3 Steps for SEO Goal Planning Success
It’s no secret that SEO is the long game of digital marketing and requires detailed planning in order to be executed properly. The mystery for many seems to be how exactly to go about approaching this long haul in the most effective manner.
While this can be challenging, the SEO team here at Dealer Authority is here to help you determine how to build your SEO goals and show you how to crush them in the New Year!
Strategically plan out new content to tackle long- and short-tail keywords so that you make the most out of every piece of new content you create.
Analyze your competition and leverage that information to your advantage for on- and off-page SEO.
Identify key pieces of content in need of an upgrade and further optimize your site as a whole.
While these three steps might not cover every strategy out of the SEO playbook, we’re confident that if followed through they will absolutely help you build truly attainable – or shall we say, crushable – SEO goals in the New Year.
Getting Started – Do You Know Who You’re Targeting and How?
Knowing your target audience is the first part of strategizing for your SEO goals. Whether you’re a service manager seeking to fill your service bays or a used car dealership owner, understanding who you are wanting to draw towards your site and ultimately into your business is key.
After identifying your target audience, keyword research is generally the best next step that goes into your SEO strategy. While we won’t be getting into the bulk of that, if you still need to take that preliminary step here are some resources to help you go about that research.
What we want to talk about here is how to organize your efforts and put in the work so that your site and landing pages are optimized for the target keywords you identified in your research.
Choose Your Weapon – or Measuring Spoon?
Before you get started, make sure you have a tool to help measure the performance of your SEO efforts like Agency Analytics or Ahrefs.
While being able to track organic traffic to your website through tools like Google Analytics is important, a keyword tracking tool will help you monitor your progress and see what updates helped your content rank and perform better on search engines as well.
Assuming you’ve done your homework, let’s dive in!
Step 1: Plan New Content by Building a Keyword Pyramid
Building new content on your site can be a daunting task, especially if you have several keywords you need to conquer, but no matter how many pages you need to build or keywords you need to rank for, it’s imperative that you approach it in a strategic manner.
New landing pages can act like building blocks in a pyramid. This works particularly well for local SEO and geo-targeted content.
Find the Pinnacle of your Keyword Pyramid
Let’s take for example…
A Toyota dealer in Hendersonville, NC wants to focus on organically increasing service appointments but specifically targeting their neighboring Asheville, NC residents.
After doing their keyword research, they’ve determined that “oil change asheville” has a particularly high search volume and has become their prime SEO goal.
However, because they don’t have any other Asheville-oriented landing pages they want to use the pyramid structure to plan out their content.
Plan Out Intermediate Blocks and Build Your Base
The middle and base layer of your pyramid should be comprised of content focused around supportive or adjacent content with similar content that has a lower search volume or difficulty level than that at the top of the pyramid.
If in this instance the pinnacle of their fixed-ops SEO pyramid is “oil change asheville.” The middle layer should be comprised of other Asheville-supportive long-tail search terms like “toyota oil change asheville” and “auto repair asheville nc.”
The bottom of the pyramid should also feature your long tail keyword search terms. The higher up the pyramid you will likely have shorter and shorter keyword terms.
- toyota oil change asheville nc
- toyota service department asheville nc
- where can I get my toyota serviced in asheville?
- routine toyota maintenance asheville nc
- toyota express service asheville nc
- auto repair asheville nc
- transmission repair services nc
- brake alignment shop asheville nc
- tire rotation and balance asheville nc
We’re Starting from the Bottom
Isn’t this just a tree map? Yes, but no.
While we may have planned our content from the top down, the goal is to build from the bottom up.
By starting with a solid base of long-tail keyword-oriented content that supports your short-tail keywords, your website is slowly but surely building up authority around your new core topic.
Generally speaking, the longer the keyword search term, the lower the search volume, making that term easier to rank for.
Essentially, you are using these content pyramid blocks to build your brand’s authority on the topic by starting small.
By getting that long tail content to rank first, it makes it easier for search engines to want to back you and rank that next layer of blocks that are shorter and have higher search volumes.
One last thing to consider is that some building blocks in one pyramid may be the pinnacle of their own. This especially true for when you’re trying to revamp existing content and build support beneath it.
You can also continuously add new base layers to your pyramid as well, which may be the case if you’re trying to optimize for longtail voice search keyphrases.
Your internal linking structure should run up, down and, through this pyramid as well.
If you follow this process you are guaranteed to acquire the authority needed to rank for those high volume keyword search terms you’ve been eyeing for the past year!
