The Complete SEO Strategy Template & Guide for 2022

Sep 8, 2021

SEO Strategy Template

Search Engine Optimization is one of the pillars of online marketing, next to social media, advertising, and content. SEO helps your Shopify store come up higher in search results, which leads to more traffic and, ultimately, more sales. But in an increasingly crowded internet, you need a well-planned SEO strategy to attract your customers. Creating that strategy is often a daunting task since there are many facets of SEO you need to understand to properly implement. This article will provide you with a complete SEO strategy template and guide that covers the different aspects of SEO and how to tackle each one. After reading this article, you will be able to create and execute an effective SEO strategy for 2021 and beyond.

What is an SEO Strategy?

An SEO strategy is a comprehensive action plan that aims to improve your website’s search engine rankings. It’s the process of planning, organizing, and optimizing your website’s content to rank better in search results.

Without a clear strategy in place, your Shopify store’s content will remain trapped in online obscurity. In fact, a research by Zero Limit web revealed that the top five search results account for 67.7% of clicks in Google. So to climb to the top of search results, you need an effective SEO strategy.

Here, we are going to explain in detail everything your SEO strategy should include.

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1. Formulate Your SEO Content Strategy

The first major component of the SEO strategy template is your SEO content strategy. It consists of creating content – like blog posts – and optimizing it for target keywords that your customers are using online. Publishing SEO-optimized content regularly will attract website visitors and boost your online visibility.

You should create content that addresses the problems and questions your target customers have. By giving them the information they seek, you convey your expertise and unique value proposition (USP).

Below are the steps you need to follow to formulate your SEO content strategy.

Step 1: Audit Your Current Website for Base Metrics on Google Analytics

The first thing to do is to assess the current situation of your website. To do that, there is no best tool than Google Analytics which provides several metrics that give you a clear idea of your website activity.

SEO Strategy Template Google Analytics

Here are the basic metrics you need to check and consistently keep an eye on:

  • Number of users and sessions
  • Average session duration
  • Pages per session
  • Page views
  • Average time on page
  • Ratio of new to returning visitors
  • Bounce rate

Ideally, a large portion of your website traffic would be organic, meaning that new visitors are regularly coming from search engines as opposed to direct traffic where recurring visitors directly go to your website. Having some referral traffic (visitors coming from other websites) is good as well. You also want your visitors to spend a long time on your website and visit multiple pages per session.

You can also dive deeper into visitor behavior and check what keywords are driving traffic to your website and what visitors are typing in your search box. The former is particularly useful to discover the topics you should focus on in your content.

Step 2: Set Goals

You need to determine what you want to achieve with your SEO content strategy. Your goals must be measurable for you to be able to determine whether you have reached them or not. Common SEO content goals include:

  • Ranking for certain target keywords
  • Ranking for certain secondary keywords
  • Building a certain number of backlinks from authority sites (more on this later)
  • Increasing traffic (organic and referred)
  • Increasing conversions
  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Increasing user engagement
  • Increasing revenue

Keep in mind that your SEO content goals should be specific, measurable, realistic, and achievable within a set timeframe and budget.

Step 3: Know Your Target Audience

Knowing your audience is key to creating relevant content that attracts website visitors who will actually engage with your content and turn into paying customers. Your target audience probably includes different buyer personas, so you need to be clear on the characteristics of each one. Specifically, you should have information on:

  • Their age, education, occupation, income level, and other personal information
  • Their pain points, frustrations, and fears
  • Their goals, desires, and dreams
  • Their interests and hobbies
  • The social media they use
  • The questions and objections they may have about your products

Here is what you can do to identify your target audience:

  • Collect demographics data from Google Analytics
  • Send surveys to your customers where you ask for feedback and suggestions
  • Review customer reviews to find patterns
  • Research the audiences of your competitors

Once you know your target audience, you will find it much easier to come up with content topics they are interested in. 

