Chapter 1. SEO Foundation

SEO Plan – How to Do SEO Yourself or With Help

As SEO requires long-term efforts and takes a few months to demonstrate results, making the right SEO plan upfront is very important.

Throughout this learning section, we'll explain how to do SEO yourself, but you may also need to consider hiring SEO specialists to get results faster. Having essential knowledge about making an SEO plan will benefit you in designing a long-term SEO journey, with or without the help of specialists.

Digital Marketing vs. SEO

SEO is only one part of digital marketing activities, but it's a critical part.

Defining SEO's role in your entire digital marketing plan is crucial. Depending on your objectives, there may be a better approach than SEO.

There are many alternative approaches to digital marketing. They are primarily categorized into inorganic (paid marketing) and organic (non-paid marketing).

Search Engine Optimization is categorized under the organic marketing approach.

Different Traffic Sources in Digital Marketing

Design SEO Plan with a long-term view

Compared to inorganic marketing activities, such as PPC (Pay Per Click) ad campaigns, SEO takes a long time to generate results.

The timeframe for getting noticeable results can differ by website situation. More prolonged efforts are required if the website is entirely new and has a new domain.

As a rule of thumb, some improvements can be observed within a few months, while more significant results may take six months to a year.

Although Search Engine Optimization requires continuous effort, it provides long-lasting benefits compared to PPC, which provides immediate short-term benefits.

Illustration of SEO and PPC Traffic Impact Comparison

Considering the nature of SEO, you need to design a plan with a long-term view. At least, you may need a plan with a 6 months to 1 year time frame.

Note: Utilizing PPC for SEO for testing purposes

Even though you prioritize SEO over PPC, it can be beneficial to utilize PPC occasionally. While SEO requires a long time and effort with uncertainties, you can have more traffic control through PPC.

You may struggle to get proper data points if your website is new and has limited traffic. Doing a PPC ad campaign for testing purposes may make sense if you would like to obtain data points when creating your SEO plan.

Utilizing PPC for SEO for testing purposes

Here are some examples when you can utilize PPC for SEO planning:

  • Keyword Research: Use PPC campaigns to identify high-performing keywords
  • Meta Title and Description Optimization: Conduct A/B testing with PPC to optimize meta titles and descriptions for better click-through rates in organic search results.
  • Landing Page Optimization: Conduct A/B testing with PPC to optimize the landing page for better user engagement.
  • Geographical Insights: Conduct PPC campaigns in specific locations to understand performance differences by target location.

Define SEO Goals and KPIs

Business Goals

First, when making a plan, you should be clear about your business goals, especially those that can be achieved through SEO.

The business goals can differ by stage of the website. If the website is newly published, the first goal can be gaining traffic itself.

If you target accumulating membership users, # of membership conversions can be a goal.

Revenue can be a business goal if your service is at its monetization stage.

Practically, you may not have business goals with clear target numbers in the initial stage as you don't know the potential of your website yet.

In that case, you should continue thinking about the goals you want to achieve through SEO activities as you move along and refine the plan accordingly.

Understand the KPI hierarchy to make an efficient SEO plan

As search engine optimization requires a long journey, it can be helpful to have interim KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to track the progress of your efforts.

There are several ways to set KPIs. One way is to define KPIs based on visibility to crawlers and users. For example, you can set four key checkpoints to monitor the progress.

# of indexed pages

If your website or blog post is new, search engines may not even recognize it. The first step is to make your pages visible to search engines.

# of ranked keywords

Once your pages are indexed, the next milestone is to make those pages ranked on SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) for specific keywords.

Ranks in SERPs

Once your pages are ranked on SERPs, improving their ranking is the next goal. For example, if the pages are ranked outside the top 10 search results, the target would be getting into that list.

Organic traffic from SERP (Clicks)

As your pages get more visible to users through a higher rank on SERPs for the target keywords with a reasonable search volume, the pages' organic traffic (clicks on SERPs) will naturally increase. And the higher organic traffic will become the basis for achieving your business goals.

SEO Goals and KPIs

There are other operational metrics that help to understand website status.

