Effective SEO Strategy Development: Full Guide

Jeremy ChatelaineJeremy Chatelaine
Published: 07.02.2024
16 minute

Developing an effective SEO strategy is crucial to giving your site visibility among search results. It involves diving deep into keyword research to decode your audience’s search behavior and infusing those insights throughout your website.

But it’s not just a keyword game; it’s also about shaping an online experience that conveys your expertise and that people find easy to navigate.

In this guide, we’ll cover SEO strategy through three lenses: technical SEO, on-page, and off-page. Read on to learn how to elevate your site from the depths of the internet to the spotlight of search results.

Key Points

  • A technical SEO strategy improves a website’s underlying structure and performance, ensuring it is easily crawled and indexed by search engines.
  • An on-page SEO strategy is crucial because it optimizes web content to draw online visitors and improve ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs).
  • An off-page SEO strategy builds a site’s reputation and authority through external means, such as backlinks, social media presence, and influencer marketing.

Technical SEO Strategy

You might have the most well-researched and compelling content out there, but it won’t see the light of day if you have technical SEO issues. We’ll look at the following components below:

  • Page speed
  • Mobile Friendliness
  • Site structure
  • Structured data
  • Core web vitals
  • Technical SEO issues

Page Speed

Page speed is a pivotal factor influencing user engagement and search engine perception. There’s a direct correlation between fast page speeds and improved user metrics, such as reduced bounce rates and augmented user engagement. You might not notice anything sitting in an office with good WiFi and a new phone. But imagine opening your mobile site on an older phone in a more remote area. Data comes at a trickle, so users in these areas may hit the back button instead of waiting.

Here are a few things you can do to boost page speed:

  • Compress images
  • Enable lazy loading to load elements only when needed
  • Eliminate unnecessary code in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript
  • Use a lightweight website theme or builder

You can use tools like Google PageSpeed Insights to diagnose performance bottlenecks and get specific recommendations for improvement.

Continuous monitoring of these optimizations through Google Search Console is crucial to ensure that the technical enhancements are effectively contributing to the site’s SEO performance.

Mobile Friendliness and Responsiveness

Because of Google’s mobile-first indexing approach, mobile friendliness isn’t just a convenience—it determines a site’s visibility and performance in search engine results. This paradigm shift reflects the tech giant’s acknowledgment that the majority of people surf the net on their phones.

A mobile-responsive design is important to maintain fluidity across devices. Besides loading speed, being mobile-friendly means:

  • Your buttons and links aren’t too small to tap
  • Clickable elements are spaced far enough apart to tap individually
  • Content is reformatted to work well on mobile (not just a shrunken version of desktop)

Site Structure

Developing a site structure that mirrors the logical flow of information not only streamlines the user journey but also acts as a roadmap for search engines. Optimize your content management system hierarchy with clear categories and sub-categories. Your main navigation and URL structure should follow the hierarchy.

So, part of your menu may look like this:

  • Home
  • About Us
  • Services
    • Service 1
    • Service 2
  • Resources
    • Blog
      • Blog 1
    • Case Studies
      • Case Study 1

A URL path for a service page would then be yourwebsite.com/services/service-1 as an example.

This clarity helps search engines understand the context and relationship of pages and can help with indexing. The goal should be to allow users to locate information with minimal effort.


HTTPS (hypertext transfer protocol secure) establishes an encrypted channel between a website and its visitors. Beyond the evident trust it fosters among users, HTTPS has tangible implications for search engine optimization.

Google has recognized HTTPS as a ranking signal since 2014. This means using HTTPS isn’t just a precaution but a strategic maneuver to gain a competitive advantage in search rankings. The default website protocol is HTTP. Sites can still rank with plain HTTP but it’s less secure and puts a site at a disadvantage.

The ripple effect of HTTPS adoption extends to link-building strategies as well. High-caliber websites are more inclined to link to secure websites, which in turn can amplify a site’s authority and further improve its search engine ranking.

