Performing an SEO audit on your website can help uncover items where your website can be improved to increase search engine rankings. An SEO audit leaves you with a checklist of SEO fixes and improvements. We’re going to walk through exactly how to do an SEO audit for your own website.

When to Perform an SEO Audit?

There are two primary reasons why you would perform an SEO audit on your own website.

The first reason is if you suspect you have an issue. If you aren’t happy with your traffic from search engines, if you feel your website isn’t moving up in search rankings, it’s time to perform an SEO audit and determine if there are any issues that need to be resolved.

The second reason is if you haven’t focused on SEO before. If you’ve recently decided you want to start leveraging SEO to grow your traffic, performing an SEO audit is a good way to get started.

The Tools You’ll Need

This audit is specifically designed to use a minimal amount of marketing tools. When you’re getting started, an SEO audit can be beneficial. However, when you’re getting started you also probably aren’t making as much money as you’d like and you have low to no budget. So, we aren’t going to use expensive tools for the audit. For each item we’ll list out a free tool you can use to accomplish that part of the audit.

Audit Components

We’ll break the audit into three different parts; the technical aspects, on-page elements, and user experience.

These will be the components of our SEO audit:

  • Technical
    • Check for duplicate versions of site
    • Confirm pages are indexed
    • Robots.txt
    • XML Sitemap
    • Site Speed
    • Broken Links
  • On-Page
    • Page Title
    • H1 Tag
    • Meta Description
    • URL Structure
    • Keyword Focused
  • User Experience
    • Mobile Friendly
    • Content Structure
    • Images / Video
    • Above the Fold / CTA
    • About Page

Technical Aspects

We’ll start by going over the technical aspects of the audit.

Check for Duplicate Versions of the Site

Let’s start the audit by checking for duplicate website versions. You only want to have one primary version of your domain. All other versions should redirect to the primary. The various versions include http, https, and the www and non-www versions. To test this, type each variation into a browser and make sure it automatically redirects to your preferred version. So, if my preferred version is https://mywebsite.com I would check and confirm these variations redirect to that domain:

  • http://mywebsite.com
  • https://www.mywebsite.com
  • http://www.mywebsite.com
domain variations

Since my preferred variation had https and non-www, I check to confirm the http and www versions of both redirect to my primary variation.

Ideally, you do want https to be the primary variation because you want your website to be secure. There is a minor boost in search rankings for having a secure site. There is no preference between the www and non-www versions. That is completely your preference. Neither option impacts search rankings either way.

Update your audit list:


If every version redirects to your primary version, great! Check this item off your audit list.

If any of those versions did not redirect, flag this audit item so you can come back and add a redirect.

Confirm Pages are Indexed

Next, we’ll confirm pages are being indexed in Google. There are two ways to do this, both of which are free.

The first option is to search directly in Google. Go to Google and use the site attribute to restrict the search results to your website. To use it, just type site: directly before your domain.

site:mywebsite.com

You will see at the top of the search it displays the number of results. It will say something such as About XXX results.

The number of results gives you an idea of the number of indexed pages for your website. If this search doesn’t find any results or if there are only a couple, there is likely a problem. If it finds a handful but you know your website has hundreds, you’ll want to figure out why there are so many pages missing. If it shows a few hundred, and you agree your site has a few hundred, then that helps to confirm pages are being indexed properly.

The second option to confirm pages are being indexed, is to use the Google Search Console. This is a free tool. But, if you haven’t already set this up, it won’t have any data in it yet. If that’s the case, it’s still a good idea to set up Google Search Console to use later, but use the first option to complete the audit.

If you already had Google Search Console configured, you can view indexed pages by going to Index > Coverage > Valid. This will show the number of pages your website has indexed in Google. The number should be steady or increasing.

Update your audit list:


If the number of indexed pages looks appropriate to you, great! Check this item off your audit list.

If the number of indexed pages seems too low, flag this audit item so you can come back and figure out why. You’ll want to check to see if there is a meta robots tag or robots.txt file causing an issue.

