You can think of creating an SEO roadmap strategy like building a house or barndominium.
Doing so will help you create a robust strategy that has a strong foundation and lots of layers.
My successful 10-step SEO process is the perfect blueprint to use for your new house.
That way, you won’t try to build your roof without starting at the foundation first. My plan covers all the components of a successful SEO strategy in the correct order.
This 10-step process has three crucial construction phases. We’ll start by building the foundation, which is phase 1.
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What Is A SEO Roadmap Strategy & How Vital It Is?
In a nutshell, an SEO road map is a document outlining all the action items for your strategy. It will have detailed information about your marketing tactics, specific tasks, and deadlines.
Without one, you won’t have a way to keep yourself on track to achieving your goal.
It will also prove challenging to get your team members on the same page.
With a roadmap, you can align all your efforts with your business goals. The roadmap will also serve as a guideline to keep your team on task and held accountable for their actions. Here’s a great way to think about your roadmap and how it differs from your strategy:
- Your SEO strategy entails all that you plan to do to achieve your business goals.
- Your SEO road map is the ‘how’ to the ‘why.’ It’s a written version of your strategy complete with a timeline.
So if you want to stay on task and hold your team accountable, you need a well-written SEO roadmap strategy. It can mean the difference between achieving your goals and falling short.
Phase I: Building a Foundation by Amplifying Existing Assets
The first phase involves amplifying your existing assets. You can think of these first four steps as the foundation of your SEO house. They’re crucial beginning elements of any well-thought-out SEO road map.
Step #1: SEO Quick Wins (Content Audit)
To start, you should identify any quick wins that you can capitalize on with content audits.
What’s a content audit? It’s where you take an in-depth look at the content you currently have on your site.
The chances are that you’ll find more than a few areas for improvement.
Enhancing and optimizing existing content is a classic quick win in SEO. You’ll start seeing the results of your changes almost immediately.
When conducting an SEO audit, you should look for a few fundamental no-no’s. These include:
- Duplicate content
- Thin content
- An un-optimized URL directory/folder structure
- Content that is in striking distance (page 2 or 3) but not getting much, if any, SEO traffic
Make sure to leave no stone unturned when conducting a content audit. Take a look at everything, including their URL folders, meta descriptions, and more.
Content audits are a crucial foundational step. Without them, you won’t know where your critical areas of improvement are in your site. Make sure to leave no stone unturned when conducting a content audit. Take a look at everything, including their URL folders, meta descriptions, and more.
Content audits are a crucial foundational step. Without them, you won’t know where your critical areas of improvement are in your site. Ideally, you want to optimize your pages for keywords that are in what I call ‘striking distance.’
In fighting, you need to be within what’s called ‘striking distance’ to outpunch your competition.
If any of your pages are on page 2 or 3 of Google (and I’m almost certain you have many of these pages…most of my clients have these when I start consulting with them), some of your best punches and kicks are going to whiff.
But if you find keywords where you are close to more traction, in perfect striking distance, it’s time to land a knockout blow on your competition right on the nose!
To do so, you’ll need to utilize the SEO ‘one-two punch.’
- The jab: You need to inject only 1, but very important, keyword in ‘striking distance’ into 5 fields in your content
- Meta title
- Meta description
- Body copy below H1
- Url slug
- The cross: Use high-authority internal pages to link to your newly optimized pages and boss their authority
These two powerful punches will dramatically increase your odds of a quick boost to your SEO rankings. Once you publish the changes, you will see a bump in rankings and traffic within 2-3 months.
Step #2: Keyword Research Mapping (Service/Product Pages)
The next component of your foundation is mapping out your keyword research for pages that are NOT within ‘striking distance.’
These are the keywords that you have the most substantial chance of ranking for on Google.
Bear in mind; they’re not simply the most popular keywords…hose often have an impossible amount of competition.
Instead, you need to find keywords that you stand a chance at ranking on the first page for the most. Consider this as an example, which would you rather have?
