SEO, as it’s currently approached, doesn’t work for experts. There are two phases to approaching SEO: initial and ongoing.
Today we’ll go over the initial phase. This is a one-off that typically involves research, data analysis, and onsite cleanup.
We’ll call it planning + cleanup.
Let’s say you wake up one day and want to be in the NFL. You played football in high school. You were even pretty good.
But now you’re 30.
Assuming you have a clean bill of health and don’t get injured, the base training required would take three years. Now you’re 33.
Even if you are good enough, you don’t know if you’ll make the cut because that part isn’t fully in your control. Everything can go as planned and your career would still be relatively short.
Anyone that wants to play pro football at 30 needs to know their odds of making the cut, the risks involved, and have a very good idea what that road will look like before committing to it.
Effectively, you are no different.
When you decide to get serious about search, you are starting a race others have been in for years.
To wake up one day and say, “I’m going to start doing SEO,” without a plan won’t work.
The planning stage involves auditing where you currently are, which considers your:
- existing resources – content assets, amplifiers, relationships
- competitive landscape – topic by topic, looking at who’s ranking for what where and why
The planning stage is arguably the most important, as it helps determine whether or not you can even do SEO, what it would take, and what the expected returns might look like.
Related to planning, you have cleanup.
Cleanup typically comes after a long period of ongoing work (which we’ll talk about next) every once in a while. And it’s easiest to do with planning.
It’s cleaning the leaves out of your gutters so runoff goes where it should or the pruning and weeding in your garden that brings in sunlight and encourages growth.
To start doing cleanup, you look at your current standing – search visibility, traffic from search, and you include value estimates. This is for benchmarking purposes and ties into planning.
You also look at your current issues – this is more technical, is your foundation solid, is your roof leaking, that kind of thing.
The audit informs what and how you handle cleanup. You look at things like:
- Do I have dynamic content issues? Duplicate content, thin content, too many generated pages from how I organize content with tags, categories?
- Do I have clear opportunities that exist because of the subject matter and performance of my content, new or old?
As a very rough rule of thumb, cleanup should be done somewhere between every 100 and every 1000 pieces of published content.
The goal is to check in on whether each additional piece of content creates more harm than good, and how to minimize harm and get more out of your existing and new content going forward.
It’s the least sexy thing you could do and it’s often where the quick and easy levers for improvement exist.
The longer you wait, the more technical issues you have let compound, the more opportunity you have for improvement.
At point of cleanup, you’re looking up and around, pulling out of the compass and map and taking a look where you are after you’ve been walking a long period of time.
Next up, the regimen.