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A Guide To Organizational Nirvana

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A Guide To Organizational Nirvana

SEO project management is a strategic framework for promoting your website’s visibility, increasing brand exposure, and gaining credible leads through search engines.

It relies on a comprehensive integration of SEO into an array of business workflows that ensure search optimization best practices are reflected throughout each stage of digital content creation and other processes relevant to managing your digital presence.

Why SEO Project Management Matters

Effective integration of SEO into marketing, website, and development, or an agency team, can be highly challenging.

Even in this day and age, many employees haven’t had experience working with SEO pros.

They may not understand the value that SEO can offer their existing workflows or believe these workflows function sufficiently well without it.

So, it’s critical to explain the key benefits of SEO in ways that demonstrate how they can be applied to various team needs across different departments and actively improve each.

What Should Be Included In SEO Project Management

The following initiatives are just some of many that SEO professionals can use to advocate for process integration as part of your SEO project management efforts.

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Topic Ideation

Use keyword research to uncover topics and themes for content that will allow you to rank for keywords and terms that are important to your business.

This research can uncover white spaces for new content or opportunities to update existing content.

Content Calendar/Seasonality Recommendations

Analyze keyword popularity and usage seasonality to decide when to publish or update content.

Brief Support

Provide recommendations for keywords that should be used throughout the piece, including the title tag, on-page title, meta description, headers, body content, social copy, and alt text.

Traffic Projections

If keyword research and recommendations included in content are based on monthly search volume (MSV) and estimated eventual rank, then estimated organic traffic/users can be calculated.

While these estimates can’t be directly applied to other channels, keywords are still an indicator of intent.

So, by including keywords with decent MSV, you know there’s interest in the subject matter.

And by writing content you know your audience is looking for, you might also encourage additional traffic from content shares and clicks from email links.

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Copy Review

Reviewing copy within the context of keyword research supports existing SEO efforts to make sure the correct keywords are included.

That way, they are used to match the audience’s search intent, where the right range and volume of topics adequately support the subject matter.

So there isn’t too much business jargon or too many company-centric terms that audiences may not be familiar with.

Overly niche or branded language likely won’t mean much to most searchers when they see it on the search engine results page (SERP).

Content Publication

Ensure findability through the correct setup of the new website URL.

Without proper SEO implementation, you’ll risk Google (and other search engines) potentially being unable to find your content, rank it well, or absorb all the content you’ve written.

If you want your content to be findable in search engines:

  • It has to be marked as indexed.
  • It should have title tags and meta descriptions – these are the best way to help convince searchers to click through.
  • It should include alt text on images relevant to your content so Google can understand the image’s context and for accessibility purposes.
  • It should link to internal and/or external content correctly and usefully.

This should help the content reach its full potential of driving organic traffic and avoid mistakes that reduce findability.

Reporting

Proof of the value of SEO, or any effort, comes down to the numbers.

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You’ll need to demonstrate how the keywords you are actively going after raise your ranking and how the prominence of your content grows on Page 1 of SERPs.

To accomplish this – and to report on how your optimizations and the new content you create – increase each of the following:

  • Website visibility in search engines.
  • Clickthrough rates (CTRs) from search engines.
  • Organic traffic from search.
  • Conversions from search traffic.

Collectively, these can help prove the significance of SEO work and the value of incorporating it into project management plans.

Content Optimization

Ongoing SEO reporting should focus not only on the impact of new content, but also the role of existing content.

Instead of wasting time, effort, and money creating net new content, SEO can provide insights into the opportunities to help existing content reach its full potential.

It can offer guidance for the most up-to-date language, topics, and themes to incorporate, and which reflect what is most relevant to audiences.

Updated and more accurate content will help improve website jurisdiction on the subject matter and support any existing SEO authority.

And when Google recrawls a recently updated site, it gives the content a new life and can make it more likely to show up higher in SERPs.

Why Get Buy-In First Before Implementing SEO PM Processes

Before setting up new processes or jumping into making structural changes, it’s important to get buy-in from all of the associated team members and leadership.

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Set up meetings with interested parties, including creative, product, demand gen, PR, events, marketing execs, and company thought leaders, to understand the benefits of implementation.

Reframe each conversation based on the goals, key performance indicators (KPIs), and expected outcomes.

But consistently share the main point: SEO should never be an afterthought.

SEO starts in the brief creation and research phase.

It should be prioritized throughout, serve as quality control before and after publication, and be reported on to prove results.