Robots.txt

Next, you’ll check your robots.txt file to confirm nothing pertinent is being blocked. To access your robots.txt file add robots.txt to the end of your website domain.

https://mywebsite.com/robots.txt

If you have a robots.txt file, this will display it in your web browser. Check to make sure there is nothing unexpected listed under disallow. If you aren’t sure what you’re looking at, you can view the full robots.txt file guide here.

If you don’t have a robots.txt file, that’s okay. It isn’t required. If there are pages you’d like to keep the search engines out of, you can refer to the robots.txt guide above and add one. The robots.txt file isn’t a guarantee that those pages won’t be indexed but it does guide the search crawlers so there is a better chance they will be able to index all of the pages you want indexed.

Update your audit list:


If the pages disallowed in your robots.txt file look appropriate to you, great! Check this item off your audit list.

If there are any questionable items in your robots.txt file, flag this audit item so you can come back and fix any issues.

XML Sitemap

Next, check to make sure you have an XML sitemap. The sitemap is another file that helps search engines understand what content to index on your website.

If you aren’t sure if you have a sitemap, sometimes your sitemap URL is included in your robots.txt file. You can look for it there. The sitemap is most commonly named sitemap.xml and located in the root file, so there is a good chance you can find it by going to https://mywebsite.com/sitemap.xml. However, this is not a requirement, so there is a chance it is configured differently on your website.

Similar to the robots.txt file, you want to review your sitemap and ensure the content listed looks appropriate. You want your sitemap to include the content that you want indexed in the search engines.

If you don’t have a sitemap, you want to create one. A sitemap can only be beneficial. It makes it easier for search engine spiders to crawl your website and identify the content that needs to be indexed. View the full sitemap guide to learn more about what a sitemap is and how to create one.

Update your audit list:


If you have an XML sitemap and the content looks appropriate, great! Check this item off your audit list.

If you don’t have an XML sitemap, or if the items included in your sitemap look questionable, flag this audit item so you can come back and fix any issues.

Site Speed

The speed of your website can impact both search engine rankings and user experience.

Run a couple of tests to determine if there are improvements you can make to improve the speed of your site. There are two tools you’ll want to use to test site speed, both of which are free.

You’ll want to run both Google PageSpeed Insights and GTmetrix. With both of these tools, you enter your URL, then it analyzes the page and gives you a report of how the page performed on various page speed factors. Each item that needs improvement includes information about how that item can be improved.

Update your audit list:


If the page speed tools found no issues, great! Check this item off your audit list.

If the page speed tools found any areas for improvement, flag this audit item so you can come back and determine if you can implement any of the suggested fixes.

Broken Links

The last of the technical items to review, is to check for broken links. To do this, you can use BrokenLinkCheck.com. It’s a free tool that will run a scan and report back any broken links. It identifies the URL that is not working, the type of error it’s receiving, and the URL of the page where the broken link was found.

Update your audit list:


If no broken links were found, great! Check this item off your audit list.

If there were any broken links, flag this audit item so you can come back and fix or replace each broken link.

On-Page Elements

Now we’ll move onto the on-page elements. For these items, it will be easiest to run a scan so you can easily identify any issues across your entire site. Checking each individual page would be much more time consuming.

To run the scan, you can use Screaming Frog. It is free for up to 500 pages. If you need to scan more than 500 pages, there is a one-time fee to purchase the software.

Page Title

You want to make sure every page has a unique title tag. The title tag is one of the elements search engine spiders can use to identify what the page is about. The title tag is also the text that is used to display as the main headline in search results.

Make sure to include the targeted keyword for the page in the title tag. Also, keep the title tag under 60 characters or 512 pixels in length. That way it doesn’t get truncated in the search results.

To find this information, look at your website scan in Screaming Frog. It lists the title tag under Title 1 and then you can view the Title 1 Length and Title 1 Pixel Width. If you click on the Page Titles tab at the top, you can easily filter the results by various categories such as duplicate titles and titles with over 60 characters.

Update your audit list:


If every page has a unique title tag that is less than 60 characters or 512 pixels, great! Check this item off your audit list.

