The main purpose of this article is to explain our in house SEO process for a basic campaign.
We have optimized hundreds of websites over the years, have learned a little bit along the way- and would like to share some of this information with you.
Because we are developers, this article is written primarily from the developer’s perspective. However, anyone should be able to follow along and hopefully, they might learn something interesting- if not a lot more!
Before we get started, please know this: SEO requires a lot of work and there are no shortcuts. This work needs to be done continuously, mainly because of algorithm changes and competitor movements.
Now let’s transition into the technical stuff.
What is the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) process and how does it work?
In the vendor – client scenario, a successful search engine optimization process helps to ensure the campaign is set up properly, executed efficiently over time. This chain of events ultimately delivers a positive return on investment (ROI) for the client.
At the beginning, we recommend having the step-by-step process integrated into the client’s SEO proposal – and reviewing the process with them before the project is started.
A strong review allows the customer to understand not only how things will take place, but also see that their involvement (and input) can help the campaign achieve even higher results.
Across the Internet, you will see many processes varying in the # of steps; usually between 5-10. The main thing to understand is there are numbered steps that need to be followed… and not a “fly by the seat of your pants” approach to doing SEO. The aforementioned always ends badly for both parties and can be easily avoided.
PalmettoSoft’s in-house SEO process is 10 steps, and we have based our model off the traditional waterfall method.
We try to take a simplistic approach to everything we do – similar to the method Nick Saban uses, who is widely known as the most successful college football coach in history.
“Much of the credit for Saban’s sustained success has been given to The Process.”
“A team using process methodology achieves more gain than the sum total of individual effort.“
Follow A Step-by-Step Process- We Do!
SEO managers need to follow processes when they oversee an account. Never “wing it” and rely on your supernatural intuition or use of The Force!
If you are a DIY person and don’t think you need this, you are in for some really tough times. A process gives you a roadmap to follow. And at minimum, it guarantees you will cover all the important aspects of a campaign, while also not missing something fundamentally important.
Notice we mentioned “at minimum.” Real high-powered SEO success–as in being “really good”–is made up of your experience, technical knowledge, intuition, work ethic, and client input.
Within this article, we have intertwined local SEO and national SEO techniques. The main difference between the two is that local SEO focuses more heavily on Google My Business optimization and citation listings.
And for time’s sake, we didn’t discuss e-commerce SEO techniques that focus more on product optimization, reviews, etc. However, most Organic SEO campaigns, no matter what type we’re talking about, feature a tremendous amount of overlap.
Also note that an SEO campaign can basically be segmented into two phases: Campaign Setup and Routine Work.
As we progress through each SEO step, we have labeled each accordingly. Typically the campaign setup period can last anywhere from one to two months.
For example, a campaign of 30 keywords usually requires a two month setup period, because there is simply a lot of work to do. Smaller campaigns (15 keywords or less) typically require half the amount of time.
Now that we have the philosophical stuff out the way, let’s have some fun!
There are Two Major Parts of SEO
On-Page and Off-Page. Basically, it’s what you do on your website and off your website. And that is about it. While simple in concept, there is a lot happening in these two areas.
In this post, we have labeled each SEO step as either one or the other–or both.
Step 1: Keyword Analysis (Setup: On-Page)
Keyword selection is one of the most important steps in the SEO process, and some back and forth time should be spent between you and the customer.
Sometimes we create three or four different versions of the keyword report, as we constantly delete non-relevant/unwanted terms and add new ones.
It is also important to know that PalmettoSoft usually does keyword analysis within our sales process (before the SEO process you are reading now). Keyword analysis is a critical part of our due diligence work in learning about the customer’s business.
For clarity and ease of reading, though, we are showing this as the first step in our SEO process.
How To Choose Right Keywords for SEO | Keyword Analysis | SEO Process - Step 1 of 10
How we do Keyword Analysis
After an initial sales conversation about the client’s business and marketing goals, we ask them to send a list of keywords they think people search for that match their services/products.
Then we use our free research tool coupled with Google Search Console to uncover a more expansive list along with monthly search volume and competition and send it to the client via email to review.
We like to follow up with a phone call to explain what the technical terms mean, as well as tips for selecting the best keywords.
