Search and content optimization  is quite often ignored by start-ups and small companies, the reality is that a modest time investment can pay large dividends towards business and visibility growth. I figured I would write up a quick little roadmap that can get you started around a strong and maintainable search marketing strategy.
Start by creating a small list of keywords and keyword “statements” about your project or company. Try to think about how your potential customers may think of you and how you would like to be thought of when they’re in the search and discovery process.
Here’s one way to get started on your keyword research : Send an email out to your team ask them to send you back a list of 5 words that describe your business, if you’re a one person shop then go out for a tea and write a list out of what you want people to think about when they might be looking for your product.
From there we are going use the following roadmap to create some solid keyword lists we can use to help us define a strong internal link structure on our website and help us define a process for content creation, site development and communications.
Keep in mind I’m keeping this as simple and low cost as possible, it involves a little bit of Excel jockeying (which I won’t be teaching here but it’s all basic stuff) – also remember we are interested in creating a smart and effective strategy that we can execute over a long period of time. This type of work is a marathon, not a sprint which will pay excellent dividends in the future once it becomes a process within your company.
Here’s the process which I’ve found works generically well is as follows:
We are going to break down our research in three main “buckets” which are based on the terms we thought about about: competitive, popularity and analytics keyword research:
- Competitive Analysis we will look at our competitors and their rankings/keywords. To do this you can use http://opensiteexplorer.com  the free version will even give you a start but the modest fee for a paid account is recommended.
- Popularity Analysis will track the “hottest” searches as it relates to our product. You can use Google Trends and Google Adwords: https://adwords.google.com/o/KeywordTool 
- Analytics Analysis will track the keywords we are getting even minor traffic for and allow us to optimize and increase those rankings. You can grab this information from your analytics package after filtering out your branded keywords.
We will maintain these lists as “raw” lists by choosing the “Export” option in each of the above tools. These should contain hundreds and possibly thousands of keywords in a TSV, CSV or XLS format.
From the lists in we created, we will now create our Primary, Secondary and Tertiary keyword lists by going through our raw data and copying an pasting into a new excel file for each of the following:
- Primary Keywords are core business terms.
- Secondary Keywords are product specific.
- Tertiary Keywords are product specific and time/topic/trend sensitive.
We will then create tracking projects using “Advanced Web Ranking” or SEOMOZ. We will pretty much copy and past (or import) our filtered lists into these tools. The projects we create here will track both our rankings, traffic and other SEO criteria.
From this research we will develop and/or optimize the following page types:
- Anchor Pages – these are your top level pages.
- Portal Pages – these are pages you can develop based on your products.
- Content Pages – these are effectively your blog pages.
The pages and keywords map in the following way:
- Anchor to Primary Keywords/Phrases.
- Portal to Secondary Keywords/Phrases.
- Content to Tertiary Keywords/Phrases.
This will allow us to create “silos” of related keywords, authority and content within our website. Remember this will guide us on an internal linking process which will ensure that the search engines can crawl our website using the words and phrases we use to link within our content, all this does is guide the engine to understand how (what worlds to use) to index our website.
That is the machine we are looking to build and get solid and maintainable search engine listings without having to spend significant money on advertising. Remember it’s a marathon, it should take you 2 hours to do this the first time then 30 minutes a week to update so long as your content on your website will reflect all of the work we did above.
Good luck with your internet marketing !