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This is our most recent S.E.O and Search Marketing strategy guide complete with news of Google's most recent algorithm updates: Panda 4.0 and "Payday Loans" 2.0. Once again we are following the S.O.S.T.A.C planning system to guide you through from situation analysis to monitoring and data analysis.
S = situation, where you are
O = objectives, what you want
S = strategy, how you get there
T = tactics, tools to help you get
A = actions, details on how to get
C = control, how to measure
*S.E.O is the acronym for search engine optimisation
SEO is the acronym for search engine optimisation. It is the practice of
designing, building and producing content for websites which serves to
increase the authority and relevance of that site; with the equal aim of
ensuring it also appears more highly ranked on search engine results pages
The phrase ‘search engine’ largely refers to Google because although there
are other search engines, like Bing and Yahoo!, Google still holds the largest
share of the search engine market, estimated at somewhere between 65-
70% of the whole (imforza).
*S.E.O is the acronym for search engine optimisation
Penguin = Links
• Low quality links
• Unnatural links
• Site wide inbound links
• Links from low quality
• Directory listings
• Paid links
Panda = Content
• Low quality content
• Thin content
• Poor user experience
• High bounce rates
• Duplicate content
• Keyword stuffing
• Natural way to search
• Customer optimisation
• Long tail keywords
• Conversational search
May 22nd 2013
= Penguin 2.0
June 11th 2013
July 18th 2013 =
October 4th 2013
= Penguin 2.1
May 20th 2014 =
Panda 4.0 and
“Payday Loan” 2.0
These are only the major Panda, Penguin, Payday Loan and Hummingbird updates over the last year, for
a comprehensive list of all the various Google Algorithm updates we recommend you visit Moz.com.
Before making changes to your existing SEO strategy, it’s always wise to
take stock of your current performance in search, to set a baseline against
which you can measure the success of the changes you implement.
Some of the information you need to provide a comprehensive baseline of
your search marketing and SEO performance are:
• Link Profile
• Number of Indexed Pages
• Search Position for Relevant Keywords
• Traffic Sources
• Website and Content Audit
Your link profile should include (at a minimum):
• The total number of backlinks to your site and how many are unique
• Where those links go to e.g. to your homepage vs product pages
• Link quality
• Anchor text used
Essentially what you need for a search engine friendly backlink profile is diversity,
quality, relevance and organic links!
These features are indicated by:
• A low ratio of unique linking domains to number of links
• A wide spread of pages linked to on your site
• High authority scores for the websites linking to yours
• Links from relevant industries and domains
• Diversity in anchor texts used – not all be branded terms or keywords.
Your keyword list should include:
• The keywords you are ranking for
• The keywords you expect to rank for
• The keywords you would like to rank for
By including these lists of keywords you can determine first, that all important baseline
for your visibility in search but second, the divergence between your actual
performance in search, your expected performance and your ideal performance.
This will help inform your new SEO strategy.
For each keyword you should certainly record your position on the S.E.R.Ps for
Google, but also Bing and Yahoo! for a fuller picture.
Traffic source data can easily be found in Google Analytics, ideally you want to see all
the sources sending traffic to your website, then you can identify the channels that are
working best for you and those that are not delivering.
Typically traffic sources to keep an eye on are:
• Organic search
• Paid search
• Direct traffic
• Referral traffic (this can include social)
Of course, which of these are most significant for your business will depend on your
existing marketing activities. E.g. if you run regular email campaigns then this is an
obvious traffic source you need to monitor.
Your website and content audit can often be a more complex baseline to work out.
Essentially you need to generate a picture of your on-page SEO and content: To do
this you can look at the following features of your website:
• H1, H2…etc. heading tags
• Title tags
• Meta descriptions
• URL structures
• Body content
Things to look out for when investigating these features are: occurrences of
duplication, frequency and diversity of keywords used (refer to your keyword lists you
generated for your keyword research) and length in terms of number of characters.
