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What Should Be the First Step to a Structured SEO Plan?

What Should Be the First Step of a Structured SEO Plan in 2023 main image

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What Should Be the First Step to a Structured SEO Plan in 2023?

Search engine optimisation (SEO) remains crucial to digital marketing success in the ever-changing online world. With the increasing reliance on search engines, having a well-planned, structured SEO strategy becomes vital for businesses to thrive in 2023 and beyond.

So, what should be the first step to a structured SEO plan, and how can you ensure its effectiveness? Let’s dive into the essential steps and practices to create an SEO plan that drives organic traffic, improves search rankings, and leads your business to digital marketing success.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding the importance of a structured SEO plan is key to optimising digital marketing success.
  • Technical audits are essential foundational steps to ensure optimal performance and search accessibility.
  • Regular monitoring and adjustment of an SEO plan, tracking key performance metrics, and adapting strategies through algorithm updates & industry changes are necessary for achieving desired results.

Understanding the Importance of a Structured SEO Plan

What Should Be the First Step to a Structured SEO Plan answered with a calendar and plan checklist?

A structured SEO plan is paramount in driving organic traffic and potential customers, improving search rankings, and achieving digital marketing success. Rather than creating content based on assumptions, a well-crafted SEO strategy guarantees that the content produced aligns with what people are actively searching for. This, in turn, will enhance digital marketing success in 2023.

Research shows that satisfying search intent for a keyword can lead to a 70.43% increase in search traffic compared to the old blog post version. This synergy enables your content to be discovered, particularly in search engine result pages (SERPs), leading to better search rankings and more organic traffic.

The Foundational Step: Technical Audit

A person looking at a laptop with a graph showing the importance of on-page optimisation

Before diving into the intricacies of on-page optimisation and keyword research, the first step of a structured SEO plan is to conduct a technical audit. A technical audit is a thorough assessment of a website to determine its capacities, capabilities, quality levels, and adherence to applicable standards or requirements.

This process involves evaluating various aspects, including:

  • Code
  • Design
  • Content
  • On-page SEO

A technical audit necessitates identifying issues, including:

  • Broken links
  • Slow loading times
  • Incorrect redirects
  • Missing meta tags

Additionally, keyword research ensures that the website targets the right keywords for its audience. Addressing these issues may involve modifying the website’s code, design, content, and other surface-level features.

Optimal performance requires proper indexing by search engines, mobile-friendliness, and a website without technical issues. A technical audit sets the stage for a strong foundation, allowing other aspects of your SEO plan to build upon it and ultimately rank higher in search engine results.

On-Page Optimisation Essentials

An image illustrating the importance of a technical audit as the foundational step of a structured SEO plan, answering the question 'what should be the first step of a structured SEO plan?'

With the technical foundation in place, the focus should shift to essential on-page optimisation techniques. Crafting compelling page titles and meta descriptions and optimising header tags and content structure are crucial factors that impact search visibility.

These elements improve the user experience and ensure that search engines can effectively crawl and index your web pages, boosting your search engine rankings.

Semantic SEO is another aspect to consider, as it involves optimising content for related words and phrases relevant to the target keyword and implementing internal linking.

Crafting Compelling Page Titles and Meta Descriptions

Creating engaging page titles and meta descriptions enhances click-through rates and search rankings. Meta descriptions are brief descriptions of the content found on a webpage, displayed beneath the page title and URL in search engine results. Crafting an engaging meta description ensures that your content appears in the correct search results and allows audiences to understand the nature of the content they are about to access.

When crafting page titles and meta descriptions, it is important to use relevant keywords, keep titles brief and succinct, and ensure titles accurately reflect the page’s content. This improves your website’s visibility in search results and provides a clear and enticing snapshot of your content for potential visitors.

Remember that search engines, like Google, place significant weight on page titles when ranking web pages. By crafting compelling titles and descriptions, you are effectively signalling to search engines that your content is relevant, valuable, and deserving of a higher ranking in search results.

A person looking at a laptop with a graph showing the importance of monitoring and adjusting your SEO plan

Optimising Header Tags and Content Structure

Improving user experience and search engine readability relies heavily on optimising header tags and content structure, a vital aspect of on-page optimisation. Header tags, such as H1, H2, and H3, are HTML tags used to differentiate headings and subheadings from the rest of the content on a webpage.

When optimising header tags and content structure, it’s essential to utilise descriptive titles, incorporate keywords in headings, and select appropriate heading levels. This not only enhances the readability of your content for users but also allows search engines to better understand the structure and hierarchy of your content.

Focusing on both the visual presentation and the underlying structure of your content guarantees a user-friendly website optimised for search engine algorithms. This combination of user experience and search engine readability ultimately contributes to higher rankings and increased organic traffic.

Keyword Research: The Cornerstone of SEO

A diagram showing the importance of keyword research

Any effective SEO plan fundamentally relies on keyword research. It is pivotal in identifying relevant, high-search volume, and low-competition keywords for targeted content creation. Selecting the right keywords ensures that your website’s content aligns with your business objectives and attracts your desired audience. Long-tail keywords allow businesses to engage with individuals with diverse interests and needs, creating additional access points for those interested in your products and services.