Structured Data

Using structured data effectively can provide clear signals about your content to search engines.  Imagine that your web article is a book. All the content the user sees is contained within the pages. But it has a plain front and back cover. Adding structured data through schema is like putting an eye-catching cover on the book and placing it in the correct section in the bookstore.

Schema can tell Google many things about your page, from the author and type of business you have to the star rating you give a certain product in a review. Schema isn’t necessary to rank, but it can make a difference when you’re competing against other strong domains.

Schema is what enables enhanced search result features such as rich snippets. These improvements not only make your listings more attractive but also can improve click-through rates, as users can quickly discern the relevance and value of your content.

Below, you can see how Google picked up on structured data to display the seller’s rating, delivery time, and return policy right in the SERP.

If you’re just getting into schema, spend some time studying Google’s schema guide.

Core Web Vitals

Prioritizing Google’s Core Web Vitals is essential. These metrics—Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)—are critical indicators of user experience that Google incorporates into its ranking algorithms. A meticulous SEO audit that pinpoints and rectifies issues in these areas can lead to significant improvements in page rankings on SERPs.

For LCP, which measures the loading performance of the main content on a page, optimizing image files and leveraging modern image formats can drastically reduce load times. Efficient code can also contribute to quicker rendering.

Meanwhile, FID, which assesses the page’s interactivity, can be improved by minimizing JavaScript execution time. This allows users to interact with the page more quickly.

CLS, on the other hand, quantifies visual stability, ensuring that users don’t experience unexpected layout shifts during page interaction. To optimize for CLS, make sure elements on the page have reserved space so that when the page fully loads, content doesn’t shift in a disorienting manner.

Enhancing these elements not only aligns with Google’s performance benchmarks but also improves the user’s engagement with the site. A site that loads efficiently and interacts responsively is more likely to have increased session durations and potentially higher conversion rates, which are valuable metrics for any online business.

Technical SEO Issues

Addressing 404 errors is pivotal for sustaining a website’s credibility and search engine optimization. These errors happen when a webpage is non-existent, leading to broken links that disrupt the user journey and obstruct search engine indexing processes.

A comprehensive SEO strategy requires frequent website audits to uncover issues. Use 301 redirects in place of obsolete pages to guide both users and search engine bots to pertinent content and preserve link equity.

Tools like Google Search Console offer invaluable insights, allowing webmasters to proactively monitor and manage 404 errors. This proactive approach refines user experience and leads to a positive feedback loop that enhances visibility and user engagement.

On-Page SEO Content Strategy

Now we’ve come to the part most people think of when they hear the term SEO strategy: on-page content. Once your site is all green from a technical standpoint, you can focus on creating an effective SEO strategy for on-page content. Here’s what we’ll cover in this section:

  • Identify head terms
  • Identify your target audience
  • Analyze the competition
  • Build a keyword and topic list
  • Strategize internal links
  • Create content
  • Optimize content for SEO and EEAT

Identify Head Terms

Head terms are the broad topics you want your site to eventually rank for. You won’t start out ranking for them, but as you build a body of interlinking knowledge, you can begin to rank for those broad concepts with high search traffic. Head terms can anchor your content strategy as each page should make sense under one of your few head term categories.

Here are a few head term examples:

  • Dog training
  • Baking
  • Car maintenance
  • Digital marketing

These terms are broad and they reflect a significant volume of online traffic. They often boil down complex content into one or two words that are ripe with competition.

Incorporating these terms into your website demands finesse; they should enhance your content naturally without feeling forced or out of place. The art lies in their strategic placement within the site’s architecture, from meta tags to headings and body content.

Identify Your Target Audience

The next step is to take a good look at your audience. By leveraging SEO tools for advanced analytics and keyword research, your team can uncover the nuanced search patterns and preferences of your audience. This granular view into their digital behavior illuminates their underlying search intent, allowing for a more effective content alignment.

