Episode #: 020
Hosts / Guest(s): Pete Everitt

Show Notes

Our 5-minute SEO Assessment of any client website!

Disclaimer: This isn’t a process for running a full SEO Audit on a website. Instead, this is the process I go through when a lead comes in to talk about SEO. Before any project has been confirmed, or any money has exchanged hands, this is the process I go through before the initial call to give me context. 

  • Website structure
  • User experience
  • Current Rankings
  • Competitor Websites & Rankings
  • Website Speed / Core Webs Vitals

This leads to two gated products…

  • SEO Health Check
  • Keyword Research & Mapping

… and from here I can present a retained proposal.

Need some help?

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Welcome to the WPSEO show, brought to you by SEO Hive, your proactive white label SEO partner.

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The WPSCO show is all about talking WordPress and SEO from optimizations, structures, setups and plugins.

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We explore how to make your WordPress website perform better in the search engines.

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Here are your hosts, Pete Everett and Jeff Patch.

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Hello and welcome to this episode of the WPSCO show, I am your host Pete and today it is just me, I am the host.

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Jeff unfortunately couldn’t be with us, we tried a number of ways to get recording schedule together but we couldn’t quite sink our UK, California diaries in order to make it work.

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So rather than miss a week, I thought it would be good to have a little bit of one on one time with you, dear listener.

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And what I like to share with you this week is my five minute process for assessing a website.

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Now to be clear, this isn’t like conducting an SEO audio or anything like that, this is the process I go through when a lead comes in either a phone call out of the blue or an email or a DM or something like that.

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And somebody says, hey I’d like to talk to you about SEO.

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Well I have a very quick five minute process that I can go and review a website so I can get a take on how much work is involved before we have any form of discussion about it.

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But basically trying to make that a meaningful discussion.

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So the first thing that I do obviously we need to know what the website is and I should say from the outset that I am sort of precursing this with the assumption that you have access to some kind of SEO software.

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I use s.m. rush for all of my SEO data is exceptionally reliable.

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It is feature rich. It has more data than you can check a sticker.

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But it isn’t the cheapest thing in the world and I’m fully aware of that. But you do need access to some kind of data with this so you are going to need a tool either an s.m. rush or maybe mangoes which is the the next one that I’ve normally recommend.

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Or an s.m. ranking or something along those lines.

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So the very first thing I look at is I just go and browse the the client’s website you know we see a lot of websites doing the doing the job that we do.

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And you get a feel for how easy it is to navigate how organized is it are things put in logical kind of silos or does it seem a little bit all over the place.

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What’s the UI like what’s the UX like if a client lands on it are they going to be or if a user lands on it are they going to be turned off.

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What’s that kind of five second rule like what’s the impression that you’re left with and it’s really important to actually go and do this.

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Largely because you know you only get the chance of doing this for yourself once so to intentionally visit the website and actually start thinking about okay so how does this feel how succinct is it how is it structured you know how they broken down their product services whatever are they in thematic terms or not is it very linear structure do they have nested pages all of those kind of things.

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You can start to understand quite quickly okay so this is how a cold user might use it because ultimately any SEO that we do needs to tie back into a metric for the client so that could be sales it could be inquiries it might be something else but I every client we work with we try and not work purely on search position because you know just because you want to rank in the top position for a particular keyword doesn’t actually mean that that keyword is going to get you any sales.

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So yeah what what’s that experience like because if that’s wrong then anything that you do beyond this beyond this point is is going to be wrong is going to be difficult.

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So that’s the first thing going to set it just with a cold light day grab yourself a coffee take five minutes browse the website see what they’re about try and put your yourself in the position of one of their potential customers that’s the first thing.

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The second thing is I then go into my tool of choice in which case mine is SEO brush and I then look at the current rankings report so we put the URL and it gives us a list of all of the terms in the top 100 that the website is ranking for and with that we’re looking for a few things.

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So the first is we’re looking at actually what the keywords are is the website actually ranking for anything that does relate to its products and services for a customer that doesn’t necessarily know the customer that the client’s name so we do remove the branded terms out of that and then we’re looking at the intent of the of those keywords.

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We want a good mix of intent we don’t want to purely go for transactional commercial keywords but on the same note if there aren’t any commercial or transactional keywords then that’s also a bit of a bit of a red flag something that we are going to need to address.

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So we’re again we’re looking at this from the point of view of the clients customers potential customers and how easy are they to find on the internet based on unbranded terms that’s the second thing we’re going to do.

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The third thing is we then go and look at some competitors so if we know that a client’s main if we know what their main products and services are then frankly just go and Google them now does help if you know whether the client is looking at a kind of local SEO context the national SEO context international SEO context so ideally you would get that from the initial conversation you have with them but you know you.

