For someone who knows how SEO works, we tend to work in the right order- keyword research then content. In a perfect world, every job that we get would be in the right order. Unfortunately, the role of an SEO typically involves reverse engineering the content on a website to ensure that what the webmaster wants to rank for will (hopefully) get ranked.
So how do you do it?
The good news is that optimizing existing content is easier because you already have analytical data to show you what's working (and what isn't). And the smart SEO will begin with what is working and ask why it's working and help educate their client as to how the process works.
Step 1- Use Analytics in relation to the website's goals and gather top level keyword data.
Hopefully, the business has some sort of analytics program that they are using to view traffic. This will give you, the SEO more than enough data to begin building what is working for the business, keyword wise.
- Sample of few month's of the organic traffic and then place them a spreadsheet.
- Separate the current keywords that provide a transaction value.
- Order the terms in which the business was found organically according to estimated "value" (for the business).
- Validate that the keywords are currently ranking.
Step 2- Analyze entry page data to help gauge visitor sentiment for potential page growth through keyword discovery.
There is a myth that a page ranks for just a few keywords. In reality, an entry page can rank for a ton of keyword phrases, mostly semantic but at times, syntactic. And the good news when you are working with existing websites, is that there is a ton of keywords that can be "discovered" from existing analytical data.
Rather than build a keyword list in which a client doesn't rank for, it is my opinion that building upon the list that search is already rewarding traffic is the better option. It's kind of like going with the flow of what the search engines are giving you first rather than guessing whether the traffic is going to be worth guess-timating competition and potential.
For instance, if you have a page that is ranking for Memphis Divorce Lawyer and you have visitors who have arrived to this page through "Memphis Divorce Lawyer for Men", then a new page may (or may not) be considered. This can be done one of two ways depending on the value of the phrase-
- Create a new page optimized for the keyword phrase.
- Build internal links pointing to the page with the keyword phrase (if the two keywords are close)
Step 3- Bulk up the website with both internal links and external links
Of course, links are what drives rank so once you have a decent sampling of existing keyword phrases to work on, you will want to build links to support the keywords. Adding links internally can help boost existing phrases that are currently ranking. External links will drive a phrase teetering within the striking zone upwards.
Step 4- Educating the client
For those who are not in the SEO or marketing world, sometimes education works best to help the client stay focused on their goals.
For instance, I had a client that sold a service locally but wanted to rank for it's international head term. This particular term would have not only been difficult to rank for, the return on the phrase would have been minimal, despite the traffic that it could draw.
By talking to the client about their business' goals, I was able to convince them that there were more reasonable keywords within reach that would demonstrate value to their business quickly.
Helpful keyword research articles: