Being a SEO requires not only an understanding of the search engines, but requires a plan of action. When tackling the search engine optimization for clients I use the following 10 step strategy.
- 20 keywords from client
- Quick site review
- Keyword research
- Competition analysis
- Link structure
- Main targets for index
- Individual page optimization
- Review implementation
- Launch and initial submissions
- Monthly maintenance
20 keywords from client
It is important to ask the client for a list 20 or more words that define their industry, product or service. The list should include insiders’ terms, desired targeted products or popular brands, and general keywords related to the industry. Encourage clients to consider what geographic region they are targeting: get keywords for their city, neighbourhood or region. Getting a list from the client does several important things: First it gets them involved in the SEO process. Secondly it helps establish their goals. Most importantly it gives a better understanding of the client’s business. Another important thing to ask the client during this phase is for a list of their competitors or companies who are their offline competitors.
Quick site review
Sometimes this is actually the first step in the process. Visiting the client’s site and look at the level of optimization. Check their Page Rank, text version of Google’s cache, date when it was last cached, and keyword targets. A good SEO should be able within 2-3 minutes understand how well a site is currently optimized and any flaws with that optimization.
If the client is developing a completely new site with a recently purchased domain name, this step is more about being aware and making the client aware of the challenges of promoting a new site.
This is where you create a master list of keywords. The research starts with doing basic Google Keyword Tool searches using the client’s keywords, then going further by recognizing patterns in the ways people search. Often you can expand your search parameters by looking at the competitors’ targeted keywords or using a thesaurus. See the sections on Keyword Research.
Just like the review of the client’s site a SEO needs to understand and review the competitors’ sites. By understanding the level of competition and knowing what you are using to compete with, you can create realistic targets for the client. Usually it is good to give them a list of keywords that can reached early in the marketing process and ones the will be more challenging that can be reached over time.
By this point you should have an excellent understanding of the targeted terms for the client’s site. When developing the link structure it is important to create themes and subthemes around these targets and develop a navigation which is a marriage between search engine friendly and user friendly design.
Main targets for index
The index page of a web page is usually the page with the highest level of competitiveness. The keywords it targets are usually the most challenging. It is important to be focused and define with as few terms as possible the core products or services of the client’s business. An example of a main term would be Toronto web design where as secondary pages would target Toronto web design services.
Individual page optimization
Depending on the size of the website, the subpages will allow you to develop keyword themes. When doing this optimization, use the SEO Checklist. Though SEO requires precision it not the case that things have to be precise. It is better to make the text natural then worried about having exactly 8% keyword density. Both the user and the search engines will appreciate more natural text. Personally, I believe that SEO requires finesse and prefer to avoid using tools to do the work.
Often it is the case that there are many people involved in the process of the web design. Web designers will often create sites which go against the needs of a SEO. Usually there designs allow for little text content or sometimes will change text based content like links into images. Sometimes the role of SEO involves educating the designer on the use of CSS style sheets and ways to balance design with SEO. Another challenge that affects the implementation of the SEO strategy is the actual client. Though client’s needs should always be first and foremost for the SEO, it is important to make them aware how those needs will affect the ability to successfully market their site. The SEO is often a negotiator between all the groups and needs to be watchful from the very beginning of the project to very end because ultimately when things go wrong it is usually the SEO that gets the blame.
Launch and initial submissions
The proper launch of a site is important. If design changes were involved with the SEO work, then it is important that when the new version of a site goes live that 301 redirects are in place if necessary so old pages will not be lost. Remember the search engines will generally find new sites and sites which were just newly optimized will be indexed over time. To help with the promotion of the new version of the site a SEO can recommend online press releases or social bookmarks. The idea is to give the crawlers a means to find the new content quickly and give the new content established link popularity. Using Google sitemaps makes the process of indexing the new content quick as well and Google site maps should be used whenever possible.
Many clients is the launch of a client as the end of the role of the SEO but it is actually just the beginning. No site no matter how great the optimization will rank #1 forever. Marketing is an ongoing process. The goal of the marketer is build on current rankings and expand to new targeted terms. Maintenance can include building content, web analytics, link building, press releases, social media marketing, and more.
Any questions about creating a SEO strategy for your business, please feel free to contact me at 905-417-9470 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org