Planning for SEO Success
Imagine that you are making a cake. Do you go through your pantry and toss random ingredients into the cake batter in random increments and hope that your cake will turn out delicious? Of course not! Yet according to research by SmartInsights, half of all businesses that employ some form of online marketing have no plan or strategy for how they will achieve success.
There is that old adage – if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. Rather than engaging in random acts of marketing, let this year be the year that you plan and execute a consistent marketing strategy. Here’s how to get started.
First, don’t throw your marketing dollars and efforts at every exciting new product or tactic that comes along. Strategy without an actual plan is no good; it is like wanting to make a cake without a recipe. The same goes for SEO and PPC. You can’t just go after the most popular keywords in your category and call it a day.
For example, let’s say that you open a restaurant with a very unique offering – it’s the only Vietnamese restaurant in an area that starts out underdeveloped, but eventually becomes a busy shopping and dining district. Don’t try to use PPC to reach customers from farther away as more restaurants arrive and the advertising sector becomes more competitive. Those customers will not travel past 10 other similar restaurants to get to yours because people choose where to eat based on cravings and convenience. Your loyal customers from farther away will make the drive anyway because they know that they will have a great experience. So you must focus on your local area customers who haven’t ever tried your food, but who have the ability to become repeat customers if they enjoy the experience. As a result, you will avoid spending your money to bombard people living 45 minutes away with marketing messages about a restaurant they won’t visit.
Okay, so we have established that planning is crucial to success. But how do you put together a smart plan? Here are two options.
The best marketing plans mirror consumer behavior in the buying cycle. Before making your plan, you should evaluate and define your U.S.P. – unique selling proposition. This should answer the questions “Why your business? Why now?” Now you’re ready to R.A.C.E.
Reach – the buyer is in their research/info gathering phase, and you can reach them with brand awareness, SEO, and PPC.
Act – the buyer is deciding where to purchase what they want, and this is where you make contact with them.
Convert – the buyer is actually making the purchase. This is a sale or at the minimum a qualified lead for you.
Engage – the buyer shares their experience with others in their circle.
This planning method is a good starting point regardless of your business’s size, goals, etc. because it can be easily adapted to fit your needs.
The other, more in-depth strategic planning method is P.R. Smith’s SOSTAC method.
Situation Analysis – In this step, you identify the opportunities and challenges that your business is facing, both in a marketing sense and overall.
Objectives – This is where you define: What are you trying to accomplish?
Strategy – How can you (broadly) achieve your goals?
Tactics – How can you (specifically) achieve your goals? By what means?
Actions - Create “to-do lists,” systems, incremental goals, guidelines, processes, etc.
Control – How are you going to know you’re getting there? Identify metrics, measurements, KPIs, etc. that can help quantify your performance and progression towards your goals.
There is actually a SOSTAC book, which can be purchased in hard copy or e-book form, that is a great source of information if you’d like to learn more about SOSTAC.
Building a business through marketing can be intimidating, but if you start strong and finish strong with a fully fleshed-out strategic plan, you’ll be able to watch your business’s goals and dreams become a reality.