Strategy is a plan one takes to achieve a certain goal. It describes the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of actions that need to be taken to achieve the desired goal.
According to literature, most marketing strategies are detailed on the basis of marketing mix, product life cycles, market share and competitive positioning.
Here is what you will find in this post:
What is an SEO strategy?
SEO strategy is a plan of action made to achieve increase in traffic organic growth. This organic growth in SEO is generally measured in terms of traffic (impressions & clicks) received from search engines.
Slightly different from marketing strategies, SEO strategies today are mostly based on searcher intent (buyer’s intent), user experience & visibility. The overall goals set by the marketing department are also taken into account while building a strategy for search engine optimization.
A company providing educational courses may have a goal to increase traffic on their website and ultimately increase their revenue from selling ad space on website (think Javatpoint)
The company can define their SEO strategy which should be in line with the goal. An example SEO strategy could be to start participation on forums, educational blogs where people are genuinely interested in learning for a new skill.
The goal: Increase traffic to a particular page.
Actionable: optimizing existing content, posting new blogs on site by finding related blog topics, bettering the page structure with on page SEO, suggesting genuine answers to people who have queries on forums etc. and then hinting at the company webpage for reference.
An SEO strategy can have different goals as well.
Another example can be for a SaaS company already ranking for several competitive keywords. Their goal could be to get ‘relevant’ traffic that converts.
They could define their strategy according to this goal now.
The strategy can include a plan of action where they place the links of the landing page to sites where their target audience actually is. Placing links there would mean visibility of the brand to a place where people are actually interested in the product and where the consumers are at the consideration stage or decision stage in the buyer journey.
Another higher-level action could be: instead of focusing on getting their page to rank on any type of keyword, they can categorize their money keywords and work on them to get them ranked on the first page of search engines.
This way, when they get traffic, it may result in more conversions.
Why a standard template for SEO strategy is a bad idea
Since SEO strategies are based on goals, it makes sense to base your plan on a current issue/goal. Any strategy based on a template could be restrictive and here is why:
A new product/brand launch by a company could have prioritized goals such as increased visibility on branded terms. For goals like this, you may need to build content, use anchor text on backlinks and register the new product page to local directories. Hence, according to the goal, the strategy could be defined as such.
For a company, pages may already be ranking well on branded terms but they might be missing out on non branded queries. Strategies for such a goal could be decoding what keywords are competitors ranking for and figuring out ways to implement similar tactics used by them.
Or the strategy could be to optimize the existing content for certain keywords and prune content that is lower quality.
For a business that is stuck at a particular level in terms of organic traffic, their SEO strategy could be to expand on the use cases of their product and try to rank on differentiated keywords.
Thus, it becomes difficult to make a standard strategy template and use it for your goals. Instead, you can try to understand what essentially a strategy is, and come up with ideas that help you attain that goal. Additionally, You can follow these pointers for your next strategy.
- The plan that you make should be descriptive enough. It should include important questions that may be frequently asked by your client/company such as why, how, when and where.
- You should be able to define a goal according to SMART objectives and then explain the expected results in line with your plan of action.
- It is ideal to have a timeline for actionables that are required to be implemented and a tracking plan for the same.
How to Make a SEO Strategy [With Detailed Examples]
As explained above, you need a goal that is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. After you have a goal, you can begin with your plan of action according to the set context.
Note: If you are pitching a broad strategy to a company/client, it would be relevant to break up your strategies in parts. You could categorize them on the basis of goals itself or on the basis of activities such as Content strategy, Backlink strategy and Technical SEO strategy. Also, Competitive research plays a good role in defining the SEO strategy. It becomes easier to justify your plan with data, backing you up.
Example of an SEO strategy:
Consider a business who are into the SaaS industry (virtual telephony service in the US). They are already ranking for a lot of keywords on the first and second page of search results, but they are looking for breakthroughs to surpass their competitors and increase their ranking even further.
Here the goal (SMART) could be to “Increase the average position of product pages from 10 to 5”
Step 1: Assess the competition.
You need to figure out the level of competitiveness in the niche. If it is high, it would mean that you need to put in more effort and come up with more actionables then generally required. It also means that you need to suggest the time for completion of the activities and attainment of the goal accordingly. As the keywords related to the segment could be highly competitive, it may take more time for keyword positioning to improve.
Assessing the competition will help you benchmark and aid assessment of your own pages.
Step 2: Assess the subject pages
You need to run an audit (on page, off page and technical) for the pages in question. You also need to recheck the keyword research previously done, or redo it as intent for certain keywords (Search Engine’s algorithm understanding of intent) change over time
For on page audit: you can check using a standard checklist.
