Many people think they know what SEO is and what an SEO consultant does, but the reality is that the job of an SEO consulting goes far beyond simple search rankings, making SEO strategy a truly all-encompassing approach to internet marketing. This article offers an insight into my daily routine and an in-depth explanation the many facets of search engine optimization and how to implement them into your business.
Search Engine Optimization and the SEO Consultant
When you hear about the tasks for performing SEO, it generally sounds something like this: analyze, review, and improve search engine performance, websites and its incoming links in order to provide expert advice and recommendations to businesses seeking higher rankings in search engines (Google) and more natural traffic for increased customers and sales.
My job as an SEO consultant has transformed over the years, becoming much more complex and refined as the Internet and its search engines do the same. Once upon a time, SEO consultants were charged with plugging basic keywords into your website, getting a few links, and other tasks to “beat the system” that was Google and get you to the top of search results. These days, SEO is anything but a simple algorithm. For an SEO consultant to be the best at his job today, he must do so much more than just search engine optimization.
SEO is so Much More than Search Engine Optimization
Really, when you hire a good SEO consultant, you are getting someone who will be doing a lot more than just search engine optimization. There are a lot of factors related to SEO, like social media channels, customer reviews, and even your logo. These components are all related to search engine optimization in their own way. So, modern day SEO has really become something much bigger than its name would indicate. These days for local search we’re doing a lot more of Google My Business management too.
SEO consultants also must optimize the interrelationships between all different parts of digital marketing and search engine optimization, such as content quality scoring, long-form content, user behavior, social media, and competition while also keeping everything in conformity with the endless changes and updates to the Google algorithm and resistant to online competition.
The End Goal in SEO Consulting
The tasks and responsibilities of SEO consultants are varied and take on an inter-disciplinary approach to Internet marketing. As mentioned before, the job has changed a lot in recent years and gotten harder over time, which is why it is more important than ever for businesses to have a professional SEO specialists to assist them if they want to get ahead. The end goal of the search engine optimization expert, however, has remained constant over time: to rank higher in Google search engine results, increase Google visibility, and generate more informative and valuable web content, all in efforts to generate more business leads and improve customer conversion rates.
Some of the disciplines of best practices of specialists include the following:
- Ad re-targeting
- Native Advertising
- Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
- Latent Semantic Indexing
- Featured Snippets
- Lead flow Optimization
- Structured Data
- Audience Targeting
- Interactive Content
- Personalized Search Results
- Influencer Outreach Marketing
- Web Page Load Speed and Time to First Paint
- Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness (EAT)
- User Intent, and more..
50 Steps to Performing SEO
Every SEO strategy should be unique and adapted to your business needs. It is also the kind of marketing approach which should be seen as a marathon rather than a sprint, as it is an ongoing process that will take time and refresh itself ever so often with updated techniques and revised strategies. While the different elements of SEO can be never-ending, here are 50 of the top tasks that SEO consultants consider when implementing your digital marketing strategy.
Marketing objectives. Understanding the client’s business objectives and end goals for their online presence, industry competition and positioning, business niche, competitive advantages, target audiences, and other basic elements is a critical first step. SEO is not a cookie cutter approach, so each plan needs to be designed specifically for each company, for something that is realistic, achievable, and beneficial.
- Strategic planning. Plan ahead and map out your marketing steps in a logical order that work both for general SEO strategy as well as your own. Remember that you can always tweak your campaign using Web Analytics Data.
- Keyword research and analysis. Doing a thorough keyword research and analysis is essential when starting or re-evaluating an SEO business plan. Identifying what are the best keywords, alternative search terms, and other valuable terms is necessary so that you can keep these in mind in virtually all of the other steps of SEO. A good keyword targeting strategy will prioritize head keyword verticals and long-tailed keyword phrases. One important tip to keep in mind is that finding targets with low competition and high profitability offer a high commercial value, and should be considered as potential keyword targets.
- Keyword Mapping. Map out your keyword strategy so as to assign and match keywords to individual webpages and even secondary SEO sources – this will strengthen content silos, keep you organized on specific topics, and avoid cannibalization problems from popping up later on, saving you time, energy, and money.
- SEO guarantee. Understand that there is no guarantee when it comes to keyword rankings – all you can do is make educated guesses and use past experiences to handle future situations.
- Website Optimization. On-page SEO is always going to be of importance, since it is the nucleus of your online presence. An optimized website will have gone through on-page SEO mechanical elements like text structure and formatting, image optimization, H-tags, and more. When website content is being organized, it should consider keyword phrases, keyword prominence, LSI keywords, stem keywords, and keyword synonyms.
- Google rankings visibility. Get Google top ten ranking for “money keywords” on your website’s homepage, blog posts, and internal landing pages. Generate ranking momentum for new keywords by focusing on improving your click-through rate.
- User experience. User experience is so important nowadays, and Google realizes it, too. Optimizing your website visitor experience and focusing on getting increased page views, less click aways, more dwell time spent on the site, and increased click-through rates (CTR) has huge benefits. This step should also consider the benefits of rich media and content.
