Within the last five years, I’ve been all over the spectrum when it comes to marketing. I’ve been an assistant, project lead, consultant, and now the co-owner of a boutique NJ SEO company. In that time I’ve worked with a number of clients on various projects and I can tell you there is one massive mistake made by both agency and client: a lack of communication. This means there are cracks in the SEO foundation before you even begin.
Any client bringing on an SEO consultant is almost always extremely busy. If they weren’t they’d just learn how to manage their own search engine optimization. So it’s generally the reason they hired an SEO in the first place.
In an ideal world, after they research your company and decide on hiring you, both parties would have all the right questions to ask. Unfortunately, it rarely works out that way. It’s the reason why a few weeks ago, we ran a blog post on asking questions to identify problems. In it, we essentially argue that the most fundamental, yet effective, way to identify problems is by asking questions. Well, guess what, building an SEO foundation starts with asking questions too.
While it is nearly impossible to anticipate every question you may have or what information the client is able to provide, there are number of basic questions that can get you started. So, in order to help avoid miscommunication, the first step in your process should be to ask lots of questions.
Introspective Questions for Your SEO Foundation:
In order to better understand your business, we first ask introspective questions. These are questions that pertain to you, who you are, and what you do. Focus on questions that will help identify goals, pain points, and customers.
- How would you describe your business, website, or blog to someone who’s not aware of it?
- Why should customers go to you instead of your competition?
When you read these questions, you probably think they are super basic and easy to answer. Yes, they are fairly basic, but they’re actually quite difficult to answer. It’s hard to elevator pitch something you invest all of your time and energy into.
Identifying Your Target Audience:
After the initial set of questions, we generally have pretty good understanding of who you are and what you represent (or trying to). The next set of questions help us identify your target audience. Who you are catering to is just as important as who you are.
In SEO, we use personas to help with messaging and navigation. In order to identify a target audience, we ask:
- Who is your ideal customer or website visitor?
- Are you able to group your target audience into specific segments?
When we mention specific segments, most people think about email marketing and this is a good place to start. If you are able to segment your audience for email marketing purposes, you can generally transition that into your SEO foundation.
By segmenting your audience into groups, you can target them with more precision and help them more appropriately than just throwing things at your full customer base. What are your customer needs, desires, and wants? Answering these questions allows you to segment your base.
Specifically for SEO, segmentation is important because different people will have different needs. Thus, they will search the internet differently as well.
Questions Regarding Services and Products:
These are super basic questions that you probably never think of, but let’s dig in:
- What services or products do you provide?
- How would you describe them?
Begin listing each product or service in a tag line. Again, it’s the elevator pitch you would sell to someone who doesn’t know your business. Try to illustrate what your products or services are, what they do, and how would they make your customer’s life easier.
We often use industry jargon when we describe products and services. It’s an easy mistake to make when you are completely involved in something. By answering these questions, we can whittle down key phrases to describe them to an audience that doesn’t know the jargon. Not to mention, very few people are going to search for products and services by industry names. Instead, your audience is going to be looking for solutions to their pain points.
By viewing your offerings through the eyes of potential clients or customers, you can get a grasp of search terms (keywords). When you arrive at these search terms, you can leverage more organic traffic (SEO traffic) and conversions.
Identifying Personas for a Quality SEO Foundation:
Personas are meant to help you better target visitors and convert them into customers. You can identify personas by asking the following:
- How would you describe each persona?
- What pain points or concerns does each persona have?
- What are the goals of each persona?
- Do your personas have different criteria or the same?
- Do different personas experience the same buying cycle?
- Would you market differently (through channels) to different personas?
The final question probably needs a bit more explanation. These channels are email, social media, and other sites or blogs. Social media is a big one and there is a different user base between something like LinkedIn and Instagram. There are a number of ways that your audience can arrive at your site – including paid advertising as well – and it’s important to use different marketing channels for different personas.
Lastly, we have to answer the following persona questions:
- What products or services apply to each individual persona?
- How would these personas describe your products and services?
Moving into the mind of your persona is a little difficult, but it’s completely worth it. You’ll also notice by answering these questions you pretty much have your marketing and SEO goals laid out. Identifying issues or problems and understanding how to offer them solutions is an important cycle.
By this point, you are probably thinking to yourself, “Wow. There are a lot of questions.” I’d agree with you, but it’s important to keep in mind that all of these questions allow you to expand your SEO foundation. You’ll now realize why so many people decide to hire an agency like ours to help relieve some of the stress associated with it.
Targeting Traffic at All Stages:
Competitor Analysis:Study your competitors to sure up your own weaknesses. Click To Tweet
Competitor analysis for SEO can go as deep as you want it to. From reading their product reviews to studying their website’s code, there’s a lot to analyze. The following questions are fairly basic, but start you down the right path:
- Who are your top competitors (within the same business size)?
- While Walmart is a top competitor for most, you should focus on businesses of the same market share as you. These are also businesses that you compete with on an everyday basis.
- Who are your top online competitors?
- They’re not necessarily the same as your brick and mortar competitor.
- What businesses are the authority within your industry?
Those three questions are important because they allow you to learn the tactics and strategies of companies that may be doing better than you in certain aspects. While directly copying their tactics may not work, learning from them certainly will. You can emulate them at first until you secure your SEO foundation.
Knowing the Difference between Online and Traditional Competitors:
If you are having a hard time figuring out which businesses are direct competition online, you can use the following paid tools to locate them and their data:
Looking at Your Existing Content:You have to review your current state to better prepare for your future state. Click To Tweet
Our content questions are pretty straight forward, but require you to have some knowledge of certain tools:
- What content would you consider most important to your website?
- What content is your most active?
- Finally, what content currently brings in the most traffic?
Some free tools to use to find out this information is Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and Google AdWords. If you already have them set up on your website, great. If you don’t, we can help you do that.
In order to find out what content is most active, take a look at what people are looking at when they’re already on your site. Do you have one particular product or page that draws the most attention once they’re on your site? Landing pages and destination pages are the pages that people are arriving on when they enter your website.
If your landing page is your homepage, you probably have a couple of problems. Take a look at this post on the three types of pages and how to utilize each. If you’re managing your SEO well over time, visitors will come from various places on your site. On the other hand, if you just started your SEO journey it is perfectly fine for more visitors to arrive on your homepage compared to dedicated landing pages.
Reviewing Your Content:
One of the first things we provide for new clients is an analysis of this information because many times they are surprised what we find. We’ve found that what they believe their top content is, generally isn’t the most attractive to site visitors and isn’t bringing in traffic.To plan for the future of your website, you have to realistically adjust your current plans. Click To Tweet
Our clients know their top content because we inform them of it bi-weekly. Most clients are too busy running their business and they don’t have the time necessary to dig into the data. As the best NJ SEO company for small businesses, we feel it’s necessary to keep them updated on the state of their content. This way we can make sure that the right traffic is using the right channels to find the right content.
Analyzing Your Existing Keywords:
Our final question, we promise, is related to your current keyword selection. It is a really important one to your SEO efforts.
- What do you consider your top performing keywords or phrases?
These are the keywords or phrases that you would like to show up for through organic search. Sometimes, the phrases people think they are ranking for actually aren’t performing well at all. Compare what you consider your top performing keywords are with some of the answers you provided above.