19 Questions you need to be asking to form an effective SEO Strategy

Posted on 09. Jan, 2012 by in Digital Marketing, Thoughts

Whether you are working on SEO in house, in an agency or have appointed an agency to help with your SEO efforts there are certain questions that MUST be asked and answered in order to put together a robust SEO strategy. This post looks at 19 of the questions you need to be asking or if you work client side you should be answering….SEO Strategy Questions

The Target Audience

It is very easy to go straight into putting together SEO plans without taking a step back and thinking about the target audience and market. Sure you can create content and page titles and whatever else that are designed to target the most relevant terms that you think you will get search exposure for but if you don’t consider who you are actually targeting and looking to convert, your recommendations become less worthwhile. For example, you are putting together a strategy for a financial services website. Who are you targeting? 18 – 24 year olds? Middle aged people? Retired people? What sort of income does the target audience have? All these sort of considerations need to be made as it will determine everything you do from the content you want to create and how it is written to potential wireframes you put together and the keywords you target as well as what you look to do with your link building efforts.

The more you understand your target audience the more you understand what you need to do get quality traffic.

Questions to ask:

1. – Who is your target audience?

2. – Who is similar to you and is there anything they are doing that works well?

3. – How else do you engage with your target audience?

4. – What does the research you have about your audience say? (If you don’t have this – start digging)

Offline Activity

Offline activity can and will have an impact on search traffic. Fortunately companies are beginning to realise that offline and online activity shouldn’t see each other as strangers although let’s be honest it is still nowhere near the levels that it should be at. As you put together your SEO strategy, are you aware of any offline activity? For example, are they running above the line campaigns? Are you aware of any below the line activity? The more you integrate this activity into what you do the more opportunity there is for everything from onsite content and off page promotion (e.g. YouTube) to a wide array of link building and social options.

Questions to ask:

5. -  Do you have an offline marketing plan?

6. -  Who internally is responsible for your offline activity?

7. -  Is there any way we can work more closely with your offline guys to co-ordinate activity?

8. -  Can we create content on the site to support offline activity?

9. -  Can we do some wider promotion of offline activity online?

Other Channels

A common thing I see all the time is that SEO is treated as a standalone channel. It’s not. Tie in your SEO strategy with what the other channels are doing. Let each channel support the other. Furthermore there are learning’s to be had from other channels such as PPC data; don’t fail to use this.

Questions to ask:

10. - What other channels are you working with just now?

11. – Are you happy to share some performance information with us?

12.   - Or can you share contact information with us so we can get in touch with the other   agencies?

It’s Already Working

As I mentioned earlier, it is very easy to go in and recommend SEO 101 and make changes without taking into consideration what is actually working already and losing this valuable traffic with your ‘improvements’. Of course there is also information that might not be readily available to you that is worth knowing from the client or other departments.

Questions to ask:

13.   - Can you share sales/leads reports?

14.   - What are your top performing products/hotels/routes/services?

15.   - What are you expecting to be big/popular this year?

The Business Objectives

Are you aware of the wider business objectives? The better your understanding of what is happening beyond SEO then the better the position you will be to understand how your SEO strategy fits in.

Questions to ask:

16.   - What are the short term business objectives?

17.   - What are the long term business objectives?

18.   - What is the marketing strategy for this year?

19.   - What is most important to your contact and his boss if you work agency side? For client side folks – what does your boss need to see at the end of the year?

There are of course a lot more questions that need to be asked but these are some key questions and if you are working client side these are the sort of questions you should be getting asked and of course answering.

Anyone want to add anything to make it an even 20?

(Image courtesy of Horia Varlan)

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  • http://twitter.com/csrweb SEO Guide – CSRWEB

    This is one of the most important aspects of SEO. Identifying what you want to achieve. If you don’t set goals you don’t know if it is a success.

  • Tayfusion

    As per question 15 (What are you expecting to be big/popular this year?), there is also benefit in retrospective analysis i.e. if something worled in the past, why reinvent the wheel?

    • Michael Bochel

      Definitely agree. Always good to keep an eye on future trends though to find opportunities there too (while also continuing with what has been working well of course).