The Google Keyword Planner is a great free tool
Image source: Google Keyword Planner
As a primary factor of consideration, we consider relevance first. And most relevant phrases tend to be long tail keywords, as those tend to deliver higher conversion. When a searcher, for example, types a four or five-word phrase, they tend to know exactly what they are searching for, rather than a generic term that can bring a lot of irrelevant traffic to the website.
A keyword analysis is very important and requires some back and forth collaboration with the client. You should let them know upfront that you need their input and it’s considered normal to create several versions of the report until the best keywords are discovered.
A secondary factor is a competition. This is typically shown as either high, medium, or low.
Competition is not the exact number of actual competitors for that keyword search traffic–rather, it’s the number of search results displayed when you do a keyword search. High competition means you normally will require more time to get the first page Google ranking for the keyword. Low competition takes a shorter time–you get the idea.
Finally, the third factor is the number of monthly searches. This is a distant third when compared to the first two factors.
From a strategy perspective, long-tail keywords usually gain faster first page ranking, and that leads to quicker sales. As the client begins to build a business during the short term, you can begin to build on this success by expanding the keyword list with more competitive terms.
When selecting keywords, customers tend to automatically lock onto the highest monthly search volume ones. These also tend to be generic in nature.
For example, if your customer produces faux alligator handbags, you probably don’t want to target the term “handbags.” Here’s why: Four years and $48,000 later, when (and if!) you finally do get a first page ranking, around 99% of the searchers that click through to the website will NOT end up buying from your customer.
Even worse, this traffic will overwhelm the client with unqualified sales calls and massive email spam, and also the site will have a very high bounce rate.
By the way, a high bounce rate has a negative effect on SEO rankings. It’s a vicious cycle you want to avoid, since it’s a huge waste of time and money.
Moral of the story: Generic, high competition keywords are NOT worth it…in many ways.
Step 2: Website Audit (Setup: On-Page)
The website audit can be thought of much like a website health check.
A major goal of the audit is to identify any major technical or functional issues a website may have during the SEO setup process. Of course, any issues found need to be fixed immediately or they will cause systemic ranking problems.
How To Do an SEO Audit of a Website | Website Audit | SEO Process - Step 2 of 10
For brevity, we are only going to cover the main elements of the audit and not go into detail. If you want to learn more about the elements, there is a ton of information available on the web– plus, you tend to learn and retain more when you do the research!
All website fixes should be 100% completed before any off site SEO work is done. Would you land a new jumbo jet on a dirt road? Of course not, and the engineers at Google hold the same view.
Main elements of a website audit
- Technical SEO
- Website Structure
- On-Page SEO
- Website Content Review
- Competitors Website Analysis
- Analyze Design and UX (user experience)
Website audits, like an oil change for a car, extend the life and performance of your SEO campaign. And like oil changes, they need to be done periodically. We recommend running an audit on an annual basis.
Two Cases For a Website Audit
By doing so, you can keep the performance running optimally while also keeping up with ever-changing Google and Yahoo/Bing algorithm changes.
Another reason to periodically run your audit is to remain compliant with the major search engines’ Webmaster Guidelines.
Overlooking or blowing through this step will almost guarantee your site will never get ranked.
Trust us as the experts: If your meta coding is out of parameter and page loading times are slow, this is like pouring water in a bucket with a small hole in the bottom. You keep pouring (effort), yet the results are always the same: You get a quick rise, followed by a long, slow, but inevitable decline.
No matter how many other SEO techniques you do, if your website foundation is bad, your SEO strategy will be a doomed house of cards.
Step 3: Landing Page Optimization (Setup: On-Page)
After keyword selection and the website audit is completed, the important step of landing page review begins.
In our experience, almost every website will need a few new pages built to support the new keywords. However, in rare cases existing pages on a website can be optimized for the new keywords.
If the client chooses 10 keywords in their campaign, you should usually plan on the creation of three to four new pages within the website’s main navigation.
SEO Landing Page Optimization Tips & Tricks | Landing Page Optimization | SEO Process - Step 3 of 10
Years ago, when the search engines were more rudimentary, each keyword basically merited its own landing page and the websites tended to have “keyword overload,” as well as repetition all over the page.