If any titles were duplicates or too long, flag this audit item so you can come back and fix any issues.

H1 Tag

The header tags create the hierarchy of your page content. The most important header is called the H1 tag. There should be only one H1 tag on each page. And, you want to include the targeted keyword for the page in the H1 tag. The rest of the header tags will be H2, H3, H4, H5, or H6. The higher the number, the less important and lower in the hierarchy the header is.

To identify if you have one (and only one) H1 tag on each page, refer back to your Screaming Frog scan. Under the H1-1 column you’ll be able to see all of your H1 tags. There should not be an H1-2 column. If there is, review any pages that have data in that column. Those are pages with more than one H1 tag.

To quickly review H1 tags, click the H1 tab at the top. There you will be able to filter the results to quickly identify pages with missing or duplicate H1 tags.

Update your audit list:


If every page has a unique H1 tag, great! Check this item off your audit list.

If any page is missing an H1 tag or has a duplicate, flag this audit item so you can come back and fix any issues.

Meta Description

The meta description does not impact search ranking but it is used as the description that appears on the search results page. It can help convince people to click through to your site.

Similar to title tags and H1 tags, you want meta descriptions to be unique on each page. And the meta description should be under 155 characters so it isn’t truncated in the search engine results.

To identify if your pages include meta descriptions, refer back to your Screaming Frog site scan. The meta description is listed under the Meta Description 1 column. There will also be a column titled Meta Description 1 Length which lists the character length of each meta description.

If you click the Meta Description tab at the top you’ll be able to filter the list by meta descriptions that are missing, duplicates, or over 155 characters.

Update your audit list:


If every page has a unique meta description below 155 characters, great! Check this item off your audit list.

If any page has a missing, duplicate, or long meta description, flag this audit item so you can come back and fix any issues.

URL Structure

URLs should be human readable. They should not include IDs or codes. If possible, they should also include the targeted keyword for the page.

If you edit any URLs make sure you add a 301-redirect to the old URL so it redirects to the new URL and any existing links do not break.

Update your audit list:


If the URL structure is human readable and does not include cryptic codes, great! Check this item off your audit list.

If the URL structure is overly complicated and difficult to read, flag this audit item so you can come back and determine if there is a fix. Depending on the content management system you’re using, you may not have much control over the URL structure. If you do have control and can fix it, create a plan to take care of it. If you can’t control it, don’t worry about it too much. It only has a minor impact and it isn’t worth breaking your existing URLs.

Keyword Focused

You want to make sure you’re focusing on optimizing for phrases people are searching for. If you aren’t sure what people are searching for, you should conduct keyword research.

Take a look at some of your most important pages. These are likely category pages and popular articles and guides. Are these pages optimized for keywords people search for? Or, do they use generic terms and have no consistent keyword theme?

Update your audit list:


If the content pages are all keyword focused, great! Check this item off your audit list.

If the content pages are not optimized for a particular keyword or phrase, flag this audit item so you can come back and make improvements. You’ll want to do keyword research and optimize your pages for a relevant keyword.

User Experience

Moving on to our last section of the audit, user experience. The user experience plays a big role in SEO. The goal of the search engines is to provide an optimal user experience by providing high quality relevant results. If your website provides a high quality user experience then you are helping align with the goals of the search engines and setting your website up for long-term SEO success.

Additionally, if you’re spending time to improve SEO to get more traffic to your website, it only makes sense to also improve the user experience. Once you get those people to visit your website, you want to make sure your website can convert those people. Otherwise, the traffic doesn’t provide much value.

Mobile Friendly

Make sure your website looks good on mobile devices as well as desktop. If you aren’t sure, you can use the Google Mobile-Friendly Test to find out if your website is mobile friendly.

Update your audit list:


If the site is mobile friendly, great! Check this item off your audit list.

If the site is not mobile friendly, flag this audit item so you can come back and make improvements.

Content Structure

You want your website easy to scan. People like to review the headings and bullets on the page to see if the content is worth reading. Additionally, having your keyword in headings and emphasized throughout the page helps search engines understand its importance.

