BACK TO BASICS: How to Gain Insider Expertise as an Outside SEO Agency
Subject matter expertise is your trade as an SEO. You need to become fluent in your new client's business, STAT. Commonly held modern wisdom says it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert, but as an SEO agency or consultant, you need the fast track to subject matter sophisticate.
Our minds retain countless pieces of new info each day. With intentional direction, we can concentrate our efforts toward the shortcut to authority. Take a cue from the field of psychology for mind-tricks to approach the problem of mental mastery:
1. Establish conditions that permit progress.
2. Have specific goals.
3. Undertake deliberate practice.
4. Progress in orderly fashion.
5. Obtain swift, specific and accurate feedback.
Establish Conditions That Permit Progress
When everyone understands what each member of the team provides and needs from the collaboration, you can enable your mutual success in an SEO agency relationship. In this month's feature from Bruce Clay Australia's Michael Bochel, you have a resource for setting expectations in your partnership with your client.
Have Specific Goals
To become an expert, have in mind the objectives of knowledge accumulation to direct your study. What does it mean to be an expert? What are the signs of an expert? What can an expert do that others can't?
You also should understand why you need to be an expert on your clients' businesses. This is what you'll do with the expert knowledge to advance marketing campaigns.
Undertake Deliberate Practice
In order to achieve your goal to be a subject expert, follow a three-step study program to quickly gain sophisticated understanding of a new client business:
Each of the fields of study overlap and flow between the others, requiring that the journey from novice to expert is one of immersion.
Your primary and most readily available resource is, of course, the people running the business. Your client is a treasure trove of expert information, from C-suite leadership to customer service call reps. Start your expert inquisitions with an in-depth discovery interview with those who oversee the business's marketing, product development and customer service.
We call our interview from the content marketing questionnaire; it's an all-purpose map for exploring a business, its offering, its audience, its competition and its communication channels.
Of course, you need to direct your inquiries from both the business side and from the customer side. From your discussions with your client, you'll have an idea of the different kinds of people they serve. Get in the mind of consumer to gain an intimate understanding of their needs. Build the persona through search data as well as by speaking to customers themselves. Ask your client for available customer feedback, whether survey data, testimonials, call analytics or something else. And if the customer feedback is light, consider suggesting customer surveys.
Conversion intelligence tools offer insights on how page layout and design, call to actions and user interface affect on-site user behavior. You'll also get customer insight by looking at analytics, including the keywords bringing traffic to the site and visitors' paths on the site through Google Analytics flow analysis of goals and funnels.
Search engine query and keyword research looks at how the customer and the business intersect online. In studying the search makeup of the business, you're looking at how the audience interacts with search portals to learn and locate info about the topic, product and business in question.
Progress in Orderly Fashion
Your expertise provides you with a framework for your SEO efforts.
Organic search marketing veteran Vanessa Fox recommends mapping SEO keywords and content with personas. Landing pages are designed for those keywords with high search volume and then supporting pages target more focused keyword phrases to speak to specific personas.
This exercise with your keyword list allows you to match the site function to the users' intentions:
With this multi-pronged approach to expertise, you can design a holistic online brand presence. Map your expertise to three areas where it clearly applies to Internet marketing:
While in the learning stages and even after you've achieved expert status in the product/service, audience and industry, establish a process for staying up to date and keeping the listening channel open. This applies to your intimacy with customers of the client and your client as well.
Find opportunities to survey the customers of the business to stay connected to why they chose to be a customer, what they need from the business and how satisfied they are. And invite feedback from your client so you stay on top of their evolving needs.