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. 

We now have a dedicated SEO strategist who, among other things, develops 90 day plans for our websites. 90 days isn't longterm planning, but at least we have a strategic objective for the quarter. He also works closely with our UX team to identify the target audience - the crew that does the persona research and focus groups prior to the wireframe stage.

Very in-depth information, Brian. I love the part about updating old content, I still find old articles in search results, sometimes 3+ years ago that are clearly out of date when it comes to marketing topics. I usually skip those results, and wonder how that content is still ranking, but it would be great if everyone updated that content. This entire post is full of useful tips, as usual. I am bookmarking now, and sharing-
This SEO tool will check any Web page's header tags. Use our header checker to find any page's status code to ensure that your URLs are returning the appropriate status codes and redirects are working properly. A surprising number of indexing and ranking problems come from erroneous redirects, so it's crucial to be sure that all of the HTTP status codes are correct.
Sure, we did keyword research, we recommended partnerships and widgets and architecture advice, but we didn’t step back and take a good look at our target audiences, what sites were meeting their specific needs in search results, and what we specifically could build into the product that would be far more desirable than what everyone else had (not even thought of yet ideally) to make sure our entire site is superior, resulting in the inevitable stealing of search traffic from our competitors.
Of all the competitive intelligence tools we’ve looked at so far, The Search Monitor is one of the most useful. PPC marketers can use The Search Monitor to examine data on sponsored listings and PLAs across nine ad networks and 1,200 industry verticals, and also offers a ton of geotargeting and custom audience functionality. Well worth checking out.
Like many SEOs, I was hired with one vague responsibility: to set up an SEO program and achieve results. Like many SEOs, we jumped right in and started spewing out SEO audits, rewriting title tags, offering up backlink suggestions, rewriting URLs and so on. And like many SEOs we promised results. But what we didn’t do, until that fateful launch, was develop a comprehensive strategy.
See your site how the spider sees it with one of our most useful Internet marketing tools. This one-stop glimpse of your site's most basic information can give insight into minor adjustments that can have a major impact. Use this tool to evaluate your internal links, meta information, and page content. By adjusting these elements, you can structure your site to reach its maximum potential.

You mentioned: "many times clients have already done this work.  Ask them for copies of their market research reports when you start a project.  It will save you a ton of time and effort!"  We do this with most of our clients, like you said we have found that around 75% of the have some kind of Market research done, that saves you a lot of time and helps setting up the right SEO Strategy. 
Tailwind is a super simple yet supremely powerful content scheduling solution for Pinterest and Instagram. You can use it to save time with bulk image upload, really easy drag and drop calendar, multi-board pinning and pin looping, hashtag lists, and more. Plus, you can automatically optimize your Pinterest and Instagram schedules based on when your audience is most engaged.
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