Creating an SEO Strategy - Webmaster tools

Hi, I'm Maile Ohye. I'm a Developer Programs tech lead and a member of Google's Webmaster Support team. In this video, I hope to share high-level ideas that may be helpful to you when building both an SEO and online strategy for your business. This video is targeted to beginners who work in search optimization or online strategy. I'm sure that many of you watching have familiarity with how Search works and products like Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics. We'll discuss using Webmaster Central as our mock company. Hopefully to draw similarities to your own situation. Next, we'll talk about building an SEO strategy. This is a multipart process. We'll cover the steps of understanding the searcher persona workflow, determining company and website goals, auditing your site to best reach your audience, and executing and making improvements. Our discussion will end with overcoming obstacles. For the purpose of this video, I'll act as the SEO for the company of Google Webmaster Central. This make-believe company includes the components of Webmaster Central at

As an SEO for the company, I'll pretend that I'm in charge of the website, the Google Webmaster Central blog. Our blog gives the latest tips and information. But our company's flagship product is called Google Webmaster Tools. When webmasters verify ownershipof their site in WebmasterTools, it's great because we then have a two-way communication channel with them about their site. Our company hascommunity engagement through the Webmaster Forum,
helpful support articles in our Webmaster Help Center, and a rich media experience through videos in our Google Webmasters YouTube channel. Once again, here's a snapshot of my company, Google Webmaster Central, and how various components currently reference one another. I'm going to pretend to be the SEO managing the Webmaster Central blog. Your company and your situation will obviously look different. For example, you might be an SEO just like me. But perhaps rather thana discussion forum, your business has a social media presence.

Try diagramming all of your 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. Once you're set with the components of your business, let's talk about step one in building an SEO strategy. To do so, we'll discuss the searcher persona workflow. This diagram, as well as a deepdive into the searcher persona workflow, is given by Vanessa Fox in her book "Marketing in the Age of Google." You'll notice that the main steps to conversion don't stop at search rankings but go on to include the content andexperience on the site.The process starts with search and the user's query. Next, after the user enters a query, the ranking and display of your site comes into play. If the searcher selects your site and results, then comes the next step-page content, or making sure that your page is relevant to their query.

The last step in the workflow is conversion. Of course, not every searcher will complete this entire workflow. For example, some searchers may be performing informational queries to research before making a later purchase. However, by making sure your site captures the workflow for various searcher personas, your site will be prepared to capitalize when the customer is ready. Since many of our videos focus on Webmaster Tools, you might be asking, where does Webmaster Tools fit in with the searcher persona workflow? Webmaster Tools provides information that's especially pertinent to optimizing the crawl, index, and search results processes. Commonly, business departments more or less correspond to this searcher persona workflow. You could imagine that the Search stage, getting people to search for your company name or related products, could be considered a marketing
or business developmentconcern. When it comes to the Rank And Display stage, that might be the SEO. Then perhaps the SEO and writing team will be concerned with page content. And then the usability, user experience, and development team may be the only peopleto focus on conversion. For a large business, these roles are often divided into different teams. For a one-person shop, you may find yourself in all of these roles. However, when it comes tothe searcher's experience, the roles and responsibilities should always be seamless. As an analogy, throughout my childhood I played hours and hours of soccer. Or for viewers outside the United States, football. A good lesson of soccer is that even though you have an assigned position on the field-- striker, sweeper, et cetera - you and your teammates expect every player will move fluidly wherever and whenever they're needed. So the specific role or position of each player never limits their responsibilities to the team. To illustrate this point in your online strategy, let's take a look at  teamwork.Your customer may come to your site from a search engine or social media site, follow a link to a new page, then to the home page, clicks around, and then converts. Now everyone can cheer. Essentially, companystrategy is most effectivewhen everyone prioritizes the big picture-- scoring and making a conversion. If you're the SEO, if you can encourage every employee to remember the big picture it's likely the size of the pie will increase. Getting back to my company, my Webmaster Central team will be most effective if we figure out a strategy to best serve users. For example, if a searchercomes to our blog, can they see how to subscribe to the blog if they're interested? Will they understand thebenefit of subscribing? Outside of the blog, if a user is watching a video on our YouTube channel that talks about Webmaster Tools, can they see how to sign up? Once you have an understanding of the searcher persona workflow, as well asthe general user's needs and how responsibilities are shared within a company, it's time to begin discussion about building an SEO strategy that's cohesive with your company's goals. First question, what's our overall business goal? What can our company's product or service do that no one else can? What's our value add? What does success look like? What components are involved? How does our website uniquely play a role in this success? As the pretend SEO at thecompany Google Webmaster Central, I meet with my entire webmaster support team. We may answer something similar to, what's our business goal? Help all site owners. What can our product or service do that no one else can? Act as the official Google source of information. What does success look like? Increased webmaster community through higher participation in products and services. What components are involved? We have a diagram. It's the blog, Webmaster Tools, Help Center, discussion forum, et cetera. How does your website playa part in the success? The Webmaster Central blog is unique, because it provides the latest information and announcements for webmasters. This is different from our Help Center, which acts as a longstanding reference. The blog helps us quickly communicate breaking news. Another aspect that canbe helpful in defining your company's business goals is understanding more about your competition. Questions like, what do our online competitors do well? What are they missing? And if we were to fill that gap, is there a strong enough market need? There are always many exciting directions to take a company. But be careful to only spend time creatingfeatures or experiencesthat will differentiate your company in a way that users really care about.