Impression

Impressions are the number of times a particular piece of content (in this case, search results) is viewed by users, regardless of whether it is clicked.

One of the primary objectives of having a higher ranking in SERPs is to increase the number of impressions.

CTR (Click Through Rate)

CTR is simply Clicks per Impression. In the SEO context, it is used to measure how attractive your page title and descriptions shown on SERPs are.

Many other KPIs, such as the number of backlinks, domain authority score, and average user engagement time, can be used to set milestones for specific activities. We'll explain them later in this tutorial.

Address Ranking Factors

The second thing you need to understand before making a plan is how to effectively address ranking factors to increase your page rankings.

As explained on the previous page, many ranking factors are used by Google's Ranking Algorithms.

Typically, a large part of efforts are spent dealing with the ranking factors through on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO.

Making an SEO plan involves defining when and how to execute SEO techniques and actions so particular ranking factors can be prioritized within specific timelines.

Ranking Factors and SEO Approaches

Three Aspects of Different SEO Situations

Required efforts and approaches can vary depending on the situation of your website (or web page). Here are three critical aspects that can be used to define the situation.

Different Situations for SEO from Three Aspects

Website Ownership

The first aspect is whether you own a website yourself or post articles to websites managed by others.

If you own (or manage) a website, you must do end-to-end efforts under your control.

If you post blogs or articles to someone's website, you cannot control some aspects, such as domain authority.

For bloggers using other platforms, the most essential approach is On-Page SEO — setting the right target keyword, applying content writing techniques, and organizing multiple blog posts effectively.

Technology/Platform

The second aspect is technology or platform. At the highest level, there are three categories: CMS (Content Management System), HTML-based website, and SPA-based website.

CMS

Several GUI (Graphical User Interface) based SEO features are already in place if you use CMS such as WordPress, Squarespace, or Wix.

If the CMS is cloud-based, you can also get away with infrastructure performance management.

HTML-based Website

HTML-based websites are a standard format for websites. Their frontend is written in HTML and CSS with some JavaScript.

Compared to CMS, UI design will be more flexible, but you may need to make some extra efforts in SEO, especially technical SEO.

SPA-based Website

SPA stands for Single Page Application, usually developed in a JavaScript framework such as React.js.

SPA-based websites usually require extensive additional efforts to make them crawler-friendly. For example, SPAs often use Client-Side Rendering, which makes it difficult for search engines to crawl and evaluate the pages correctly.

One solution for client-side rendering issues is to implement Server-Side Rendering (SSR), which can pre-render HTML on the server before sending it to the client.

Target Location

The third aspect is target geographies. As Google returns different results for the same keyword depending on the user's location and type of search keywords, SEO efforts must also be tailored to location.

If you own a physical shop in a specific location, apply Local SEO techniques.

If you target international users, you may need to manage multi-language websites, and target keywords must be optimized by country.

Check Geographical SEO Context: Local SEO and International SEO to understand the geographical SEO context.

Develop SEO Plan - How To Do SEO Yourself

Finally, we'll explain how to develop a plan. The scope and approach can differ by situation. We assume the case of an existing website owner with limited SEO knowledge, but planning to do SEO themselves.

Even if you hire a specialist, it is crucial to understand how to develop a plan to work with them effectively.

The four SEO knowledge areas, which is the key framework of this tutorial, can also be utilized for planning. Here are the key steps to develop a plan.

SEO Foundation

SEO knowledge building

If you are new to SEO, it is very important to understand the general outline before you do any activities, as your understanding may need to be corrected.

There are many SEO learning materials, including this tutorial. You should complete at least one tutorial that covers end-to-end SEO topics in a structured manner. If you are new to the topic, finding a relatively short and easy-to-understand tutorial is better.

SEO tool preparation

SEO can only be done with proper tools. While going through the tutorial, prepare essential SEO tools such as Search Console, Google Analytics, Google Ads (for Keyword Planner), and other free SEO tools.

If you plan to do SEO yourself, consider using at least one paid tool to manage your workload effectively.

We'll explain key tools later in this chapter, Best SEO Tools: Google SEO Tools and Other Popular Tools.

