Estimated Read Time: 5 Minutes
This small business search engine optimization (SEO) process uses Google and industry-sanctioned best practices. It has been tuned to maximize efficiency, affordability, and effectiveness.
Our small business SEO process has 5 phases or steps. It begins with an understanding of your business and market. The cycle (not process) completes when goals are met and results measured. Processes don’t end. They are meant to cycle and repeat. The beauty of a process lies in the lessons learned along the way. By doing something over and over again, one learns:
- the actions that achieve the desired outcome;
- the ones that don’t; and
- the ones that are redundant, pointless, excessive, and/or wasteful.
Through continuous learning, you end up with a process that gets you to the endpoint faster, cheaper, and with a better outcome.
Our search engine optimization (SEO) process is reviewed and updated continuously.
Step 1 – Understand Your Business and Market
The first step of the process helps us understand what we need to know to get you to the top of search results and compel visitors to take action.
Nowadays, because there is so much competition, you really have to differentiate yourself to stand out and be noticed. When a visitor has little time and many choices, you need to quickly convey why he or she should pick you and not your competition. Are you faster, cheaper, or better than their other choices? Are you more accessible? Do you have a broader or deeper offering? What would compel visitors to want to do business with you?
This step is our opportunity to learn about your business and market, how best to serve you, and for us to begin to set expectations around what we will need from you and how long it will take to begin to see results.
This first step is critical. If we don’t get it right, nothing else matters.
Step 2 – Assess The Current Situation
Step 2 involves digging into your website from the perspective of a search engine and first-time visitor. The goal is to understand what’s working well and where there is room for improvement.
We look at the things search engines and visitors care about. We assess your website’s architecture, content, and links. We review efforts you have taken to gain exposure and approval from your peers, prospects, and customers. And we look at technical SEO – can search engine spiders find, read and understand your website content? Can searchers?
This step is, by nature, negative. We want to find problems so we can fix them. If there were no problems, you probably would not have reached out to us in the first place.
Step 3 – Plan The Work
Next, we set the scope of work and agree on timing, budget, roles, and responsibilities.
We partition the work into phases. Small business owners are perpetually short of time and money. Some things are more important to you than others. There are also cross-dependencies that need to be taken into consideration. Some tasks have to be completed before others can start.
In this step, we decide what will be done when and by whom.
- We “draw a line in the sand” using key performance indicators (KPIs). This is our baseline or starting point.
- We figure out how and where people search for your services by doing keyword and competitive research.
- Together we agree on a keyword and optimization strategy, the one that “best fits” your business.
Together we set a deadline and goals for our first or next checkpoint in the process. We’ll use the checkpoint to measure progress against plans and to gauge the need for adjustments.
Step 4 – Execute The Plan
This step involves executing the agreed-upon activities in the plan. It is time-consuming and laborious. If you’re serious about achieving long-term Internet success, it should evolve into what we call “Upkeep” or maintenance and you would be an active part of it.
Typical activities undertaken in this phase include:
- structuring your website for SEO;
- installing and configuring tools to help search engines better understand your content;
- embedding the language your search audience uses throughout your website so it will be relevant when search engines are looking for matches;
- establishing a presence for you and/or your business on agreed-upon business and social media channels;
- if appropriate, configuring a blog and guiding you on how best to populate it;
- we develop a content strategy and recommend best practices for writing, publishing, and promotion.
- content gets created, optimized, published, and promoted;
- we grow your exposure and encourage visitors to like, share and engage with your content; and
- we build and earn links and citations.
Step 5 – Measure Results
This step monitors our progress using agreed-upon key performance indicators. It tracks and resolves or mitigates issues and obstacles as they inevitably arise. Players are held accountable.
This step brings home the need for a continuous process. While we have plugged away at our assigned tasks, the world has not stood still.
- Market needs and demands may have shifted or changed.
- Your competitors have likely been busy and may now present a new opportunity or challenge.
- Google has undoubtedly updated its ranking algorithm and you will have lost or gained rankings.
- New risks and opportunities will arise.
We adjust the plan and continue executing.
At the end of the day, and just like every other form of marketing, SEO involves continuous effort. It is common and expected that a business would routinely cycle through these steps and fine-tune their goals and plans for the future. Each time through the process you should expect to gain new insights about your business and market. You should expect to become more productive and efficient. Stick with it and you will see your benefits begin to compound and grow.
If you’re a small business in a non-competitive, self-contained, or relatively static market you might not feel compelled – or even need – to cycle through this small business SEO process. You might get away with taking a break once in a while. In my opinion, these instances are not very common but they do surface, from time to time.
To reduce the chance of getting blindsided, we recommend a once-a-year checkpoint so you can at least learn what has changed or is changing and use that information to make well-informed decisions about what is best for your business.
So that’s it. It’s pretty high-level and over-simplified but should give you a general sense of what’s involved. If you want to learn why – to better understand how SEO works – this post gives you a 30,000-foot view of how SEO works. And let me know what do you think in the comments below. I usually get to people within a few days.
Last updated: 10/19/20