Comment se déroule un projet SEO?

How Does an SEO Project Unfold?

Are you a Swiss company wondering how an SEO project unfolds, what deliverables to expect, and how long the project will take? This article provides some insights.

As an SEO specialist and consultant, I notice that many of my clients are often surprised by how an SEO project is conducted. Compared to international standards, search engine optimisation is still in its early stages in Switzerland. Being a constantly evolving practice, it’s natural to have doubts and questions. Through this article, I hope to clarify expectations and contribute to transparent communication.

SEO (Natural Search Engine Optimisation) Requires Regular Effort

While it is commonly accepted that social networks require a regular marketing budget, SEO is often imagined as a one-time job. Imagine your website as a garden; the quality of its results depends on the environment and the care you give it. Often mistakenly, people think of a website as a book: once online, it’s finished until a redesign is needed. On the contrary, data provided by digital tools (Google Analytics, Google Search Console, etc.) give regular insights to continuously improve a website.

Moreover, your business, your competitors, search engines, and your audience’s expectations are constantly evolving. We often hear about Google’s algorithm updates. These updates are like those for your smartphone and downloaded apps: Google evolves to meet its users’ needs. Your website must evolve in line with the needs of your business, your competitors, and your users.

Understanding Google

Google is a search engine, and for it to succeed, its users need to continue using it regularly. Google’s business model relies on people conducting searches. Google must prevent users from switching to another product (another search engine). This is why the results Google provides must be excellent and meet the expectations of those searching.

With every new technological development, Google proceeds with an update. It is not in Google’s interest to display websites with poor-quality information. This is why Google continually refines its algorithm to detect trustworthy websites. Unfortunately, publishing a website with poor content generated by a computer will not yield long-term results – it is in Google’s interest to spot and not display bad sites.

For example, the E-E-A-T criteria filter out websites with poor-quality information. Especially for websites on Y-M-Y-L (Your Money Your Life) topics, the E-E-A-T criteria are crucial. These are sites containing topics related to health and money.

Defining Your Business Goals and Marketing Activities

Search engine optimisation supports your business in achieving its goals. All SEO objectives should be linked to a business goal. Sales objectives, contact collection, donations, visibility are translated into SEO objectives that can be tracked with tools like Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and a rank tracker (like Ahrefs).

For example, a service company identifies the essential semantic fields for its activity to make its brand name visible for the services it sells to generate contact with potential customers. An association aiming at scientific popularisation identifies and uses the semantic field its audience uses. Content optimisation requires a technical implementation that allows crawlers to access and understand the content.

Note: Clear marketing objectives are a prerequisite for SEO work. If your business hasn’t (yet) formulated SEO objectives, it is natural for the SEO specialist to include an activity in the offer to do this with you. This strategic part sets the guidelines for the SEO work deployment. After this part, you know why and how SEO work is prioritised. You have the tools to achieve it.

Preparing an SEO Brief: Objective, Scope, and Realistic Results

For an SEO project, as with any communication project, it is necessary to establish a brief with objectives and a scope of action. Based on this brief, your service provider defines the activities to be carried out. You define with your provider the criteria that will determine the success of the collaboration.

Expected results must align with the budget and available human resources. The resources needed for realistic results differ depending on your field of activity, the competition for visibility in search results, and your website’s current performance.

For example, if your company wants to increase its visibility in a semantic field, it will need at least a service page to convert visits into contacts and blog articles to assert its knowledge in the targeted domain. The return on investment depends on the difficulty of the semantic field, the volume of opportunities, the quality of the website, and the quality of the published content.

Note: Defining the project’s objective, scope, and expected results is a prerequisite for SEO work. If you haven’t (yet) established a brief for the work to be done, it is natural for the SEO specialist to assist you. Usually, I include this service in the strategic part of a project.

Analysing and Understanding with an SEO Audit

To define relevant actions (an SEO action plan), it is essential to assess the situation: this is called an SEO audit. The SEO audit is targeted according to the brief, i.e., your business’s expressed SEO needs. An SEO audit aimed at creating an SEO action plan usually includes keyword research, competition analysis in a semantic field, and a technical analysis of the website. The SEO action plan considers what plays in favour of the SEO project’s success and what works against it.

You might also seek an SEO specialist to solve a specific problem, such as an indexing issue or a drop in organic traffic. In this case, the SEO analysis (audit) content is adapted to identify the causes of this traffic drop.

The image illustrates the classic flow of an SEO project. Note that the SEO specialist adapts the process according to the project’s needs. For example, content pruning is not always necessary – it depends on your content management. Opportunity development can be done in parallel with technical corrections.

