How best to SEO a clients existing site

A client has approached you to SEO their website. The question - How best to SEO a clients existing website. You know the theory, but with the 1000 pages on their website, how do you go about making the changes required?

This article has two audiences
  1. People that I have trained and are learning themselves
  2. People that are SEOing others websites

The system of SEO'ing

It is not always easy to know how to best SEO a website:
  1. Get in there are get to it - reprogramming, rewording, getting it done
  2. Writing a report on what should be done
  3. Talking with the client about the opportunities, and empowering them to do the work
  4. A hybrid of the above

Technically how to approach

  1. How many pages can they afford to SEO?
  2. How can you leverage SEO to the best effect for their website?
  3. Once the website has been "SEO'ed", how to best go about getting links
  4. What ongoing involvement should you have with the website

The steps are further complicated when the web developer are themselves learning. How does SearchMasters best help in the process?
  1. The web developer has the SEO101 and 201 notes, and so should be able to work through and SEO a clients site, but they may need guidance and confidence building as well
  2. I want the web developer to be able to SEO a site themselves and ultimately just come to me to get the big Gold Tick at the end, with maybe a few pointers along the way.
  3. However, learning is a matter of repetition, and I have found it good to write a short report followed by a discussion about the web developer clients website to help them along the way.

The system of SEO'ing - How should a website be SEO'ed

Getting in there and getting it done

You can get their ftp details, and CMS passwords and get in there, and reprogram and reword their website. However, the client knows their business. They know the words used in their business, and how they want the content of their site displayed to the public.

If you make changes to "their" site, they are as sure to change it back and remove the SEO tweaks that you have made. Especially as they may not be aware of the hard work you have done selecting specific phrases and rewording titles, metas, h1's and opening paragraphs.

Even when I have spent time talking over the changes required, and then making changes, they have got other consultants in at a later date that have destroyed the hard work.

Writing a report on what should be done

The problem with writing a report, is that you might not know the full story of the site. It might fall into the too hard basket, and never get done, despite them having paid good $ for your writing of the report.

They might disagree with various aspects of the report, and the report then being too inflexible. Having disagreed, they may not know an alternative, and may feel apprehensive about approaching you again.

Talking with the client and they doing the work

I like teaching the client, and giving them the tools to be able to do some of the SEO work themselves. This is especially important for future pages that they create. They need to know the search phrases that they are targeting and how they should word the pages to have best effect for SEO.

However, often web developers have difficulty understanding how basic SEO works, let alone expecting clients to understand who have far less knowledge about web developing.

So how do you SEO a clients website?

I personally have had good success with parts of each - depending on the client and their knowledge.

However, I have best success with the following:
  • Talking with the client about specific pages
  • making suggestions for titles, metas, h1's and opening paragraphs
  • coming up with best solutions together
  • then get their approval and understanding of why I have worded a specific way, and actually make the changes right at that moment

Actually getting it done is what its all about in the end. Finding the most productive way of achieving that objective.

The SEO201 reprogramming aspects (where I am able to do them myself) do not need the same handholding. I let the client know the files that I am changing so they can retain a local copy, describe the basics of what I am doing, then I just get it done.

If the language is not one that I program in, I like talking with the programmer personally to determine with them how it can be possible to program SEO into their system. I can then often write a report, or over the phone or instant messaging get them to do the changes required then report back to me after each step so that it can be checked and tweaked.

An iterative process can be very successful, and can help in getting the job done, rather than get stuck in the too hard basket.

Technically how to SEO

A persons index page can be very powerful, and can be SEO'ed for a number of phrases. Depending on the size of the site, it may be beneficial to spend most effort with getting the index page SEO'ed for the main phrases relating to the business. Inner pages can target specific phrases, but be secondary to the index page.

If the website is of any size, there is normally some programming on the website - asp, php, ... With programming, you can write a formula for the title, meta description, h1 and opening paragraph. By one piece of reprogramming you can effectively SEO many pages of the website.

When there are many pages, you can generally write a template for how future pages will be created, a certain set of words that will be used for the title and metas etc. Even when manually written, such templates can make life that much simpler.

Life certainly is a learning process, and generally interaction with the client and analysis of their website will help you determine the best approach of how to best SEO the clients existing site.

Please contact SearchMasters if you would like help with SEOing your or your clients website. SearchMasters runs technical SEO Training seminars and public awareness sales events to help in the upskilling process. Together we can get more search engine visibility translating into sales for our and our clients websites.