Beginning your SEO research the right way
Researching the current state of affairs both internally (in your business and website), as well as understanding your competitors and what they are doing, is the first step to effective and successful website SEO.. and this is usually what I do with my customers before we start
Ninja Business Research
In conducting your research, you will need to begin with an honest assessment of your business, and what its online presence should and will mean in relation to the rest of the organisation. There are a lot of questions that you will need to answer.
Admittedly, some of these will already have been answered in your business plan, and your overall web strategy documents. Questions about your unique selling points, the intended aims of your website are important, along with a look at any other marketing efforts you already have.
You will need to decide whom you are trying to reach with your website; a specific demographic, age, or geographical location? What are your general expectations from your online marketing efforts? How will you measure success and failure? Do you have a specific timeline or time limit for achieving these goals?
What is your online, and specifically your SEO and SEM budget? Just as important too, is the question of who will ultimately responsible for your online marketing efforts.
The list above is just a small sample of the questions you should be asking and answering. The more you introspect, the easier you will find your SEO efforts in the long run. When decisions have to be made in the future about whether to take a specific course of action or not, it does help if everyone involved is singing from the same hymn sheet. Answering these questions about your business in general and your website in particular, will ensure that this is the case.
Your competitors (The Enemy)
Once you have a good idea of what your business and online marketing goals and expectations are, you can begin to look at the competition.
This is not just to identify who they are (although this is important), but also what they are doing online.
Spend time looking at your competitors sites. Evaluate their online marketing efforts. Learn who is linking to them, and where possible why. If they have been online for a long time, use web archives to study how they got to their current state and position. Check how many pages they have indexed in Google and the other major search engines.
Find out the particular keywords they are targeting. Using a number of tools available today, you can even come up with a reasonable estimate of the amount of traffic that they are getting. (check my previous post about market Samurai)
The short version is that the more you know about your competitors, and their websites, the better you can manage and direct your own efforts. If you need to, get an independent SEO consultant (Like me… come on… come on… hire me!!!!) to give you an honest assessment. Rest assured that once your site launches, your competitors will be doing the same on your site. (mmm evil bunnies!)
As any business guru would say, know yourself, and then know your competition.
In SEO as in any other endeavour, beginning without this knowledge is probably the quickest route to if not failure, sub-par results.
Trust me… I’m a Ninja…;)
About the author
I'm an SEO professional living in the South Coast of NSW - Australia. SEO is what I do... I'm not a web guy, or a webmaster, or a designer... I just do SEO ;) Love it. Enjoy it and I still have fun doing it.