Whenever we talk with prospective clients about a web design project, the conversation inevitably drifts to the topic of Search Engine Optimization(SEO). Customers ask about keywords, links, site speed, mobile integration and compatibility with Penguin and Panda.

While all of these things are important, they are really just tactics. Unless they are backed by a solid strategy they amount to little more than busy work.

Elements of an SEO Strategy

Your SEO strategy starts with several very important questions. As you read through them, they may look very much like the questions you have to answer to build any marketing plan.

What problem do you solve?

Until someone has a problem, they don’t search for a solution. If they aren’t searching for the solution, they aren’t going to be looking for the service(s) you offer. As you think about presenting your business online, think of key words your customers might use in a sentence like this: How can I fix my…… or How can I improve my……

If you can put your product, service or solution into a sentence like that, you are well on your way to building a great list of keywords.

What makes you unique?

If you do exactly what your competitors do, you won’t stand out in the real world, and you won’t stand out online. For example, there are lots of companies which offer carpet cleaning services. If one company offers a money back guarantee, that company will stand out. When someone searches for carpet cleaning companies lots of companies appear. When someone searches for a “carpet cleaning guarantee” only one company will rise to the top of the list.

Who will help deliver your message?

You can’t do it alone and you don’t have to. One of the best ways to get your message noticed above all the noise is to find several companies willing to post your content on their site. In return you can share some of their information with your audience. These cross links make it easier for search engines to find their way back to you.

This works best when the companies are somehow related to one another.  For example, our carpet cleaning company might write about how to protect your carpet and a company which sells carpet might write about stain resistant carpet. A blog swap between these two companies makes perfect sense to human beings and search engines.

When a prospect comes to your website what happens next?

Do you have relevant information to help them move through your sales funnel?  If not, it seems silly to spend a lot of time and money driving traffic to your site. Not sure where to start? Peter put together some helpful suggestions on How to Warm Leads with Your Website.

How do you prove to search engines that what you do is relevant for searchers?

This is where your content comes in. You need blog posts, worksheets, white papers and FAQ sections. All of these things help build your authority around a specific topic.

Now you are ready for the tactics.

Once you have a strategy in place, it will be easier to develop your key words, write compelling meta descriptions and page titles and seek out links to help search engines and people find you.

Think you have the basics in place? Then it is time to test your knowledge with our SEO Quiz: