Main Points

  • Free 15-minute consultation.
  • Checklist of initial things I do once we start working together:
    • Page/Keyword Map
    • Google Webmaster Tools, Yahoo Site Explorer, Live Search Webmaster Center
    • Google Analytics
    • Check incoming links
    • Forward http://yoursite.com to http://www.yoursite.com
    • Fixed IP hosting?
  • Develop keyword phrase list.
  • Next: Two Categories of Search Engine Marketing, Part 1 – Pay-Per-Click

First Steps

Consultation

I offer a free 15-minute consultation to potential clients, and engage in longer discussions once they have signed on. First, we’ll discuss your particular situation – what has been done so far, your budget, etc., and get a rough idea of the most effective strategy for your site. If you decide to work with me, I’ll send you a contract and an “Info Needed” form which enables me to collect a lot of essential information from you all at once, rather than piecemeal.

Once We Start Working Together

Presuming that nothing has yet been done, here’s how I would proceed to work on your site. These steps will differ according to the client, their needs, budget, preferences, etc., but this gives you a general idea.

First, I go through a checklist, attending to a few basic things, if necessary:

  • Run software to create a catalog of site pages, including their title tags. We’ll eventually use this to create a Page/Keyword Map, in order to make sure that all of your important keywords are represented on one or another page.
  • Set up Google Webmaster Tools, Yahoo Site Explorer, Bing Webmaster Tools accounts for the site. Create an xml sitemap and submit it to each of these services. This helps insure that all the pages in your site are “spidered” (visited and indexed by the search engine spiders).
  • Check Google Webmaster Tools to make sure Google hasn’t detected problems in your site, such as duplicate title tags, broken links, etc.
  • Set up Google Analytics. If we’re going to be doing pay-per-click accounts, I’ll wait until Google Adwords is set up, so as to more easily integrate Adwords with Analytics. This will enable us to monitor site traffic to see how our SEO efforts are paying off, and will provide a wealth of data for keyword research, pay-per-click management, etc.
  • Run software to see who’s linking to your site, and take note of whether your site is in the Open Directory Project (http://dmoz.org), and a few key paid directories, such as Yahoo!
  • If your site is on a Unix server, I create or alter your .htaccess file so that http://yoursite.com will be forwarded to http://www.yoursite.com. This consolidates PageRank (Google’s measure of a page’s importance, based on links to it) and prevents potential duplicate content issues. If you’re on a Windows server, there are other ways of doing this.
  • Are you on a dedicated or shared IP? Probably shared. If so, you may be sharing it with porn sites or sites distributing malware which could tarnish your site’s reputation. Also, shared IP hosting may be slower, and fixed IP sites tend to rank higher in the search results. If you’re hosting service makes it easy and inexpensive to do, I’ll switch you from a shared to a fixed IP account. We might consider switching hosts. You shouldn’t be paying more than $79/year for fixed IP hosting.

Develop Key Word Phrase List

The main point of SEO is to ensure that your site is found when people search for your products or services. To do that, we need to know what search terms your potential site visitors are using. We’ll work together on this, as you surely know more about your business than I do, while I have a lot of experience doing this sort of thing. I’ll create lists of potential keywords using professional keyword research software, your competitors’ keywords, and Google’s keyword research tool, and we’ll collaborate to refine and organize these keywords into relevant groups.

If we’re going to do pay-per-click campaigns, these groups will each represent an “Adgroup” – a group of related keywords which we’ll associate with short ads. We’ll also want to cluster the most important keywords (the most relevant ones with the highest search volume) into groups of two or three so that we may optimize each page in your site, and if necessary create additional pages so that all important keywords are covered by one or another page.

Next: Two Categories of Search Engine Marketing – Pay-Per-Click