How to Launch an SEO Campaign [Template Included]
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How to Launch an SEO Campaign [Template Included]

Brian Dean

by Brian Dean · Updated Feb. 15, 2019

How to Launch an SEO Campaign [Template Included]

I’m going to show you exactly how to start an SEO campaign.


The best part?

You’re going to see LOTS of real life examples of these steps in action.

Let’s dive right in…

About The Author

I’m Brian Dean.

Over the last few years I’ve launched dozens successful SEO campaigns… like this one that boosted my Google traffic by 20.43%:

SEO Campaign – Traffic increase

In fact, the strategies from this guide have helped me rank #1 in Google for popular keywords, like “YouTube SEO”:

"YouTube SEO" SERPs

And now it’s time to show you exactly how I did it, step-by-step.

Step #1: Find Keywords

Keyword research is the first step of any successful SEO campaign.

Specifically, you want to create a list of 10 target keywords.

And I’ll show you exactly how to do that right now.

1. Find Keyword Ideas With the Google Keyword Planner

The Google Keyword Planner is a free keyword research tool from Google.

Google Keyword Planner

The great thing about the Google Keyword Planner is this:

All of the data comes straight from Google.

To use it, just enter a word or phrase into the “Find new keywords” field:

Google Keyword Planner – Enter phrase

And you’ll get a list of keyword ideas:

Google Keyword Planner – Results

I’ll show you how to choose the best keywords from this list later on.

But for now, just jot down the 5-10 keywords that are most closely related to your business…

Keywords in Google Sheet

…and move onto our next strategy.

2. Try Keyworddit

If you want a way to find outside the box keyword ideas, fire up Keyworddit.


Unlike most keyword research tools, Keyworddit pulls keyword ideas directly from Reddit.

Keyworddit – Results

To be clear: this tool doesn’t work for every industry.

(For example, if you target an older crowd, your audience might not hang out on Reddit all that much)

But in most cases, you can use it to find a handful of untapped keywords that aren’t super competitive.

3. Find Long Tail Keywords With KWFinder

KWFinder is designed to give you LOTS of different keyword ideas.


Which means it’s great for uncovering low-competition, long tail keywords.

KWFinder – Results

4. Steal Your Competitors’ Keywords

Here’s where you steal the exact keywords that your competitors’ already rank for.

To do this, you’ll need to use a tool, like SEMRush or Ahrefs.

SEMrush / Ahrefs

No matter what tool you end up using, the process is exactly the same:

First, find a competitor that’s doing really well with their SEO.

Then, pop that competitor into the tool:

SEMrush – Backlinko

And you’ll get a complete list of keywords that the site ranks for:

SEMrush – Backlinko keywords


5. Choose Your 10 Keywords

Now that you have a list of keywords, it’s time to choose the best 10 from your list.

But how to you choose the “best” keywords?

It’s simple. Pick keywords that have the best combination of these 3 key factors:

1. Low Competition: This is especially important if you’re just starting out. But even if your site is already established, you still want to go after keywords that aren’t super competitive.

So: how do you know if a keyword is competitive or not?

Your first option is to look at the search results:


If you notice that they’re packed with insanely authoritative sites, you probably want to go with another keyword.

And if you want a more accurate system, you can use a keyword research tool. Most tools have a feature that show you how competitive a keyword is:

KWFinder – SEO

2. High Search Volume: Now it’s time to see how many people search for the keywords on your list.

Obviously, the higher the search volume, the better.

That said:

Popular keywords also tend to be more competitive.

For example, 368,000 people search for “paleo diet” every month.

KWFinder – Paleo diet

But according to KWFinder, it’s also VERY competitive.

KWFinder – Paleo diet – Keyword difficulty

So you’d want to go with keyword that’s less popular… which means it’ll also be less competitive:

KWFinder – Paleo diet food list – Keyword difficulty

3. Customer Fit: Now it’s time to answer the question:

If you rank for this keyword, will you actually make money?

