SEO Roadmap: How to Create One + Free Template

Asif Ali

May 21, 202412 min read
Contributors: Michelle Lowery and Boris Mustapic
SEO Roadmap


What Is an SEO Roadmap?

An SEO roadmap is a document that formalizes a step-by-step plan to improve your website's search engine performance. Complete with tasks, timelines, and assignees. 

It's tailored to your unique SEO goals. And working toward them should ultimately help you achieve your overall business objectives.

You can create an SEO roadmap using a Google Sheet or any other project management tool. Here's an example of what it might look like:

9-month SEO roadmap presented in a Google Sheet

Download our free SEO roadmap template to follow along with the rest of this guide. 

Why You Need an SEO Roadmap

Here are a few ways an SEO roadmap helps you:

Simplify Complex Tasks

An SEO roadmap divides the SEO process into smaller, more manageable tasks. 

For instance, instead of broadly aiming to "improve SEO," the roadmap might start with specific keyword research. And then move to optimizing individual pages.

Prioritize High-Impact Efforts

Using a roadmap helps you focus on actions that yield the greatest benefits. So you don’t waste time on things that won’t make an impact.

For example, if most of your organic traffic comes from a few top-performing pages, your roadmap might prioritize optimizing that content before creating new pages. 

Adapt to Search Engine Updates

Your roadmap is a living document. So you can adjust it in response to search engine algorithm changes. To ensure your SEO efforts remain effective over time. 

For instance, if Google starts prioritizing user experience (UX) metrics more in the future, your roadmap might change to prioritize enhancing navigation with easy-to-use menus over everything else.

Horizontal and drop-down navigation menus on Tiffany & Co.'s website

How to Create and Use an SEO Roadmap

Creating and implementing an SEO roadmap involves a lot of preliminary planning and collaboration.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Define Your SEO Goals

Having clear SEO goals helps you focus on the most impactful tactics (which we’ll cover more in step eight). And provides you with a clear way to measure success later on.

Start by identifying what you want to achieve with your SEO efforts. Whether it's increasing brand awareness, generating leads, or something else.

Then, set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound (SMART) goals to ensure your goals are clear and actionable.

SMART goal setting objectives

Let’s say your business wants to increase online sales by 10% over the next year. 

So, you support that by setting an SEO goal to increase organic traffic by 25% within the next nine months. Which you think is achievable based on your budget and resource constraints. 

Your main key performance indicator (KPI) is organic traffic. But you might want to set a few more SEO KPIs, such as keyword rankings and click-through rate (CTR).

Then, establish clear timelines to ensure your team stays on track and consistently progresses toward your goals.

When defining the timelines for your tasks, keep these tips in mind:

  • Consider team members' workloads and other commitments to be realistic with your time estimates
  • Add some flexibility to your timelines to accommodate unexpected challenges or delays
  • Regularly review and adjust your timelines as needed based on progress, changes in priorities, or new information

2. Analyze Your SEO KPIs

Analyzing your current performance with the KPIs you established can help you understand how much you’ll need to improve to reach your goal. 

Let’s say your KPIs are keyword rankings and organic traffic. 

You’ll want to get baseline measurements for each of these metrics. And perhaps some supporting information.

Use Google Analytics to track organic traffic. 

Log in to your GA account and go to the "Reports" tab.

Google Analytics Home page with Reports option highlighted in slide out menu.

Then, click “Acquisition” > “Traffic acquisition.” 

You'll see all traffic for the select period broken down by channel. Make sure to note the “Organic Search” row—because this is how much organic traffic your site gets.

Google Analytics 4 Traffic Acquisition report page with 'Acquisition' and 'Traffic acquisition' menu items highlighted.

Next, use Semrush's Position Tracking tool to see how well you’re ranking for your target keywords.

Open the tool and create a project if you haven’t already. Next, enter your domain and click "Set up tracking."

Semrush Position Tracking start page with '' in input field and 'Set up tracking' button highlighted.

Complete the configuration. (Follow this setup guide if you need help.)