This understanding lets you create content that resonates on a deeper level, addressing the core issues and curiosities that preoccupy your audience. The goal is to provide a library of legitimately useful articles, not just a slew of blogs based on keywords.

Analyze the Competition

Competitive analysis is a great way to work up a content plan and also see what your website is missing. By conducting a thorough keyword analysis, you’ll identify which terms funnel traffic to competitors’ websites. Examine their positions on the SERPs to provide valuable insights into how they’re capturing attention and where you might gain an edge.

SEO experts leverage a variety of tools to get a comprehensive view of the competitive landscape. This includes assessing the strength and diversity of backlink profiles as well as scrutinizing the on-page optimization tactics employed by competitors. However, the goal isn’t to replicate but to pinpoint weaknesses or areas they may have neglected.

Build a keyword and topic list

After conducting a thorough analysis of your competitors’ strategies, the next logical step is to curate a precise and effective keyword and topic inventory that will steer your content generation activities.

Harnessing the capabilities of a keyword analysis tool, you can pinpoint terms that not only resonate with your market segment but also have a decent search volume, ensuring that your digital marketing efforts aren’t going unnoticed.

Balance your efforts between broad and niche-specific long-tail keywords. These selected keywords serve as the bedrock for your content strategy, allowing you to forge web pages and blog entries that echo the interests and queries of your target audience.

Strategize Internal Links

Blog articles strengthen one another in a cooperative effort. There are a few ways you can go about internal linking, but one common strategy is to use pillar posts with supporting articles.

A pillar example could be a guide on how to train a dog. Supporting posts could involve training specific breeds, training for obedience, agility training, and more. Each supporting post would then link to the pillar page. This reflects how someone would naturally search for a specific question, like training a dog to do hurdles, and then follow the research up to the main dog training guide.

Take care to use relevant anchor text. Also, avoid using the exact keyword every single time if you have many links to a cornerstone or pillar post.

Create Content

Now it’s time to craft your content. Whether you use an in-house content marketing team or hire outside help, hold your content to a high standard. It should provide everything someone wants to know about the particular subject. Use a clear structure and answer the user’s query toward the top of the article. Here are a few more ways to make your pages helpful according to Google’s guidelines:

  • Provide original information or analysis
  • Provide a complete description of the topic
  • Offer insights or unique analysis
  • Add value if the article primarily draws on other sources
  • Use clear and descriptive headings
  • Provide something of value compared to the other sites on the SERP

Continuously Optimize Content for SEO and EEAT

If you want to excel in search engine optimization, a nuanced approach that goes beyond mere keyword stuffing is essential. Strategically weave keywords in critical areas such as titles, headers, and meta descriptions. Include them in a narrative that captivates the reader without disrupting the natural flow of the prose.

The pursuit of EEAT—experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness—demands content that not only aligns with the audience’s search intent but also enriches their knowledge. This could involve crafting content that offers in-depth analysis, actionable insights, or untold stories that give readers a new perspective.

You don’t have to get everything perfect on the first publish. The SERP is always changing, anyway. It’s important to look at your content through these principles periodically and update older articles with fresh information.

Off-Page SEO Strategy

Your site doesn’t exist in a vacuum. You can use off-page techniques like building backlinks or promoting content on social media to help it perform in organic search. At this point, it’s helpful to have a sales prospecting tool to collect and organize information on people you want to contact.

In this section, we’ll cover:

  • Create backlink-worthy content
  • Promote content through email outreach
  • Leverage social media
  • Create guest posts
  • Find unlinked mentions
  • Find broken links
  • Create infographics

Create Backlink-Worthy Content

One of the simplest ways to get backlinks is to create content that’s worthy of gaining links. You could run a survey on an interesting question and create an article about your findings. You could also compile a list of pertinent statistics for your industry and create visuals to go along with it.

Deep content that has been well-researched can catch the eye of other content marketers and journalists. Over time, you can build natural links just by publishing this type of content.

