Web Design – Setting client expectations with a thorough preliminary SEO analysis
There are at least three huge mutual benefits to performing a comprehensive data-driven SEO analysis of a new client’s website.
First, your digital agency shows off its personalized, professional approach to every client by demonstrating that you avoid standardized templates. This gives the client the understanding that you set goals, terms of cooperation and pricing policies on an individual basis.
Second, this helps develop trust in your relationship with the client as they get a clear picture of what’s to be expected, how you plan on achieving their goals and why they are charged the rate you set.
Lastly, a detailed analysis gives you the opportunity to lay out a clear roadmap, set the right expectations and shed light on the workflow for the now-educated client. Everyone will be on the same page when it comes to understanding what’s working for them and what areas need to be improved upon.
Let’s dive into the steps that you need to take to have a successful client-agency relationship.
1. Checking the pulse of your client’s website: What parameters to focus on
Straight away, it’s essential to understand what kind of website you’re working with.
What you want to pin down first is the quality of the domain and how much authority it has in the eyes of Google and other search engines. You also need to check how much organic and paid traffic they are already driving to their site and how many keywords they target to achieve that volume.
Next, see how many referring domains they have, what their quality is and how many backlinks they’re getting from those domains. Lastly, but not least importantly, check how the website is doing in terms of its technical setup.
To get started, you can use an SEO tool like SE Ranking’s Competitive Research which provides local and global data on domains in a few clicks.
Here you can see summary data on any website that includes its Domain and Page Trust quality scores, its volume of organic and paid traffic, the total number of keywords they target as well as the number of referring domains and backlinks.
In this case, the U.S. is selected as the target market, plus you can straight away see which other markets this website is getting traffic from. However, to get the full picture, it makes sense to take a look at their worldwide stats as well.
With this data — which covers every single country in the world including a huge database for the U.S. and provides pinpoint accurate results — you can get a quick understanding of their website’s performance.
Once you’ve analyzed the main parameters of your client’s site as they stand now, take a look at how they have changed over time and determine if they have a positive or negative trajectory.
The left-hand side of the screenshot above highlights changes in traffic and keywords total, marking upward trends in green and downward drops in red. Everything is clickable, which enables you to dive deeper into any point of interest.
On the graphs on the right-hand side, you can get a good understanding of what your client’s website progress is in terms of traffic, keywords and backlinks.
If you see a graph that is not going up as steadily as the example above and contains spikes and drops for any indicator, you can take advantage of an extremely useful feature that enables you to go back in time to that specific month and analyze what happened there. Just select a month in the top-right corner and you’ll be taken to a page containing the relevant data.
2. Understanding your client’s target markets and keyword rankings
Besides analyzing dynamics, you can get detailed information on the organic keywords the client targets and their rankings across multiple locations.
The markets that your clients are active in play a huge role in terms of revenue. You want to be sure that they’re not spending their budget on countries that won’t yield the desired results. The traffic distribution map provides a visual understanding of how much traffic the client is getting from each country in the world.
By hovering over a country, you can see the volume of traffic the client is getting from it. This data is also available in tables if you prefer to analyze it that way.
On the main dashboard, you can learn how well the site’s keywords are generally performing in search through the Distribution of organic keyword rankings chart. This allows you to see what group of keywords you can focus on to get higher rankings most quickly.
To dig deeper into the keyword list, open the detailed report. Using filters, you can see what search queries they target and which ones have improved in rankings, which ones have dropped, which keywords they only recently started ranking for and which ones they put a stop on.
Being able to see summary data as well as switch to detailed reports is extremely helpful when it comes to analyzing multiple websites on a daily basis.
A great way to get a better idea of what’s working right for your client is to take a look at their site’s top pages and subdomains in organic search.
Besides looking at how much traffic each of the top pages drives to the client’s site, it’s worth taking a look at the pages themselves to analyze what makes them tick and stand out in search. Since this is where most of the traffic comes to, analyzing such pages deserves your top priority.
To take things to the next level, find out what keywords each page is ranking for and, using SE Ranking’s Keyword Research, analyze the top organic results to understand what they are doing better than your client.
3. Evaluating how tough the niche competition is
A significant part of this research further down the road involves comparing your client’s website with its top and direct competitors.
On the Competitive Research dashboard, you can see a list of a site’s top competitors along with their keyword overlaps, Domain Trust scores and the total number of keywords they target.
A semantics comparison with several top and direct competitors can help you easily expand your client’s keyword list. SE Ranking removes all the hassle by pointing out the keywords that are unique to the site’s competitors and that your client’s site isn’t targeting.
To identify direct competitors, you’ll first need to compile your target keywords list and add them to your customer’s project with SE Ranking. Then proceed to Visibility Rating.
Basically, it takes the top websites ranking in search for your client’s target keywords and lets you know what your chances of driving traffic are.
Pro tip: To fully understand who your client’s site is going up against, analyze every competing website the same way you analyzed your client’s site.
4. Dissecting your client’s backlink profile
Moving on to the cornerstone of any SEO strategy: backlinks. The principle here is that pages with a high number of backlinks from authoritative domains tend to have high organic rankings on Google and other search engines.
SE Ranking provides a detailed analysis of any site’s backlink profile, enabling you to get a clear picture of how the client’s website is seen by the search giant. You can get a detailed backlinks report by clicking the number of backlinks on the Competitive Research dashboard or by accessing the Backlink Checker tool directly.
Right away, you’ll get top-level data on the number of backlinks and anchor text, the ratio of dofollow to nofollow links, and so on. All of the metrics are clickable.
When analyzing the backlink profile, it makes more sense to start by looking at the total number of referring domains and checking their Domain Trust scores.
After all, you can have multiple backlinks from a single domain, which is good, but referring domains contribute way more than the actual number of links pointing to a website.
Once again, remember that you can always spy on successful competition to see what referring domains they get links from and use that data to build a healthier backlink profile for your clients.
5. Defining what technical SEO issues to fix on your client’s website
Looking at the visual components as well as keywords, traffic and backlinks of your client’s website is a must, but it also is an absolute necessity to check under its hood. The technical SEO setup of your client’s site plays a huge part in its performance in search, both from the standpoint of Google and user experience.
This is just a small snapshot of the information that is provided in SE Ranking’s Website Audit report. With this data, you can bring your client’s website’s health up so that technical issues like loading speed and duplicate content, for example, don’t prevent it from getting higher rankings in search and don’t force visitors to bounce the moment they try to access one of your client’s pages.
To recap, a diligently performed preliminary SEO analysis and audit allow you to identify realistic long-term goals and short-term deliverables, but that’s a topic for another time. The key to building a healthy client-agency relationship is diving head-first into their project to understand it practically as the client does.
So, whether you are auditing a potential client’s website, analyzing a new client’s website in detail, or are keeping track of the progress of your digital agency’s existing clients, SE Ranking is an all-round SEO suite packed with more than 30 tools specifically designed to do the SEO heavy lifting and provide support throughout the entire journey of your client-agency relationship. Join the growing 600k user-strong community and focus on what you do best.
New on Search Engine Land
August 12, 2022