This guide is for you if you want to optimize a Customer-focused SEO Strategy and you seek impact, buy-in and clarity for your business regardless of whether you’re in the SaaS, Edtech, Healthtech or any other related sector.

So what is a customer-focused SEO Strategy?

An SEO strategy serves as a roadmap, guiding your actions and decisions with clarity and purpose. It outlines the prioritized tasks, the synergies between them to achieve defined goals, and the tangible impact they deliver to the company.

Any good strategy has five core elements:

  • Goals: Set Business Relevant Goals
  • Problem: Identify what stands in the way of reaching them
  • Resources: Pin down levers and resources
  • Metrics: Define how to measure your campaign success.
  • Leverage: Decide how you can leverage your strengths against competitors.

So without further adieu let’s discuss the five elements of any successful customer-focused SEO strategy.

SEOs need to know what success looks like for them

A great SEO strategy contains a lot of clarity, which makes it easy what the outcome should look like. And to get to that outcome, you want to derive success from the broader company goals in company strategy. In order to get this right you need to coordinate and align with company stakeholders so that you are sure about company goals.

Understand the problems the business is facing

The second element involves auditing your landscape.

This means understanding your competitor landscape, comparing your assets, SEO and content resources, growth between competitors in specific periods and finally assessing the gap between where you stand versus the competition.

I recommend using methods like five times Y for root cause analysis to get this element analysis spot on.

Prioritize your SEO Strategy Relentessly

The third element of a successful customer-focused SEO Strategy involves prioritizing actions you need to be taking. You get there by deciding what’s most important based on how actions impact your SEO progress towards the goal and find out how it makes sense to tackle certain actions based on the available resources, the intricacies of any dependencies and the overall impact.

Consider Your Business Model

There are three important questions the SEO Strategy needs to cater for:

  • Who creates the content?
  • How important is SEO for your business?
  • Where is the leverage in your SEO Function?

Base your decision on data

An SEO Strategy without the use of actionable data is toothless.

You need to have buyer personas in place about your ideal customer.

Understand the target market that you want to focus on and that aligns with your overall business goals.

Finally, once you have your Customer Personas ready and where you can find them; the last step involves understanding the competitive landscape.

For example, if you look at Walmart vs Amazon in Canada you can see that they close as far as rankings are concerned and competing well.

Walmart vs Amazon USA

But if you look at how the companies are performing in Google USA the picture shows a different angle.

Walmart and Amazon

So if you were to be creating a winning SEO Strategy for eBay or Walmart you would be better off focusing on the Canadian market if your goal was to select one of the US or Canadian markets.

What are the deliverables of a Customer Focused SEO Strategy?

The first major deliverable of such a strategy is a strategy document; which is the the most important one.

The deck can either be in a document format or a slide deck.

The core elements that any good customer-focused SEO strategy document covers must include the opportunity, work prioritization, the levers and risks & finally what competitive advantage exists.

A good strategy statement is very clear in what the returns are. Also, it elaborates on what the required resources, are and what the project timelines look like.

An example of a good strategy statement is

โ€œWe want to drive $1,000,000 in the lead pipeline from search engines this year. To get there, weโ€™ll have 5 marketers and 2 engineers create 250 actionable pieces of content and 15 new landing pages, refresh the content when it drops in performance, build 200 high-quality backlinks and commit to fixing tech SEO issues within one week.

Other than our competitors, who focus on Top of Funnel and Middle of Funnel keywords, we go after mid to low-funnel keywords and take less traffic into account for higher conversion potential.โ€

Building Your SEO Strategy

SEO Strategies need to be closely aligned with business goals to ensure they have value.

Therefore, I always recommend working backwards from the business goals.

If you want to get your customer-focused SEO Strategy right you have to ensure that like some SEOs you don’t get stuck in organic rankings and search traffic.

Even though it’s fine if you track your traffic numbers and rankings what matters most is the business value KPIs your driving including value, revenue, lead pipeline and actual number of conversions.

There are four core steps to reason backwards from the business goal.

Start with the North Star Metric which is the number metric that makes all other metrics go up.

Secondly, you need to ensure you create a logical chain of funnel metrics from the North Star down.

Here’s a practical illustration. Suppose the primary goal for the business is to increase sign-ups. In this scenario, the role of SEO is to dissect this objective into measurable components, such as sign-ups stemming from organic traffic, the number of keywords ranking within the top three positions, the volume of indexed pages, and the influx of user-generated content (UGC).