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Yeah you’re getting an idea of who their competitors are and simply go and Google the terms just because a client says that their competitor is XYZ business down the street isn’t always the case with SEO the your competitors in terms of SEO are the people that are currently ranking on the first page so we want to know who they are and from that we can then kind of go into a similar exercise we can go and look at their website structures how they have.

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Organize their information alongside in comparison to the client that we’re looking at we can look at how much content they’re creating how regular it is is that targeted to specific keywords how are they clustering those keywords together and so on and so forth now if you’ve got another tool something like screaming frog which will actually go and outline the site hierarchies for you that can be a complete time saver when it comes to comes to this so you know.

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Literally just pulling out sheets which show you what the website structures alike and how they’re organizing their information that can be that really can save you a lot of time but if you don’t have it it isn’t that difficult to go and get go and get the general just and don’t forget that’s the purpose of this we’re quickly assessing whether we think we would be able to help this client with SEO that’s the point.

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Then the final thing that I go and do sort of preemptively is I do go and run a website speed test and a core web titles check so I normally do that through GT metrics but sometimes we use pingdom you know tools dot pingdom dot com and other times and of course you can go and use the the page speed insights from Google themselves to get that that data thing you would remember

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the page speed insights is it is a 28 day average so you know if you do start working on a website you can’t go and use that particularly easily to monitor what you’re doing against you know whether you’re improving anything instead you do just have to you know you have to wait for 28 days you need another tool for that which is where GT metrics comes in.

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So once you’ve done those four or five things I’m normally pretty well equipped to know that right well if we had the right keyword research and we were working with this client we would be able to improve their SEO ultimately to lead to more sales and more inquiries.

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And that is essentially the pre assessment if you like in those few reports now you know those reports we do offer something called our scout reports through SEO hive so you can you know we can go and run them for you that isn’t that is in a problem but actually you know what if you develop your own process for this and you have your own software it really doesn’t take very long in order to go through 10 15 minutes and I can be in a very good place to have a discussion with a client.

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And to know whether I think we can help them with SEO or whether they actually need other work first you know maybe they need a website redesign first or whatever it might be we we in a good place to have that discussion.

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So what do I do with this information let’s say that I’ve done all of this and then I have the chat with the client and yes they want to you know they want to proceed with me.

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Well my process in our agency we never sell retained agreements to clients were never worked with before so I’ve done episodes on this in the past but we have some gated products some gated processes that we we sell to the client before we start to actually engage them in a retained agreement.

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There’s a few reasons for that but essentially the analogy of given in the past is that selling a retained agreement to a client you’ve never worked before is a little bit like get married on the first date you don’t really know if you’re a good fit for them.

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They don’t know if they’re a good fit for you and you know you’re making the sale quite difficult because selling something for 12 months or 24 months is a far bigger ask than selling a one off process.

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So you know you need to build that level of trust it’s your job to guide the client through your marketing so you need to make sure you’ve got this process in place but we get a far better close rate and can be far more picky about the clients that we decide to work with if we have gated products which is what we do.

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So the first is an SEO health check and that is where we will go and run a full SEO audit on the website. Now notice we haven’t we haven’t done that yet because largely because I don’t want to give that away for free.

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So you know I’ve tried to gather all the information I can short of the web the page speed or the call web vitals report haven’t actually done an official health check.

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So the first job is to get that audit run that is one of the scout reports that we sell to us your high SEO high dot code forward slash scout reports I think we’ll get you there.

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And that that then gives us a workflow to work through now the way I sell this to a client is we do it for a fix fee which is 400 pounds plus VAT here in the UK.

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And what that gets you is the initial health audit then half a days worth of time to fix anything that is in the audit and then we will rerun the audit for you at the other end so that you can see the improvement between a and b.

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And what we’re trying to do is improve the site health from wherever it is to something in the 90s we try and get it to 95 or above but something in the 90s so that we know that we’re running nice and clean and we’re certainly going to be running at an average as far higher than the vast majority of websites on the internet.

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If in that half a day we don’t have time to clear up clear up enough issues in order to complete the health check to get it to that 90 plus 95% kind of area then at that point will because we’ll then have used the site will understand a bit more about how it works that kind of thing we will then be in a position to quote how much more time we think we’ll need in order to get it to get there.

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So this isn’t a fixed fee and we will definitely get all the issues sorted on your site. This is a fixed fee for half a days worth of effort and if we need some more we reserve the right to to have that discussion with you.

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That’s how the S.O. Health check works and it’s really important that you do that bit first because as I say anything that you do without that is going to pinder your progress.

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If you think about it this way you know if you’re dealing with semi competitive terms to or higher harder terms than that then actually you need to consider how the clients website may perform if we can generate the content and the backlinks and the structure in order to get it there.

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Now if you’re saying if you look at all of that effort and then put it on a you know put at the end of the sentence on a website with a health of 62%.

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Then all of a sudden you can see how you’re going to hinder the work that any of that good work that you’re doing by getting the S.O. Health sorted first and foremost it gives you the best chance to for all of the efforts to work well and to work quickly.

