How to plan an SEO campaign for higher rankings

A new year asks for a new and improved content SEO strategy! Are you also pumped and full of plans to improve your SEO strategy and start a brand new SEO campaign? In this post, I’ll tell you just how to set up a content SEO campaign and quickly improve your chances to outrank your competition in the search engines!

Step 1: Assess your current (technical) SEO fitness

In order to improve the SEO of your website, you need to make sure that your site is in good shape. Start with doing a small SEO audit of your own website. Use a few tools like Google PageSpeed Insights and Majestic to check out your site speed and your backlinks are doing. Other technical aspects like 404’s and broken links should just be fixed!

You just need to take care of the technical aspects of your site. Before starting an SEO campaign with new and improved content, you should make sure that all the technical aspects are in good (enough) shape. 

Step 2: Determine your most important pages

In order to increase the traffic to your site, you need to know what aspects of your website should be optimized the most. What would be smart to tackle first? Which improvements would increase the chances to rank in the search engines the most? In order to answer these questions you should determine the most important pages of your website.

Determining the most important pages on your website can be rather difficult. Ask yourself: which pages would I like to show new customers? Which pages are most close to my mission? Compare the answers to these questions to the results of your analytics: which pages have the highest page value? With which pages do you actually make money? Which pages have a lot of traffic pointing towards them?

You should end up with a list of pages that are important to you, but that don’t have much traffic. These should be improved upon further. And, the pages that have much traffic, but were not that high on your ‘importance’ list should not be forgotten either. These pages are ‘successful use cases’ you can learn from. They’re performing well, even though they’re not the most important pages. 

Step 3: Keyword research

You need to know what your audience is searching for. You need to know what words they’re using when they search in Google. Keyword research means getting inside the heads of your audience and making sure you focus on the right terms. If you offer a product, people might not be looking for your product or words that relate to the product. They might be searching for the problem your product is solving.

Talk to your audience, make sure you understand them. And use tools like Google Trends in order to make sure you’re focussing on the right search terms. 

You should end up with a list of keywords you want to rank for. You’re probably already ranking for some of them. Divide the list in keywords you’re not ranking for yet and keywords you’re already ranking for, but for which you want to rank higher. 

Step 4: Setting realistic goals for your SEO campaign

It’s impossible to start ranking for the most competitive keywords overnight. If you’re in a competitive niche, it will be hard to rank for certain keywords. You’ll need to focus on more specific and less competitive keywords in order to stand a chance of ranking. Take into account the traffic potential (how many people search for a certain keyword) and the ranking potential (how many big brands are already ranking on that term). Read more about how to determine a realistic goal in our ultimate guide to keyword research or check out our keyword research training

Adapt your list of keywords according to the chances you have to start ranking or improve your rankings. You should start with keywords for which you have a good chance to outperform your competitors. 

Step 5: Match content to keywords

Evaluate your content based on the list of keywords you have made. Does your current content match the keywords? Did you write articles that were optimized for the right terms? Perhaps you’ve used the wrong wording? And, which keywords do not have a post or page yet? Which articles need to be written from scratch?

It could well be that you already have content that is optimized for the right keywords, but that is not ranking as well as it should. Make sure to check out whether or not you’re suffering from keyword cannibalization. If you have been writing about similar topics, chances are rather high that you are in fact lowering your chances to rank for a certain keyword, because your competing with your own content. In that case, you should improve your internal linking strategy (more on that in step 7) or combine articles that focus on the same keywords.

You should end up with a list of articles that need rewriting and re-optimization and a list of articles that haven’t been written yet. 

How are your pages ranking?

If you don’t already know how your pages are performing in the search results, it’s a good idea to find out. Not sure where to start? No worries! You can use the integrated Wincher tool in Yoast SEO to check how your pages are ranking for target keywords. Not only that, you can monitor how your rankings change over time too. So it’ll be easy to see whether your optimization efforts are achieving the results you’re aiming for, or if there’s still work to do. Give it a go!

Step 6: (Re)Write content!

Write the articles and rewrite the articles that need to be improved upon. One way to do this is with the useful feedback you get from our state-of-the-art content analysis in Yoast SEO Premium. This analysis helps you improve the readability and rankability of your text, helping you write fresh and natural content that your users and search engines will love.

Make sure to start with the articles that have the highest chance of improving your rankings. Develop a nice social media strategy in which you can share your articles with your audiences on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Your content SEO strategy could be a great social media strategy at the same time. 

Step 7: Improve the internal linking 

As websites get bigger, internal linking becomes more and more important. Your internal links are a guide to Google. Google follows links, so the way you internally link pages to each other, will give Google important clues which content is the most important. Especially if you have a lot of content on your site, you should make sure to take some time to improve the internal linking structure of your site. 

Internal linking can be rather hard and the internal linking tool in Yoast SEO will make it that much easier. Read all about it in our article about internal linking. I’ll give you the most important information right here: Make sure that your most important articles have the most internal links pointing towards them. 

Step 8: start all over again…

I would love to say to you that your SEO campaign will be over after step 7. Seven steps for a successful SEO campaign, that would be amazing. However, your SEO campaign is never over. It will be an ongoing process of measuring the success and making changes to your SEO campaign. Your website will change and grow, Google will change and grow and your audience will change and grow. So next year, you’ll need to start all over again. However, your chances to outrank your competition will most definitely be higher than, because of all the efforts you’ve made!

Read more: The ultimate guide to SEO copywriting »

Find out what content SEO aspects on your site need some work!

Outranking the competition is not an easy task. There are many SEO aspects you need to take into account. To make it easier for you, we created a short test. Take it, and learn how SEO fit your content is and what aspects you may need to improve.

