Roadmap for an effective SEO strategy

General SEO 5 minutes reading time

By focusing on an effective marketing mix including search engine optimization, you ensure a healthy balance in your marketing strategy. Search engine optimization is therefore of crucial importance for the online success of your company.

Moreover, search engine optimization is the only free marketing method for achieving direct conversions.

Many companies are working on their SEO, but do not know where to start or how to structure their work. With the following 7 steps, you can create an effective SEO strategy.

Step 1: Determine the right KPIs

When optimizing your website, it is important to measure the success of your work. Without the right insights, you do not know whether your activities are bearing fruit. Moreover, it is important to quickly recognize when you have done something that has a negative effect.

By determining SEO KPIs, you measure the progress of the SEO work in the right way. Some of the KPIs that we recommend for measuring are:

  • The increase in organic traffic
  • Positions on keywords that are relevant to you
  • The number of conversions from SEO
  • The bounce rate of your pages
  • The loading time of your website
  • The CTR from the organic search results

By regularly checking your KPI’s or keeping track of them in a dashboard, you will find out if you are doing ok. This also allows you to respond well to the numerous algorithm updates from Google.

Moreover, you will be able to formulate clear SEO objectives when you know which KPIs are important for your company.

Step 2: Performing a baseline measurement

Before formulating your objectives, it is important to know your current search engine status. It is important to ask questions like: How many organic visitors am I getting right now?”, “How high are we rising right now?” and “What is the status of our authority?”.

Based on your SEO KPIs, determine which data you need to include in your baseline measurement. Write down this baseline measurement in a document, so you can look at it at any time.

Step 3: Formulate specific SEO objectives

Efficiency is important for all your marketing channels, it is important to link your objectives to your KPIs and to steer on them. Concrete SEO objectives for your company are crucial for achieving good SEO results.

Make sure your objective is not “to increase organic traffic”, this is not concrete enough. A concrete objective is ‘to obtain 85% more organic traffic over the period July to December, compared to the same period of the previous year’.

By keeping an eye on your KPIs, you will quickly know whether you are achieving your set objectives. By formulating concrete SEO objectives, you avoid confusion, and it is immediately clear when the SEO process has been successful.

Step 4: Choosing the right SEO tool

When you know what your goals are and how to measure them, it is wise to look at SEO tooling. Thanks to the proper SEO tools, you can carry out all the work efficiently and save a lot of time.

Frequently used SEO tools are Moz, Ahrefs, Semrush, SE Ranking, Majestic and ContentKing.

An SEO tool can sometimes seem like a hefty investment, but it is ultimately indispensable if you really want to succeed. To make it extra easy for you, we have developed a number of important free SEO tools:

Please don’t hesitate to use these tools, these tools will help you carry out your analyses and work faster.

Step 5: Setting up an SEO plan

Setting up the right KPIs, a baseline measurement, objectives and the right tooling form the basis of your SEO strategy. The next step is to draw up and implement an SEO plan.

Because SEO is a continuous process, you must constantly keep optimizing. Therefore, free up time to carry out SEO optimizations, preferably at set times.

SEO work is divided into 3 categories, whereby each category is one of the 3 foundations of SEO:

  • Engineering
  • Content
  • Authority

Using a Word file, Google Calendar or a notebook quickly becomes cluttered for a solid SEO strategy. To keep track of your planning, it is better to use Trello, Asana or a Google Drive Excel sheet.

This way, you can implement optimizations with several colleagues at the same time and keep a good overview of the categories and the work.

Step 6: Performing analyses

Before you can fill in your SEO planning with the right work, it is important that you know what to optimize. Performing a technical analysis, a content analysis and a link analysis are the three main tasks you need to carry out.

The technical analysis

The technique of your website is the foundation for your findability, so it is important that your technique is in order. A good technique includes having a user-friendly and well crawlable website.

Google has one goal: to provide the best user experience for its users.

When a Google user quickly finds the answer to a search term, this is rewarded with a higher position in the search results. Furthermore, it is important that the Google crawler can visit pages on the website properly.

If the technique of your website causes the crawler to be blocked or if the code is incorrect, Google will not be able to index your pages. Within the technical analysis you look at:

  • The loading speed of your website
  • The structure of the pages on your website
  • The extent to which Google can crawl your website properly
  • The layout of your website

Based on the issues from the technical analysis, you draw up action points to optimize your technique. You can add these action points to your SEO planning. Technical SEO is a tremendously vast field, in which there could be dozens of technical errors found on your website.

The content analysis

You only achieve real SEO success when you get visitors to your website and these visitors convert. Your website must match the expectations and search queries of your target group.

Conducting a keyword research

To find out what your target group’s search query is, you carry out a keyword research within the content analysis. With a keyword research, you find out all the relevant search terms that are used within Google.

The Google Keyword Planner shows you the search terms combined with the number of searches per month (the search volume). If you cannot or do not wish to use the Google Keyword Planner, there are several suitable alternatives for carrying out a keyword research. For the performance of a keyword research, we use Semrush and SE Ranking.

The easiest way is to implement all the data from the keyword research into an Excel file, to keep an overview of all the search terms and search volumes. If applicable, you can also group the search terms based on subject, landing pages or blogs. It is always a matter of finding what works best for you.

Determining the potential of keywords

Using the data from the keyword research, you know what is going on within your target group and what they are searching for. You are not the only one who wants to rank high on these search terms, your competition is guaranteed to do so too.

Thanks to useful tools such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console, you can chart the potential of keywords and landing pages.

