SEO is no longer an advertising channel used by some industry-leading companies. SEO in some form or another has performed on a large percentage of the websites owned by Australian businesses. The problem is for whatever reason the SEO did not deliver the required results and ends up being half done. So these days as an agency we are now often asked ‘how to improve my SEO?’.
Google Search Console is the best place to start
Adding your website to Google Search Console will allow Google to review your site and give a bunch of valuable feedback on potential improvements.
In the Coverage area, you can quickly identify if there are any pages which are kicking back errors when Google attempts to index them. Even if the page is indexable it will give you warnings for things like invalid Canonical tags or other basic SEO issues that could affect your rankings.
In the overview section you can also have a quick glance at any enhancements on your website. This looks at Mobile usability, different schema markups that exist on your website, site links and other structured data issues. Clicking on any area that displays errors will take you straight to the report which will identify the specific pages which are causing these issues.
Google Search Console also contains some additional metrics that you can review to get an idea of how Google views your website. Additional features include:
- International Targeting
- Crawl Stats
- Links pointing to your website
- Internal Linking
- Manual Actions
Pro Tip: Make sure that when adding your website to Search Console that you add it as the displayed version in Google using “https” or “www” as appropriate.
Review Google Analytics for URL specific traffic drops or increases
Once you’ve had a chance to review Search Console, it’s time to delve into Google Analytics to search for any glaring red flags. A great place to start from an SEO position is by finding out which pages are attracting organic traffic from Google. You can do this by going into the account and following these steps:
- Goto Behavior > site content > landing pages.
- Set your segment to show Organic Traffic only
- Finally set your timeframe to a specific period and have it compare to the previous period.
Now that we are here we can begin to review the data. You’re looking for any major swings (up or down) in your traffic. If you notice any big changes, you can investigate the change on a page level allowing you to work back the keywords that were delivering the traffic and then optimise the page accordingly.
If there is a negative change, you might need to revert any prior adjustments you made to the page. Also keep in mind that SEO is a long term play and that time of year does have an effect on traffic month to month so be sure to check year on year traffic before making any changes.
Another good metric beyond just sessions to review is the bounce rate on the page. While bounce rate isn’t a great metric in itself, any sort of drastic change in bounce rate can indicate a problem with the pages on your website.
Perhaps the loading time has increased and people are leaving the page before it loads, or maybe the content doesn’t deliver the right message for the terms it ranks for.
Review your keyword research and check your key onsite ranking factors
Keyword research and continuous monitoring of your Google rankings for your key terms is paramount to identifying long term SEO trends. I highly recommend getting even a basic form of a tool such as SEMRush which helps you to quickly perform keyword research through their keyword magic tool.
If you use the paid version of their tool you can then even port these keywords directly into their keyword manager and add it to your project for continuous tracking of the keywords. You can set up automated reports that go out daily, weekly or monthly to provide you a quick snapshot of where your keyword ranks on Google.
As with anything in SEO it’s important to keep an eye on things. Every few months you should run the same research to see if any new keywords appear that you can add to your targeting.
Ensure your offsite SEO is up to scratch
Ok so let’s now assume you’ve put the right title tags and meta descriptions onto your pages, got your copy all optimised for the right keywords, but they are still not ranking. It’s time to review your offsite SEO strategy.
Google looks at offsite links to your website as a major factor in where you rank in search engine results.
Once you’ve created a great piece of content, you should research websites which you can then get links back to the content. You can identify target websites through a number of avenues.
Use existing relationships
As a business owner, you probably have a number of relationships that you can leverage to get some initial backlinks. Just reach out to people you know and ask if they’ll let you write an article on their website. Then be sure to write something you understand well and will be of value to their audience. It is then very normal to include a link in your writer credit back to your website.
Review where your competitors are getting links
Go look at what your competitors are doing to get links, many times the targets or strategies that they use can be easily adapted for yourself. Websites which link to one person are likely to link to another website of a similar nature.
Use online tools
Online tools such as ahrefs can help you to research competitors and identify new link building targets based on the type of links they have acquired. Additionally, these can help you to understand the strength of the link through their Domain Rating(DR) metric (generally the higher the DR for the domain the more valuable the link).
Diversify your anchor text
With any link building, it’s important to always remember to diversify the anchor text (the words where the link is placed) used in the links. A good mix of commercial & branded link building is ideal with at least half of your links coming through your brand name.
Offsite link building is arguably one of the most important factors for search engine rankings and can massively boost your SEO if done correctly.
Ranking but still not getting the traffic? It’s likely a CRO thing
You’ve optimised your pages for your target keywords. You’ve moved up to the first page of Google, but you’re still not seeing the traffic come through. That’s because there’s a LOT of competition on the first page to get the clicks.
You need to ensure you have optimised your meta descriptions and title tags to be as desirable as possible. Using Schema markup you can add even more to your position on Google such as stars, pricing information and FAQ’s. See the below example where we have even added CTA’s within the FAQ markup we achieved.
Ensure your mobile version is more optimised than your desktop
In November of 2016 Google made a sweeping announcement that indicated that they would be shifting to a mobile-first indexing system. This means that the way your mobile website is optimised & the mobile user experience directly impacts your desktop rankings.
Since then Google has indicated that the entire web is on mobile-first as of 2020. This changes the way that we look at and do website SEO.
When you’re considering any change to your website to improve your SEO, you should perform all of them based on the mobile version of the site. By focusing on Mobile you’re giving yourself the highest chance of ranking well under Google’s current indexing algorithm.
Do your blog articles drive in traffic?
A well thought out content marketing strategy which includes blog article creation can drive huge potential in link building and relevant organic traffic.
If you have a lot of blog content, it would be a good time to review them all to see if there are any duplicate content issues. Having an article which talks about 5 tips to improve SEO and another that says 5 ways to improve SEO is likely to be competing against the same target keyword.
Figure out which one you’d like to keep, delete the old one and redirect the URL. Also, merge any low-quality articles that you feel would add value to the one you kept.
You should also make sure that the user experience on your blog is top-notch. Optimise your images across your blog by ensuring they are an appropriate size, use .jpg where possible and compress the images using a free online compression tool.
Know your internal linking structure
Ensuring that your internal links are pointed from and to the right pages can be just as important as your external links.
When you build your content marketing strategy and get links to the article you worked on, make sure that the article contains internal links. These should link to the pages on your website that are relevant to the article and which you want to rank.
In our previous example of 5 tips to improve SEO, you would likely add a link to your SEO service page within the article somewhere. The anchor text might be something along the lines of “our SEO services” or similar.
Some things to keep in mind when creating internal links. Regularly review all internal links through a tool such as Screaming Frog or SEMRush to ensure there are no broken links. An important point to remember is that the more links from an article, the less value each link passes. Each internal link should be reviewed and you should be confident it adds value.
Think about your overall digital marketing strategy
We’ve talked a lot about SEO specifically so far, but while we complete all of the above it’s very important to remember all other channels of your digital marketing.
Looking at your social media strategy to ensure it incorporates the content you’re creating and building links to can help to boost the content. Instead, build a remarketing strategy that nurtures someone who views your blog content into an eventual sale.
For a highly competitive keyword term it could be valuable to run a Google Ads (previously AdWords) strategy that helps to claim additional first-page real estate.
If you’ve managed to get a user to sign up to your email list through your content, you can implement an email nurture sequence to guide the user to a first conversion.
A holistic digital marketing approach will enable you to keep in touch with your users and guide them on the journey that you want them to take.
Improving your SEO is an important foundation of a digital marketing strategy and following the advice in this article can start you on a journey to achieving your organic goals.