In my consultations with local business owners for Prosper Portland, we always leave them with a short-term, mid-term, and long-term to-do list. It extends far beyond SEO, and varies wildly by business, but the Timetable here is meant to distill the key elements of a strong SEO foundation, and put those elements in a consistent order of operations.
- Choose your CMS + Layout (4-5 Hours)
Many business owners aren’t aware of how big an impact the website platform (Content Management System) they choose can have on their SEO. There really are only three you should choose from:
– Squarespace (best for visually-focused, service-oriented small businesses like photographers, interior designers, or real estate agents)
– Shopify (best for all eCommerce businesses)
– WordPress (best for small businesses that need to produce a lot of content to compete in SEO, such as lawyers, dentists, or consulting firms)
- Setup Google Analytics (0.25 Hours)
Google Analytics has always been a complicated product, and it’s gotten even more complicated. But the main thing you need to do at this stage is simply install it, and Google will track lots of important things that your visitors do on your website :). Once your business is at a stage where you can hire someone to help you with marketing, he or she will be very glad to have all of that data to work with!
- Discover Keywords (3-10 Hours)
Remember that your customers are your best source of keywords, in the words and phrases they’re already using when they contact you. Start with those phrases and expand your keyword list with terms from Google Suggest and Google Trends.
- Theme Keywords (2-4 Hours)
You may actually end up with too large a list of keywords for the number of pages on your website. That’s OK. If there are themes that are really important to your business, but you don’t yet have a page, use that as your roadmap for what content you need to create.
- Site Architecture (4-6 Hours)
Remember, you need a dedicated page for each keyword theme, and your most important pages should be in your primary navigation and linked from your homepage.
- Content Creation (4-40 Hours)
Remember to use headings and think beyond just text-based content. Internet users have short attention spans and Googlebot will probably read your content more closely than they do!
- Optimize Internal Links (1-3 Hours)
Once the bulk of your content is created, go back and cross-link your most important pages, using the anchor text you want them to rank for.
- Optimize Title Tags (1-8 Hours)
The final, and arguably most important, step in on-site optimization is to write compelling, keyword-rich Title Tags to tell Google what each page is about, and to encourage searchers to click through when they see that page ranking in search results.
- Setup Local Profiles (2 – 4 Hours)
Google My Business is by far your most important Local profile, but take the time to set up a Yelp profile and a NextDoor profile, as well as a profile on any directory or site that’s prominent in your industry.
- Setup Social Profiles (2 – 4 Hours)
At a minimum, every business should claim a profile on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn. Even if you don’t plan to use them, it’s important to protect your brand from squatters, and all six of those platforms offer free links back to your website.
- Setup Mailchimp (2 – 4 Hours)
Mailchimp is my choice for the best Email Service Provider for the money. It’s not 100% intuitive to use but once you have a Mailchimp account, you can use Tidings to send your newsletter 🙂
- Photography & Videography (2 – 40 Hours)
Instagram (and in some cases YouTube) comes naturally to many business owners. But often the photography on a business’s Instagram account is wayyyy better than the photography on its website! Make sure that you’re publishing all of your great media on your own website in addition to social media.
- Create Content (1.5 – 2 Hours)
New content could be a new product page, a blog post, a special or promotion…and remember, Photography / Videography definitely count as “content!”
- Collect Feedback + Reviews (1.5 – 2 Hours)
Reviews are especially critical if you’re a local, as opposed to an eCommerce, business. This primer might be helpful to you.
- Curate Posts + Email Newsletter (15 minutes)
I’m biased, but Tidings really does make it super-simple to send a great email newsletter in under 15 minutes.
- Seek External Links (1 – 2 Hours)
Follow Eric Ward’s first commandment and acquire links that will actually send you customers. Start by asking friends, family, and mining your existing business relationships, and work your way out from there.