Total Read Time: 9 Minutes
Outline of The Process:
1) Need the Right Tools
2) Competitor Research and Analysis
2a) Competitor Keyword Research
2b) Competitor Backlink Profile Analysis (optional)
3) Local and On-Site SEO Audit
4) A Hint of SEO Fairy Dust
Step 1: Need the Right Tools
Ahrefs, Google Keyword Planner, Potentially SEMRush
Now before we get too far, I must let you know that this is meant to build on the training you’ve already learned from JK – if you aren’t a part of that and want to learn more, follow here and please send an inquiry.
To get started, you’re going to need the right tools. The top tool I recommend for SEO audits: Ahrefs, with SEMRush in close 2nd. With this tool, you are able to quickly analyze the top keywords for your niche and top 10 competitor’s backlink profiles with a few simple clicks. This tool will display all of the corresponding information on just two simple pages, making it easy to perform niche and keyword research quickly.
Majestic is another great tool, however you are not able to do full SEO Audits because of a lack of keyword research data. There are many other reasons that you will find in the Top SEO Tools Comparison (coming soon). An easy way to streamline your research is to use Ahrefs.
2) Competitor Research and Analysis:
2a) Competitor Keyword Research:
You’ll want to start with some of your more common keywords to get started. In this example, we’ll use dog toys and dog grooming New York City for local.
For national campaigns, start by searching: “niche + buyer intent keyword”. For example, “buy dog toys” or “dog toys for sale online” will work fine.
For local, start by searching the “niche + city” as the keyword, “dog grooming new york city” will do just fine for this example.
From here you’ll want to analyze the top Competitors along with their backlink profiles and top keywords. Ideally, we’re looking for low hanging fruit (LHF) niches and keywords. More on that in a moment.
Visit here if you’re looking for even more information on low hanging fruit niche picking (coming soon).
Hint, I try to go for a top competitor that is in both the local box and the top of organic rankings, since Google is displaying them for one of your main keywords, you already know they’ve done what Google is looking for to rank. It’s also best to grab the most relevant competitor, you will probably want to analyze two or three as well.
Now that we’ve found one of our top ranking competitors, we’re going to want to head over to Ahrefs and enter their website. You’ll see a screen like this:
Immediately we can see that the competitor has 136 referring domain names pointing 1.15k backlinks to the home page of this website.
That’s a lot of backlinks and while I usually just check the number of referring domains a competitor has, it’s still smart to make sure their backlinks are not too ‘juiced up’.
We can also take a look to see how many links an inner page of the website is receiving. This is especially important when ranking against the inner page of a site.
This competitor has 2,700 keywords:
While in your Ahrefs Dashboard, you can easily access the competitor’s keywords and backlink profile by tapping the numbers in the highlighted boxes above.
Notice the traffic value in the blue box, that can be used to help sell a lead gen property because it shows the average PPC cost of the traffic if the displayed competitor were running Adwords.
**Please note: Ahrefs is a tool and is not always 100% accurate. For example, the ‘Traffic Value’ display usually way off but still useful nonetheless.
We will first take a quick look at the competitor’s Organic Keywords before analyzing their Backlink Report.
Click the Organic Keywords Number from the image above to open up the following screen shown in the image:
Here are the competitor’s top Keywords as underlined in black – we’ll be finding some even more amazing keywords through competitor analysis so pay close attention Willis!
Because we’re analyzing competitor difficulty now, we’re only interested in the underlined KW’s from the image above.
Follow here if you’d like to learn more about using Ahrefs tool for SEO (coming soon).
The ‘Ranking Position’ in Google is listed on the far right and the KW’s are listed in order of ‘most traffic received’ for the website we’re looking at.
It then makes sense why keywords with a lower position are receiving less traffic.
Please Note: The KD highlighted in pink (keyword difficulty) is on a scale of 0 – 100 with KW terms under a ‘KD of 20’ being generally much easier to rank for. You can see one of the keywords is over a 20 KD. We’ll stay away from that for now BUT we’ll still target it for long-term. Traffic and Position have been highlighted for relevance.
Now that we can see the average KD is around ~ 5 – 7 or so, we can take a deeper look at the difficulty of each keyword by clicking any of the underlined keywords above.
In the above image, you will notice a Keyword overview. Please notice at the top, there is an update button – you may want to go ahead and update the results.
After updating this search, I found the KD has moved up to a 6.
You’ll also notice in the Pink Box, Ahrefs gives you an estimate on how many backlinks you’ll need to land in the top 10 search results – notice – very clearly they did not say the ‘top 3’ or ‘top position’, but top 10 search results.
Finally, we are given a parent topic that you can also click and explore for other keyword ideas. More keyword ideas will populate below as underlined in black.
Alternatively, you can see on the right, a higher 22 KD requires more links to rank as shown in the highlighted pink box.
Something interesting happens when we scroll downwhile still on the same screen:
When you scroll down, you will see the top 10 search results for the keyword you are analyzing.
