This SEO guide is designed to help business owners and lean teams understand and do the SEO tasks that help websites perform better and rank higher in search engines.
Why would we give away such a thorough walk through of SEO tactics when we offer SEO services?
1. We are transparent in our processes.
2. We educate our clients and our community.
3. It’s a lot of work. It’s on-going work. Many businesses don’t have time to do SEO or they want to spend time elsewhere.
4. This article is long, has breadth and depth, but it only scratches the surface of SEO tactics.
You want more!
But what do you want more of?
Higher SEO Rankings?
Look. You don’t want more traffic. You want more business and more money. You want more high value customers.
Here are the 7 steps for DIY SEO for business owners:
Your website needs to score well in these areas:
Reliability | Findability | Usability
Common problems with your website in these areas include:
- Too slow
- People can’t find stuff
- Stuff is broken
- Isn’t mobile first, friendly, ready
- No clear CTAs
- Make it useful, satisfying the intent of the user
If people are seeing messages like the ones below they are going to get frustrated and there is a good chance they will leave your site and they won’t come back.
At this point you should be asking…
How do I find my website’s problems?
There are many tools out there that can help you. Here are a few that we like to use at WebMarketingPro.ca:
Google Search Console is the best tool for fixing problems with crawl errors. It’s great at showing you what pages are getting the most impressions and which pages have low and high click through rates.
Use Google Analytics to fix problems
GA can show you 404, 500 and other server errors. The problem is that you will probably need an expert to tag your site to get this level of insight. It is importance to track error pages in analytics if you are trying to make a real effort to improve the user experience on your website.
Pay attention to your click funnels. Are people doing that thing you want them to do? Goals will report the raw numbers and your conversion rate. As you remove friction and make your website easier to use, are these metrics improving? Where are they dropping off?
Use GT Metrix to solve slow Pagespeed
GT Metrix will analyze your website using Google’s Pagespeed Insights tool and YAHOO’s yslow tool. It will split out a colour coded score. You want to be in the green with a high score.
The best thing about this tool is that you have will a laundry list of things to work on that will improve your score. Send that list to your web team. Do the test again once you’ve optimized for speed. Is your Pagespeed score getter better?
Use feedback to optimize
Feedback is communicated in many mediums. If you are running a small business, ask your customers directly and immediately for feedback. Ask: Were you able to do what you came to the website to do? Was it easy? Would you recommend us?
Think of your feedback questions rolling up to these three pillars:
TASK COMPLETION | EFFORT | LIKELIHOOD-TO-RECOMMEND
You can ask them verbally or through a personal email or through a survey that is delivered on the website as a pop-up or sent as a link in an email.
Be receptive. Make your digital posture show you want the negative feedback. Provide a very VISIBLE feedback button on the website. Make it easy for people to give feedback. The qualitative side of analytics is under appreciated by most digital teams. Use feedback. It is the most actionable data for improving experience!
- Website performance
- Business Objectives
- Channel performance (SEO, paid, social, etc.)
Google Analytics for measuring SEO
Google Analytics gives insight into how well your pages contribute to conversions. Make sure you have GA configured to track goals. Sales, leads, form submissions and other outcomes need to be tracked in order for GA to give you meaningful information.
At a high level, one easy thing you can do to track direction of your SEO efforts is to measure conversions by organic traffic from one period to the previous. Use the system segments that Google has created to analyze each traffic source: organic (SEO), direct (when they use the address bar or bookmarks), paid, social, referral traffic.
Are things going up?
Look. SEO might be what initially brings a visitor to your site, but they might not convert for days. They may come back through remarketing or directly, now that they are familiar with your brand and website. We can do deeper analysis on this, but that’s an article for another day.
Check into your analytics early in the SEO process like I’ve done here. Look at the average time on page for this post in the screenshot above. Over 9 minutes! That’s amazing.
Google uses many signals to rank your website. Time on site and time on page are two metrics you want to boost so that Google gets the signal that your page and website are useful. Time on page is another reason why long engaging content with pictures and videos do better than shorter content that provides no reason to stick around.
SERP is an acronym for Search Engine Results Page. You want your site to look spectacular on the SERP so that people click through from there to your website. If your page shows up (impression) on the SERP and the person does not click through, – that sends a signal to google that perhaps the result was not relevant. Your Click Through Rate (CTR) goes down. This will harm your ranking. Make sure your site’s title, URL, and description enough give confidence to the user so that they click through.
- Title sucks
- Descriptions are using navigation, testimonials
- Descriptions don’t represent key content of the page
- URL erodes confidence
- Align Title, Description and URL
TIP: google search site:YourDomain.com
This will show you how your pages are being presented in the SERP.
WordPress plugin – YOAST SEO
Here are two simple ways to analyze the search console reports and take action.
Look at your pages that have the most impressions and the lowest click through rate. These pages are already showing in the search engines results. You need to make two things better.
If you have a page that has high impressions yet a low click through rate, you may need to fix your page title and description to make clicks happen at a higher rate.
If you have a high click through rate and low impressions, you may need to improve that content so that it gets more traffic.
The Yoast WordPress plugin allows you to change the title and search snippet easily. You can do this on any website, not just WordPress. On GoDaddy website builder you can edit the title and meta description of the page as well.
Tip: Search for keyword in Google and look at related searches at the bottom
Here is the thing about how you describe your business and what people search for when they need your products and services; they use different words than you do!
