This article breaks down our team’s internal step by step SEO process. It has been broken down into 4 key areas:
Each step in the process includes a brief description of what we do in each of the 4 steps as well as links to other resources. This is a high-level overview of our SEO workflow. For a complete list of SEO strategies and tasks to complete in a custom SEO SOP (Standard Operating Procedure), visit our SEO Services List and Process.
An evidenced-based approach to SEO is like creating a custom battle plan for SEO success. It’s not an easy endeavor, but with a thorough process, you can achieve results much faster.
We offer to build these custom “battle plans” as a service in our initial engagements. Alternatively, you can learn how to build these yourself through our course.
In order to mitigate risks and obtain the results you are looking for, it’s important to carefully and meticulously plan the work you’ll do.
Complete comprehensive research to identify total addressable market and demand in the search engines.
- Complete thorough customer research.
Interview, survey, whatever it is – listen to your customer. Get obsessed with caring more for who they are, what questions they have and how they think. The better you understand and empathize with them, the better your results later on. Get our Customer Research SOP.
- Perform keyword research.
Informed by the customer research, use a keyword research tool (we use SEMRush) to find keywords that your target customer is searching for. Be sure to use the language your customer uses to get ideas for keywords and look at the questions asked in Google. This will give you ideas for what you should be writing about. Get our Keyword Research & Mapping SOP.
- Perform keyword analysis.
Go through your keywords and make sure they are the right keywords to focus on. Search them in Google and see what comes up. Do the results match the intent? What other keywords come to mind when you look through results? Add them to your keyword list.
Develop a data-driven, demand-based plan for dominating the search market.
- Build a sitemap.
Use your carefully-researched keywords to build a website sitemap, based upon actual search demand in your market. If you already have a site, build off your current sitemap or take this time to reevaluate your content architecture.
- Create a keyword map.
A keyword map can be created in a Google Sheet or Excel file. This breaks down all relevant target keywords you’ve researched into groups to help you determine a possible return on your search engine marketing investment. It takes total monthly search volume and follows traffic all the way through to sales conversions to estimate potential value.
- Create SEO content templates.
For each one of your target keywords that will eventually become pages or articles on your website, create a Google Doc. Use a tool like LSIGraph to get ideas for what people search for related to your keywords.
- Put together a custom SEO Guide (Standard Operating Procedure).
Based upon the work you’ve done so far, put together a custom SEO SOP. This is a living document that you should use to inform what SEO activities you should do and how. Get an SEO SOP template.
Measure results before you begin executing your SEO plan because you can’t improve what you don’t measure.
- Create a project with SEO software.
Add your keywords and list of competitors to a project and compare your current rank to competitors to identify competitive advantages/disadvantages. Look for opportunities where your competitors are ranking and you aren’t. This could often lead to identifying a quick win.
- Track website conversions.
If you aren’t already, make sure you are tracking all website conversions that matter to your business. This could be forms, phone calls, store visits, etc. Make sure Google Analytics is setup properly so you know where your conversions are coming from.
Once you’ve planned the work, begin working the plan (your custom SEO Guide).
- Begin executing the SEO SOP.
The SEO SOP is a master checklist of what you should do, with priority to your site.
- Write valuable content.
Using your previously created SEO content templates, write or improve new content for the target keywords. Start with the lowest hanging fruit first. The low hanging fruit should have been identified after setting up a project in SEO software and doing a competitive analysis.
- Create conversion collateral.
Every page should have a tailored offer relevant to the content on the page. For example, if you are a bakery and you have a wedding cake page, have a form or pop up offering a free tasting. This will help you turn more visitors into leads.
- Identify backlink opportunities for your website.
Backlinks help increase your domain authority and trust. Once you’ve developed really helpful content for your audience, find other people or businesses in your industry that might be willing to mention that content on their website to help their readers.
Determine what’s working and what’s not and adjust the plan.
- Analyze tracked keywords regularly.
Analyzing tracked keywords, viewing ranking changes can help you determine if and how newly published content and technical changes are supporting your goals of ranking for target keywords. This should help you learn where the gaps are in your content and how to fill them.
- Analyze Google Analytics Data.
Tracking conversions and conversion paths can help you determine where to focus your strategy for best results and continue to reveal opportunities to attract and convert more qualified traffic.
- Reevaluate your SEO SOP.
Go back to your custom SEO Guide from the planning stage and adjust as needed. This is a living document that you should add notes to and plan some of the finer details of SEO. Repeat the build-measure-learn process.
SEO Process Summary
The most crucial part of any SEO project is understanding your target audience and empathizing with them. This approach to SEO works really well when you take the time and go through the process of learning to care more about your customer and their search journey.
Content is the cornerstone of search engine optimization. Your site’s content strategy is crucial to becoming an authority in your industry.
Ranking comes down to three major factors; relevancy, trust, and technical.
Relevancy: Do you have content, a page or article, on your website that is relevant to the search query (keyword) of the user?
Trust: Is that content trusted across the internet? Do other high-authority websites link to the relevant page on your site? Does your business have good reviews, etc.
Technical: Are the technical aspects of your site optimized? Does your site load fast? Is it mobile-friendly? Does it load over https, etc.
While we don’t have an SEO process for every industry we’ve worked with, we do have a few industry-specific SEO guides available:
SEO Process for a New Website
If you’re going to build a new website, it’s crucial to consider SEO. In fact, we argue that SEO should be the driver of what you build in a new website.
Organic search is responsible for 53% of all traffic to websites across the internet, according to research from this Search Engine Land article. So there’s no doubt it’s important.
Here are the steps to implementing an SEO process for a new website:
- Perform comprehensive keyword research with a keyword tool to understand how your target audience searches.
- Consider both short tail and long tail keywords as well as keywords that are topically relevant to your audience.
- Group all of your keywords into topics with consideration for whether or not the searcher is low-funnel or high-funnel (ready to make a purchasing decision vs researching).
- Let your grouped keywords inform your website sitemap. Make sure you create pages that fulfill the intentions of the searcher. For educational topics, add future blog post ideas to your sitemap.
- Create content for each of your web pages. Do this by creating an SEO content template. This is a guide for knowing exactly what information to have on each of your pages for an optimized searcher and user experience.
- Go through a complete SEO audit to make sure you’ve performed all of the best on-page and technical SEO tactics.
For additional resources on your SEO efforts:
- If you are a local business, make sure to perform a local audit; optimize your Google My Business account, claim your free listings, and make sure to have consistency in your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number).
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an SEO Process?
A search engine optimization process is a step-by-step strategy for optimizing the content and user experience of your website in order to obtain free or organic traffic from search engines.
How are sitemaps important for the SEO process?
Sitemaps are important to the SEO process because they help you organize content on your site. The organization of your content helps Google and other search engines understand your site better, which makes it easier for them to recommend your site to searchers.
What should be the first step of any SEO process?
The first step of any SEO process should be to understand your target audience. This will help you perform keyword research better and identify ways to offer your target audience a great experience.
Why is SEO a long term process?
SEO is a long-term process because it takes a lot of time to earn trust and authority for your website that search engines can validate. Both trust and authority are built by offering your audience the best content and resources the web has to offer that best match the searchers’ intentions and validation that your brand and resources are the best, which often comes in the form of backlinks.