In other words:

You want to find keywords that your customers actually search for.

That said, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they need to be ready to buy something right that second.

For example, take my site:

Backlinko is an SEO training company.

In my case, people that search for “best SEO courses” would have an awesome conversion rate for my site.

Unfortunately, VERY few people search for super specific keywords like that:

KWFinder – Best SEO courses

That’s why I target keywords that my customers search for when they’re NOT looking for courses.

(Also known as: “informational” keywords)

In my case, I target terms like “Google ranking factors”, “link building strategies” and more.

Google Ranking Factors and Link Building

That said:

You still want to make sure people searching for information keywords will become buyers at some point.

To do that, just check out the “Top of page bid” in the Google Keyword Planner:

Google Keyword Planner – Top of page bid

This represents the PPC cost for a single click in Google Adwords.

And if people are paying money to advertise for a keyword, you better believe there’s money to be made.

Step #2: Publish Awesome Content

Now that you have a list of 10 keywords, it’s time to publish content optimized around those terms.

The question is:

How do you create content that’s primed to rank?

Keep reading…

1. Write Long, Comprehensive Content

Back in the day publishing short, 500-word blog posts worked really well.

Not anymore.

In fact, one industry study found that longer content clearly ranks best in Google.

02_Content Total Word Count_line

As you can see in that chart, there’s a clear correlation between word count and search engine rankings.

To be clear:

I’m not saying that you should write 3,000 words of fluff.

Instead, your goal is to cover an entire topic on one page.

(And it usually requires a lot of words to do that)

For example…

Earlier this year I decided to write a post about Mobile SEO.

Mobile SEO Guide

Instead of a post like “5 tips for optimizing your site for mobile devices”, I wrote a complete guide:

Mobile SEO Guide – Contents

And because my content covers EVERYTHING there is to know about mobile search engine optimization, it ranks in the top 3 of Google for my target keyword:

Mobile SEO – SERPs

2. Create Visual Content

There’s no doubt about it:

Visual content is CRUSHING it right now.

(Especially when it comes to getting social media shares and backlinks)

For example, Mike Bonadio runs a digital marketing agency in NYC.

Mike Bonadio

Last year one of his clients asked him to improve their SEO.

The problem was:

His client was in one of the most boring industries imaginable: pest control.

Which meant traditional content formats (like blog posts) were out.

Instead, Mike decided to create a piece of visual content: DIY Pest Control for the Savvy Gardener.

infographic animated gif

How did this content do?

The infographic he created for his client generated over 4,000 social shares:

Pest control infographic shares

An influx of backlinks from 28 different domains.

Pest control – Ahrefs

As you might expect, these links and shares boosted his client’s search engine traffic:

infographic traffic

3. Publish “Authoritative” Content

BuzzSumo recently analyzed 100 milion articles.

And they discovered two interesting things:

First, most content gets “zero” links or social shares.

Second, “authoritative” content is GREAT for getting links.


What is “authoritative” content?

It’s content that:

  • Is written by a legit expert
  • Isn’t regurgitated info
  • Brings something completely new to the table

Let me illustrate this with an example…

Last year I realized that voice search was growing fast.

But when I read articles about voice search, they all repeated the same info.

So I decided to create a piece of authoritative content on voice search SEO.

Voice Search SEO Study

And because that content contained so much original stuff (and was written by an authority in the field), it’s generated 500+ backlinks:

Voice Search SEO Study – Backlinks

And traffic:

Voice Search SEO Study – Sessions

Step #3: On-Site Optimization

Now that you’ve created a piece of high quality content, it’s time to the next phase of your SEO campaign: optimizing content.

As you probably know, SEO has changed A LOT over the last few years.

And in this step I’ll show you exactly how to optimize your site the right way.

1. Short, Keyword-Rich URLs

When it comes to on-page SEO, most people underestimate their URLs.

But as it turns out, your URLs are REALLY important.

