In order for a website to be the first in search engine results, generate more revenue and reach the top, even for the rarest of queries, you need to do some search engine optimization of your website. But it's important to start with:
- decide on a goal (to increase attendance/sell a particular service);
- understand in what order to proceed and what outcome is important to you.
In this article we explain how a search engine promotion strategy is formed, what it includes, how it helps to make the website better and why businesses need it.
What is a search engine promotion strategy?
A search engine promotion strategy (SEO strategy) is a list of actions for a website to achieve specific objectives:
- sell a product/promote a service;
- increase website/individual page traffic;
- collect subscriptions/applications/calls.
Objectives can be long-term or short-term, and can change depending on what is more important to the business now.
Most of the time, the client has a specific business objective that they come to the specialists with. It is on this that the future strategy is shaped.
To make it easier for you to understand the question, in the examples you and I will "sell" tomatoes.
Why do you need a SEO strategy?
To make a long story short:
- so as not to act at random;
- so as to do what will generate maximum results for the business;
- so that the site owner has an idea of the front end of the work.
How is the strategy formed?
You come to us with a request: to increase tomato sales through your website. Now we need to formulate a to-do list with concrete steps to promote your website and your product.
Before we describe the list of tasks, we need to clarify many nuances:
- you are a wholesaler or a retailer;
- What's your delivery situation;
- your client is a professional or an "inbred";
- how your competitors sell online;
- which traffic is prioritized: mobile or desktop.
And there are a number of other clarifications on which we will build.
Writing the final strategy is at the intersection of marketing and search engine promotion. It is even more accurate to say that it is part of the marketing strategy.
The aims and objectives in a promotion strategy can be divided into three notional categories:
- mandatory. The site must meet the standards of the technical optimization checklist: no hang-ups, fast loading on all devices, etc.;
- comparative. They are formed after analyzing the competitors: how the top sites differ from ours and what we can learn from them;
- testable. Those that we form through hypothesis testing.
Lest you think that we are being written by an astrologer or that we are copying the same actions from client to client, we will describe the strategy formation scheme. Our example of tomatoes is still valid and illustrative.
1. Formulate a goal or clarify it with the client. Where should we be once the strategy is implemented? What exactly are we going to promote? For which queries do we want to be the first?
To make it easier for the client to find a goal, we conduct a questionnaire. On its basis, we form the goal and build the entire future strategy, and the necessary targets are assigned in writing. For example: to come in first place for a particular search query, increase sales on the site by X%, collect X number of applications per month, etc.
Let's say our goal is to start selling tomatoes in bulk to the neighboring region of Wiesbaden, X tonnes per month.
2. Analyze search results. How a potential client behaves: what they are looking for and what queries they enter. We select groups of search queries, analyze their popularity and look at what your competitors show for these queries. This is done in order to compare sites and give future visitors the most relevant type of page:
- the product page with a detailed description;
- a calculator to calculate the cost of the service;
- price list;
- information page/article if the phrase is non-commercial (you can lead to a commercial page from here), etc.
At first glance: the query "tomatoes in bulk Volgograd" is entered 24 times a month. There are a lot of B2B aggregator sites in the search engine. We can promote our site separately, setting ourselves apart from our competitors: promising a discount or favorable terms of cooperation, making a more detailed description of the goods, emphasizing customer reviews, etc. Or we can build ourselves into all the aggregator directories and get traffic from there - the more of us on the internet, the better!
At the end of the analysis, we will have a specific list of SEO objectives. Of course, there will be more keywords and queries, for the example we used the most appropriate to the outlined objective.
3. Check to see if we have the right pages on the site. What types of pages from the second point do we need and how many of them do we already have? If the site has all the landing pages we need, we just start promoting them. If it doesn't, then follow one of the schemes:
- writing the ToR for their formation;
- set up automatic generation of unique pages using filters on the website. These can then be optimized in the future. This option is great for working with low-frequency queries.