Update your audit list:


If the content is easy to scan, great! Check this item off your audit list.

If the content structure is all one block of text and doesn’t include subheadings or lists, flag this audit item so you can come back and make improvements.

Images / Video

Make sure your content includes relevant images and video where appropriate. The images should also include alt tags. The alt tags should include the keyword for the page or a keyword variant.

Update your audit list:


If the content includes images and/or video, great! Check this item off your audit list.

If there are no images or videos, flag this audit item so you can come back and make improvements.

Above the Fold / CTA

What you see without scrolling when the page first loads, is referred to as “above the fold”. You want to make sure that from that first screen people understand what you do and what you want them to do. That means, you need a call-to-action at the top of the page and a clear message about the value you provide.

A call-to-action could be a sign up button, a purchase button, or a download button. It’s whatever action you want people to take next. It doesn’t have to get them to the end goal, it just needs to get them off the homepage to the next stage.

Update your audit list:


If the above the fold area includes a call-to-action and a clear value proposition, great! Check this item off your audit list.

If the area above the fold is missing a call-to-action or a clear value proposition, flag this audit item so you can come back and make improvements.

About Page

The about page is normally the second most commonly viewed page after the homepage. People like to buy from people. Make sure to have an About page in your main navigation and make sure the page clearly shares your story.

Update your audit list:


If the site has an about page in the header and the about page shares your story, great! Check this item off your audit list.

If the about page is not in the header or if the about page doesn’t share your story, flag this audit item so you can come back and make improvements.

Complete Your List and Take Action

Once you’ve reviewed all of these audit items, make sure you document your findings. Whether you use the provided template or not, you’ll want to take notes so you can make sure to take action and correct any issues found during your audit.


Do you want to listen to this article? Here’s the podcast episode:

FREE VIDEO MASTERCLASS

HOW TO DO SEO YOURSELF

Learn how to grow your own website traffic.

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When you’re working on growing an organic audience for your website, SEO is a big deal. And when you sit down and create some goals for yourself and your business, you’ll want to include some goals for SEO. But what does that mean? What should you focus on? Here is how to set goals for SEO.

Create Goals that You Can Control

I’m going to start by making this really clear. To set goals for SEO, don’t focus on reaching a target for any particular metric. Instead, set a goal for yourself that you are in complete control as to whether or not it gets completed.

Don’t get me wrong, metrics are important. And it’s important to measure results. But first, let’s create an SEO goal for you.

The most common SEO goal is going to be content related. To be successful with SEO, you need content, you need web pages that are worth ranking. So, decide what type of content you’re going to build out. How often are you going to post? Weekly, bi-weekly, monthly?

This will be your primary SEO goal. Create a goal for how often you will publish new high-quality content on your website so you have pages worth ranking in search engines.

If you focus on creating consistent content, the numbers will improve. You can instead set a goal of improving metrics by a certain amount, but this seems backwards. How will you improve those metrics? Instead, create your goals based on the action you will take to improve your metrics and any improvement you see will only further motivate you to keep improving your website.

Don’t Stop at SEO — Set Goals to Improve Conversion too

Don’t only focus on improving SEO. Getting search traffic is important but it’s only half of the puzzle. Once those people visit your website you want to make sure they convert. If you focus solely on getting search traffic and you don’t work on improving the experience when people visit your site, you’re wasting your time. For SEO to be successful, you need to get people to click on your website, and then your website needs to convert those people.

So, when you’re making goals for SEO, don’t stop at considering how you will grow your organic traffic. Also create a goal to improve your conversion rate. You need to improve CRO in addition to SEO.

To do this, first you need to understand what you want people to do when they access your site. What do you consider a conversion? You likely have multiple conversion paths. Your primary conversion may be for people to make a purchase or register for an account. Before they get to that point, there are likely numerous micro conversions that they are more likely to take on your website. Some of the smaller conversions could be watching a video, downloading a free guide, or signing up for an email course.