URL Length_line

Specifically, you want your URLS to be short and keyword-rich.

For example, take this post from my site about SEO copywriting.

SEO Copywriting post

As you can see, the URL is only two words… and contains my main keyword.

SEO Copywriting – URL

2. “Frontload” Your Target Keyword

Whenever possible, put your keyword in the beginning of your title tag.

(Why? Search engines put more weight on terms that show up early on in your meta title)

Going back to my SEO copywriting post, you can see that I include that keyword early on in my title tag:

SEO Copywriting – Post title tag – Keyword appears early

(In fact, my title tag starts off with that term).

3. Use Keyword in First 150 Words

Next, use your target keyword in the first 150 words of your content.


When Google sees a keyword early in your page’s HTML, it lets them know that term is important.

For example, you can see that I use my target keyword within the first 20 words of this post:

SEO Techniques post – Keyword highlight

4. Internal Link

Now it’s time to use internal linking.

Specifically, you want to:

  1. Link FROM your new post TO other pages on your site
  2. Link FROM other pages TO your new content

These internal links help Google find and index all of your pages. They also send link authority around your site, which helps all of your pages rank better.

Internal links rankings boost

For example, let’s look at this post from my site.

Increase Website Traffic

As you can see, I included internal links that point to other pages on my site:

Increase Website Traffic – Internal linking

And I also link from other pages to that post:

Hub – YouTube traffic link

5. Sprinkle In Synonyms

Finally, include synonyms of your main keyword.

This helps give Google a deeper understanding of your content.

For example, let’s look at my post: 21 Actionable SEO Techniques That Work Great.

SEO Techniques post

My target keyword for this page is “SEO Techniques”.

So I made sure to optimize my content using the 4 tips I already showed you.

But I ALSO sprinkled in synonyms of “SEO Techniques”, like “search engine optimization strategies”…

SEO Techniques – Simile, Search engine optimization strategies

…and “SEO tips”:

SEO Techniques – Simile, SEO tips

No SEO campaign would be complete without link building.

That’s because links are still a VERY important part of Google’s algorithm.

08_Domain Link Authority (AHREFs Domain Rating)_line

And in this step I’ll show you how to build quality backlinks.

1. Email Outreach

If you’re serious about link building, you need to use email outreach.

Because the truth is this:

If you cross your fingers and HOPE that people link to you, you’re in for a world of pain.

(This is a lesson I had to learn the hard way)

But when you promote your content to people that have the power to share it, you can get legit links from authority sites.

For example…

Remember Mike Bonadio, the guy with the pest control client that I talked about earlier?

Well, Mike didn’t just publish his infographic and hope for the best.

Instead, he actively promoted it with email outreach:

Mike Bonadio – Email outreach and promotion

Because Mike wasn’t pushy or spammy, his campaign landed him backlinks from Lifehacker…

Mike – Lifehacker link

…and a popular newspaper website in Maine called The Bangor Daily News:

Mike – Bangor Daily News link

Pretty cool.

2. Guest Posting

I’ll be honest with you:

Guest posting doesn’t work as well as it used to.

That said, it’s still a solid link building strategy.

(When done right)

Specifically, to get the most out of guest blogging, follow these 2 simple rules:

Rule #1: Don’t use exact match anchor text.

Google doesn’t want your guest post links to use exact match anchor text, like this:

Exact match guest post

Instead, use branded anchor text, like this:

Branded anchor text

Rule #2: Post on related sites.

If your site is about coffee, don’t guest post on a site about digital marketing.

(Even if you can find a way to “make it work”)

Why? Guest posting on unrelated sites can get your site penalized.

For example, my site is about SEO.

So I make sure to only guest post on sites that are about SEO or closely-related topics like: social media, blogging, and content marketing.

Guest posts

3. Copy Your Competitor’s Links (Reverse Engineering)

Reverse engineering is a tried-and-true link building strategy.

