DELIVERING RESULTS WITH SEO
Many website owners and managers get quite frustrated with SEO, from paying for ineffective backlinks that don't really do much to wasted SEO efforts with SEO companies that did not elicit any kind of noticeable improvements in search results.
The importance of effective SEO is understood - it can bring huge web traffic - but difficult to articulate or grasp as part of wider digital marketing efforts by your overworked and underappreciated marketing manager.
In this article I will break down the key to delivering results for your business or website with SEO. Pandering to the best practices outlined by search engines pays dividends in web traffic, helps you stay ahead of competition and increases the demand for your services or products. The strategy to achieving this would be too long to outline in one article, but it has been broken down primarily into the major aspects of SEO strategy.
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Understanding Search Ranking and SEO
The primary thing to understand if you want to rank higher is that Google (by far the leader of the oligopoly that is the major search engines industry) has fundamentally shifted the ranking algorithm to service what it sees as the user's search intent.
This has meant that webmasters who optimize for keywords have suffered in terms of rankings because Google is now rewarding content that their algorithm believes to be a better user experience.
This has led to a rise in the importance of Latent Semantic Indexed Keywords or LSI keywords which are conceptually related terms that search engines use to deeply understand content on a webpage.
Always remember, there are more than 200 factors in the ranking algorithm employed by Google Search.
Why are SEO results important?
Most well designed websites tend to have a conversion rate that hovers around the 2% mark, this is usually true for organic traffic also.
Increases in relevant organic traffic will mean more customers, especially when targeting the right keywords.
A lucrative keyword could be generating several conversions a month ranked on the bottom end of the first page, pushing the average rank even by 1 place often has a multiplier effect on the share of traffic your website will receive for that keyword, and the increase in relevant organic traffic will undoubtedly bring about an increase in conversions.
Key Assumptions I am Making About You
For the purpose of this article I am assuming that you have some gaps in your knowledge about SEO, but you have an established domain and your website is seeing some organic traffic from keyword rankings on search engine results pages.
You have Google Analytics installed on your site and are using it to monitor and measure the traffic to your site and the success or failure of your seo campaign. Google analytics is free and you should make sure you set up all the features relevant for your site (such as enhanced e-commerce reporting and demographic reporting).
You have claimed your website on Google's Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools (do it in that order since you can log into Bing Webmaster Tools with your Google Account and automatically import your sites there with no code insertions required).
You understand that ranking higher in search results is just one important factor in achieving increased conversions, the others being high quality content, appealing landing page design, the average time visitors spending on your site, the backlink profile of your URL or site and technical issues that can impair user experience such as poor mobile optimisation of the page design.
The Key Aspects of SEO Strategy
SEO stands for search engine optimization. This effectively means to optimise your website or landing page's technical aspects to match the search intent of prospective customers for your business.
Owning an automotive workshop and ranking for kids birthday parties is not going to help your business.
I always like to split the SEO work into 3 main categories;
- Technical SEO
- On Page SEO
- Backlinks and Social Signals
Several factors within each of these categories could make or break your efforts to increase your website's organic visibility on major search engines.
We can look at them in order to understand what makes good SEO, how we can measure success and where to allocate limited resources to achieve maximum value.
A good overview of the interplay of these three factors is to think of Technical SEO as fixing the structural issues (or engine) with the page or website you are trying to rank, the On-Page SEO is enhancing the content (or chassis) to make it more appealing and likely to rank higher and Backlinks/Social Signals are what give the page or website the appearance of dynamic authenticity to the search engines.
AUDIT YOUR WEB PAGE NOW
Let us run a free audit of your website, the audit will give you a general snapshot of issues that may be impairing your search engine rankings performance and growth.
Technical SEO - How is it measured?
There are several metrics that you should consider when it comes to the technical side of your ranking strategy, this includes:
- Google PageSpeed Score
Google PageSpeed is a performance analysis tool that measures the loading time and rates the experience of any website page on the internet. The tool allows you to test the desktop and mobile versions of the website independently, which reflects the importance Google attributes to websites being mobile friendly. All you need to use this tool is the URL of the page, and this tool by Experte.com allows you to conduct a PageSpeed test on up to 10 urls at a time, which is extremely useful for analysing the competition.
- Domain Authority
Domain authority is a metric that was created by Moz, which is one of the 4 leading SEO platforms in the world, that predicts how likely a website is to rank in search engine results pages, attributing the domain with a score out of 100. Every page or URL on your site will have the same domain authority score because they share the same domain.
- Page Authority
Page authority is a metric that was also created by Moz that predicts how well a specific page will rank on search engine results pages, and is also scored out of 100.
- Citation Flow
Citation flow is a metric developed by another leading SEO platform, Majestic, which reflects the number of backlinks to a domain or URL, it kind of measures the popularity of the URL, however does not take into account the quality of the backlinks, just the volume. Your URL's CF score will be based out of 100.
- Trust Flow
I like to think of trust flow as pretty much Majestic's equivalent to the Domain Authority, which accounts for more factors than the CF scoring algorithm and helps to provide a prediction of how well a webpage or URL will rank.
- Number of Backlinks
The number of backlinks is important to note, there are several sources you can get this number from, but generally there will always be a discrepancy between the number of backlinks that you have created and the number that show up in Google's Search Console and any other SEO platform you are using. This is because only the backlinks which are indexed by Google can influence your rankings.
- Alexa Ranking
Alexa rank is known as a measure of website popularity, Alexa ranks millions of websites around the world in order of popularity and this is a useful tool for comparative analysis when looking at your competition.
How Can I Get These Metrics About My URL?
Google's Chrome browser bundles their Lighthouse Studio tool in the Developer Console, this gives you the ability to run PageSpeed tests from your exact location, which helps to provide the most accurate result if you are in the same physical location or territory as your target market.