The first black column labeled DR stands for ‘Domain Rank’ and is a power score based on how strong the domain is including how strong it’s backlinks, number of pages, content, and a few other factors.
You will notice the DR is particularly high for Yelp and Huffington Post, more on that in a moment.
On the right in blue we can see even more amazing keyword to target for SEO, and finally, in the middle pink column, you will see how many referring domains each of the top 10 search results each competitor is receiving.
At a glance, we can quickly see the top 10 competitors do not have a lot of referring domains and that they may be an easier search term to rank for right?
! Ahref Faults ! IMPORTANT NOTES: While the KD tool is great at finding low hanging fruit keywords and niches (under a 20 KD), it does have its flaws. The two biggest hindrances are that:
1) The KD tool does not heavily take into account DR (domain rank), or put another way, a website’s authority. Websites like Huffington Post and Yelp have a lot of authority.
2) The data in Ahrefs may be outdated and not properly displaying the competitor’s full backlink profile to date.
3) You can ‘only’ rely on keywords that have the ‘city + niche’ and not just ‘niche’ keywords. You can still get ideas from Ahrefs, but double check Google’s Keyword Planner Tool to make sure the traffic amount matches up to Ahrefs.
Some Pro-Tip Final Thoughts:
1. I highly recommend searching many different competitor sites, keywords, parent topics, and keyword ideas in Ahrefs to find the best keywords and to quickly become familiarized with the process.
2. It’s also a smart idea to check Ahrefs top 10 competitor results against the real Google search result to see how accurate it is. This way, we can gauge the accuracy of the KD tool.
3. When choosing keywords to target for your client, spend much time looking for different high search / low KD keywords. Target lower KD search terms in the short-term to quickly impress your client and get them more customers while targeting higher search / high KD keywords in the long-term.
4. Also, now that we have a firm understanding of the average KD for the niche, in this case about 5 or so, we can use Google Keyword Planner tool to find Keywords that do not have the city in them.
Load the free Google Keyword Planner Tool and click the ‘LOCATIONS’ button highlighted in pink to enter your location before searching with your keyword without the city name in it.
For this example, I used dog grooming, dog groomers, and dog grooming near me:
And voila, we’ve found a TON of valuable keywords that have around a KD of 6 or slightly higher… just without the city name in it.
**Notice the low hanging fruit KW: cat grooming near me with an incredible 590 searches per month for the area of New York City.
Now that we’ve done thorough keyword research and found many Gems with HIGH search volume and LOW KD, we’re ready to analyze our competitor’s backlink portfolio.
2b)Competitor Backlink Profile Analysis (optional)
Thankfully, this part is optional because researching your competitor’s backlink profile is almost redundant thanks to the ‘KD’ (Keyword Difficulty) Tool. I still recommend go through this material to learn how and why the KD tool works.
Heading back to the very first page again, you will want to click the Referring Domains: ‘136’ in the button above in your Ahrefs dashboard.
Now we are taken to the referring domains. You can see the first referring domain, ‘bringfido.com’ has 604 DoFollow links going to the website (a Do Follow link passes along more SEO credit than a No Follow link).
We can also see the competitor has several Blogspot links (highlighted in pink) which are indicative of an SEO’s work.
This is important to note because the lowest hanging fruit niches will NOT have any signals that SEO has been performed.
We can also see relevant websites linking to our competitor Highlighted in the black box above, for example.
Pro Tip: You can scout your competitor’s websites listed in the image above and, using the Copycat Method, you can poach competitor links for your own site.
From the basic analysis above, we can see the competitor definitely has been doing SEO which will make the competition slightly tougher.
They also have relevance – we need to beat them at their own game by outperforming them in every way.
In the above image, I’ve opened the drop down of 604 links as highlighted in the blue box above. These are the 604 do follows from bringfido.com.
We can see each of these domains have very few Referring Domains so the only thing really working for the competition here is the relevance in the URL (as documented by the black boxes) and a bit of power from the link.
The final thing to note is the power that our competitor receives from the DR / UR of bringfido.com linking to them.
The DR or domain rank is pinned at a high 75, this can be easily negated by relevant Influence Links and Guest Blog Posts from high authority websites as well.
Again, the Copycat Method also works great here.
A deeper look into the “Backlinks” tab in Ahrefs shows us that some of the stronger DR backlinks are actually only press releases (as highlighted by the black box).
Again, we can actually see the number of referring domains linking to the competitor’s backlinks sites (bringfido.com, dogfriendly.com, intuit.com, etc), is actually very low and not that competitive.
The competitor can be easily beat by doing everything they’ve done and more. Influence obviously helps in place of powerful, relevant links.
Some Pro-Tip Final Thoughts:
1. Thankfully, researching your competitor’s backlink and referring domain profile is almost redundant because of how well the KD Tool works.
2. That being said, being able to quickly skim through your competitor’s backlink profiles will give you confidence when auditing a potential client website, and also insight to disavowing spammy links.