These days, however, several related keywords can be targeted to the same page in a more natural structure so that fewer landing pages are required.
Landing pages support the targeted keywords for your campaign. However, don’t just have a page full of copy… add supporting images, call to action buttons and make the page “come to life.” You will have higher conversion when you do this.
Landing pages typically follow a template style for consistency & conversion.
Image source: Unbounce
Important elements of a successful Landing Page
- Clear value proposition
- Engaging banner image with strategic messaging
- Stated benefits of product or service
- Customer testimonials for credibility
- Call to action buttons
- Quick contact form
Install Landing Pages in the Footer
Usually, keyword targeted landing pages are inserted in the website’s footer (or in the sitemap) so as to not clutter the website’s top navigation.
This way the search engine sees the page as a “first level navigation page” and gives it the proper authority when indexing. When someone does a search on Google, they type in the query, click on the link, and arrive on the landing page.
Another benefit of the landing page is that the user is always within one click of your website’s main pages, such as the home page.
Install Landing Pages in the Main Navigation
Another way to install landing pages is to integrate them within your website’s main navigation structure. This can be a bit more tricky, and you always want your navigation links to support each other and look more fluid.
However, if you can pull this off you can expect higher customer conversion because the website looks more naturally geared towards these targeted keywords.
Beware of the customer who is obsessed with the design of their website. This tends to happen when a customer designed their own website and has an emotional attachment to the look and feel of their website.
When you make the recommendation to add landing pages, you can get a lot of pushback and odd workaround suggestions by the client (don’t do any of them!) in order to avoid doing the necessary SEO work to help their website.
We have heard, for example, “I don’t want keywords on my home page. I wrote the copy myself and everything looks great.”
When this happens, you need to have a straightforward and respectful conversation and simply tell them something like this: “Currently your website is designed for the public. However, Google requires you to design BOTH for the public and the search engine. If you don’t do this, your site will not rank.”
Once they understand the nature of SEO, the customer will usually come around and you can make the much needed changes to the website.
Step 4: Blog Integration (Setup: On-Page)
Over the last several years, blogging has grown and is becoming a more increasingly integral part of an effective SEO strategy. It is a good way to boost traffic, build trust, and also frequently adds new content to your site.
After installing WordPress, our preferred development platform, it’s important to set up the blog theme to include the overview and detail page.
We always use the overview and detail page structure for the maximum SEO benefit. When installing the blog theme, it is also important to use supporting plugins.
Importance of a Blog for a Website | Blog Integration | SEO Process - Step 4 of 10
We use the following WordPress plugins
It is also important to create a top navigation and footer link for your blog, as it shows your visitor this is an important component of your website.
This also helps your blog to get read more often and sends a clear message to Google that your website is a frequent content producer and not simply a static brochure.
Your website blog can be one of the biggest SEO drivers on your website. Set it up correctly, with all the appropriate functionality- and write content with teeth! Your visitors will appreciate it and the search engines will reward you handsomely. Never underestimate the power of your blog!
You NEVER want to approach blogging with the mindset that “it’s a task I have to do.”
If you do, you will quickly become part of the status quo of the millions of average bloggers that waste time and effort on the Internet.
Instead, you should look forward to writing about things that you are passionate about or may be an expert in. Your readers and search engines like engaging and informative content, so always do your best!
These same habits will carry over into all aspects of copywriting you do on your website.
Also know this: It is good to have a strong opinion. Try not to be vanilla and boring. On the flip side, don’t use profanity, disrespectful language, or claims that are so over-the-top that you make some people angry or offend them.
Let me prove the math on the above: You have already invested some of your valuable time reading this post. If it was bad content, you probably would have left a long time ago!
Step 5: Meta Elements (Setup: On-page)
Meta elements, a.k.a. metadata, meta coding, etc., are one of the most basic parts of an SEO strategy. They have been around a long time and are still just as important.
Basically, they are hidden words (hidden from the public, that is) in your website’s coding that tell the search engine what your site is about.
As a result, it’s paramount that you address all the major elements of meta elements as well keeping the information within the search engine’s parameters.
