SEO experts should think of themselves in a similar way to the profession of a football coach.

Football coaches spend the majority of their time game planning each week during the season. The most successful coaches come up with strategies to play into the strengths of their team while exposing the weakness of their opponents (with the exception of the Browns coaching staff, of course! Hopefully this changes though)

If you want to succeed at SEO, the up-front strategy is crucial. If you have the wrong game plan, it could cost you big time.

Below are 4 SEO questions every business owner should ask themselves (or the agency they are working with).

1.) What is your primary service?
Most businesses offer numerous services or sell multiple products. This makes picking a primary category/service confusing. The reason I mention selecting a primary service is because you’ll want to list this on the title tag on the homepage of your website. Since your homepage has the most power, you want to pick a primary service that a lot of people search for and is a perfect depiction of your company.

A dermatologist, for example, treats acne, helps detect skin cancer and offers laser treatments. Within the title tag of your only allowed to insert 65 characters. The primary category for any skin doctor should be “dermatologist” or “dermatology” (since this has the most search volume) and each service should fall under a service specific page.

2.) What is your primary market?
Just like you want to pick a primary service, you want to pick a primary market. We’ve worked with a lot of businesses who try and rank nationally when there focus should be local. If you are an e-commerce company, ranking nationally is where your focus should be since your customer could come from Cleveland or California.

If you own an oil change shop in Vermilion, all of your customers are likely coming from Vermilion due to close proximity to their home or office. Yet some people make the mistake of trying to target the entire market of Cleveland, when prospective customers wouldn’t make the trek from Solon to Vermilion.

TIP: Make sure to target the area where the majority of your customers are from. Don’t overthink the process.

If you own a personal injury law firm in Cleveland, you know this isn’t a service that relies heavily on commuting or travel time (outside of the initial consult). For a PI attorney, it is more fruitful to target all of Cleveland rather than the suburb of Shaker Heights because people are likely not searching for “Shaker Heights Personal Injury Lawyer.”

TIP: A lot of people search “near me” so make sure to optimize your website for this popular term to get more local website traffic.

Once you have determined your primary market and primary city, you’ll want to add this into the title tag of your homepage. Below are examples of different industries and what I’d recommend for title tags:

Oil Change Location
Title: Oil Change Near Me in Vermillion | Company Name

*Rationale: Majority of business for oil change location will be coming from Vermillion and people also searching “near me.”

Personal Injury Lawyer

Title: Cleveland Personal Injury Lawyer | Company Name

*Rationale: Most people who are searching for a personal injury lawyer don’t care as much about proximity. Targeting Cleveland can provide you with a larger net of people to reach.

3.) Do you have a clean structure for your interior pages?
Most businesses offer a variety of services or have numerous products they sell. Interior pages can actually rank higher than your homepage. You have to make sure there is a good URL structure in-tact as this can make a big difference on ranking well for your interior pages.

Our Example:
We’re a digital marketing agency in Cleveland. All of our service fall underneath the digital marketing umbrella. On the homepage, we’ve gone after, “Cleveland Digital Marketing Agency.” Our service specific pages are for web design, SEO, PPC and social media marketing. If our only focus was web development, we could have used “Cleveland Web Development Company” on the title tag on the homepage of the site. Since there are numerous services, we want to be found for, we decided to create service specific pages highlighting our skillset in individual service.

Selecting the proper URL’s and foundation for your services is very important. If you are an exterminator in Cleveland, on the homepage you’ll want to pick a primary service as an exterminator. For the interior pages, you’ll want to highlight the fact that you can help get rid of bed bugs, mice, cockroaches, etc.

If the only service you offered was for bed bug removal, then service pages aren’t going to be as relevant. You’d want to target bed bugs on the homepage if this were the case.

TIP: Don’t try to manipulate Google by creating pages for a ton of different markets. If you try and get greedy and rank for Solon, Liberty Heights, Beachwood and Vermilion, Google could detect duplicate content.

You’ll also want to create interior pages for about us, our team and contact (to name a few).

Every business is different so if you want a free consultation to analyze your website structure, contact our team today!

4.) Have you looked into your domain authority?
Link Explorer is a tool created by Moz that measures your domain authority, which grades your site on a scale of 1-100. A 100 is the best and 1 is the worst.

If you are a new business who just built your first ever website, you’ll start with a domain authority of 1. If you’ve been in business for 20+ years, you’d be surprised, you might have a domain authority in the 20’s, which is solid for a local business. Most likely, if you’ve been in business for two decades, other websites have linked back to your site (which is very important… just keep on reading!)

You can use the link explorer tool to analyze your websites domain authority against your competitors. This will straight up tell you whether your competitor has stronger backlink metrics, which is likely the reason they are ranking above you.

I almost forgot to mention, you should read up on Google’s page rank algorithm. Backlinks play one of the largest roles in your SEO rankings so it is important to understand this. The more quality links you have pointing to your site, the better.

If you don’t have quality backlinks pointing to your site, I recommend talking to one of our SEO specialists to come up with a plan to help establish authority for your site.

In conclusion, there is a lot of up front strategy that goes into SEO. From picking the proper title tag based on your service and location, structuring your URL’s properly and making sure you have quality backlinks pointing to your site. Hopefully you realize from this article that SEO isn’t easy and proper game planning is a must. You want the right coach on your sideline to lead you to victory!