TL;DR – This is a high-level overview of how to create an SEO Strategy. The emphasis you should have on different aspects of SEO will vary based on the business goals, industry, and budget. However, we’ll cover some critical questions you should ask, must-haves, and other important aspects of having a successful outcome with your SEO program. Without knowing individual business goals it’s impossible to be precise but this should help orient you and give you a broad sense of what to expect and things to consider.
Table of Contents
What makes up an SEO Strategy?
On-page SEO: focuses on the content that’s actually on site pages, and how to optimize it to boost the website’s ranking for specific keywords.
Off-page SEO: focuses on links directed to the website from elsewhere on the internet. The number of backlinks a site has from reputable sources helps you build trust with search algorithms.
Technical SEO: focuses on a website’s backend architecture, like site code. Google cares just as much about technical setup as it does content, so this position is important for rankings.
How to Plan an SEO Strategy
- Outlining Business goals
- SEO Site Technical Audit
- Keyword research & Search Competition Analysis
- Content Production audit
- Link Building Plan
What are your business goals?
Your SEO strategy and how you spend your SEO marketing budget should be tailored to your business goals and objectives.
For example, these are some boilerplate business goals, and the corresponding SEO Services you could expect to emphasize.
In any case, you are generally going to start with a few similar steps to get the ball rolling and cover your bases to make sure your investment has the best impact.
SEO Website Technical Audit
It’s likely you want to start with a website audit. This answers questions like does your site have any issues with:
Next, it’s valuable to do an overview of your current website architecture, organic and other traffic in relation to other channels. We want to know, is your site optimally structured so your key audience can find your site & content in search? If not, how could it be improved?
An SEO Website Technical Audit basically ensures your engine is functioning properly so you know it will run the way you want before you money putting high-octane gas into the tank.
Tools needed for an SEO Site Technical Audit
It’s likely this is going to require you to use some tools like:
- Google Analytics
- Google Search Console
- Index Coverage Report
- Performance Report
- Google PageSpeed: Check your site speed & Core Web Vitals
- Screaming Frog: SEO website audit & website crawler
- If you are doing Local SEO, you may want to check out our list of Local SEO Tools.
Keyword Research & Search Competition Analysis
The second SEO planning step is to do a bit of sleuthing. This can tell you how your SEO program and site stack up in performance. Are you doing better or performing worse than your competitor and in what ways? Are there any gaps in content worth investing in?
Additionally, this will give you guidance on what it will take to compete for target keywords or opportunities you aren’t currently taking advantage of. Local SEO Guide offers this as part of our SEO Audits so we can get a sense of the total addressable market (TAM) and make recommendations from there.
You do not want to just look at the search volume of a set of target keywords when crafting an effective SEO strategy. Starting with an understanding of the business, its goals, and competitors first allow for tailored recommendations or insight. The keyword targeting aspect of your search engine optimization shouldn’t be an area you skimp on.
Fully understanding user search intent, knowing where content gaps exist, as well as knowing what short- and long-tail keywords are worth targeting is key. It can have a tremendous impact on the effectiveness of your content marketing and SEO program. You don’t want to waste resources going after a search query you won’t rank for or getting searchers that are not your target audience.
Adding keyword research and a competitive analysis provides a more functional list of recommendations than simply saying, “fix X, Y, & Z technical things”. We can dig into how to use the SEO budget to provide a competitive edge and leverage the channel to change your business’ growth.
SEO Tools needed for Keyword Research & Search Competition Analysis
It’s likely this is going to require you to use some keyword research tools like:
- Semrush – Keyword Research & Competitor Research
- Clearscope – Content Editor & SERP Competition Research
Content Production Audit
You’ll want to do an audit of your current content to see what is performing exceptionally and identify content that is thin or underperforming. Furthermore, the content production process comes into consideration here.
- What does your editorial content creation system look like?
- Do you have an established cadence for publishing content?
- Who creates the content? Should you use an internal or external resource for the content production or refresh process?
Link Building Plan
Backlinks are the gas that makes SEO go. It’s a significant ranking factor for your web pages and helps build overall site authority. For this reason, it’s likely you will want to allocate some portion of your SEO Budget to a link-building strategy.
