So far, we have looked at ways to prepare your social media marketing and content marketing for the new year. To continue the trend of getting your online marketing strategy ready for 2013, in this post we’ll look at ways to make sure your search marketing is ready for a successful new year.
Setup Analytics and Monitoring Tools
To get 2013 started on the right foot, make sure you are using the following tools to measure your search marketing results.
- Setup Google Analytics. Surprisingly, there are still businesses who do not have Google Analytics installed on their website. Google Analytics can show you lots of data pertaining to your search marketing success including the organic keywords that lead visitors to your website, fluctuations in search traffic that could mean a penalization, results of your paid search campaigns, and much more.
- Setup Goals in Google Analytics. If you do have Google Analytics installed, take it to the next level in 2013 by setting up goals. Goals can include lead form submissions, mailing list signups, product sales, and other visitor actions on your website. This way, instead of just seeing what keywords visitors use to arrive on your website, you can see what keywords visitors who ultimate become leads or customers use. This information can help you determine which keywords to focus on to directly affect your bottom line.
- Setup Webmaster Tools. Google Webmaster Tools can offer you even more insight into your website’s presence in search. Using Webmaster Tools, you can see the health of your website in Google (number of pages indexed, blocked URLs, crawl errors, etc.), get recommendations about on-site optimization, adjust your sitelinks in search results, and much more.
- Setup a rank monitoring tool. Since your SEO goals likely include increasing keyword rankings, you will want to setup a monitoring tool that will let you know how your website is ranking in search for your target keywords. Some good tools to try include Whoosh Traffic which starts at $49 (up to 300 keywords, unlimited websites) and Authority Labs which starts at $49 (up to 250 keywords, 50 domains). Both offer agency and enterprise plans as well.
Review Your Keywords
Next, you will want to review the keywords you are targeting in your search campaign and update them for the new year. Some questions to ask include the following.
- What keywords brought the most traffic to my website in 2012? If you have been using Google Analytics, review keywords under Traffic Sources > Sources > Search > Organic and Paid if you use paid search marketing. Cross reference the keywords that brought you the most traffic with your ranking for those keywords in search. If you notice that you get a ton of great traffic for a keyword you rank #8 for, then you might want to focus on boosting that keyword closer to #1.
- What alternative keywords can I use to vary my anchor text? If you haven’t been penalized by Google’s algorithm changes, then you will want to continue to ensure they don’t get you in the new year. One way to do that is to vary your keyword anchor text as much as possible. Take a look at the main keywords and phrases you’ve been targeting and see which ones you can find good alternatives to focus on.
- What longtail keyword phrases should I target with content? If you don’t have a blog just yet, consider starting one this year as a part of your content marketing strategy. Then do some additional keyword research to find out longtail keyword phrases that you could use as content topics. One way to do this is by dropping your main targeted keywords into Google AdWords Keyword Tool and looking at the keyword ideas. If you use Google AdWords, you can sign in to your account to get more than 100 additional keyword ideas for one phrase. For example, if you target link building, you can get up to 800 additional keyword ideas, many of which can be turned into great content topics.
- What new keywords should I try? If you’ve expended your current list of keywords, branch out and find new ones by looking at keywords your competitors are targeting. SEMrush allows guests to see up to 10 organic and paid search keywords that other websites are targeting. With a membership plan (starting at $69.95 per month), you can see even more keywords.
- Are my landing pages optimized for targeted keywords? When reviewing your organic keywords in Google Analytics, you can use the Secondary Dimension dropdown to also show you the landing pages each keyword goes with. If you notice that there is a high bounce rate with a particular keyword / landing page combination, make sure that the landing page actually has strong, visitor-satisfying content revolving around the keyword that brings it traffic.
Review Your On-Site Optimization
Next on the list, you will want to review your on-site optimization to make sure it is also helping you in ranking for your target keywords. Here are questions to ask about the key SEO elements on your website’s top pages as well as on your blog.
- Are title tags keyword optimized? While you don’t want to stuff keywords on in your title tags, you do want to make sure that the pages you are targeting for a particular keyword phrase have that keyword phrase in their title tag. Also, you will want to use good keyword phrases in your blog content’s title tag as well.
- Are meta descriptions utilized? Meta descriptions may not help with your keyword rankings, but they do show up in search results (with the visitor’s search terms bolded) and can help encourage visitors to click on your website. So make your meta descriptions keyword and visitor friendly.
- Are images optimized? Make sure that your main pages and blog posts have at least one image. Then make sure that image is optimized for a targeted keyword phrase by including it in the filename and ALT tag of the image.
- Are header tags utilized in content? Use header tags (H2, H3, and H4) to break up content on pages and blog posts. This can help visitors scan your pages quickly to find what they are looking for and gives you extra opportunities for keyword optimization.
- Are internal links being used? The majority of your content (especially your blog content) should include internal links to other pages on your website. This can help visitors (and search engines) discover more pages on your website. So if you have a page on content marketing and mention content marketing in a post, take the extra effort to link to it.
Plan to Acquire a Variety of Links
If you have been link building for a long time, chances are you have a good idea if you have been focusing on one link building strategy more than another. For the new year, expand (or modify) your link building strategies to include the following.
- Find quality, niche directories. Directories are a popular link building strategy, especially for industries that are tough to build links for otherwise. But instead of just going for any directory, try to aim for directories that are still in Google’s good graces and directories that are niche focused. To find out if Google has penalized a directory, search the domain on SEMrush and look at the SE Traffic graph. If the graph doesn’t show a huge dip in traffic, then it’s a good one to go for.
- Focus on guest blogging with an audience in mind. Some link builders are notorious for only focusing on Google PageRank when it comes to guest posting opportunities. Your goal in 2013 is to focus instead on blogs with a large, relevant audience. Chances are if the blog is getting a ton of traffic, social shares, and engagement, they’re likely doing well in search too. You can use SEMrush to check the blog’s search traffic.
- Seek broken link opportunities. Keep an eye out for competing websites that have gone under or use browser tools like Check My Links (Chrome) or Link Checker (Firefox) on pages with lots of links to find broken link opportunities. Then “help” the webmasters improve their pages by offering them a new website to replace their broken link with.
- Claim links for brand mentions. Create a Google Alert for your business name, unique product names, and well-known people from your business (such as the business owner or public spokesperson). Review any new results for those names and if they are missing a link to your website, send a friendly inquiry to see if you can get a link added.
- Create link worthy content. Last, but not least, focus on a smart content marketing strategy that includes building link worthy content on your website. Infographics, free tools, ebooks, whitepapers, list posts, and videos can help drive organic links back to your website.
What other ways are you preparing your search marketing for 2013? Please share in the comments!