SEO Strategy: How to Increase Traffic by 422%

a picture of Tom Donohoe
Written by: Tom Donohoe
Last updated: June 29, 2018

If you’re struggling to grow your organic search traffic, then you’re not alone.

The number one question I get asked as an SEO consultant is, “how do I increase my website traffic?”

In this guide, I will share with you the exact SEO strategy I used to increase my organic traffic by 422%.

screenshots of the results from my SEO strategy in Google Analytics

What is an SEO Strategy?

Search engine optimisation is like anything else that requires a strategy. So, to understand SEO strategy, we need to look at what is a strategy?

A quick Google search gives a definition: a plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim.

This definition of strategy is perfect. An SEO strategy aims to create a plan to achieve a long-term goal of increasing organic traffic.

An Overview of the SEO Strategy

Creating an SEO marketing strategy can be time-consuming for large businesses. However, in my case, I have a simple business model and a clear vision, so it’s pretty simple.

I’m a big fan of frameworks in all areas of digital marketing, and SEO strategy is no exception. I use the PROPEL framework, which learned at the Digital Marketing Institute.

Here’s the process I went through:

Step 1. Plan

The planning phase is responsible for setting the foundations of the SEO strategy. It involves understanding the current presence of your business in the search landscape.

Key activities include:

  • SEO audit
  • Expectations and Benchmarks
  • Budget

Step 2. Research

The purpose of research is to find out how much is achievable through the SEO strategy. Moreover, how much effort will be required to get there?

Key activities include:

  • Industry research
  • Competitor research

Step 3. Objectives

The Objective phase is to ensure that all business perspectives are taken into account. Also, the strategy is aligned with the business goals.

Key activities include:

  • Business objectives
  • Audience objectives
  • SEO objectives

Step 4. Prepare

The purpose of the prepare phase is to construct the overarching strategy, SEO marketing strategy, and SEO Content strategy.

Key activities include:

  • Strategy
  • Tactics
  • Action items

Step 5. Execute (Measure. Optimise. Repeat)

The execute and measure phase involves the implementation and measurement of the strategy. How we will monitor and optimise as necessary over the next 12 months.

Key activities include:

  • Measurement and tracking plan
  • Reporting
  • Optimisation strategy

Step 1

Planning your SEO Strategy

You’ve heard the cliche “failing to plan, is planning to fail” and it stands firm in SEO.

Planning is about setting the SEO strategies foundation and having a clear direction to lead the research phase.

After this phase, we should understand our current presence in search engines and an idea of where we want to go.want to go.

Conducting an SEO audit

An SEO audit must be undertaken to understand your websites current presence in search.

The SEO audit will be looking at the following:

Read my comprehensive guide to conducting an SEO audit to understand how to complete this step.

Expectations and Benchmarking

Before diving into competitor research, you need expectations of what you can achieve. Break down your core products or services into groups. Then research the estimated search volume for each group.

For example, I can break down my services into three groups SEO, Google Adwords and Google Analytics. Next, I will go through my keyword research process to get estimates of total relevant search volume.

Keyword GroupEst. Total Relevant Search Volume
Digital Marketing550
Google Adwords1270
Google Analytics400

From the keyword research you want to group into related terms that can be targeted on a page and map them to a URL:

Landing PageTarget keyword group
/Digital marketing consultant
/seo-consultant/SEO consultant
/seo-packages/SEO packages
/local-seo-sydney/Local SEO
/small-business-seo/SEO For Small Business
/google-adwords-consultant/Google Adwords Consultant
/google-adwords-management/Google Adwords Management
/google-analytics-consultant/Google Analytics Consultant

An example, of a keyword group in my case, includes:

seo packages, seo packages sydney, seo prices, seo package, seo packages australia, seo packages pricing.

Budget and Resources

The final step is allocating budget and resources to the SEO marketing strategy. In my case, I’m a one-man band and don’t have staff members to pay. However, in your case it might be different, so you’ll want to consider if you need:

  • SEO manager: managing the day to day task and implementations
  • Data analyst: analysing numbers for trends and insights
  • Strategy lead: managing the strategy on a high level
  • Technical support: assist with technical implementations

Budget wise, you’ll want to set some money aside for different activities:

  • Technical SEO costs
  • Content Marketing Costs
  • Systems & tools costs
  • Personal costs

Step 2

Research your SEO Strategy

You should now have a good understanding of your own website’s situation. It’s time to look at the competition.

In the research phase, you look at the industry, general competitors and then deep dive niche competitors.

The aim is to understand what’s working and what’s not, so we can focus the SEO strategy on things that work.

Industry research

Every industry is different, and it’s essential to have a grasp of what others are doing. In my case, there are plenty of big players in the digital marketing industry.

Here, I looked at keywords like digital marketing agency and SEO agency to see who’s ranking. I took the first result that came up and put them in SEO tool ahrefs:

example of competitor research in ahrefs seo tool

I can quickly look at their top backlinks, organic keywords, top pages and best content. I repeat this process with the top 10 search results. By doing this, you’ll see trends appear of what the top industry websites are doing.

