Timing and development
Here's the good news. SEO is a long-term strategy. There are some downsides to this; it's probably going to be at least weeks and probably months before you start seeing results. But because you have so much time to work with, and so many opportunities to change your strategy, what you do in the first couple of weeks isn't going to make or break your campaign.
That said, you can get started faster and start seeing results sooner if you choose the right priorities.
So what are the right priorities?
- Strategic direction. First, I think it's important to establish your strategic direction. What are you hoping to achieve with this campaign? Are you simply trying to drive more organic traffic, or are you attempting to dethrone a specific competitor? Is there a specific collection of keyword terms you want to rank for, or are you seeking more generic dominance? What is your timeline, and how much are you willing to spend? These high-level questions are going to dictate your strategy from here on out, so it's important to answer them rather than flying blind and hoping for the best.
- Keyword research. Next, tackle your keyword research. When developing content, building links and handling your other responsibilities, keywords are going to guide many of your choices. If you have a solid list of primary and secondary keywords to target, you're going to find it much easier to navigate the rest of your campaign.
- Website establishment and functionality. Your website is truly the heart of your SEO campaign, so building and polishing your website should be your next priority. There are dozens, if not hundreds of technical factors to address, but to start, you should be focused on making your website as functional, clean and efficient as possible. In other words, make it work and make it pretty.
- Core website pages. The core pages of your website are going to be the ones informing your users about your business and your services. These are going to be some of the most important pages to rank, and they're going to be some of the most important pages for establishing your authority. Because of this, you should work on writing and developing them before any of your other pages. Make sure all of them have ample, well-written content and that they're optimized for specific target keyword phrases.
- Indexing success. Once your site is all up and running, it's important to make sure that your site is indexed properly. Double-check your robots.txt file, and upload your sitemap to Google directly. Then, exercise some patience, as it sometimes takes a few weeks for Google to fully index your site. Check back frequently to make sure your website is showing up.
- Initial backlinks. With your website properly indexed, you're off to the races. It's time to start building some initial backlinks to your website to start building authority. Just don't build backlinks too quickly, because a new website attracting too many links too quickly is a red flag that could get you penalized.
- Ongoing onsite content (and more). If you aren't already, now is the time to start pushing more ongoing onsite content and settle into a pattern for the future of your campaign.
There's some room for debate on this topic, but there's no questioning that the priorities I've listed are important to address in the early stages of your campaign. The order in which you address them, and whether you address them concurrently are more up for discussion. In any case, it's important to sit down, evaluate your goals and set a direction for your campaign before you start making actionable moves.
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