Coming up next!

27 Responses to How to plan an SEO campaign for higher rankings

  1. Zola
    Zola  • 3 years ago

    Thanks for sharing! I noticed that as the site grows with more content, there is more need to keep up with my internal linking. I will revisit some of my older articles. What do you recommend to improve on site speed?

  2. Onyeka Chibueze Israel
    Onyeka Chibueze Israel  • 3 years ago

    Can Yoast team run an audit on my website and tell me how to improve?? I use Yoast premium

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 3 years ago

      Hi there! I’m afraid we don’t do audits, but as you’re a Premium user you do have access to all the features of our plugin and our SEO courses! This means that our plugin gives you feedback on every one of your pages when you’re in the editor, with both a readability analysis and SEO analysis. In addition, you can learn a lot from all the SEO courses in Yoast SEO academy that you have access to! This will definitely help you improve your site :) Good luck!

  3. Matteo
    Matteo  • 3 years ago

    Io ammetto che sono un principiante alle prime armi , ma qui è spiegato in modo semplice passo dopo passo con un menù molto intuitivo che ti indirizza su quello che vuoi capire . Ottimo

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 3 years ago

      Grazie, Matteo!

  4. yvetteboye
    yvetteboye  • 3 years ago

    Thanks for sharing. Have realized that I need to work more focused with a plan. Plan to include your SEO tips for making a plan for ranker higer on Google and building a better webpage. Do you or Yoast by any chance have a plan/list or know about that I can use to check off as I go along?

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 3 years ago

      Hi Yvette! Thanks for your comment :) Are you using WordPress? If so, our ultimate guide to WordPress SEO can definitely help you! It is an elaborate guide but tells you what you can work on to improve rankings and have a better site in general. Good luck!

      • Jagan Rao
        Jagan Rao  • 3 years ago

        Thanks for the great insight.
        I just want to your blog grows does the content. I see page speed is one of the most important factors ..So how does one keep the loading of pages optimum.. I mean do I have to optimize my pages with images and videos everytime I publish new content?

        • Camille Cunningham
          Camille Cunningham  • 3 years ago

          Hi there! Thanks for your question :) Page speed optimization is a discipline in its own right, which means that improving your site speed expands beyond checking your images or videos when you publish new content. It depends on your situation what you can do to improve your site speed, but this is a sitewide thing that you should work on in addition to creating new content :) You can read more about the necessary steps in our ultimate guide to WordPress SEO or check out this article on tools and suggestions to improve site speed.

  5. Umoh
    Umoh  • 3 years ago

    Great tips worth applying. Thank you for sharing

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 3 years ago

      You’re welcome, thank you for your comment!

  6. Brent L Medovich
    Brent L Medovich  • 3 years ago

    Do you have any articles that are product-specific with regards to SEO and writing style? We are able to easily achieve the “green light” for SEO but when it comes to writing style we usually get a “red light” since it’s not an article and/or blog post, although it has the minimum number of recommended words.

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 3 years ago

      Hi Brent, thanks for your question! We have lots of posts on eCommerce SEO that can be interesting for you to read! But to give you an answer to your question, I can understand that this is more difficult for your product pages. This video in which Joost answers a somewhat related question may help you with that. Let me know if you have any other questions :)

  7. DriveStreak
    DriveStreak  • 3 years ago

    I will try the above process and see how my website`s rankings improve

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 3 years ago

      That’s great to hear, good luck!

  8. Adil Raseed
    Adil Raseed  • 3 years ago

    Very helpful information.. thank you for sharing

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 3 years ago

      You’re welcome :)

  9. Manjesh Sharma
    Manjesh Sharma  • 3 years ago

    Your articles are really helpful for us, but I wanna ask that why my articles going down and down in Google Search Results. Please answer my question either via reply or via email. Thankyou.

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 3 years ago

      Hi there :) Thanks for your comment! Unfortunately, I can’t tell you exactly why your articles are ranking differently, as this could have lots of different reasons. I would suggest taking a look at our must-reads for higher rankings as this may give you more insight into what you can improve on. Good luck!

  10. Dorion Gipson
    Dorion Gipson  • 3 years ago

    Thank you

    • Joe
      Joe  • 3 years ago

      Great article

      Dont mind work but do not like working in wrong direction.

      What is a solid tool to truly see ranking for pages which one can see the payoff or setback from efforts?

      • Camille Cunningham
        Camille Cunningham  • 3 years ago

        Hi Joe! Thanks for your comment. I would suggest reading this article on Google Search Console, as the Performance tab can give you more insights into your rankings and the performance of your site (which can also help you determine the payoff or setback of certain efforts). Hope this helps :)

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 3 years ago

      You’re welcome!

  11. Devesh Tiwari
    Devesh Tiwari  • 3 years ago

    Very useful tips I have a blog and I am trying to improve my ranking but I am not able to do so।

    • Vishal
      Vishal  • 3 years ago

      I have been using Yoast Seo plugin for my website and, it really helps. Thanks for such a great article on seo.

      I was hoping for more indetail articles with proper data insights. This will really help to understand the implementation.

      • Camille Cunningham
        Camille Cunningham  • 3 years ago

        Hi there, Vishal. Thanks for your comment and for using our plugin :) If you’re looking for more detailed articles, we have lots of other blog posts that can help you with your SEO campaign! For example on keyword research or content SEO and other topics! Let me know if you’re looking for anything in particular and I’ll point you to the right post.

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 3 years ago

      Hi there! Hopefully, this article can help you with that :) but you can also have a look at our 16 must-reads for higher rankings. Good luck!