Demonstrate the value of the SEO workflows and objectives listed above to highlight why incorporating SEO should not be considered optional, but a necessary part of content and webpage creation.

Dedicating time to connect with team members will help prevent pushback – or at least reduce negative feedback – because they will understand the upsides.

How To Create Effective Cross-Team SEO Project Management Processes

When it’s time to begin integrating your SEO efforts into larger team processes, follow this holistic set of actions:

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  • Establish.
  • Collaborate.
  • Finalize.
  • Share.
  • Implement.
  • Test.
  • Track.

Establish The Role Of SEO In Your Company And/Or Department

Establishing the overall role of SEO will be most helpful for deciding where to start your efforts.

It will also help inform which of the above SEO project management integrations are most valuable to your current team, organization, and needs.

Begin by establishing a thorough understanding of these two sets of processes:

  • Existing content processes.
  • Existing web/development processes.

Establish the players involved across content creation for existing content processes, including copy, design, strategy, planning, social, etc.

You should also consider communication platforms, order of operations, timelines and deadlines, primary KPIs, any existing SEO efforts, and anything else included between the initial stage of a piece of content’s inception, to its eventual publication and tracking.

For existing web/development processes, understand the technical steps required for a piece of content to go live.

Who is responsible for creating a new page?

Is the content management system (CMS) self-service and user-friendly to someone outside the dev team, or is more extensive programming knowledge required?

Who, if anyone, is responsible for ensuring SEO best practices are followed? Is there anything built into the CMS that makes incorporating SEO components easier?

Are there any structural implications for the site when creating new content? Are there any other technical SEO considerations?

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It may take a while to answer all these questions and figure out what else you need to know. But these are good starting points for understanding where SEO needs to be integrated.

Determine A New Set Of Collaborative Processes For Content Creation And Optimization

Once you’ve obtained a fairly comprehensive understanding of your team’s processes, it’s time to inject SEO into the spaces where it should live – or decide how to alter SEO’s current role to provide the greatest benefit.

Here’s an example of an SEO-driven content creation process:

  • Team member ideates content topic.
  • The team lead approves topic.
  • SEO expert creates content brief.
  • Content Lead reviews content brief and provides feedback.
  • SEO and Content Lead align on the final brief.
  • Content Lead sends brief to the writer.
  • Writer submits first draft of content and submits for review to Content Lead.
  • Content Lead reviews first draft and provides edits as suggestions to Writer.
  • Writer finalizes draft and submits for final review to Content Lead + Manager/Team Lead.
  • Writer ideates & then submits all blog design needs. (For example, hero/header image, product image, charts, graphs, images for social posts, etc.)
  • Designer creates graphic elements.
  • Writer sets up content CMS/website platform.
  • SEO reviews setup in CMS/website platform and provides feedback.
  • Writer makes any other edits from SEO.
  • Writer publishes the article.
  • Writer QAs published content to ensure correct implementation.
  • Writer creates copy for social media channels.
  • Writer updates content records to include new content.
  • Writer and SEO track content performance.

While multiple processes could be created to account for various content owners and creators, this example shows one of the more extensive ways that SEO can be involved with content.

Finalize New Processes By Getting Leadership Approval

While you’ve hopefully already received buy-in from leadership and other team members and departments, request additional approval once your proposal is complete.

Sharing the start-to-finish process of SEO and content integration will show just how many ways SEO can contribute to the content process, all of which should help increase findability and traffic.

Comprehension of the full picture should help increase appreciation of SEO efforts to optimize the entire workflow, thus further advocating for SEO and building on your buy-in.

Share The New Processes With Team Members

Open communication is critical any time processes change.

Make sure no one feels blindsided or disconnected from the efforts they’re involved with.

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Additionally, ensuring your whole team has visibility into your plans can help improve awareness, adoption, and accountability.

Communicate Plans By Leveraging The Right Technology

One of the most successful ways to do this is by leveraging the right technology to communicate and track updates.

And the best way to publicize these processes is to include them in a project management or project tracking software system.

Whether or not you currently use software for team and project management, devote time to identifying the best PM technology for your team’s needs.

The optimal software should include at least these five capabilities:

  • Calendar view.
  • Tasks for multiple owners.
  • Document editing and management.
  • Commenting, tagging, and communicating within the platform.
  • Integrations with core tools.

Implementing The Right Project Management Software

Programs like Asana allow you to build out project templates that include each task, and accompanying subtasks, of your plans with project descriptions, expectations, and links to relevant documents.