Ideally, your micro conversions will exchange a content item for an email. Once someone gives you their email, you then continue the conversation. You offer value, and then more value, and then even more value. Then, you share how your product can help. Then you keep providing value and continue communicating in that manner. Over time, people will become more familiar with your brand and when they’re ready to make a purchase, they will go back to your website.

These are the conversion paths you want to optimize to grow your SEO. The smaller points that take more time to convert to your primary conversion. Someone coming to your website from search likely isn’t going to buy your product today. There is a much better chance they will download the free PDF guide you have available. So start by offering a high value freebie and building trust and authority with your site visitors.

Just like with the SEO goals you created earlier around your content creation, create conversion optimization goals in a similar fashion. Don’t create a goal of improving your conversion rate by a certain percent, instead create a goal you can control.

Do you already have a freebie to get people on your email list? If not, start there. Create a goal to make a conversion path with no barriers to start building trust and authority. If you do already have a freebie, how can it be improved? Is it noticeable on your website? Is it clear what problems it solves and why it’s worth getting? Can the actual item be improved? Do people open the emails you send after the fact or should the subject lines be improved?

Create a goal for yourself to improve the desired conversion path you want people to take after they visit your site from search engines. Once you complete the goal, you’ll be able to monitor conversion rates to see the results and understand the impact of the change. But, set your goal as the action you can perform and use metrics to measure the result.

Optimize Existing Efforts

Getting SEO traffic from new content is great, but don’t forget about the pages on your website that are already bringing you SEO traffic.

Go to Google Analytics, and go to Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages. Add a secondary dimension of Medium. And then use an advanced search to only include the medium dimension of organic. This will show you the top pages people land on from organic search traffic.

top organic landing pages

Look at the pages where you get the most sessions. Review those pages. Is the content still accurate? Could you add any charts, images, or videos, to improve the content on the page? Are there any free templates or guides you should offer on this page in exchange for an email address?

Create a goal to review and update the pages that currently bring in the majority of your organic search traffic.

Understand the Metrics to Measure for SEO Results

So now you have at least three SEO goals that you have complete control over if you achieve them or not. You have an SEO content creation goal, a conversion optimization goal, and a goal to improve the current top SEO content. Now, you need to understand the metrics you can measure to determine the impact your goals had on your site performance.

The two main metrics you will monitor are traffic and conversions.

Metrics to Measure Search Traffic

When your website is brand new, your search traffic will probably be very low. And if you just spent months or even a year building content to improve SEO and your traffic numbers are still low, that can be discouraging. Just because your website doesn’t have much traffic yet, doesn’t mean your efforts aren’t having an impact.

When your website is brand new, monitor search impressions instead of traffic. Search impressions will be the first metric that starts to climb when you focus on improving SEO. Your content will start to display more in search engine results pages which increases your impressions. This is positive growth that you should be proud of. Keep going down that path and this will eventually turn into clicks and website visits.

To monitor your search impressions, go to the Google Search Console. Under Performance, click on Search Results. This will show you both the total number of impressions and total clicks. Though clicks will always be much lower than impressions, this will show you if you are trending up or down. So, start by monitoring these impressions when your visitor count is too low to notice an impact.

search impressions

Once you consistently post content, this will change and your website traffic will increase. The time it takes to start getting search traffic will vary depending on how competitive the industry is and how often you update your website. It could take months or it could take years.

To view the amount of traffic you get from organic search on your website go to Google Analytics. Navigate to Acquisition > All Traffic > Source / Medium. You’ll want to look for your organic traffic sources. This will likely be listed as google / organic and bing / organic. You can view the number of sessions to see how much traffic your site is receiving from search engines. Compare the date range to the previous year to see how your efforts have improved.

organic traffic

Metrics to Measure SEO Conversions

Lastly, you’ll want to measure conversions. In the same Google Analytics report you just looked at to view traffic (Acquisition > All Traffic > Source / Medium) you’ll see on the right hand side there are conversion columns. You can use the dropdown at the top of the conversion columns to select the conversion point you want to measure. This can be e-commerce related or any of the goals you have set up. This will allow you to view the conversion rate and number of completed conversions by the acquisition source such as google organic search traffic.

