I second Rand's comment!  Congrats on moving from the corporate world to the independent consultant.  This is my goal for the near future.  I too have been testing the waters of independent consulting, but it doesn't quite pay the bills yet!  Sometimes I feel like I should find a mentor who has been where I am now and is where I want to go.  Perhaps i'll find a few in this community over time!
One thing we hear time and again about our own tools is how valuable the benchmark performance data is, and that’s one area where AdGooroo shines. As well as the usual ad spend estimate modeling and other tools, AdGooroo also lets you look at snapshots of specific brands in your vertical – very interesting if you’re looking to adjust your PPC strategy.
 It used to be you would have only one lead magnet on your site and that was sufficient. However, today your content and nurture sequence need to be highly relevant to the exact solution the person is actively looking for. By creating a content upgrade that is specific to a highly-targeted piece of content that is getting lots of attention helps you to raise that relevancy and turn more visitors into email subscribers.”
Ever since I first time heard that you can get free traffic from a thing called Google, I wanted that. But, I had no idea where to start. And what was even worse, every “great” tip I’d receive from an “experts” was a complete BS that only sounds nice, but could never be used by real businesses. Most of those things are considered black-hat now. That’s how “great” those tips were.
Enter in a URL and this free SEO tool will tell you the keyword density of all of the phrases on the page. Find out how strong of a keyword message your content is sending with the Keyword Density Analysis Tool: Get hard numbers on your content ratios to find out if you need more or have too much. Use this tool to ensure a solid balance of keywords within your content and to match the right keywords to the right pages.
Search engines are getting better and better at understanding search intent, which means they are providing  more unique and granular search results that better address the user’s specific ask. The content on your website needs to provide a solution to a user’s problem, whether it’s a long-form article or a one-word answer. In the most recent HubSpot Research survey, 64% of marketers actively invest in SEO. While I’d like to see that number increase significantly, I like that SEO is becoming more of a priority across all industries.
What it does: Not everyone can afford to hire a graphic designer. But nearly any of us can learn to do some basic design ourselves. Canva makes design easy and fast. Its tagline, “Amazingly simple graphic design software,” is spot-on. Canva’s templates are optimized for social media, and they are stunning. A few customizing clicks, and you’re set with eye-popping visual content.
Customer reviews are the "social proof" that encourages people to join in on something. It's one thing for you to tell people to sign up for a campaign, but it's another thing for your happiest customers to say it too. Publish your best reviews from communities like Yelp right to your website. This adds genuine value to your landing pages when people are on the fence about submitting their contact information. 
Great article, Brian. Like that you’re finally talking about Domain Authority (DA). It’s essential to make skyscraper technique work as well. Also, a great pointer on comments as I have personally seen articles perform well because of comments. Do you recommend closing the comments as well a few days after the article is published? Kinda like Copyblogger does now.
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.
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!

Instead, in this instance, we started at wireframe stage, plopping in keywords and meta tags. Of course, the site really needed those things, and although it launched technically “optimized”, it wasn’t enough to provide a better product than our top competitor(s). A product that people want to visit, revisit, email to friends, share on social networks, and link to more than our competitors. It wasn’t even enough to move up in the rankings.
Use your mouse to resize your browser and see what your browser size is. The numbers located inside of the box will tell you how many pixels your browser is. Knowing your browser size will allow you to set up your site so that it can be viewed on different sizes of monitors while still displaying all of the important information you wish to convey to visitors.
Offer a reward for customers who buy something from you and show that they checked in at your business on Foursquare using their mobile device. When they do this, they’re telling everyone in their network that they’ve done business with you. Each month, reward the person who gave you the greatest exposure by offering a discount, and asking for their email address.
I completely agree that defintion of a target audience isa great first step, but would ask if adding in competitors to the analysis (mentioned here as a later step) helps draw out who your target audience would be via comparisons, i.e. showing who you are an who you are not - would be very interested to hear opinions on how this tactic can be used within the overall step in coordination with targeted keyword discovery.
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