SEO is not a one-person undertaking. What is involved beyond the initial website audit? And what skills do you need in your team to get things done?
Our go-to pro Gert Mellak lends his expertise to another episode in our ongoing SEO series.
In the episode:
SEO requires the concerted efforts of a team to succeed, as we’ve found in our business. How that works is the topic of this episode. And here to explain it is our own SEO go-to, Gert Mellak from SEOLeverage.com.
Gert has been working with our team for some time now on our SEO. He regularly interacts with them on Slack, telling them what needs to be done to improve our rankings.
The point at which people ask for help
When Gert starts working with people, they’re usually in one of three positions: A, they’ve been trying to do things themselves, B, they’ve done nothing at all, or C, they’ve been getting help elsewhere.
An website audit with Gert can tell how they stand SEO-wise. They might actually have someone brilliant looking after them. Or there could be room for improvement. Some might think their in-house team are doing a great job, but results say otherwise. And some don’t know the very basics and are unaware how much they don’t know, which could be dangerous.
Bringing the client on board the system
What is Gert’s first step of preparing a client for their ecosystem, asks James?
The first thing, answers Gert, would be the aforementioned audit. They take a 360-degree look at the website, the content, the backlinks, all the influential factors. This generates an 80 to 90-page document, with a prioritized list of actions.
There’s typically a lot that can be done, says Gert, enough to keep a team busy. But there’s only a few tasks that really move the needle, and this is what they really want to identify. This is where they put together a task list that they can then, in an ongoing fashion, work through with the client.
How do they keep the client from either running off with the list or getting overwhelmed?
When a client comes for an audit, Gert and his team have a couple of calls with them, pinning down their goals. When Gert delivers the audit, apart from a recorded video, they have a debriefing call where they go through the task list.
They clearly define the next steps the client should be focusing on. Some clients will want ongoing help, essentially for Gert’s team to work with the client’s team through those steps. They have at that point a list of maybe 30, 40 items. This they reduce to bite-size chunks and agree in the next couple of weeks to focus on the issues that will really make a difference moving forward.
“Make sure you don’t get off track focusing on busy work.”
Two weeks later, they might revise, and then make sure they hone in on the next tasks. What they really want to do is make sure they don’t get off track focusing on busy work.
The kind of team you’ll want in place
What kind of team is needed to effectively implement Gert’s roadmap?
There are different roles involved. One they definitely need is a tech team. And Gert says team as opposed to person. A single individual, he says, could go away, or lose interest, or be overwhelmed. So you need a service rather than a single programmer.
There are some very good services out there, Justin Meadows’ TunedWP being one, with 24-7 service. The tech thing, says Gert, is like the engine of a car – it just has to work. You can’t be worrying about technical issues, plugins or site speed.
Then you need someone able to manage the website. This is usually not the tech person, but maybe a VA. If you’re on your first team member, this could also be the person who helps you with content. Bigger teams likely have dedicated writers separate from the person who uploads content, places links, creates and uploads images, etc.
SEO writing, rewriting content is an essential task or skill you’ll need. So if you’ve got the website management covered, the next person you may want is some who purely creates content.
If you want a general VA, puts in James, someone who can post content and take podcasts, videos or audio transcriptions and turn them into content, you can find them at VisionFind.com.
Just don’t go to them asking for a pure writer, cautions James – they’re hard to get. James has hired content writing services for some content, but for a full-time team member you’ll have better luck finding what he calls a content wrangler.
Think of it like you do your fitness routine
There is some lag between start of implementation and seeing results, says James. A process might takes months. But he’s seen it work. With Gert’s help, his site is popping up on page one for phrases it didn’t ever occupy before.
SEO may have been something people dropped, and with Gert they get some kind of accountability. But as Gert points out, the team also has to be dedicated. They cannot be busy with something else as an excuse for not working on SEO.
With James’s own team, there is an SEO channel in Slack where Gert is. Fairly often, Gert will send a Loom video or a new update for the team, which James greatly appreciates. It puts things into the hands of the people actually doing the work, who look forward to it. They get progress reports and wins, and James knows that if they get too far off track, Gert will call them on it.
The great advantage of a responsive team
It’s a pleasure working with James’s team, says Gert. And for them as an agency, it’s much easier to work directly with the team executing things, than to explain it to the owner, who is understandably busy with other things. They do this with most of their clients, really, and it’s a game changer.
“Working with the team executing is a complete game changer.”
Gert’s team do updates every two weeks consistently. Before an update, they check out the website, determine the high-impact steps, then present it in their web application where the client, the client’s team, and the tech person have access. They see what needs to be done and can engage with Gert’s team and ask questions.
The team roles it would be nice to have
Are there any optional roles worth having on one’s team?
Link building, outreach, getting links to your site, says Gert. It’s something that’s really hard to do in house because you don’t typically have the network, which comes usually with multiple years of experience. Gert’s own link building team has five years or more experience in just building links. They have become very, very specialized. They know how to deal with site owners, they know how to find certain sites, how to get certain results.
“You want an SEO provider who really gets your goals.”
It’s something that is better outsourced to a trusted provider, Gert says. And you want to have someone who really gets your goals, who really gets what you’re trying to achieve. Because if they’re a little bit off, it won’t be in line with what you actually want to do.
It either needs to be a very experienced person with link building on the team, only focusing on that and having the goals clear in their mind, or you outsource to a provider. But also it needs to be a provider who’s really clear about what needs to happen. And this shifts month after month. So it’s something that’s really hard to do if you don’t have the experience, and you’re not close enough to the process.
As inevitably so with SEO, it’s dynamic adjusting as things change. SEO is something you have to keep doing. It’s not a done once and forget about thing.
What you need to know about SOPs
James and Gert round out the episode with SOPs, standard operating procedures. Where are they housed? Who’s creating them? What’s Gert’s advice around it for business owners?
Gerts’s input is based on what James teaches in SuperFastBusiness. SOPs for them is a Google Drive folder with individual Google documents. They can search Google Drive – if Gert’s searching for how to migrate a website, he’s going to find an SOP; if I searches for how to optimize alternative text for images, he’s got his SOP.
With clients, they work on establishing their SOPs.
For example, very often with new clients, they work on a property called a prototype article. They might find an aged format with a title, a text, maybe an image, or no image, probably no internal structure. They work with the client and their team to create one prototype article where they say, This is a good user experience not only for desktop computers, but also for mobile phones and tablets.
They work with the client on the process where, moving forward, that is the format they want. For instance, with podcasters, they might bring them off transcription-only content and get them to have a document or article around the topic instead. That makes it friendly for readers as well as podcast listeners.
The client might send them an SOP and ask them to review the process. They give advice, feedback, or might even share one of their own SOPs. They just want to ensure that they, as an external consulting firm, know how the client does things when it comes to SEO-relevant tasks, so they can streamline it. If they upload images, for instance, and there is no image optimization process in place, or no plugin that takes care of downsizing the images, they will point this out.
If you’re thinking that you need help with SEO, if you like the idea of accountability, if you have a team, and are ready to deploy them to work on your SEO, you can find Gert at SEOLeverage.com. You can also just send Gert an email to ask any questions.
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