How to Build an SEO Strategy that would Make Sun Tzu Smile

Build your SEO Strategy the Right Way

suntzustrategySun Tzu the famous Chinese warlord strategist once said that tactics without strategy leads to defeat. Unfortunately, most digital marketing managers and business owners begin SEO with tactics such as keyword selection and competitor backlink studies.

A brilliant strategy wins in the long run because it has more power to defeat short range tactics. The brilliant strategist (SEO Consultant) with the best tactics will win rather easily.

I won’t say that I’ve always begun with the best Sun Tzu level strategy, but I always looked at how I could fortify my positions. When you’re a severe underdog, those are the things you do. It helped me get a stranglehold on all the keyword phrases I needed for clients. You couldn’t do a search on a certain topic without my client’s site popping up.

And I was always careful not to over-optimize. This is something amateurs do when they take SEO classes that promote all the “best practices” which end up setting off Google’s alarm bells.

Graphic courtesy of

Now that I’ve relaunched Bay Street SEO, I will use even more high level strategy to leverage and capitalize on anything that may reinforce my client’s domination. Why leave money on the table?

High level strategy really takes place at the marketing management and digital marketing strategy level. SEO integrates with content strategy, social media strategy, content marketing strategy, PPC, and outreach. Regardless of whether you’re at the enterprise level or small business level, SEO should leverage everything and it should deliver more to each of those digital marketing channels.

So let’s get to your SEO strategy. Rather than telling you what your strategy should be, I will ask you a series of questions that will lead you to build your own strategy. It’ll force you to challenge your mind and determination to create a good SEO strategy for your company.

  • What does your company do?
  • What is your unique value proposition statement?
  • Who are the customer segments you’re wanting to reach?
  • What are your digital marketing goals?
  • What is your audience’s interests and pain points?
  • How is your UVP relevant to the audiences you’re targeting?
  • What content could you produce that would mate with their needs and pains?
  • How will you lay that content out on the site?
  • What type of content will you distribute on the Internet?
  • Who will create the above content?
  • How can you achieve expert knowledge in your market or industry?
  • What do your bosses know and not know about SEO?
  • What restrictions will you face on content you need or how internal linking can be done on your website?
  • Which research tools and services will use to discover keywords, related words and synonyms?
  • Which keywords and topic themes will you engineer into your content strategy?
  • What market gaps or opportunities are present that you can take advantage of?
  • What are the core keywords, middle phrases, and long tail keywords you’re after?
  • What the PPC prices for the above keyword phrases?
  • What are the search volumes for those keyword phrases?
  • How would you describe and plot your overall content strategy?
  • What does your keyword strategy look like when drawn on a piece of paper?
  • How does your SEO strategy overlay and support the above content strategy?
  • How will use your PPC account to learn more about keyword performance and selection?
  • How will organic leads fead into your customer experience and conversion funnel?
  • Will you need additional content that will work for social media engagement?
  • How will you reach bloggers, journalists, webmasters, and industry portals?
  • Who are your top competitors and where do they get their content ideas?
  • Where do your competitors get their inbound links?
  • What value do you have to exchange to persuade other website owners to link to your website?
  • Can you create serious high quality content such as video, whitepapers, and case studies?
  • How will create credibility in the eyes of bloggers, journalists and anyone else who may link to your website?
  • How will you establish relations with key industry people?
  • How will use assess performance, rankings, referals, conversion rates, and SEO success?
  • How will you reach customers in distant cities or countries?
  • Could you list your SEO tasks/goals by degree of priority?

That’s a lot of questions, however, you need to know the answers or you’ll be overwhelmed by the demands of SEO. You must know your goals, tools, assets, and what management will give to you. When you know the details of SEO practice, you can figure out what’s working and what isn’t and why.

End Goal > Positioning > Assets > Arrangement > Execution > Results Assessment

The Power of SEO Strategy

Graphic courtesy of

Success isn’t just in doing good keyword research and writing good content. There’s lots of great content way down the search results pages where no one sees it. The power comes from knowing how you can leverage other areas of your digital marketing mix, and feed them value. It’s give and take that makes a powerful overall digital marketing strategy, one that your competitors will fear. Know how other marketing activties can create value for SEO.

When your digital marketing mix works as a whole with SEO in the lead, you’re going to get noticed online. Don’t divulge how you did it or who helped you.  Make friends with your industry connections and other supporters so they’ll be loyal to you.

Sorry, I don’t know of any visual, organizational template that will set all of the above out neatly to see. It’s too complex and if your bosses are aware of the complexity and you have a plan to to handle it, they may empower you to get all this done.

Good luck with your strategy. And if you hear any really good Sun Tzu quotes, be sure to share them!

Gord Collins is an 18 year veteran SEO strategist who has done battle in the fields of hotels and travel, digital marketing, insurance, real estate, and other ultracompetitive industries. With strategy, anyone can win.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *