The following is an outline of the typical process I go through with my clients, along with a rough estimate of how long each phase takes. In some situations, we’ll eliminate one or more of these steps–it depends on what the client has done already, and what the goals of the engagement are. For example, penalty recovery projects will often skip most of these phases.
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When I begin the engagement with the client, I go through and re-estimate each of the phases based on the client’s needs and the size and complexity of their website or websites.
Phase 0: Understanding the Client
This is a detailed discussion or email survey on client’s existing business, internet strategies to date, successes/failures, etc. I have a client survey that I’ll either go through over the phone with the client, or email to the client to have them answer. The goal is to get a good, solid understanding of the client’s business, as well as what’s been done so far, and what the current state is of their internet marketing.
ESTIMATE: 1 hour conference call (billable), or if you prefer, you can just fill out my survey (free).
Phase 1: Keyword Research
I go through keyword idea generation brainstorming with the client; keyword idea generation from looking at competitors; keyword volume measurements via Google AdWords keyword tool.
For each keyword, I assess the relevance to client’s offerings, i.e. what percent of searchers are really potential customers; assess types of results on page 1 of Google today (organic, local universal, local, shopping, news, image, video, etc.); find most likely opportunities for displacing one of the existing page 1 results with the client’s site, based on types of results, link metrics, review count, etc.
For some clients and some keywords, I also offer topical analysis, where we’re looking at what other terms and subtopics for a given topic appear to be needed in your content in order to be a full and first-rate discussion of the topic on the page. This has become important for highly competitive terms. Topical analysis takes an hour or two per topic, so the cost here depends entirely on how many pages the client wishes to have us analyze.
ESTIMATE: 1 to 2 hours (without topical analysis)
Phase 2: Best Practices Site Audit
This is a checklist-based site audit, and looks at website configuration, overall navigation, existing backlinks, broken links, etc.
ESTIMATE: 1 to 2 hours
Phase 3: On-Page SEO Tuning
For major pages and major page templates, I provide recommendations for structure, content, page titles, meta descriptions, linking, etc. Any page layout issues or duplicate content issues related to Google’s Panda algorithm will be addressed in this phase. This phase can vary in cost more than the other phases–mostly dependent upon how many different page classes need to be analyzed.
ESTIMATE: 1 to 4 hours
Phase 4: Local Search Configuration
Register the business in the major local business directories that are trusted by Google. This phase is highly recommended even for businesses without potential for showing in the local search results, simply because it’s an easy way to get about a dozen trusted domains to link to you. Includes configuration of Google Places/Google+ business Page.
ESTIMATE: 30 minutes to 1 hour
Phase 5: Social Media Coaching
Setup of Hootsuite if necessary. Outline the process for creating new content for the social media channels, and what to post when and where.
ESTIMATE: 30 minutes
Phase 6: Link-Building Coaching
Brainstorming session on ways to get strong, trusted links. Includes discussion of how to get these from existing business partners and clients. Includes brainstorming on content creation, contests, loyalty programs, etc.
ESTIMATE: 30 minutes
Rankings are worth looking at, but it’s just one factor in the chain that makes up your ROI. The overall metric to pay attention to is sales.
The core search marketing factors that affect sales are:
- choosing the correct target keywords
- rankings for those keywords
- conversion from showing in the SERPs to clicks through to your site
- conversion from site visitors to a sale/customer acquisition
Some changes will show effects pretty quickly (Google Places changes and page title changes, for instance); many changes take several months to show an impact (link-building; internal linking structure; overall content improvements; etc.).
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