There are thousands of possible SEO tasks awaiting small-to-medium sized businesses. Generally speaking, the more you invest in SEO, the better results you’ll see. The fact is, many businesses simply don’t have the budget to invest in a full SEO package including in-depth on-site work, content creation, content distribution, link building, and more.
Start small. Before you speak with SEO consultants or consider hiring in-house, get a head start on your SEO efforts by ensuring that you have considered the following seven tasks for your website.
1) Dedicate an employee to part-time writing.
So, this isn’t quite a “simple” task, but it is the one that should have the highest payoff of any of the seven tasks. Producing quality content is the most important long-term SEO task that you can begin. Make sure that this employee is both a) a subject matter expert and b) a good enough writer. You don’t need to have Kurt Vonnegut on staff, but you’ll need someone who can cut to the heart of your subject matter in 500 words.
2) Set up social media accounts.
Don’t worry about re-tweeting Justin Bieber, or posting cat photos on a custom Facebook page – just set them up for now. Use a web-app like KnowEm to claim your profiles in bulk, or claim profiles at just the networks that your customer base frequents. They’re remarkably easy to set up and they’re free links and extensions of your brand.
3) Install Google Webmaster Tools.
Installing Webmaster Tools will allow Google to tell you in plain English if there is anything wrong with your website in their eyes. Warnings and error messages will have an impact on your rankings and should be fixed immediately.
4) Check your Content Management System for errors.
Log into your website’s back-end. Do you see any error messages? 404 errors? Have your web developer clean up any errors on your back-end before you begin working with an SEO company.
5) Research your key phrases.
Use Google’s Keyword Planner to research search phrases that you think are important for your business. Save off your ideas in a spreadsheet(s) so that you can discuss keyword opportunities with an SEO company.
6) Decide what a successful SEO engagement looks like.
Communicate what success looks like to your SEO stakeholder(s) and personnel. If your goals are to achieve a specific ranking or drive a specific number unique visitors, then you better have good rationale for why that goal is realistic and what you expect that that ranking or traffic will do for your business. Paint a picture as vividly as possible.
7) Get a free audit.
A complete SEO audit will help you or your SEO company uncover all of the issues and opportunities in your SEO eco-system. The problem is, they’re expensive. Fielding a few free SEO audits will help you to understand the basic on-page issues that you may have. They’re not conclusive, complete or to be taken as the holy grail, but if you’re clueless about where to begin, they’ll help you to understand your glaring needs.
Do know that if you search “Free SEO audit” and enter your contact information into an SEO company’s form, you’ll likely receive an automatically generated SEO report followed by an email from a sales rep.
Regardless of your industry, search marketing is a zero sum game – when your competitors are more successful than you, your bottom line takes a hit. Whether you choose to hire an SEO consultant or go it alone, make sure that you have completed the seven tasks listed above. They’ll ultimately form the foundation for all of your future SEO efforts.