Server latency is your primary concern when conducting a Pagespeed test, if a service you are relying on to test your website has their testing server halfway around the world then the result you will get for your site will be inaccurate.
I recommend the following tools for Google PageSpeed tests:
- GTMetrix.com - provides you the ability to change testing server location to multiple in leading cities around the world (sorry Middle East, the closest to you is Mumbai, which is still closer than USA).
- Experte.com's Bulk PageSpeed Testing Tool - a great tool to test up to 10 urls that provides you the overview scores for Mobile & Desktop Versions.
For all of the other metrics there is a great free tool provided by websiteseochecker.com that allows you to check up to 3 urls at a time for the following metrics:
- Domain Authority (DA) - out of 100
- Page Authority (PA) - out of 100
- Total Backlinks (TB)
- Quality Backlinks (QB)
- Percentage Ratio of Quality Backlinks vs Total Backlinks (PQ) - %
- MozTrust Score (MT) - out of 10
- Spam Score (SS) - %
- Off Page SEO Score (OS) - %
- Alexa Rank
- Traffic Country
- Trust Flow (TF) - out of 100
- Citation Flow (CF) - out of 100
- Indexed Backlinks detected by Majestic (IX)
- Percentage of Backlinks marked DoFollow (DF) - %
What To Do With These Metrics?
Whilst many agencies ignore these metrics when selling you a plan to improve your SEO results, top digital marketing agencies always incorproate structural and technical optimizations in order to help your site achieve medium and long term growth in organic search traffic.
Improving each of the metrics above will help improve existing rankings in search results that you are seeing right now.
Generally I like to move along a checklist for each SEO project that I undertake, the checklist will address many of the issues that are impairing the score of a website.
SEO Campaign Checklist
This checklist is intended as a guide to help you form your marketing strategy as it relates to SEO. Remember that your website's history, the age of your domain and the length of time you have left on your domain registration are all also factors that can influence your rankings vs those of your competitors.
Work to stay agile and ahead of your competitors, for example; make sure your domain is registered for the maximum term possible, new content and content creation should mirror your SEO strategy, for example with regard to keyword usage, and always keep an eye on the success that leading brands and pages are having on search and look to them as an example of what works when you create your own SEO and digital marketing campaigns.
- Run a GTMetrix Test on your homepage and main landing pages.
- Run a bulk domain authority and SEO check on your homepage and main landing pages.
- Audit the keywords bringing search traffic to your site.
- Map the existing keywordsto each landing page on your site.
- Claim all social profiles on secondary platforms and ensure your URL is listed on each profile.
- Ensure that Google Analytics is setup and working properly.
- Claim Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools.
- Claim Google Business Listing.
Overall Website SEO Optimisation
Move all conversions on landing pages above the fold.
Check the SSL certificate for your site.
Check the Sitemap for your site and submit it to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools.
Ensure that you have plugin monitoring 404 errors.
Setup a Captcha challenge for for all contact forms to minimise spam.
Check your website's .htaccess file is only showing either www.yourdomain.com or yourdomain.com.
Check the Favicon on your site is working correctly.
Check the Robots.txt file is working correctly.
Ensure that you have a custom 404 error page.
Ensure that you have a custom thank you page.
Individual Page SEO Optimisation
- Match the keyword you are targeting for the page's SEO to the first part of the page title.
- Match the same keyword to the H1 tag used on the page.
- Focus on ensuring there is only one H1 tag on each page.
- Ensure there are internal links using the anchor keyword going to each landing page.
- Combine any similar content or declare canonical to avoid penalties.
- Remove duplicate content.
- Update pages with a low word count, cornerstone pages should have 1,500+ words and blog posts and regular pages should have 600+ pages.
- Use target keyword in the first 300 words of the page.
- Optimise the meta description to include the keywords identified in the SEO strategy.
- Use the target keyword and related keywords in the alt tag for images and title tags for links.
- Ensure the url structure is exactly what is required, many commentators believe URL length should be limited to under 1,000 characters to avoid impairment in SEO results.
- Ensure that your navigation structure meets the best practices for SEO. Any pages that you want to focus on to rank for main keywords will have better SEO results if dependent pages are arranged as child pages in the site structure.
- Use breadcrumbs if possible to reinforce & focus navigation structure. A breadcrumb is a text path that usually can be seen at the top of website pages, you can usually create breadcrumbs with a plugin like YOAST or RankMath.
- Use schema markup for pages where possible, this helps you rank pages and you focus on following the accepted best practices like those outlined by Moz in this blog article about schema markup.
Content Creation for Better SEO Results
More backlinks will not necessarily result in better rankings, even with strong metrics. The fundamental shift by major search engines to a focus on the searcher's intent mean that competitors with qualitatively superior content will outrank you.
Build new high quality pages with low keyword density.
Create blog posts with 1,500+ words that are informative and feature at least one image and two outbound links to high domain authority sites related to your niche/business.
Use LSI keywords in the first 300 words of the text in terms of both the specific subject and the wider subject area/industry.
Use bullet point lists with the correct html markup.
Key Takeaways for Your Success
Always remember that not are pages are created equal. When you determine your priorities, start by identifying your existing organic rankings and mapping these keywords to the most relevant landing pages.
Armed with this information, you can determine the priority of what flows, the equation is simple to calculate; if your site is organically ranking for keywords that are potentially lucrative but are in the 11-31 ranking, start by improving your website's technical SEO, and the relevant pages optimisation for those keywords.
After this you can determine related high value keywords, optimise landing pages for them and target those landing pages with a blog post strategy that creates opportunities for internal links to those landing pages.