Wednesday, July 8, 2009

SEO Analysis and Research: The First Step to Web Marketing

by Collyn Floyd

Research, planning and analysis are paramount to successfully starting any business endeavor. Think about this: architects draw up blueprints before building structures, physicians order tests and x-rays before operating, athletes create game plans and survey the competition before game day, and retailers scout out the best locations before opening up shop.

Similarly, before starting a Web Marketing campaign, you need to create a marketing "blueprint" for your website through research and analysis. This is an important first step in any Web Marketing campaign because it helps identify key issues and metrics within a website, helps you make better informed choices moving forward, and makes creating an accurate marketing plan much easier.

From keyword rankings to website structure to competitive research information, a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) analysis should give you an excellent idea of the size and scope of the web marketing campaign you'll need. If done correctly, an SEO analysis should give you a good idea if your site needs "the works" or just a few tweaks, and if your level of investment will be large, small, or somewhere in between.

If you want to improve any of the following on your website, then you should seriously consider a website analysis:

* Keyword rankings in the search engines

* Branding/online visibility

* The quality and amount of traffic to your site

* Overall appeal and ease of use of your site, including site architecture, copywriting, etc.

* Sales and lead conversions

A good SEO analysis to assist you moving forward should also include the following detailed information:

* Keyword rankings: Does your site just need a little nudging to get to the first page of Google? Or are you nowhere to be found? Find out where your site ranks in the Big 3 search engines (Google, Yahoo!, MSN), as well as if you are targeting the best keywords for your site. You'd be surprised how many businesses unknowingly target the wrong set of keywords. Knowing this information will have a dramatic effect on the type of campaign you'll need moving forward.

* Online competition: Who are your competitors? Are they aggressively using the Web? What are their strengths and weaknesses? Knowing this information gives you powerful information that can give you a head start on the competition.

* Problem areas: A good site analysis should uncover areas of your site that may be hindering you in the search engines. Maybe pages of your website aren't being indexed by the search engines or you have navigation that isn't user-friendly. These are common examples of problems that are identified in a site analysis.

* Analytics: Who is visiting your site? Where are they coming from and how long are they staying? What pages are visiting most frequently? Analytics programs, such as Google Analytics, help provide answers to these questions

* SEO recommendations: A good SEO analysis should give you recommendations and suggestions to use moving forward. Just like an architect's blueprint, this should guide you as you undergo your Web Marketing campaign.

A reputable SEO firm is the best place to go for this type of reporting because they have access to the best, most reliable tools, not to mention the needed professional and analytical experience.

If you want to maximize the effectiveness of your Search Engine Optimization campaign, it's critical for your success that you begin by doing SEO analysis and research on your website and your competitors. Remember: if you don't know where your site stands currently, how can you successfully gauge where to go next?

About the Author

Collyn Floyd is a marketing and public relations specialist with The Karcher Group, a web development and search engine marketing firm based in North Canton, OH. She is passionate about helping The Karcher Group's clients achieve greater online traffic, leads and sales through search engine optimization and marketing.