The goal of SEO is to get a web page high search engine ranking. The better a web page's search engine optimization, the higher a ranking it will achieve in search result listings. (Note that SEO is not the only factor that determines search engine page ranks.) This is especially critical because most people who use search engines only look at the first page or two of the search results, so for a page to get high traffic from a search engine, it has to be listed on those first two pages, and the higher the rank, the closer a page is to the number one listing, the better.  And whatever your web page's rank is, you want your website to be listed before your competitor's websites if your business is selling products or services over the internet.

I completely agree that defintion of a target audience isa great first step, but would ask if adding in competitors to the analysis (mentioned here as a later step) helps draw out who your target audience would be via comparisons, i.e. showing who you are an who you are not - would be very interested to hear opinions on how this tactic can be used within the overall step in coordination with targeted keyword discovery.

SEO often involves improving the quality of the content, ensuring that it is rich in relevant keywords and organizing it by using subheads, bullet points, and bold and italic characters. SEO also ensures that the site’s HTML is optimized such that a search engine can determine what is on the page and display it as a search result in relevant searches. These standards involve the use of metadata, including the title tag and meta description. Cross linking within the website is also important.
I consulted a few years ago before Yahoo and CNET and my clients were all small businesses, even friends' sites.  No matter the size of the project, you can still try to get some insight into your target audiences and what they need or want.  I mentioned in a previous comment I used Search once to determine sentiment on a site vs. it's competitors by searching for a feature the site and its competitors all had, along with "like", "love", "hate", "wish", etc.  I also took note of who the people were who said those things and where they were talking (forums, twitter, etc).  It's a hacked manual approach and although not nearly as quality as a good market research report, at least I have a llittle bit of insight before going out to make site recommendations based solely on tags & links.  If you're recommending the site build things that people want (and fix or remove things that they dont), you're more likely to gain links and traffic naturally.
This post and the Skycraper technique changed my mind about how I approach SEO, I’m not a marketing expert and I haven’t ranked sites that monetize really well, I’m just a guy trying to get some projects moving on and I’m not even in the marketing business so I just wanted to say that the way you write makes the information accesible, even if you’re not a native english speaker as myself.
There are a number of ways to optimize your website for conversion—such as by including calls to action and lead capture forms in the right places, providing the information your visitors are seeking, and making navigation easy and intuitive. But the first step is to be attracting the right visitors to your site in the first place. Your goal when it comes to website traffic is to be driving more qualified visitors to your site. That is, those who are most likely to convert into leads and customers.

There are community forums setup online for virtually every niche, industry, or topic you can imagine. The internet is a prime place for like minded people to talk to each other. 9 times out of 10 you can find a forum for your industry just by typing in [your industry]forum.com or searching for “[Your Industry] Forum” on Google. Find the forums in your industry with the largest user base, start posting there and become an active community member. Most forums will allow you to leave a link to your website in your post signature, so the more you post the more traffic you get.
Use your keyword list to determine how many different pillar pages you should create. Ultimately, the number of topics for which you create pillar pages should coincide with how many different products, offerings, and locations your business has. This will make it much easier for your prospects and customers to find you in search engines no matter what keywords they use.
Although this is a step-by-step series, everyone's methods will (and should) vary, so it really depends on how much time you think it will take (if you're billing hourly).  What tools do you have at your disposal vs. how much researching for information will you have to do on your own? Will you have to pay for research reports or companies? Do you pay a monthly service for data or research?
The best way to avoid this is proactively asking the right questions. Ask about resource support. Ask about historic roadblocks. Ask to be introduced to other players who otherwise hide behind an email here and there. Ask about the company's temperature regarding a bigger SEO strategy vs. short, quick-hit campaigns. Don't be your own biggest obstacle — I've never heard of anyone getting angry about over-communication unless it paralyzes progress.
People love to learn, and webinars are an excellent way to impart your wisdom to your eagerly waiting audience. Combined with an effective social promotion campaign, webinars are a great way to increase traffic to your website. Send out an email a week or so ahead of time, as well as a “last chance to register” reminder the day before the webinar. Make sure to archive the presentation for later viewing, and promote your webinars widely through social media. If you're wondering how to do a webinar, click the link for some tips.
AdWords and Facebook are further vehicles for reaching the appropriate audiences with more refined messaging. I think it's important to create personas for your current visitors and the type of visitors you want to attract. It might be valuable to create personas of those you don't want to attract, to keep in the back of your mind as your content and advertising calendar is being built following the delivery of your overall strategy.
Influencers: Government Contracting Officers, Other GovCon (Government Contracting) consultants, Sellers of professional services for small businesses (certain CPAs, bonding companies, financial institutions, contract attorneys), large contracting firms (who need to hire small business subcontractors), Union/trade organizations, Construction and Engineering trade publications
AdWords and Facebook are further vehicles for reaching the appropriate audiences with more refined messaging. I think it's important to create personas for your current visitors and the type of visitors you want to attract. It might be valuable to create personas of those you don't want to attract, to keep in the back of your mind as your content and advertising calendar is being built following the delivery of your overall strategy.
Ever heard of Maslow's hierarchy of needs? It's a theory of psychology that prioritizes the most fundamental human needs (like air, water, and physical safety) over more advanced needs (like esteem and social belonging). The theory is that you can't achieve the needs at the top without ensuring the more fundamental needs are met first. Love doesn't matter if you don't have food.
But I've recently heard some chatter voicing the polar opposite. I've heard the sentiment to wholly ignore certain data points because they don't represent the real person. To me, that's bad advice — directional data is better than the romantic notion of success based on your "gut" feel. Estimated search volume, clicks, and even impressions give credence not only to a keyword, but a bigger theme. This starts to create direction and an understanding of need, which leads to your next few rounds of audience recognition.
Elna, I love it when pro bloggers write how-to posts that are highly highly valuable to their readers. This one is top notch … as you will see by how I share my NAME and blog with this comment. What a brilliant idea that I could never have thought of on my own EVER. This one is getting pinned all over the place. I love sharing content that really helps people.
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