Nov 13, 2013 114 reads by Navneet Kaushal

Creating an SEO & online strategy that works right for your company involves a lot of planning & integration of various online components such as your company's website, blog, or YouTube channel.

Maile Ohye, Developer Programs Tech Lead in Google has come up with an interesting and helpful video to help you create SEO Strategy with Webmaster Tools. In the video, Maile had pretended to be the SEO manager the Webmaster Central Blog.

The video is targeted to beginners who work in search optimization or online strategy. For those who are familiar with Google Webmaster tools, Google Analytics, the video will be of great help.


Maile took the discussion further by taking Webmaster Central as mock company.

The two basic agenda of the video are:

1. Building an SEO and online strategy

  • Understanding searcher persona workflow
  • Determining company and website goals
  • Auditing your site to best reach your audience
  • Executive and making improvements

2. Overcoming obstacles

Maile acted as the SEO for Google Webmaster Central. This make belief company has the components:

  • Google Webmasters YouTube Channel
  • Webmaster Central Blog
  • Webmaster Tools
  • Webmaster Help Center
  • Webmaster Discussion Forum

As an SEO for the company, Maile pretended being in charge of the website; the Google Webmaster Central Blog. The blog gives latest tips and information. The flagship product of the company is Webmaster Tools. When webmasters verify the ownership of their site on webmaster tools, it's great because the company than has a two-way communication with them about their site. The company has community engagement through webmaster forum, helpful support articles in webmaster help center, and rich media experience through Google webmasters YouTube channel.

Maile said that your company & your situation might look different. For example, you might be an SEO but instead of a discussion forum, your business has social media presence. Maile suggests try diagramming all the company's components and how they currently interact, link, and reference one another. Imagine how users from one component might be able to reach another component and how making a conversion might be possible.

Creating a SEO Strategy

  • Understanding search persona workflow
  • Determining company and website goals
  • Auditing your site to best reach your audience
  • Executing and making improvements

Searcher Persona Workflow

Creating an SEO Strategy with Webmaster Tools: A Google Webmaster Help Video!

The diagram is given by Vanessa Fox in her book "Marketing in the Age of Google". The main steps to conversion don't stop at search rankings but go on to include the content and experience on the site. The process starts with search and user's query. After the user enters the query, the ranking and display of your site comes to the play. If the searcher selects your site, then comes the next step "Page Content" or making sure that your page has the relevant content. The last step is the conversion.

Not every searcher will complete this entire workflow. Some searchers may be doing informational query to research before making a later purchase. However, by making sure that your site captures the workflow for various searcher personas, your site will be prepared to capitalize when the searcher is ready.

Stages in Informational Query:

  • Website visitors
  • Engagement

Stages in Transactional Query:

  • Website visitors
  • Engagement
  • Call to action

Business Department Responsibilities

Business departments commonly more or less correspond to the searcher personal workflow. Maile segregated the responsibilities in the following way:

Search – Marketing and Business Development

Rank and Display – SEO

PageContent (Audience Need) – SEO/UX/Writers

Conversion and Motivation – UX

For a large business, these roles are divided into different teams but for a one person shop, you may find yourself playing all these roles. However, the roles & responsibilities should always be seamless, when it comes to searchers experience.

Maile took the example of soccer to show the importance of team work. How every player has a fixed position but moves around the field, whenever needed. Similarly, your customers may come to your site from search engine or social media site, follow a link to the new page, then to the home page, clicks around, and converts.

Essentially company strategy is most effective when everyone prioritizes the big picture, scoring and making a conversion. Think beyond individual roles or responsibilities.

Maile said that her webmaster central team will be most effective if it figures out the strategy to best serve users. For example, if searchers come to a blog, can they see how they can subscribe to the blog? Will they understand the benefit of subscribing? Outside the blog, if the users are watching a video on a YouTube channel about webmaster tools, can they see how they can sign up?

Verify Components are Seamlessly Integrated

  1. Are your videos optimized for common queries such as "Can I watch a video about 301 redirects?"
  2. Do you provide an easy way for viewers to reach your product? For example, is there assistance or way provided if the viewer wants to sign up for Webmaster Tools?

Creating a SEO Strategy

Once you have understanding of general users' needs and searcher persona workflow, it's time to create SEO Strategy that is cohesive with company goals.