Website audit

To design a plan, you must first understand the gap between your business goal and the current website situation, and break down the problems you identified.

Many specialists offer free website audits. Even if you are unsure if you need specialist support, talking to them and asking for an initial audit can help identify blind spots in your plan.

We'll explain website audit in the next learning section, What Is a Website Audit and How To Do It?.

Goal and KPI setting

It would be best if you defined your SEO goals with a rough timeline based on your business aspirations and website audit status.

Then, you can reverse-engineer to set KPIs. For example, if traffic is the primary goal, you can try to answer the following questions:

  • How much organic traffic do you need from SERPs to achieve the business goal?
  • What is the target ranking position for select keywords that would generate enough organic traffic?
  • How many pages and keywords need to be ranked on SERPs, and by when?
  • How many pages can be indexed considering the current website status, and by when?

As the gaps between the current status and the business goal target are often large, answering the questions above in order to set reasonable KPIs may require several iterations.

The example questions above are only general KPIs. Depending on the situation, you may need to set more detailed KPIs for each SEO approach.

For example, if your website has an issue in Core Web Vitals, you may need to set a specific target depending on the root cause of the Core Web Vitals issue.

KPI monitoring

Once you set KPIs, you need to check the status regularly.

You can monitor essential KPIs on Search Console; however, if you want to monitor them more comprehensively, you may need to consider subscribing to a paid tool.

On-Page SEO

Based on the audit results, you can define where potential improvement areas in your existing content are.

As On-Page SEO requires continuous efforts, you must set priorities depending on your time and budget.

At the most general level, there are three chunks of work scope in On-Page SEO.

Existing page optimization

Usually, the first step, is fixing fundamental issues on existing pages, such as missing tags (title tag, some meta tags, h1,h2 and h3 tags) and an inappropriate character length in the meta title and meta descriptions. If you use paid tools such as Semrush, Ahref, or Moz, you'll quickly get optimization opportunities by keyword and page.

The time-consuming parts of existing page optimization are optimizing keywords, adding appropriate internal and external links, and upgrading content with visual or interactive content.

You can read the following topics to learn how to optimize existing pages.

Site structure optimization

Website structure is critical to improving usability for human users and crawlability for search engines.

Redesigning and restructuring websites generally requires a lot of time and financial resources. Depending on your goals and resource constraints, you need to decide how much you will improve your website structure.

This tutorial will give you ideas for organizing multiple pages under the same theme. To learn about the technique, refer to "Keyword Mapping and Clustering - Organize Multiple Pages".

New content publishing

Adding more high-quality content on related topics to your website can positively impact the entire website.

The fundamental techniques for publishing new content are the same as those for existing pages. However, when writing content from scratch, you are able to apply proper content writing techniques without constraint.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO approaches can differ by your website platform. Required efforts depend on the technical audit results.

If you are not an engineer and are not using CMS, you need to work closely with engineers to address the issues defined in the technical audit.

Typically, there are three chunks of work scope in technical SEO.

Indexing issue resolution

This is the first thing you must address when publishing a new website. As explained earlier, if your pages are not indexed, your pages cannot be ranked on SERPs.

Several techniques, such as sitemap.xml and URL inspection on the Search Engine Console, can fix indexing issues. We'll explain them in Chapter 3, "Index Your Website - How To Fix Page Indexing Issues?"

Schema markup (Structured Data)

The power of schema markup is often underestimated. Implementing Schema markup on your website is an effective way to provide search engines with structured information about your content, which can enhance the display of search results and improve overall visibility.

There are various types of schema markups, but you should start with basic ones, such as organization, breadcrumbs, or articles. For a list of schema markups, check Google's guidelines.

For more details, refer to "What Is Schema in SEO? - Structured Data and Rich Results".

Site performance optimization

Improving website performance and page experience is a critical part of SEO. There are several subcomponents in this optimization activity.

What you should work will be defined once you conduct a technical audit. To get an assessment now, go to the SpeedInsight page, type your URL, and check the results.