- Option A: You work tirelessly to rank as high as possible for the most searched-for keyword in your niche. When all the work is over, you end up on the second page (or worse) of results on Google (AND NO TRAFFIC).
- Option B: You find a specialized keyword that has little or moderate competition. You put all your efforts into ranking for it, and you wind up on the first page of results (WITH LOADS OF QUALIFIED TRAFFIC).
It’s easy to see that Option B is the winner here. It’s far more desirable to rank on the first page of results than the second page of anything.
Step #3: Technical Site Audit
A technical audit is the other side of the coin for a content audit. Instead of looking at what’s written on each web page, you focus on the technical side of things.
Here’s a brief list of what you should be on the lookout for when conducting a technical audit:
- Any broken internal/external links
- Pages with duplicate metadata
- Missing H1s
- Too many characters in the title tag
- Duplicate H1 and title tag
- Page speed issues
- Images without an ‘alt tag’
- Among other issues…
Your technical audit will cover all the issues Google sees when crawling your site. Google counts the problems you see above as ‘hidden errors,’ which can negatively affect your SEO.
These ‘hidden errors’ are not ones that users typically see, but they will be affected by them. And because Google is increasingly assessing User Experience, it’s critical to fix these.
Another example would be poor page loading speed. That’s not something that you can physically see, but it has an impact on your experience. If your page isn’t able to load within a few seconds, users won’t stick around to wait.
Duplicate content is another huge negative in SEO. If you discover duplicates of metadata or H1/title tags, get rid of them immediately. Or use canonical tags to tell Google which of the duplicate pages to pay attention to and which to ignore.
Why? Because duplicate content confuses Google.
When Google comes across duplicates, it isn’t sure which one to rank in the top results. More often than not, the page that you intended to rank won’t due to the duplication. That’s why you need to scour your website (and other sites) with a fine-tooth comb to track down all duplicate content.
Step #4: Backlink Support for Existing Articles
This step is the final component to ensure your house’s firm foundation. It’s critical to build extensive backlink support for your existing articles.
Lots of QUALITY backlinks will make your website appear more authoritative in the eyes of Google. Quantity isn’t nearly as important as even a few quality ones…
I recommend using the skyscraper technique for building backlinks. It involves creating new articles and then winning backlinks from top competitors.
It’s an effective link-building strategy because you’re targeting current top 10 ranking articles. As a result, these links are effective and desirable in the eyes of Google.
So how do you win over a backlink from a competing article?
By creating content that is more comprehensive and informative, of course!
SEO is a dog-eat-dog world, and there’s always exciting new content coming out. So if you notice a high-ranking page on Google that has some fantastic links, target the piece. Take close notes on what the topic is and how the writer approaches it.
From there, all you have to do is beat them at their own game. If they have any vague areas in their content, flesh them out. The more helpful information that you provide with your content, the better. If you fail to come up with better content than the original, don’t expect to win any backlinks. So you should place a lot of effort and emphasis on the content that you’re creating for the skyscraper technique.
Phase II: Add Framing and a Roof by Adding New Fuel to the Fire...to Mix a Couple of Metaphors
Phase I of the SEO process should now complete before you start phase 2, and we have a rock-solid foundation for your house.
Now it’s time to start adding some substance. We’ll tackle the framing and roof during this phase with three essential steps. To do so, you need to add some fresh fuel to the fire via brand-new content.
Step #5: Keyword Research & New Content Calendar
By this point, all your current content and technical aspects should be 100% optimized. That’s great news, but it’s only the beginning.
Nobody sees a dramatic increase in new traffic by only editing their existing pages.
Instead, you’ll need to create new content that’s informative and optimized for SEO.
Moreover, you’ll want to create a calendar for all your new content. Try to strategically release new blogs and service pages to generate more traffic.
Also, you’ll need to do more keyword research during this step. Your new content will need a new set of targeted keywords and target each of those articles for the 3 different stages in the buyer journey (awareness, consideration, decision).
Each blog post should contain a call to action at the end. That will move readers along your customer journey, such as subscribing to get a free ebook.
