Articles and advice throughout the web provide strategies and theories as to how to achieve "search engine optimization" aka "SEO". We don't equate SEO with a secret formula to match search engine algorithms that will put you on the top of Google, Bing and any number of search engines. For us, "SEO" stands for "Site Engagement Optimization" and represents a much more tangible, measurable and worthwhile pursuit.
The first step to site engagement optimization is to identify who the various target audiences you plan to serve via your website's content and tools. You can start your list of target audiences with clients, potential clients, influencers, competitors, vendors, professionals in your business, employees, potential employees, business leaders, et cetera.
The next step is brainstorming. Pull your team together for a freewheeling session to identify all the ways in which your business/blog/non-profit/agency brings unique benefits/services/products to your various target audiences. Put yourself in the shoes of your clients. Why do they engage with your company? What do you provide that meets one or more of their needs? Who are you reaching? Which of your target audiences have limited to no engagement?
Identifying the qualities and services that set you apart becomes the foundation for your website's content marketing plan. Providing meaningful content to those you wish to reach gives people a reason to visit your website, spend time on the site, recommend your site to their network of friends and associates, and return to the site.
Next, it's time for a little eye-candy. Eye-catching photos, cool graphics, attractive colors, legible fonts, consistent formatting, multiple ways to navigate the site. Conscious and unconscious ways in which you welcome visitors into your site and invite them to stay. If your goal is to sell products and services, make it easy for your visitors to engage with your team. Ask for the sale, ask for feedback, ask for engagement.
Most importantly, remember that first impressions count. No more so than in website design. SEO relies heavily on your website's code. Visitors won't engage with your website if it is slow to load. Think about the person waiting in line, with a less than amazing cell phone plan. What's their experience when they visit your site. Does it populate immediately or does it lock-up their phone's browser as it attempts to load a heavy payload via slow cell service? Optimizing website code and assets is critical to achieving a positive first impression.