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Search Engine Optimization: Worksheet for a Search Engine Marketing Strategic Web Site Business Plan

by Terry Plank

PURPOSE: Why do you want a Web site? What do you expect to accomplish?

Objectives of the site: Why do we want an online presence?

Primarily and Secondarily

  • Share information about yourself or areas of interest to others?
  • Provide a "web brochure" showing your products or services and a way to contact you?
  • Collect information about topics or products you are considering bringing to market?
  • Generate leads by collecting names and addresses of people you want to contact via e-mail, direct mail or telemarketing? What are the lead generation goals?
  • Cost cutting or savings goal? What ways would cut costs if we use the Internet?
  • Test the waters for starting a new business?
  • Improve customer service? Provide new information or serve as a help desk to existing clients?
  • Provide important links to relevant information?
  • Establish a complete web store front where people can learn about your products or services and order online? What are the sales goals?


Who is our target audience? Who will be looking for our site? Who will become interested if they reach our site accidentally?

What are your clients doing on the Internet?

  • What Internet publications, forums, discussion groups? Do they say anything about your company? What concerns do they have? What are they wanting?
  • What are their Web sites?
  • What are the goals and objectives of their sites.?

Who are your competitors?

  • Name your top five competitors' Web sites.
  • What are their objectives as evidenced by their sites.

What are your limitations?

  • Budget
  • Fulfillment, order processing.
  • Numbers of visitors you can handle.
  • Amount of dollars your credit card processing company will allow.

What will get them to return to our site?

How do we plan to promote/market the ite to bring customers and clients?

Submissions to:

  • Major Search Engines
  • Major Directories
  • Multiples of Search Engines
  • Industry-Specific Directories
  • General Directories Reciprocal Linking with Others
  • Internet Press Releases
  • Marketing in Newsgroups

Traditional Means:

  • Business cards...
  • Letterhead
  • Newspaper and magazine
  • Flyers
  • Information at our place of business...

How will we know if our site is successful? How will we measure success?

SITE INFORMATION: How will you construct your site?

  1. What will we call the site?

  2. What will be the URL name.

  3. What keywords will clients use to find us? What keyword phrases will drive the most traffic? (List as many as you can, then number them in highest probability to lowest.)

  4. In a 20-25 word sentence, how do we describe our site, incorporating the most relevant keywords from #2 & #3..

  5. What look or appearance do we want?

    • Background color or texture?

    • Basic color scheme?

    • Graphics (Flash, Clip art, scanned-in graphics or photos, scanned photo with type superimposed, customized type font, created graphic, customized computer art)

    • Masthead/main graphic?

    • Navigation: text or graphic?

    • Graphic accents throughout?

    • Animated graphics?

    • Java graphics?

  6. What structure will we use? Long or multiple short pages? Amount of text on each page?

    • Type of navigation?
    • Long or multiple short pages?
    • Amount of text on pages?
    • Use of frames, flash, database driven, static HTML pages?

  7. Sound?

  8. Video?

  9. Multimedia?

  10. Do we want to provide special means of communication?

    • Background color or texture?
    • Just e-mail form
    • More extensive form
    • E-mail Autoresponder
    • Chat Line
    • Message Boards
    • Guestbook
    • Newsletter
    • List Serve
  11. Areas of Content.

HOSTING: What are your hosting needs?

  1. Will we maintain our own server?

  2. Where will we host our site if it's not our own server?

  3. Do we need or plan to add additional functionality to our site in the future where we need to consider whether the hosting company has the appropriate tools?

    • Cgi bin
    • Perl Scripts
    • SSI & Online Sales Functions
    • Cloaking Software
    • Other...
  4. Do we want several different e-mail addresses?

  5. Do we plan to outsource our Web site marketing and optimization so we'll need the oursourced company to have access to the server to put up files.

  6. What statistics programs are available for our site with the hosting company? Web Trends?

DEVELOPMENT OF SITE CONTENT: Who will oversee the development of the site?

  1. Who is responsible for gathering nformation and getting it to the developer?

  2. Who will interface with the development team during development?

  3. Who will preview and authorize acceptance of each phase of the development?

  4. Who will sign off on the project?

UPDATING: How will your site be maintained?

  1. How often will it be updated? Which sections?

  2. Who will do the updating? Do we want pages requiring updating to be done in a template so an office staff person can maintain the sections? Which sections?

  3. Who will periodically check links, check competing sites to determine our competitive edge, check our status in the search engines?


  1. Do we want a strategy of high search engine ranking for findability?

  2. Do we want a strategy that includes any of the following?

    • Submissions to major search engines?
    • Submissions to major directories?
    • Submissions to industry-specific directories or general directories
    • Reciprocal linking with other sites for traffic generation?
    • Reciprocal linking with other sites for generation of popularity?
    • Internet press releases?
    • Marketing in newsgroups
    • Email marketing campaigns?

COST: What is our budget?

One approach to developing a budget is to go back over all the questions in the Worksheet and put costs to what you answered for your Web site wish list.

  1. Initial expenditure.

    Development $_______

    Hosting $_______

    Promotion, Optimization, Search Engine Marketing $_______

  2. Ongoing expense?
    Updates $_______
    Additional Development $_______
    Hosting $_______
    Promotion, Optimization, Search Engine Marketing $_______

Happy Internet Marketing!