Search engine optimization (SEO) is a tried and true marketing strategy for most digital marketers. But there are many nuances to creating an effective SEO strategy. It requires education, experience, and patience to devise a plan that will allow a marketing team to excel in this area. Understanding the intricacies of the unique science of SEO and applying it as art to the content you create takes careful crafting.
Digging into optimization may seem overwhelming since algorithms, competition, and website functionalities are constantly changing and creating challenges to effectively integrate SEO into a digital marketing plan. This is why an ever-evolving SEO strategy is essential for marketers to ensure their brand is competitive in the digital marketing space.
With that said, a “set it and forget it” mindset doesn’t work when implementing effective SEO strategies. You need an agile strategy and an SEO plan with built-in flexibility and checkpoints for re-evaluation to achieve optimal digital marketing success.
So what is necessary for creating and implementing effective SEO? And how can organic marketing efforts evolve to stay ahead of the competition? The answers are found in how SEO plans are created, the tools used for analyzing data, and the integration between SEO, content marketing and web development. This plan will guide you through the process.
What is an SEO Marketing Strategy?
An SEO marketing strategy organizes the strategic and tactical level SEO actions required to optimize a digital marketing plan. It is guided by keyword data analysis, competitive analysis, and integrates your SEO and marketing strategies so they are empowered by one another.
A part of the higher-level digital marketing strategy is the SEO content marketing strategy, a make or break for any marketing initiative. This part of the plan is where SEO becomes foundational to creating digital content that performs well and adds value for your audience. High-ranking content focuses on your audience’s needs and search intents and incorporates basic SEO best practices.
Over time, certain aspects of SEO remain consistent and mostly unchanged (this includes optimizing URLs, title tags, etc.). If optimized correctly, these SEO best practices will build a solid strategic foundation that you can rely on, even as you add in tactical changes prompted by search engine algorithm updates.
Keep in mind that your SEO digital marketing strategy should be fluid and continuously improved as data is collected and analyzed. You’ll be able to quickly identify what keywords, content types and subjects your audience engages with best. Additionally, staying abreast of search engine changes and updates should be a top priority and applied to an established strategic plan.
But, some marketers remain a bit skeptical and want to know if a solid SEO strategy will deliver and take their brand to the next level. The short answer is yes.
At the most basic level, you must understand how to use SEO in your digital marketing strategy. This includes doing the research, collecting the data, and then building the strategic plan that fits your business objectives. The plan should align all organic marketing, social media, PR, and other contributing initiatives to ensure cross-channel alignment and amplification. The plan — in its totality — must be clearly communicated and distributed so it can be executed across the organization.
How to Build an SEO Marketing Plan & Content Marketing Workflow
What Should I Include in My SEO Marketing Plan?
An SEO marketing plan requires completing the following steps:
- Content Audit: A content audit is a way to crawl existing digital content, organize it, and classify it into topic categories and formats. The content audit aims to have an inventory and full view of existing content and understand which pieces are optimized and which are not. Taking it a step further, the content audit can also organize content by persona type and customer journey stage, which will reveal gaps where content is missing.
- Competitive Analysis: A competitive analysis identifies the keywords, phrases, and strategies competitors use to optimize their digital marketing efforts. This includes identifying the rank of competitor sites, evaluating title tags and URLs, and finding ways to rise above the competition for specific keywords and phrases.
- Keyword and Phrase Analysis: A keyword and phrase analysis will identify the most prominent words related to a specific business or service. The analysis will identify which words are most competitive and least competitive but may still apply to the brand or business. The analysis will also offer top keywords and secondary words that should be used for optimizing specific pages within a website and for blog content. Lastly, it should also offer insight into user’s search intent, which are the queries that your target audience will search for.
- Content marketing plan: As mentioned, it is imperative to understand the significant relationship between content marketing and SEO. The content marketing plan will organize content revisions, topic priorities, and timing for creating new assets. When planning SEO, content must be organized by applying SEO best practices and specific keywords and phrases discovered during the initial research. SEO data should guide all content topics, formats, and content from a structural standpoint. SEO and content marketing go hand-in-hand when the plan is focused on achieving efficacy and successful digital marketing results in terms of page rank and favorable search results – and you can’t have one succeed without the other.
- Optimization plan: The last part of the strategy determines how content and website pages and structure will be optimized. This could mean adjusting URLs, adding H1 and H2 tags into site pages, and determining the best tools and platforms to use to track and measure changes.
In addition, an effective digital marketing plan will include tracking a variety of metrics. Performance and optimizations can be measured using an SEO platform, which will provide valuable data insights. These insights can be applied to existing tactics to improve performance and guide additional strategies that can be implemented as the plan evolves.
Content Marketing Workflow
Ultimately, the end game is to devise a content marketing workflow that aligns with the SEO marketing plan. The workflow should highlight which content assets need to be created and when and who is responsible for creating them.
For example, writing an optimized blog post may include a blog outline includes the top 3-5 keywords to incorporate into the piece and recommendations for H1 / H2 tags. From there, the work must be assigned, reviewed, and then posted — and all parts of that workflow should be completed with an eye on performance and SEO.
Overall, the workflow should ensure that both content and SEO are aligned to strategically applied data intelligence that will help achieve the end goal.
SEO Budget Plan
Understanding the return on investment (ROI) of SEO is one step above the rest, and marketers must make it the central focus of the plan. Displaying the value of SEO will help guide a data-driven SEO budget plan that will justify the budget allocation and allow room for tweaking as needed. When calculating the spend and results, the ROI of SEO will help determine how much to spend on SEO strategies in the future and the impact of adjusting the budget throughout the lifecycle.
In addition, here are a few things to remember about budgeting for SEO:
- Set expectations by defining the unique nature of SEO. This means that whoever is in charge of the budget understands the depth and breadth of the initiative and that results are not likely to happen overnight. Educate the stakeholders as much as possible to show how the process works, the type of results to expect, and when the results will make an impact.
- Define the size of the opportunity using metrics the budget holder cares about. When assigning metrics to the plan, ensure the metrics matter. For example, use tools to help calculate the size of the organic search opportunity possible within a specific space. Evaluating the span of the opportunity can be accomplished by adjusting keywords and search volumes, tweaking rank improvements, and determining traffic increases.
To learn more about demonstrating the ROI of SEO, check out this Forrester Report which breaks down the dollar value of SEO, what it is worth for a brand, and how to adjust a budget to maximize results.
How to Build an Effective SEO Plan with Conductor
In general, any organic marketing effort can benefit from using technology that will help build an effective SEO plan. The range of available technology is vast from point solutions that provide keyword analysis to enterprise platforms that offer keyword research, competitive analysis, robust measurement and so much more.
Conductor can help organic marketers create winning content, optimize their website, and measure the efficacy of the marketing efforts.