In fact, regular SEO’s often find themselves spending more time in the initial research stage of a campaign than the actual implementation.
It’s imperative to spend at least a few days finding out what the client and their customers want before jumping into optimization.
And in most cases, you’re going to find most clients will have no idea what keywords they want to target. It’s our (SEO’s) job to help them decide the best solution that will fit the client and their users.
Meetings With Your Client
More often than not SEO’s are up front and personal. In some cases they are shy and introverted.
You’ll have to get your point across without sounding like a know it all that wants to change a client’s whole business plan.
They’ve worked all their lives in the respective field they’re in so your best bet is to transition your ideas rather than push it on them. Here are a few question might want to ask your clients:
- Tell me about your company and how you’re different from others in your field.
- Who is your primary target audience?
- What are your short and long term goals?
- Can you come up with 20 primary and secondary keywords you think your users will search for?
- Have you checked your analytics or is it even installed on your site?
- What have you done so far in terms of optimization?
- Who are your main competitors?
I am sure you have more questions and they come up in the meeting so be prepared.
Initial Keyword Research
You ready? Here are the tools I use to get a detailed report for my clients and myself:
- Competitive analysis
- Keyword difficulty
- Google keyword tool
- Google traffic estimator
- Google/Bing webmaster tools
With these tools you’ll get an amazing understanding of your client without spending countless hours trying to figure what they do or what their users are like.
Google/Bing Webmaster Tools
Every search engine optimization specialist has his or her own starting point. I believe starting at the roots is the guideline to a successful online marketing campaign.
With Google/Bing webmaster tools you can get extremely valuable information quickly. If you’re lucky your client will have both tracking codes on their site.
In some cases, even if they don’t have it installed Google might have this information for you immediately (I’ve seen it happen with some clients).
Here are a couple of places to check before you get started:
- Check the number of impressions and clicks the site has
- Check the number of links (good and bad) the site is linked from
- Look at crawl errors and stats
- Do they have a sitemap submitted to Google?
- Check index status
Bing will also have something similar and you should definitely check that as well because we all know by now that Bing and Yahoo share an index for search results now.
Google Keyword/Traffic Estimator Tool
Google also has two tools that you should definitely consider using on every SEO campaign to get a better understanding of traffic for a particular keyword/keywords.
With the keyword tool an SEO can get an estimated traffic number with suggestions as well. Simply click on the “Ad group ideas (Beta)” and you’ll get an amazing list to start off of even if your client has no idea what keywords they want to target.
Traffic estimator is similar since you get traffic numbers based on Google’s Adwords system. These numbers are for clicks you would pay for through the PPC (pay per click/impression) program Google offers.
Now we get to the best part. SEOMoz is a professional tool and it does cost a monthly fee. However, you get more detailed and precise information to get started on your project. If you set up a campaign (5 campaigns with the pro package at $99/month) you get:
• Weekly crawl and rank checking
• On-page optimization recommendation
• A look at what your competitors are up to
• Site explorer
• Keyword difficulty
And many more tools to get you ahead of the game.
I would have to write several articles on how each tool can help you but let’s focus on the keyword difficulty tool. Once you enter your keywords, select a search engine and region; you will get the most detailed keyword research analysis out there. Here is a list of findings you’ll get from this tool:
• Keyword difficulty score
• Top 10 ranking pages for SEO
• Google AdWords broad/exact match
You can then export the report and present it to your clients.
There You Have It
This is, in my opinion a good way to start a project without losing your mind or your client. I would love to hear what you think and the process you go through to start any Internet marketing campaign.
Puya Turkiyan is an SEO and online marketing specialist in beautiful Vancouver, BC Canada. He is also the CEO of New Media Sources where conversion and lead generation thrives.