Posted October 23, 2006 9:00 am by with 0 comments

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By Michael Jensen

You have your own way of doing SEO, and that’s how it should be. However, streamlining your SEO process will make your life much, much easier. Take it from the Zephyr. The Zephyr was one of the first “Streamliner” trains introduced in the 1930s, designed to be fast, efficient, and sleek. The Zephyr changed the rail industry, and brought it from hardship to profitability. Why streamline your SEO process? Because you and your clients benefit when you are faster, more efficient, and yes, even sleek.

So, here are five steps you can start doing right now to streamline your SEO process.

1) Define your Services

Create a list of all services that you can offer, including those you subcontract out. Consider services relating to keyword research, content writing and optimization, link building, and site optimization, and categorize your services into these (or other) areas. Services that complement SEO such as marketing, advertising, and website design may also be on your list. Review your website content, marketing material, and advertising campaigns and make sure they reflect your list of services.

2) Create standard Checklists

You’ve gathered quite a list of SEO do’s and don’ts and now it’s time to materialize this knowledge into checklists. The advantage of checklists is having a structured, consistent, and thorough review of each project to ensure that you remember even the small points of SEO.

Each area of your services (keywords, content, link building, etc.) should have its own checklist of items to look for when doing a project review. Each of your services (from step 1) should be represented by at least one item in a checklist, and most services will have multiple items.

Items in a checklist can be in the form of questions, points to check for, or tasks to complete. As an example, here are a few items from two of my checklists:

Keyword Checklist
  • Does each keyword have its own respective landing page?
  • Run topical keyword analysis tool for top keywords
  • What keywords are your competitors using for pay-per-click ads?

Content Checklist

  • Landing pages have main keyword in title, header, and body
  • Client has an active blog and allows comments
  • Data or pages primarily behind search forms are accessible with text links

Each checklist serves as a starting point for new projects. With each new project, walk through your checklists and mark those items that have been completed. Each item left unchecked then becomes a task on your to-do list.

3) Create a set of Reports

When you first meet with a client, provide at least one report, such as a competitive report or a site analysis report. Reports benefit customers by informing them of what you have found and what you will be doing to address the issues at hand. Attractive, informative, and periodic reports can go a long way in building and maintaining trust with clients. Having an automated report from your website may be a great way to catch the attention of potential clients.

Not only are reports for your clients important, but you should have internal reports to gauge your progress (some examples). Internal reports are more technical and advanced than client reports, as they are meant for you. In addition to tracking progress for your projects, internal reports may point out ways in which you may be underperforming or excelling.

4) Find or develop a set of Tools

SEO Tools allow you to not only perform a function, but to do it faster. You can find better keywords, optimize your content, identify pages needing more backlinks, check rankings, and so much more.

Your first step is to try out all the tools you can. Keep a log of the tools that you try out (include the tool’s name and URL). Mark the tools you really like and find informative or useful. As I try out tools, I like to save a screenshot of the tool’s results so I can quickly be reminded of what each tool provides.

As you try out various tools, you may find yourself thinking, “They should have added this, then it would be really powerful!” Suggest your idea to the author of the tool, or redesign the tool yourself. Brainstorm ideas for new tools that would complete your “suite” of SEO tools, then build them yourself or partner with someone who can. By establishing a set of tools you use, you can dig deeper into each project while saving time.

5) Create your team of Specialists

If you’re like me you’re not a master of all things SEO. You might prefer using a specialist for link building or for writing unique content. Start by finding a specialist for each service that you offer but do not do on your own. These specialists become your “team”, your set of specialists that you source out work to. If you’re not sure where to start in finding specialists, try recommendations from fellow SEOs (like here and here).

In working with your team of specialists, establish a standard communication workflow for each project, from start to finish. Agree beforehand with the provider on a cost and time frame for their services. If the services are based on factors that vary from project to project, try to work out a set cost and time frame for a range of possibilities.

[The above article is a submission for Marketing Pilgrim’s Search Engine Marketing Scholarship Contest. Each Monday in October, entries will be published and the most popular article of the week will qualify for the $5,000 grand prize. If you’d like to submit an entry, please view the contest entry-requirements and guidelines.]

Photo copyright Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago,