Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Data-Driven SEO Road Map – Everything You Should Know

There are no “secret sauce” or tricks to rank higher on search engines. If you’re looking to achieve success with your SEO campaign, then your campaign should include:

  • Strategic On-Page Optimization
  • Technical SEO Audit
  • Quality Link Building

To be successful with SEO, you need a perfect combination of every crucial elements of SEO that matters to search engines. Rather than doing any guesswork, having proper on-page optimization, technical SEO and quality link building will position your site high on SERPs while improving your authority within your niche.

If your SEO campaign doesn’t include these strategies, then you know why your site is not generating organic traffic that you expect. It clearly shows that you’re not getting the fundamentals right and provide what both search engines and users are looking for.

The sad truth is that most SEO agencies are completely focused on resolving the current situation of search engines without having a plan to future-proof their client’s ranking and traffic.

We are aware of Google’s ranking factors and we have an in-depth understanding of Google’s main goal of providing their users with the best results and satisfy their queries. So, it is important to satisfy both users and Google’s ranking factors.

Here’s how we get started with our SEO roadmap…

Business Analysis

 

Do you think SEO is right for every single business?

No.

Although SEO provides the highest ROI compared to other digital marketing strategies, you need to analyze and evaluate whether it is suitable for the business. During the business analysis process, you’ll be able to find out whether SEO is the right digital strategy for your business.

Your primary keywords might not have enough search volume, and your competition might be high, and other digital channels may generate better results compared to SEO.

Once you complete your analyzing your business, you’ll know whether SEO is the right digital marketing strategy for your business. During business analysis you will find out:

  • The amount of time required to get results
  • The cost involved in getting results
  • The most effective digital marketing strategy

If SEO is the best digital marketing strategy for your business, then you should proceed with the first step in the SEO roadmap.

Competitor Analysis

 

source: UX Collective

To come up with the right SEO strategy, it is important to find and analyze your competitions. Getting the right information about their digital marketing activities will help us develop a competitive advantage over them. There are three pillars of competitor analysis which are:

On-Page SEO

When you perform on-page analysis, you’ll be looking at the quality of on-page optimization of your competitor’s content:

  • Keywords / Keyphrases analysis: check the keywords they are ranking for, the pages getting the highest traffic from search engines, the level of difficulty to compete with the keywords they are ranking for and opportunities for featured snippets.
  • Content Analysis: Identify and evaluate the type of content that ranks on the SERPs and find the content gap. Go through ranking content and check the quality you’ll need to compete.
  • Conversion strategies: Find out how your competitors are converting their visitors into leads, sales and subscribers.

Technical SEO

You want to know how organized your competitors are when it comes to technical SEO. This is the foundation that makes or breaks a site’s long-term SEO efforts. These are the important components that you need to check:

  • Site Architecture: Check on how your competitors organize their content across their site and analyze their user experience.
  • Site loading speed: Evaluate their site loading speed across desktop and mobile devices.
  • Responsiveness / Mobile-Friendly: Check whether their sites are responsive in all devices especially mobile devices.

Off-Page SEO

In this section, you want to check your competitor’s strength with their backlink profile. You need to look at the following elements while analyzing the off-page SEO:

  • Link analysis: Check the referring domains and their quality. Use tools like SEMRush or Ahrefs.
  • Linkable content assets: Find the types of contents that are getting the most links.
  • Link building strategies: Identify the link building strategies they’ve implemented to their sites; PBNs, guest blogging, event sponsorship, etc.
  • Backlink gaps: List down the sites that your competitors are getting links from

There are many competitor analysis checklist available online. These are some of the resources that you should check out:

Website Audit

 

After having a good understanding of your top competitors and their SEO activities, now you should analyze and evaluate your website.

A complete website audit will help you analyze every single web pages. When we work with our clients, we have a comprehensive checklist to see what is lacking with their website and how to improve them.

You don’t want to assume things about your site. You want data to back your claims abut your site quality in terms of SEO. To do that, you need to perform a thorough website audit that will help you:

  • Evaluate the quality of your website from the search engine’s perspective.
  • Identify and fix pages with low performance.
  • Focus on improving the quality and performance of your top key pages.

Google looks into many aspects of your website to determine whether your site deserves to be on top of SERPs. If you fail to improve your website consistently you might end up ranking lower and lose your authority and credibility.

Your goal should be in improving your website quality and show that your website has the worth to rank high on search engines.

Keyword Audit

 

When we talk about building a solid SEO strategy, keyword audit is the most important part that you should never miss out. There are many factors that you need to consider to make sure your site is visible to your potential customers.

The process of keyword audit will help you understand your target audience deeper and focus on providing what they are actually looking for.