Crafting content tailored to long-tail keywords is essential for meeting the specific needs of your audience and increasing the likelihood of converting traffic into leads. As search engine algorithms utilise the relationships between keyword clusters to provide users with the desired information, using long-tail keywords to create a cluster around a pillar topic can significantly improve your website’s search rankings.

Utilising Keyword Research Tools

Effective keywords for your SEO plan can be discovered using keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMRUSH, and Ubersuggest. These tools help identify the most appropriate keywords for your website, analyse the competition associated with those keywords, and monitor the performance of those keywords over time.

By incorporating keyword research tools into your SEO strategy, you can gain valuable insights into the keywords your target audience is searching for, helping you create content that appeals to their needs and interests. These tools also enable you to monitor the performance of your selected keywords, allowing you to adjust your strategy as needed to maintain or improve your search engine rankings.

Using keyword research tools is crucial in developing a comprehensive SEO plan that targets the right keywords, drives organic traffic, and ultimately leads to success in digital marketing.

A person looking at a laptop with a graph showing the importance of content marketing and SEO synergy

Analysing Competitor Keywords

Keyword research also significantly includes the analysis of competitor keywords. By understanding what keywords your competitors are targeting, you can identify gaps and opportunities for improving your website’s search rankings. Competitor keywords refer to the specific keywords that competitors target in their content.

To generate a list of competitor keywords to target, you can analyse the keywords your competitors are targeting and identify any potential gaps or opportunities for improvement. Once you’ve discovered a few keywords, evaluating who is already ranking for those keywords is recommended.

Implementing competitor keyword targeting in your SEO plan can help you capitalise on the gaps and opportunities identified during your analysis. Creating content optimised for the keywords your competitors are targeting can improve your search rankings and ultimately drive more traffic to your website.

Off-Page Optimisation Strategies

Contrasting with on-page optimisation, which enhances the content and structure of your website, off-page optimisation strategies target external factors to boost your website’s authority and search rankings. Building high-quality backlinks and leveraging social media for SEO are two key off-page optimisation strategies that can significantly impact your website’s performance in search results.

Backlinks are the most effective method to build credibility in your field, as the greater the number of backlinks, the more authoritative you appear to the Google algorithm. Social media SEO, on the other hand, involves leveraging social media activities to boost a website’s organic search traffic. Both these strategies work in tandem to improve your website’s visibility, authority, and search rankings.

Building High-Quality Backlinks

Building high-quality backlinks from reputable websites is a key strategy to bolster your website’s E-E-A-T score. Backlinks demonstrate to search engines that your content is authoritative and relevant, thus aiding your ranking in search engine results pages.

There are several strategies you can employ to increase backlinks to your website. Here are some approaches to consider:

  1. Collaborate with local businesses by exchanging links.
  2. Create and share blog posts across various social media platforms to attract backlinks.
  3. Pursue guest blogging opportunities to provide valuable backlinks and expose your content to a wider audience.

Building high-quality backlinks from reputable sources will improve your website’s authority and search rankings, increasing traffic and better visibility in search results.

A person looking at a laptop with a graph showing the importance of off-page optimisation

Leveraging Social Media for SEO

Social media platforms serve as a tool to optimise SEO, contributing to enhanced brand awareness, increased website traffic, and improved SEO performance. By creating content tailored to algorithms and collaborating with influencers to boost brand visibility, you can effectively spread links on various social media platforms, driving traffic to your website and improving SEO performance.

Optimising your content for social media sharing can lead to:

  • An increase in backlinks as users share their content with their networks
  • Engaging with your audience on social media platforms allows you to interact with potential customers, gather feedback, and gain insights into their needs and preferences..
  • Informing your content creation and SEO strategy

Incorporating social media into your plan has several benefits:

  • It improves your website’s search rankings.
  • It helps you build a strong online presence.
  • It fosters lasting relationships with your target audience.
  • Can boost Hyperlocal search rankings

Content Marketing and SEO Synergy

More keywords om website content means more website traffic

The synergy between content marketing and SEO is pivotal for driving traffic, elevating search rankings, and realising digital marketing success. By creating unique and valuable content and updating existing content, you can ensure that your website remains relevant and engaging to your target audience.

Some benefits of content marketing for SEO include:

  • Constructing the website’s reputation and trustworthiness
  • Gaining backlinks and social shares
  • Maintaining a regular blogging schedule assists in developing credibility with Google algorithms, which can lead to higher search rankings and increased traffic.
  • Improving E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness)

Creating Unique and Valuable Content

Attracting and retaining users, improving search rankings, and driving organic traffic necessitate the creation of unique, valuable, and engaging content. To create unique content, draw upon your creativity and research, exploring ways to distinguish your content from other sources. Incorporating various formats, such as videos, infographics, and podcasts, can make your content more appealing and engaging.