Step 4: Evaluate Your Competitors

The next step in establishing your SEO content strategy is to investigate what the competition is doing in terms of content. List your top competitors, go to their websites and find the content that gets the most engagement from their audiences. There are two very useful SEO tools that allow you to do this:

  1. Ahrefs: this comprehensive and widely used SEO toolset allows you – among other things – to conduct an in-depth analysis of a competitor’s website. You can easily find their most popular content, keywords that drive organic traffic, PPC keywords, backlink growth, and more.
  2. Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest: this is another powerful tool to uncover insights from your competition. Enter a competitor’s domain to uncover key SEO metrics, top-ranking pages, keywords, popular content ideas, and the content in your industry that people are linking to the most.

SEO Strategy Template Ubersuggest

Step 5: Create an Effective Keyword Plan

At this point, you should already have a number of keywords found in Google Analytics, SEO tools, customer feedback, and competitor websites. Let’s go a step further and build a comprehensive keyword plan

  • Make a list of topics that are relevant to your target audience.
  • Research keywords with good search volume on Ahrefs, Moz, Ubersuggest, SEM Rush, and other keyword tools.
  • Make a list of long-tail keywords by searching for suggestions in Google’s search bar and related searches. You can also resort to tools like Answer the Public.

SEO Strategy Template Answer the Public

For each keyword, try to assess the level of search volume, competition, and buying intent from low to medium to high. This will help you identify the keywords that are easier to rank for. For instance, a keyword with medium search volume, low competition, and high buying intent may be a better choice than one with high volume, competition, and buying intent.

Step 6: Build Pages for Each Topic

Blog pages

Your customers are looking for content related to your products. By publishing informative and SEO-optimized blog posts that answer their questions, you effectively meet them halfway while introducing your brand. Your blog not only drives organic traffic but can also be used to capture email addresses

Landing pages

A landing page is a page your target audience lands on after clicking on a link from a search engine, an ad, or a social media post. Every landing page is made for a specific conversion goal (collect email address, sell a product, etc.) and ends with a clear call to action (CTA for short).

You should create landing pages that are optimized for target keywords your customers are using online. That way, more people will discover your brand, visit pages on your website and convert into customers. Your SEO-friendly landing pages should load quickly and be designed to have appealing visuals, compelling copy, formatting that’s easy to skim through, and an unmissable CTA button.

Step 7: Follow this On-Page SEO checklist

On-page SEO is the practice of optimizing the various elements of a web page to make it easier for search engines to find that page, understand its content, and rank it on search results.

Here is a checklist of SEO best practices that will improve your on-page SEO:

  1. Identify a unique target keyword for each page
  2. Optimize all image names and alt tags – especially the featured image – with your target keyword
  3. Include your target keywords in your page’s URL, meta title, and meta description
  4. Include your target keyword in the first 100 words of your content
  5. Include keyword variations in the content naturally
  6. Include H1, H2, H3, and H4 heading tags – a few of them should have your target keyword
  7. Add internal (or inbound) links to your page (links to other pages within your website)
  8. Add external (or outbound) links to your page (links to pages from other websites)
  9. Make your content easy to skim through by breaking it into several sections, each with its own subheading

Step 8: Set a Content Calendar

At this stage, you know the content you need to create. Great! Now, you need to create a content calendar to help you keep track of when each content piece is supposed to be published. This calendar also allows your team to stay on the same page about the upcoming topics to create content around and when each piece of content is scheduled to be released.

The simplest way to create your content calendar is to start a Google spreadsheet that includes the following columns:

  • Publishing date
  • Due date
  • Title
  • Target keyword
  • Type of content (blog post, landing page, infographic, video, etc.)
  • Author
  • CTA
  • Stage of the buyer’s journey (check this guide to learn more)

Step 9: Promote Your SEO Content

Publishing content on your website is not enough – you need to actively promote it on different platforms. Content promotion methods include:

  • Send an email about your new content to newsletters subscribers
  • Share your content on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, etc.)
  • Ask influencers in your industry to share your content
  • Ask websites that share content similar to yours to share your content
  • Reach out to authority sites to write guest posts for them
  • Turn your content into Medium posts
  • Repurpose your content into YouTube videos that link to your website
  • Repurpose your content into answers to questions on Quora
  • Use paid ads to promote your content on social

Remember that content promotion doesn’t happen just once – you can promote your SEO content multiple times, provided enough time has passed since the last round of promotion.