The only drawback is that there will be hundreds to thousands of keywords your site may be ranking for, so it will be extremely difficult to navigate each one of them. However, you can always focus on the keywords that matter most to your business and implement the right strategies in improving your rankings.

For keyword audit, you can use Google Keyword Planner, Google Search Console, SEMRush or Ahrefs.

Let’s go through the full process with a step-by-step guide:

Stack up all the URLs of Your Website

Before implementing any new SEO strategy for your website, we need to check how your current content are ranking for your target keywords. You need to gather all the URLs of your website along with their individual metrics like backlinks, internal linking, and more.

Once you get all the necessary information about your keywords, it will be easier to analyze on what you should focus on improving your search rankings.

Identify Your Main Keywords and Secondary Keywords

Did you perform keyword research before writing your content earlier?

If you did, then you should have identified the main keywords for each page and blog post you’ve published.

If you haven’t, decide what keywords are suitable for the pages you’ve published. Although most of the time, you will end up targeting generic keywords with huge search volume and high competition, try to incorporate long-tail keywords that are relevant to your pages.

As for the secondary keywords or we can call it LSI keywords. Remember that, LSI keywords are not synonyms to your main keywords. They’re terms that are closely related to your target keywords.

For example, the main keyword is “workout”. The LSI keywords will be “cardio”, “weight training” and “HIIT”.  These LSI keywords comes under the same topic cluster as your main keyword. So, there is high potential for your page to rank for multiple keywords.

You should avoid stuffing them to your content. Add them strategically to your content and make them look natural. Moreover, you don’t have to waste time in creating separate content for related keywords.

List Top Performing Pages of Your Competitors

We often focus only on 3 main competitors and make the right comparison. For example, we compare the same type of content against the competitors when we try to rank our client’s page. If it’s a product page, then the comparison will be only against a product page.

This is to make sure we are providing the right type of content for the user’s search intent. Google provides the best results for the users based on their search queries. So, if the user is searching for a product or service, Google will show pages that showcase the products or services the user searched for. This is how Google works in providing the best results without compromising the user experience.

Before optimizing your site’s on-page elements, you need to be clear with the content that works best for your audience search queries.

Your competitors should be ranking high on search engine result pages if they are top players in your industry. If your site is performing better than your competitors in terms of Domain authority, quality site architecture, perfectly optimized on-page signals, yet not ranking high on search engines, then it should be due to content type.

Analyze your competitor’s content and the content on the first 5 spots of search results page. Plan on creating similar content.

Keyword Gap analysis

Keyword gap analysis is the process of identifying a list of keywords that drives organic search traffic to your competitors. You’re not getting traffic from these keywords as you’re not targeting them. Basically, keyword gap analysis will help you find keyword opportunities to increase your organic traffic.

Once you identify the keyword gaps, you’ll be able to improve your overall search engine presence and build authority in your niche.

So, how to perform keyword gap analysis?

We’ll show you how.

Collect Your Competitor’s Keywords

You need to target at least 5-10 competitors to get the best result from this analysis. Get a list of keywords they are currently ranking and compare it with your keywords and remove irrelevant keywords. There may be keywords that are trending in your industry that you’re not aware of.

Use the right tools to gather more keywords

You don’t want to miss out the opportunity to rank for more keywords that are closely related to your niche. You will have a hard time finding the relevant keywords if you choose to do them manually. Using tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs can help you gather potential keywords effectively.

Filter your Keyword List

There will be hundreds of irrelevant keywords with typo errors, duplicates and brand mentions. You need to filter these keywords and remove them from the keyword list.

Analyze user’s search intent

You need to ask these questions regarding the keywords you’ve gathered:

  • Why are people searching for this keyword?
  • What is their search intent? Finding for information about products and services or looking to make a purchase?
  • Which part of the buyer’s journey the keyword belongs?

Once you find out the search intent of keywords, it will help you determine the priority of creating new content for the keywords.

Keyword Clustering

We’ve mentioned earlier in keyword research that it doesn’t make sense if you want to create separate content for each keyword. Your site should be ranking for cluster of keywords. What’s the point of creating content that doesn’t bring the value that you need? You shouldn’t waste your time in creating content that does not semantically relate to your primary keyword.

So how should handle this situation?

Look at the search engine results page. Find out where the keywords in your list co-exist. It will be easier for you to create keyword groups that can rank for the same content. If the keywords in your list do not rank together, then you may need to create separate content for those keywords.

Google is your friend. As long as you understand how it works, you can improve your site’s ranking by targeting the right keywords.

Prioritize the right keywords

Now you’ve got a list of keywords that have been filtered, clustered and categorized by search intent. These keywords will help you create future content for your site.

On-Page Optimization

We’ve completed all the important tasks in the SEO roadmap from competitor analysis to keywords gap analysis. In this on-page optimization section, we need to assess your top pages and blog posts. We need to check every aspect of on-page optimization and implement the necessary changes.