traffic conversions

Sometimes organic search traffic can play a role in the conversion path even though it wasn’t the last piece. For example, someone can find your site using organic search, then they start following you on social media. They eventually convert based on a social media ad which gets credit for the conversion. However, organic search did play a role in the beginning of the process. You can view this information under the Multi-Channel Funnels report. Go to Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Assisted Conversions. Here you can view how the various channels play a role towards conversions.

multi channel funnels

In Summary

To set goals for SEO, focus on the actions you’re in control of. Set your goals based on what you will get done. Then make sure you know the metrics you can measure to determine the results of your work.

Get the work done, then measure the results. SEO is a long-term game, success doesn’t happen overnight. Stay consistent and be proud of any wins you see.

What SEO goals have you set for yourself? Share them with us in the comments!


Do you want to listen to this article? Here’s the podcast episode:

FREE VIDEO MASTERCLASS

HOW TO DO SEO YOURSELF

Learn how to grow your own website traffic.

Learn More

The idea of SEO can be overwhelming in the beginning. The internet is flooded with free marketing resources. And though it’s great to have so much knowledge available, going through countless articles can be daunting and it’s hard to know which are trustworthy. To make it simple, I’ve outlined the SEO basics you should know to get started. And, I’ve identified the SEO guides to follow to dive deep into the key tactics you’ll need to learn SEO.

What is SEO?

The first and most important thing to learn is what SEO actually is. SEO is an acronym for “Search Engine Optimization”. Moz defines SEO as “the practice of improving and promoting a website to increase the number of visitors the site receives from search engines.” Basically, SEO is meant to improve your website rankings in search engines and ideally receive more website traffic in return.

Now that we know the meaning of SEO, let’s define some other jargon terms you might come across when learning about SEO.

Commonly Used SEO Jargon

Algorithm

According to Google an algorithm is “a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer.” Where SEO is concerned, an algorithm refers to the rules a search engine uses to rank websites.

algorithm

Crawler

“Crawler” is a generic term used to describe programs that automatically run to scan websites. The crawlers are sometimes referred to as “robots” or “spiders”. A crawler discovers websites by crawling from one link to another. Google’s main crawler is called Googlebot and Bing’s main crawler is called Bingbot.

Keyword

Keywords or keyphrases are the query terms people enter in the search engine to try and find a web page or site to match their search intent.

keyword search

Organic

Search engines have two types of result listings, paid and organic. The organic results are the free listings which you rank for naturally.

paid vs organic

SERP

SERP stands for Search Engine Results Page. It is the page that occurs with the results after you perform a search. There are typically ten organic listings on each search engine results page.

SERP

White Hat and Black Hat

White Hat and Black Hat are opposite types of SEO tactics. White Hat strategies follow the rules and guidelines set forth by search engines and are the most beneficial long-term. Black Hat tactics are frowned upon. They are intentionally sneaky and meant to trick search engines. Black Hat strategies aren’t long lasting as search engines are constantly changing algorithms to improve search quality.

Why Does Everyone Focus on Google?

According to comScore, over 64% of search queries come from Google. Since the vast majority of searchers are using the Google search engine it makes sense to focus on Google.

search share

With that being said, over 20% of search queries do come from Microsoft products so you certainly shouldn’t ignore Bing. However, Bing and Yahoo generally have similar rules and guidelines to Google so by catering to Google’s standards you are likely setting it up to rank higher on Bing and Yahoo as well.

How Do Search Engines Work?

A search engine has an organized index of content. You can think of it as a library. The search algorithm acts like the librarian. When a book request is made to a librarian, the librarian attempts to select the book that is the best fit. Similarly, when a search query is made in a search engine, the algorithm attempts to provide the most relevant and useful results. The search algorithm sorts through the content every time a search query is performed.

The search engine is always trying to find new ways to provide the perfect match to every search. That is why some searches return pictures, videos, and maps. The ideal result varies depending on the search.

And this system is constantly getting better and better. That is why the search algorithm is always being changed. It is being improved in order to return the best search results possible.