In layman’s terms, meta elements tell the search engine what your website’s pages are about. As you can imagine, the actual web page content needs to also be in balance with the meta elements.
Google compares both to each other, and this forms one of the pillars of their ranking algorithm. Below are some major components of meta elements.
Make sure you do your meta coding correctly and to the search engine’s parameters. After all, you are talking directly to the search engines about your website’s content.
Learn Eight Very Important Meta Elements | Meta Elements | SEO Process - Step 5 of 10
On-page meta elements
- Title tag
- Meta description
- Meta keywords
- Heading tags
- Image alt text
- Breadcrumb navigation
- Schema markup
- Sitemap.xml setup
- Robots.txt setup
- Creating custom 404 error pages
- 301 redirect verification
- Internal content linking
- Google Webmaster Tools and Analytics setup
Meta Coding is what the search engines sees, and not your visitors.
Image source: deepfieldinc.com
For years, literally millions have tried to stuff keywords in meta coding and use other negative techniques (like “hidden text”) to try to artificially influence the search engine for better rankings.
Don’t do it, or you run the risk of being penalized. And many penalties can ultimately become Reconsideration Requests to the search engine.
We guarantee you that any shortcuts or sneaky ideas in meta elements you may think of has already been done by someone, and has been addressed in an update to the search engine’s algorithm.
Think of meta element adjustment in your site as pouring a concrete foundation to a house. It’s not complicated or fancy, but does require some skilled work. And like a house on a good foundation, your SEO strategy will be on much better ground as you move forward.
Step 6: Citation Building (Setup: Off-Page)
Citation listings help search engines verify that your business is legitimate.
This is a seriously important step within local SEO.
When multiple and credible websites all feature the same name, address, and phone number (NAP), website address, and business description, this helps your website build authority, establish trust, and greatly improve your business’s ability to rank in the local search results.
Developing a strong citation profile for your business is one of the most fundamental and cost-effective methods to optimize for Local SEO.
How to Build Local Citations (Complete Guide) | Citation Building | SEO Process - Step 6 of 10
- 76% of SEOs use Citations / Directory listings to build links
- 58% of SEOs use Content Marketing to build links
- 24% of SEOs use Press Releases to build links
- 21% of SEOs use Guest Posts to build links
Top 10 free citations
- Yellow Pages
- Angie’s List
If not done correctly, inconsistent NAP and related business information within citation listings will harm your SEO rankings.
In particularly bad cases, you may need to spend additional money and a lot of time to correct the issue. There is also the ultimate possibility of not having your rankings restored at all due to the severity of the problem.
Our advice is to use a reputable Citation Listing tool and do everything “best practice.”
Step 7: Blog Posting (Routine: On-Page)
Blog posting is an integral part of SEO for many reasons.
First, it tells the search engine robots that your site is routinely producing content and that basically guarantees frequent indexing of your website.
Second, it can help establish your company as a subject matter expert (SME) in your field of expertise.
Third, it can become a major source of quality inbound traffic to your website, and this can have a fantastic effect on your overall SEO efforts.
The WordPress dashboard is easy to use and allows for robust blog management.
Image source: WordPress
How to Write an SEO-Friendly Blog Post | Blog Posting | SEO Process - Step 7 of 10
Blog writing tips
- Focus on 1–2 long-tail keywords that match the intent of your target reader
- Include your 1–2 keywords in specific parts of your post.
- Make sure your blog is mobile-friendly and responsive.
- Optimize your meta description, and use all the space.
- Optimize your images with image alt text.
- Don’t use too many similar topic tags.
- Use URL structures that help your visitors.
- Link internally when possible.
Image source: HubSpot
Google Analytics (when installed on your site) measures important metrics like page stay times, bounce rates, visitors per page, and a lot more!
While you can personally measure your website’s performance, Google Analytics also reports this data back to the mothership: Google. Over the last several years, website performance data has become an ever-growing piece of the pie in the Google ranking algorithm.
An extremely well written SME type blog post can even bring in more traffic than your website’s home page, and Google loves it when an inner page delivers more traffic than your home page.