Typical Steps of an SEO Project:

  1. Audit: Identify challenges and opportunities (scope)
  2. Fixes: Correct crawl and indexing blockers
  3. Content Creation: Publish new pages, update existing content, and prune obsolete content
  4. Development: Develop new functionalities and content
  5. After each ‘fix’ or correction, it is necessary to check that the website responds as expected. Regular checks are also planned.

Interdisciplinary Collaboration in an SEO Project

Web professions work together:

  • The SEO specialist’s job is to maximise a website’s visibility on search engines by identifying technical obstacles and developing new content opportunities.
  • The development team’s job is to find realistic solutions to technical obstacles to crawling and indexing.
  • The editorial team’s job is to provide content – textual and otherwise – that implements the SEO strategy.
  • Graphic design and design: Content accessibility (robots) is essential.

Correcting Technical Errors

Technical SEO ensures that your website is easy to navigate and free of technical issues that would prevent it from being understood and indexed by search engines. If done well, technical SEO can improve your visibility in search results.

Technical SEO requires collaboration between a technical team and the SEO specialist. Before correcting an issue, the team must evaluate the correction according to a cost/impact matrix. It is unnecessary to aim for perfect scores. All websites have errors because it is always necessary to make choices, sometimes branding or user experience, that may not fully align with strict SEO optimisation.

Optimising Content

On-page SEO optimises and potentially reorganises content. Following good SEO optimisation practices avoids many difficulties. For example, it is preferable to avoid uploading PDFs as much as possible, favouring HTML pages. For all assets, PDFs, images, and other documents uploaded to the website, they should be deleted and redirected when the content is no longer useful. Avoid uploading duplicate assets in the library.

Developing Opportunities

The technical audit highlights opportunities, i.e., interesting but non-existent content on the website. SEO analysis tools that offer scores, like an Ahrefs or ScreamingFrog audit, evaluate a site based on a list of criteria and coefficients without being able to signal what is missing or what could be different. The most common opportunities I encounter are internal link optimisation and/or creating pillar pages to consolidate existing content, creating articles to address an unused semantic field on the website, or optimising E-E-A-T criteria.

Developing Notoriety

Digital word-of-mouth involves brand mentions and external links to your website. The SEO activity called Digital Public Relations optimises what is known as off-page SEO.

Digital PR is a marketing practice aimed at increasing a brand’s visibility and credibility. It involves communication techniques designed to improve an organisation’s public image by leveraging online channels. Typical activities include media outreach and creating and distributing press releases.

Tracking Results

Before starting an SEO project, it is necessary to have baseline data that can be compared with data after one or more SEO implementations. Tracking results involves having:

  • Quality data – the choice and implementation of tracking tools must be appropriate.
  • Relevant data – the choice of performance indicators is related to the company’s activity and marketing activities.
  • A data tracking plan: who, how, and when will track the data.
  • An interpretation plan: what actions will be taken after data verification? How do the data influence marketing work?

Before starting SEO work, it is essential to know how we can evaluate the quality of the SEO work. If, at the start of the SEO work, the company does not have data tracking in place, I suggest its implementation in the offer. Note that proper tool implementation is an additional budget to SEO work (Google Tag Manager, Google Analytics, Google Search Console, consent banner for data protection, etc.)

To understand data, I check the trend: is it positive or negative over 12 or 16 months, and I compare them. For example, I choose a significant period, such as a quarter, and compare it to the same quarter the previous year or the previous quarter. Your business may be strongly influenced by seasonal fluctuations, so the points of comparison may change depending on the field of activity.

Note: I prefer to avoid data that are absolute figures at the end of the year

Continuing and Adjusting SEO Work

After the initial audit, error correction, optimisation of existing content, and development of opportunities, we track the results and adjust efforts accordingly. An SEO strategy is an ongoing dialogue between a company’s needs and expectations, the resources invested, and changes in competition and algorithm updates. Most companies establish an editorial calendar with content briefs to ensure regular publications. The SEO specialist evaluates the quality of the editorial work and recommends updates and new content. From a technical standpoint, maintenance is essential, and regular follow-ups with the technical team are necessary to anticipate redesigns and adjustments. A neglected website gradually loses visibility in search engines.

What are the steps to implement an SEO strategy?

The usual progression of an SEO project includes:

  1. Understanding the business activity, its needs, and its marketing activities
  2. Evaluating the situation (context, competition, website)
  3. Correcting technical difficulties
  4. Optimising existing content
  5. Developing opportunities
  6. Building notoriety
  7. Monitoring and interpreting results
  8. Adjusting the SEO action plan