Laura,Great post.  This touches something I wish more SEOs practiced: conversion optimization. I think most SEOs think of what they do as a service for, instead of a partnership with clients.  The end result should never be raw traffic, but value obtained through targeted, CONVERTING traffic.You make excellent points about market research, product input, content creation, and other functions many SEOs and SEMs neglect.More and more SEO providers focus only on assembly line basics and worn out techniques instead of challenging themsleves to learn product marketing, usability, and conversion optimization.Your advice on market research is extremely valuable.Great start to a promising series.  I look forward to more!

Let me tell you a story. Early in my tenure at Yahoo we tried to get into the site dev process in the early stages in order to work SEO into the Product Recommendations Documents (PRD) before wireframing began. But as a fairly new horizontal group not reporting into any of the products, this was often difficult. Nay, damn near impossible. So usually we made friends with the product teams and got in where we could.
On the other hand, I'd like to know how many people constitutes your new experience as an indipedent consultant? Infact, as others noted in the comments here, what you suggest is perfect especially for an in-house SEO situation or in for an Web Marketing Agency with at least 5/8 people working in. Even if all you say is correct and hopefully what everybodies should do, I honestly find quite difficult to dedicate all the amount of time and dedication in order to check all the steps described in your post. Or, at least, I cannot imagine myself doing it for all the clients.
Google is the most popular spider-driven search engine. Its database currently has about 4 billion pages indexed and is known for finding the most relevant information. When Google spiders the Web, it finds sites by traveling through links. The more sites that link to you, the more important the engines believe your content to be. You should focus on getting many important sites to link to your site. You can do this in many ways: submit to online directories, exchange links with business partners and industry-related sites, or participate in Link Building.
Very in-depth information, Brian. I love the part about updating old content, I still find old articles in search results, sometimes 3+ years ago that are clearly out of date when it comes to marketing topics. I usually skip those results, and wonder how that content is still ranking, but it would be great if everyone updated that content. This entire post is full of useful tips, as usual. I am bookmarking now, and sharing-

Building a robots.txt file can be confusing, and there are many online SEO tools that don't make the job much easier. You want to make sure that when search engines crawl your site, they don't have access to sensitive files, but they do have access to others. User our free Robots.txt Generator Tool to build or modify your robots.txt file, and get a look at how your current robots.txt file will work versus your new one.
This plugin will let you easily link to your old articles, pages, or other sites to improve their rankings in search engines and generate more clicks. The internal link building plugin lets you assign keywords to given destination URLs. This way, your website will link within itself like it's done in Wikipedia - every time a keyword occurs, it links to the page you specified in the plugin dashboard.
Does your page load quickly, or is it slow to appear? How does the loading time of your page compare to the loading time of another page? What is the actual speed your page loads at? Use this tool to analyze how long your page takes to load at a variety of connection speeds, to view what components of your page take the longest amount of time to load, and see a full breakdown of every component of your page. Also, use our cool "compare two pages" function to load your page side by side with another!
Instead, in this instance, we started at wireframe stage, plopping in keywords and meta tags. Of course, the site really needed those things, and although it launched technically “optimized”, it wasn’t enough to provide a better product than our top competitor(s). A product that people want to visit, revisit, email to friends, share on social networks, and link to more than our competitors. It wasn’t even enough to move up in the rankings.
I always pause and laugh when I see a CTA with a small, “No thanks, I don’t want to lose weight,” button underneath a prominent “Yes, sign me up!” link. It reminds me there’s a person behind the button, and, while it’s meant to be a joke, it also incentivizes me to hesitate before clicking “no, thanks”. It’s easy to click “no” when the CTA is “sign up for more emails!”, but it’s a little harder to say no to losing weight or getting richer.

Use your keyword list to determine how many different pillar pages you should create. Ultimately, the number of topics for which you create pillar pages should coincide with how many different products, offerings, and locations your business has. This will make it much easier for your prospects and customers to find you in search engines no matter what keywords they use.
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