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Some clients see an uplift in S.O. position just from being cleaner. I mean that is not an you know an unheard of occurrence in our agency it happens relatively regularly not every client will see it because of course until you run the audit you don’t know how clean the website is.

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But you know if you can lift them from 62 to 95 there existing positions are going to lift and their traffic will go with it so you know you need to you need to be prepared for that.

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But as I say it then gives us this gated product which is the first thing that we sell them in order to work together to experience working together and as long as everything goes fine we will then move on to stage two.

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If we come across some red flags if we come across things that aren’t you know aren’t as they should be then guess what we just never offer the next stage we wish them well and send them on their way maybe recommending somebody else that we might think might be a good fit maybe they’re an industry specialist or whatever it might be.

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So that’s the first gated product the S.O. health check the second gated product is then a keyword research and mapping exercise now the price on this this is a single product price.

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Second the second gated product that we offer is a keywords research and mapping exercise now this is still a one off project and project price but the cost does fluctuate a little firstly depending on the size of the website and the complexity of the niche and secondly depending on whether they’ve had any keyword researched and in the past so they can take some of the legwork out of it for us.

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But typically it’s a little bit more expensive than the so that’s the first gated product the second gated product is a keyword research and mapping exercise and this still is a fixed price product although we do alter our pricing a little bit depending on the client.

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Some clients may have already had keyword research done in the in the past which means that we can cut out a bit of our legwork we still want to review it however and other clients you know they might be caught a small website might be a specific niche there there might not be too much keyword research to carry out so we do it’s still a fixed price that gets presented to the client but once we’ve done the health check we’re in a better position to understand the kind of what we’re prepared to charge to do the keyword research and mapping exercise.

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And the way we do this is we go away and do our keyword research and we put it all into a big Google sheet and we group everything thematically so we the first stages we get the client to fill in a questionnaire they that gives us our seed keyword list that’s normally to do with their products and services in terms that they want to rank for.

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And then from there we can then run for keyword research on a thematic basis from that point we can then take their list of current listings and actually map the pages that they already have rankings for into the keyword research so we can see if they already have a page that’s ranking and what position it’s in.

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And we can then review whether that listing is actually in the right place or whether it’s in you know whether it’s it’s not whether it’s a listing we need to protect whether it’s something that we can move etc etc.

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And the output of the keyword research and mapping is to well threefold really you get the keyword research that’s the first thing and then you get two lists.

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The first is a list of keywords that we already have rankings for that copy may need reviewing it may need adding to it certainly need auditing but you already have a ranking for it so we you know you want to step along that journey.

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And the second is then the rest of the list which is keywords that you don’t have any rankings for and we can then make decisions as to whether they’re going to become pages posts a new post type whether you’re going to cover them in podcasts and write show notes.

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However we want to decide we’re going to do that.

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So that ultimately is a content strategy and again that gives us the get out of jail free card that if when we’ve done all of that we it’s a project we don’t think we can add too much value to or frankly maybe we just don’t want to do it or we have a client that’s a bit similar and we’re worried about conflict of interest and all that kind of stuff.

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Then we’ve got that get out of jail free card we can we can go there when we’ve done both of those processes however we are then in a position to put a retained agreement proposal together so with the keyword research and mapping we will discuss that all with the client and we will then have pre prepared a proposal to say look if you want us to take this on from now this is what our costs would be because now we have a good idea of the amount of work that’s required.

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So we have a good idea of the competitive nature of the of the niche that you’re in we have a good idea of what your backlink profile is like and whether we’re going to put any work into that as well so we’re now in a position to put a retained agreement together.

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So hopefully this episode has shown you two things firstly how you can quickly assess a website from an SEO perspective and I’d love to know if there’s anything you think I’ve missed or any processes that you would you would include in that and then the second thing is how you take that quick assessment run it through a discovery process and then actually have some gated products to selling your own retained agreements.

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I hope you found this episode useful if you have any questions at all feel free to reach out to us at hello@sio-co.

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Alternatively you can book a strategy session where we can talk through anything to do with SEO strategy in your business be that how to apply an SEO process or an SEO sales process in your agency or even talking through the specifics of a client you can find all the details for that on SEO.co.

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And if I don’t see you in our inbox then I’ll see you with Jeff in the next episode.

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The WPSio show is brought to you by SEO Hive your agency’s proactive white label SEO partner.

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We understand that finding a reliable SEO supplier is key to ensuring you build stable monthly recurring revenue into your digital agency.

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At SEO Hive we have a suite of products that will help you sell, scale and deliver your monthly SEO retainers from our scout reports and one-off technical boosters, to our flagship local SEO and honey pot plans, all of which have clear pricing and monthly deliverables.

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If you want to explore how SEO Hive can help your agency deliver high quality and reliable SEO agreements for your clients, you can find more information at SEO Hive.co and schedule a call to discuss the next steps.

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