How to Gain Insider Experience as an External SEO Resource in 4 Steps

You’re an SEO expert, but when you’re dealing with a new client, you’re not an expert in what that they Act. But you have to learn quickly.

We hope the customer is a subject matter expert with tens of thousands of hours of experience. As an SEO agency or consultant, you don’t need their experience level of knowledge.

But you have to know what they say. In most cases, you need to gain some level of internal expertise if you are going to earn their trust and make a real difference to their business.

To do this, you need:

  • Find out why the company stands out in the market.
  • Get into the customer’s mind to gain a deep understanding of their needs.
  • Learn what makes a website tick.
  • Understand the competition, its advantage, and its SEO strategies.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these steps that will take you from novice to expert in no time.


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1. Customer search

To get to know your new customer, your primary and most available suppliers are the people who run the customer’s business. Your customer will be a treasure trove of expert information, from executives to customer service call reps.

Begin your expert learning process with an in-depth discovery interview with those who oversee business marketing, product development, and customer service. You can do this in a project start call, or you can break it down into a series of calls with different people in the company.

Conversations with customer service can be very valuable. Knowing what’s important to their customers can help you make recommendations on everything from content vulnerabilities to site navigation. Answering frequently asked questions is one way to create compelling SEO content for a website.

Regardless, you need to create a template of questions for your client research. You want to make sure that you ask each new client about their business and what they do.

Get to know their products and/or services closely. You can even ask them to join you as if they were a new employee.

2. Customer Research

It’s important to know everything you can about the people your customer sells to or interacts with. After all, a good SEO strategy is to be able to reach these people with the right messages on the web.

The best place to start is to create audience personas with the client. Even better if they already have it. Knowing the audience will prepare you for the next step in customer research: keyword research.

I would say you need a few things to fish: bait the fish eat, catch where the fish are and the fish are hungry. People help a little. BTW, many people think they have well-defined personalities…like:

  • very thoughtful
  • Advanced degree, hopefully, Ph.D.
  • Respectable
  • very theoretical
  • curious about a mistake
  • Can be invented upon request
  • “white hair” diligent

So, along with identifying characters, keyword research is an important exercise in getting to know how your target audience is going to research what you have to offer. This is the cornerstone of your SEO strategy; You want those searches to appear in search results with the best possible information.

3. Site search

A good SEO strategy is only as good as a website. So you need to understand the state of the customer’s website and what can hinder search engine rankings. Usually the best way to do this is with a SEO audit.

There are several levels of SEO audits, but the best SEO audit is an in-depth technical audit. This takes several hours (our site can take over 100 hours) but provides a more comprehensive look at a website from the technical back end to on-page optimization and beyond.

And beware, free tools are just that, and you often waste time focusing on unimportant things.

“Any SEO tool will produce 10 or 100 ‘recommendations,’ and most of them will be irrelevant to your site’s appearance in search. Finding the ones that make sense to work on takes experience.”

– John Mueller from Google

4. Competitor Research

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about beating the competition in search results. To overcome them, you must know:

  • who are they.
  • What they do right and wrong in their SEO strategy.

This is why competitor research is critical. And there is little of it.

Start with your target keywords and then analyze who appears for them on Page 1 in Google.

In competitor research, you might look at:

  • Market competition to assess your strengths and weaknesses against theirs.
  • Online competition, including everything from on-page and off-page factors to linking profiles to the technical health of their websites to content and more.
  • What keywords do they rank for and the extent of the content on their site. This exercise often identifies keyword gaps on a customer’s site.

Spying on your customer’s competitors is one of the best ways to improve your customer’s SEO strategy and how you present your customer online.

Rinse and repeat

Even as you go from novice to expert in your client, there will always be more to learn.

Establish a process to stay informed and keep the listening channel open. Otherwise, your SEO strategy may become outdated.

Invite to get feedback from your customer to keep you informed of their evolving needs.


The opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily those of the search engine. Staff authors are listed here.


New in search engine land

About the author

Bruce Clay is the founder and president of Bruce Clay Inc. , a global digital marketing optimization company that provides search engine optimization, pay-per-click management, paid social media marketing, SEO friendly website engineering, content development, SEO tools, and education. Clay authored All-In-One Search Engine Optimization for Beginners, now in its fourth edition, and Content Marketing Strategies for Professionals. He wrote the first webpage analysis tool, created the Search Engine Relationship Chart®, and is credited with being the first to use the term search engine optimization. The popular online SEO training course from Bruce Clay is available at SEOtraining.com.

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