This scenario can also lead to more stable and higher SEO rankings. For a deeper understanding of this concept, check out the Google Hummingbird update. Specifically, “It also looks deeper at content on individual pages of a website, with improved ability to lead users directly to the most appropriate page rather than just a website’s homepage.”
Also, activate a social sharing widget at the top of your blog which shows how many comments, number of views and shares the post has.
When people see high numbers at the top of your post, they tend to want to read it more, which leads to higher visitor stay times. Google Analytics sees this too and continually boosts your post in the rankings.
If you have the talent and passion, write more than 700 words and develop more informative articles. The search engines will reward you for this effort as you are making your website more of a knowledge base instead of an online brochure.
Social Sharing Widget
The Google Keyword Planner is a great free tool
Image source: Google Keyword Planner
Don’t use Facebook comments in your blog because they are not indexed by Google, which is Facebook’s direct competitor. If you do, you are wasting your time and also bypassing an extremely important part of SEO- visitor commenting.
Instead, enable Disqus comments or native WordPress comments (both are indexable) in your blog and get some compelling back-and-forth conversation going! This will definitely help SEO by showing Google your topic is important.
Step 8: Link Building (Routine: Off-Page)
Back in the late ‘90s when Google started its run to dominance, it began to heavily measure the number of links pointing to a web page to establish its quality.
At first, the number of links (the higher the better) was a huge factor, but over time the relevance of the links began to matter more. Basically, as Google evolved it realized that websites tend to link to other related websites in a natural way.
Link building is the process of acquiring high quality backlinks from other websites to your own website. A backlink (keyword-rich anchor text hyperlink) is inserted in the content for both humans and search engines to navigate between pages from one website to another.
How to Do Link Building in SEO (Ultimate Strategies) | Link Building | SEO Process - Step 8 of 10
Link building also happens to be the most popular and effective off-page SEO technique.
It also has major importance within the Google ranking algorithm. You should work to generate quality “do follow” backlinks from high ranking Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA) niche/related websites.
Reference: Google created a short video to explain how links work on the Internet.
Link building is an incredibly important step in SEO. It should be done carefully, routinely and never forced. Always try to think like the search engine when you build links so your strategy has a natural structure to it.
Linking is an extremely important part of SEO and should be done by professionals.
Image source: singlegrain.com
Manual Link Building- GOOD
For the vast majority of SEO accounts, link building is a manual exercise where quality/related content, such as guest posting, articles, press releases, etc. are submitted to niche websites in order to gain a quality backlink.
This can be a time-consuming and tedious process, but the outcome is definitely worth higher search results rankings.
Natural Link Building- EXCELLENT
Have you ever heard the phrase “Content is King?” It is so true, and great content will generate its own natural backlinks.
Our owner, Rhett DeMille, likes to say “Content is King and linking is the Queen.” Think about a deeply researched PDF, a great video, an informative blog post (hopefully like this one!), or a well-written web page that someone wants to link to as a reference.
Within this post, you notice we have linked to a lot of related websites that lend credibility to what we are saying. And this interlinking of high quality web content represents the best type of link building.
When link building is done with black hat techniques, your site can be penalized, removed from the search results, and your domain name can even be blacklisted.
Example: You have a new website and a “SEO know-it-all” suggests that you need to acquire more and rapidly created backlinks in order to have faster and higher rankings. So you hire this person and they purchase mass backlinks from untrusted and unrelated websites.
These low DA sites can be over-optimized, thereby creating toxic links to your website.
To prevent this type of activity, Google has implemented many types of algorithm updates, including Penguin, which specifically targets websites with spammy content.
Our advice: Always do things white hat–that is, the right way.
Step 9: Google Business Profile Optimization (Routine: Off-Page)
It is a free tool for businesses to manage their online presence across Google, including Google Search and Google Maps. GBP provides a unique platform for small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) to display their storefront address and phone number in Google Maps results. We highly recommend that all businesses add their details in Google Business Profile.
GBP is not really a citation listing; it’s much more.
Think of a GBP as a business directory listing and social media profile. You may have read earlier that citation listings can positively affect GBP rankings, and this is true. However, the two are separate and support each other in your local SEO strategy.