With business goals set, a clear picture of your website's part in the success, a sense of the market needs and your competition, it's time to think about metrics. If I were to create metrics for the Webmaster Central blog, I first look at our business goals and then create metrics for my website accordingly. Take the company goal to increase webmaster community. Given this company goal, we might look at metrics like increasing the number of unique users who visit the blog, such as their page views. This could come through search, from referrals, or from direct traffic. We might also look at the metric of subscribers. Next, let's put the knowledge of your audience to work. With an understanding of the searcher persona workflow, company goals and metrics defined, start finding improvements by auditing your site to check for content and a user experience that's focused on meeting your customer's needs. Information from this step starts to feed your ideas as you shape and iterate on your SEO strategy. Your audit might begin with, what groups are we targeting? Where are they located? What devices are they using? Search queries and Webmaster Tools provide some of this data. You can see that in the last three months, many of the Webmaster Central blog leaders have come from Canada and New Zealand. What are their objectives? Do any or some of their objectives match why our company is special? Do their query terms match our content? To answer some of these questions, you can check out the Search Queries and Content Keywords features in Webmaster Tools, as well as other helpful productsyou may know about.  For example, in our site audit we may notice that much of our content uses the phrase "search friendly," as in, building a search-friendly website. By using the Search Queries feature in Webmaster Tools, however, we can see that "search friendly" isn't even a query term we've ranked for in the last three months. Being the pretend SEO for the Webmaster Central blog, my site audit reveals that we often mention phrases like "search friendly." Even if that makes sense to us, to searchers that language rarely enters their mind. So with this data I might suggest to the team, let's continue to write valuable content but also start naturally incorporating the keywords that our potential visitors actually search for. The last stage in buildingan SEO and online strategy is to execute. Make improvements, track metrics, and iterate. With business goals defined aswell as high-level SEO goals, I might start to execute the content and user experience improvements I discovered during my site audit. In our make-believe situation, I might talk to our marketing and tech writing teams about using more of the language of searchers, rather than only the terms most familiar to us, like "search friendly." I might also begin to consider more blog posts that mention issues especially relevant to our readers in Canada or New Zealand, since our audit revealed that many searchers come from those locations. As I execute ideas, I'll continue to track metrics. And I'll always need to keep in mind my company's goal to increase the webmaster community.When it comes to implementing an SEO strategy and improving a site for searchers, Webmaster Tools can help us monitor and optimize our site for crawling, indexing,and search results. Although it may be tempting to focus solely on rankings, we'd be missing valuable opportunities if we disregarded the user in searcher persona workflow. 

Rankings could stay as is, but if we could increase the search volume through better marketing, that could lead to a larger percentage of visitors to our site and possibly more conversions. Or perhaps our content teamproduces excellent material that allows us to upsell even more products to each visitor. For example, really great content on our blog could drive more subscriptions. Or if our development, user experience and usability teams made our site an enjoyable destination, that experience could bring referrals and repeat customers. Again, we can meet our business goals without focusing on the traditional role of SEO. Essentially, all steps in the searcher persona workflow can be optimized. Effort in each step-- and perhaps by each team --is crucial to making your company's goals a reality. Finally, I often hear about the obstacles many SEOs face.Yes, there are obstacles, and they can make executing an online strategy difficult. For example, I can't implement a strategy. I'm not the person responsible for all of this. I just run department X. I need to know the keywords my competitor is targeting. I need to know what sites are linking to my competitor before I know who to target. Is my competition planning to have a social media presence? Search engine algorithms change so much, I can't keep up If you've encountered these obstacles, you're certainly not alone. And realistically, just as when you played a sport, or entered a contest, you're not going to perfectly understand every variable before you begin. Remember though, that with your initiative in educating yourself and your current knowledge of the SEOfundamentals, you're likely in a great place to get started on your strategy. In fact, you might be the best leader at your company to get the job done. So I say go for it. Understand the searcher persona workflow and create an integrated strategy inclusive of all components. Determine goals, define metrics. Audit your site to best reach your audience. Maximize existing search traffic by optimizing the crawl, index, and search results pipeline. And last, make sure the entire team works together to improve your online business. The entire workflow needs to be satisfying to the user and may require that all your teammates lend a hand. Thanks for your time. More resources can of course be found at as well as the links on this video's YouTube play page.