How to Run a Successful SEO Campaign in 2024

How to Run a Successful SEO Campaign in 2024

What Is an SEO Campaign?

An SEO campaign is a carefully organized plan to improve a website’s visibility in search engines like Google.

It relies on a blend of technical and creative activities designed to improve rankings and drive organic (unpaid) traffic. 

Common tasks SEO campaigns can cover include:

  • Finding the right keywords to target
  • Crafting and optimizing helpful content
  • Building high-quality backlinks (links on other websites that point to you site)
  • Auditing your site for technical SEO issues

Unlike a paid advertising campaign, an SEO campaign doesn’t involve spending money aside from what you need for the tools and work that goes into it. 

Plus, well-executed SEO campaigns drive results long after you stop actively working on them.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to create and execute an effective SEO campaign. Step by step.

Step 1: Find the Right Keywords

Find suitable, relevant keywords before you start creating content. To prevent you from wasting valuable time and resources targeting the wrong search terms.

Here’s how:

Do Keyword Research

Keyword research is an essential first step because you need to understand what your target audience is searching for. So you can create the content they’re interested in.

Start by writing down all the broad words and phrases related to your topic or business. These are your seed keywords.

For example, if you have a website about journaling, some of your seed keywords could be “journaling,” “bullet journal,” and “daily journal.”

Then, use Semrush’s Keyword Magic Tool to find popular related search terms you can target. 

Just enter your seed keyword in the tool, choose your target location, and click “Search.”

Keyword Magic Tool with “bullet journal” entered.

You’ll see a list of keywords with various metrics for each one, including volume and keyword difficulty (KD %)—a measure of how challenging it will be to rank highly for the term. 

Keyword Magic Tool results for “bullet journal.

You ideally want to target keywords with high search volumes and low difficulty scores. 

More specific search queries (known as long-tail keywords) tend to have lower keyword difficulty scores. 

This often makes them easier to rank for, and they can drive highly-targeted traffic. Which is especially useful for small and newer sites with lower domain authority.

You can quickly find them by using the “KD %” drop-down and selecting one of the options. 

Or you can enter a custom range like 0-49 to show keywords that are “Possible” or easier. Then click “Apply.” 

Keyword Magic Tool results page showing a keyword difficulty filter applied with a custom range of 0-49.

Then, you’ll see a list of keyword ideas with lower keyword difficulty scores. 

Keyword Magic Tool results with a custom keyword difficulty filter range of 0-49 applied.

In the example above, terms like “mood tracker bullet journal” and “bullet journal habit tracker” have relatively low keyword difficulty scores but fairly high search volumes. 

They could be ideal keywords to target for a blog about bullet journaling. Or even an ecommerce store that sells relevant products.

Research Competitor Keywords

Your competitors’ keywords are another great place to start building your own keyword strategy. Because they’ve already done some of the work for you.

To analyze your competitors’ top keywords, use the Organic Research tool.

Enter a competitor’s domain, choose a target location, and click “Search.”

Organic Research tool with “” entered.

You’ll see an overview of metrics like the number of keywords they rank for and how much organic traffic they receive each month. 

For more granular keyword data, head to the “Positions” tab. 

You’ll see the keywords they’re ranking for. And their ranking position and estimated traffic for each keyword.

Organic Research Positions tab for showing metrics like intent, position, and traffic.

You may see a lot of branded keyword results. These are likely ones you don’t want to target, so you’ll want to remove them from the list. 

Do this using the “Advanced filters” option, where you can exclude relevant keywords. Like those that include variations of the brand name. Then click “Apply.”

Organic Research Positions tab showing the option to apply advanced filters to exclude keywords containing the brand name.

You’ll then see a list of non-branded keywords with the same metrics as before. 

You can dig deeper by clicking on the icon next to each URL to open the page that ranks for that keyword. 

Organic Research Positions tab showing the option to visit the URL that ranks for each of the listed keywords.

You can then analyze how they’re using the keyword. 

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For example, is it a blog post, video, landing page, or something different?

Do this for each of your competitors, and you’ll have a strong list of keywords to target for your SEO campaign. And an understanding of the kinds of content you need to create to rank for those keywords.

