How to Build an SEO Strategy

Successful SEO strategy often requires a long-term game plan that requires commitment, perseverance, and a highly-prioritized roadmap. In this lesson, we’ll show you how to take your previous research and findings from your audits to develop a winning SEO strategy.

25 minutes

Key points you can
learn in this lesson.

Setting Tangible SEO Goals

Create proper goals & KPI’s for your SEO efforts 

Prioritizing SEO Items

Learn how to prioritize SEO action items

SEO Strategy

Develop a cohesive SEO strategy that drives growth for your business

Our key metrics increased. More importantly, we implemented a lot of new tactics and test scenarios, which will boost our company’s future prospects.
Dave McCue
Digital Marketing Manager at Allstate

Lesson Preview

In this lesson, we’ll be walking through how to carry out your own SEO strategy that is actionable and based on all the skills you have learned up to this point.

What is an SEO Strategy?

An SEO Strategy ties the SEO tactics you’ve been learning about together and incorporates them in a cohesive manner.

Why is this important?

Without a strategy, the SEO hard skills you have acquired during this module become less impactful and you can begin to find yourself working on action items that ultimately will not create meaningful growth.

What you’ll need:

  • ICE Ranking Prioritization Sheet Template
  • ICE Ranking Prioritization Sheet Example
  • Google Analytics Account

The Process:

Create a North Star Metric & Necessary Sub-Goals

The first step for the creation of any strategy is to set a clear and defined goal. At Directive, we use the term “North Star Metric” to describe the ultimate objective for our efforts. Acting as a guiding light, our North Star Metrics ensure all the actions we take are impactful and lead to a singular goal. 

Depending on your site, your North Star Metric may differ. But since we are primarily focused on growing our client’s business, a common North Star Metric for us is below:

North Star Metric Example: Increase Bottom of the Funnel [BOFU] Conversions

With your North Star Metric set, we need to identify sub-goals that will work together to help us achieve our overall objective. 

Common Sub-Goals we recommend Include:

  • Increase Organic Site Traffic
  • Increase Conversion Rates
  • Raise Site & Page Authority

Now with all your goals set, you should be thinking about the tasks that need to be executed in order to achieve them. This natural progression ensures that the hard-skills you have acquired throughout this module are put to good use.

Create a Timeline

Operating with a definitive timeline is essential whether you are a student, a business owner, or an in-house marketer. SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. Understanding this and acting accordingly is essential. Here are some examples of how long SEO action items can sometimes take to execute:

*These are rough estimates that we have seen but may differ depending on resources available*

Link Building

  • Guest Posting ~ 3-5 Weeks
  • Fixing Broken Backlinks ~ 1-2 Weeks
  • Monitoring Brand Mentions ~ 2-4 Weeks


  • Topic Research & Ideation ~ 1-2 Days
  • Content Creation/Publishing ~ 1-2 Weeks


  • Redirect Fixes ~ 1-2 Weeks
  • Script Consolidation ~ 1-2 Weeks
  • Site Speed Fixes ~ 2-4 Weeks


With these rough time estimates, you must also take into account the fact that the bigger your site is in terms of content/pages, the longer it will take to execute. Additionally, on-page optimization should be an ongoing process.

  • Meta-Data Research & Updates ~ 1-2 Days
  • Keyword Optimization ~ 1-2 Days
  • Internal Linking ~ 1-2 Days

Add these action items together, and the execution alone takes a substantial amount of time. From there, the results you are seeking will take a while to develop. Since it can take from days to several months to see significant SEO impact, it is essential to get off to a good start by creating an actionable timeline. To do this, you should use an ICE Ranking System. ICE is short for Impact, Confidence, and Ease.

Impact – How impactful do I expect this action to be in the long-term?

Confidence – How sure am I that this test will prove my hypothesis?

Ease – How easily and how soon can this be implemented?

It is important to note that depending on the site you are working on, many of the actions you are about to identify may have a higher or lower impact depending on your unique situation. However, SEO fundamentals are applicable to any site. It is just a matter of experimenting and discovering which actions best suit your site’s needs.

How to Make Your Timeline

  1. Create a spreadsheet using the ICE Template
  2. Organize columns by:
    • SEO Pillar
      • Technical
      • Content
      • On-Page
      • Link Building
    • Tactic
    • Impact
    • Confidence
    • Ease
    • Score
    • Status Column (optional)
  3. For each tactic, assign a numeric value to each of the aspects on a scale of 1-5
    • 5 being the highest figure,1 being the lowest figure
    • These figures are subjective, but use the knowledge you’ve acquired to this point to decide what is best for your site.
  4. Add each section together for a total score 
  5. Repeat this process for each action item
  6. Arrange the items with the highest scores from top to bottom
  7. Execute action items accordingly

Your finished spreadsheet should look something like this:

As a result, you will be able to tackle the most vital action items first and set yourself up to see the fruits of your labor much sooner. This approach ensures there is a purpose behind your actions and your strategy can get off to a strong start. Additionally, with a schedule for your action items created, you will be able to start the proverbial clock as to when to start expecting to see the fruits of your labor.

Monitor Your Progress

With your action items now starting to be executed, it is imperative to monitor your site’s performance for any indicators of new positive or negative performance. Google Analytics is a great free tool for this and there are a few key sections you should become acquainted with in order to stay up to date with your progress.

These sections are:

  1. Audience > Overview
  2. Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages
  3. Conversions > Goals > Overview

Let’s dive into these sections with more depth.

Audience > Overview

The ‘Audience Overview’ is a great area in Google Analytics to assess your site’s performance from a high-level. After a few weeks of testing, use this report in Google Analytics to view overall Traffic & User Engagement Metrics. This is a great way to see the overall effects of your SEO efforts on your site.

To use this section effectively:

  1. Under Audience click ‘Overview’
  2. Select ‘Organic Traffic’ as your desired segment
  3. Customize your date range to:
    • Compare Month Over Month Data
    • Compare Quarter Over Quarter Data
    • Compare Year Over Year Data
  4. Examine Traffic Metrics
    • Users
    • New Users
    • Sessions
  5. Examine Engagement Metrics
    • Pages/Session
    • Session Duration
    • Bounce Rate
  6. Catch Technical Issues
    • If data isn’t tracking properly, this section is a great place to discover this. The line graph will bottom out which typically indicates something is wrong.
    • Example:

Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages

This section of Google Analytics is fantastic for discovering & monitoring the Top Organic Landing pages on your site. Understanding which of your pages are most discoverable is beneficial as it allows you to see what tactics on which pages are working. This becomes even easier with the compare function that exists with Google Analytics. Comparing your pages before and after optimizations are made is a great way to show the effectiveness of your work by giving you raw data that clearly states a winner.

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