If you want more information on how search engines work, go directly to the source. Google has put together an incredible video providing a behind the scenes tour of how Google search works. It is both entertaining and informative.

Pages are Ranked, Not Sites

It’s good to know that SERPs list web pages, not sites. This is important because it means that every page matters. This gives you many more opportunities to rank for different keywords, since each group of keywords can have a particular page associated with them.

Relevance is Key

It’s important to remember that relevance is key in the search engine’s eyes. When a user enters a keyword, the search engine wants to display results that are relevant to that keyword. Similarly, when the user clicks on a link the search engine wants the contents of that page to be relevant to the text displayed on the result and the original keyword.

Learn SEO for Free

As mentioned earlier, there truly is an abundance of free SEO resources online. Some of them are better than others and it can be hard to weed through them all, especially when you’re first starting out. Here are a few resources that I personally find to be the most useful if you’re looking to learn SEO for free.

Google

Whenever possible, I find it best to get my information directly from the source. Though it isn’t extensive information, Google does provide documentation on how to make your site “Google friendly”. They also offer Webmaster Guidelines Best Practices.

It’s worth the time to read through both of these so you get a clear understanding of what’s important to Google.

Moz

Moz has excellent resources for learning SEO. Though every MOZ resource really is beneficial, I would start out with the Beginners Guide to SEO. The guide has a nice A through Z overview on everything SEO related.

Guide to SEO

Neil Patel

Another great resource is Neil Patel. He offers a lot of good SEO knowledge as well as broader digital marketing information and is even responsible for the UberSuggest tool. Neil Patel offers several free digital marketing video courses including one specific for SEO called SEO Unlocked.

These are all great resources to get in-depth guides on SEO best practices.

Where to Focus Your SEO Efforts

Google has stated that there are over 200 ranking signals. Though there is some suspicion as to what those 200+ ranking signals are, there is not a definitive list from Google and signals are subject to constant change.

If you aren’t sure where to start, you can always begin with an SEO audit. In no particular order, the following aspects of SEO are the ones where I choose to direct my focus.

Keyword Research

Keyword research is a good place to start. It will help you make decisions when it comes to content and on-page optimizations. Performing keyword research will ensure you aren’t wasting your time when writing content. Instead, it allows you to focus on topics people want to hear about.

Performing keyword research doesn’t have to involve expensive tools. Here is a simple keyword research system you can follow. It includes a Google Sheets template and uses non-paid tools and resources anyone can access.

On-Page Optimizations

There are several elements on your web pages that can affect search rankings. Some of the main on-page elements that can and should be optimized are meta tags and html elements such as title tags, header tags, and image alt tags.

If you’re looking for a tool to audit your current on-page elements, I’d recommend Screaming Frog. With Screaming Frog you can easily see your on-page elements as well as the length and pixel width.

Another great tool to identify on-page optimization best practices is Bing Webmaster Tools. And it’s completely free. Bing actually offers a URL Inspection tool in their Webmaster Tools. You enter any URL on your site and it identifies SEO and indexing issues.

Content

As mentioned earlier, the SERPs display web pages (not sites) which makes the content (including blogs) very important. With that being said, it’s also important to know that high quality content is far more important than quantity.

You can use your keyword research to identify topics that are important to your niche and build out relevant pages corresponding to those terms. You can also generate content ideas based on audience feedback. What are the most common questions you get? What do you hear people struggling with? Write content to support their needs.

Sometimes you can even find a few ideas from tools. You can use the HubSpot Blog Topic Generator or Portent’s Content Idea Generator to try and trigger some ideas.

Content Idea Generator

When creating content, spend extra time writing the title. The title is one of the most important pieces of your content because it is one of the primary factors as to whether or not the article will be read. We’ve put together a 7 step system you can follow to create a catchy title for your content.

When it comes to creating content for SEO, remember to focus on the reader. Don’t get too carried away with SEO best practices. It’s more important to create interesting and valuable content for your ideal reader.

