How to Use Data and Analytics to Improve Your Client’s SEO
When a client hires you to improve their SEO, it can be a tall order. For some small businesses, very little work has been done on SEO to start with, and in those cases, you’re basically starting from scratch with keyword research and a total SEO overhaul.
However, some clients will have had moderate success with their SEO approach and are looking for guidance to further refine their strategy.
The good news is that, no matter where your client is in their own SEO journey, data and analytics can help you understand where they’re at currently and will empower you to improve their SEO approach moving forward. Let’s talk about how to do that.
Get Google Search Console
If you’re going to be looking at data and analytics to improve search rankings, you want to set your client up in Google Search Console. This free tool from Google is entirely focused on collecting data on a site’s performance and traffic as it relates to search, so this is where you’re going to get a deep dive into the search data and analytics.
There are many reasons to sign up for the service, and it’s easy to register. Your client simply verifies their domain, asserting that they are the real owner of the website. Once they go through that simple registration process, you’ll be up and running.
Learn How Customers Search
One of the most valuable pieces of information for improving SEO is understanding how customers actually find your client’s business. Of course, keyword research is important when you first establish a business website, but when you’re just starting out there is some educated guessing that goes into assigning the keywords an ideal client would use to search for a business.
Once the website has been up and running, Google Search Console can provide actual data into the words and phrases that led customers to the site via their Search Query Report. This information is useful because it empowers you to work backwards. If your client is ranking alright for a given term, how you can tweak their content or titling of pages to rank a little higher in the future? And if there’s a term they should be ranking for that’s nowhere to be seen on the report, how can you address that?
Check the Landing Page Report
Search console allows you to see how different search queries are leading to specific landing pages on your client’s website. Sometimes these results are surprising, and a term that doesn’t seem relevant to you is leading to a solid click through rate. If that is the case, then you’ve discovered some powerful information! What can you do to optimize the content on that page to best respond to this specific and unexpected search term?
Sometimes you’ll find that the opposite is the case. Your client may have a page that is ranking well in a generic search term, which gets a good click through rate, but likely doesn’t result in many qualified leads in the long term. It’s then your job to analyze how to change the content to speak more directly to the specific ideal customer your client is trying to reach, rather than being a generic resource for anyone vaguely interested in the topic at hand.
Compare and Contrast
Google Search Console now allows you to go back a full 16 months in reporting, and you can produce six month comparisons between reports. This is incredibly helpful information for anyone who’s implemented a change in SEO approach.
Once you make the change, you can see the real-time effects of that change through these comparison reports. If it’s working, what can you do to make it even better? If it’s not, can you tell why? And is there another tactic that might generate better results?
Use Google Analytics Segments
Google Search Console is an invaluable resource, but Google has another tool that can help with SEO as well. Hopefully, when your client established their website, they also set up Google Analytics. This tool allows you to create a tracking code for a website, so that you can understand where site traffic is coming from.
While Analytics is designed to give you feedback on paid campaigns, some of the information you learn there can be applied to your organic search approach.
Creating segments is a particularly useful feature, and one that isn’t available in Search Console. Segments allow you to parse the data based on attributes you choose—this could be something like age, geographic location, gender, previous purchase history—anything that might be relevant to your client’s business.
When you understand how different subsets of their ideal customer base are behaving, you can make better SEO decisions. Let’s say your customer owns a landscaping business in Westchester county, New York. They used to get a lot of website traffic from a cluster of six towns, all next to each other, but recently there’s been a major downturn in traffic from the three northern towns in the cluster.
Armed with this information, you can then backtrack and do some sleuthing to figure out what’s going on. Perhaps you learn that a new landscaping business opened up in the northernmost town, and they’ve undertaken a major paid marketing push that’s detracting from your customer’s business.
Now that you know that, you can tweak your SEO approach to get back in front of that audience. Create a hub page for your client that is “The Ultimate Guide to Sustainable Landscaping in Westchester County.” I’ve discussed the importance of hub pages a lot recently, and this is one way that you can use data and analytics to get the most out of this powerful SEO-boosting content strategy.
You can’t ever improve anything if you don’t first know where you stand. That’s why data and analytics are so helpful when working towards the best possible SEO strategy. When you first come in to help your client, they provides a baseline, so that you know where you stand. The data and analytics give insight into their customers, and allow you to put together a strategy based on facts in this individual situation, rather than gut feelings and tactics that have generally worked in the past. And finally, once your plan is in place, the data provides you real-time feedback, so that you can continue to refine and improve your efforts.