Keep in mind as well that you don’t need to apply all the methods listed above from the get-go – you may quickly find yourself overwhelmed. Focus on a few of them, revise your promotion efforts based on the results you get, and then experiment with some additional methods as you go. After all, SEO is an ongoing endeavor and its true impact takes time to manifest.

Step 10: Measure Results

Measuring your results is essential to find out what’s working and what’s not so you can improve on your SEO efforts. Let’s take a look at two great ways to do this.

1. Google Analytics

Google Analytics provides you with a multitude of metrics to measure and optimize your SEO performance:

  • Website traffic
  • New and returning visitors in a given timeframe
  • Time spend on pages
  • Bounce rate – the percentage of visitors who leave your page after visiting only one page. Naturally, you want it to be as low as possible.
  • Keyword rankings
  • Backlink quantity and quality

2. Ahrefs

If you decide to use Ahrefs, you will have access to several SEO metrics to help you understand your SEO performance and figure out what you need to improve. These metrics are:

  • Keyword search volume
  • Clicks
  • Return rate
  • Organic traffic
  • Organic keywords
  • Cost Per Click (CPC)
  • Keyword difficulty
  • URL rating
  • Domain rating

To learn more about the SEO metrics in Ahrefs and how to interpret them, read this guide from the Ahrefs blog.

SEO Strategy Template Ahrefs SEO Toolset

2. Formulate Your Backlink SEO Strategy

We have mentioned backlinks a few times before in this article. This is because they are an important component of your SEO strategy. In case you need a quick definition, a backlink is a link to your website from a trusted, high-ranking website. When authoritative sites link to your website, this tells search engines that your site is a reliable source of information and so they reward it with enhanced visibility on search engine results pages (SERP).

The more backlinks you have – especially from different websites, and the more search engines will consider your website to be relevant to the searches of your target audience.

SEO Strategy Template Backlink SEO Strategy

So as you can guess, your backlink SEO strategy is your plan to acquire backlinks that improve your search engine rankings. 

 

Create a Link-Building & Earning Plan

Your plan to build and earn backlinks should look like this:

  1. Add internal links. Include internal links in the pages on your site in a natural and relevant way.
  2. Request a link from sites that mention your brand. Find websites where your brand was mentioned on a page and contact the author to politely request a link to your site. Use tools like Hunter to find the email address of the person you want to contact.
  3. Offer to fix broken links. Sometimes an author will include a link to a competitor’s website that is incorrect or no longer exists. Find pages from authority sites that have broken links with a tool like the Check My Links Chrome extension, then reach out to the authors and suggest they fix the broken links with a link to your site as an alternative.
  4. Look for competitor backlinks. Find websites with pages that link to your competitors and ask the authors to do the same for your site.
  5. Look for link roundups. Search for reputable websites that have recently published pages which discuss your target keywords. Email the authors of these pages to ask for a link to your site.
  6. Look for guest posting opportunities. Offer to write guest posts for authority sites which target audiences overlap with yours.
  7. Set up Google Alerts for backlink opportunities. Google will notify you every time your brand name, product names, or industry terms are mentioned on a website. Contact these sites to request a link to yours.
  8. Earn backlinks with quality content. Earning backlinks means that people link to your site without being asked for it You can earn these organic backlinks by posting useful content in the form of blog posts, infographics, etc.

Use Ahrefs’s Backlink Checker

Among the tools in Ahrefs is the Backlink Checker. This free tool can uncover the number of domains and backlinks for any website. It also calculates a Domain Rating and URL Rating along with an Ahrefs Ranks to summarize backlink performance.

You can use the Backlink Checker to pull up this information from high-ranking competitors’ websites and find reputable websites you can contact to request a link to your site. There are three common reasons for these requests:

  • Unlinked mentions: request the author of a page that mentions your brand to link to your site.
  • Broken links: as suggested in step 3 of your backlink plan, sometimes a web page includes a link that doesn’t work. You can request to replace that link with one that points to your site.
  • Lost links: these are links that used to refer your site to rank on search engines because the site owner removed the backlink at one point.

