SEO is a strategy, it's a way to control website performance, it is not a business goal. No one gets into, or forms a new company, or sits down with their division and says, we need to rank for all of these keywords. Instead you should be talking about your business goals. For example, an online e-commerce shop sells customized soccer jerseys, they want to grow their online soccer jersey sales, that is a business goal. Building a larger audience to sell those jerseys, is part of a marketing goal. To do that marketers need to build brand awareness, and much more.
As a business, you might want to grow top of the funnel traffic, you want more people coming to your site overall, so that you can figure out who's the right audience for you and convert some of those people. Retarget some of those people capture emails, etc. All the things you should do to attract those possible customers.
SEO as a strategy is a set of tactics. Things that you will do in order to rank for different keywords in the SERPs or influence and control what already ranks in there so that you can achieve your marketing goals. So you can achieve your business goals. Before you start working on your SEO strategy, make sure you understand what the business goals are. It is important to use your SEO strategy to achieve business goals. If your business goals are sales and as part of your SEO strategy you are bringing in traffic but no sales, your strategy is failing. So create a strategy that will work towards achieving business goals.
SEO can do some amazing things but there are also things that it cannot do. Hence, when you compose a SEO strategy, build a set of tactics that tries to accomplish marketing goals that tie to business goals.
SEO can do things like attract searchers that are seeking your content, it can control how your brand is seen in search results when someone searches for your particular name, it can nudge searchers toward queries by influencing what gets suggested in the auto suggest or by suggesting related searches or people also ask boxes. Anything that shows up in the search results can be influenced by SEO. However, SEO cannot grow or create search demand by itself.
SEO also can't build brands, at least not by itself it can certainly be a helpful part of that structure. SEO can bring in the traffic, but brand building takes much more than that. User experience, your products, services and many other factors contribute to building a brand image.
It also can't directly convert customers a lot of the time traffic is high and conversions are low. Like we mentioned before SEO can bring t=in the ranking and traffic, but like brand building a lot of factors affect conversions as well.
And lastly, SEO does not work overnight. Unlike paid ads SEO takes time to show results, primarily because it is organic. PPC or pay-per-click also called SEM or Search Engine Marketing, which is buying from Google ads or from Bing ads and appearing in the sponsored results are tactics where you pour money in and optimize and get results out in 24 hours. SEO is more like a 24 month long process, especially when you have a new website.
The fundamental concept, when you have a new website is, you need to earn links, engagement, historical performance in the rankings, etc. As you earn those things, other people are linking to you, people are engaging with your pages and your brand. People start searching for your brand specifically, you start generating more traffic and users have a great experience on your website. All these things and much more help you rank, in 3 to 6 months or more. You may start ranking for a few long tail keywords. And if you have a good SEO strategy in place you will rank for more and more keywords over time.
It is important to set the right expectations from SEO before you even begin to create your SEO strategy. Make sure you build a strategy that focuses on achieving business goals. Let stakeholders understand what to expect from your SEO strategy. And set right expectations in terms of timelines for expected results.