We'll explain site performance optimization in more detail in the following pages:

Off-Page SEO

The most critical part of Off-Page SEO is backlink building. Although Google's ranking algorithms evolve, references from other websites, especially references from high-authority websites, are one way to objectively assess the website's relevance and importance to the searched keywords.

The main objective of Off-Page SEO is to build the website's authority, credibility, awareness, and reputation through activities that take place outside of the website itself.

You can also use other marketing approaches, such as social media marketing, to achieve your objectives; however, considering a long-term effect, you should prioritize backlink building unless you have a clear reason to prioritize other approaches.

Backlink building

As backlink building is one of the most time-consuming activities, many website owners tend to outsource this work.

Generally, you need to allocate a substantial amount of your time or budget to backlink building. We'll later explain how to build backlinks ("How To Build Backlinks: Link Building Do's and Don'ts").

Other off-page efforts

While implementing backlink building, you can also launch some marketing campaigns. If you have customer email addresses (e.g., from your shop membership registration), launching an email campaign can be one of the quickest ways to increase the visibility of your website.

One of the most frequently used approaches is social media marketing. We'll later explain how social media marketing works for SEO ("SEO and Social Media - What Are Social Signals?").

Selecting and hiring SEO specialists

Whether to do SEO yourself or hire a specialist is your choice. If your website is relatively small and targets increasing local presence, you may not need an SEO expert's help.

If you manage a large website and your don't have anyone supporting you, consider hiring experts as SEO requires a lot of effort, time, and expertise.

If you search on Google or check job-matching platforms, you can find many available specialists online; however, you should be very careful when hiring them — as Google also alerts in their official document.

Black Hat SEO and White Hat SEO

Black hat SEO and white hat SEO are two contrasting SEO approaches. They refer to the ethical and unethical practices used in SEO activities.

Black Hat SEO vs. White Hat SEO

Google announces Spam policies to detect misconduct. Black hat SEO violates these policies, while white hat SEO complies with them.

In the real world, you may not see the pure black hat approach. As using the black-hat approach is risky, gray-hat policies are getting more popular.

It would be best if you were more prudent when judging whether the specialists you are talking to are white-hat or not.

How to select SEO specialists?

Deciding which specialist to hire is critical to determining your SEO journey. As SEO requires a long-term commitment, you must carefully assess your candidates.

Before deciding on one specialist, you should contact at least two or three and ask for proposals (including an initial website audit) and initial discussions.

Below are some example checklists for selecting and hiring SEO specialists.

SEO expertise and integrity

As they will become your business partner, you must judge if the person or company has enough knowledge to achieve your business goal.

One essential part of SEO is improving content. If the specialist doesn't have basic knowledge about your website and is not interested in learning it, you may not get the proper recommendations from that expert.

Communication skills and style

You'll need to communicate with the specialist often during the SEO process. If you sense some risks in communication (skill and style) during the discussion stage, try to find someone else.

Quality of website audit report

If the quality of the website audit is high (e.g., well-structured, customized to your situation, and easy to understand), you may be able to trust the SEO specialist more.

SEO Tools

SEO tools can significantly improve your work productivity. Some specialists save money by not using proper tools. It is better to ask which tools they use.

Support scope

As the scope of SEO activity can be vast, you need to set a clear scope of work. Based on your budget, set priority areas and discuss your expectations with the specialist.

Pricing structure and price level

There are several pricing schemes, such as fixed weekly pay, fixed monthly pay, hourly-based, or by project for a specific scope. If you are not sure about the quality of the specialist, it is better to avoid long-term commitment in the beginning. It may be safer to start with hourly charges and switch to a longer-term commitment later.

Conclusion

On this page, you learned key considerations about making an SEO plan, such as setting goals and KPIs, addressing ranking factors, having long-term views, and adjusting to different contexts. You also learned how to develop a plan and how to select and hire specialists.

If you are an SEO beginner, you may need help understanding what activities to do, but we've got you covered. We'll explain everything step by step throughout this tutorial.

First, you'll need to understand the key components of SEO. Throughout this tutorial, you can develop your knowledge using our consistent framework.

Also, you need to be flexible when you implement SEO, as an actual SEO plan can dynamically change depending on your website's KPI status, time allocation, and budget.