Following are the on-page optimization tasks:

  • Google Analytics and Google Search Console setup
  • SEO plugin installation (Yoast SEO or Rankmath) if using WordPress
  • Check sitemap or create a new one if it’s not available
  • Check robots.txt file
  • Use short URL
  • Write an attractive and compelling title tag and description
  • Use headers in your content
  • Focus on both internal and external linking
  • Include descriptive alt text to your images
  • Add schema markup
  • Make sure your primary keyword is included in page title, meta description and opening paragraph
  • Add your business to Google My Business Page
  • Check your CTA and make sure relevant to your content

Once you optimize the on-page elements of your web pages, you’re on the right route in getting your site rank high on search engines.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO is the process to improve the technical aspect of your website with the main goal to improve organic search rankings. Even if you have the best content, you’re not going to rank if you don’t focus on technical SEO.

Following are the technical SEO tasks you should perform:

  • Indexation check
  • Crawl budget
  • Check on XML sitemaps
  • Check on HTTP status code
  • Make sure your website is responsive / mobile-friendly
  • Check SSL certificate for your website
  • Implement breadcrumbs if you’re running an eCommerce store or having a site with a huge number of categories
  • Check for broken internal and external backlinks
  • Focus on page loading speed
  • Check for more issues on Google Search Console

SEO Metrics

For the past 8 years, we’ve worked on hundreds of SEO campaigns, and 30% of SEO success relies on certain SEO metrics. These SEO metrics should be analyzed and improved for long-term SEO success.

Following are the SEO metrics that matter the most:

Click-Through Rate (CTR): You’re ranking high on search engines for your targeted keywords but you’re not getting enough organic traffic. This is due to a lower click-through rate. People look at your result on the search engine result page, but not clicking on your link. You need to optimize your title and meta description to increase your CTR. The higher the CTR the better your rankings and organic search traffic.

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO): Conversion is the most important metrics for any business. Your SEO campaign’s main objective is to drive organic traffic and convert the traffic to paying customers. So, you need to understand and analyze your potential customer’s behaviour on your site and make changes to increase the conversion rate. Heat map tools like Hotjar and Crazy egg will provide graphical representation on how your users are navigating through your website and the actions they’re taking.

Other SEO metrics: Some SEO metrics revolve around user experience (UX). For example, bounce rate, dwell time, average pages per session, exit rate shows how your users are navigating your site. It also shows whether your content is valuable in providing the information they’re looking for. Although Google has not officially mentioned that they’re using these metrics to rank websites, it still matters if you want to provide the best user experience for your visitors and encourage them to visit your site again.

You should focus on providing what your visitors are looking for. If you’re providing the right content for your target audience, your rankings and organic search traffic will start increasing exponentially.

Link Building

The last part of the SEO roadmap is link building. Link building may look easy but it is the most hardest SEO task.

There is no trick or secret recipe for link building. You need to put hours of efforts and adapt to the system to build quality links for your site. The most common link building tactics for beginners are:

  • Guest posting
  • Resource link building

We don’t emphasize on PBNs as they only provide short-term results. Although there are many SEO service providers use PBNs to build links, there is a huge risk moving forward. As you know, Google is consistently updating its algorithm and their machine learning system is getting smarter and PBNs can get busted anytime.

There are many ways to build links for your site. It requires the right work and patience. If link building was easy, everyone will be doing it right?

If you’re in a low competition niche, you don’t have to rely on building links as getting your on-page SEO and Technical SEO right will help you dominate your niche easily.

Check out the following resource to find more ways to build links for your website:

Ultimate Guide to Link Building – Ways To Build Links

Measure and Improve SEO performance

SEO is not something that you can set and forget. Even if you’re done with the main SEO tasks, you need to monitor the performance of your website. Google constantly improving its algorithm to provide the best results for their users.

You need to make some tweaks here and there to stay in the game for long-term. It’s common to see fluctuations in your rankings every time Google rolls out their major algorithm updates. Understand the algorithm changes and take the necessary actions to maintain your rankings and organic traffic. Following are some of the top SEO metrics you should monitor:

  • Organic search traffic
  • Site’s position on SERPs
  • Conversion
  • Bounce rate
  • Click-Through Rate (CTR)
  • Page loading speed
  • Crawl errors
  • Core Web Vital (UX)
  • New links and referring domains

Final thoughts

We have basically covered all the important parts of an SEO Roadmap. Now you know the importance and benefits of SEO roadmap. You don’t have to completely follow our SEO roadmap. You can customize it based on your needs and goals. Just use it as a reference to build one for your website.

What’s your thought about our SEO roadmap?

Please share them with us by commenting below.

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