3. Formulate Your Technical SEO Strategy

Technical SEO deals with the backend architecture of your Shopify store and includes aspects such as coding, crawling, and indexation, all of which affect your search engine rankings. Let’s take a look at the actions that will comprise your technical SEO strategy.

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Set Up Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a free Google tool that allows you to keep track of how your site is performing on Google searches. You can use it to:

  • Analyze your website’s traffic
  • See the keywords your site appears for
  • Submit site maps and individual URLs for crawling
  • Fix technical issues related to loading and security
  • Receive email alerts for crawl errors

These insights are important for optimizing your visibility on Google searches. Google Search Console sends you an alert any time an issue arises.

SEO Strategy Template Google Search Console

Setting up Google Search Console is quite simple. You just need to:

  1. Sign in to your Google Analytics account
  2. Click on the Add a Property button at the top of the page
  3. Enter the URL of your site and click on Continue
  4. Verify that you are the owner of your website. There are different ways to do this, with the easiest consisting of using your Google Analytics Tracking ID.

After you set up Google Search Console, it can take about a week for your site’s data to appear on it.

Optimize Core Web Vitals

Core Web Vitals are unified Google metrics that measure the quality of the user experience on your website. The current set for 2021 focuses on three metrics:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): measures loading performance. Your LCP should occur within 2.5 milliseconds of when a page first starts loading.
  • First Input Delay (FID): measures interactivity. Your pages should have an FID of 100 milliseconds or less.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): measures the visual stability of your content. Your pages should have a CLS of 0.01 or less.

If your metrics don’t hit these thresholds, read this guide to learn how to optimize them.

Run GTmetrix Tests

GTmetrix is a free tool that measures your website’s loading speed performance. You simply enter your site’s URL and hit Test your site. You will get an audit with a score and the issues found.

You can also measure:

  • The evolution of your page speeds over a period of time
  • Your speed in different countries
  • Your speed in different devices (desktop, mobile)

GTmetrix allows you to set up notifications to be sent if page speeds slow down, so you can fix any issue as soon as it arises.

SEO Strategy Template GTmetrix

Find Moz errors – Critical Crawler Issues and Warnings

If you plan on using Moz to monitor and improve your SEO, you can take advantage of its crawler to monitor and spot issues such as:

  • Critical crawler issues
  • Crawler warnings
  • Redirect issues
  • Metadata issues
  • Content issues

Critical crawler issues include the well-known 4xx and 5xx errors, and the crawler warnings include warnings related to meta noindex, meta nofollow, X-robots noindex, and X-robots nofollow.

In addition to identifying these issues, Moz will explain what they mean, how they may impact your SEO, and what you can do to fix them.

Suggested reading: Critical Crawler Issues and Crawler Warnings

Use Google Pagespeed Insights

The speed at which your site loads is an important factor in the competitiveness of your Shopify store. According to Google, an improvement of one second in site speed can boost mobile conversions by 27%. Shoppers are simply more likely to buy from fast and reliable sites, so you need to check and maximize your site speed regularly.

Google Pagespeed Insights is a great tool for testing the speed of your store. Using it is free and as easy as entering your site’s URL in the bar and clicking on Analyze. You will quickly get a report with a performance score and an audit of what may be slowing down your site along with recommendations to improve loading speeds.

In general, page speed is affected by different factors such as the quality of your hosting provider’s service, the location from which your site is loaded, third-party feeds and scripts, and your store’s theme and plugins.

Note: you can try our free Shopify-specific speed test to measure the loading speed of your Shopify store.

In Conclusion

SEO is a lot more approachable when you have a well-defined strategy in place. It gives you clarity on all the steps you need to take to improve your visibility on search engines. Implementing your strategy will undoubtedly take time and effort, and you may not see results overnight. But every step we outlined in this article is important and will compound over time to boost your search engine rankings.

The SEO strategy template we have provided in this article covers almost everything you should consider while creating your strategy. Granted, that’s a lot to take in and digest, so feel free to revisit this article as many times as you need to. You don’t need to follow everything outlined in this article right from the start – start with the essentials and add more actions as you go. By following this SEO strategy template, you will have a solid SEO plan that will result in more traffic and sales.

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