Step #6: In-depth Infographics & Curated Research Articles
You’ve got your keywords and a timeline for releasing blogs. Now it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of creating content for your new pages for your SEO road map.
Your articles should contain some in-depth infographics (8-10 panel long) and curated research.
Infographics, such as charts and tables, are great ways to visualize the topic. They also add more authority to your page in the eyes of Google.
Not only that, but they’re convenient and informative for readers. If you’re trying to show the drastic rise in vape users, for example, graphing it out with visuals and stats is the best way to do so.
Curated research articles feature content created by a reputable source. You then report this valuable information as your brand.
A simple example would be quoting government statistics and creating articles about it. The government created the information, but you’re reporting on it.
It’s all about creating informative content that’s easy to scan/read.
Infographics, images, and other visual enhancements (bold/italics, ordered/unordered lists, etc.) all make the text much easier to read. Making your content easier to read will increase your chances of users reading your article until the end.
Of course, you have to make sure that the content is valuable for readers.
You mustn’t simply repeat what every other article says. Instead, identify a few unique things that you can mention. These things could be:
- An original infographic
- Helpful tips to solve pain points
- Explaining concepts in a more straightforward manner
- A video on the topic
Try to get creative with how you can add an original spin on a heavily covered topic. Content that has something original to offer should be a core part of your SEO roadmap strategy.
Step #7: Backlink Support: New Articles
Remember how you provided fantastic backlink support for your existing articles? Well, now it’s time to rinse and repeat that process for your new content.
The skyscraper technique never fails in this regard. It’s my go-to method for jumpstarting some backlinks.
Do a quick Google search for your targeted keywords. Check out the top 10 results that show up. Click on each article, and read each one as closely as you can.
Take note of the points they cover, the images they use, any infographics, etc.
While reading each page, take notes of little ways to add to their content and make it even better. Do they use complicated terms that you can simplify? Is there a noticeable lack of images and infographics?
Also, look at the backlinks that they have. These are the links that you want to obtain. Once you create unique new content, reach out to the domain owner of each website. Link to them in your article, and politely request a backlink from them.
Phase III: The Finishing Touches by Capturing and Converting Traffic
Okay, so we’ve got a foundation, frame, and roof. The final phase of this house that SEO built is adding all the frills. The plumbing, electricity, and finishing touches come in the form of converting traffic.
The reason this final phase is so crucial is that 80+% of SEO traffic will leave and never return after reading your article, UNLESS you incentivize them to subscribe to your email newsletter.
These final three steps will complete the outline for your SEO road map. Afterward, we’ll dive into 13 components that any SEO roadmap strategy needs.
Step #8: Email Lead Magnet Strategy
It’s now time to start leveraging email marketing for your SEO tactics. To begin, you’ll need to generate some strong leads.
So what should you do, spam a lot of random email addresses?
No way! You need to target potential customers that have a high chance of converting. And what better target than all the new qualified prospects that are reading your new SEO articles.
So you need to create a squeeze page.
What’s that? A squeeze page is a landing page with one goal in mind: visitors consent to giving you their email address.
How do you do that? With a good old-fashioned freebie, of course. After all, nothing attracts people like free stuff!
A squeeze page will always offer something of value for free to visitors. The catch comes in how they retrieve this freebie. They need to enter their email address to claim their gift. From there, you can add them to your email list and begin sending them promotions.
They won’t mind since they willingly gave you their email address.
Freebies should be simple things like ebooks, videos, PDFs, and more. Make sure that they’re helpful enough to warrant giving up an email address.
Step #9: Email Nurturing Automation Workflows
By now, you should have an impressive email list for marketing purposes. Now it’s time to nurture some value out of that list.
The best way to do so is by automating your workflows.
You see, emailing every customer you have is an impossible task unless you want to pay a team 24/7.
Yet, you can automate essential emails for specific situations. An example would be automating a welcome email series of 10 emails (once a week) to all new subscribers. If you’re using a robust tool for email marketing, you should be able to automate a lot of the process.
