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Search engine optimization is an important online marketing strategy that improves a website’s presence in the search engines and online overall. Like any other marketing strategy, prep work is important. In order to implement a successful SEO campaign, it’s important to first have the following five things:

Dedication
SEO is a long term marketing strategy that takes a lot of time to implement and monitor. While many companies start out with the best of intentions, they are quick to throw in the towel when they don’t see results as fast as they would like to. What companies need to understand is that there is a lot of competition online, no matter what the industry is. It’s very unlikely to see results in the first few months. In some cases it can even take a year to start to see an improvement in a search engine ranking. It’s important to understand this concept from the start and not get frustrated. Slow and steady wins the SEO race.

An Understanding of the Target Audience and Competition
Your target audience isn’t everyone that is online. Your target audience is people that are interested specifically in the products or services that you offer. Before starting an SEO campaign, you need to understand their online behaviors. How much time do they spend online? What are their online “hangouts”? When determining who your online competition is, you need to be realistic and consider geographic and business size factors. If you operate a small, local business that sells handbags you are not competing with Macys. Keep up with the goings on of your competition in the online space and use information that you gather to improve your own marketing efforts.

Quality Content
Before you can optimize your website content, you first need to have a substantial amount of quality content on your site. This pertains to every page of the site, not just the homepage. If you find that some of your pages only have a sentence or two of content, think about whether that page is really necessary, or if you can merge that content onto another page. The search engines crawl the content on each page to determine ranking. If there isn’t much to crawl, it won’t achieve a good ranking.

A User Friendly Website
The goal of an SEO campaign is to increase traffic and visitors to a website. Once they are on the site, it’s the quality of the site that will determine whether or not they will convert. Before starting an SEO campaign a website should be worthy of it, meaning that it has an easy to use navigation, looks clean, doesn’t include unnecessary distractions like ads, and has call to actions strategically placed.

Website and Brand Trust
SEO will work much better for a website that has aged and a brand that is already recognized via other marketing channels. SEO won’t work as a standalone strategy. It should be part of an integrated online and offline approach in order to achieve the best results over time.

So, how did you stack up? Did you have all five?

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