Each can be assigned to an individual with due dates or a range of start and end dates.

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These platforms can send emails, Slack updates, and other notifications about you and your team members’ tasks to help keep each of you informed about your assigned workloads.

As long as the tasks are set up properly, you can be assured that each team member clearly understands the new expectations, timing, and dependencies between SEO and other departments.

And all will have clear visibility into deadlines, so you don’t have to remind them.

Setting Up And Sharing The New Processes In The PM Software Before Launch

Be very clear and direct when it comes to implementing new project workflows before kicking them off.

Communicate with the content team and relevant product team members about:

  • What the new processes entail.
  • How each is set up in the PM software.
  • How much time each team member has to complete each project phase.
  • What parts of the project are contingent on other parts – especially what is needed for SEO to kick off their research.
  • Which project will be the first to implement the new processes.

Take in any feedback, and update the process as needed.

Implement New Project Workflows

Now the work begins.

Follow the flow you’ve created to build out content from scratch or refresh it.

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Test

With all your comprehensive planning (and some luck), your new SEO integration efforts will go off without a hitch.

But just in case, carefully test and follow the progress and completion of the first few iterations.

Confirm if everything is going according to plan, whether there are any flaws or gaps, if the assigned SEO has the resources they need, and if there is any team feedback.

Be mindful of expected deadlines, whether more lead time is needed, and if, given everything else you and your team members are expected to accomplish, your whole team can deliver the best SEO-driven output throughout each stage of the process.

If not, don’t hesitate to make changes to your plans.

It’s better to delay full implementation than to proceed in a way that doesn’t allow you to substantiate the full impact of your efforts.

Track Performance Of Content That’s Been Created With Your New Processes

Lastly, tracking your efforts is critical for maintaining buy-in on any SEO project management strategy or process.

Measure Performance

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Measure your performance against historical benchmarks of similar content – focusing primarily on organic traffic and activity from organic search.

Decide which organic KPIs are more important to you; for example, traffic to your blog, form conversions, time on page, or newsletter subscriptions.

Then, identify and establish projections for each.

Your projections should be based on things like historical performance, ranking expectations, MSV for targeted queries for new content, and promotional plans that drive traffic.

Increased traffic across non-organic channels can be an additional way to measure the success of SEO efforts since keywords represent search intent, so you know audiences are looking for the content you create.

If they see it in email, social, or ads and click at a higher rate, you can infer that the search intent applies to other channels.

Set Up Reporting

Start your reporting by first identifying your data sources.

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For website analytics and site traffic, you may be using Google Analytics or Adobe.

For form conversions or newsletter subscriptions, you’ll be using a MAP.

Connect with the owners of these tools, like an expert on your marketing automation team, to determine what can be automated and how you can begin to build reports to track KPIs.

Even without automated resources, there are plenty of free tools and APIs to help.

For those with more resources, this is where investing in an SEO platform can really help aggregate all of your data in one place to analyze and extract key insights.

Uncover Insights

Once you have your reporting in place, review your content’s performance regularly.

Start off with more frequent and granular readouts to become familiar with the nuances of the data, so you can begin to identify small trends.

Before you present to leadership, step back and show a holistic overview of the impact of your efforts.

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Make sure you consider how long it’s taken Google to start ranking a new piece of content and when it begins to drive organic traffic.

Report on whether the content created through your new SEO project management system speeds it up.

The same applies to the amount of time it takes for conversions to start – and hopefully spike – after certain efforts.

Then analyze the types of content and topics that perform best.

Feed Learning Back Into Content Optimizations

Use all of this reporting to your advantage, and translate your findings into optimizations for your process and your pages.

Conclusion

While most content roles and skills have found ways to integrate themselves into the content research, creation, and optimization processes, SEO often struggles to emerge as a consistent, let alone required, part of team project management.

However, by approaching SEO project management with specific tasks in mind and a process that incorporates them, you’ll have the best chance for success – especially when the process can be carefully woven into the existing efforts of your team.

It can take time, but it will ultimately show strategic initiative thinking that demonstrates holistic knowledge of an effectively optimized process, resulting in measurable performance improvement towards reaching your goals.

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SEO

Website Organization Best Practices For Law Firms

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Website Organization Best Practices For Law Firms

Reaching the top of the law firm search results can be intimidating. Focusing on site architecture is an essential step toward creating a top-ranked search presence.

