Click here to contact Chris, PHP Web Developer - SEO Specialist
Each web design and marketing project is unique and brings it's very own set of obstacles and challenges. Often when beginning work with a new client, a design professional and marketing consultant (I use the terms together since one practically can't go without the other these days) will need to look at the scope of the project and the goals of the client to determine the best methods for building and marketing that business.
I have recently been approached by a few different companies and noticed that absolutely none of these companies have the same needs... not that I was trying to fit each of these companies into the same box. A potential client is always concerned with getting the best bang for their buck and since SEO is a long process they want to make sure that their investment is being utilized wisely. Totally understand!
In this article I will attempt to address some of the issues web design and development professionals, as well as search engine optimization (SEO) consultants, are faced with when beginning the execution of a campaign.
Get a Feel For Your Potential Client
- Determine if you are a good fit for each other. Having a functional work relationship will only make each of your lives easier. That company is coming to you for advice and even though you are not technically working for the same company you are definitely going to be in each others lives for some time to come. Evaluate each other and determine if your personalities and works styles mesh well together. It is okay to politely tell a client that you aren't the right fit for the project and refer them to somebody else who may be.
- Learn about their company. This is important on so many different levels. The niche a company falls under will initially determine the design of the site. Certain types of companies needs a certain look and feel. From a marketing standpoint, certain niches bring more or less competition so determining these factors will help map out a campaign. Perform keyword research revolving around your clients main terms to help them understand what you are up against from an SEO standpoint.
- National or Local? Some clients may be running an national eCommerce campaign or blog while other may only want to target customers in a specific geographic location. Optimizing for each requires a different approach so determine immediately what the project will require so it can be executed properly.
- Who are their main competitors? As an SEO professional this will give you an idea about what kind of campaigns other companies are running and why they may or may not be successful. This way you can look at how those sites are set up and what kind of link building campaigns they may be running.
- Keep the lines of communication open!!! This business revolves around relationships! Even 12th State Creative gets contacted by SEO companies pitching their services so maintaining a positive, professional business relationship is very important. Each SEO can be replaced and there are many of us. The client is paying for your services so always be very transparent with what you are doing. They have the right to know and absolutely deserve to know what they are paying for!
- Has the company already built a site? This is important for many reasons.
- SEO is based around good, clean code. Often times I have people contact me who outsourced development to somebody overseas. While the project may have been completed they were left with jumbled, deprecated code which has been preventing good organic search results. Audit the existing site and determine where errors and issues occur.
- What CMS is being used? Was the site built using WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Square Space, or some other content management system and should you convert the existing site to another CMS? Certain content management systems are more user friendly and SEO friendly. I am personally a huge fan of WordPress and recommend all clients use that. It is easy to modify and very easy to teach a new client. There are also times when we will convert clients within WordPress itself. Avoid templates if at all possible! They are not easily customizable and will prevent problems in the future. NEVER use drag and drop web building programs.
- Perform a Website Audit! If another marketing company worked on the site (and did it for cheap) then most likely there are going to be major flaws in the code and the existing marketing campaign.
- Look at all content. See if it is thin, or stuffed with keywords, or has any characteristic of poorly written content that could get the site penalized by search engines. Make sure the content is properly structured using the right hierarchy of header tags. Observe blogs posts and see if they are tagged and categorized efficiently.
- Look at meta data. This is most obvious and the most overlooked! Make sure all titles and descriptions are properly written targeting the correct keywords for each page. Do not put too much emphasis on meta keywords since these are not really relevant to search engines anymore.
- Account creation. Has the site been setup with Google Analytics and all of the proper Webmaster Tools Accounts (Google, Bing, etc.) yet? Have they been properly configured?
- Link building strategy! What kind of link building campaign is being run. If a company hired somebody with the "1000 links for 100 dollars" approach then chances are they are being penalized by search engines. Dig into their links to see if they have been penalized or over optimized.
- Content creation. Does the company already have an established content creation strategy? If so look at the quality of the content to see if it is spun or duplicated. If so then you have trouble. Is it well written and optimized properly?
- Directory submissions. Has the company already been submitted to the major directories such as DMOZ, Yahoo Directory, Best of the Web, etc. If so great! Are they submitted to too many low quality directories? This can negatively effect the site.
New Site and Campaign?
- I prefer to start a project from scratch. Doing so can help you avoid the pitfalls of whoever was designing and running the campaign before you. Creating a new site gives you the freedom to build and structure a site exactly as you want and create content, build links, and market a company through their social media channels accordingly. It is much easier to avoid penalties and mistakes then correct penalties and mistakes.
- Use a friendly CMS and teach your client exactly how to use it. Making small changes every couple of days is not only time consuming for you, but also expensive for the client. Teaching them how to get around their new site will allow them the freedom to make small changes to content when they feel fit.
- Design a site that users can easily navigate and feel comfortable with. Map out the navigation and structure of the site. The user has to enjoy looking at and using a site for it to be useful. Web design professionals should work with the client to design a site that they are comfortable with and that users will be comfortable with as well. After all... it is the client who is paying for the site.
- Determine if cross channel marketing is necessary. Sometimes targeting just organic results is not enough. Explore the possibility of conducting a PPC or social media campaign as well. Just to name a few options. This will help to draw new and different types of traffic.
- Create a content creation schedule. Unique, original content can't be emphasized enough. Determine targeted topics that are relevant to users and other professionals as well. If the content is useful then so is the site and traffic and results will greatly benefit from it.
- Build clean links. This is tricky and important. Start with creating good content. Then determine the best way to communicate with other users. Having a strong and natural link profile will greatly benefit results. Try guest blogging!
These are a few of the issues and possible solutions I cross whenever beginning work on a new project. Sometimes the answers are not always clear cut, but analytically thinking about a project and what is needed for each client with help produce quality results and leads.
I hope this article has been useful. If you ever have any questions then feel free to contact 12th State Creative!
12th State Creative is a full service web design, web development, SEO, PPC, and social media agency in North Carolina.
Click here to contact Chris, PHP Web Developer - SEO Specialist