OK, so you have this new SEO client, and you have a pretty good idea of the kinds of things you are going to have to tackle in order to get their SEO rankings where they need to be.
As a matter-of-fact, you have a long list of things needing to be done. And you just don’t know where to begin. Just where do you begin? How do you prioritize this stuff?
Prioritizing is necessary for the simple reason that you probably can’t get everything done at one time. One big reason is money – the client may not have a big enough budget to support moving forward on multiple fronts.
Get The Big Picture Of Client SEO Priorities – Then Focus On The Details
I want to suggest that you begin by thinking along two lines:
- You want to think about the amount of effort or $$ spend that will be required to implement a task.
- Secondly, you want to think about how implementing an SEO task will impact your client’s overall ranking.
This 2-factor breakdown allows, then, for 4 different possibilities:
Tasks that require low amounts of effort/$ spend, but yield high SEO results. These are your highest priority tasks.
Tasks that require high amounts of effort/$ spend, but also yield high SEO results. These are your second-priority tasks.
Tasks that require a low amount of effort/$spend and yield a low amount of SEO power. These are your third-priority tasks.
Tasks that require a high amount of effort/$spend, and yield low results – these are your lowest priority tasks, and could also be tasks you might choose to eliminate altogether.
How To Sort Your Pending SEO Tasks Into Their Proper Priority Bucket
All of this is pretty straightforward (although tremendously clarifying!) – but the real question is how do you put a proper priority on what needs to be done in your client SEO work?
What are the most important resources you have to work with as you do your client’s SEO? Most likely, there will be two: money and time. The money belongs to your client — and your time belongs to you.
So you begin by noting, for each SEO task needing to be performed, how much of your client’s money will be needed, and also the amount of time (which is really a measure of effort on your part) necessary to get the job done.
And there will be tradeoffs: If you are trying to secure guest blog posts for your client through your own direct outreach, you are talking about an insane amount of effort (time) needed to secure them. However, if you are outsourcing those guest posts via an SEO reseller (like Posirank!) then your effort is cut to almost zero — but there will be an increased cost, as you have to pay a third-party to do the work.
I like to begin SEO task prioritization by looking at the money/time aspect, as that is usually front and center in your thinking.
By the way, when prioritizing a lot of tasks, I like to use sticky notes, writing one task on a note — perhaps using one color for the high $$/high effort items and another color for the low $$/low effort items.
And here’s a free tip: Since your most important business asset (aside from your own personal knowledge base on SEO) is your time, you want to focus on outsourcing as much pick-and-shovel SEO work as possible to free up your time for strategizing, analysis, monitoring, etc. And this also means taking on clients who have sufficient budget to allow you to outsource, and throwing the rest back into the sea.
What’s Going to Move The SEO Needle?
Once you have rated your pending client SEO tasks on the effort/money continuum, you need to think about how implementing each of them will “move the needle” to better SERPS rankings.
And to make things nice and juicy, let me introduce yet another factor into your thinking — not only the overall impact in improving rankings, but the time necessary to achieve that movement. You can’t ignore that because, fundamentally, SEO clients want two things – to rank better and to rank better quickly.
A “quick win” or two, at least initially, can help pump up the trust factor in your client relationship, and open the door to doing SEO campaigns that are more long-term in nature. And your work with the client should give you some insight into their mindset and expectations – how much of a rankings improvement are they looking for, and how soon do they want to be there?
Some Specific Recommendations On Prioritizing SEO Client Tasks
OK, enough theory, here are some concrete recommendations —
First Priority: Low Effort/$$ – High SEO Impact. Here I would include all types of on-page/on-site SEO mods (improving page load speeds, better site structure/URL structure, eliminating duplicate/thin content, getting good, unique, clickable meta- and title tags). A lot of these “first priority” tasks can give you some noticeable ranking improvements in short time, which is another reason to view them as your first round of must-do tasks.
Second Priority: High Effort/$$ – High SEO Impact. Some tasks like keyword research and preparing link disavowal files (and backlink portfolio analysis in general) take tons of time — your time. The same with guest posting outreaches. But if you are paying someone else to save your time, they can be high-cost items to pay for.
But these (when completed) have the potential to really move the SEO needle, so they should be your next set of tasks to get done. Be aware though, that acquiring backlinks has a cumulative effect, and that is a long-term (although critical) strategy, not something that yields quick wins.
Third Priority/Fourth Priority Tasks. Both of these are things that would probably have a low (or very low) SEO impact. If you have done your prioritization properly, the only tasks on your to-do list will fall into one of these 2 final buckets.
The difference is that third priority tasks don’t require much $$ or effort on your part to get done, while the lowest priority requires much more effort or money to implement.
For example, perhaps your client feels that if they did a total website redesign, that would improve their rankings. But if your analysis indicates that their present site is pretty good and just requires a few on-page tweaks to improve things, then this “task” should be considered an item to consider last, if at all.
Why? Because a site redesign, migration of page content, link/page redirects, etc. is a huge undertaking – lots of time and $$ will be required, while (in this case) the ultimate SEO payoff will be very small.
You Don’t Have to Think This Through On Your Own
These decisions affect the outcome of your customer’s SEO, and their continued willingness to work with you.
Your task is to try to understand what opportunities lie open to your client — and you — and to pursue those SEO campaigns/tasks that will maximize the SEO benefit to your clients. You simply cannot make decisions that are arbitrary or made by you in isolation. Methods like the one outlined in this post remove bias and emotion from the decision-making process.
Because you don’t have to think this through on your own.
One of the great things about working out a professional decision strategy for prioritizing SEO tasks for your customers is that these processes allow for group collaboration and client buy-in.
For example, if your agency allows you to work with other staff, you can bring them into the picture and ask for their input. After you have taken a stab at prioritizing, ask your most experienced staff what they think are the highest-priority SEO tasks to be completed. You might be surprised at the results! And don’t forget to talk about why they prioritized certain tasks the way they did.
Once you have worked out a pretty good strategy, you can then get in contact with your client and discuss, in-depth:
- What the high-priority tasks are
- Why they are high-priority
- Why other tasks (particularly those favored by the client) did not make the cut
And don’t forget one additional resource that you have available to you: US! This sort of strategizing and collaboration is something we do every day. To get the ball rolling, just send us an email or open a support ticket.
Since 2007 Rob Andrews has worked in the SEO and Content Marketing fields and is an established writer and trusted provider of thought-leadership for hundreds of SEO, advertising and marketing agencies worldwide. Read More