Step 2: Compare Your Content and Get Ready to Compete
Compare your content to your rivals’ who are competing for the same keyword. Type your keyword search term into Google Incognito or your preferred private browsing window and examine the organic listings that populate in the first three spots.
- How does their word count compare to yours?
- How is their information organized?
- Are they using schema markup?
- How many backlinks do they have?
These are all questions you need to be asking when inspecting the content strategy being deployed by your direct competitors.
Does Longer Content Rank Better?
Not inherently. Google doesn’t necessarily reward lengthier content for the sake of word count, but in general content with roughly 1600 words or more tends to rank best.
That being said, if you’re trying to rank in the top 3 spots on Google for the same keyword as your competitors and their content is three times longer and more robust than yours, then you may want to consider bulking up the content on your page.
The content itself must be helpful and coming from an authoritative place so make sure your content can serve as a genuine resource to the searcher that just clicked on your listing.
It’s Time to Get Organized
Ensuring that your content is well-organized and easy to navigate helps users that have landed on your site stay there.
The design and overall layout is an important aspect of the user experience as well. If your competitor has a number of graphics that help get their point across, consider adding some visual components to your own work as well.
Having multiple Calls to Action leading the user to your products or additional resources will ensure they have plenty of ways to explore and learn more about your brand.
Take stock of all of your content that may need some sprucing in order to compete as you’ll want to keep it at the forefront of your mind while running through Step 3.
Does Your Competition Have a Leg Up with Schema or Backlinks?
Is your competition using schema markup? If so, you may need to use it on your own content in order to compete.
If their resource for the search term in question has a few hundred backlinks pointing back at it, it may be more difficult to usurp that piece of content from its position, but not impossible.
You’ll need a steady flow of backlinks and solid content in order to get a leg up.
But fortunately for you, this competitor has just shown you EXACTLY what the internet is searching for and they may have even provided you with a tailored list of backlink sources.
Find New Places to Earn Backlinks by Examining Your Competitors’ Websites
This may sound a lot harder than it actually is, but don’t skip past this part!
You can easily use FREE tools like the MozBar to examine your competitors’ content and see where their backlinks have come from in the past.
Once identified, build a list of websites that have provided your competition with a backlink in the past and determine which piece of content you think they should include on their site and why.
You may encounter several sites that you want to share the same piece of content with, so try to organize these lists in a manageable way.
Be sure to prioritize contact with websites that have a higher Domain Authority (DA) than your own as they can influence the growth of your own DA.
Craft a Template and Offer Something in Return
Build a customizable template that can be used to approach these websites in a professional manner. Before you start reaching out, make sure the content you are sharing is in the best shape it’s ever been by reviewing with the tips in Step 3.
In your message, you can let them know that your landing page is also a solid resource on the specific topic your competitor earned a backlink for and could be useful to their readers. At this point, you can politely request to have your article or blog post linked within their content as well.
The worst that can happen is they say no or don’t respond at all, which can and does happen to SEOs all across the planet. So, don’t get caught up in the rejection or feel singled out, just go for it.
Want to sweeten the pot in hopes of dropping that rejection rate?
Offer to provide additional content that can be included with your backlink or offer to share their resource on your social media channels in return.
Step 3: Revamp Your Existing Content and Further Optimize Your Site
Unless you have a brand spanking new website, chances are you have a plethora of landing pages beyond the front-facing content living in your navigation that could use an update or two.
In Step 2 you probably identified some more competitive keywords that you would like to outrank your competition with or earn backlinks for.
Keep that list of content at the forefront of your mind when considering these next few optimization bullet points, as you’ll want to prioritize it for a revamp.
Solidify Your Internal Linking Strategy
We talked earlier about how to link up new landing pages and blog posts in your content pyramids, but here we want to discuss the internal linking of your existing content.
Having a robust internal linking strategy not only allows visitors to navigate your website effectively but more importantly, it gives search engines a way to effectively crawl and index your site. While some landing pages may get indexed and rank well without having internal links pointing to them, you’re taking an unnecessary risk by not taking the two extra minutes required to link to that new content from an existing page on your site.
So if you’ve never considered your internal linking strategy, add it to the to-do list and tackle it like so:
Go through every page on your site and start linking!
I said what I said! This can be a little tedious but extremely beneficial to your website’s crawl-ability. Consider the flow of information, and just like with how you planned your content pyramid interlink all of the content that builds towards a common keyword search term goal.
Remember, it doesn’t have to all happen in one day, so break the work out into bite-size chunks:
On Day 1: of this endeavor you should organize how you want your content flow to be arranged, and prioritize what needs prioritizin’.
