I just finished doing an initial website analysis for a small internet startup in a specific niche in the vintage fashion accessory market. While the process is fresh in my mind, I thought I would get it down “on paper” to share with you all.
This is a three part process where I:
- Perform keyword research
- Analyze the client’s site for errors and on-site optimization
- Identify potential backlink sources
I asked the client for a link to his website, 5-10 keywords he would like to rank for in search engines and “any other pertinent information” that would help me with my research. This client gave me his website’s address and 6 keywords so I got exactly what I needed to start.
Phase One: Keyword Research
The first thing to do is to take the list of keywords that the client provides and make it much, much larger. You never know what keyword terms will be good ones, so it’s best to start with as large a list as possible. I usually start off with Google’s Adwords and autocomplete data. Autocomplete is the data from when Google looks at what you’ve typed into the search bar and makes a guess on the rest of the words you want to type in. This is based on the queries of other users, who typed in similar words to start. These and other data sources are obviously a huge help in identifying new keywords. There are a couple of other services like Yandex that provide similar research options.
This case was unique because the client’s keywords were so specific that they were under the radar for the usual methods. That is rare. I went to plan B, which was to sick Google on the client’s six terms, and then tell me what other keywords were being used by the top 10 other sites. I’m rather proud of this methodology .
That search took a few minutes and resulted in a list of around 500 keyword options. I went through the 500 and picked around 45 that I thought were relevant to my client’s business. I then took those 45 and the original six and analyzed all of them for competition (the number of other sites fighting for the terms) and how many monthly searches each term got. I then take the number of searches, square that number then divide it by the competition. That number is called the keyword efficiency index or KEI. When I then sort by KEI it gives me a great look at which keywords will be good targets.
Phase Two: On-Site Analysis
Phase two is far more automated than phase one. I push a button to start up a tool, type in some info, push another button a few minutes later and after 10-30 minutes that job is done and I can generate the report. If this step was a tiny bit easier, I could outsource it to my bulldog.
The report gives basic info about the client’s website, such as how long it’s been registered, traffic rank, page rank etc. but then also checks for things like and whether search engines can crawl all of your pages. It can also identify which pages have no descriptions or meta data, have duplicate descriptions or meta data (you want unique descriptions), and/or have duplicate titles or no titles at all.
For this client’s site, the report identified 27 pages with no title tag, 13 pages with duplicate titles (5 different titles) and 46 pages with no description. The good news was that there were no structural errors (i.e. broken links) and all of the pages were able to be crawled by search engines.
This is a GREAT report to give to my client, who can then convert it into a quick to-do list for whoever is responsible for his on-site optimization.
Phase Three: Identify Potential Backlink Sources
I looked at the final list of keywords and picked one that had a great combination of a high number of monthly searches and relatively low competition. When I typed that term into Google, the companies in the positions of 1 & 3 were larger chains with many categories including my client’s specific niche. Positions 2 and 4 were occupied by smaller, specialty sites like my client’s business. I grabbed both of those websites and got ready to do some competitor analysis.
I fired up another tool in my SEO arsenal and ran it against both targets. This tool checks several search engines and other data sources to find every link on the internet that points back to the target site. The tool then analyzes a ton of different factors like age of domain, number of inbound & outbound links, traffic estimates etc., in order to assign a weighted value to every link on that site. The higher that value, the more this tool is estimating that the link is worth to the competitor’s site. The algorithm to estimate value is constantly changing and does a great job.
Now my client has a list of links boosting the websites of two of his most successful competitors sorted by the value of the links. The obvious strategy now is for my client (or someone on his behalf) to start at the top of the list and try to obtain backlinks from the same places. Some will be as simple as a blog or forum comment while others might require submission to a link directory. Some may require an email soliciting a link exchange and quite a few won’t be possible at all (e.g., a website that hasn’t been updated since 2003 etc.)
The client now has a list of issues he should address on his site. The client has a list of 50 keyword word terms and a great idea of which terms will give him the most results for his effort. Finally, the client has a list of targets which have proven successful for his competitors to use in his link building efforts.
In my opinion, that is an ideal road map for building the foundation of success. In looking at the keywords and their potential, I believe the client will be extremely successful if he puts in the effort capitalizing on this information.
NOTE: This is my initial analysis of the website only. I also evaluate and make recommendations on other facets of my clients online presence such as social media, mailing lists and other personalized issues.