I consulted a few years ago before Yahoo and CNET and my clients were all small businesses, even friends' sites.  No matter the size of the project, you can still try to get some insight into your target audiences and what they need or want.  I mentioned in a previous comment I used Search once to determine sentiment on a site vs. it's competitors by searching for a feature the site and its competitors all had, along with "like", "love", "hate", "wish", etc.  I also took note of who the people were who said those things and where they were talking (forums, twitter, etc).  It's a hacked manual approach and although not nearly as quality as a good market research report, at least I have a llittle bit of insight before going out to make site recommendations based solely on tags & links.  If you're recommending the site build things that people want (and fix or remove things that they dont), you're more likely to gain links and traffic naturally.
Some search engines have also reached out to the SEO industry, and are frequent sponsors and guests at SEO conferences, webchats, and seminars. Major search engines provide information and guidelines to help with website optimization.[18][19] Google has a Sitemaps program to help webmasters learn if Google is having any problems indexing their website and also provides data on Google traffic to the website.[20] Bing Webmaster Tools provides a way for webmasters to submit a sitemap and web feeds, allows users to determine the "crawl rate", and track the web pages index status.
I read The Art of War in college, written by the Chinese general Sun Tzu (author of the quote above). While his actual existence is debated, his work is often considered as brilliant military strategy and philosophy. Thus, The Art of War is often co-opted into business for obvious reasons. Throughout the book, you'll realize tactics and strategy are not interchangeable terms.
People want to speak their minds and weigh in on subjects they feel passionately about, so building a community into your site is a great way to start a conversation and increase traffic to your website. Implement a robust commenting system through third-party solutions such as Facebook comments or Disqus, or create a dedicated forum where visitors can ask questions. Don’t forget to manage your community to ensure that minimum standards of decorum are met, however.
You may not want certain pages of your site crawled because they might not be useful to users if found in a search engine's search results. If you do want to prevent search engines from crawling your pages, Google Search Console has a friendly robots.txt generator to help you create this file. Note that if your site uses subdomains and you wish to have certain pages not crawled on a particular subdomain, you'll have to create a separate robots.txt file for that subdomain. For more information on robots.txt, we suggest this Webmaster Help Center guide on using robots.txt files13.
When Googlebot crawls a page, it should see the page the same way an average user does15. For optimal rendering and indexing, always allow Googlebot access to the JavaScript, CSS, and image files used by your website. If your site's robots.txt file disallows crawling of these assets, it directly harms how well our algorithms render and index your content. This can result in suboptimal rankings.
On the other hand, I'd like to know how many people constitutes your new experience as an indipedent consultant? Infact, as others noted in the comments here, what you suggest is perfect especially for an in-house SEO situation or in for an Web Marketing Agency with at least 5/8 people working in. Even if all you say is correct and hopefully what everybodies should do, I honestly find quite difficult to dedicate all the amount of time and dedication in order to check all the steps described in your post. Or, at least, I cannot imagine myself doing it for all the clients.
Promoting your websites by publishing articles to various article directories is by no means a new idea but still an extremely effective way to drive traffic. If you write content and publish it to websites like Article Base, and Article Dashboard website owners will pick it up and post it. This idea is similar to guest blogging except that you only have to write one piece of content that can end up on hundreds of even thousands of blogs and websites. The same rule applies here: don’t be boring – be creative and interesting and use common keywords in your article and title so website owners can find it!
Yesterday I was re doing our process for ideas and alltop was a part of it. Now I have also known it was a bit spammy (some of my grey sites are featured ) but now it seems way too bad. You have places like new York times next to random adsense blog x. Guy kawasaki needs to really start giving some sort of influence ranking or at least culling the total crap ones.
Search engines use complex mathematical algorithms to interpret which websites a user seeks. In this diagram, if each bubble represents a website, programs sometimes called spiders examine which sites link to which other sites, with arrows representing these links. Websites getting more inbound links, or stronger links, are presumed to be more important and what the user is searching for. In this example, since website B is the recipient of numerous inbound links, it ranks more highly in a web search. And the links "carry through", such that website C, even though it only has one inbound link, has an inbound link from a highly popular site (B) while site E does not. Note: Percentages are rounded.
When Googlebot crawls a page, it should see the page the same way an average user does15. For optimal rendering and indexing, always allow Googlebot access to the JavaScript, CSS, and image files used by your website. If your site's robots.txt file disallows crawling of these assets, it directly harms how well our algorithms render and index your content. This can result in suboptimal rankings.