You can also learn this topic on Kindle. ClickAmazonKindle.

As SEO requires long-term efforts and takes a few months to demonstrate results, making the right SEO plan upfront is very important.

Throughout this learning section, we'll explain how to do SEO yourself, but you may also need to consider hiring SEO specialists to get results faster. Having essential knowledge about making an SEO plan will benefit you in designing a long-term SEO journey, with or without the help of specialists.

Digital Marketing vs. SEO

SEO is only one part of digital marketing activities, but it's a critical part.

Defining SEO's role in your entire digital marketing plan is crucial. Depending on your objectives, there may be a better approach than SEO.

There are many alternative approaches to digital marketing. They are primarily categorized into inorganic (paid marketing) and organic (non-paid marketing).

Search Engine Optimization is categorized under the organic marketing approach.

Different Traffic Sources in Digital Marketing

Design SEO Plan with a long-term view

Compared to inorganic marketing activities, such as PPC (Pay Per Click) ad campaigns, SEO takes a long time to generate results.

The timeframe for getting noticeable results can differ by website situation. More prolonged efforts are required if the website is entirely new and has a new domain.

As a rule of thumb, some improvements can be observed within a few months, while more significant results may take six months to a year.

Although Search Engine Optimization requires continuous effort, it provides long-lasting benefits compared to PPC, which provides immediate short-term benefits.

Illustration of SEO and PPC Traffic Impact Comparison

Considering the nature of SEO, you need to design a plan with a long-term view. At least, you may need a plan with a 6 months to 1 year time frame.

Note: Utilizing PPC for SEO for testing purposes

Even though you prioritize SEO over PPC, it can be beneficial to utilize PPC occasionally. While SEO requires a long time and effort with uncertainties, you can have more traffic control through PPC.

You may struggle to get proper data points if your website is new and has limited traffic. Doing a PPC ad campaign for testing purposes may make sense if you would like to obtain data points when creating your SEO plan.

Utilizing PPC for SEO for testing purposes

Here are some examples when you can utilize PPC for SEO planning:

  • Keyword Research: Use PPC campaigns to identify high-performing keywords
  • Meta Title and Description Optimization: Conduct A/B testing with PPC to optimize meta titles and descriptions for better click-through rates in organic search results.
  • Landing Page Optimization: Conduct A/B testing with PPC to optimize the landing page for better user engagement.
  • Geographical Insights: Conduct PPC campaigns in specific locations to understand performance differences by target location.

Define SEO Goals and KPIs

Business Goals

First, when making a plan, you should be clear about your business goals, especially those that can be achieved through SEO.

The business goals can differ by stage of the website. If the website is newly published, the first goal can be gaining traffic itself.

If you target accumulating membership users, # of membership conversions can be a goal.

Revenue can be a business goal if your service is at its monetization stage.

Practically, you may not have business goals with clear target numbers in the initial stage as you don't know the potential of your website yet.

In that case, you should continue thinking about the goals you want to achieve through SEO activities as you move along and refine the plan accordingly.

Understand the KPI hierarchy to make an efficient SEO plan

As search engine optimization requires a long journey, it can be helpful to have interim KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to track the progress of your efforts.

There are several ways to set KPIs. One way is to define KPIs based on visibility to crawlers and users. For example, you can set four key checkpoints to monitor the progress.

# of indexed pages

If your website or blog post is new, search engines may not even recognize it. The first step is to make your pages visible to search engines.

# of ranked keywords

Once your pages are indexed, the next milestone is to make those pages ranked on SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) for specific keywords.

Ranks in SERPs

Once your pages are ranked on SERPs, improving their ranking is the next goal. For example, if the pages are ranked outside the top 10 search results, the target would be getting into that list.

Organic traffic from SERP (Clicks)

As your pages get more visible to users through a higher rank on SERPs for the target keywords with a reasonable search volume, the pages' organic traffic (clicks on SERPs) will naturally increase. And the higher organic traffic will become the basis for achieving your business goals.

SEO Goals and KPIs

There are other operational metrics that help to understand website status.