Optimising your content for mobile viewing is another important factor, as more and more users access the internet through mobile devices. Ensuring readability and navigability on mobile devices, optimising images and videos for mobile viewing, and using shorter sentences and paragraphs can greatly improve the mobile user experience.

Creating unique and valuable content optimised for desktop and mobile devices can enhance your website’s search rankings and drive traffic, ultimately leading to digital marketing success.

Updating and Refreshing Existing Content

Maintaining search rankings, enhancing the user experience, and driving traffic require regular updates and refreshes of existing content. The Content Relaunch is an approach to increasing web traffic by updating and refreshing existing content. In one case, a 62.60% increase in traffic was observed after implementing the Content Relaunch on a specific page.

Revising and updating existing content ensures it remains relevant and engaging to your target audience, meeting their needs and preferences. This enhances the user experience and demonstrates to search engines that your content is up-to-date and valuable, which can lead to higher search rankings.

Incorporating regular updates and refreshes of existing content into your plan is critical for maintaining search rankings, enhancing user experience, and driving traffic. By doing so, you can ensure continued success in the ever-evolving digital landscape.

Monitoring and Adjusting Your Plan

A successful SEO plan mandates constant monitoring and adjustment to ensure effectiveness and sustained success in the ever-evolving digital landscape. Staying informed of SEO news and best practices is essential for adapting to the continually changing search engine environment. Additionally, constructing a process to refine new keywords and developing search intent persistently is crucial to guarantee sustained success.

Monitoring keyword rankings and optimising a Google My Business profile are important aspects of an effective plan. By tracking key performance metrics and conducting regular audits of your website and content, you can ensure that your SEO plan remains up-to-date and optimised for the latest algorithm updates and industry trends.

Tracking Key Performance Metrics

Measuring your plan’s effectiveness and identifying improvement areas requires tracking key performance metrics like traffic, search rankings, and conversions. Analytics tools, such as Google Analytics, offer comprehensive insights into website performance and can help you monitor key performance metrics effectively.

By monitoring key performance metrics, you can pinpoint areas of improvement for your SEO plan. For instance, if traffic is low, it may be beneficial to concentrate on enhancing on-page optimisation or constructing additional backlinks. Regularly tracking these metrics enables you to adjust your strategy as needed, ensuring your website remains optimised and competitive in the ever-changing digital landscape.

Adapting to Algorithm Updates and Industry Changes

For sustained success in the digital landscape, your SEO plan must adapt to accommodate algorithm updates and industry changes. Algorithm updates refer to modifications made to the algorithms used by search engines, such as Google, to determine the ranking of website pages in search results. These updates can considerably influence website rankings and SEO strategies, necessitating website owners to adjust and optimise their content accordingly.

To ensure your plan is up-to-date with algorithm updates, it is important to stay informed of the latest changes and trends in the industry. Subscribing to industry newsletters, following SEO experts on social media, and reading industry blogs can help you stay abreast of the latest developments. Additionally, routinely auditing your website and content ensures optimisation for the latest algorithm updates.

By staying informed and adapting your plan as needed, you can ensure continued success in the ever-evolving digital landscape, driving traffic, improving search engine rankings, and achieving digital marketing success in 2023.


In conclusion, a well-structured SEO plan is crucial for driving traffic, improving search engine rankings, and achieving digital marketing success in 2023. From conducting a technical audit and optimising on-page elements to performing keyword research and leveraging off-page strategies, each step plays a vital role in building a comprehensive plan that caters to the ever-evolving digital landscape.

By embracing the synergy between content marketing and SEO, monitoring and adjusting your SEO plan, and staying informed of industry trends and algorithm updates, you can ensure the continued success of your digital marketing efforts. With a solid SEO strategy, your business can thrive in the competitive online world and achieve sustainable growth in 2023 and beyond.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should be the first step in an SEO plan?

Keyword research should be the first step in any SEO plan, as it guides all subsequent optimisation efforts, such as content creation, on-page optimisation, and off-page SEO.

What should be the first step in a structural plan?

The first step of a structured plan should be identifying all the key stakeholders involved in its development and implementation.

What is the ideal goal for an SEO plan?

The ideal goal for an SEO plan is to improve the website’s presence on search engine results pages (SERPs) and achieve higher rankings for relevant keywords, tailored to the website’s or online business’s specific objectives and needs.

How do I start SEO from scratch?

To start SEO from scratch, begin by researching and understanding how search engines work, the role of SEO in digital marketing, and what SEO is and why it’s important. Then, learn more about keywords, keyword research, and how to measure SEO performance. Additionally, focus on creating an interesting and useful website, providing appropriate content, avoiding distracting advertisements, using links wisely, and optimising for on-page and search intent. Finally, build links to your page to further your SEO strategy.

How can I improve my on-page optimisation?

Focus on page titles and meta descriptions, header tags, content structure, and relevant keywords to improve on-page optimisation.


Guy Tomlinson brings 15 years of SEO mastery and 20 years in sales and marketing to the table. Founder of a successful SEO agency and a seasoned speaker at industry events, Guy is passionate about turning clicks into customers. Subscribe for insider tips and strategies that deliver real results