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Three Steps to Kick-Start Your SEO Success

March 29, 2013

It’s always a good time to take stock of one of the most promising customer acquisition channels at your disposal: natural search. By following these three steps, organizations of any size can establish a strong, scalable foundation for a successful SEO program in 2013 and beyond.

Step 1: Understand the Opportunity in Natural Search

The first step in any marketing endeavor is to understand the size of the opportunity for your company in your vertical. There are plenty of search market opportunity calculators out there that can help by letting you input the keywords you care about, and your current rank to calculate your current market share. Before doing anything else, go through this exercise. It will help you understand the size of your current market and your position within it, and you will leverage the analysis in future steps to help make the business case to management.

Step 2: Grab the Quick Easy Wins

Now that you’ve established the size of the opportunity, before approaching management to lobby for budget, we’re going grab some quick wins in the search engine listings so that when you do make your case for budget you’ll have some recent traffic/conversion increases from search that can be offered as a ‘taster’ of what could be achieved with a budget commitment.

One way of capturing some quick wins in search is to target ‘striking distance’ keywords—keywords for which you are currently ranking on page 2 of the search results. Find a handful of keywords for which you are ranking on page 2. These keywords should walk the line between:

Having enough monthly searches that the incremental traffic you receive from moving up the search rankings is enough to be interesting to management.

Not too many searches so as to be too competitive (and therefore too difficult to make headway).

After using these criteria to choose your keyword set, develop some content, tweak on-page factors such as title tags or get out there and build some links to get them moving up the search rankings onto page one.

Step 3: Buy-In, Buy-In, Buy-In

Now that you’ve got (1) your market opportunity assessment and (2) quick wins in hand, you’re going to shine your shoes, put on your Sunday best and make the case to your organization to buy-in to natural search as a legitimate traffic and sales channel. Do this with the one-two punch of the potential of the channel with the market assessment and the quick wins that show what can be achieved with proper budget allocation.

For most SEO professionals, getting company buy-in is an ongoing process that takes place often throughout the year. There are two groups to whom you will be appealing: management for budgetary buy-in, and the rest of the organization whose help you will need to enlist to be able to make real progress in the search results.

Watch out for the classic blunder that many make in striving to make a case to the organization by talking about search-centric rather than revenue-centric metrics. The CMO doesn’t care if you have moved from position 12 to position 6 for a keyword, though he does care that revenue from search has increased by 28%. If you have persistent issues in getting management buy-in to search, check out Overcoming the Catch 22 of Investing In Search Without Proof of Suc… for a more detailed approach in how to win budget.

Natural search is among the most important inbound channels a marketer has at his or her disposal, but knowing where to start can be daunting. By completing the three steps above you have successfully:

  • 1. Identified the market opportunity in front of you;
  • 2. Achieved some initial natural search success; and
  • 3. Made the case to management for budget and buy-in.

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