Your objectives should define exactly what the sub-title of this slide suggests: “where
you want to be” – however, they should also be attainable.
Therefore, when outlining your objectives you should refer back to those baselines
and performance results generated during your situation analysis.
E.g. if you would like to improve your visibility on search engine results pages you will
need to rank better for your existing keywords and/or rank for more.
Your rankings data will indicate how attainable this objective will be. If all your
keywords rank outside the top 10 results then this will be an attainable objective as
there is room enough for improvement without needing to improve so much that
timescales would make it impossible.
Good objectives should be smart: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and
Ensure your content is high quality, uses well researched
keywords, is a good length , fresh and regularly updated,
engaging and free from too many ads – especially above the
Ensure your HTML (on-page SEO) is up to standard with
relevant keywords in titles, headers and meta descriptions.
Ensure your site is built using an architecture that allows search
engines to crawl it well and avoids generating duplicate
content. It should load quickly, work well on a mobile devices
and have a clear URL structure.
These elements of your SEO strategy are in your control & are worth spending time on to get right.
Links to your site should be from trusted domains and have
anchor text that is relevant. Avoid spam and paid links at all
To build trust you should produce high quality content and
media that attracts links and shares. Use rel-author to verify the
identity of your content authors and maintain a consistent
You should build up a social network for your brand and engage
and converse with other respected social media users.
Your site should be making the most of local search and
displaying your location and contact details. Ideally you want to
attract people from your area and country.
When implementing your SEO strategy, a useful tactic is to outline a project
timeline. To do this you should organise tasks into long term (ongoing) jobs,
mid –term jobs and finally short term jobs.
Often with SEO strategies, the majority of work takes place in the first few
months, in other words they are front loaded.
Planning this way allows you to not only allocate time effectively, but also
schedule monthly reporting on your key performance indicators (KPIs)
another tactic well worth implementing.
Monthly reporting allows you to adjust your strategy as you go, pruning
unsuccessful campaigns and strategies from your overall plan before
anything irreversible occurs.
The actions of your SEO strategy will be the list of short, mid and long term
jobs you have identified you need to do in order to implement your strategy
and reach your targets.
This is the point at which you go beyond generalisations such as “produce
fresh content” to actually outlining what the content is, when it will be
scheduled and who will produce it.
SEO should not be tackled in isolation from your larger online marketing
strategy so when you outline your action points this is a good time to sit
down with your team and schedule activity to compliment what is happening
on other marketing channels within your business.
A action list might look something like this:
ID Item Action Days
1 Establish a plan for optimising webpages - assign each page a keyword Strategy 1
2 Add site to relevant directories Links 0.5
3 Develop a 3 month content plan for blog Strategy 0.5
4 Write, optimise and add new content to the blog Content 1
6 Review landing pages against traffic Strategy 0.5
9 Add relevant internal links where needed Dev/Links 0.5
10 Add social sharing buttons and set up rel-author Dev/Social 0.5
11 Enable WordPress SEO widget on blog Dev/Social 0.5
13 Add Landing Pages Dev/Content 1
14 Monthly Report Strategy 1
Monthly reporting on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Goals and conversions set up in Google Analytics
Keywords tracking and position ranking.
All data monitoring should be set up at the beginning of your new SEO
campaign, this way you can see the data change over time and react
You can then also compare month on month and eventually year on year
Of course it should go without saying that your Google Analytics account
should form a major part of your data collection, analysis and reporting. This
is a free resource!
The platform offers a wide range of data in its own right but you can also
connect the analytics platform to many email marketing providers too (e.g.
Pure360) and of course Google Adwords, so you can see all your data in
However, for deeper level analysis and bespoke reporting you may need a
little extra help navigating the platform and we could help you there. For
information on our Google Analytics training services please get in touch
with Laura today.
Other useful tools are:
• Google Adwords Keyword Planner
• SEO Profiler – particularly their Link Disinfection tool
• Moz Analytics
• Screaming Frog (for generating CSVs of internal and external links)
• WordPress SEO (for blogs especially)