Impression

Impressions are the number of times a particular piece of content (in this case, search results) is viewed by users, regardless of whether it is clicked.

One of the primary objectives of having a higher ranking in SERPs is to increase the number of impressions.

CTR (Click Through Rate)

CTR is simply Clicks per Impression. In the SEO context, it is used to measure how attractive your page title and descriptions shown on SERPs are.

Many other KPIs, such as the number of backlinks, domain authority score, and average user engagement time, can be used to set milestones for specific activities. We'll explain them later in this tutorial.

Address Ranking Factors

The second thing you need to understand before making a plan is how to effectively address ranking factors to increase your page rankings.

As explained on the previous page, many ranking factors are used by Google's Ranking Algorithms.

Typically, a large part of efforts are spent dealing with the ranking factors through on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO.

Making an SEO plan involves defining when and how to execute SEO techniques and actions so particular ranking factors can be prioritized within specific timelines.

Ranking Factors and SEO Approaches

Three Aspects of Different SEO Situations

Required efforts and approaches can vary depending on the situation of your website (or web page). Here are three critical aspects that can be used to define the situation.

Different Situations for SEO from Three Aspects

Website Ownership

The first aspect is whether you own a website yourself or post articles to websites managed by others.

If you own (or manage) a website, you must do end-to-end efforts under your control.

If you post blogs or articles to someone's website, you cannot control some aspects, such as domain authority.

For bloggers using other platforms, the most essential approach is On-Page SEO — setting the right target keyword, applying content writing techniques, and organizing multiple blog posts effectively.

Technology/Platform

The second aspect is technology or platform. At the highest level, there are three categories: CMS (Content Management System), HTML-based website, and SPA-based website.

CMS

Several GUI (Graphical User Interface) based SEO features are already in place if you use CMS such as WordPress, Squarespace, or Wix.

If the CMS is cloud-based, you can also get away with infrastructure performance management.

HTML-based Website

HTML-based websites are a standard format for websites. Their frontend is written in HTML and CSS with some JavaScript.

Compared to CMS, UI design will be more flexible, but you may need to make some extra efforts in SEO, especially technical SEO.

SPA-based Website

SPA stands for Single Page Application, usually developed in a JavaScript framework such as React.js.

SPA-based websites usually require extensive additional efforts to make them crawler-friendly. For example, SPAs often use Client-Side Rendering, which makes it difficult for search engines to crawl and evaluate the pages correctly.

One solution for client-side rendering issues is to implement Server-Side Rendering (SSR), which can pre-render HTML on the server before sending it to the client.

Target Location

The third aspect is target geographies. As Google returns different results for the same keyword depending on the user's location and type of search keywords, SEO efforts must also be tailored to location.

If you own a physical shop in a specific location, apply Local SEO techniques.

If you target international users, you may need to manage multi-language websites, and target keywords must be optimized by country.

Check Geographical SEO Context: Local SEO and International SEO to understand the geographical SEO context.

Develop SEO Plan - How To Do SEO Yourself

Finally, we'll explain how to develop a plan. The scope and approach can differ by situation. We assume the case of an existing website owner with limited SEO knowledge, but planning to do SEO themselves.

Even if you hire a specialist, it is crucial to understand how to develop a plan to work with them effectively.

The four SEO knowledge areas, which is the key framework of this tutorial, can also be utilized for planning. Here are the key steps to develop a plan.

SEO Foundation

SEO knowledge building

If you are new to SEO, it is very important to understand the general outline before you do any activities, as your understanding may need to be corrected.

There are many SEO learning materials, including this tutorial. You should complete at least one tutorial that covers end-to-end SEO topics in a structured manner. If you are new to the topic, finding a relatively short and easy-to-understand tutorial is better.

SEO tool preparation

SEO can only be done with proper tools. While going through the tutorial, prepare essential SEO tools such as Search Console, Google Analytics, Google Ads (for Keyword Planner), and other free SEO tools.

If you plan to do SEO yourself, consider using at least one paid tool to manage your workload effectively.

We'll explain key tools later in this chapter, Best SEO Tools: Google SEO Tools and Other Popular Tools.