Find Keyword Gaps

Finally, run a keyword gap analysis to find keywords your competitors rank for but you don’t. To identify opportunities you might be missing out on and come up with new ideas.

And it’s easy to do with the Keyword Gap tool. 

Just enter your domain and up to four competitors’ domains. And click “Compare.”

Keyword Gap tool showing “” and various competitors entered in the domain bars.

Then, scroll down to “All keyword details for:” and select the “Missing” filter. 

This will show you the keywords all of your entered competitors rank for but you don’t. 

Keyword Gap tool showing keywords for which all competitors rank for but the target domain doesn’t.

You can now use these keywords to fill the gaps with helpful content to improve your visibility in search engine results.

Step 2: Plan Content Around Topic Clusters

Topic clusters are groups of related pages that are interlinked on a website. And they can help you more effectively boost your rankings. 

One of the best ways to do this is to use clusters that each contain a pillar page that provides a comprehensive overview of a broad topic and cluster pages that cover more specific topics. 

And then add internal links between these pages. Which helps users to navigate your content and Google to understand how your pages are related.

Topic clusters are made up of pillar pages focused on the main topic and cluster topic pages focused on related keywords, with hyperlinks between them.

The more quality content you publish around topics, the more keywords you can rank for.

Over time, this helps you rank for more keywords and build more topical authority. Which demonstrates expertise and credibility. 

Google wants to rank pages that demonstrate Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-E-A-T)—a framework Google’s Quality Raters use to evaluate search results. So, demonstrating E-E-A-T is important even if it isn’t a direct ranking factor.

Find topics using the Topic Research tool. 

Just enter a broad seed term and click “Get content ideas.” 

Topic Research tool with “bullet journaling” in the search bar.

The tool will provide a list of related subtopics. Along with the monthly search volume for each one. 

Click “Show more” under a subtopic to get more information.

Topic Research results for “bullet journaling.”

You’ll see the volume, difficulty, and topic efficiency metrics at the top (high topic efficiency means high search volume and low difficulty). Along with top headlines, questions, and related searches to guide your own content efforts.

Topic Research results showing more information about “washi tape” subtopic ideas, including top headlines and questions people ask about that subtopic.

This can be an excellent source of ideas for your pillar page and topic cluster pages. And it can provide ideas for headers to use within your content (which we’ll discuss more in a few steps).

Step 3: Create Quality Content

Quality content is relevant, engaging, and useful for your audience. This can lead to improved rankings in search results, more traffic to your site, and more conversions. 

Here’s how to create great content that aligns with these goals:

Create the Right Kind of Content

There are numerous formats to choose from. And the kind you create will depend on your own objectives and where your target audience spends time online. 

For example, you could create blog posts, YouTube videos, or social media posts. 

For complex or expansive topics like SEO best practices, you’re probably going to need to write a few thousand words to cover everything. Or record an in-depth video (see our guide to YouTube SEO for more on that).

But a simple guide on how to set up an email marketing segment within a particular tool might only need around 1,000 words to cover everything. 

And sometimes, you shouldn’t create long-form content at all. 

For example, an infographic might be a better way to help readers understand a complex topic. And the best place to share it might be social media.

Create Helpful Content

After you’ve chosen topics you have expertise and experience in and determined the content format, focus on creating content that’s genuinely useful to your target audience.

This aligns with Google’s helpful content systems. Which inform how Google ranks websites in search results. 

According to Google, helpful content should do the following (and more):

  • Provide original information and/or research
  • Offer an insightful analysis and a complete discussion of the topic
  • Provide value beyond what’s already out there

Your content should also be “people-first” (not solely created for search engines) and provide a great page experience. Meaning it should load quickly and be easy to navigate. 

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Here are some more tips to create high-quality content that offers a great experience for users:

  • Use short sentences and paragraphs: This enhances readability and can make your content more engaging
  • Integrate keywords naturally: This helps search engines understand what your content is about and increases the odds that you’ll rank for the right terms
  • Showcase your expertise: Make it clear why your readers, viewers, or listeners should trust what you have to say

Step 4: Perform On-Page Optimization

On-page SEO is the practice of optimizing individual webpages to rank higher and drive organic traffic.

