SEO is complex, but it does not need to be. As with any strategic activity if you develop a methodology or process you can give yourself a pre-defined set of stages which drastically simplifies the process.

Due to the mystique of SEO and tons of articles written on small elements of search engine optimisation and marketing, I decided it was time someone wrote an article that dealt with the big picture. Companies that cannot afford to outsource their SEO to an expert need an overview to all the stages involved, not just snippets that have limited value on their own.

A best practice approach to Search Engine Optimisation should include the following 10 stages.

Site Performance Audit
Objectives Setting
Project Plan
Keyword Analysis & Selection
Content Development
Site Structure Optimisation
Link Building
Search Engine Submission
Reporting & Analysis
Maintenance & Improvement

Each upcoming Search Engine Newsletter will deal with each one of these in detail. This edition will deal with the Site Performance Audit.

Step 1 – Site Performance Audit

Before beginning work, you should measure how your site is performing with SEO currently. It’s a mistake to start work unless you have a clear picture of where you are now because if you change something it could make things worse without you ever knowing. Ideally, you should measure the following:-

Search Engine Inclusion – this will tell you how many pages of your site is included on each major search engine index. Remember if your site is not even included in the search engine indexes, you are wasting your time trying to increase your positions.

Link Popularity Check – this will tell you how many incoming links you have to your site. Remember that having incoming links from ‘relevant’ sites is a crucial factor for improving search engine positioning.

Search Engine Rankings – an obvious one, although remember that if your Search Engine Inclusion score is zero, then you will not be ranked for any search phrase.

Traffic Statistics – get a free trial of a web analytics package that shows your sites Unique Visitors and Referring Search Phrases. Crucially, you will be able to calculate your sites conversion rate which is the ratio of Unique Visitors to Conversions. Your conversion could be an information request, free trial or brochure download. Referring search phrases is also crucial, as you could be getting lots of high positions, but no resulting traffic!

Our How To Guides explain how to do all the above yourself. Alternatively, we can do this free on your behalf, as we have automated tools that do it for us.

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About the author:

Phil Robinson is an online marketing consultant with over 17 years experience in marketing planning, internet strategy and online acquisition. In 2004, Phil founded ClickThrough, an ethical search marketing agency. He gives best practice training for businesses, runs seminars and writes books on digital marketing.