You need to speak the language and lingo of your target customers. The keyword research tools we’ve linked to will give you insight into:
1. the language being used
2. the volume of a keyword in comparison to another
3. your competitors organic and paid keywords
4. trending topics
Sometimes you need to launch before things are perfect. The phrase they use for this is minimum viable product (MVP)…or minumum lovable product (MLP). You’ve got to get things out there to validate that what your doing is a fit in the market. That’s exactly what I’ve done with this article. And that’s why this writing section is bullet form tips. I launched this article in June of 2018 and I’ve been adding to it since. I’ll put more flesh on this section through out the next few weeks.
Here are some SEO writing tips when it comes to on-page elements:
On-page SEO considerations:
In SEO speak, the things you do on your website to improve rank are considered on-page. Here is a list of on page SEO things to optimize followed up with details
- Title tag & Descriptions, Headings, Schema
1. Right URL for SEO
- Contains target keyword
- Clean, human readable
2a. Right Title for SEO
- Contains target keyword
- Optimize for CTR
- Use Keyword Modifiers
“Best” “Reviews” [the current year] “Checklist” “PDF” “Guide”
2b. Right Meta Description for SEO
- Meta Description aligns to content & is awesome
- Is unique to each page
2c. Right Headings for SEO
- 1 and only 1 <H1> tag
- Contains target keyword
- Unique to each page
2d. Right Schema
What is Schema?
Mark up that organizes information to make it easier for processing.
You can use schema for marking up about pages, events, recipes, and a tonne of other content.
WordPress plugin: https://en-ca.wordpress.org/plugins/schema/
3. Right Links
INTERNAL LINKS: You should have links within the body of the content to other pages on your site. This does at least two things. It promotes more pages per visit and more time on site AND it helps raise the rank of the page linked. Link to older pages you want to boost.
EXTERNAL LINKS: Link to other relevant pages on the web. It’s counter intuitive to provide a means for visitors to leave, but google wants a great user experience on the web and we don’t have that if there are no outbound links. I assume your links help google further contextualize your page.
4. Right Content
- Longer Content is better, Use LSI Keywords
“Latent semantic indexing (LSI) is a system search engines use to analyze the other words people use surrounding a given topic. LSI keywords are words and phrases with a high degree of correlation to your target topic.”
- Write useful and valuable content.
5. Right Media
Dwell time or time on site or time on page are all variations of the same KPI. Google uses these metrics as an indicator of relevance. It’s another SEO signal. You want visitors to spend as much time on your page as possible. Useful long form content is one tactic to raise dwell time. More to see and do is another tactic. More to see includes pictures and videos. More to do includes interactive tools that are useful to your visitors. An example for a mortgage broker would be a mortgage calculator, Perhaps a fencing company could have an estimator where the visitor plugs in length of fence and type and number of gates. These tools increase time on site if they are useful.
- Use more pics, graphics and videos to get better engagement on your site
- Use tools like calculators, estimators, demos, planners on your page
We know that great content helps improve your SEO ranking. At WebMarketingPro.ca we rely on content writers like Laura Watts from Double Take Content Creation to help us with our writing. Here’s what Laura has to say about telling your story.
How do you make your story interesting?
When it comes to storytelling, not much has changed. What has changed is the mediums we use to tell those stories. From social media to websites this is how we share our journey. Even though mediums have changed, the best stories still follow a similar format as well. They have a clear hook at the beginning, detail to support your story and then an ending that relates back to the initial hook but we might do that in 100 words instead of 1000.
How does your content solve a problem?
One thing that is important to keep in mind when you are creating content for your business is that your content solves a problem. If that is so, it will be more likely to be shared with others increasing your online presence. Documenting your story is also easier to do than creating content. Think about everything you do on a daily basis and how can you use that to get your story out there.
“If you don’t stop someone from what they are doing and create a response you are going to lose. Whether it’s an action or emotion, the true test of storytelling on social media is what they do after consuming it.” – Gary Vaynerchuk
Don’t create content, share your story!
Check out Laura’s blog on Why It’s Worth it to Hire a Professional Writer.
Reach out to suppliers, partners, industry and community sites
“Link reclamation is simple: First, you find mentions of your company and products that don’t link back to you.” – Backlinko.com
Best advice or building backlinks:
- Have content worth linking to
- Extend your reach to get your great content in front of influencers and those that will link to your content
Retarget people that have been on your site using remarketing
- not excluding customers that have converted
- same message as website
- same appeal as website
- same Calls-to-Action as website
You’ve done a lot of work to attract people to your website. They might not buy something or contact you that first visit. They might not sign up for the newsletter or subscribe to one of your social channels initially. Get in front of them with retargeting and get them back to your site to finish that transaction.
Retargeting is one of the most inexpensive and effective forms of paid advertising.
Some people are motivated by emotions like fear, others are driven to decide based on logic. I’m simplifying psychology here, of ourse. All I’m saying is try using a different approach in your remarketing.
I’ve given you a lot of practical advice on how to optimize your website for search engines. You should prioritize the work that makes it optimized for humans. The first step to doing well in the search rankings is to provide a great experience and a lot of value on your website. Fix your frickin’ website before trying to attract more customers.
Before spending money to attract more customers:
- Do what you can starting with the steps 1-6 in this guide.
- Get help to do what you and your lean team can’t accomplish on your own.
- Get the re-targeting going. Recapture that traffic you’ve already earned.
BTW – Did I mention that we offer SEO services?