SEO Plan & Strategy

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Last Updated on October 27, 2020 by David Bryan

How to create a successful SEO plan (SEO strategy) in 2020

Benjamin Franklin memorably claimed that: “failing to plan is planning to fail“. This is never more prevalent than in SEO. No website finds success through blind luck. A successful SEO plan is pivotal to driving traffic to your online presence and this guide will discuss how to draw up a successful SEO plan for your website in 2020.

What is an SEO plan?

An SEO plan is sometimes also referred to as an SEO strategy.

Both refer to a carefully prepared set of activities outlining how you intend to attract visitors to your website through organic search results.1

SEO Plan

If you do not utilise SEO correctly, your site will struggle to attract visitors

It is no secret that traffic is the lifeblood of any site. After all, what is a website without visitors? The more visitors a site attracts, the more you are likely to achieve your desired goals. SEO planning with a focus on Google is more important than ever in 2020, as Google has more than 90% share of the entire search engine market worldwide.2

What SEO factors are most important in 2020?

If you are going to draw up a successful SEO plan, you first need to identify your goals and understand what matters most to SEO in 2020.

We’ve covered SEO goals and KPIs in our guide here. It’s important to view SEO as a part of your overall business and marketing strategy, so any SEO goals should trace back to what you are trying to achieve as a business. Once you have identified these goals, cross-check what matters most to SEO as part of your SEO plan.

To build a successful SEO plan in 2020, follow these steps:

1. Vitals

Ensure that the core vitals of your website meet Google’s expected standards3. Google claims that core vitals are not deal-breakers, but it’s better to be safe than sorry

2. Competitors and keywords

Put yourself in the shoes of potential visitors to your website. Understand search intent and carry out thorough keyword research to determine what your visitors are looking for and the most suitable keywords to generate traffic. Enter the queries you expect them to pose into Google and check the results. Find a niche that has not yet been covered.  Note the keywords and pivotal search terms used by your competitors and adopt the Skyscraper technique4. This means taking what your competitor has done and building upon it. If they offer 8 tips on a particular topic, write 10 if it provides more value. If they have a dense block of text, explain things more succinctly using videos and graphs to your site. If these sites are topping the Google rankings, they are doing something right with their SEO and you may be able to improve upon this.

3. Navigation

Consider your overall site navigation and architecture (menu), then revise as needed to make sure this reflects your keyword research. Look for any prominent gaps in the Googlesphere that your website can fill. This may be a service or information that nobody else is providing.

4. Content

Create high-quality content tailored to your target audience and keyword research, consider where this content should be placed within the site navigation. Consider how to improve upon the content on your competitors. Think about both broad and long-tail keywords within your content. Divide your SEO content into a range of clusters, pages and sections so as to build Topical Authority. This prevents issues with Google’s algorithms, especially RankBrain, as your content will be answering specific queries. Be prepared to refresh your content regularly, ideally scheduling this in advance. Remember that two can play the skyscraper game. If you overtake a competitor in the Google rankings, it will not go unnoticed. They will review your site as part of their own SEO strategy, just as you did theirs. The aim of a successful SEO strategy is not to match that performance of others, but to improve on it.

5. Internal linking

Review internal links (i.e. the hyperlinks added within the content on your pages) and ensure you link up related content. This will help to keep visitors on your site for longer and improve the user experience as a result.

6. Aesthetic appeal

Evaluate the design and aesthetic appeal of your content and usability. This is often considered as more of a web design activity and overlooked as part of SEO, but it’s absolutely fundamental to user experience and therefore SEO, e.g. add visual interest using images and video content, space your content out so that it’s easily digestible, include a table of contents for longer content, add ‘calls to action’ and ‘unique selling points’ within your content, etc. A good user experience improves dwell time and encourages social sharing, both of which can help improve your ranking and traffic.

7. Page optimisation and structure

Check the structure of your content to achieve good on-page SEO, e.g. define your meta data, use the H1 tag as your main page title, create sections using H2-H5 sub-headings, name images sensibly and include image ALT tags, use keywords naturally.

8. Website speed and mobile

Optimise your site design and pages for mobile users as well as desktop users. A key ingredient here is site speed and page load times. A slow site or bad user experience on mobile will harm your SEO, especially given that more users are now browsing the web using phones and tablets than ever before.

9. Creativity

Get creative when planning and creating content. It’s one thing to have well-optimised pages but you will lose your visitor’s attention if they find the content dull. Coming up with creative ideas and strategies will encourage others to share and link back to your content and perhaps even go viral.

10. Links to your site

Good quality links back to your content will help to boost the authority of your pages and their ranking in Google. Promote your site as far and wide as you can. Generate traffic through social media. Make your site as appealing to share as possible. Getting creative will help enormously but for other strategies that you may like to consider, review our guide here on how to backlink your way to success.

11. Technical errors

Check over your previously created content for technical errors, e.g. broken links, images not loading, missing ALT tags, basically another that may harm the user experience.

These are just some of the basic building blocks of how to create a successful SEO plan. Ideas are the easy part, execution requires more care and attention.

