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How to Create an Effective SEO Strategy for Your Clients

Lindsay Halsey

Lindsay Halsey is a co-founder of Pathfinder SEO. She has over 10 years of experience working in SEO with small to large businesses. Lindsay focuses on teaching site owners, freelancers, and agencies how to get found on Google via a guided approach to SEO. Stay in touch on Twitter - @linds_halsey.

As an SEO services provider, your clients ultimately look to you for growth. Customers want to generate more sales and gain more leads from their website. To achieve these goals, they need more traffic from Google. And not just any traffic; to warrant those results clients need qualified traffic. They achieve it by appearing in the search results for keywords that attract their ideal audience to their website.

To ensure your SEO campaigns drive growth and a positive return on investment start with an effective SEO strategy.

What is an SEO Strategy?

An SEO strategy is a customized plan of action to improve a website’s search engine rankings to generate organic traffic. At a high-level an SEO strategy does these three essential things:

  • Establishes a starting point
  • Sets attainable goals
  • Creates a roadmap for success

Let’s explore each of these in more detail to clearly explain their importance in creating an effective SEO strategy.

Establish the Starting Point

The first step is to establish where a website is today on Google. We turn to Google Analytics and the Google Search Console to determine this starting point.

Google Analytics provides us with insight into the current traffic quantity and quality from organic search. It helps us answer vital questions such as:

  • How many sessions are attributed to organic searches in a month?
  • Are visitors engaging on the website (navigating to multiple pages)?
  • Which pages drive this traffic (organic landing pages)?
  • Is the traffic from organic searches growing, staying steady, or declining?
  • Is the traffic coming from the right audience?

These are just a few of the questions we can answer as we explore the data in Google Analytics.

google analytics traffic trend

google analytics landing pages

The data found in Google Analytics, however, is missing a key component of our initial analysis — the keyword data. Nearly all of the keyword data in Analytics will be listed as not provided. This is because the AI recognizes the organic visitor but not the search term that may have brought them there. To find the keyword data we need to effectively create an SEO Strategy, we turn to Google Search Console.

The Google Search Console (GSC) creates a communication channel between a website and Google. It provides many technical insights into how a website is crawled and indexed by the search engine platform. In this exercise, we are interested in utilizing the GSC for its keyword performance data.

In the Google Search Console, we can see which keywords are driving traffic (clicks), visibility (impressions), and the average ranking (position) of each keyword.

google search console keyword data

Reviewing these numbers in detail helps us to understand the starting point. What types of keywords are leading to clicks, and whether or not they’re limited to keywords that include the brand like “Pathfinder SEO” in the example above. The GSC also enlightens us about the website ranking from non-brand traffic keywords. In the example above “WordPress page title” and “pillars of SEO” are non-brand keyword examples. Here we determine if they are high-funnel keywords relating to the blog. Or if they are mid-funnel keywords relating to the services, collections, or other important pages on the website.

Performing this initial analysis illuminates what problems a client is currently facing, which serves as a catalyst for our strategy.

Examples of the most common issues include:

  • A drop in traffic after a new website launch.
  • Only appearing for brand-related keywords.
  • A blog that once drove high volumes of traffic no longer does.
  • Driving traffic for upper-funnel keywords via blogging but missing the opportunity to reach even more targeted traffic via mid-funnel keywords relating to service and category pages.

With a deeper handle on these insights, we’re ready to talk about goal setting.

Goal Setting

As we craft an SEO strategy for our clients from the analytic data discovered, it’s essential to establish and clearly communicate the goals at hand. Where is the client trying to go? What are they ultimately trying to achieve?

Some clients will come to a project with existing goals in mind. They may wish to generate a certain number of new leads per month or ranking #1 for specific keywords.

The first thing to note is that as an SEO provider, we can’t guarantee rankings, traffic increases, or a specific number of new leads or sales. The search engines are dynamic, and demand for an industry space can change due to external factors like the economy.

Instead, what we can do is set targets that reasonably align with our client's budget, industry space, and starting point. These goals can then be re-evaluated or re-set over time — typically on 90 to 180-day cycles.

Goal setting is always done in collaboration with the client. The goals established should align with their real-world business needs. Your job is to ask questions of the client to understand what their goals are and then to let them know if you think they are realistic. You may find you need to taper expectations based on what you discovered when you established where their baseline numbers lay.

