Once again, we've rounded the corner on a new year and many of us find ourselves re-evaluating our performance throughout many of life’s facets, whether it's how much we exercise or how well we eat. Just as we would to continually yearn to better ourselves, we have to take a moment and reevaluate what we’re doing to continually achieve within organic search visibility.
Taking a look at your overall SEO strategy from time to time is a great way to slow down, breathe, and see if you're still on track for SEO success. Any long-standing effort in life deserves an evaluation from time to time.
No SEO success is realized without solid benchmarks. It's important to continually compare progress to past dates to assess improvement.
A new year provides a great point to review year-over-year data to get a big picture of SEO success without the rigors of seasonality and other factors that can mar short-term analysis. Beyond assessing numbers and percentages, it’s also a great time to assess overall strategy, assess where SEO is going, and adjust accordingly. Plus, it’s nice to get away from all those numbers every once in a while!
It’s a New Year…Time for a Review of Your SEO Campaign!
So, you’ve spent the last year building that “sports car” of a site. In actuality, many of you have been trying to stay abreast with the fast moving world of SEO and find yourselves looking at something resembling more like a "Mad Max" vehicle. For those of you who aren’t Mel Gibson fans, I’m alluding to the fact that you have added to a site little by little and as new SEO opportunities and trends emerge you find yourself looking at a site pieced together that isn’t so pretty.
I must admit that I’m guilty of this from time to time. I’ll take a look back and see that we have added a link, page, content snippet, etc. here and there and when I take a look at the big picture I have multiple links to the same page on a given site page, over-usage of keywords, or – even worse – lack of intended keyword focus on site page. You’ve been so busy monitoring the day-to-day worries of rankings, traffic, 404s, 301s, duplicate content, and on and on and haven’t doubled-back to see what the compilation of your team’s efforts are portraying.
So, how do we review our SEO strategy and ensure we stay on track?
1. Site Mission and KPIs
Revisit the mission of the site/company as well as the KPIs for the site. We know where we want to go with the site, are we still on track.
2. Review Annotations in Google Analytics Timelines
Hopefully you're extremely organized and have notated all changes and implementation dates for SEO initiatives and don't have to fish through email for hours.
3. Look at Your Link Profile
Utilize a tool such as Open Site Explorer and review your overall anchor text counts. Have you gone hog wild in the last year with non-branded keyword anchor text and forgot about branded linking?
4. Assess Top Keywords
Review Google Webmaster Tools and assess the top keywords and their variations found on your site. This helps to provide a holistic view of what Google’s understands your site content to represent.
5. Review Internal Page Links
Stay in Google Webmaster Tools and review your most heavily linked internal pages. You might be surprised that you have unknowingly added certain page links across the site in navigation etc. over the last year and now these are showing as more important than other key site pages.
6. Are You Ranking for the Right Keywords?
Now, head over to your site. Review your targeted keywords, the intended pages for which you want to rank for, and the pages that actually rank for the terms. That is if it does continue to rank.
Ensure that if you’ve added additional content, whether it’s text or images, that it still helps to support the keyword theme of the page. Have you added internal links into the copy whose anchor text may be too similar to the respective page’s keyword theme, confusing search engines? In other words, don’t link from the bicycles page to a product page with the anchor “bicycles.”
7. W3C Validation
You have had a year of designers/developers making continual changes to the site. If you haven’t been continually monitoring this, run a W3C validation to ensure your code is still clean as well as page load tests to assess any page elements dragging down load time.
Granted, this quick spot check of your SEO strategy doesn’t ensure SEO domination in the new year, but you may be surprised that it can show from a 30,000 foot view that too many small steps to the left or right can leave you far off the path in your journey for SEO success. Now, hopefully you’ve cleared your head of any SEO insecurities and you have more time to get back to your other New Year resolutions!
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!