SEO toolbox: making concrete use of SEO strategies
SEO aims to improve a website’s indexing on search engines by modifying its code, content and structure. But how to manage a good SEO strategy and how to track its results?
Overview of SEO key elements
On this blog we have talked a lot about SEO strategies. We have seen the very basics of SEO in this article “How to become rich within 24h and see your website first on Google? The secret Marketing” and we have developed other aspects of SEO in this one: “How to change your website into a cash generating machine”. In a later article, I also explained the importance of a content strategy through the article “Content creation strategy: how to attract trusty customers” and finally regrouped the key elements of SEO strategies in the article “Write SEO friendly content in 10 easy steps”.
Now is time to gather a bit all these pieces of information and build a strategy with it.
If you are new to SEO and if you have read those various articles, your question might be “where to start?”.
Where to start
All those elements are interesting but if you have no roadmap, you will start shooting in every direction without being able to focus your work and track your results.
As for most strategies, it is essential to organize and structure your work when you decide to start working with SEO.
I have prepared a free template for you to download and to use. This file should be used as a guide for you to build your SEO strategy. It will help you tracking your progress and sharing your results with your customers or managers.
The SEO toolbox
Download the SEO toolbox
Before going any further, please start by downloading the SEO toolbox.
Once done, please beware that you will need Microsoft Excel to open it. If you do not have Microsoft Excel installed on your computer, you might as well use Open Office that is free and very similar.
Feel free leaving a comment at the bottom of this page if you are facing any difficulty with the download of the file.
The cover page
The excel file that I prepared for you contains several sheets.
The first of them is called “Cover” and has no other use than displaying a nice cover for when you will print your SEO report. Take a minute customizing it with your own logo and company website.
The keywords list
Before jumping into the strategy itself, you will have to define your brand, your company, your product in a few keywords or key-sentences.
The secret is to think as a prospect would. What would (or should) people type to find you on the web?
There is always a large gap between who you believe you are, who you are and how people see you. Try to consider your customers’ point of view. For example, the clothes brand H&M would certainly consider keywords such as “affordable clothing” or “quality clothing” while people on the internet would most certainly type words such as “cheap cloth” to find them. What matters is how you want people to perceive you as well as how they currently see you.
Define your list of keywords then enter it in the Google Keyword tool to check their coherency and find more adapted ones.
Once this step finished, reduce your list to 20 keywords (or key phrases) that represent your brand the best and include them in the SEO Toolbox. The first 5 keywords should be the most important ones. The following 5 are important as well but with less impact. The last 10 are only used for specific aspects of your business.
While working on this step you need to consider if you decide to go for an offensive strategy (working on very popular and highly competitive keywords) or a long tail strategy (learn more about how to use the Long Tail theory). This will define whether you will focus on keywords such as “Hotel” or more specific ones such as “family hotel Hong Kong”. The first one is highly competitive but very popular (338 million people type it each month), the second is much less popular (only 1,600 queries per month) but much less competitive.
Record your keywords properly as all your future strategy will be based on it.
- Priority: simply defines the priority of the keyword, from the most important to the least important
- Keywords: input your keywords in this column
- Competition: simply select the level of competition based on Google Keywords tool
- Global searches: the number of people who type this specific keyword each month
- Usage: do not input anything here, the number is automatically calculated to estimate how well you use this keyword.
This step is essential as your entire strategy will be based on the information you input here.
Based on the proposed example, fill in the first 10 columns of the table for each page of your website.
- #ID: you do not need to change this item, it is for sorting purpose only.
- Name: give a unique name to each page for you to refer to it easily
- URL: the complete URL of the page, to be able to check it online with a single click
- Title: title of the page as defined in the metatags of your page
- Letters: nothing to modify here, the SEO Toolbox will automatically calculate the number of characters in your title and estimate its quality (a good title should use between 50 and 70 characters)
- Description: description of the page as defined in the metatags of your page
- Letters: nothing to modify here, the SEO Toolbox will automatically calculate the number of characters in your description and estimate its quality (a good description should use between 130 and 160 characters)
- W3C errors: go on the W3C validator to estimate the number of errors in your page.