- SEO-friendly website. Your website should be user-friendly AND search engine friendly. Do this by eliminating technical SEO errors and content that is indexable, so it can be crawled by robots.
- Copywriting skills. A lot of the smaller components of content can make a huge difference: meta tags, title tags, meta descriptions, H-tags, paragraph subheadings, and more. Avoid keyword stuffing when writing and use text and paragraph formatting to make things easier and more appealing to read. Write interesting content and do so in a natural tone.
- Off-site SEO. Good SEO goes beyond the website and works on developing inbound links through different strategies, as well as naturally. These backlinks should be good quality and come from reputable places on the web.
- Social media optimization. Social media is essential for any business nowadays. Determine which channels are appropriate for your brand and best cater to your audience and focus on those few. Promote your brand through features to digital content and social media sharing buttons for important social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.
- Offensive and defensive strategy. SEO is about finding new opportunities to stay ahead of the curve, as well as preventing damage for vulnerable topics. Think of buying exact domain names when they become available before others do. Track up and coming competitors. Find the most profitable activities when it comes to marketing dollars (e.g. content creation v social media).
- Website functionality. A website needs to be professionally presented and catch the viewer’s attention through visuals. Some considerations include: menu, navigation style, graphics, color scheme, global navigation, site layout, navigation style, footer, and logo. First and foremost, do people know exactly what you do when they first click on your website? Realize you only have a few seconds before they click away if it is not clear.
- Marketing Budget. Stick to your SEO budget by establishing priorities, managing campaign expenses, redirecting resources when necessary, managing projects, and keeping track of website modifications.
- Mobile search. Responsive web design will help you be more user-friendly and get higher rankings. Once your website is mobile-friendly, try to optimize for Google Mobile-first index and voice search.
- Technical SEO issues. Loads of technical issues you might not even be aware of can be affecting your rankings and digital strategy overall. The best SEO consultants can quickly identify and resolve these issues.
- Local SEO & Schema markups. Conducting Local SEO strategy is one of the most important SEO strategies for 2020 and the conceivable near future. Local SEO is Google’s new favorite ranking factor, and it all starts with your Google My Business profile. This profile should be verified, have a consistent NAP profile across the web (name, address, phone number), optimize the Google Maps listing, local City Pages, and have Local Business Reviews for reputation management.
- Train and get educated. There are a lot of live online marketing demonstrations and classes available where you can improve your SEO skills. Take advantage of these to improve what you are applying to your business strategy.
- Branding strategy. Work branding into your SEO strategy, integrating the ethos of your brand into the way you do your SEO and online presence. See how your content compares to other brands, and remember that the web is the furthest reaching presence your brand has, so it should represent you well.
- Website Audits. You’ll need to perform a website audit as part of your digital marketing plan in which you examine, test, and diagnose visibility issues on your website. Audits are comprised of traffic statistics, keyword targeting and focus, website content and inventory, Moz’s domain authority factors, Google indexing status, and document baselining and benchmarking.
- Domain ownership. If your business has multiple brands, sites, or locations, consider how you want your domain portfolio to look. Sometimes, consolidating domain names can give you more SEO power and get you more clients; sometimes, they are best left separate.
- Competitive Analysis. An online competitive analysis uses reverse engineering to determine the strengths and weaknesses of competitors’ websites, including audience comparison and a look at backlinks. If you are looking to do your own competitive analysis, some good tools to use are spyfu.com, compete.com, and semrush.com.
- Internal linking optimization. Best practices for internal linking (link equity, crawlable link structure, breadcrumb navigation, proper link attributes, and marketing funnels) ensure website usability and more SEO power.
- SEO tools and SEO software. Critical is to know how to use SEO tools/ software effectively to make valuable recommendations and strategize. Amongst them are: Google Webmaster Tools, Google Analytics, site crawling, keyword analysis, rank tracking, header response checkers, backlink audit, and backlink analysis. Some of the best tools for doing these (both paid and free) include: Semrush, Woorank, Ahrefs, Spyfu, SEOQuake, Gtmetrix, Ubersuggest, Screaming Frog, Kwfinder, Neilpatel, SEObook, Yoast, Backlinko, and Alexa.
- Content development. Generate content that is relevant, original, unique, and valuable. A good plan when it comes to content develop is consolidating thin content, identifying content gaps to be filled, and consider Google Quality Guidelines and their algorithm so that content is always highly rated for Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness (EAT).
- Improve existing content. Content editing is a common practice for SEO specialists. Editing for readability and errors and consolidating/updating content as you go makes your content better quality. Every page on your website should have genuine purpose, add value, and be relevant – improve your existing content accordingly.
- Web re-design and development. In order to do SEO, you must have a good understanding of web development, HTML coding, website design, and redesign processes. The more you share the skills of a webmaster, the better off you will be.
- URL Maps. A URL map or site map is like a road map, but for website information. It establishes a structure and hierarchy of content, and includes a 301redirect record. This will come in handy at the time of website redesign.
- Reality check. Set realistic expectations on timelines and schedules for all projects, and be patient when waiting for results.