Once the setup is done, you’ll see a “Landscape” report. Which summarizes your domain’s visibility, estimated traffic, and average position for your tracked keywords. 

Position Tracking Landscape report with main summary box highlighted showing Visibility, Estimated Traffic, and Average Position.

Go to the “Overview” tab and scroll down to the “Rankings Overview” section. This section shows where your site ranks for individual keywords and how those positions have changed from the last period.

Rankings Overview tab showing keyword information for

Understanding your current keyword rankings and organic traffic will help you measure your progress along the way.

3. Conduct a Technical Audit

A technical website audit focuses on optimizing elements of your website that affect how search engines crawl (find) and index (store in a database) your pages. And things that affect the user experience (UX)—user experience in SEO refers to how easily visitors can navigate and engage with your site.

Having a good UX is especially important because it can reduce bounce rate and encourage visitors to explore more pages. And providing a positive UX can boost your SEO performance.

Common technical SEO issues include slow loading times, broken links, and duplicate content (pages with identical or nearly identical content).

Find these issues using Semrush's Site Audit tool.

Open the tool, enter your domain, and click "Start Audit."

Site Audit tool start page with '' in input field and 'Start Audit' highlighted.

You'll see the "Site Audit Settings." 

Complete the configuration to set up your first website crawl and click “Start Site Audit.” (Follow this setup guide if you need help.)

Site Audit settings configuration modal with page limits, crawl source, and 'Start Site Audit' button highlighted.

Once the audit is done, you'll see an "Overview" report.

The first thing you want to look at is the Site Health score. Which is calculated based on the number of errors and warnings found on your site. The higher this number, the better.

Site Audit Overview report page with Site Health summary box highlighted.

Next, go to the "Issues" tab to see the list of issues on your site.

Site Audit Issues tab view with 'Issues' highlighted.

You’ll see “Errors,” which are the most severe. As well as “Warnings,” medium-severity issues. And “Notices”—noncritical things to consider addressing. 

Zoomed image of filter options highlighted with rectangular box.

For individual issues, click "Why and how to fix it" to learn more about the problem and how to address it.

Issues list with 'Why and how to fix it' and issue details popup highlighted.

Make note of the issues here so you can prioritize which ones to add to your roadmap.

4. Uncover On-Page Optimization Opportunities

On-page SEO helps search engines understand your pages’ content, increasing the chances of ranking higher on SERP for relevant keywords.

Some key on-page elements include page titles (also called H1s), headings, meta descriptions (HTML that briefly summarizes a page), and URL structure.

Use Semrush's On Page SEO Checker to get ideas for improving your site’s on-page SEO.

Open the tool, enter your domain, and click "Get ideas."

Semrush on page seo checker tool start page with '' in input field and 'Get ideas' button highlighted.

Complete the configuration. (Follow this setup guide if you need help.)

On Page SEO Checker settings configuration popup.

Once the tool is ready, you'll see an "Overview" report like this:

On Page SEO Checker Overview tab with Total Ideas and TOP pages to optimize list.

Go to the “Optimization Ideas” tab. You'll find page-specific ideas around strategy, content, backlinks, semantics, user experience, etc.

Click “# ideas” next to one of the pages to see the recommendations for improving its on-page SEO.

Optimize Ideas tab opened and highlighted with 'All Ideas' column highlighted.

Then, you can see ideas grouped under the “Strategy” and “Content” categories.

Optimization ideas for a selected URL with Strategy and Content categories highlighted.

For instance, the content section will tell you whether you need to incorporate your target keywords in the H1, the body of the page, and other key areas. 

Zoomed in view of Content optimization ideas.

Review the ideas. You’ll add the most important ones to your roadmap later on.

The idea is to make each page relevant and valuable to your audience. So it’s more likely to be ranked by search engines.

Further reading: On-Page SEO Checklist: The Complete Task List for 2024

Relevant backlinks (links on other sites that point to your site) from authoritative websites can improve your search rankings. So, it’s a good idea to know where you currently stand.

