When we begin with a new client the first step we recommend is to start with a Gap Analysis study on one’s own site. A Gap Analysis study provides a foundation for where a company is relative to their competition.
Further, we recommend a client book us for a Gap Analysis study on at least one competitor—though, obviously, three competitors would provide a more complete picture. The purpose for looking at the competition is to gain an advantage through an analysis of any success they have had and to harvest the longtail keywords phrases that have led to that success. From these reports we can outline avenues for development.
If a site is engaged in Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns (most commonly, Google Adwords) then there are seven reports in the Gap Analysis study. If there’s no PPC campaign then there are five reports.
- Compliance with World Wide Web Consortium (W3.org) guidelines
- Keyword Density Reports (KDRs)
- Keyword Effectiveness Index (KEI) value reports
- Predict both the number of searches for a given longtail keyword phrase and, when available, the Click Through Rates (CTRs)
- Percentage of time spent on a site for a given longtail keyword phrase
- Pay Per Click (PPC) Search Engine Placement (SEP) online advertising campaigns—current Keywords, Return on Investment (ROI), Position, Number of Competitors, Estimated Clicks per Day, and Price per Click.
- Pay Per Click (PPC) Competitors—who they are, their ROI, Position, and Price per Click.
The first report is a link to an analysis of a company’s current site language and architecture. The analysis is supplied by running the a site’s home page through the World Wide Web Consortium’s Validation tools.
Non-compliance means a site will not play the same across different browsers. The bots (short for robot) from the major search engines index a page much in the same way that a browser displays a page. In instances where there are sufficient coding errors to cause a validation tool to have a fatal error, it is likely that browsers will not properly display all of a page’s content and bots will not index all of the content on that page.
One of the meta tags that should be utilized is a robot tag. In its simplest form this is <meta name=”robots” content=”index, follow” />.
For a more complete reference, place a rel link to an external robot.txt file. The purpose here is to tell the search engine bots to index the content of the page and to follow the links to the next page(s) as well as to not index non-public pages such as admin, checkout, etc.
Although a complete non-Pay Per Click Gap Analysis study is five reports, we often find that with new sites some of the reports can not be run. In most instances the tools utilized to run the reports have threshold limits.
For instance, the tool with which we harvest data for the 5th report, predicting the percentage of time spent on a page for a particular longtail keyword phrase, has a threshold limit of 25 click throughs from Google per month.
If a site has fewer than 25 click throughs for any one longtail keyword phrase then no data will be harvested. In such an instance we offer a discount on the Gap Analysis package. Alternatively, the research to run individual reports can be purchased per report.
Once Gap Analysis study(s) have been completed the next step is to begin more in depth Keyword Effectiveness Index (KEI) research. This has three components. One is the raw research. This begins with the longtail keyword phrases that were harvested for the KEI reports in the Gap Analysis study(s). Once the raw research is completed, we analyze the reports looking for patterns.
Once patterns are found we’ll go back to the KEI tools and request KEI values on “digs”. The target being to find related terms used in longtail keyword phrases that have even higher KEI values. The third part of the KEI research is, of course, the implementation.
In general I recommend that a site have 100 longtail keyword phrases with a KEI value above 10.0. A minimum KEI value of 20.0 is, of course, better. Depending on the industry, genre, and quality of the competition’s search engine optimization (SEO) this may require additional hours of research.
The initial KEI research for a new start-up site (for this example: 20 pages) averages 30 hours. This breaks down to 15 hours raw research, 5 hours pattern analysis, and 10 hours implementation. Often we will complete the raw research and pattern analysis and then hand the results to a company’s webmaster for implementation.
Ideally, of course, this is to be completed as a piece of a web build and the implementation is part of the build package.
For existing sites, there is an obvious question of how many of the pages will be revisited and what tags, attributes, and content will be modified to include the new research. At a minimum I recommend the home page and all pages that link from it. FYI: One can check how many pages Google and Yahoo have indexed.
To search Google, type site:mydomainname.com into the Google search field. To search Yahoo, visit: http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com and type the complete web address for your domain name: http://www.mydomianname.com into the Site Explorer search field.
If you opt to see how many pages Google and Yahoo have indexed by utilizing the tools below, REMEMBER to type the name of your own domain in place of “mydomianname.com”.