- Industry trend tracking. Stay up-to-date on SEO industry trends, so you can continually improve and focus your strategy. Some useful resources are White Hat SEO Best Practices, as well as Google Algorithm Updates such as Rankbrain, Caffeine, Hummingbird, Penguin, and Panda. Apply advanced knowledge to avoid spam. Also helpful is regularly consulting SEO blogs such as Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Land, Search Engine Watch, Moz, and Semrush Blog.
- Call-to-action improvements. Conduct conversion testing (A/B testing, multivariate testing) and find ways to boost conversion rates, such as unique selling propositions, creating a sense of urgency, and emphasizing benefits.
- Social media strategy. Get an understanding of how to promote content through digital media channels, both directly on social media or via email newsletters, and indirectly through bloggers and industry influencers.
- CMS and digital marketing platforms. Important content management systems (CMS) and digital platforms include: WordPress, Joomla, Webceo, Drupal, DotNetNuke, Hubspot, Sproutsocial, Instagram, Linkedin, Facebook, and Raventools. Know their advantages and disadvantages.
- E-commerce systems. A valuable, if not necessary, asset when you have a business website is understanding the workings of an ecommerce website –shopping carts, photo galleries, storefront solutions, payment processing services, ecommerce platforms, shipping options, tax regulations, and more.
- SEO strategy recommendations. Ongoing consulting and guidance is very important to stick with a grander marketing or business plan while making incremental changes. Experts can evaluate your progress, propose strategies and help you stick to a timeline.
- Process improvement. You should be doing continual process improvement (SEO work is never done) and also using data metrics to measure your progress. Follow an SEO expert to help you innovate while also minimizing any risks.
- An important step that falls into the analysis process if troubleshooting for issues and factors that are negatively impacting your rankings long-term.
- Advanced SEO. Once you are to the point that you have the basics of SEO working pretty well for you, it’s time to take things up a notch. Some suggested methods to turn to are: Google Knowledge panel visibility, Google Quick Answers Box, HTML markup, HTTPS migration, featured snippets, local pack, and evergreen content.
- Key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs are important for evaluating the effectiveness of your SEO campaign. The criteria is something that you can establish with your SEO consultant, however general suggestions include: Keywords reaching first page and top 5 positions, profits and ROI, audience share, and traffic sources.
- Get yourself reviews online and make them good. Focus on client relations and client satisfaction to get customers to leave you positive reviews. This little piece of online reputation management can truly go a long way in establishing yourself online and getting people to click to your site.
- Naming conventions. Naming conventions can be used for: URL structure, sub-domains, file names, content silos, sub-directories, graphics, usernames, and multi media naming.
- Website security. Website security may not be at the top of many SEO checklists, but it is nonetheless integrally important. Be protective in handling potential online security issues with strong passwords, updated software, regular website backups, spam and malware checks.
- Quality control. For a high caliber online strategy, you need to check the quality of everything you put out. A good team and organization will ensure that plans are well executed.
- Web hosting. Again, not everyone remembers the small things like hosting accounts and domain names. Make sure you have a good web hosting company, and know your domain renewal date. A small tip that helps many is that changing your web hosting can fix problems with slow load times.
- Paid search advertising. While many SEO experts will not advise you to use PPC advertising, you need to assess its efficiency if you choose to go this route and make keyword recommendations accordingly.
- Digital marketing support. Good SEO considers topics beyond optimization, which is why it is always useful to collaborate with digital marketing teams. If other individuals are doing things like copywriting, social media, web design, or freelance work, it is nice to have meetings with them and consult when applicable.
- SEO as a long-term strategy. Get more out of your SEO by understanding it as a long-term investment with high ROI, which build equity over time. The more you can act on the future, the better.
- Monthly SEO reports. You should have a monthly SEO report that tracks things like traffic trends, keyword ranking changes, traffic sources, highest traffic landing pages, and linking domains. Use this to compare yourself to the competition.
- Old v new analysis. In some cases, you feel in over your head. There can be so much work that needs to be done to a website – or so much damage or neglect that has already been done – that it can be hard to decide whether to work on it, or just make a new site altogether. The best advice an SEO consultant can give about this is to think about the future – consider where the website will need to stand a few years out. If making changes to the current website can make this website still successful and relevant in a few years’ time, then it might be a good option. If not, maybe it is best to invest in a new website.
Beyond the 50 Steps of SEO
The 50 steps above may seem like a lot to handle, and they are. However, this is just the beginning. If you want to be in charge of your SEO strategy, take care of as many steps as you can – every little bit helps when it comes to SEO. In reality, there are at least 50 more steps to SEO, all of which need to be worked on continuously. While it may be temping to hand the work over to a marketing company to take care of it all, a better solution might be an SEO consultant. An SEO consultant will work directly with you, your business, and your team to create a customized strategy and monitor your business’ progress, while still ensuring that your SEO runs smoothly as part of your all-encompassing strategy. Not sure where you need to focus or where to begin? Sign up for a free website analysis to see where your website stands.