A GBP listing does not require a website
You don’t need a website to create a GBP listing, but a website is strongly recommended, as it forms the foundation of an effective SEO strategy when considering both on-page and off-page work.
GBP data can be reviewed in Google Insights, but not in Google Analytics.
GBP is off-page, while GA is installed within your website.
How to Optimize Google Map Listing | Google Business Profile Optimization | SEO Process - Step 9 of 10
GBP Insights provides performance data within your business listing. Basically, you can explore the keywords that people are searching for, number of searches, number of visits to your website, number of calls, and more.
Google Business Profile is the Internet’s ultimate version of a citation listing and social profile. Put a lot of effort into this and your Local SEO should benefit. Remember this: Nobody loves Google more than… Google (think indexing!).
Google Business Profile Insights shows customer actions within your GBP listing.
Image source: Google Business Profile Insights
Google Business Profile Verification Process (a Gmail or G Suite account is required)
This is a basic process, and the first step is signing up for Google Business Profile, you basically do the following process:
- Go to Google.com/business
- Set up a new Google Account
- Enter your business name
- Enter the address of the business location
- Specify service areas (Service Area Businesses only)
- Choose your business category
- Add a contact phone number and website URL
- Request Google for verification PIN postcard via mail
- After receiving PIN, go to GBP profile and click Verify.
- Enter PIN, click Verify
Google Business Profile Optimization Techniques
After uploading important business details to your newly created GBP page, you should begin the following techniques:
- Add photos and videos to your listing. Also, be sure to enable the “Locations” setting in your smartphone. Google can authenticate imagery this way.
- Write and optimize a compelling business description
- Use Q & As to understand your audience
- Create a Post to showcase offers and promotions
- Add service menus and product collections
- Start requesting and managing Google Reviews
- Maintain your Business Profile
Gaining positive customer reviews is essential for GBP optimization. Higher numbers of favorable comments increase your business’ reputation, branding and credibility.
However, there will occasionally be some instances where an unfavorable review is made.
Maybe a mistake was made, or perhaps the customer woke up on the wrong side of the bed that day. The main thing to know is this is not a disaster–there are some best practice ways to address the problem:
- Assess and evaluate the feedback internally first.
- Publicly respond to the review.
- Be transparent about mistakes.
- Ask questions when details aren’t clear.
- Empathize and offer solutions.
- Sign your name.
- Request an update for review.
When the above steps are done, the situation is almost never made worse, but it does tend to get better. Many times a potential customer will see how you responded to the negative review, and this can end up becoming a positive outcome for your business.
In other cases, the negative review may even be removed by the poster. Regardless of the outcome, follow these steps and you will win a lot more times than you lose!
Step 10: Reporting (Routine: On/Off-Page)
The final step of your SEO process is reporting. This is where both the optimizer and customer should understand how the campaign is performing in the same terms.
Reporting should contain a few main features:
Monthly Campaign Performance Report
Whether you use a PDF, a software generated report, or a spreadsheet, they all should feature the basics like keyword rankings, website traffic, bounce rates, page stay times, and other important metrics you can pull from Google Analytics.
At minimum, the report should feature a summary, technical information (mentioned above), and ROI Tracking.
How to Create SEO Monthly Report for Client | Reporting | SEO Process-Step 10 of 10
Image source: Google Image
While all the above is great info, you should have a monthly call with the customer as well!
During the call, go over the important aspects of the campaign and take notes. Personally, we like to record our calls for our technical team to hear later, as it helps them better understand what they are responsible for.
Elements of a Monthly Campaign Performance Report–What it should contain
Market Analysis–What We are Seeing
Talk about some high level points of interest in layman’s terms. Think of something noteworthy the client would really find interesting. Sprinkle in some math to back up what you are saying.
For example, here is some information we provided for one of our clients, who offered industrial cleaning services during the COVID-19 period:
“Disinfection type keywords have seen an exponential increase in searches over the last few months. From 5/7/20 until 7/20/20, “disinfection type services” searches have increased 9,328.57%.” As a result, we recommend to add at least (5) disinfection type keywords to your campaign.”
Performance–How Your Campaign is Progressing
This is where you show keyword rankings, website traffic, bounce rates, page stay times, website speed, and more: basically all the technical stuff that people in our field get excited about.