4. First hypotheses: supplement the About page with benefits, a detailed price list and delivery details from a neighboring region. In the future, set up automatic page generation for each type of tomato to hit narrow queries "cream tomato wholesale volgograd", "pink tomato wholesale volgograd", etc.
5. Examine the state of the site. Due to attempts to cheat the search algorithm, special filters may have been imposed on the site which lower its ranking. We check the site for such sanctions and other problems with indexation, so that we can eliminate them in the future and get everything in order.
6. Make a list of technical tasks, assess their complexity and urgency - the site can be so "killed" by SEO that no amount of keywords and useful pages will save it.
7. Prioritising. We determine what is most relevant to us at the moment based on
- efficiency - where the hottest traffic is, where the fastest results are;
- The labour intensity of the work - if something can be done quickly, we will do it immediately - this will leave us with fewer tasks and make it easier to allocate time to the rest;
- client's request - if you focus on any of the tasks and say that this is the most important thing now, then we get on with it first.
Bottom line: The most important thing is to remove the search filters and refine the About page, which we will do first.
We will distribute the rest of the work over time, depending on the client's budget and wishes.
Examples from our practice
This is a small selection of examples of our strategies. We have chosen three client cases with different objectives to illustrate.
A client's business was doing well in Russia, and he decided to promote his products abroad. For this purpose, we suggested that he register several sites for foreign domains and promote each of them for a particular country. That was the initial strategy we came up with:
1. Add each website to the Google Search Console. This tool collects data about the site's performance in Google Search. It will show us how many pages on the site are indexed, which ones are the most visited, what the search engine thinks of our site, etc.
2. Set up hreflang, robots.txt, sitemap.xml for each site. These are necessary technical settings for correct site indexing. They are responsible for not showing the search engine unnecessary and correctly identifying the country the domain belongs to.
3. Collect search phrases for each country. For these we will promote in a specific region + we will track them through Topvisor.
4. Analyse search engine rankings. We will study the sites that fall out of our search queries to make a list of what we lack to compete with them.
5. Optimise headlines and meta tags on landing pages for keywords. This is a prerequisite for proper search engine promotion.
6. Fill in your profile in Google My Business. This directory is very important for promotion. We need to fill in the organisation card in detail so that the search engine trusts us more.
7. Find local business directories/aggregators and register your firm there. For promotion it is important to have external links linked to the region - that way we show Google that we are "local".
8. Place guest articles on local websites. External links with a website from the desired region increase local rankings. Plus, it's additional PR and a great chance to attract buyers directly from the articles.
9. Publish texts on the blog for the infos. For some thematic phrases, articles are ranked in the top, not commercial pages. If we want to get that kind of traffic, we need to write interesting articles on the topic and put them on our website.
Promotion of a specific service
In this example, we have outlined a promotion strategy for the whole website with a focus on the sandblasting service. Some points are not specific to these words, but are relevant.
1. Collect a large core of low-frequency queries for all services on the website. In this core allocate clusters - groups of similar key phrases that can be promoted on the same page, for example, by geo-position: painting wheels in ramenskoye, renting a compressor yuz; by subsections: sandblasting cars, sandblasting bumpers, renting a compressor, etc.
2. Create separate pages for each cluster. Each cluster should have its own landing page: sections, subsections, content pages, articles, etc.
3. optimise meta tags for keywords. Template meta tags are customized for most pages: we make a rule that forms the title and description tag on all types of pages on the site. In this way, we obtain relatively optimized titles and meta tags. They are different from manually prescribed, more "human" and variable, but still help promotion. As a rule, an ordinary page title is taken, to which conversion words are added, for example: "buy a drill in Moscow at a bargain price". For landing pages by priority, it is better to pick up the phrases manually.
4. Work out the texts and content on the website in detail. It is important to remember that the website is first and foremost for people. The client should not just get to the right page, but also navigate around it.
