Whether you are working as an in-house SEO professional or a consultant, having a well-defined SEO strategy is essential for achieving success. By developing a comprehensive SEO strategy, you can identify the resources, including personnel, budget, tools, and materials, needed to reach your objectives. This approach will provide you with a clear goal and help you prioritise your efforts.
There are several core principles that make up a good strategy, including:
- Clarity of Purpose: A good strategy should have a clear and well-defined purpose, with specific goals and objectives that align with the organisation's mission and vision.
- Understanding of the Environment: A good strategy requires a deep understanding of the internal and external environment in which the organisation operates, including its customers, competitors, industry, and market trends.
- Alignment with Resources: A good strategy must be aligned with the organisation's resources, including its people, finances, technology, and infrastructure. This requires a realistic assessment of the organization's capabilities and limitations.
- Flexibility and Adaptability: A good strategy should be flexible and adaptable to changes in the environment and the organisation's circumstances. It should be able to respond to unexpected events and take advantage of emerging opportunities.
- Focus on Competitive Advantage: A good strategy should focus on developing and leveraging the organisation's unique strengths and capabilities to create a sustainable competitive advantage.
- Prioritisation and Trade-offs: A good strategy involves prioritisation and trade-offs, making choices about where to allocate resources and where to focus efforts to achieve the most significant impact.
- Continuous Learning and Improvement: A good strategy requires continuous learning and improvement, including ongoing evaluation and feedback, to ensure that the organisation remains competitive and relevant over time.
- Stakeholders: you must take into account stakeholder input.
Overall, a good strategy is a clear and well-defined plan of action that is aligned with the organisation's purpose, resources, and competitive advantage, flexible and adaptable, and focused on continuous learning and improvement.
At the heart of any SEO strategy is the roadmap, which provides a high-level plan for achieving your objectives over time.
Strategy = roadmap + vision
Roadmap = objectives and time
Objectives = elements and goals
An objective could be to implement an image XML sitemap by X date.
Elements of an SEO Strategy
Technical SEO includes:
- Site structure
- Structured data
- Page speed & Core Web Vitals
- Status codes
Local SEO includes:
- Citation management
- Link building
- NAP consistency
- Keyword optimisation
- Building locally targeted pages
Mobile SEO includes:
- Mobile page rendering
- Mobile crawling
- Mobile page speed optimisation
International SEO includes:
- Setting up Hreflang tags
- Creating the right URL structure (subdomain vs. subfolder vs. ccTLDs)
- Translation vs. localisation
- CDNs (content delivery networks)
Content optimisation includes:
- Image SEO
- Video SEO
- Content structure and H-tags
- Entity optimisation
- Google News (if applicate)
- Meta-titles and descriptions
- Content pruning
Content marketing includes:
- Link building
- Skyscraper Technique/10x Content
- Awards & Badges
There are other elements such as News SEO, Image SEO, and Video SEO.
Content and keywords in an SEO strategy
In SEO, content is of utmost importance, given that it has emerged as the "primary ranking factor" and serves as the primary driver of positive or negative user signals. For all SEO strategies content should be at the heart of this. Even when its user generated content there will be some form of moderation and content pruning.
Content can be for product pages, category pages, landing pages, and blog posts. When thinking about content I like to think of top of funnel, middle of funnel and bottom of funnel. By applying this framework to your content and keywords, you can identify any gaps and determine whether there is an imbalance in the amount of content across the different stages. This will help you determine if you have too much or too little content in any given stage.
Your SEO roadmap
Create a 12 month roadmap but plan your objectives and key results every quarter as things can change quickly in SEO. This is normally due to prioritisation by either your SEO team or other business objectives.
Allow time in your roadmap for results to mature. The goal of your strategy is to make an impact on the business goal by following your roadmap. Usually this is organic traffic and conversions for eCommerce and lead generation businesses or page impressions and clicks for publishers.
How to determine impact?
One of the most challenging and persistent questions in the field of SEO, particularly for in-house SEO practitioners, is determining the potential increase in website traffic by implementing a certain strategy (x) and demonstrating the return on investment (ROI) to secure essential resources. Although gauging the search volume and keyword difficulty can provide an approximate estimate of the potential traffic increase, accurately forecasting the impact of optimisation tactics on the website's search engine ranking poses a significant challenge.
You have two choices:
- Guesstimate: look for numbers from other companies, use past experience or test.
- Custom Click Curves: can be used alongside keywords, search volumes, existing traffic and extrapolate this depending on how much you think a ranking improvement can bring.
SEO strategy constraints
Effort vs impact
Efforts should be prioritised based on expected impact. The higher the impact the higher the return.
This could be reliancy on the web development team, an editor an the outreach team. Likewise there is no point in doing outreach if the site is slow. Take a logical approach to your roadmap.
Resource especially development resources are constantly getting pulled from other departments in the organisation. It's important to establish what resources you will have available over the coming 12-24 months.
People and money.