Notice I mentioned “our” instead of the customer. While data is important, it doesn’t mean much to most of your customers. What does this mean? Don’t make this the most important section of your report. Try and think like your customer.
This is self-explanatory. As you have been working in the campaign, this is an opportunity to recommend proactive things like a website content refresh, new plugins, or a new web page describing how your customer produces something (such as a process style blog post like this).
Talk about the good recent campaign tweaks you have done here. Perhaps you added a 20th Year Anniversary ribbon to the top of the website, meta element adjustment, or maybe you did extra work on a keyword and its now ranking on the 1st page of Google.
You could have recently implemented an ROI tracking system in the SEO campaign (see below).
This is advanced stuff if you are new to this. It tends to be used for bigger clients with larger budgets.
If you have a willing and capable customer, set up a basic return on investment (ROI) tracking system. While this can be a bit complicated to understand, it’s essentially where the campaign can be justified (or not) to the customer in terms of dollars.
We try to keep this very brief and note some basic points:
Create a basic spreadsheet and use this simple example formula:
ROI is calculated by dividing the net return (sales profit) on investment by the cost of investment (your SEO fee) and multiplying by 100%.
Example Calculation: Total net profit = $15,000 / $3,000 *100 = 500%
Hypothetically, the above formula means the client received a +500% ROI from your SEO firm for this particular month. The $3,000 is the cost of SEO.
Note #1: ROI calculation needs to be done at the end of each calendar month.
Note #2: You will need the customer’s total sales profit for that month (in dollars) in order to make the calculation. A percentage of sales profit will NOT work, as all your formula inputs need to be in dollars.
You can set up ROI tracking for E-commerce as well with some basic adjustments.
Professional level reporting is like hitting the top of the striker bell at the fair. This is where both the client and vendor can see success.
Reporting is the most important step of the SEO Process. Numbers don’t lie and when you are really good at what you do, it shows. Always strive to improve your reporting process and everything else you do in SEO will improve as a result!
Final Thoughts on Reporting
You can imagine that if you are not good at your craft, this is where a lot of problems will be found. Think of a bad report card.
If you are new to this industry, this can be one of the most scary aspects of SEO, because it requires everything you know to come together nicely under the spotlight of the customer’s scrutiny.
If you are a newbie, our advice is to keep your report basic, to the point, and don’t get too wordy. Otherwise, you could be painting yourself into a corner.
Over time, add sections of value to your report and your template will only improve for the next customer you gain.
On the flip side, if you are experienced at this, great reporting builds customer confidence and dramatically increases the chance of client retention, upselling your services, and referral business.
Basically, there is a high chance this client is going to spend more money with you on an ongoing basis. After all, your efforts are instrumental in helping to grow their business.
At any time during reporting…like the client reviewing the report…or the phone meeting…always remember what you are obligated to do by your contract with the proposal and not what the client may ask for in real time.
For example, if your proposal states to “gain a first page ranking for each keyword within Google within so many months,” that means any position on the first page will meet that goal.
If the client says, “I want to be ranked #1 for this keyword” and Wikipedia just so happens to be in the top position–and if you agree to that task–guess what? You just earned a lifetime’s worth of uncompensated work ahead of you.
While this is an extreme example, there very likely will be a time where you face a situation like it. In some industries and/or larger metro areas, it can be very difficult to simply gain a first page ranking for a keyword, let alone hold the position against heavy competition.
A way to avoid this problem is to review the proposal with the client before you ever begin work on their account.
In the event they need “additional work not specified” in their contract, kindly remind them what you are obligated to do and let them know that you will be glad to give them a new upgraded proposal with specific language and adjusted fees.
If you are a developer or casual reader, we hope you gained something of value from this article.
While there are many ways to do SEO, this is the way we do it at PalmettoSoft, and we have been quite successful at it. When in doubt about a technique, you should always do your research to find the best white hat method.
And if you are still stumped, feel free to contact us and we will do our best to steer you in the right direction.
Don’t forget that a website needs one complete content refreshment per year at minimum. Otherwise, your rankings will start to get stale.