3. With this, you can now show your prospects, not only how difficult it will be to rank, but why it will be difficult to rank and you can adjust cost appropriately.
3) Local and On-Site SEO Audit
1. Main KWs on Page 2x each 2. 1,000 Words Fresh KW Rich Content 3. Headers, Meta, and KW Insertion 4. Interlinking of Pages, SEO Architectural Overview 5. Spam is 2008
When you’re doing an On-Site SEO Audit, there are really only a few things to consider.
What ever you do, just make sure you put each of your main keywords on the page you are trying to rank, two times per main kw. You may have 5 or 20 main keywords, just get them on the page you want to rank two times, each.
You will want nice fresh content that has not been duplicated on any published website to the tune of about 1,000 words on the home page and circa 500+ per (inner) page you want to rank. Make sure your content is keyword rich from the KW research we did above!
You’ll also want to make sure your Header Tags (H1 / H2 tags) are a good mix between natural headings and matching the main KW’s for your niche and area. There’s no need to overdo this, but you want your biggest keywords in those headers. View the following example:
Your H1 / H2 = Main KW / Secondary KW or vice versa with NATURAL HEADINGS as well. Meta Description: Main KW + Secondary KW + City, State.
Example: “Dog Groomers | Dog Grooming Services in New York City, NY”
And finally, in more competitive niches, you’ll want to analyze how pages interlink to one another and how the navigation flows through to each site. If you’re running on WordPress, add your local schema markup.
Notice the local information highlighted in the pink boxes below, including Business Address and Hours of Operation are listed on the page that is ranking.
**If you do not want to show this information but still want the SEO credit, put it in the footer or low on the page and make it the same color as the background. Also make sure to add it to your schema markup.
If you’re uncertain how your meta description should look, here is an example of the competitions:
As shown in the image above, you can find the meta data by hovering your mouse over the tab in the browser.
Since we already found our main KW’s earlier by searching our competitor, we know which keywords to add to the page we want to rank:
IMPORTANT NOTE: Ahrefs shows more dependable data for ‘CITY + KW’ variations as opposed to keywords without the ‘city’ in it. I only search ‘KW’ phrases with no city in Google’s Keyword Planner Tool because the data from Ahrefs is inaccurate for kw’s without the city in them.
You will want to make sure each of your TARGET KW ‘s is on the page you are trying to rank 2x each. You can see here the competitor does not have many of the main KW’s on their page:
You can use this feature by pressing ‘CTR + F’ on your keyboard to bring up the “Find” feature.
From here we can quickly see, which keywords to add to our client site and areas our competitors are weak.
When adding your keywords, don’t try to stuff them in. Spam is not worth the trouble or risk. You can easily place your main keywords in the content contextually as it relates to your website.
4) A Hint of SEO Fairy Dust
Putting together the pieces of the puzzle
Now that we have all the pieces of the puzzle, we can create the full picture for ourselves and our clients.
We’ve determined the average KD to be about 5 and the search volume is well into the thousands for multiple keywords.
We’ve seen that the competitor is doing SEO (Blogspots, etc) and is ranking by relevance from the backlinks. They are also receiving very minimal power from minimally strong website backlinks pointing to them.
We know the competitor is using Blogspots, local citations, relevant niche Influence type sites, and at least one press release for their off-site SEO. Minimal social signals from popular social media websites always help too.
When it comes to their on-site SEO, we know the competitor has local ranking factors along with KW rich meta description and H1 / H2 tags.
We know the competitor is weak when it comes to power rich backlinks, on-site KW rich content, and right now they have weak Blogspot links.
This means we can easily beat them by having KW rich content on the page we’re trying to rank. Also, it would be a good idea to match all the SEO they have done, including Press Release and some Link Copycats, along with hyper local directory listing citations, and of course out-power them by using Influence websites. This alone will be able to rank you on the 1st page of Google, no problem.
Don’t forget to check site age and GMB age. There are some more advanced auditing tactics we’ll be able to get to in future articles together.
Perform this in presentation form (the same way it’s presented in the video training attached to this article) to engage your clients and show them the strategy that will be able to get the results they’re looking for.
Nice Moves SEO Pro!
You just ‘d Your SEO Skill
They say getting started is the hardest part and you just finished.
Now perform live SEO audits or outline the details you find in Ahrefs to show clients how you will be getting them results!
You can now perform highly qualified SEO audits in 5 minutes or less.
Here’s a bonus too, this competitor is also weak in KW rich anchor text:
Meaning, we can beat them out by having our main KW’s as our ‘exact match anchor text’ on our Influence websites for even more relevant powerful backlink juice boostin’.
More on that topic, in another article.
That’s all for now!
– Mr. One Click, signing out
Please Share YOUR Thoughts in the Comments Below!
1. How will implementing SEO Audits with this strategy allow you to make more sales?
2. How will implementing the things you’ve learned help improve your SEO audits?
3. Who are 3 HOT potential clients you could send an SEO Audit to right now to help push a deal towards a sale?
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