Virtually every aspect of search optimization, from content to user experience, depends on a site architecture that makes it easy for site visitors to find what they’re looking for and is flexible enough to accommodate adding more topics should the need arise.

Accomplishing this requires a deep consideration of site navigation to make the important sections of the site one click to two clicks away from the homepage.

Website architecture is a part of what’s known as the internal linking structure and can also include how information is organized, which means the content.

Google’s John Mueller emphasized that internal linking is important.

Mueller said:

“…internal linking is super critical for SEO.

…it’s one of the biggest things that you can do on a website to kind of guide Google and guide visitors to the pages that you think are important.”

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Mueller also said that internal linking is an opportunity to tell Google which pages are important, thereby indicating what the site should rank for.

“You can decide to make things important where you earn the most money or you can make things important where you’re the strongest competitor or maybe you’re the weakest competitor.”

This article will introduce three fundamental elements of site architecture that can contribute to higher search performance.

Website Architecture: Page Organization And Links

Let’s take a few moments first to discuss website architecture and why the user experience (UX) segment is important for getting ranked.

The Importance Of Website Architecture To SEO

You already know that SEO content and your website structure should be constructed for people over search engines.

However, it just so happens that what is good for users is also good for Google.

So, all the most important aspects of an expertly crafted site architecture will contribute to a better user experience and make the site easy to understand for Google.

A well-organized website will be easy for users to get around.

From the homepage, they will be able to access a host of other resources that are located just a few clicks away.

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And that point is important.

You don’t want to bury important webpages multiple clicks away from the homepage or not have anything on the homepage that links to them at all.

Google’s web crawler will have a hard time finding those pages, and the pages will likely not rank very well (and probably no one will ever actually see them).

Another benefit of well-organized website architecture is that the internal linking spreads PageRank around the website.

If your local service pages all link up one level to your main service page for bankruptcy, business, or whatever kind of law you practice, you are telling Google that that primary service page is important, optimized, and worth ranking highly.

So, now you know why you need to put the time into organizing a straightforward and tidy website architecture.

Aspects Of Effective Law Firm Website Architectures

It’s important for any business in any industry, but now, let’s look at how law firm websites should structure themselves for maximum organic results.

Main Navigation

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Your website’s main navigation must be concise and clear in its layout since that is what potential clients will use to get around your site to see your services.

You must organize the navigation in a logical, top-down way. A “Services” or “Practice Areas” tab should drop down to a menu showing organized columns of your legal specialties.

Any kind of “About Us” or “Our Firm” tab can break down into a few sections that perhaps provide a history of the firm or state your organization’s mission.

Law firms are known as service-based organizations.

Instead of hundreds of product pages with little descriptions, your website should ideally feature:

  • A homepage.
  • As many main service pages as necessary to describe what your firm does.
  • An informational content section.
  • A contact page.
  • An “About Us” section where you profile your attorneys and profess your firm’s values and mission statement.

Those are the essential elements of a quality law firm website, but how do you structure them on the site itself and link among them?

URL Naming Conventions And Structure

I have reviewed the importance of getting your main navigation and internal links correct.

Next is an overview of the importance of creating a simple but informative URL structure for the pages on your website.

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It is vital to get this right because you aim to tell human users and search engines alike what your pages are about through the structure of your pages’ URLs.

The general advice on creating URLs is to remove excess words and include some keywords to be as descriptive as possible in the least amount of words.

Your URLs should reveal what will be found on that page.

Keep it simple.

Look at these examples:

For a blog post, make the URL a simpler version of the actual title.

So, your post entitled “10 Great Ways To Succeed In Business On A Budget” might be:

While you’re at it, be sure to add canonical tags to your URLs on the back end.

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That way, if there’s a chance a page could be picked up using multiple terms, Google knows where to direct people.

Information Architecture: Content Organization

Create A Descriptive And Helpful Homepage

The homepage needs to do many things, such as inspire trust, make it easy to contact the business, plus serve as an effective entrance to the rest of the website.

How is this accomplished?

Focusing on what will help users the most is the best approach to creating the best home page.

There are four communication goals:

  1. Communicate what the general topic of the law practice is (i.e. of the entire site)
  2. Describe what the top major topics of the business are
  3. Make it easy to reach all the major specific sections of the website
  4. Use keywords that users would use

General Topic of the Law Practice

Businesses are said to be organized by verticals. A vertical market is simply what kind of business it is serving.

So the first goal of the homepage is to communicate what vertical market the law firm serves.

