This blog post is part of an insightful series of interviews we are conducting with successful & well regarded web designers, SEOs and agency owners. Read all our other SEO Agency Q&A articles here.
This Q&A interview is conducted with Brian Childers from foxxr.com
Brian is the CEO of Foxxr, a highly successful internet marketing company founded in Capitola, California in 2008 offering Web Design, Local Search / SEO and Live Local Workshops.
*All answers are the words of the interviewees and any opinions expressed are those of the interviewee and not BrightLocal.
1. What research & planning do you do before you start active SEO work?
We start with a 6-step business assessment on our collaborative web development workbook.
The first step is to identify the business information. While this may seem trivial, it’s an important foundational step that will be referenced many times throughout the project. We gather the following: business name as they use it across the web (do a quick search on their business phone #), address (verify at https://tools.usps.com/go/ZipLookupAction!input.action) phone, fax, year founded, email, website URL landing page, business hours and five Google categories (use the blumenthal tool).
Second, we identify the client’s core social sites. The next four steps are handed off to the client and should be a quick brainstorming session which will will help us with further research.
Step three is to have the client to list their local competition and websites in their industry that they like.
Next is to have the client list keywords of their top revenue generating products and services.
For step five, the client will list their target audiences. This will help us divide a broad target market into subsets of consumers who have common needs. It also get the client thinking about both online and offline customer segments.
Finally, the client is asked to list the cities that they would like to serve and use http://zip-codes.com to research the population and demographics of these markets. Many new opportunities are discovered during this step.
2. Do you have a checklist or framework that you use to help you plan your research and tasks for each new client?
We have tried different project software, but decided to stick to our own customer web development workbook using a Google docs spreadsheet. It’s easy to use and customize. To stay on track, we created 10 tabs / worksheets as follows:
1. Project notes
2. Project tracker – discovery & analysis, reporting & tracking, keyword research, content & structure, web design, website launch
3. Maintenance tracker
4. Business assessment – mentioned above
5. About page – we devoted a whole sheet with a process & article references for the client to reevaluate their about page.
6. Directory citations – we run the CitationTracker and copy the .csv data into this sheet.
7. Page Keyword Management – this is where keep our keyword research and manage the pages. See more about this on http://foxxr.com/organize-keywords-list/
8. Blog Keyword Management – this is essential for mapping out a blog strategy while staying focused on the keywords that matter. We outline blog strategies, categories, top keywords, optimization etc. all on a single easy-to-use sheet.
9. Launch Checklist – stages include: pre launch client QA, prelaunch Foxxr QA, prelaunch local search, prelaunch site optimization, launch going live, post launch webmaster/analytics, post launch site optimization.
10. Research Tools Reference – this is a simple list of tools we use such as Google queries, SEO tools and schemas.
3. Post ‘Planning’ – How do you prioritize what tasks to do first?
This depends on a number of factors from our initial research such as quality of existing content, domain authority and the level of competition. Once the business assessment is complete, we try to move immediately on citations since they take a while to populate in the search engines.
Establishing a content strategy early on is crucial, since content tends to be one of the common obstacles to move the project along.
4. What time frame do you plan for with a new client and why not longer/shorter?
We shoot for 30 – 60 days for the entire web development project. To move through our project workbook from cradle to grave and incorporate all of the steps for a dynamic site and solid SEO, 30 days is the minimum.
Every project has its moments where it’s stalled for days and sometimes weeks. Once the site is launched, we recommend a monthly plan for ongoing SEO.
5. What KPIs do you track for your clients and what tools do you use to track performance?
Our clients are all local search clients, so we use Bright Local’s Local Search Rank Checker delivered every Monday. We use Google Analytics to monitor at least: new vs returning, visitors flow, page views, site speed, mobile views, site content and social.
6. Do you provide a client with a specific set of targets & timelines? Do clients ever question these targets and how do you handle their expectations?
I’d have to admit that we need to drill down deeper in this category. Most new accounts and maintenance accounts are put on the Local Search Rank Checker report. As our staff grows, we will have more resources to devote to more in depth goal setting.
7. How regularly do you meet or talk with a client in the first 3 months?
Almost daily email communication and updates through our collaborative web development workbook and project tracker using Google docs.
8. Do you structure your agreements with monthly payments, upfront payments or both?
Both. We charge a web development fee that includes SEO (we prefer not to take on just web design accounts). Once we wrap up the development project, we recommend the client keep us on retainer for at least six months to help with ongoing site maintenance, optimization and reporting.
9. What tools do you ask clients to give you access to and are clients ever reluctant or wary about giving you access?
Google and Bing Webmaster tools, Analytics, Google+, Facebook and occasionally gmail. We have a pretty solid relationship with most of our clients and they understand that a certain level of trust needs to be recognized for us to accomplish our tasks.