SEO Gap Analysis

Post by
Dr. Daniel Pressley
SEO Gap Analysis

Search Engine Optimisation isn’t for everyone, and you can’t dabble your way to the top of Google. This article is intended to help you decide whether SEO is going to be worth the investment.

SEO is all or nothing. There is no prize for climbing from Page Ten to Page Two. So it pays to make a clear, conscious decision at the start: am I willing to go all in and do what it takes to succeed?

Answering this question requires some understanding of what your up against. What will it take to get from where you are right now to where you want to be?

In other words, a gap analysis.

Here's how it works.

By Growth Stream in Cardiff: SEO Gap Analysis
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Step 1: Define user intents

Every searcher has an intent; a 'pain point' which they are seeking to resolve. When somebody finds your product online and then buys it, what precisely were they looking for? If you have multiple products, there may be multiple user intents.

Step 2: Keyword analysis

Now that you know what people are looking for, next we work out how they actually find it. In other words, what do they type into Google? This is not guesswork, and you should put you own expectations aside as you use software like Ahrefs or Moz to find out which keywords are used most widely in your niche.

Step 3: Assess the SEO competition

SEO competition should not be confused with your rivals in the marketplace. They may be the same thing, but not necessarily.

For example, a website which sells "privacy software" may rank for that keyword. Their SEO competition will very likely include rival sellers, but might also include some informational guides, some top-10 listicles and maybe even news articles covering the same topic.

In assessing your competition, you will be asking yourself:

  • What keywords are they targeting and have they missed any opportunities?
  • How authoritative, expert and trustworthy is their website? What is the breadth and depth of their     website content?
  • How good is their onsite and technical SEO? You can use various free or freemium tools to assess     this (e.g. Neil Patel's site audit or Sitechecker Pro)
  • How strong is their backlink profile? i.e. How many quality, relevant websites link to them? The above tools will help with this, too.
  • What is their current rate of growth? Again, SEO tools will help you to see how proactively the competition are working on their own SEO.
  • What other types of acquisition are they using? Do the top-ranking websites in your niche still rely on paid advertising for some of their income?

Step 4: Keyword selection

Choosing your keywords is the most important and highest value stage of optimising your website for search engines. Lots of small businesses make the mistake of thinking that,because you can choose your target keywords in an hour or two, you should.

Just to be clear: you should spend a long time choosing your target keywords.

Think about it: you might spend months building a website and then even more months persuading large numbers of webmasters to link to it. But it will all be for nothing if you target the wrong keywords. So, although you won't need to spend months doing it,choosing your keywords should take place over a period of several days.A little at a time. Lots of breaks. Using a proper spreadsheet which is built for the job.

Keyword selection comprises three components: traffic volume, relevance and competition.

You task is to find the perfect balance between all three.

Let's take the keyword"car insurance" as an example. We'll suppose that you're a specialist insurer for over-forties women.

  • Traffic level: huge!
  • Relevance / conversion rate:     moderate
  • SEO competition: massive

This is not a great choice of keyword for you because, although there is plenty of traffic and it's quite relevant, there is so much competition that you're unlikely to rank.

Now let's try a different keyword: "car insurance for women 40+".

  • Traffic level: small
  • Relevance / conversion rate:     bullseye
  • SEO competition: low

Although this keyword attracts far fewer searches, it is a much better keyword for you. That's because the people who do search for this are very likely to buy what you sell.Plus, there is very little SEO competition, meaning you're very likely to rank on page one.

If you are a small business in Wales and would like some help in choosing your perfect keywords,please feel free to get in touch and we will be happy to take you through the process one step at a time.

Step Five: Website and content creation

Now build your website or create your content to match the user intents and keywords which you have identified. Think carefully about things like folder structure - Google likes to know how all your pages relate to one another. Also, it pays to map out at the start which pages are going to target which user intents and which keywords. As a general rule, think one page per user intent.

Step Six: Onsite Optimisation

Optimise each page(especially landing pages) to make sure that you are signalling your content's relevance to Google. Distribute your top keywords tactically in your meta title, headings, internal links, image alt text, paragraph text etc. I also like to include them in the meta description, though opinions differ a bit here. It is also a good idea to use synonyms and related content throughout your content. This will usually happen naturally if you are writing for real human beings, but this handy website can provide useful inspiration.

Step Seven: Technical SEO

If your website is going to perform well in SEO terms and rank on page one of Google, it will first need to clear a number of technical hurdles. Use free tools like Google's Lighthouse and Page Speed Insights to check that your website loads quickly and is mobile friendly. Free SEO tools like Neil Patel's site audit and Sitechecker Pro will help you to find faults in your website content. And another freeware option, Xenu's Link Sleuth, is a dream for weeding out broken links on your site. If you have some budget available and therefore don't need to limit yourself to the free options, then the industry-standard software choices are Ahrefs or Moz (monthly subscription; you probably won't need both) plus the SEO Spider Tool by Screaming Frog (annual subscription).

Step Eight: First-flush backlinks

If nobody ever links from their website to yours, you can be sure that you will never rank in Google. Backlinks are essential, and Google still lists backlink profile as one of its top three ranking factors (the others being onsite content and user signals such as time on site).

When you're a brand new website, there won't be a sudden rush of webmasters and bloggers trying to link to your homepage. Attracting links is hard work. But the first few are pretty straightforward. Look for specialist and general directories, social media profiles and other content-based sites like Flickr.

Then just get on the phone and ask people.

Start with real-world associates, friends, B2B suppliers, happy customers and so on. A few of them will ask for you to do the same in return, and that's okay in small numbers.Just be aware that Google frowns upon "reciprocal linking", so links like this are usually less valuable. If you start racking up dozens and dozens of reciprocal links, it will start to hurt your SEO rather than help.

Step Nine: Outreach and Digital PR

Now for what is probably the most difficult step of all: getting total strangers to link from their high-value website to yours with no expectation of anything in return. Just to warn, they will only do this if they think that your content is so good that their audience would thank them for sharing it. It has to be pure "linkbait".

In other words, you will need to produce some highly professional and unique content which is massively appealing to website owners and their readers. Then you will need to network with enough charm that the former will share it with the latter, not just on their social media but on their website, by means of a link.

In industry parlance, you will need to create a 10X experience. In other words, your content will need to be ten times better than anything else that's available online if anyone is going to link to it.

If you are a small business in Wales and would like some help in generating and promoting website content for SEO, please feel free to get in touch and we will be happy to tell you what has worked for us, and what fell flat on its face.

Step Ten: Rankings and reporting

No guessing or using your own phone. Use dedicated SEO software to track your progress in Google's search rankings. Ahrefs and Moz are the most popular options, but there are much cheaper alternatives out there if you don't need all the other stuff which the market leaders provide. Ranktrackr is a great, low-cost option.

Step Eleven: Review

Always start with an aim. Always finish with an honest assessment. Now is the time to do a feedback loop and ask yourself what worked and what fell short this time. SEO is an iterative process. So now it's time to fine-tune the successes and rewrite the failures.

Good luck!

If you are a small business in Wales and would like to conquer Google, we offer SEO in Cardiff. Maybe give us a shout some time and see if we can help :)

Not our first rodeo

Growth Stream is a new brand, but we have been doing digital marketing since before that term existed. Read our backstory to find out what we've been doing over the last decade. Spoiler alert: it involves lots of small businesses growing massively.