Third will help you for the third step which is to identify leading indicators. Leading indicators are numbers that are early in the value creation process and have a direct impact on other metrics like signups.

Essentially, you need to ensure you pick the right indicators and lastly ensure you set them up as SMART Goals.

If you have SMART goals set up it’s much more likely that you’ll win buy-in from senior leadership within the company because everything will be quantifiable and time-bound.

Understanding what problems you need to solve

Now based on my experience, I’ll share five key questions that have assisted me in identifying key business and marketing problems.

  • Is the bottleneck in execution or in understanding what needs to be done?
  • Do you possess the resources necessary to implement your plan?
  • Are you competing against established players or emerging competitors?
  • Are you executing with precision and consistency?
  • Is your performance competitive enough to stay ahead of rivals?

These questions mostly help businesses and marketing teams understand where they need to focus. Once you’ve identified the key problem, you need to spend time sharpening it and defining it precisely.

The more clearly the problem is defined the faster you can move to solve it.

Otherwise, expect to be wasting a lot of time and resources.

The key questions you need to be asking yourself are which lever you’ll be using and who creates the content. Is it the users or the company? For user-created content, we speak of aggregators while for companies-created content is implied as integrators.

Integrators Aggregators
Content Company generated User Generated
Challenge Differentiation Aggregation
SEO Content, links Technical SEO, page volume, content quality
Drivers Brand Product

This chart illustrates clear distinctions between integrators and aggregators. Integrators face the challenge of differentiation, whereas aggregators aim to aggregate additional inventory or entities.

From an SEO standpoint, integrators often prioritize content and links, while aggregators emphasize technical SEO, page volume, and content quality. Ultimately, brand serves as the primary driver for integrators, while product stands out as the key focus for aggregators.

For integrators like Zapier or Bankrate, such as SaaS companies, key levers for SEO include net new content creation, content refreshes, lead generation tools, rich snippets, and link building.

For marketplaces like G2 or Wayfair, scaling challenges involve user-generated content and product inventory. Important SEO levers here include the number of indexed pages, content quality, page types and templates, and internal linking.

To effectively leverage your business model, it’s crucial to understand the content creators and tailor your strategy accordingly.

To evaluate strategy effectiveness and tradeoffs, precise measurement is vital. Many overlook this, focusing solely on outcome metrics rather than assessing their influence.

Good metrics are:

1) closely aligned with success,

2) diagnostic, revealing insights without extra assumptions or metrics, and

3) purposeful, serving as leading/lagging indicators, quality or guard metrics, or inputs/outputs.

The key lies in establishing a logical sequence of metricsโ€”from pages crawled to revenue impactโ€”to elucidate why successes occur.

SEO teams must grasp their competitive edges and leverage them fully, avoiding common pitfalls like one-way traps.

A competitive advantage is an attribute or set of attributes that enables a company to surpass its rivals. In SEO, examples include expertise, team composition, tools, brand strength, technology efficiency, backlink and content quality, and first-mover advantage.

Identifying competitive advantages involves conducting a SWOT analysisโ€”assessing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and risksโ€”to gauge competitiveness relative to rivals.

In addition, SEO risk stems from Google changes and competitor actions. Competitors may emulate your strategies, posing direct competition.

Assess competitor factors: content creation pace, backlink profile, brand strength, user experience, product features, and company size.

Address Google’s unpredictability by educating stakeholders on potential algorithm impacts, mitigating risks via content quality and ethical link building, and providing timely updates on Google updates.

Executives value risk transparency over perfect predictability.

Delivering your Customer-focused SEO Strategy

The SEO roadmap serves as a cornerstone in your strategy, embodying the plan derived from your strategy. Its accuracy is paramount. While roadmaps are often discussed, what constitutes a good one?

Consider an example from a unicorn company: a well-crafted SEO roadmap features clear prioritization, timings, opportunity assessments, contextual insights, resource requirements, and target dates. It encompasses crucial elements such as outcomes (distinct from tasks), themes, priorities, timelines, goals, milestones, metrics, and ownership.

Let’s delve deeper into the significance of outcomes versus tasks.

