The 8 Elements of a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Campaign
 By Ray “Catfish” Comstock, Senior Search Strategist, BusinessOnLine

In order to successfully complete all tasks required in a comprehensive SEO campaign, it is helpful to organize those various tasks and tactics into relevant categories. This allows us to have an organized approach to consistently address all elements of an SEO engagement. It also allows us to describe SEO in a way that people can understand, and serves as the foundation for a consistent process and approach to SEO as a service.

In the past, I have always divided the SEO landscape into three categories: On Page, Off Page, and Site Wide.

• On page optimization refers to aligning the content and meta data of a Web page with the targeted keyword phrases that the page is relevant to.
• Off page optimization refers to aligning the link connectivity of the website to the keyword phrases that are most relevant for the situation.
-Off page optimization is further divided into two sub categories: Internal off page optimization and external off page optimization.
• Internal link optimization is concerned with site elements like the global navigation template and breadcrumb navigation.
• External link optimization is primarily focused on third party links that point to your site and what keywords are being used in those links.
• Site wide optimization refers to cleaning up all the technical issues which can cause problems for search engines in indexing and ranking your site. Issues like URL structure, 301 versus 302 redirects, flash, Ajax and Java script, rel tags, xml sitemaps, and many other details make up our list of site wide optimization rules and tactics.
Until recently, this model was an accurate reflection of the issues that need to be addressed in any SEO campaign. But, as search has advanced and new metrics have been developed that affect search rankings, a new model is necessary to encapsulate the variety of new tasks that are important to any successful SEO campaign. Below is the new search periodic table of the eight elements of SEO:

1) Discovery
2) On Page
3) Off Page
4) Site Wide
5) Universal Search
6) Usability
7) Social Media
8) Analytics

Obviously, there is a lot more to the optimization process in this new model, and that’s because a lot has happened in the world of SEO in the last couple of years. So, I would like to put some context behind this new model and explain what it covers.

The first element in the new model is called Discovery. This part of the SEO process refers to all activities that are required to understand the parameters and goals of the campaign. The Discovery phase includes keyword research, competitive analysis, understanding the business model, and a review of the current analytics landscape—including keyword rankings to understand as much as possible the “current state” of the SEO campaign, and what the goals of the campaign are moving forward.

Universal Search Optimization (USO) refers to all activities that affect rankings for universal search elements like video, images, news, shopping, reviews, and local listings. Activities include, but are not limited to: Optimizing video content and title tags; image alt tags; shopping feeds through Google base; and local optimization through the Google Business Center.

Usability is a separate Web discipline that focuses on user experience. Until recently, the correlation between usability and SEO was implied, but not well defined. With the recent advent of the Google website Speed Test, and all of its associated recommendations, the first concrete metrics that tie usability to search rankings have been established, and more will follow soon. It’s in the best interest of search engines to reward sites that have superior user experience, so you can be sure that an increasing amount of emphasis will be put on usability metrics going forward.

Social Media has long been a favorite tool of SEO practitioners for link building, reputation management, and user generated content. But, now that real time search has become a prominent feature of the major search engines, the subset of social media activities that affect SEO is worthy of special attention, and those activities need to be part of any successful SEO campaign.

Analytics is the engine that allows you to make decisions about your SEO campaign in terms of understanding performance and deploying resources on an ongoing basis. Having an understanding about the differences in paid and organic traffic, brand versus non-brand keyword performance, and the long tail performance of your campaign, are a few of the basic essentials that must be in place to strategically run a successful SEO campaign.

---Source: Ray "Catfish" Comstock is senior search strategist at BusinessOnLine, a pioneer in the interactive marketing space with a 14-year track record of successfully leveraging the interconnectedness of the Internet to help companies grow their digital presence. Reach him at or follow him on Twitter @SEOCatfish.

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