The rule here is to lead with more content with a 3:1 ratio of content (articles, videos, ebooks, whitepapers, etc.) to product/service pitches. People will buy your stuff if you give more content that helps solve their pain points before you ask them to buy.
The other reason this step is so important is that many prospects aren’t ready to buy right now so nurturing them with more emails will keep you top of mind.
Step #10: Track, Analyze, & Adjust
All right, so the final step is to keep the train on the tracks. Your home is now complete, and you’re well on your way to creating an SEO road map.
To stay on top of your results, you need to track them. Pay close attention to your rankings, traffic, leads and sales coming from Google.
Analyze where you currently are performing best and worst, as well as your competition. What are your top competitors doing content-wise? What is their release schedule like? Are you getting outranked by anyone? If so, what are they doing differently than you? How can you improve?
These are the critical questions you have to ask yourself to stay on top. SEO is an ever-changing and evolving game, so you can’t get complacent.
Your SEO Roadmap Strategy Blueprint: 13 Critical Elements
Do you have a solid SEO strategy set in place at your company? If so, then that’s great, but it won’t get you anywhere without a road map.
What’s an SEO road map? It’s the document that outlines your SEO action plan for a given timeline.
You can think of it as your guideline to implementing your strategy. It’s a document that helps you execute your carefully devised plan.
In the past, I was always sure to build a detailed SEO roadmap strategy for my clients. Examples include:
In all these examples you see here, I made effective use of SEO roadmaps. They helped me focus the client’s implementation team on pursuing the right strategies in the ideal order. To me, an SEO road map is one of the most vital aspects of a winning strategy. Read on to learn why having a roadmap is so essential for success.
The Top Components You Must Have
Now that you know why having a roadmap strategy is crucial, it’s time to start compiling one.
In general, there are 13 critical components for a successful roadmap that I’ve identified.
These are the most vital aspects of an SEO road map to meet your goals and deadlines.
By including these 13 components, you’ll cover all your bases when it comes to following through on your strategy. Without further ado, these are the essential building blocks you’ll need for your SEO road map.
#1: A Tiered Priority System
Implementing a hierarchy for tasks will help you keep your priorities straight. I recommend using a tiered priority system for all your tasks.
An example would be labeling tasks as P1, P2, P3, P4, etc. P1 tasks are the most important, and P2, P3, P4 are next up on the list.
Having a system like this will keep your team working on the most critical tasks first. That will help you knock out your deadlines and stay on track towards your ultimate goal.
For your P1 tasks, you should have the following ready to go:
That way, your team has everything they need to start knocking out your most pressing tasks. To stay on top of things, go ahead and prepare the information for P2 and P3 assignments.
#2: Carefully Planned Deliverables
Releasing content on the regular is part of any solid SEO strategy. For your roadmap, you should have clear timelines established for releasing content.
Plan out when you want to post your blog pages, press releases, and other deliverables.
To make things easy for your team, categorize these deliverables as:
- On-page deliverables
- Content deliverables
- Technical deliverables
- Strategic deliverables
- Onboarding items
Place these categories on a timeline by month. That will help your writers and content creators stay on track with their deadlines. They can consult your roadmap whenever they’re curious about the next deliverable. That will also save you the time of having to reach out to them for each piece of content.
#3: Evaluate the Competition
The world of SEO is all about how you’re doing in relation to others. As a result, it’s so crucial to evaluate your competitors.
How does your website stack up to others in your industry? Where do you stand in the keyword rankings? What are your competitors doing that you aren’t?
These are all questions that you should ask yourself when reviewing your competitors.
Visit their websites, check their rankings, and read their content. It’s best to pay close attention to where they interject keywords and how their website looks.
Here are some things to look for from your competitors:
- Their backlink profile
- Their pricing and promotions and how they relate to yours
- Site performance comparison
- UX and UI comparison
#4: A Realistic Timeline
Of course, you’re going to need to set a timeline for your SEO roadmap strategy. It would be best to decide whether you want it to go for a quarter, a year, or more.