By adding the data of competitors from your SEO tool, you create a cast-iron document with all keywords and their potential.

Content on your website

The keyword research is the foundation of your content analysis, you’ll use this research on an ongoing basis when you start working on your SEO action items. Incorporate the search terms into your landing pages logically. This way you help your users find the right information.

If your pages meet all user expectations, your bounce rate will most likely drop, the amount of page views per session will increase, and you will end up with more valuable conversions.

Creating unique and valuable content with attractively designed landing pages will help your website gain positions in the search results.

Therefore, properly analyze the landing pages on your website. By this, we mean product pages, informative pages, blogs or category pages. Remember that your landing pages should:

  • be easy for visitors to scan
  • feature relevant visuals, such as images, videos and call-to-actions
  • contain internal links to other relevant landing pages

Do you see deviating data based on your KPIs? Then draw up action points. In order not to lose the overview, it is useful to create a file in which you note the results of the content analysis. Based on all the issues you encounter, you then add action points to your SEO planning.

The analysis of your authority

Besides technique and authority, the last pillar of findability is the authority of a website. Google sees qualitative backlinks from other authority websites to your website as votes.

The more valuable and relevant votes you receive, the more authority your website will have. It is important that:

  • The website that links to you is not a spam website
  • The website is relevant to your own website
  • The link adds value for the users
  • The website itself is an authority
  • The website where the link is placed has actual visitors

Building authority is done with link building, a collective name for obtaining backlinks. Provided that you do linkbuilding well, it can make a positive contribution to your search result positions.

The opposite is also true: if you receive harmful links, this will cost you valuable positions. With the Google Disavow Tool, you can check harmful links to your website and exclude them.

With an authority analysis, you look at the backlinks that are currently posted to your website. Do this via both Google Search Console and other backlink tools such as Majestic. Also map the authority of your competitors, so you immediately know which steps you still need to make.

The implementation of linkbuilding can be included as an action in your SEO planning. Keep in mind that linkbuilding is the third pillar, so it is important to first work on your technique and your content, before you start implementing with link building.

Step 7: Implementing your SEO strategy

Now that you have carried out various analyses and your SEO planning is defined, it is time to carry out the optimization work. The various measurements and analyses allow you to know what the current situation of your website is and what your objective is.

Implementing technical optimizations

Based on the technical analysis, you carry out the optimization work first. After all, technique is the foundation of your findability and crucial for website conversions.

Depending on your CMS and the composition of your online team, you will carry out the optimizations yourself, outsource them or work together with an internal web developer.

A good technical analysis is set up in such a way that the optimization points are prioritized from critical to less important. Start with the optimizations that will have the greatest impact, and thus complete the technical analysis.

Keep a close eye on all Google developments, for example by setting up a Google Alert, and monitor your website closely. SEO changes continuously, and keeping new techniques up-to-date ensures an optimal result. By monitoring your technique with SEO tooling, you can be sure that nothing goes wrong in terms of technique.

Implementing on-page optimizations

Based on the keyword research and the action points in your content analysis, you can start with the on-page optimization after your website has been technically optimized.

Optimizing and expanding your landing pages is an ongoing process. Based on the data you obtain, you can continue to fine-tune your landing pages and expand your content with effective content marketing, so that your search engine positions increase.

Once you have achieved good positions, you must not sit back, but continue to optimize and expand your content. If you don’t, the competition will catch up with you, and you will have to work hard to regain your positions.

Always keep the visitor in mind when performing on-page optimization. For Google, the user experience is the most important, so if you provide quality content and good landing pages, you will see this reflected in your positions.

Perform link building

When you have continuously optimized the pages on your website and created several new pages, it is time to start link building as well. In most SEO strategies, linkbuilding is only added after several months.

Whereas linkbuilding used to be about placing as many links as possible on the Internet, it is now about obtaining valuable backlinks. Quality linkbuilding is therefore more important than quantity. Get to work as a guest blogger, spread your valuable content via social media channels and distribute PR messages.

By using different methods for obtaining backlinks, you can obtain backlinks in the right way, which will contribute to your findability.

Step 8: Continue to measure and draw up new action points

With the established KPIs and objectives, you can quickly find out what your SEO results are. Using position increases and data from various tools, you can draw up new SEO action points.

By continuing to measure and continuously draw up new action points, you are showing Google that you take the user-friendliness of your website seriously. Continuously carrying out optimization work will pay off.

When you are aware of all SEO developments, you can quickly draw up new action points, such as optimization for local SEO.

SEO is a long-term strategy

Establishing a sound strategy quickly takes up a lot of time. Moreover, Google usually does not immediately process the work carried out in the ranking of search results.

There is a chance that you will not see immediate results from your SEO work. When you are working on search engine optimization, you need patience; it is a long-term strategy.

In most cases, it takes at least 6 months before you see the first SEO results. Research by Ahrefs has shown that it can take up to 1 year before you reach the top 10 and that it takes an average of 2 to 3 years before you reach the number 1 position.

Don’t give up when you see no results, keep following your SEO strategy and continue optimizing. With the abovementioned SEO strategy, you are working in the right way towards good findability.

Jarik Oosting - eigenaar SEO bureau SmartRanking

This article is written by Jarik Oosting

Jarik is an SEO consultant at and founder of SmartRanking. With over 12 years of SEO experience, he and the team of SEO specialists at SmartRanking help companies from small to large become more findable. He specializes in strategies, analysis, technical SEO and migrations.