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SEO success requires getting a lot of little things – and some big things – right.

Unfortunately, there is no magic SEO meta tag you can add to the HTML your pages and then rank #1 for whatever keyword you want.

From the SEO perspective, you need to ensure your site is technically sound and your content is high-quality and optimized for how your target market already searches online for what you offer, and it would also be a good idea to have a strategy in place for outreach to spread the word (“Build it and they will come” only happens in the movies).

Because proper SEO requires getting all those little and not-so-little things right, it can be bewildering to know how to proceed if you don’t have a seasoned SEO expert on your side.

I want to offer you a simple four-step plan to achieve SEO success, guaranteed.

Step 1: Planning

It can be tempting to just jump right in and start doing things, especially if you’re particularly eager or if you’re under pressure from above to “get that SEO stuff going.”

But you know the old saying, “Measure twice, cut once.”

Getting your plan in place can save you a lot of stumbling around or thrashing about unnecessarily. Get your priorities straight first too.

For example, is your site a giant technical mess preventing search engines like Google from understanding or even accessing your site, or are you fine on that front but your content is stale and not speaking to your target market and satisfying searcher intent?

Figure out what your priorities are and tackle any SEO deal-killers first, then move on to other planning-stage stuff like reviewing your keyword map, your site speed, your use of Schema.org markup, your mobile friendliness, etc.

Step 2: Execution

Now that you’ve got your priorities straight, it’s time to put your plan into action.

If you identified any low-hanging fruit during the planning stages, jump on that first.

For example, use the keyword map you prepared or refreshed in the planning stage to drive meta data and content optimizations and make other content-related optimizations you’ve identified.

Whatever you’ve identified and prioritized, now’s the time to get after it.

Keep your efforts consistent according to your plan and priorities.

Step 3: Measurement

After execution, you need to measure the results.

You’ll be able to measure some things sooner, but other things will take time.

For example, if you worked on making your pages load faster (start with your key pages), you’ll be able to check that immediately.

On the other hand, if you’re optimizing content on the pages, it’ll take search engines like Google some time to process those changes and see where the updated content fits within the search ecosystem.

Step 4: Refinement

If everything went according to plan, congratulations! You may have even gotten some quick SEO wins.

However, it’s possible that things did not go as expected. In that case, you’ll need to review why, and then start back at the planning stage.

As you can see, planning, execution, measurement, and refinement is not linear; it’s a cycle, and it never ends.

For example, if your site speed improvements are not meeting the goals you set up front in the planning stage, what else can you do to reach or even exceed your goals?

Another example – if your updated and optimized content is not performing better, why not? Maybe you need to factor in searcher intent or some other reason(s) performance is not improving. Dig deeper with your audience and its needs in mind.

Conclusion

The title of this post included the word guarantee.

Any real SEO pro will tell you, there are no guarantees in SEO, so did I lie just to lure you into reading this?

No way.

Inspiring words from Muhammad Ali: “You don’t lose if you get knocked down; you lose if you stay down.”

If things don’t go as planned, don’t give up, don’t “stay down.” You’re guaranteed to fail if you don’t keep going. How can you lose if you refuse to give up?

Keep cycling through planning, execution, measurement, and refinement until you reach, or hopefully exceed, your goals.