- PageRank: you can check your PageRank on the PageRank checker then input it here.
- AlexaRank: you can check your AlexaRank on the official Alexa website then input it here. Please note that the AlexaRank is identical for all pages of a same domain name, therefore you might not need to check it for each page.
Once you have listed all the pages of your site in this table, you can move to the final “preparation step” before really starting your SEO work.
The fourth sheet is called "links". To be able to implement this one correctly you will need to use your Google Webmasters tools account.
If you do not have one yet, it is still time register: it is an essential tool for all website’s owner! Unfortunately, if you just installed Google Webmaster tools on your site, it might take a few days before its information is valid and accurate.
Go to the “Links” sheet of your SEO Toolbox and focus on the left section. Here you will input two types of links: the first one regroups the main platforms that link to your website and the second lists the most linked pages on your website.
Go on your Google Webmasters tools page and select “Search Traffic > Links to your page”. Here you have two major sections: “Who links the most” and “Your most linked content”. Click on the link “More” of the first section and copy the first 10 results on your SEO Toolbox. Do the same with the second section.
Your SEO Toolbox is now ready!
Time for action: the SEO Toolbox usage
Now that your toolbox is ready, it is time to start using it!
Do not change anymore the data you entered previously. This is the base: that represents what your website was like BEFORE your SEO action plan. Based on those results you will be able to estimate your progress.
Each day, select one page from your “page sheet”, preferably in the order you inputted them, and work on it.
Start by informing the column “L” with the date.
Once done, you should redefine your page title and description to make them unique and use some specific keywords you wish to use for this page. Add those new parameters in columns “M” and “O” of the SEO Toolbox. The “letters” information should now appear in green if you have given your title and description the right length.
Then, go to the W3C validator and try to fix all errors highlighted by the robot. Once done, input in your SEO Toolbox the new number of errors found by the W3C tool on column "Q".
After that, choose 3 keywords from your original list that define this specific page best and select them on the sheet. Once those keywords have been clearly identified, it is time to re-write your content. Try to include those three keywords at strategic places within your content in a natural way.
The important here is “strategic spots” and “natural way”. “Strategic spots” means that you should have those keywords somewhere included in your titles or your headlines. Those should appear fairly early in your text. “Natural way” means that those keywords should not come as a list of words used only for SEO purpose: the result would be disastrous as Google is efficient at spotting websites artificially using keywords. Instead, you should include those keywords within your text without over using them. When you read your text out-loud, it shouldn’t sound illogical or exaggerated.
Once you have finished this page… it is time to move to next one!
Depending on the complexity of your site you might be able to do several pages per day or might need several days per page. In both cases, focus on one page at a time and don’t move to next one until you finished the one you are working on.
If changes are relatively easy to make, their impact can be very slow to come.
SEM is all about making online advertisement and getting immediate results that won’t last. SEO is more of a long term strategy that takes some time to show results but that will work in the long term.
Once finished with a page, save your SEO Toolbox kit and come back a month later to record the changes in terms of PageRank and AlexaRank for this specific page. AlexaRank might change quickly (in a few hours to a few days) but it might take months before your changes impact your PageRank: be patient.
Also remember to update the "links" sheet from time to time.
The last sheet of the SEO Toolbox is called “Follow up”. You have nothing to change on this page: it will automatically update itself when modifying the other sheets. Just print it out from time to time to see your improvements.
Your best reward will be to see, a few months from now, the results of your hard and structured work.
Tags: SEO SEO strategy SEO toolbox keywords strategy links strategy SEO results tracking
If you have any question regarding the SEO Toolbox, please feel free to ask them in the commentary section below. IF you haven’t downloaded it yet, it is still time to download your personal SEO strategy kit for free. If you want to go even further in terms of SEO strategies, I advise you to read this very good book that contains lots of resources and tips: "SEO Black Book ".