Competitor Research

It’s great to look at the industry to see on a high level to analyse what strategies are in place. However, rarely will I be competing with these websites in search results.

To get better insights, you want to look at your actual competitors. To do this put your domain into ahrefs, then go to the competing domains tab.

Now repeat the process mentioned above for the top 5-10 competitors.

Niche Competitor Research

The best insights come from analysing the websites ranking on page one for your ten most important keywords. These are your niche competitors, and they are already ranking for your ‘money’ keywords.

In my case, the keywords that would generate revenue are SEO consulting, SEO packages, AdWords consulting and google analytics consulting. Looking at who ranks number one for these keywords and analysing what they are doing will help me to rank higher on Google.

Type your keyword into Google, and go to your the #1 website. Read the content on the page, put their website into ahrefs (or another SEO tool) and analyse their backlinks, top keywords and domain ratings.

example of finding competitors domain names in ahrefs seo tool

Summarising your competitor research

You want to summarise your research into a document so that you can refer to it. Below you can see an example of research I did for my website.

In the document, I’ve listed the key competitors. Then provided links to spreadsheets with in-depth analysis of their backlinks, keywords and top pages.

example of the documentation of the research phase of SEO strategy

Step 3

Setting Objectives for your SEO Strategy

Clear objectives enable you to measure your SEO strategies success or failure. Without objectives, there’s no way to know if your time and effort are worth it.

It’s important to align your SEO objectives with overall business and audience objectives. By doing this, you ensure you’re working towards company goals.

Now I’ll share my process for setting SEO Objectives.

Setting your SEO strategies Objectives

I won’t share my objectives as it isn’t necessary, but below are the questions that I answer in every SEO strategy:

  • Business objectives: What is the business looking to achieve in the next year?
  • Audience objectives: With who does your business want to communicate, and where?
  • SEO objectives: to align SEO strategy with business and audience objectives?

Review SEO performance towards objectives

It’s important to set up tracking and reporting on the SEO objectives. I will cover in step 5 of the SEO strategy.

Make sure you review reports monthly to make sure your SEO strategies are working.

Step 4

Prepare your SEO Strategy

The prepare phase involves pulling everything together into an actionable SEO strategy.

Here you’ll document your SEO strategies vision and action items. This step is crucial because you will refer to the document often.

Creating an over-arching SEO vision

An over-arching SEO vision is a few sentences that describe precisely what you want to achieve and how you’ll do it.

Here’s the SEO vision I created:

Increase organic traffic to the by 200% by building a strong technical foundation, concise site architecture, developing high-quality, relevant content and a quality link acquisition campaign.

In the above example, the objective is clear, and there’s a high-level overview of the strategy that was used.

Creating action items for the SEO Strategy

Once you have a high-level strategy to achieve your SEO objectives, break it down into more actionable items.

Continuing from the above example, here are some action items:

  • Plan out a detailed and scalable information architecture for the website to allow for the best keyword targeting and internal linking.
  • Create and implement a throughout on-page optimisation plan for the website.
  • Create educational content via a website blog that targets keywords that are related to my commercial keywords to build authority and relevance.
  • Research and create tailored service pages for the Sydney market.
  • Write relevant in-depth content and promote it to acquire backlinks from authoritative Australian news and blog sites.

Step 5

Execute and Measure your SEO Strategy

The final phase involves the implementation and measurement of the SEO strategy. Also, also how we will track and optimise performance as necessary over the next 12 months.

We will document how the execution of the SEO strategy, then the short-term and long-term reporting strategy.

The Execution Strategy

To execute the SEO Strategy, you need to have a plan with deadlines for your action items.

I created a calendar that more or less outlined the following:

  • Month 1: Conduct keyword research and plan out my site architecture.
  • Month 2: Build the new website. Write content for the service pages and put in placet on-page optimisation.
  • Month 3: Write several in-depth blogs on SEO topics.
  • Month 4: Outreach to official news and blog sites to promote my new content.

The execution strategy doesn’t need to be detailed, as long as you can complete the tasks.

Measurement and Reporting Strategy

The hard work is complete, and your SEO strategy should be ready to go. Now it’s time to plan how you will report and measure SEO success.

In my case, I used a combination of Google Analytics and Google Search Console data to pull together a Google Data Studio report.

Key metrics that I was tracking
Google Analytics:

  • Contribution to overall site traffic
  • What pages and keywords drive Conversions
  • Desktop vs mobile traffic

Google Search Console:

  • Rankings
  • Number of pages receiving organic traffic
  • Links

I looked at this report on a weekly basis to check traffic and monthly reviews to make sure I was hitting targets.

I was on track and hitting targets. However, if you are not hitting your targets consider making adjustments to the strategy.

Over to you

There you have it a simple 5-step guide to creating an SEO strategy that you can put in place on any website.

I believe the process is natural for someone at any level to plan and execute. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.