How to Develop a Winning SEO Strategy

SEO Strategy

Once you are familiar with the basics of SEO, it is tempting to jump right in to a new project and start applying go-to optimisation techniques without first developing a strategy. This is a mistake. Although the website might benefit from these changes, it is essential that you have definitive goals and a clear-cut plan for achieving them. By following the steps laid out below you can develop a successful SEO strategy that will keep you on track throughout the entire project. 

Step One: Find Out the Business Objectives

Every company’s general SEO objective is to drive organic traffic to the website that results in revenue. However, it is essential for an SEO to have explicit goals set out. By using the acronym SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound) to set your goals, you can easily showcase success to your manager or client. Although SMART is a popular tool across a multitude of businesses, it is especially useful for SEO. This is because SEO is a fairly new concept for a lot of business owners and as a result, highlighting the importance of SEO can at times be challenging. So, to combat this you must find out the business objectives and use these to set SMART SEO goals. Having these will also help you to prioritise your tasks further down the line. 

Step Two: Learn About the Company and the Target Market

Despite its technical attributes, SEO is a marketing technique therefore you must take a marketing approach. If you don’t already, get to know the products and services inside out. Next, you need to establish the target market. Your target market will influence the decisions that you make on UX (user experience) as well as many other aspects of optimisation. For example, if your target market is primarily people over 60 years old who work in agriculture then you want to make sure the website has a simple navigation and design. On the other hand, if your target market were web designers then you would incorporate more complex designs that will impress your audience. It is helpful to create personas or profiles for each type of customer in your target market. These profiles should tell you what the customer is looking for, what type of marketing they respond to etc. 

Step Three: Keyword Research and Mapping

Now that you know what you are selling and whom you are selling to, you can begin your keyword research. Keep in mind that the more products or services you have, the longer this process can take. By dividing your keywords into categories you can keep your research organised. Once you have your completed list you should map the keywords out across your site. If you are working with an exceptionally large website you might find it easier to tackle one category at a time. In other words, conduct keyword research for one type of product or service, map those keywords then move on to the next category. 

Step Four: Competitor Research

Next is researching the competition. The easiest way to find out who your top competitors are is to type your head keywords into Google and see who is at the top of the SERPs. Another, more advanced way you can do this is with use of a competitor analysis tool such as Ahrefs. This software provides full backlink analysis, backlink growth over time, organic traffic by country, top performing content and featured snippets. Alternatively, if you don’t have much budget you can use Moz’s free Domain SEO Analysis Tool which offers similar features. Keep in mind, the aim of this step is to find out your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses so that you can replicate and avoid those, respectively.

For example, if Competitor A ranks first for 90% of your services but Competitor B ranks first for the other 10%. What does Competitor B do differently from Competitor A for that 10%? At this stage you need to look beyond page titles and alt text. Analyse the entire website experience from a customer’s perspective. Consider landing page content. Special features on the site (like widgets or tools), as well as social media presence and other marketing channels.  

Step 5: Combining Each Step to Create Your SEO Strategy

Finally, you can combine the information gathered in step one to four. If you haven’t already, now would be good time to run an SEO audit. If it reveals that the website lacks basic SEO, don’t panic. Your priority is still to achieve the goals set out in step one. So, start with one of those. For example, perhaps your company has launched a new service but it isn’t ranking for any relevant keywords. Select your target market for that service, gather your keywords for that category and start comparing your pages to your competitors’, listing recommendations as you go.

SEO Strategy Top Tips

Remember, there will likely be limitations, such as budget or staff, so it might not be possible to one-up your competitors in every aspect. Having alternative options can be a helpful way to overcome these limitations. Also, despite it being good practice to have your entire site optimised on a basic level (at the very least). This won’t always have a direct effect on achieving your SMART goals. Therefore, prioritising your tasks so that you are meeting your objectives, adhering to timescales and staying within budget is key. By following these steps you will have a clear strategy that will keep you focussed and will lead you to success.

Kirsty Beth McLennan
I’m an SEO Specialist from Glasgow, Scotland. Starting out in agencies and working my way up to head of the SEO team for a large UK retailer, I have almost three years of experience in digital marketing. When I’m not working I enjoy travelling, reading, and drinking wine with friends.