Priority Quarter Oppor Cat Team Pages Desc Impact Resources Docu Date
P0 Q1 H Tag Technical SEO Web All Description +5 organic traffic Content

Web Producer
link Complete 3/22
P2 Q2 Optimize 404 pages Technical SEO Web 404 Description Quality of Life Improvement Eng

Web Producer
Link Complete 5/15

Project and Tasks

Various SEO roadmaps exist, complicating the quest for a common standard. My advice is to align with your marketing or growth organization’s template to ensure coherence with the company’s language. Additionally, consider integrating optional elements such as problem-solving target outcomes, encountered challenges, estimated impact, confidence levels, and potential big bets.

While roadmaps are commonly presented as sheets, tools like Airtable, Coda, or Product Board offer alternative platforms. When crafting your roadmap, prioritize major projects (“big rocks”) before incorporating smaller tasks.

Regular revisions are essential, with quarterly updates and an annual planning session, usually held in early Q4 of the preceding year. Often, questions arise regarding vision and mission alignment, which typically originate from the business or marketing and growth organization.

In many cases, the SEO organization doesn’t require a separate mission or vision. The roadmap focuses on outcomes planned over various timeframesโ€”months, weeks, or sprints. Outcomes, superior to projects or tasks, precisely define the expected results of work. By prioritizing outcomes, flexibility with tasks is maintained while ensuring rigidity in achieving results.

Each outcome breaks down into tasks, slated for specific timeframes, known as sequencing. Effective sequencing involves identifying critical tasks leading to desired outcomes and prioritizing them. Clarity in defining requirements is crucial, supported by detailed examples to provide context to engineers, writers, and designers.

Consistent updates on progress, dependencies, and potential obstacles keep everyone informed and aligned. Effective prioritization involves skill, and avoiding shallow metrics like traffic impact that may lead to deprioritization by engineering or design teams.

Prioritization involves considering blockers, bottlenecks, and context. While numerous frameworks exist, consistency is key to finding the perfect one. Today, I’ll introduce two frameworks: ICE (impact, costs, effort) and Moscow (must have, should have, could have, won’t have). These can be applied to tasks in your SEO roadmap, ensuring alignment with outcomes. Collaborate with engineering, design, and other stakeholders to size tasks and assign priorities.

Avoid attempting this alone, as you may overlook aspects and underestimate task durations. Setting realistic timelines is both an art and a science. Accurate sequencing and timing optimize project capacity and ensure timely delivery. Consider seven factors when sequencing projects, starting with prioritizing tasks based on their impact on the overall goal.


Secondly, consider the time to outcome, assessing when critical tasks must be completed and their anticipated impact duration. Thirdly, address blockers, which represent task dependencies crucial for project progression.

Next, ensure clear scoping with defined success criteria and readiness for progress, factoring in team feasibility and required preparations. To estimate project duration accurately, gather estimations from engineering, design, and other teams, specifying hours or days per task for comprehensive project timelines.

Regularly update your roadmap quarterly or even monthly, scheduling dedicated collaboration meetings. Now, onto impact projections, a challenging aspect of SEO strategy. Although projections are vital for prioritization, their complexity often deters teams from attempting them.

Here’s a formula to guide impact projections: Identify affected keywords, set realistic target ranks, multiply search volume by a CTR curve based on target position, and multiply expected organic traffic by average conversion rate or order value. To mitigate risk, include assumptions outlining conditions necessary for the projection’s likelihood of occurrence.

Concluding Remarks

Crafting a Customer-focused SEO Strategy involves understanding its basics, building the strategy, delivering it, and presenting it effectively. This entails defining an SEO strategy, identifying its elements, and recognizing what constitutes a strong plan. Constructing the strategy involves aligning it with goals, addressing challenges, leveraging competitive advantages, and evaluating metrics and risks. Delivery involves creating a detailed SEO roadmap, prioritizing projects, setting timelines, and projecting impacts. Lastly, presenting the strategy requires effective communication and advocacy to executives, balancing narratives and slide decks. While every situation is unique, principles like prioritization, packaging, timing, and communication are essential for success.

I help businesses 2-4x ๐Ÿ“ˆ their income earned from ๐— ๐—˜๐—”๐—ก๐—œ๐—ก๐—š๐—™๐—จ๐—Ÿ SEO and Content Marketing implementation ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—ด๐—ต ๐—บ๐˜† ๐—ฏ๐—ฎ๐˜๐˜๐—น๐—ฒ-๐˜๐—ฒ๐˜€๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜€๐—ถ๐˜€๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜๐—น๐˜† ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฝ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ฎ๐—ฏ๐—น๐—ฒ ๐—ฝ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—ฐ๐—ฒ๐˜€๐˜€ ๐Ÿ”ฅ

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