Let me tell you a story. Early in my tenure at Yahoo we tried to get into the site dev process in the early stages in order to work SEO into the Product Recommendations Documents (PRD) before wireframing began. But as a fairly new horizontal group not reporting into any of the products, this was often difficult. Nay, damn near impossible. So usually we made friends with the product teams and got in where we could.


Over the next few posts, and starting with this one, I’m going to share with you a detailed 8-step process for creating your own SEO strategy (what I often refer to as an SRD (SEO Research Document)), beginning with defining target audiences and taking it all the way through some fairly comprehensive competitive research, search traffic projections, content strategies, and specific goals and prioritizations.
I’ve just taken the SEO role at my agency full time and, whilst it can be difficult at times, I am liking the challenge. I wonder if you had any suggestions when it came to finding “opportunity keywords” for term/subjects that don’t necessarily have massive search volumes associated to them? I use a few tools and utilise Google’s related terms already, but wondered if there were any tricks for finding new markets?
What if you could entrust your Twitter account to a machine? This isn’t dystopian science fiction but a reality thanks to Happy Cyborg, a fun tool that’s still in beta. Happy Cyborg assumes control of your Twitter handle and behaves as you would based on common responses to Twitter interactions. Probably not recommended for corporate accounts, but it could be ideal for busy entrepreneurs who find themselves tweeting the same stuff frequently.
If you havent see it already, check out the links in shor's comment below - there are some great resources in there. In some cases you can also consider surveying your current audience or customers through email, on-site surveys or SurveyMonkey.  Be sure to ask for some profiling information that you can use for determining specific persona needs like age, sex, location, etc. (Probably best not to make it sound like a creepy text chat like I just did though...)  :)
This plugin will let you easily link to your old articles, pages, or other sites to improve their rankings in search engines and generate more clicks. The internal link building plugin lets you assign keywords to given destination URLs. This way, your website will link within itself like it's done in Wikipedia - every time a keyword occurs, it links to the page you specified in the plugin dashboard.
Laura,Great post.  This touches something I wish more SEOs practiced: conversion optimization. I think most SEOs think of what they do as a service for, instead of a partnership with clients.  The end result should never be raw traffic, but value obtained through targeted, CONVERTING traffic.You make excellent points about market research, product input, content creation, and other functions many SEOs and SEMs neglect.More and more SEO providers focus only on assembly line basics and worn out techniques instead of challenging themsleves to learn product marketing, usability, and conversion optimization.Your advice on market research is extremely valuable.Great start to a promising series.  I look forward to more!
If you havent see it already, check out the links in shor's comment below - there are some great resources in there. In some cases you can also consider surveying your current audience or customers through email, on-site surveys or SurveyMonkey.  Be sure to ask for some profiling information that you can use for determining specific persona needs like age, sex, location, etc. (Probably best not to make it sound like a creepy text chat like I just did though...)  :)
On the other hand, I'd like to know how many people constitutes your new experience as an indipedent consultant? Infact, as others noted in the comments here, what you suggest is perfect especially for an in-house SEO situation or in for an Web Marketing Agency with at least 5/8 people working in. Even if all you say is correct and hopefully what everybodies should do, I honestly find quite difficult to dedicate all the amount of time and dedication in order to check all the steps described in your post. Or, at least, I cannot imagine myself doing it for all the clients.
I second Rand's comment!  Congrats on moving from the corporate world to the independent consultant.  This is my goal for the near future.  I too have been testing the waters of independent consulting, but it doesn't quite pay the bills yet!  Sometimes I feel like I should find a mentor who has been where I am now and is where I want to go.  Perhaps i'll find a few in this community over time!
The first step of an SEO strategy is to complete a through analysis of the website and its competition. During an analysis (or when it is a top-to-bottom analysis with a reporting component, an SEO audit) the consultant can see firsthand the strengths and weaknesses of the current technical infrastructure of the site, what keywords have been targeted previously, the on-page content, the link building profile and competitor analysis. It is essential that clients are straightforward with optimization experts about techniques they have used in the past.
To help marketers save time and get more done, we've rounded up our top 99 online marketing tools for small businesses and big businesses alike. This huge list of marketing tools includes (almost!) every tool you’ll ever need to master (almost!) every aspect of a digital marketing campaign, from PPC and SEO to social to content and email marketing. Some tools are very specific, whereas others offer robust, diverse functionality. Some are free, others are not. Either way, you can check out the whole list, or skip to the section on the online marketing strategy you’re most interested in:
This is the exciting part of SEO strategy plans. The agreed changes to your website are implemented on your pages either directly by your consultancy if you have a content management system (CMS) or they will liaise with your web developer for them to code the changes required. The off-page optimization including link building and options such as optimizing Google Places pages is also done at this critical stage. This is the core of an SEO strategy – the on-the-ground work that helps to increase your site’s visibility in search engines.
Wow, brilliant strategy! I am thrilled to learn something new and effective that isn’t “black hat”. And yes, this does require work, but that’s precisely what it should require. I would rather see sites ranking high because they contribute terrific content (i.e. useful/interesting infographics) to their niche vs. the person exploiting the latest loophole. But that’s just my opinion 🙂

The All in One SEO Pack plugin has more than one million active installs. You won’t have to look far to find competitors, but there’s a reason why so many people use this tool. Not only is it free and simple, but it’s results can’t be denied. It will definitely help your website, from an SEO perspective, which is something all new businesses are interested in.
As I had a teacher at school who was always really picky on how to draw conclusions I must say that the conclusions you drew for your health situation might be true, but dangerous. For example: If slightly more women than men suffer from health deseases it could be wise to write the information toward women. But, if you take search behaviour into account thing could look a lot different: It might turn up that men search more than women or that (senior) men are more present on the net than women.
Once you are happily ranking on Search Engines, you will need to discuss with the experts at your SEO consultancy whether you should expand your keyword portfolio and target more keywords or choose to maintain the optimization of your site. This will depend again on factors such as how many pages your website has, the competition in your industry, the traffic driven to your site, your conversion rate and so on.

On one specific project, one of the SEOs on my team was brought in during the wireframe stage. T­he entire product team held SEO-specific meetings every week to go over specific recommendations, taking them very seriously, and leaning on every word our team said. We were thrilled. We were hailing their efforts, promising big wins for the relaunch, and even hyping up the launch and it’s projected SEO results in the company SEO newsletter.


Thanks for bringing up this point - I agree Eric - competitive positioning can help you determine value that you bring to the table that your competitors dont.  I'm all for it.  Neilsen does some reports that provide awareness, likelihood to recommend, sentiment and other insightsfor your site/brand and your competitors. You can also pull some of that type of insight out of social listening platforms like NetBase, SM2, Radian6, Dow Jones, Nielsen, and so many others.  I've even done some hacked compeitove sentiment comprisons before using Search: searching for [brand or feature] + "like", "love", hate", "wish" etc. 

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