Website audit

To design a plan, you must first understand the gap between your business goal and the current website situation, and break down the problems you identified.

Many specialists offer free website audits. Even if you are unsure if you need specialist support, talking to them and asking for an initial audit can help identify blind spots in your plan.

We'll explain website audit in the next learning section, What Is a Website Audit and How To Do It?.

Goal and KPI setting

It would be best if you defined your SEO goals with a rough timeline based on your business aspirations and website audit status.

Then, you can reverse-engineer to set KPIs. For example, if traffic is the primary goal, you can try to answer the following questions:

  • How much organic traffic do you need from SERPs to achieve the business goal?
  • What is the target ranking position for select keywords that would generate enough organic traffic?
  • How many pages and keywords need to be ranked on SERPs, and by when?
  • How many pages can be indexed considering the current website status, and by when?

As the gaps between the current status and the business goal target are often large, answering the questions above in order to set reasonable KPIs may require several iterations.

The example questions above are only general KPIs. Depending on the situation, you may need to set more detailed KPIs for each SEO approach.

For example, if your website has an issue in Core Web Vitals, you may need to set a specific target depending on the root cause of the Core Web Vitals issue.

KPI monitoring

Once you set KPIs, you need to check the status regularly.

You can monitor essential KPIs on Search Console; however, if you want to monitor them more comprehensively, you may need to consider subscribing to a paid tool.

On-Page SEO

Based on the audit results, you can define where potential improvement areas in your existing content are.

As On-Page SEO requires continuous efforts, you must set priorities depending on your time and budget.

At the most general level, there are three chunks of work scope in On-Page SEO.

Existing page optimization

Usually, the first step, is fixing fundamental issues on existing pages, such as missing tags (title tag, some meta tags, h1,h2 and h3 tags) and an inappropriate character length in the meta title and meta descriptions. If you use paid tools such as Semrush, Ahref, or Moz, you'll quickly get optimization opportunities by keyword and page.

The time-consuming parts of existing page optimization are optimizing keywords, adding appropriate internal and external links, and upgrading content with visual or interactive content.

You can read the following topics to learn how to optimize existing pages.

Site structure optimization

Website structure is critical to improving usability for human users and crawlability for search engines.

Redesigning and restructuring websites generally requires a lot of time and financial resources. Depending on your goals and resource constraints, you need to decide how much you will improve your website structure.

This tutorial will give you ideas for organizing multiple pages under the same theme. To learn about the technique, refer to "Keyword Mapping and Clustering - Organize Multiple Pages".

New content publishing

Adding more high-quality content on related topics to your website can positively impact the entire website.

The fundamental techniques for publishing new content are the same as those for existing pages. However, when writing content from scratch, you are able to apply proper content writing techniques without constraint.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO approaches can differ by your website platform. Required efforts depend on the technical audit results.

If you are not an engineer and are not using CMS, you need to work closely with engineers to address the issues defined in the technical audit.

Typically, there are three chunks of work scope in technical SEO.

Indexing issue resolution

This is the first thing you must address when publishing a new website. As explained earlier, if your pages are not indexed, your pages cannot be ranked on SERPs.

Several techniques, such as sitemap.xml and URL inspection on the Search Engine Console, can fix indexing issues. We'll explain them in Chapter 3, "Index Your Website - How To Fix Page Indexing Issues?"

Schema markup (Structured Data)

The power of schema markup is often underestimated. Implementing Schema markup on your website is an effective way to provide search engines with structured information about your content, which can enhance the display of search results and improve overall visibility.

There are various types of schema markups, but you should start with basic ones, such as organization, breadcrumbs, or articles. For a list of schema markups, check Google's guidelines.

For more details, refer to "What Is Schema in SEO? - Structured Data and Rich Results".

Site performance optimization

Improving website performance and page experience is a critical part of SEO. There are several subcomponents in this optimization activity.

What you should work will be defined once you conduct a technical audit. To get an assessment now, go to the SpeedInsight page, type your URL, and check the results.

We'll explain site performance optimization in more detail in the following pages:

Off-Page SEO

The most critical part of Off-Page SEO is backlink building. Although Google's ranking algorithms evolve, references from other websites, especially references from high-authority websites, are one way to objectively assess the website's relevance and importance to the searched keywords.

