What is an SEO strategy?
SEO strategy is about how you get from where you are to where you want to be in the future. It is the action plan towards a future goal and serves as a fixed point of reference for all employees and partners involved in the process.
The aim of the strategy is to make the right decisions so that the work on SEO is done on a solid basis, ensuring that you achieve your business objectives in an appropriate and cost-effective way. The strategy is defined before the work starts and will naturally be adjusted along the way.
You need to understand your market, your target audience, your current position, your objectives, your skills and your financial resources before you can plan the optimal SEO strategy. If you working with an SEO agency, the agency can be an important sparring partner.
It's important to have a fixed point of measurement that you can use as a starting point, both when setting objectives for your work and when later evaluating the results of your work. Read more about objectives and benchmarking and KPIs.
A traditional ad campaign (might) deliver results here and now. However, the long-term impact is limited - unless you constantly add new money to the campaign. With SEO, it's the other way around. SEO doesn't deliver results here and now - it can take up to three months or more before you see the first results - but over time the impact accumulates.
It is impossible to estimate exactly how long it takes to achieve a position 1 to 5, because it depends on many different factors. It depends partly on your skills and the resources you devote to SEO, partly on the SEO starting point you come from, partly on the actions of your competitors and partly on changes in Google's ranking criteria.
In our experience, SEO is most profitable if the work is carried out over a period of at least 12 months. This is partly because the work requires thorough preparation, partly because it takes time for Google to register changes, and partly because the work itself takes time. For example, the 2-year evolution of Blockbuster.co.uk's visitor numbers from Google - the trend over time is increasing, but there are large fluctuations from month to month:
SEO is therefore a long-term process. On the other hand, the benefits of SEO are also long-lasting. It's not like an ad, where the benefits end the day you stop paying to see the ad. If you do your job well, you can potentially reap the rewards years into the future.
But that doesn't mean you can be done with SEO. Google is constantly adjusting their ranking criteria, and your competitors are probably working on SEO too, so you can't be sure of keeping your visibility if you're not constantly optimising your work.
The SEO strategy results in an action plan that describes what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, who is responsible for doing it, and when it needs to be followed up and evaluated. Developing a good action plan requires a broad knowledge of SEO, and if you do not have this knowledge yourself, it will be natural to involve operational specialists in the planning.
In its simplest form, an action plan can be summarised in four main points that are closely linked to the four basic elements of SEO - technique, content, links and user signals:
- Make sure the technical foundation of your website is in place.
- Create content for your website based on the search habits of your target audience.
- Get other websites to link to the content on your website.
- Boost visitor engagement and behaviour on your website.
Here is an example on a slightly more detailed action plan that incorporates these elements.
Few SEO practitioners do all the work themselves - the tasks are too many and too varied. That's why it's important to delegate the tasks in your action plan to the right people with the right skills. A serious SEO strategy in a large company typically involves people at many levels:
- Leader. Defines direction and overall framework for work.
- Project Manager. Plans, organises, manages and evaluates work.
- SEO specialist. Prepares knowledge-building analyses and advises all parties.
- Web Developer. Manages and optimises the technical platform behind the website.
- Text author. Writes search engine optimised content for the website.
- Web Editor. Publish new pages and content on the website.
- Press Officer. Builds links to the website through mentions on other websites.
- UX specialist. Optimises user behaviour on the website.
The same person can take on several roles - this is typically the case in smaller companies. Make sure that everyone involved in the process knows their role, the overall objectives, sub-objectives and success criteria, the deadline and how much time is allocated to the tasks.
If you work with an SEO agency, the agency can often handle most roles. However, few SEO agencies work as web developers - and even if they do, it's usually beneficial to have the web developers who developed your website or are responsible for the website on a day-to-day basis make any technical improvements that the SEO agency points out.
The SEO strategy is the foundation for successful SEO work and crucial for both the common understanding of the work and its execution. Therefore, you should not underestimate the importance of having a solid strategy and action plan - especially if you have not worked with SEO before.
SEO work can stand alone, but it's an advantage if you think about it in your marketing mixincluding Google Ads. This places demands on you, your marketing department (if you have one) and the data about your marketing efforts on which your decisions are based.
Remember that SEO is not necessarily a linear process that follows the order of this guide. Most of the areas of work are ones you return to on an ongoing basis, either to expand the scope and goals of the work, or to improve work already done. Similarly, evaluation is an ongoing task that continues throughout the process.