5. Work out the CTA elements on the landing pages. All call to action elements should be well thought out on the right pages: buttons, application forms, order to call, clickable phone number, messenger click-through, etc.
6. Set up the linking of all pages That is, make it easy to link from one page to the next. For example, so that from the article about drills you can get to the section of the catalogue "Drills". This is convenient for visitors and an additional plus for the promoted page in terms of search engine - it is important links from other pages to promote. The more of them, the better.
7. Connect crowdfunding marketing from QA sites with links to landing pages. For promotion it is important to have as many external links as possible from different sites. Question-and-answer sites are good for this purpose in the first stages + there is an opportunity to attract real buyers.
Promotion of a single product
A client has an online clothing and textile shop. Website traffic has dropped, marginal goods are being ordered less frequently. In the process of analysis, it turned out that traffic from Google and branded traffic, which used to bring in a lot of sales, had decreased. As a result, we put together a strategy with a focus on brand outreach.
1. Pay attention to optimisation for Google. Check important metrics for Google: site speed, optimisation for mobile devices, etc.
2. Continue to work with low-frequency queries. You can see the effect of attracting traffic for narrow queries. You need to work on landing pages for them and continue writing unique texts.
3. Bring back branded traffic. This work is about brand reputation and depends on your efforts. You need to increase engagement, resume social media engagement so that people remember your brand or know about it for the first time and start looking for it online.
4. Check positions for all branded queries to see if competitors are buying up this traffic through contextual advertising.
5. Increase the conversion rate on the website. In addition to the main tasks in this direction, it will be useful to pay attention to less visible but important details:
- add information about the reward programme to the product card and in the catalogue sections that the customer enters from the search;
- to refine the mobile version, as the amount of such traffic has equalled that of the desktop version;
- work with feedback on different platforms and on the website;
- add promotional items to the catalogue sections, clearly communicate the benefits in the sale section.
In our experience, an increase of between 0.5% and 12% in visitor-to-customer conversions can be achieved.
How long the promotion strategy is designed to last
As you can see, there are not many points in a promotion strategy. However, it is written for an average of six months or a year.
Once the first tasks of the strategy have been completed, we provide the client with a report on the growth of traffic, conversions or orders. More often than not, the business owner will see a positive trend without this. The results are usually visible after 3 months or more. In the process, we always refer to the strategy to stay on track and report back to the client on the steps and milestones.
How we monitor the effectiveness of the strategy
Every month we check the success of the promotion against the following indicators
- monitor the growth of search engine positions and traffic;
- measure the number of requests from the client's CRM and e-commerce data;
- We analyse targets in Yandex.Metrika and Google.Analytics.
We also adjust the strategy and add specific targets for site development in line with these indicators.
Search positions are an intermediate goal, but the main goal is conversions, i.e. orders, form completions, customer calls, etc. In order to track these parameters, if the client needs it, we implement:
- cross-cutting analytics;
- CRM analytics;
- goals and metrics in Yandex.Metric and Google.Analytics;
- AB testing.
They help us to monitor the positive dynamics on a monthly basis and check the validity of our hypotheses.
As you can see, a promotion strategy is a very versatile job that depends on quality analysis and experience.
Modern search engine promotion is not just about getting the right positions on search, it is also about controlling commercial factors and usability. In essence, it is a constant process of improving the site, controlling the chosen metrics, refining objectives, generating and analysing new hypotheses or implementing those that have already had a positive effect on the search positions of most of our clients. And in this process, it is important to edit what has not had the desired effect, to shift focus, to delve deeper into what has produced good results, etc.
When it comes to Drupal, we are confident in our knowledge - the technical part of website promotion is mastered to perfection. Thanks to our experience with a wide variety of projects, we understand how to intelligently bypass competitors and which hypotheses to test. And with that much knowledge, you can promote anything - even tomatoes or high-tech production equipment.
If your website needs search engine promotion, development and support - write to us. The managers at Initlab will answer any questions you may have.