Analyze your current backlink profile using Backlink Analytics

The tool shows you the number of backlinks pointing to your website. And additional insights.

Open the tool, enter your domain, and click “Analyze.”

Backlink Analytics tool start with domain name in input field and 'Analyze' button highlighted.

On the “Overview” report, you can see your “Authority Score,” which is a measure of your site’s overall health on a scale of 100. And your “Overall Toxicity Score”—an assessment of how many low-quality backlinks are pointing to your site.

It’s a good idea to consider both of these metrics together. If your Authority Score is low and your toxicity score is high, that indicates you should work to gain more links from relevant, high-quality sites. 

Next, go to the "Backlinks" tab for a detailed view of individual backlinks.

Backlink Analytics report Overview tab with 'Backlinks' tab highlighted.

If you’ve knowingly used tactics that violate Google’s guidelines to gain backlinks and have also received a manual action penalty (these are issued via Google Search Console), you can go through the list of backlinks to identify any spammy ones that could be hurting your SEO performance. And remove or disavow them. 

Backlinks report table listing details like backlink sources, target pages, and page authority score.

Using this tool, you can also compare your site's backlink profile to those of your competitors.

Add your competitors' domains, and you'll see a comparative report.

Backlink Analytics Overview tab with domain comparison report showing data like Authority Score, Referring Domains, etc.

If you find your competitors have more high-quality backlinks from relevant websites in your industry, you could consider contacting those sites to receive backlinks.

Make note of the appropriate next steps so you can determine how to proceed when you start putting together your SEO roadmap.

Further reading: How to Do a Backlink Audit (5 Simple Steps)

6. Identify New Content Opportunities

Identifying which content performs best gives insights into what your visitors enjoy. So you can replicate that success in the future. 

To review your existing content, log in to Google Analytics

Go to “Reports” > "Engagement" > "Pages and screens." 

And scroll down to see the list of pages with views, users, average engagement time, and other data points.

'Pages and screens' report highlighted in GA4 with 'Engagement' and 'Pages' and screens menu options highlighted.

Analyze this data to understand what topics resonate with your audience.

For example, if you notice your in-depth guides consistently attract more traffic and engagement than shorter blog posts, you can focus on creating more comprehensive content going forward.

Additionally, find content gaps—topics centered around keywords your competitors are ranking for but you aren't.

Use the Keyword Gap tool to identify such topics.

Open the tool, enter your domain and your competitors' domains, and click "Compare."

Keyword Gap tool with own domain and four competitor domains entered and 'Compare' button highlighted.

You'll see a list of common keywords for which all sites rank.

Keyword details report listing comparative keyword data for all domains.

Click “Missing” to see the keywords all your competitors are ranking for but you aren’t.

Keyword results filtered by 'Missing' tab.

Next, click “Weak” to see keywords for which your site is ranking lower than your competitors.

Discovering these keyword gaps allows you to create content on topics that meet untapped audience needs.

Now, make note of all the keywords you want to target and all the content you want to create. So you can incorporate them into your SEO roadmap.

Further reading: How to Find & Analyze Competitor Keywords

7. List All Your SEO Tasks

Now, put together a comprehensive list of SEO tasks based on the insights gathered from your technical audit, on-page SEO audit, backlink analysis, and keyword research

Let’s say your list looks like this:

  • Optimize page titles, meta descriptions, and header tags
  • Improve mobile-friendliness
  • Fix broken links and crawl errors
  • Address duplicate content
  • Simplify your website’s architecture
  • Enhance your internal linking structure
  • Optimize images
  • Improve heading structure within content
  • Implement schema markup
  • Evaluate keywords
  • Finalize keyword list
  • Plan content calendar
  • Create new content targeting high-value keywords
  • Update existing content to improve relevance and quality
  • Build high-quality backlinks from authoritative websites
  • Track unlinked mentions to turn into backlink

Next, group these tasks into main focus areas—keyword research, on-page optimization, technical SEO, content creation, and link building.

8. Identify Priority Areas for Action

Prioritizing your SEO tasks helps you create a focused action plan that maximizes your results and keeps your team aligned on the most critical objectives. Which means not every task will make it to your final roadmap.