Promote Content Through Email Outreach

Once you’ve crafted content with backlink potential, the next step is strategic promotion through personalized email outreach. To start, compile a list of publishers in your category that publish related content. Then use cold email software to make an informed, calculated pitch that resonates with the recipient’s professional sphere. Your goal is to spark their interest to provide a link to your content on one of their pages. Find out more about cold email tools in this article from Quickmail.

Use email marketing platforms to monitor the ripple effects of your email outreach, from open rates to the subtler nuances of engagement. This data guides the refinement of your outreach strategy.

As you build more connections, it can help to have a sales engagement platform to keep track of your prospects. And don’t underestimate the power of perseverance; follow-up emails are more than mere reminders. Many email replies happened after a follow-up email was sent.

Leverage Social Media

A nuanced social media strategy for off-page SEO may involve:

  • Sharing impactful content on your channels
  • Starting and participating in discussions
  • Cultivating relationships with influencers who can extend your digital footprint

As your content is shared more and more, you start to build another source of traffic. Plus, other bloggers and influencers are likely to link to your article, guide, or research if they find it useful and want to share it with their audience.

Create Guest Posts

Guest posting is a powerful tactic to strengthen your link-building strategy and attract focused audience streams to your website.

Partnering with strong websites that have a robust readership can serve as a launchpad for your articles, effectively broadening your brand’s horizons. Tools like Quickmail that offer LinkedIn lead generation are a good way to connect with other digital leaders in your field. Find out more about reaching out to guest post prospects using Linkedin in this article.

The key is to create content that’s both thought-provoking and useful. Think of what you can bring to the other site that it doesn’t currently have. Keep in mind that it’s important to focus on the caliber of your guest posts rather than the volume for a solid SEO strategy.

Find Unlinked Mentions

As your reputation grows on the web, people will start to mention your brand or products and services without necessarily linking to you. When website owners convert these mentions into links, they signal to search engines the interconnectedness and authority of your site within its niche.

So how do you make this happen? You have to find these mentions, first. You can simply search Google for your brand in quotations to get started. To take things to the next level, there are plenty of online reputation platforms that can do this for you and organize results into opportunities.

Then, reach out to the site and politely ask for them to link to your domain. You can provide the URL of the page where you’re mentioned to make things easier.

Find Broken Links

By leveraging sophisticated backlink analysis tools, you can reveal the frailties within a competitor’s link profile. This investigative process not only uncovers weak spots but also opens the door for strategic engagement.

Next, get in touch with the web administrators and inform them of the non-functioning links that mar their users’ browsing experience. This gesture of goodwill paves the way for an offer to replace dead content with fresh, relevant material from your site. The move is mutually beneficial—it fixes a 404 error from the host website while simultaneously implanting your link.

Create Infographics

Infographics are like soundbites for the eyes. A good infographic is a great link building tactic as it can be shared all over the web.

To craft an impactful infographic, dive into research and present findings that not only resonate with your intended audience but also deliver in-depth insights.

Distribute your content thoughtfully across platforms frequented by your target demographic to amplify brand awareness and strengthen domain authority.

A meticulously designed infographic can result in robust engagement and a wealth of backlinks, signaling to search engines the esteemed stature and pertinence of your website.

Be sure to include your logo and website in the infographic itself because people may just share the image without necessarily linking to your page.

Creating an Effective SEO Strategy: Recap

Creating a winning SEO strategy to build organic traffic doesn’t happen overnight. Three best practices of a successful SEO strategy include optimizing technical SEO, on-page SEO, and off-page SEO. Once you have these SEO processes working together, you’ll see how powerful this marketing strategy can be.

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Jeremy Chatelaine

Jeremy was a prodigious software developer before he started his entrepreneurship journey. He built a career in software engineering over the span of 17 years, leading teams of up to 10 engineers and consulting for international brands like Credit Suisse.

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