If you're planning to invest time, money and valuable resources into developing your online presence, it makes sense to evaluate your current situation before doing so.
Quantitatively measuring your existing barriers to success as well as where you stand in relation to your competitors and where your future opportunities lie is paramount to the future of your business both online and offline.
Creating a dynamic and successful online strategy in this fast paced and ever-changing landscape requires more than 'best practice' techniques implemented by the 'expert'. Below we talk about the three key areas we focus on when developing search engine optimisation strategies for our clients, and how your business applying the same processes.
1. Understanding Your Current Position
To fully understand your online position, a website audit needs to be carried out to highlight barriers for your website to be found online. Performing such an analysis enables you to simulate how Google sees your website to get a broad brush understanding of the barriers keeping people from finding your site. It can also highlight any critical areas that need to be fixed immediately, giving you the critical information you need to help promote your website correctly and engage visitors that arrive on your site.
The following graph is an example of a website audit which highlights barriers for this particular website to be found online. Using a proprietary enterprise system in the United States, we were able to track online visibility with Google and other key search engines. We could then immediately attend to all of the urgent errors, before piecing together an on-page strategy to be employed and reported on.
2. Assess The Competition
The next stage is to gain an understanding of how your competitors are doing online and how you stack up against them. Competing successfully requires studying your competition and their reputation. If you understand their strengths and weaknesses you will be able to adjust your own game plan, if you don't it can be difficult to make intelligent decisions that will keep your current customers, and entice new ones.
The first part of an effective competitor analysis is to find out what share of voice (market share) you have and how this compares to your online and offline competitors. Quite often this process exposes new competitive threats from an emerging competitor online you would have otherwise missed.
We use a tool called BrightEdge which gives clients the same information used by the CEO of Adobe, Facebook and Twitter to make their strategic decisions worth tens of thousands of dollars. We can see in the graphs above a clear visual depiction of the client's current market share compared to both named and unknown competitors. This provides invaluable information which highlights their SEO strengths and opportunities online.
From here we can perform a gap analysis to compare what your competitors are doing successfully and what you are not. Armed with this information and the right tools, it's possible to reverse engineer successful strategies your competitors are using and apply them to your business to get a great result. By copying all the good stuff and combining it with our own internal processes we can then compete in the areas that are of interest. With technologies such as BrightEdge you can better understand yours and your competitor’s weaknesses and strengths online, and find 'low-hanging fruit' which should be targeted first.
3. Target New Opportunities & Forecast Your Success.
Once this information is collected you can accurately forecast potential revenue gains by implementing a professional on and off page optimisation content marketing strategy. This enables business owners and managers to make smart business decisions based on factual data and assumptions that are well supported.
Using the same enterprise software we have the ability to forecast the potential market and possible returns for our clients. Below is an example of BrightEdge forecasting for a keyword sample, the relating assumptions are based on exact keyword returns and do not take into account additional revenue that may be captured from a professional SEO strategy.
Online Marketing is a constantly evolving field and has grown to become a fundamental factor in the success of businesses large and small.
Before you do anything online you need to understand how strong your online presence is. It's one thing to have a pretty website or blog, but it's another to have a complete online presence integrating your website, social media pages and entire online asset pool.
The second thing you need to know is how your business stacks up against the competition both on and offline. Ignoring the competition is fatal and may lead you to focus your attention in the entirely wrong direction. Lastly, you need to analyse your future opportunities based on solid data and forecast revenue. Without a complete strategy in place based on solid framework such as this then you should not rush into expanding your presence online. These key areas serve as the foundation, upon which your future marketing efforts will be placed; this is what will end up making or breaking your business.