Finally, your best performing campaigns tend to be the ones where your customers take a personal interest in SEO for their business. After all, their input and thoughts can help provide critical guidance to long-term success.
Now let’s transition into the technical stuff.
What is SEO?
SEO, or search engine optimization, is the continual process of improving a website’s ranking in the organic search results. Work is done both on the website and off the site (technically known as On-page SEO and Off-page SEO) in the effort to target keywords which match what the business/organization wants to be found online for. Ultimately, these keywords should be boosted to the 1st page of the SERPs (search engine results pages).
“For example, for a typical search query, the number one result will receive 40-60% of the total traffic for that query, with the number two and three results receiving significantly less traffic. Only 2-3% of searchers click beyond the first page of search results.”
Once started, SEO work should never stop primarily due to: Continual search engine algorithm updates and competitor movements.
A hypothetical SEO campaign in action: A business manufactures faux alligator purses for sale to the public. It has optimized for many keywords, but a specific few are “fake alligator pocketbook” and “imitation crocodile purses.” When the visitor searches for one of these terms, the business is found on the 1st page search results.
Then, the visitor clicks on the link and visits the website- and ultimately buys a bag. The main goal of the SEO campaign is to deliver as many potential customers as possible to buy these products.
It is also very important to understand that professional SEO is one of the highest ROI marketing activities that a business can do. Why? First, the website owner is not paying for clicks, such as an advertising solution like Google Ads… and secondly: Optimization itself, and the act of doing it, makes the website continually better as a destination for the visitor. Better website = Better conversion.
Takeaway: It can be a great long term online marketing solution.
What are the main areas of SEO?
There are two main areas of SEO:
On-Page: This is work done on the website, such as a meta coding, content interlinking, image ALT Tag, etc…
Off-Page: This is work done off the website, such as promotion which ultimately builds value backlinks.
What is the average size of an SEO campaign?
Many SEO firms, for example, measure campaign size by the number of targeted keywords. For a small campaign, this number in many instances is around (10)
Larger campaigns can sometimes target more than (50), with each keyword “being its own unique battle in order to gain a 1st page search engine results page (SERPs) ranking.”
Does PageRank still dominate the Google algorithm for SEO?
- No, it does not.
PageRank is a ranking algorithm developed in 1998, in which it basically measures the “value” of inbound links to a website. Typically, more links meant an ultimately higher search result ranking.
After years of evolution as well as millions of black hat attempts to cheat PageRank for artificially high results, Google stopped offering the PageRank toolbar to the public in 2013. Nowadays, PageRank is used nominally by Google when ranking websites, and carries exponentially less authority than when it was first created.
Can you describe how the Google ranking algorithm functions in layman’s terms?
The Google algorithm is a machine learning system which attempts to match the most relevant websites to a query in which the user enters into the Google search engine. It is commonly thought in the SEO industry that Google measures hundreds if not thousands of signals within their algorithm.
Does Google consider Domain Authority in ranking websites?
No… but hold on.
Domain Authority is not a Google ranking factor and has no effect on the SERPs. Domain Authority and Page Authority are ranking formulas developed by Moz.com– a commonly understood search engine authority.
However, in an indirect method, a higher domain authority can help a website rank higher in the search results.
How often does the Google ranking algorithm update?
While this is not an exact number, in 2018 for example, Google updated more than 3,000 times. However, these tend to be minor updates with 1-2 major updates occurring each year.
Basically, it updates continually and SEO should never be a one time exercise.
What is the typical time duration between Google indexing?
Typically between 4 days to 4 weeks- or more.
Does Google Analytics report website data to Google?
Absolutely. In addition, website analytics data is an ever increasing performance metric used in how a website ranks in the SERPs.
Is the Facebook Comments Plugin indexable by the Google algorithm?
Yes, but this was not always the case up until recently. A more informative answer can be found in this article.
Rhett Cameron DeMille is the founder and operator of PalmettoSoft, a digital marketing company founded in 2005. Among his peers, he is known as a “process and methodology” guy and loves to help expand the online presence of his customers.
He also periodically writes subject matter expert blog posts on SEO, PPC, web design and reputation management topics. And several of these posts are globally ranked on the 1st page of Google.