There’s a few ways to build more backlinks and different types of content are more effective than others depending on your target audience & niche. Generally, you may want to think about what content will people in your niche link to such as:
- Generate new content / high-quality content (Blogs, research, original data)
- Make guides, how-tos, or step-by-step product explanations
- Frequently Asked Questions pages (FAQs)
In one Client case study, LSG was able to generate earn 1,952 backlinks to date and the SEO program generated approximately 75 new backlinks per quarter.
LSG achieved this by researching our client’s prospects, their interests, and corresponding content sources.
We earned backlinks on, blogs, on relevant industry and social accounts that would be most effective in turning external client links into visits and conversions.
Beyond backlinks, you want to make sure your internal linking is also driving people to your priority pages. So, you should include some on-page optimization focus to address any broken links or suboptimal anchor text use.
SEO Tools needed for Link Building
There are many link-building tools but you could use things like:
- Ahrefs – a link-building tool that will help analyze which pages are getting the most backlinks and which need some love. The user volume data for your web pages will also inform your internal linking strategy if you want to redirect traffic to priority pages.
How to Implement an SEO Strategy
- In-house vs. Outsourcing SEO Content Implementation
- Build an Editorial Content Calendar
- Assign and track tasks (freelancers or using your internal content team)
Now that you have done a technical audit to address any technical SEO or user experience concerns and you’ve tackled the keyword research you will have to implement your SEO strategy plan.
You can do this all in-house if you have the technical SEO expertise, training, time, money, SEO tools, etc. But, if you want to save a ton of money, time, and headache you will likely want to utilize an SEO agency for some of these components.
Having an SEO agency handle everything from strategy to implementation has enormous benefits in terms of quality control, communication, and making sure the content fully aligns with the broader strategy. Check this out, if you are on the fence about in-house vs outsource SEO Content writing and want a more detailed breakdown.
At the very least, you should prioritize having SEO experts for the technical audit and for some content recommendations if not the content creation and implementation itself.
If you do this yourself you will need to have a robust project management system to handle freelancers or your internal digital marketing/content team. They will need to take the gaps identified previously and build an editorial calendar to plan out the website content for new content, content refreshes, and any topics or subtopics for other sites like guest blogging.
A good editorial calendar should look something like the one below. It should have a column for the target keyword, H1, Title tags, alt text for images, meta description, and any featured snippets you want to target. You can also include the topic and subtopic so any user can see how this piece fits into the larger SEO marketing strategy.
SEO Tools needed for Implementing an SEO strategy
How to Develop an SEO Content Strategy
- Record results, monitor KPIs & rank track
- Make adjustments to your strategy
- Refresh content that isn’t performing
As the SEO program develops you will need to be tracking how well your strategy and content are performing. The best way to do this is with a dashboard that allows filtering by page, keyword, and more to see relevant metrics like clicks, impressions, conversations, bounce rate, keyword rankings, page speed, etc.
This will give you a sense of how well you are ranking and capturing search user intent with your great content. LSG’s custom dashboards also tag keywords by funnel stages which allows SEO consultants and clients to drill down and see progress on a high level as well as drill down to a more granular one.
Creating new content and making sure it’s performing the way you want it to is likely going to take up a majority or sizable share of your SEO content attention but don’t overlook content refreshing. If you have content that was performing well in the past but has dropped it may just need a refresh to regain some of that traffic.
You can identify these pages by going to your Google search console. Look for pages or blog posts with a high number of impressions but few clicks. This means it was ranking for terms in the past but users didn’t see the value enough to click. Refresh the meta-description and possibly title to really snag a searcher’s interest. You can also go the the “queries” section to see what it was ranking for and reframe the copy if needed.
You can do the same thing for any newly produced content that isn’t resonating very well.
As mentioned in the introduction, SEO planning and strategy can be limited without the knowledge of specific metrics that define success for your program. This is why LSG crafts tailored SEO Strategy guides when consulting with our clients. If you have any questions about SEO Strategy, planning, or how we could make the most out of your SEO budget feel free to reach out below.