So plan these tasks one at a time so as not to overwhelm yourself. Be methodical. A successful SEO plan is not one that can be put into place quickly and overnight. It’s a strategy that is carefully considered and reviewed, ensuring that every I is dotted and every T is crossed.

Top Tip – Set aside time to review your menu against keywords and check for gaps, i.e. opportunities to add new content. As part of this, check your sitemap to ensure that it is complete and structured properly and make sure that your content can actually be crawled and indexed by Google. You would be amazed at how many web developers set a site so that it can’t be indexed by Google during development and then forget to disable this when making everything live.

How do I create an SEO plan?

At the very minimum, load up Excel and start by defining your plan. If you don’t have Excel, consider using Google Sheets.

SEO planning template

As a basic guide, here is a rough SEO planning template that we often follow internally:

Phase Activity Who When Why (Goal) Time or Cost
Phase 1 (Months 1-3) Check  content against keyword research and revise accordingly John Smith October 27th 2020 Improve ranking for homepage 3 hours
..
..
..

Consider breaking up your activities into phases.

12 month SEO plan or monthly action plans

You may start with a 12 month SEO plan but then decide it needs to be split up into individual 3 or 6 month plans to make it more achievable. You may even decide that planning one month at a time is best for your business. Just make sure if you work on a monthly basis, that you don’t lose sight of the overall strategy and goals as it can be difficult to see this when working month by month.

If you need extra help to create a successful SEO plan in 2020, consider making use of online tools. You will find no shortage of templates on how to create a plan or SEO strategy online.

Stand Out from the Rest with a unique SEO strategy

Never be afraid to make your website stand out from the pack with a unique SEO strategy

There is a problem with following templates to the letter, though. If everybody follows the same plan, how can you hope to stand apart? A big part of devising a successful SEO plan is creating something different from your competitors as this will encourage new users to visit your site and share the content.

How do I deliver the plan once created?

Once you’ve completed your SEO planning template and you’re ready to execute the plan, you need to focus on the most important task of all – you need to deliver on what you have devised.

This is the part that needs discipline and dedication.

If you are a full-time in-house SEO, chances are that you are a business owner or marketing person and will need to juggle your day job with SEO activities.  This is not easy, and for many of us, it can seem impossible. Here are a few pointers which will help you to deliver the plan:

  1. Plan SMART – Set aside an hour or so each day but whatever you decide, make sure this is realistic and achievable. If needed update the ‘When‘ and ‘Time‘ columns of your SEO plan to reflect how much time you’ve allocated and revise the dates of other activities accordingly.
  2. Resource or outsource – Remember, you don’t need to do it all yourself and may not actually be best placed to do this anyway, so think about the ‘Who‘ column carefully. Spend your personal time where you can add most value to the business and consider using other team members or even outsourcing elements of your SEO plan to specialists.  There are lots of fantastic SEO agencies and freelancer sites out there who can help.
  3. Measure and re-plan – Don’t create the plan and then forget about it. Make sure you measure your SEO results and revise your plan if needed. It should be a living breathing business tool, which means that it needs to grow and change with time.

How do I know if my plan has been successful?

Take a look at the KPIs or goals that you wrote when you first started to consider your strategy. Have they been reached – and hopefully breached expectations?

If so, you are on the right track to a successful SEO plan.

SEO Analytics and KPIs

Check your KPIs and analytics. This will confirm if you devised a successful SEO plan

This is not the entire measure of SEO in 2020, though. As discussed in more detail measure your here, you will need to check a variety of metrics to measure your success.

For example:

  • Are visitors to your site staying put for at least a few minutes, or clicking/bouncing off within seconds?
  • Are visitors from the same IP addresses returning for more information, or are the visits one-and-done?
  • What territories are you reaching – is traffic coming from your preferred locations (i.e. the correct visitors)?
  • Is your Google ranking higher than before you implemented your strategy?

The answer to whether you have devised a successful SEO plan lies within the response to questions such as those above.

If not, start again and look for how to improve results. If yes, be prepared to update and reconsider anyway. SEO moves quickly. There is no room for complacency, and nobody stays at the top by stagnating. Start preparing your next successful SEO plan for when your content requires a refresh in 6 to 12 months.

Conclusion: How to deliver better results with good SEO planning

A successful SEO plan will provide your business with substantial traffic. Think of SEO as building a house. The plan is your foundations. Once this has been arranged, you can focus on the walls and ceiling. If you devise a successful SEO plan, your building will grow and that ceiling will keep getting higher. Laying these foundations correctly is essential. Once this you have an SEO plan tailored the unique requirements of your business, you will attract an ever-increasing number of visitors to your site.

From consultancy to implementation, Opace is here to assist with any advice or support that you may need. For help or support, please get in touch.

References and further reading

  1. backlinko.com/seo-strategy
  2. webfx.com/blog/seo/2019-search-market-share
  3. web.dev/vitals
  4. blog.hubspot.com/marketing/skyscraper-technique-drive-traffic

 

Image Credits – www.pixabay.com/FirmBee; www.pixabay.com/khamkhor; www.pixabay.com/StockSnap

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