The main objective of Off-Page SEO is to build the website's authority, credibility, awareness, and reputation through activities that take place outside of the website itself.

You can also use other marketing approaches, such as social media marketing, to achieve your objectives; however, considering a long-term effect, you should prioritize backlink building unless you have a clear reason to prioritize other approaches.

Backlink building

As backlink building is one of the most time-consuming activities, many website owners tend to outsource this work.

Generally, you need to allocate a substantial amount of your time or budget to backlink building. We'll later explain how to build backlinks ("How To Build Backlinks: Link Building Do's and Don'ts").

Other off-page efforts

While implementing backlink building, you can also launch some marketing campaigns. If you have customer email addresses (e.g., from your shop membership registration), launching an email campaign can be one of the quickest ways to increase the visibility of your website.

One of the most frequently used approaches is social media marketing. We'll later explain how social media marketing works for SEO ("SEO and Social Media - What Are Social Signals?").

Selecting and hiring SEO specialists

Whether to do SEO yourself or hire a specialist is your choice. If your website is relatively small and targets increasing local presence, you may not need an SEO expert's help.

If you manage a large website and your don't have anyone supporting you, consider hiring experts as SEO requires a lot of effort, time, and expertise.

If you search on Google or check job-matching platforms, you can find many available specialists online; however, you should be very careful when hiring them — as Google also alerts in their official document.

Black Hat SEO and White Hat SEO

Black hat SEO and white hat SEO are two contrasting SEO approaches. They refer to the ethical and unethical practices used in SEO activities.

Black Hat SEO vs. White Hat SEO

Google announces Spam policies to detect misconduct. Black hat SEO violates these policies, while white hat SEO complies with them.

In the real world, you may not see the pure black hat approach. As using the black-hat approach is risky, gray-hat policies are getting more popular.

It would be best if you were more prudent when judging whether the specialists you are talking to are white-hat or not.

How to select SEO specialists?

Deciding which specialist to hire is critical to determining your SEO journey. As SEO requires a long-term commitment, you must carefully assess your candidates.

Before deciding on one specialist, you should contact at least two or three and ask for proposals (including an initial website audit) and initial discussions.

Below are some example checklists for selecting and hiring SEO specialists.

SEO expertise and integrity

As they will become your business partner, you must judge if the person or company has enough knowledge to achieve your business goal.

One essential part of SEO is improving content. If the specialist doesn't have basic knowledge about your website and is not interested in learning it, you may not get the proper recommendations from that expert.

Communication skills and style

You'll need to communicate with the specialist often during the SEO process. If you sense some risks in communication (skill and style) during the discussion stage, try to find someone else.

Quality of website audit report

If the quality of the website audit is high (e.g., well-structured, customized to your situation, and easy to understand), you may be able to trust the SEO specialist more.

SEO Tools

SEO tools can significantly improve your work productivity. Some specialists save money by not using proper tools. It is better to ask which tools they use.

Support scope

As the scope of SEO activity can be vast, you need to set a clear scope of work. Based on your budget, set priority areas and discuss your expectations with the specialist.

Pricing structure and price level

There are several pricing schemes, such as fixed weekly pay, fixed monthly pay, hourly-based, or by project for a specific scope. If you are not sure about the quality of the specialist, it is better to avoid long-term commitment in the beginning. It may be safer to start with hourly charges and switch to a longer-term commitment later.

Conclusion

On this page, you learned key considerations about making an SEO plan, such as setting goals and KPIs, addressing ranking factors, having long-term views, and adjusting to different contexts. You also learned how to develop a plan and how to select and hire specialists.

If you are an SEO beginner, you may need help understanding what activities to do, but we've got you covered. We'll explain everything step by step throughout this tutorial.

First, you'll need to understand the key components of SEO. Throughout this tutorial, you can develop your knowledge using our consistent framework.

Also, you need to be flexible when you implement SEO, as an actual SEO plan can dynamically change depending on your website's KPI status, time allocation, and budget.


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