In the legal profession, typical verticals can be:

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  • Bankruptcy law.
  • Corporate law.
  • Criminal defense.
  • Estate planning.
  • Family law.
  • Etc.

A law firm that is focused on family law can use that as the description for the topic of the entire site. Because most law firms serve a geographic region, that information is also used as part of the general description, the overall topic of the website.

So if the website is a family law attorney based in Springfield, Massachusetts, then the home page of that site should communicate that information from the title tag of that webpage what that vertical market is.

Family Law Attorneys - Springfield MA - Example Law Firm

The job of the homepage is to rank for that general term. It’s the job of the inner pages to rank for the more specific areas like child custody, divorce, pre-marital agreements, etc.

Describe Major Topics of the Business

The second goal is to describe the different areas that the business serves, for example:

For example, suppose the website is about personal injury in City A.

But now, it must also describe very briefly (and even link to) the specialties within that personal injury vertical.

Examples of Specialties Within the Personal Injury Vertical

  • Motorcycle injury.
  • Medical malpractice.
  • Car accidents.
  • Brain injury, etc.

Link to Major Sections of Site From Homepage

Third, it’s super important to link to as many of the inner sections of the site that correspond to the specialties within the legal vertical that the law firm serves.

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This can be done from the top of the page navigation menu. And it can also be accomplished from somewhere within the body of the homepage.

Keywords

Top takeaways about keywords and the homepage:

  • Always use the words that your potential clients tend to use.
  • Organize the webpage according to the most popular reasons why clients tend to call. If most calls are about slip and fall, list that as the first practice area. If the next most popular reason for calling is a brain injury, then make that the second section. This makes it easy for most site visitors to find what they’re looking for.
  • Use images that contribute to communicating your message (this breaks up the page and makes it easy to scan).
  • If possible, A/B test using user experience analytics like Microsoft Clarity to identify pain points that site visitors might encounter. An example of a pain point can be if site visitors are “rage-clicking” certain links or areas where they expect to find links.

More reading on keyword research:

Client Reviews

Next, remember that you are a service-based company that must rely on customer reviews to gain traction in your geographic area.

You should devote a block of your homepage to displaying five-star customer reviews with brief blurbs praising the legal services you provided.

Those reviews will help to generate trust among new visitors to your site.

Homepage Internal Links

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Related to the main navigation is the internal linking you do in your homepage content.

You already know that homepages should not be loaded with written content, but small blocks can briefly describe your service areas and link to them using keywords.

That internal link structure is vital. Everyone knows homepages are important; Google does, too.

The pages you link to from there are going to be easily crawlable. They will also be easy for actual human users to get to.

Color Scheme

Colors matter on a website.

The use of colors can affect the choices that site visitors make.

  • Visually contrasting colors are best for call-to-action elements.
  • Blue conveys trustworthiness and authority.
  • Always check if the color choice has sufficient contrast for color-blind site visitors.

Law firm websites looking to convey auras of professionalism should avoid bold, vibrant colors in favor of lighter schemes.

Create Above-The-Fold Content

Website architecture is generally considered internal linking, but I include information organization into the site’s architecture as well.

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Above the fold is a way of saying in the main block of visible content.

With a law firm website, you don’t want to get too fancy or obtuse with presenting your content.

Users come to your site for help with their legal troubles, and those people are probably worried and hoping they can trust you to help them.

Reward their effort in visiting your site by making it clear that you are there for them.

Do this by presenting your most important content in the first block of content that is visible to site visitors.

Don’t make users dig around to find the information they need, like that service page explaining how you have helped thousands of people declare bankruptcy or that blog post showcasing your knowledge of recent tax-resolution cases.

Depending on how your homepage is organized, present some links to those service pages, a contact form, or some reviews to establish trust right away.

Sticky content is a good idea, as well.

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Videos, forms, and surveys get people to stick around your homepage longer than they otherwise might, so don’t rule out those elements.

Whatever you feel is most important to your firm, make it one of the first things users see upon arriving on your homepage.

Essential information presented above the fold is necessary for well-made website architecture.

Final Thoughts

A law firm that performs quality work on behalf of clients needs to be able to reach every site visitor and convert them into a client.

The best way to accomplish that is to organize the information on the website in a manner that makes it easy for site visitors to quickly scan the homepage and find the exact topic.

That makes it easy for search engines to identify what the entire site is about and, consequently, may begin ranking the inner pages for the more granular search queries.

Identifying the best user experience for site navigation will always make it easier for the site to achieve maximum search performance.

More Resources:

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