Having a consistent SEO process is critical for any SEO company as well as any SEO professional. By taking the time to write out a training manual for your employees (even if you haven’t hired any yet) you accomplish a couple different things. First, defining your SEO process allows you to be more consistent in your own work, and it allows SEO teams to be more consistent in the work they deliver. Especially in cases where multiple SEO team members are working on the same project. So for example, writing out step by step instructions on how to create a page title tag ensures that every page title tag, whether its your work or another team members, adheres to whatever best practices have made you successful. There are of course many different opinions on what the best approach for any aspect of SEO is. But whatever your approach, it should be consistent. And defining the approach is the first time to ensuring that consistency as well as providing a standard of accountability.
Secondly, defining your SEO process makes you really dissect what you do and why. And that leads to a better overall process. Defining your process makes you start asking questions about why you do, what you do, and why you don’t do other things. And in SEO, you always have to adapt to emerging trends and having your process well defined allows you to quickly integrate new activities into your process without a lot of confusion. Their are a lot of small details to doing an SEO campaign, and without a well defined check list for your process, especially when there is more than one person involved, its easy for things to fall by the way side.
So here are some suggestions that you might think about for defining your process:
1) Create an Outline – a step by step, high level approach to your process from the point where a contract is signed until the last deliverable has been executed.
An oversimplified version for SEO might be:
Site Diagnostic (what needs to be fixed)
Fix Technical Issues (we call those site wide issues)
On Page Optimization (lets make some Meta tags!)
Off Page Optimization (internal and external link development)
Now obviously there is a lot more to the whole process but you get the idea. This will serve as your master outline and that document allows you to understand how incorporating new ideas into your process will affect everything else. Additionally it really helps for training purposes.
2) Get Granular – Once you have the SEO process outline, make sure your define each step in the process with instructions that are clear enough that someone who is totally new to SEO could follow. And be as detailed as possible. So for example, you should have clear instructions written on how to create Meta Tags as per your own philosophy (and by the way, its good to re read those on a periodic basis once you write them to make sure you are following you own best practices). Having those instructions written out makes your process clearer in your own mind, keeps you consistent with yourself, and allows your team to be consistent in their approach as well. Which also helps ensure a successful project since your rules are based on what is working for you. It’s also good to create a repository of related links for each subject that can be referenced for both training purposes as well as client education.
3) Make a Checklist – Write down all the things from a technical point of view that you need to check for on each site. Things like redirects, potential duplicate content issues like tracking codes or canonical issues, or technology like Flash or Java script, should all be defined along with the options for resolution. Having your check list ensures that you never forget any important detail to look at. And when your list is over 50 items long like ours is, it’s easy to forget something if you just rely on your memory. Especially those of us who have been playing rock music for 17 years…lol.
4) Communicate the Process – A wiki is a great tool when you have a collaboration environment like we do at BOL where different people are responsible for staying on top of different aspects of SEO. Obviously for a smaller enviornment a collection of word documents on a shared location works fine. But whatever the medium, the information should be freely accessible to all members of the SEO team and integrated into their workflow.
5) Research and Develop – Make sure that you put time aside every month to revisit your process, try new things, text old things and listen to the market. Your process should always be evolving. For example, if you recommend a blog strategy for link and content development to clients as part of your SEO solution, a Twitter account recommendation may be something you incorporate into your process. Not because it has any direct SEO value, but because of your ability to promote your blog posts and network with other bloggers which then allows you to be more productive in your link acquisition campaign. The recent adoption curve of Twitter among bloggers is an example of the kinds of new technologies that can have an affect on your SEO process and require you to change. And since the Internet changes so rapidly, its important to devote time to research and development of your process on a monthly basis.
Hopefully this post inspires some folks to really define their own SEO process. The rewards far out weigh the cost of doing it, although you might not feel that way about it until your done…lol. Have a great week.