I love data. I really like to find logical, methodologically sound ways of approaching a problem to find a solution.
SEO provides this kind of challenge because we essentially have to reverse engineer what the search engines are doing. We can’t ever reverse engineer it all so it’s logical that it comes down to a sensibly-sized set of questions.
To approach any new project today, my overriding question is, “Who is on the first page of Google?” Yes, Google. They’re still the 800 lb gorilla and if your goal is to drive traffic to a site, you want Google paying attention.
You can ask a client who they think is their competition but they often think in terms of the real world, not the web. Whoever is getting the business in the real world, on the web your competition consists of the sites that rank ahead of you.
If I get a list of competitors, I can extract keywords from all of those sites and compile them to get an idea of the common important keywords and who is ranking for them.
Then by analyzing page counts, backlinks, and several other factors, I get a sense of who is the competitor to watch and beat. Sometimes they can’t be beat.
Clients often want to rank on page one for a keyword that is very broad. I can’t tell you how many times a client wants me to get them on page one for a keyword that returns a SERP that is full of Wikipedia articles and online directories. There is no way to get ranked ahead of Wikipedia unless you’re Amazon or something similar.
For JOEY | Hair Salon Tacoma, I started with a number of phrases that were all optimized for local search. Now that I’ve got her site ranking for some of them, I’m broadening the search and getting backlinks to the site. I believe that within about 90 days, she’ll be on page one for most of the important terms that a Tacoma hair stylist would want to rank for.
She just got her first booking through her website. And that’s exciting.