Here are some ways to perform on-page optimization:

Create User-Friendly URLs

User-friendly URLs are easy to read and remember. And they can help users and search engines understand what your page is about.

It’s best to keep your URLs short and descriptive. And include your target keyword. 

For example, the URL for our blog post about local SEO directly tells you what you’ll find on that page:

Web browser showing a Semrush blog with a focus on the URL in the address bar.

Write Compelling Titles and Meta Descriptions

A title tag is an HTML element that provides a page title for search engines and browsers to use. While Google might choose its own title to display for your page in search results, it’s still best to optimize the one you create.

Here’s what title tags can look like on a Google search results page:

Google search results for "what is digital marketing" with annotations highlighting the title tags of two articles.

Aim to write compelling title tags that capture attention and encourage searchers to click through to your site. Keep it 50-60 characters and include your target keyword.

Your meta description provides a short summary of your page. And can appear below the page title in search results. 

Like this:

Google search results for "what is customer retention" with drawn arrows pointing to the meta descriptions.

As with title tags, Google can choose its own description to display in search results. But it’s still worth optimizing because your meta description can impact your click-through rate.

We recommend keeping meta descriptions to around 105 characters. Going longer than this will often result in your meta description being truncated.

You should also make sure they’re descriptive, unique, and relevant to the page. And include a call to action to convince searchers to click through to your page. 

Optimize Heading Structures

Logical headings and subheadings organize your content and provide a clear structure. Which means they can improve the user experience (UX) by making your content easy to skim and understand.

Use an H1 tag for the page title, H2 tags for headings under that, and H3 tags for subheadings within subsections.

We recommend using one H1 tag per page—for the main title only. And make sure it includes your target keyword. 

Use subsequent headings (H2, H3, etc.) to break your content down into logical, digestible sections. 

You can use these to lay out discussions of relevant subtopics. Or to answer related questions.

Use Keywords Naturally in Your Content

Incorporate your target keywords or phrases into your content in a way that reads smoothly and logically. To provide the best experience.

And avoid keyword stuffing (overusing keywords). 

This can make your content difficult to read and may harm your site’s rankings in search results. Because it’s against Google’s spam policies.

You also need to match the search intent (the reason behind a user’s search). 

There are generally four types of search intent: navigational, informational, commercial, or transactional.

The four types of search intent are informational, navigational, commercial, and transactional.

Understanding why someone might be searching for a particular keyword can help you use it in a way that answers their questions. Making your content more engaging and more likely to convert.

Leverage Internal Linking

Internal links connect different pages on your website. Which can help search engines understand your site’s structure and make it easier for users to navigate your site. 

Some of this will be taken care of by adding links to your pillar and cluster pages.

Identify additional opportunities for internal links by mapping related content that adds value to the reader’s experience.

And use descriptive anchor text (the visible, clickable text) for internal links to clearly indicate the target page’s topic. Rather than linking over vague wording like “click here.”

Building backlinks (also called link building) is the process of getting other sites to link to yours. Which can improve rankings because backlinks are one of Google’s ranking factors.

That means the more high-quality backlinks a page has, the higher it may be able to rank in search results. 

Here are two effective ways to get more backlinks to your website:

Conduct a backlink gap analysis to identify websites that link to your competitors but not you. 


If a site is already linking to your competitors, they may be happy to link to you as well. Especially if your content is better. 

To start, open the Backlink Gap tool. 

Add your domain and up to four competitor domains. Then, click “Find prospects.”

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Backlink Gap with entered as the domain along with 4 competitors.

The tool will show a list of the domains that link to your competitors but not you. 

Clicking one of the numbers below a competitor will show all the pages from the corresponding domain that link to them. Along with the pages the referring domain linked to.

Backlink Gap report of sites linking only to competitors, and focus on a number below a competitor to view the linking pages.

Now you have a list of target websites you can reach out to for backlinks. 

Create Linkable Assets

Linkable assets are pages that naturally attract backlinks because of their value and relevance. This is sometimes called link bait.