How can you prioritize your tasks?

Here are a few factors to consider:

  • Alignment with your SEO goals
  • Potential impact
  • Effort required for implementation
  • Dependency on other tasks or resources

One effective approach is to use a priority matrix, where you plot each task based on its impact and effort.

The impact matrix, showing quick wins, big bets, fill-ins, and thankless tasks

Tasks that fall into the "Quick Wins" quadrant (high impact and low effort) should be tackled first. Because they offer the most significant benefits with the least investment.

Items in the "Big Bets" quadrant (high impact, high effort) should be carefully planned and executed. 

"Fill-Ins" (low impact and low effort) can be used to fill gaps in your SEO roadmap document if you have room for them. 

"Thankless Tasks" (low impact and high effort) should be left off or re-evaluated at a later time.

For example, updating title tags for key pages might be a "Quick Win," while a reworked site architecture might be a "Big Bet."

Now that you’ve refined your list to focus on the most important tasks, add them to your copy of the SEO roadmap template

9. Set Milestones for Tracking Progress

Milestones are important checkpoints along your SEO journey that highlight progress toward your objectives. They give you a bird's-eye view of your overall progress.

For example, your milestones could include:

  • Completing a technical SEO improvements by the end of Q1
  • Publishing 10 new keyword-targeted blog posts by the end of Q2
  • Refreshing all top-performing content by the end of Q3

And remember to see how you’re progressing periodically. We recommend doing this every month and making a note in the corresponding column in your spreadsheet.

10. Allocate Resources

Effective resource allocation ensures you have the necessary skills and tools to execute your plan.

Start by assessing the resources required for each task in your prioritized list. This may include:

  • In-house staff time (e.g., content creators, developers, and SEO specialists)
  • External expertise (e.g., freelancers, agencies, and consultants)
  • Tools (e.g., SEO tools, analytics tools, and a content management system)

Based on this assessment, allocate your available resources to the highest priority tasks first. 

Be realistic about what you can achieve with your current resources and consider whether additional investments are necessary to meet your goals (and within your budget).

Finally, assign specific team members or external partners to be responsible for executing and reporting on each item. And note it in your spreadsheet.

9-month SEO roadmap with assignees filled in

This ensures everyone knows their role and contributes to the overall success of your SEO strategy.

11. Collaborate with Stakeholders

Communicating with stakeholders is key to getting buy-in for your SEO roadmap. And demonstrating its success later on.

Start by presenting your roadmap to key stakeholders. Gather their feedback and clear any concerns they may have.

Most importantly, be willing to adapt your roadmap as needed. Business priorities can change, and stakeholder input can bring valuable perspectives.

Once you’ve begun implementing the roadmap, regularly communicate the progress of your SEO efforts to stakeholders. And share how you’re tracking toward your KPIs.

12. Evaluate Results and Revise Your Roadmap

SEO is an ongoing process, not a one-time project. So, your SEO roadmap should be a living document that evolves as you progress and learn.

Typically, a roadmap for SEO is six to 12 months. 

Once you complete all the tasks in the initial roadmap, it's time to evaluate your KPIs to see whether you reached your goals.

If you did, create a new roadmap that builds upon your progress and addresses things you weren’t able to get to in the first one.

For example, if your first roadmap focused heavily on keyword research and technical optimizations, your next roadmap might prioritize creating content around those keywords and building high-quality backlinks.

If you didn’t reach your goals, you may need to create a roadmap that tackles new challenges. Or, you may need to adjust your goals. 

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

Build a Strong Foundation with an SEO Roadmap

An effective SEO roadmap uses data to define exact steps and tasks. Use the right tools to get this data.

Start by auditing your site and getting a deeper understanding of its SEO strengths and weaknesses.

Sign up for Semrush for free to get started with Site Audit.

Author Photo
Asif is a content marketing specialist with over eight years of experience. While working at agencies and startups, he has helped brands drive millions in sales through full-funnel inbound marketing campaigns.
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