For each new SEO client we get, there is a list of items that we go through that are essentially the ‘basics’ of SEO. These items will help get you started off on the right foot in your SEO endeavor.
- Get started immediately on SEO keyword research. It’s the foundation of the home, the engine of the car, the cheese to your macaroni. You won’t get far without the right keywords, so get working on keyword research first.
- Set up a Google Analytics account. The GA account will allow you to track all of your visits, whether organic, paid, direct, referral, etc. You will need some kind of analytics program in order to track your progress made. Google analytics is free, and it gives you a TON of information on how users are interacting with your site.
- Set up a goal funnel in Google Analytics. Goal funnels allow you to track leads/conversions whether a sale, a catalog or email signup or a reservation booked. Of course clients will want to know how much traffic you’re driving but ultimately they’ll be looking at the number of leads you’re generating more importantly.
- Get working on page titles and meta descriptions. Page titles and meta descriptions are your ‘ads’ to the user when they perform a search. Not only do they serve a great purpose to the user in identifying what your particular site or page is about, but the search engines also use them to look for keywords where they can match user search queries to those keywords in order to rank your site.
- Set up Webmaster tools accounts. There are 3: Google webmaster tools, Yahoo site explorer and MSN webmaster tools. These accounts are great for identifying problems within your site like 404 pages, crawler errors, etc.
- Create and upload an XML sitemap and Robots.txt file. Both the xml sitemap and robots.txt file serve as a ‘guide’ to the search engines as to which pages you feel are most important for the search engines to crawl and crawl first, or which pages not to pay any attention to at all.
- Implement homepage canonical tags. The canonical tag tells the search engines which version of your homepage they should be using. New websites can sometimes have 1 – 5 different domain names. www.mysite.com, mysite.com, mysite.com/index, www.mysite.com/default, etc. This can cause confusion among the search engines as to which domain they should be using.
- Submit to paid directories. You should have already mentioned this to your client before they signed the SEO services proposal. But be sure that your client is on board with submitting their website to a few paid directories. Paid directories such as Yahoo.com, Business.com, BestoftheWeb.com, etc are highly authoritative websites that if linking to your website act as a ‘vote’ to your website. The search engines like seeing links pointing to your website from these highly authoritative sites. You’re client won’t see immediate benefits, but over time they will not only to traffic but website rankings.
- Start optimizing on-site content. By now you should have made your way in and out of the website and hopefully have come up with a few new ideas for content that you can add. But for now focus on optimizing the content already on the site. Add in 2 – 3 niche keywords to each page of the site, using anchor text and alt tags. This will help clarify to the search engines which pages they should rank for certain keywords.
- Recommend additional content. Now that you have optimized the current site content, you can begin recommending new content to target keywords that are not yet ranked. I don’t typically hold back with my clients, I’ll offer everything I have in efforts to increase their traffic and leads. So if you have an idea, don’t be afraid to submit it to your client. If you present it in a way that will be obvious to your client that this new content is needed to increase traffic and leads, they’re surely to implement it.
Now, of course there are a slew of other SEO related things you must to do continue making progress for your clients. This is just a starter list that should take you anywhere from a couple of weeks to a month to complete.