As you set goals with your client, discuss how these goals will be measured while their using your SEO services. Introduce them to the term key performance indicators (KPIs) as it’s these action items that we’ll use to measure overall success. For example, if a client’s goal is to increase their top line revenue by 20% in a year, we need to measure that these action items are moving in the right direction to achieve that number. If their sales funnel begins with prospects requesting a demo or completing a form, we can tie our success measurements to these specific actions as KPIs as well. These can be tracked as goals in Google Analytics.

Learn more about setting goals and establishing key performance indicators for clients.

Creating a Roadmap

Now that we collectively know where we are today and where we want to go, it’s time to define how we will get there.

At this high level of performance, we’ll get there by following a holistic approach to SEO. This is done by focusing on technical SEO, content, on-site optimization, and off-site SEO (the four pillars of SEO). This approach should be marked by action items — the series of small steps to be taken in order to build an SEO foundation and then evolve it over time. These steps accumulate to generate outsized results because results are based on scaled/customized efforts.

As we craft an SEO strategy for our clients, we want to be more specific. We do so by first understanding a website's strengths and weaknesses. Our SEO strategy can then focus on turning the weaknesses into opportunities for growth.

For example, if you find a client has a strong technical foundation but is lacking in content, then content marketing will be the cornerstone of your SEO strategy. Alternatively, if a site has great content, but lags in off-site SEO, then we’ll focus extra attention on building domain authority via link building.

Creating an SEO Strategy is a Paid Project

You may be thinking right now that you’ll create and communicate the SEO strategy as part of the sales process. But, that would take hours of your time and there is a tremendous amount of value to crafting a strategy. Thus, creating an SEO strategy is a paid project.

During the sales process, communicate with your prospective client(s) about how you approach SEO. This includes walking them through how services are structured (packaging) and giving them an introduction to what’s included in a holistic approach to SEO.

Then ask them questions about what problems they currently have with their website’s visibility on Google and where they are trying to go.

That said, we want to stop short of analyzing Google Analytics data, spending hours auditing their website, and other tasks that should be completed as a paid engagement.

Enter the SEO Assessment

This is where the SEO Assessment comes in. It’s during the SEO Assessment we create the overall structure of the SEO strategy for clients. The engagement time with the client is designed to answer these three core questions that comprise the SEO strategy:

  • Where are you now?
  • Where are you trying to go?
  • How will you get there?

During the SEO Set-Up we continue to expand upon the strategy by creating sub-strategies that come together to create the long-term roadmap for a client:

  • Keyword strategy
  • Content strategy
  • Off-site SEO strategy

Frequently Asked Questions

What if my prospect doesn’t have an existing website?

If you are working with a business that is new or is building its first website, then where they are now is simple — nowhere. They don’t have Google Analytics data or Google Search Console data to analyze.

Instead, we focus on where the client is trying to go and how they will get there.

We also can set reasonable expectations about what it means to be a brand new domain competing against established websites. It’s an uphill battle because the domain is new and lacks authority and trust.

As a result, the SEO strategy for this client leans toward quickly acquiring high-value links to build authority and tactics like creating a Google Maps listing to build trust.

We’re Here to Help

If you are new to offering SEO services, then crafting an SEO strategy for your clients can feel overwhelming at first. You may wonder if you steering your clients in the right direction.

Good news — we’re here to help. We built Pathfinder SEO for agencies like yours who are looking to start and scale their SEO services offering. We’ll accelerate you through the process and help you avoid costly mistakes.

A subscription to the Pathfinder SEO platform includes access to all of the resources you need to create your SEO services offering and effectively deliver the service.

Even better, Pathfinder SEO subscribers are supported by one-on-one coaching. Get access and sign up for your first coaching session.

SEO Business in a Box

Our guided approach to SEO has everything you need to offer your clients SEO services.

Lindsay Halsey

Lindsay Halsey is a co-founder of Pathfinder SEO. She has over 10 years of experience working in SEO with small to large businesses. Lindsay focuses on teaching site owners, freelancers, and agencies how to get found on Google via a guided approach to SEO. Stay in touch on Twitter - @linds_halsey.
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