Day 2: whether it literally be the next day or a week later, this is the day you knock out the internal linking of all that high priority content.
Day 3: continue linking your high priority content or move on to the mid to low priority pieces. If you haven’t yet started strategizing the linking structure for your mid to low priority content, organize that now and do the linking on the next day, and so on and so forth.
Now let’s dig in on how to prioritize that content.
Find a Home for Your Orphaned Content
If you have a particularly robust site, plugins like Yoast SEO can help you identify what they consider to be “orphaned content” – aka pages that would benefit from this internal linking overhaul.
Simply put, if a page or post on your website doesn’t have an internal link pointing at it from another page of your website, it is considered orphaned.
While this is a terribly sad, yet applicable, term to apply, your orphaned content’s story is nowhere near as tragic as Bambi’s.
Simply add a link pointing at that orphaned piece of content from another page on your site, and presto! Orphaned content no more!
If you don’t have access to this plug-in, you can also prioritize pages that would most benefit from internal linking on a robust site with Google Search Console. Use this tool to pinpoint pages and posts that have yet to be indexed by the search engine.
Once identified, link to those non-indexed pages from relevant pages in your navigation or on your home page. The next time your site is crawled, there will be a direct path leading site crawlers straight to the content in-need of indexing!
While you’re in there you may also be able to manually request for Google to index the page as well, so long as the tool isn’t on a hiatus.
Refresh and Upcycle Your Older Content
Some of the building blocks in your keyword pyramid might already be in place, however, they could be a little outdated or just need a general refresh.
Check out the performance metrics of these existing pages over the past year and see how they’re doing in your site’s Google Analytics account. Don’t have one set up? Then there’s no time like the present!
With Google Analytics you can examine key behavioral performance indicators for your website and determine if your pages are up to snuff.
- Is the bounce rate too high?
- Are the pages per session too low?
- Is the time on-site next to nothing?
Examine any content that is giving you performance red flags and try to discern what the issue is.
- Maybe the layout could use a refresh?
- Perhaps more clearly identifiable CTAs could help your visitors more easily navigate your site?
- Or maybe you’re targeting all the right keywords, but the information is outdated or no long relevant.
Investigate these potential issues and plan a fix accordingly.
Review Your Content Through This On-Page SEO Best Practices Checklist
As you go through this revamp process make sure your written content is using proper h-tags and your images have alt tag descriptions as well.
The Yoast SEO plugin we mentioned earlier comes in clutch for identifying clear areas of improvement on each page, but in case you’re unable to use a tool such as that, here’s a clear-cut checklist to run your content through to start:
Optimize the following for your SEO keywords or key phrase, for example, “toyota oil change asheville nc”:
- the permalink or URL slug
- And remove stop words
- the page title
- Toyota Oil Change Asheville NC
- your meta description
- Get a great deal on your next oil change in Asheville NC when you visit our Toyota service center.
- the alt tags on your images
- <img src=“oilchange-1.png” alt=“A woman pays for an Oil Change for her Toyota in Asheville NC”>
- your h-tagged subheadings
- <h2> How much does an oil change cost for in Asheville? </h2>
- <h3> What type of oil does my Toyota need for an oil change? </h3>
For full details on all the ways this checklist positively impacts your SEO, as well as discover a number of other ways to up your on-page SEO game, check out this incredibly robust content optimization resource from Yoast.
Consider What Type of Devices your Traffic is Coming from
If the bulk of your website visitors are pulling up your site on a mobile device or tablet, which they likely are, then you definitely need to examine the user experience of your website from the mobile perspective -not just desktop.
Examine any landing pages focused on highly competitive keywords (like those with high search volumes or the ones you picked out in Step 2) to make sure they’re in peak performance shape as you move into the New Year.
Time to Crush the New SEO Goals You Just Built!
If you walked through every step of this SEO goal building process you should have more than enough work to keep you busy well into the next New Year!
By strategizing new content, learning from your competitors, and refreshing older work there’s no way you won’t absolutely crush your SEO Goals in 2021!
Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day
–and neither was your perfectly optimized content.
The key to success is planning and prioritizing. But let’s be honest, working with a highly dedicated team of SEO specialists never hurts either!
If you’re ready to kick your SEO into high gear this year and need some extra driving force to make it all happen, call on the experts here at Dealer Authority. We are lean, mean, SEO goal crushing machines and we look forward to putting our strategies to the test for your dealership.
Call us today and get a leg up in 2021!
Still have questions? Drop us a line anytime!