For some reason I had to delete some pages, these pages are using the HTML suffix, so I blocked them in robots.txt use Disallow: /*.html, but it’s been almost a year, I found that google robot often capture these pages, How can I quickly let Google completely remove these pages? And I have removed these URL from google webmaster tool by google index-> remove URLs, but Google still capture these pages.
Specifics: Be as specific as you can with your recommendations. For example if you’re suggesting partnering with meal home delivery sites, find out which ones are going to provide the most relevant info, at what cost if possible, and what the ideal partnership would look like for content and SEO purposes. Even provide contact information if you can.
Every time I write new content I post it to twitter. If you use the right keywords and make your tweet interesting enough you can get a lot of clickthroughs just from people searching. For example if I write an article about SEO and Google I can tag the end of the tweet with #SEO #Google and anyone that searches for those keywords on Twitter can see my tweet about the post that I wrote. Be sure to write creative headlines for your posts so people feel the urge to click on them.
This is excellent and should be intuitive for marketers (and SEO pros are marketers!) but we often take the short cut and neglect critical details. What would also reinforce the strategy is way of providing solid projections for SEO (these could be based on industry trends and statistics). Clients now ask for ways to calculate ROI and they need numbers to get budget approvals. Increase in traffic by X,  increase in qualified traffic and leads, conversions etc, some way of quatifying the expected return.

Brian, I’ve drunk your Kool aid! Thank you for honesty and transparency – it really gives me hope. Quick question: I am beyond passionate about a niche (UFOs, extraterrestrials, free energy) and know in my bones that an authority site is a long term opportunity. The problem today is that not many products are attached to this niche and so it becomes a subscriber / info product play. However, after 25+ years as an entrepreneur with a financial background and marketing MBA, am I Internet naive to believe that my passion and creativity will win profitability in the end? The target audience is highly passionate too. Feedback?

Creating high quality content takes a significant amount of at least one of the following: time, effort, expertise, and talent/skill. Content should be factually accurate, clearly written, and comprehensive. So, for example, if you describe your page as a recipe, provide a complete recipe that is easy to follow, rather than just a set of ingredients or a basic description of the dish.
That second link will still help you because it will pass extra PR to that page. But in terms of anchor text, most of the experiments I’ve seen show that the second link’s anchor text probably doesn’t help. That being said, Google is more sophisticated than when a lot of these came out so they may count both anchors. But to stay on the safe side I recommend adding keywords to navigation links if possible.
Not all strategies have to be big. Sometimes your window is small, and you're forced to build for a distinct — or tiny — opportunity. Maybe you don't have time for a proper large-scale strategy at all; a tactic or two might be all you can do to carry in a win. Just make that very clear with your boss or client. Don't misrepresent what you're trying to build as an SEO campaign.
Over the next few posts, and starting with this one, I’m going to share with you a detailed 8-step process for creating your own SEO strategy (what I often refer to as an SRD (SEO Research Document)), beginning with defining target audiences and taking it all the way through some fairly comprehensive competitive research, search traffic projections, content strategies, and specific goals and prioritizations.

Having an industry influencer publish a blog post on your site or turning an interview with them into a blog post can help to drive traffic both through organic search but also via that influencer promoting the content to their audience (see the backlinks section above). This can also help to add more variety to your content and show your visitors that you are active in your field.
Yesterday I was re doing our process for ideas and alltop was a part of it. Now I have also known it was a bit spammy (some of my grey sites are featured ) but now it seems way too bad. You have places like new York times next to random adsense blog x. Guy kawasaki needs to really start giving some sort of influence ranking or at least culling the total crap ones.
Laura,Great post.  This touches something I wish more SEOs practiced: conversion optimization. I think most SEOs think of what they do as a service for, instead of a partnership with clients.  The end result should never be raw traffic, but value obtained through targeted, CONVERTING traffic.You make excellent points about market research, product input, content creation, and other functions many SEOs and SEMs neglect.More and more SEO providers focus only on assembly line basics and worn out techniques instead of challenging themsleves to learn product marketing, usability, and conversion optimization.Your advice on market research is extremely valuable.Great start to a promising series.  I look forward to more!
I’m considering a niche that I’m not sure I can find good influencers for – fundraising. School fundraising or charitable fundraising. I’m passionate about it but how would I get my articles shared by influencers? The non-profit sector is somewhat apprehensive about promoting commercial sites, unless it’s fundraising software. The name really says it all: “non”-profit.
Creating high quality content takes a significant amount of at least one of the following: time, effort, expertise, and talent/skill. Content should be factually accurate, clearly written, and comprehensive. So, for example, if you describe your page as a recipe, provide a complete recipe that is easy to follow, rather than just a set of ingredients or a basic description of the dish.
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