Linkable assets include resources like in-depth guides, infographics, and original research.

Use Backlink Analytics to discover what kind of content gets links.

Simply enter a competitor’s domain and click “Analyze.”

Backlink Analytics tool with “” entered in the domain bar.

You’ll see lots of details about that competitor’s backlink profile. But we want to head to the “Indexed Pages” tab. 

Backlink Analytics Overview tab for

Here, you’ll see a list of pages on your competitor’s site that have backlinks. Ordered by the number of referring domains (the number of unique websites that link to that page). 

Click the icon next to a page’s URL to see the piece of content getting those backlinks.

Backlink Analytics Indexed Pages tab for

This gives you an idea of the kind of content that gets links to that competitor’s website. Which you can use as inspiration to create similar but better versions of to build backlinks to your own site.

Step 6: Find and Address Technical Issues

Technical SEO is all about making technical changes to your site that make it easier for search engines to discover, understand, and store your content. And improve the user experience.

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to technical SEO, so do a comprehensive website audit to spot issues that can hold your site back in search rankings. Or provide a poor user experience that decreases your conversion rate.

Use Site Audit to quickly (and regularly) scan your site for 140+ on-page and technical SEO issues. 

Enter your website URL and click “Start Audit.”

Site Audit tool with “” entered in the domain bar and a "Start Audit" button with an arrow pointing towards it.

Then, configure your audit settings. And click “Start Site Audit” once you’re ready. 

Site Audit Settings with options to configure basic settings and an arrow pointing to a green "Start Site Audit" button.

Once the tool scans your site, you’ll see the “Overview” dashboard. It shows you a high-level view of your site’s overall health.

Go to the “Issues” tab to see the errors, warnings, and notices affecting your site. 

Site Audit Overview report for with a purple arrow pointing to the Issues tab.

Click “Why and how to fix it” next to any issue to learn more about it and how to address it. 

Site Audit Issues tab with one “Why and how to fix it” links clicked and expanded.

Work through any errors first. Because they’re the most severe.

Then, move on to warnings and notices.

Step 7: Monitor Your Results & Adapt Your Strategy

You need to consistently track and analyze your SEO campaign results. So you can make improvements to foster long-term growth.

How long SEO takes to drive results depends on a number of factors. But tracking some key metrics can help you adjust your strategy to drive better results sooner. 

Here are a few metrics to consider:

Keyword Rankings

Monitoring your keyword rankings will show you whether your SEO efforts are paying off. And—if you notice a drop in rankings—where you need to adapt your strategy or specific pages on your site.

Monitor your keyword rankings with Position Tracking.

You’ll see your domain’s trend in SEO visibility (which shows your progress in Google’s top 100 for your chosen keywords), estimated organic traffic, and average ranking position. Along with an overview of your rankings and ranking trend. 

Position Tracking Landscape analytics for an example domain.

Gaining backlinks can improve your SEO results. But make sure to grow your backlink profile in a natural way. 

That means accumulating high-quality, relevant backlinks over time. While also maintaining the backlinks you already have.

Check your backlink profile with the Backlink Audit tool. 

Then, go to the “Lost & Found” tab to see your site’s new, broken, and lost backlinks.

Backlink Audit Lost & Found report for an example website, showing new, broken, and lost backlinks.

Getting new backlinks indicates you’re making progress.

If you come across broken and lost backlinks, you’ll want to take steps to reclaim those. 


Monitoring engagement metrics like average engagement time, bounce rate, and click-through rate reveals how well your content is resonating with audiences. And whether you need to make adjustments.

To do this, use a tool like Google Analytics. It can provide a wealth of data about your users and how they interact with your website’s content.

Further reading: SEO Results: How to Track & Measure SEO Performance

Craft an SEO Campaign That Gets Results

Creating a successful SEO campaign requires strong keyword research, high-quality content, and optimizing your website.

There’s a lot to cover. But tools can make things much easier by streamlining:

  • Keyword research
  • Competitor analysis
  • Building backlinks
  • Tracking keyword rankings
  • Running site audits

And lots more. 

Try these tools out for yourself with a free Semrush trial.