I’ve been bothering Joel Klettke about answering a few questions on my site for a couple weeks now, and I finally got around to sending him an email with “specifics” about the post. Over Twitter, I probably presented the proposals as a few easy Q&As. I’m sure he wasn’t really expecting to write out a guest post when he received my generic email.
Joel knows his SEO. I wanted to bring him onto my site because he brings a different perspective, and usually a very logical one too. Basically, I asked him to share with us his best practice “check list” when taking on a new client. I asked him for 5 actionable tips. Here are some SEO pearls of wisdom from Joel:
Joel’s Best Practice “Check List” for SEO
1. The very first thing I do is take a look at the client’s website and ask one pivotal question: “Will this content EVER convert? “. Forget keywords, forget links, forget rankings and traffic. If the client’s website looks like it was vomited out by geocities or their content reads like a third-graders poem then any of my SEO work will be a wash.
If I want to prove my value to the client and keep getting paid, I’ve got to define what a conversion will mean for them and then make sure their website isn’t getting in the way.
2. Time to make sure the website’s structure doesn’t womp balls. No sense in building links to a broken site. Before doing anything else, the site needs to pass three tests:
- Can this site be indexed properly? Canonical issues, bad structure and buried orphan pages must become things of the past. Oh, and while you’re at it – if your site is bigger than one page put in a sitemap. I don’t care what anyone else says, it takes 30 seconds. Do it.
- Can a human being find what they’re looking for in 10 seconds or less? If not, you’re doing it wrong. Fix it.
- Are we making the most of our internal linking? Low hanging fruit is the tastiest kind.
3. Next, I return to the on-page content with an eye for optimization instead of conversions. Three major boxes to tick off and I’m on my way:
- Is the content in easily recognizable “silos”? Identify pages where your targeted keywords clearly belong.
- Are title tags written in a way that they’ll elicit clicks (and not just rankings?)
- Remember step 1? Re-evaluate whatever you’ve done to the content to make sure conversions didn’t die in the process.
4. I prioritize my link building efforts. There’s no point in running willy-nilly building links with no direction. Look at your competition. What kinds of links are you missing? What kinds of links are THEY missing? Anchor text? Authority? C-blocks? One of the biggest mistakes I ever made was wasting time building linkable resources when all my client needed to win was more local citations. Spend a few hours planning to save yourself hundreds later.
5. Depending on what I discover in #4, the last “first” thing I do is execute on whatever the easiest link wins will be. What this usually means is analyzing where my competitors have obtained links and bringing my clients site up to par with the competition. Gotta catch up ‘fore you can lap the competition, I figure.
And that’s more or less it. Of course, a lot of what makes this successful is educating the client beforehand. You just can’t overlook the importance of selling yourself and your service properly to the client before you ever touch a keyboard – otherwise you’ve chosen to take a bumpy road from the very beginning.
Joel Klettke+ is an SEO specialist at Vovia Online Marketing. When he’s not busy using his skills to become the best looking man in the world he can usually be found pouring over his clients’ Google Analytics data, flexing or eating animals. Tweet him at @cstechjoel