Whenever you’re talking about SEO or digital marketing, it’s incredibly important to understand the difference between strategy and tactics. Most business owners (and even a lot of marketers) don’t understand the difference between the two. If you don’t know the difference, then you’re likely to make mistakes in your digital marketing efforts, or to even completely waste time doing things that won’t matter.

The easiest way to understand the difference is this… Strategy is where you’re going, and tactics are how you get there. Our buddy Andi Jarvis just did a keynote at Brighton SEO about this very topic a few weeks ago. In his example, he explained how he lives in Belfast, so to get to the conference in Brighton, he used strategy and tactics.

His strategy was to get to Brighton for the conference, and the tactics he used were: he went to the airport, got on a plane, then landed, got on a train, and then got off the train in Brighton. But the tactics alone don’t produce the same results. Without the strategy to inform the direction of the tactics, he would have ended up in a completely different place. He could have still gone to the airport, gotten on a plane, landed, gotten on a train, and gotten off the train – the exact same tactics – but he could have ended up in Berlin instead.

It’s a simple but powerful example. If you’re doing SEO, you need both strategy and tactics. If you’re only using tactics without the strategy, you could be making mistakes or even worse, you could end up in the wrong place.

Another example – we’ve mentioned our SEO scoring matrix a few times in past videos – It’s a basic audit that scores a business on the state of their SEO across their website, inbound links, Google Business Profile, and reviews. It ONLY looks at basic tactics though.

We built it to look at the most basic, foundational tactics that any SEO would agree are important. If it went too far down the strategy road, then other marketers could debate that the strategy wasn’t correct. This way, it’s SUPER basic tactics, so it quickly uncovers SEO opportunities.

One of the things it scores a site on is whether or not a city is mentioned in the title tag on the home page. It’s looking at the basic tactic – is a city there or not? I could be scoring a business based in Chicago, and they could put Honolulu in for the city in the home page title tag, and the matrix would give them full credit.

From a tactical standpoint, there’s a city there, so it’s the correct tactic. From a strategy standpoint, that would obviously be wrong.

That’s why it’s important to know the “why” behind everything that you do in SEO. If you don’t have the strategy layer, it really won’t matter which tactics you use.