As in many aspects of business, careful research and planning must be a top priority to lead you toward future success. In the world of search engine optimization (SEO), this statement has never been more true. The ever changing dynamics of the search marketing industry requires users to fully understand not only the complexities of technology, but to also understand their own organizational goals and vision. While many companies may believe that they have a strategy for success, they may find that their internet presence is lacking. The following will focus on some of the key aspects an organization should keep in mind when developing an SEO strategy.

What are you trying to promote, and what is the best way to do it?

Are your main service lines involved in sales? Information? advertising? Determining your service lines will help you determine what type of marketing is best for you. Further, understanding the differences between organic SEO and search engine marketing (SEM) can be incredibly important when starting out. With SEO you are utilizing keywords and searches to help direct consumers to your site, with SEM you are paying to become the top listed search under a certain category. In either case, it will be important to know what your organization will be promoting, and how hard they are wanting to work for that top spot.

Who is the target market?

A crucial SEO activity is understanding who is searching for what you are trying to promote. Are there certain demographics such as age, gender, or location that will play a large factor in how your sites are searched for? For example, will the differences in search keywords between different age groups make your site more or less viewed? Will the older populations have difference terminology or experience with your product? Have you planned on ways to adapt if you find that the market shifts? The SEO planner’s job is never ending, again this is a market that is dynamic on almost a daily basis, causing a lot of direct attention to keep up.

Who are your competitors?

SEO competitors may also play another large role in your SEO plan. Competitors can have a strong hold on one aspect of the online market, causing you to make a critical decision: do you try to compete with the “big dogs” or do you shift your focus towards a lesser utilized ares of the market? Once you have determined who your competitors are, you can use tools such as a search engine competitor analysis, for example, to determine their keywords, keyword density, site optimization, etc. to determine if you try to match efforts or go in a different direction.

There are, of course, many more aspects of SEO development that should be considered in the planning phases, such as site structure, your organizations brand, or your current site content, but the items listed above are some ways to get your leadership teams thinking about the direct future. You wouldn’t build a house on an unstable foundation, so why would you develop a website without the proper education or planning?