Also, bear in mind that you’ll probably want to reuse your roadmap in the future. Try to make a template that you can easily reuse again by changing the dates.
It would help if you were realistic when considering your goals in relation to your timeline.
If you want to see some significant results, it will take longer than capitalizing on quick wins.
#5: Clearly Defined Goals
What do you want to achieve from your SEO strategy? Do you want to increase your traffic, or do you want to rise in the rankings?
It’s essential to be as specific as possible here. Your team needs to know what they’re going to be working for in the long run.
If they know that you want to break into the top 5 results on Google, they have a specific goal to focus on the most.
That’s a lot clearer than simply stating, “Improve our SEO.” So if you want to achieve impressive results, get creative with your goals. The last thing that you want to be here is vague.
#6: Capitalize On Quick Wins
In SEO, a ‘quick win’ is something you can do to improve your traffic and rankings in the short term. They’re a great way to capitalize on what you already have.
You will use your existing content, traffic, and rankings to find areas needing minor changes.
For example, you can optimize your current pages. Try including keywords more organically. You can also optimize your page for technical performance and more.
Another great tactic is to build strong internal links. Find other pages that you’ve written that you can link to on your current one. The more of a backlink presence you can build, the better.
#7: Technical Audit Schedule
A vital component of any SEO road map is a detailed schedule for technical audits.
These audits review all the technical components of your web page.
That includes factors such as site performance, indexed pages, mobile compatibility, and more.
On your roadmap, you should include a section specifically for technical audits. Make sure to perform them regularly to ensure your site stays optimized.
#8: Content Audit Schedule
It would help if you did the same for your content audits. These audits carefully review all your content. That includes your web pages, blog posts, press releases, and more.
For a content audit, you’ll need to remove any content that isn’t useful or informative.
You’ll also need to break up bulky paragraphs, improve the structure, and look for quick wins.
As with technical audits, you should perform these regularly. Content audits will make sure that your content is informative, practical, and optimized.
#9: Traffic Monitoring
For your team to know how well you’re doing, they’ll need to understand what your traffic is like currently.
That’s why you need to include close traffic monitoring in your road map.
You’ll need to know where you stand traffic wise to improve it. Graphing out your traffic is a way to visualize your progress for your team. You should also include your overall goal for where you want your traffic to be at the end of the timeline.
#10: Tracking Keyword Rankings
As with your traffic, you need to rank where you stand with your keywords. You should include your desired ranking as a goal. Including a keyword ranking graph here is also a good idea.
It’s essential to let your team see where you are in relation to your target keywords. If you don’t see any progress, then you should consider trying to rank for new keywords.
#11: Detailed Workflows
Your team needs to know who does what. Otherwise, there will be a lot of confusion around who gets assigned which tasks.
An easy way to do this is to list each employee’s name followed by their assigned tasks.
Make sure to include the deadline for each task as well. That way, your staff will know when each item needs to get done. That is where your tiered priority system will help as well.
#12: A List of Essential Tools
Your team also needs to know what tools they need to use. To make things easy on them, you should include a page listing all your essential tools.
You should include keyword trackers, traffic monitoring apps, plagiarism checkers, and more.
There are lots of SEO-related tools out there, and they all have their purpose. Make sure that your team knows which programs they need to use for each task.
#13: Each Task’s Level of Effort
Next to each task, you should list how much effort it will take to get it done. That will let your team know how long it will take to complete. An example would be assigning keyword research to a staff member for 35 minutes of work. You can also rank the level of effort, or LOE, on a 10-point scale.
How to Use a SEO Roadmap to Exceed Your Business Goals
Now that you know all that goes into an SEO road map, it’s time to put it into practice. I can tell you that from personal experience, roadmaps are invaluable. They will keep your entire team on task while you implement your SEO strategy. If you haven’t used an SEO roadmap before, then it’s never too late to start.
And if you need help putting together one, reach out and let’s chat.