  1. What's our business goal?
  2. What can our product/service do that no one else can?
  3. What does success look like?
  4. What components are involved?
  5. How does your website play a part in this success?

Maile shared the success goal of her team.

Que: What's our business goal?

Ans: Help all site owners

Que: What can our product/service do that no one else can?

Ans: Act as the official Google source of information

Que: What does success look like?

Ans: Increased webmaster community and higher participation in products/services

Que: What components are involved?

Ans: Maile has a diagram of components including: Google Webmasters YouTube Channel, Webmaster Central Blog, Webmaster Tools, Webmaster Help Center, and Webmaster Discussion Forum

Que: How does your website play a part in this success?

Ans: Webmaster Central Blog provides webmasters the latest information and announcements

Another aspect that can be helpful in defining your company's business goals is studying your competitors.

  1. What do our online competitors do well?
  2. What are they missing?
  3. Is there a market need for the things we could do better than our competitors?

Next is the time to think about metrics. Maile said she would first look at her business goals and than set the metrics accordingly. Referring to Webmaster Central company, Maile's first goal would have been:

1. Increase webmaster community

The metrics defined for WMC Blog are:

a.) Unique users with Pageviews

  • From search
  • From referrals (links/shares)
  • External sites and YouTube channel or Help Center
  • From direct traffic

b.) Subscribers

Maile suggests the second step to be "putting the knowledge of audience to work".

2. Understand searcher persona workflow

3. Determine company and website goals

4. Audit your site to best reach your audience

5. Execute and make improvements

Your Audit might begin with:

1. What groups are you targeting?

  • Where are they located?
  • What devices are they using?

The next step involves auditing site for audience-focused content

  1. What are their objectives?
  2. Do any/some of their objectives match why your company is special?
  3. Do their query terms match your content?

To answer some of these questions, you can check out the search queries and content keyword features in webmaster tools.

Maile also suggested to write valuable content & to naturally incorporate the keywords potential visitors actually search for.

Last stage is to creating SEO strategy is to executive. Make improvements, track metrics, and iterate. With business goals & high level SEO goals defined, Maile might start to executive the content & user experience discovered during site audit.

  • Maile might talk to content and marketing team about using more the languages of searchers
  • Maile might also begin to consider more blog post especially relevant to users in Canada & New Zealand, since the audit revealed that most of the users come from there.
  • While executive ideas, Maile will continue to track metrics & will always keep in mind the company's goal.

When it comes to implementing an SEO strategy, webmaster tools can help in monitoring and optimizing the site for:

  • Crawing
  • Idexing
  • Search results

Although it may be tempting to focus solely on rankings, you may be missing the valuable opportunities if you disregard the user & searcher persona workflow. Rankings can stay as it is, but if you can increase search volumes through better marketing, that could lead to a larger percentage of visitors to the site & possibly more conversions. Also, if the content team produces excellent material, it can allow to upsell more products to visitors. If the development, user experience, and usability teams make the site an enjoyable destination, that could bring repeat customers. So, you can meet your business goals without focusing on the traditional roles of SEO.

Essentially all the steps in the searcher persona workflow can be optimized. Efforts in each step and perhaps by each team are crucial to make your company's goals a reality.

Maile also discussed the obstacles that SEOs face while creating a strategy. These include:

  1. I am not the person responsible for all of this. I just run department X.
  2. I need to know the keywords my competitor is targeting.
  3. I need to know what sites are linking to my competitor before I know who to target.
  4. Is my competition planning to have a social media presence?
  5. Search engine algorithms change so much I can't keep up

Maile concluded the video by saying, Go for It!

  1. Understand the searcher persona workflow and create an integrated strategy inclusive of all components
  2. Determine goals, define metrics
  3. Audit your site to best reach your audience. Maximize existing search traffic by optimizing the crawl, index, and search results pipeline
  4. Work with the entire team when improving your online business. Success is much more than ranking
Creating an SEO Strategy with Webmaster Tools: A Google Webmaster Help Video!, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating
Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal is the founder and CEO of PageTraffic, an SEO Agency in India with offices in Chicago, Mumbai and London. A leading search strategist, Navneet helps clients maintain an edge in search engines and the online media. Navneet's expertise has established PageTraffic as one of the most awarded and successful search marketing agencies.
Navneet Kaushal
Navneet Kaushal
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