Off page: see your backlinks and the competitor’s to the subject page. Also pay attention to the anchor text and types of TLDs.
Technical SEO audit: you can figure out how well the page is internally linked. How does it fare in the topic cluster? You can do the same for competitors. Also, you can check for technical errors such as 404s, redirects, css errors etc on the page.
Furthermore, you can also check the status of the pages in Google search console to see if they are being indexed properly. You can also do a sitewide search to see if you have the same keyword optimized page on the site.
Example findings from the audit for your SEO strategy:
- The pages are targeting broad keywords. These pages are ranked on page 2 or at the end of page 1 for those keywords.
- There are some pages having relevant subtopics which do not have outgoing internal links to the subject page.
- The meta title does not have a primary keyword, and meta description does not have a CTA.
- The content flow does not make sense (it could be more logical and descriptive).
- The page could have more long tail keywords which are also highly relevant to the topic.
- The incoming external links to the subject page are very low as compared to competitors.
- The brand mentions/product mentions across the internet is low as compared to competitors.
Technical SEO Audit findings:
- There are multiple versions of the same URL.
- The page is missing from the sitemap.
Step 3: Suggest Actionables required to solve the issues you found during the Audit
Step 3: Suggest actionables required to solve the issues you found during the Audit
From your findings from the assessments you did, suggest actions which can be used to remedy the issue. If you are presenting to a curious client, back your actionables with sufficient data or external references and best practices.
Also, present the timelines for each actionable. There can be several ways of grouping the actionables. You can either map each actionable with the time required to complete the same and group the actionable according to activities. Or you can group the actionables according to the tentative time that may be required to complete each action. Also, you can use the hybrid method and present it like below:
Actionables for On Page (week 1 & 2):
- Target some long tail and specific keywords along with broad ones. Broad keywords are harder to capitalize and generally have a high competitive score. Use “Striking distance Keywords” to optimize the page even further.
- Find and add internal outgoing links to all relevant pages to our subject page for passing pagerank.
- Rewrite meta titles and meta descriptions for catching the eye of the user on SERPs.
- For content flow, analyze the serps for top 10 results and add/remove/modify content that is relevant/irrelevant to the search query.
Actionables for Off page (week 1, 2, 3 & 4):
- Get backlinks for the subject page through various activities. Optimize the anchor text further for the keywords that you found during your research. Avoid linking to PBN sites and disvow the ones found in the audit.
- Work on brand mentions. This can be achieved by blog commenting, forum commenting, social media posting and leveraging communities such as Quora and reddit.
Actionables for Tech SEO (Week 1):
- Either set up a redirect rule in .htaccess file or set up a self canonicalized URL on all versions of the pages.
- Add the page in the sitemap.
Step 4: Track your project
It is essential to track your SEO strategy success using KPIs.
“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” – Peter Drucker.
For this particular example strategy, you can do the following:
Set up keyword position tracking and page average position tracking.
Track performance of your page that you are optimizing on a daily basis. You can use metrics such as impressions, clicks and ranking. You can use CTR as a KPI for your meta tags revision.
You can track the traffic from external links by using UTM parameters and setting up the same in Analytics.
For technical issues, you can follow up with the tech team. You can further check the impact of “multiple versions of the same URL” through search console or analytics software. After the fix has been implemented, other versions should not ideally get traffic.
Note: there can still be traffic on the other version of the same URL as you may have backlinks for the said version and they may be the source of traffic. The following sources can help:
Step 5: Present it to the client/company
Now that you have all the data backed up with actionable and best practices, you can present it with confidence.
Here is a recap of what we did:
- Developed a SMART Goal.
- Assessed the competitors and ran an internal audit.
- Suggested Actionables for issues that came up during the assessment.
- Set up tracking for strategy implementation and results.
Step 6: If accepted, make processes for efficiency
If your strategy has been accepted by the management or you have got a green light from the client, it is ideal that you make processes for the said tasks. If the tasks are one timers, you can skip this part. If this is an activity that needs to be repeated every few days or months, you can develop the tasks such as checklists into an SOP.
Now that you know what a SEO strategy is and how to make one, go ahead and try to do it on your own. Use the example above as your guide to rock your next presentation or pitch. The SEO strategy example explained here is not exhaustive, you need to think creatively and come up with additional Ideas that add value to your company or your client’s business.
If you are short on time, do check out some more SEO strategies that we have shared.
If you have any questions, feel free to hit me up or you can comment your opinions here!
You can apply parts (Assessment Phase) of the ASCOR framework to help you with the initial SEO audit. This will give you a more structured approach to your audit and strategy building.