Starting a New Local SEO Engagement – Gary Donson

Starting a New Local SEO Engagement – Gary Donson
Key 'Takeaways' From This Post

This blog post is part of an insightful series of interviews we are conducting with successful & well regarded web designers, SEOs and agency owners.

This Q&A interview is conducted with Gary Donson from Destiny Group

Gary Donson

Gary is the Sales and SEO Director of Destiny Group, which specializes in Joomla Website Design, SEO and Social Media marketing. Ongoing research and testing helps keep our clients ahead the curve!


*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?

This is critical to the success of any SEO campaign. We will spend 1-2 hours on research and planning prior to starting SEO work. All research always begins with a client meeting to be certain we understand their business model, their goals and what their expectations are.

2. Do you have a checklist or framework that you use to help you plan your research and tasks for each new client?

  • Google Analytics AND Webmasters
  • Keyword research targeting a list of 20-25 core keyword phrases.
  • BL reports -Ranking, Citation Tracker, Local SEO and Google+Wizard.

This gives us a crystal clear lists of tasks to be done – we finalize this process by simply prioritizing the tasks and assigning to a team member with a target date.

3. Post ‘Planning’ – How do you prioritize what tasks to do first?

We will tackle Google+ Local tasks first, then Social Media integration to the website, then On-Page SEO factors. We usually handle Citation building at the beginning of the 2nd month.

4. What time frame do you plan for with a new client and why not longer/shorter?

We have 3 SEO packages, the size of the package determines how much time we spend on an account. We are very careful with time tracking on every project, and review every two weeks so we can adjust efforts up and down when needed. We start out each project with a targeted number of hours per month. Our intention is to have a client for 12-18 months – when we “attempt” to set expectations with the client we always talk to them using a minimum 12 month time frame, even though we do not require a contract.

5. What KPIs do you track for your clients and what tools do you use to track performance?

  • Domain Authority and Moz Rank
  • Indexed Pages
  • Incoming Links
  • Linking Domains
  • Ranking Report
  • Google Analytics metrics including Queries & Clicks from Queries
  • Inbound Traffic broken down by Organic, Emails, PPC, Social
  • Social Media Reach – FB, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest (direct reach only)
  • Form fills on the website

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?

This has not been something we have done in the past but we are considering adding.

7. How regularly do you meet or talk with a client in the first 3 months?

The first month we will meet 1-2 times and then monthly thereafter – half of our meetings are done face to face and the other half using Join.Me (my fave screenshare)

8. Do you structure your agreements with monthly payments, upfront payments or both?

Monthly payments via Paypal only – with the client paying at the beginning of the month before we begin work. We do not currently require a minimum number of months for SEO packages.

9. What tools do you ask clients to give you access to and are clients ever reluctant or wary about giving you access?

Google Analytics and Webmaster (admin access preferrably) – the only time we have a problem getting access to either is because of a previous webmaster , never the client.

sophie kemp
About the author
Sophie Kemp is BrightLocal's former Content and Community Strategist who helped us advise businesses on everything needed to deliver amazing local marketing.