All you need to do is use a tool like Ahrefs, Majestic or Moz Link Explorer to find a competitor’s inbound links.

Competitors inbound links

For example, my site has a link from this page.

Link from site

And let’s say that you’re one of my competitors.

Do you have an SEO stat on your site worthy of this list? Could you find one?

If so, you’d have a good chance of getting a link from that page too.

Step #5: Track Results

Your last step is to see how your SEO campaign performed.

To do that, we’re going to use two excellent (free) SEO tools: Google Analytics and the Google Search Console.

Let’s dive right in.

1. Track Organic Traffic With Google Analytics

A lot of people ask me:

“Brian, how do you know if SEO is working or not?”

My answer? Check your organic traffic in Google Analytics.

Google Analytics – Organic traffic

If it went up, then you’re on the right track.

If it went down? Then you probably want to change your approach.

(Note: SEO results don’t happen overnight. Depending on the niche, it can take weeks or months to see changes kick in. That said, if you followed the steps above, you should see SOME positive movement within 4-6 weeks)

And if you want to dig deeper…

2. Track Keyword Rankings With The Google Search Console

Google Analytics gives you high-level overview of how your search engine traffic changes over time.

But if you want to dig deeper, check out the Google Search Console.

Just like with Google Analytics, the Google Search Console tells you how many people came to your site from Google:

People who came to your site from Google

But it also tells you the exact keywords people used to find your site…

Google Search Console – Exact keywords

….and the pages that bring in the most organic traffic:

Google Search Console – Pages with most organic traffic

Bonus Step #1: Prune “Zombie Pages”

“Zombie Pages” are pages on your site that don’t add any value.

In other words, they’re pages that don’t bring in any traffic… or sales.

And when you delete Zombie Pages, you can find yourself with LOTS more search engine traffic.

(Why? Google updates like Panda mean that Google penalizes sites that have lots of low-quality pages)

For example, Sean Falconer is a Backlinko reader that wanted to improve his site’s SEO.

And the first thing he did was delete over 10k web pages from his site.

Deleting those 10k pages is one of the main reasons that he improved his site’s organic traffic by nearly 90%:

organic traffic increase in google analytics part 2

Sean isn’t alone…

Blogger James Pearson recently axed hundreds of blog posts from his site… and his organic traffic increased by 30%:

James Pearson – Huffington Post

Bonus Step #2: Optimize for RankBrain

It’s no secret that Google is getting REALLY smart.

(Just think about the last time you had to click over to the 2nd page of Google)

As it turns out, an AI algorithm called RankBrain is one of the secrets behind Google’s new-and-improved search algorithm.

RankBrain article

The question is:

How do you optimize your content for Google’s RankBrain algorithm?

Optimize for “User Intent”.

I’ll explain…

Google uses RankBrain to determine whether or not someone’s happy with the search results.

If a searcher likes a specific page in the SERPs, Google gives that page a boost:

Pogo stick effect 4

If not, they drop it down a few spots:

Pogo stick effect 3

That’s why it’s SUPER important that your page satisfies “User Intent”.

In other words:

Does your content give the searcher what they’re searching for?

For example, a while back I wanted to rank for the keyword “SEO tools”.

But before I wrote a single word of content, I asked myself: “What does someone searching for ‘SEO tools’ actually want”?.

And I realized the answer was: a thorough list of the best SEO tools on the market.

So I created a post optimized for that user intent: SEO Tools: The Complete List.

SEO Tools post – Backlinko

Because the page is optimized for User Intent, it ranks in the top 3 for my target keyword:

"seo tools" SERPs

Now It’s Your Turn

I hope this post helped show you how to create an SEO campaign from scratch.

(And gave you a template that you can use for future campaigns)

Now I’d like to hear from you.

Which SEO strategy from this guide are you going to use first?

Are you going to start internal linking?

Or are you ready to start writing long, comprehensive content?

Let me know by leaving a quick comment below.


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