SEO after Right-Column’s End: Start with keywords ripe for the picking

Prior to AdWords’ right-column shutting down, you could ignore or limit your SEO efforts and buy the traffic on queries that mattered to you. But now those query are getting more competitive and expensive. In a world with less buyable search real estate, SEO is your best alternative to spending more or accepting less traffic from search.

Whether you’ve been ignoring SEO or just want to get more from it, you can use the plan below to energize your existing efforts and grab some quick wins.

Some Ideas for Getting SEO (Re)Started

Below I’ve put together a cheat sheet to help you jumpstart your SEO efforts. This sheet focuses on keywords ranking 5-15. Why start there? Because these keywords are most likely already generating traffic and sales for you and it makes sense to build on strength, even if it means a little more effort.

Note that I’m not writing about keywords in positions 1-4 because there is not a lot of action that I can advise. At that rank range, it’s about defense more than aggressive SEO.

Keywords Rank 05-15 Jump Start

Start: Compare your organic target keywords with your best AdWords keywords and identify the ones where you rank either below-fold page 1 or top-of-page 2. Then look at their organic conversion rates and do projections based on traffic increases as you move up the SERPs. Remember that you need to consider organic conversion rates to make sure you’re putting your efforts toward keywords that will help your business and not just your traffic.

Then:

  • Competitor Analysis: Figure out their on-page SEO usage, their link sources.
  • Page Speed & SSL: Is your site fast and is it secure. These are more recent ranking signals that many sites are not really on top of.
  • Inbound links: How diverse are your source domains? Are you driving links to key pages?
Then:

  • Take your findings and put together an aggressive plan to acquire more links, speed up page loads, and show Google you care about security as much as they do.
  • Focus on link-building and more code-oriented optimization to start. If you’re ranking this well right now, then it’s more likely an off-page factor keeping you from moving up.
  • When it comes to links, focus on quality, getting links to the target page, and getting links from multiple domains.
Checkout this post from Backlinko & this post from Moz for more ideas and a reality check, respectively.
Repeat every 30-60 days.

There are a lot of other things you can do both in terms of analysis and actions, but what’s listed here will give you the knowledge, perspective and next steps to see ranking improvements in the near-term.

Keep an eye out for the sheet about lower ranking keywords.

Photo: ripe by Jenny Downing is licensed under CC by 2.0

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