Whether you’re in charge of executing an SEO strategy for a highly established website or a brand new domain, possessing the ability to understand the current business situation, along with seeing future challenges and opportunities, is critical when crafting a sustainable plan of attack.

Take the right steps from the start to gain the most helpful insights to guide your way.

Related: 5 Dead-Simple SEO Hacks to Save You Time

1. Ask the right questions and demand detailed answers. Considering the following questions should spawn a series of deeper discussions. Getting responses will help you better set expectations.

What are the organization’s aspirations and philosophy of SEO in terms of strategy and tactics?

Which resources are aligned or will be to support and stimulate organic growth?

For an established website, where does it currently stand in terms of organic share of search and what products, services or content will help it remain competitive in organic search?

Organic search refers to a search performed using a search engine, like Google, in which the results returned are not paid advertisements. These are known as naturally or organically earned listings because the pages typically need to accrue authority and trust from a search engine for their positioning. Organic search listings do not disappear as a result a lack of advertising funds and tend to be highly relevant to and trusted by search users.

SEO, of course, deals with the practice of including and bettering the position of any particular web page in organic search. The higher the organic search placement (especially within the first page of results), the more visibility to search users and the better likelihood of click–throughs and web page visits. 

Related: 6 Ways to Master SEO Without Google Analytics

2. Set up SEO tools and analytical reports. Now it’s time to start establishing your strategy. In my experience, SEO requires a lot of setup, evangelizing and ongoing monitoring -- not just monitoring results but monitoring the setup itself. Be sure you have your systems in place, including Google and Bing Webmaster Tools, plus additional SEO-specific tools, enterprise SEO-specific tools and an analytics setup.

Having these systems and reports in place will provide you with the technology, insights and analytics needed to detail your progress, identify opportunities and establish a short- and long-term plan for SEO efforts.

Related: How to Seamlessly Include Keywords in Your Web Content

3. Organize internal and external marketing channels that directly or indirectly impact SEO. As you working toward earning your stripes with Google Analytics, be sure to spend some time learning about its Multi-Channel Funnels.

This tool will give you the insight needed to understand how effectively your organization’s overall marketing initiatives work together. You may discover a buyer commonly purchases a product or service through multiple channels after multiple visits. If that’s the case, you’ll want to learn how all these channels work together to create that sale.

Related: How to Do an SEO Audit of Your Website

4. Perform a comprehensive SEO audit and competitive analysis. A complete understanding of how SEO fits into the fabric of your organization can typically be teased out through a comprehensive site audit. Beyond identifying technical on-page improvements, your site audit should also include deeper market research and competitive analysis. The findings will help you expand your SEO program and be involved in all aspects of the business, from product development to customer service and sales.

As an SEO leader in the organization, you have the unique ability to help everyone in the company intrinsically understand what and how people in the target market are searching for information and products.

5. Measure and optimize based on results. Once you begin executing the tactics in your larger SEO strategy, keep tabs on what is moving the needle and what has little impact so you can plan your next steps and have your SEO efforts evolve. Use the tools such as Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools to gain a holistic view of performance.

Measurement goes beyond simply pulling data. Instead, it requires pointed analysis to help determine key success drivers and identify areas of opportunity for additional optimization efforts. By keeping measurement and continued optimization at the forefront, you and your organization are better equipped to be more agile in getting the most out of your organic search and traffic. 

Related: Yes, You Can Kick-Start Your Own SEO Campaign. Here's How.