Backlinks

Backlinks are both important for SEO and difficult to obtain. Like the content, it isn’t the sheer volume of backlinks that is important, but rather the quality. The best backlinks come from authoritative, relevant sites.

There are several link building strategies you can use. Yet, I don’t focus on building links. It’s extremely time consuming and I’ve found it isn’t a good use of my time. I focus on building high quality articles and then get the word out naturally to anyone following my brand. That is primarily through email and social networks. This does slowly build up links. It is a long process but it is the result of efforts that I would be doing either way.

Page Speed

Google has stated that page speed is one of the many ranking factors they use. There has been page speed research done which shows that the particular page speed metric Google measures for ranking purposes is Time to First Byte (TTFB).

Time to First Byte Ranking Chart

Furthermore, optimizing page speed is always a good idea because it leads to a better user experience.

Some of the best tools to measure and optimize page speed are:

Technical

There is a whole slew of technical SEO aspects that are worth your attention. Some of the main ones include an XML sitemap, robots.txt file, the URL structure, schema tags, broken links, and HTTP status codes.

A good tool to use for many of the technical aspects is the Google Search Console. Within the Google Search Console you can upload your sitemap, view what is being blocked in your robots.txt file, create schema tags and check current tags for issues, and find crawl errors caused by broken links and 404 error codes.

A nice tool to easily identify broken links on your site is Broken Link Checker. As a side note, this tool can also be used on sites you don’t own. You can then reach out to the site owner and offer a replacement for the broken link with a comparable link to your site.

Another important piece of technical SEO is identifying any penalties that have been placed on your site. You can check the Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools for any manual penalties, but they won’t notify you of algorithmic penalties.

Some tools to try and identify if your site has been affected by an algorithmic penalty are:

Google has recently added more emphasis to the importance of SSL and domain security. Having an SSL certificate can boost your search rankings, though not substantially. To check the security status of your domain you can use the SSL Server Test tool.

Mobile

Google has a mobile-first index. Your ranking is determined by your mobile site. If your site isn’t mobile friendly it won’t rank as well.

There are several different ways to make your site mobile friendly. Google’s preferred methods are amp or responsive design. Google actually offers an entire guide on making your site mobile friendly and mobile SEO best practices.

The most important thing to keep in mind is any URL should be providing the same value and content to the user, but in an optimized output based on the device viewing the URL. Mobile users don’t want to automatically be sent to your home page, they intend to reach the specific relevant topic that matches their search query.

Listen to the Search Engines

When optimizing your site for search it’s important to listen to the search engines. Both Google and Bing offer webmaster tools. These tools are essentially the search engines attempting to communicate with you. It’s important to verify your sites within the tools so you can listen to the feedback you’re receiving directly from the search engines.

Stay Current on SEO Knowledge

The world of SEO is constantly changing and evolving. If you really want to learn SEO, you’ll have to continuously educate yourself and stay up-to-date on SEO. To fully understand SEO you must immerse yourself into the industry.

This is a complete list of my favorite SEO resources.

Make SEO Changes that Won’t Become Outdated

At the end of the day your SEO changes should make sense for your community. If you want your SEO efforts not to become outdated, focus all changes on what is best for your audience. The search engines are doing everything they can to provide the best results and best user experience. If you have the same goal in mind, any algorithm changes in the future should only help your site and not hurt it. If your website has a page that is truly the best option for that user, then search engines will eventually rank it higher than all other options.


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Search marketers normally focus on optimizing for Google. Since Google has a large percentage of the search engine traffic share, that makes sense. But, how do you rank on Bing? If you optimize for Google will that automatically rank you well on Bing too? And does it even matter? Let’s discuss what you need to know about how to rank on Bing.

Does Bing Matter?

Before we talk about how to rank on Bing, let’s talk about if ranking on Bing even matters. Most marketers focus only on Google because most searches happen on Google. But how big of a share does Bing have?

According to ComScore, Bing (Microsoft Sites) has about 25% of the share for desktop searches. Now, that is specific to desktop. And mobile Bing searches are drastically lower than desktop. But still, 25% of desktop shares is a big enough piece of the pie to matter.

comscore search data

This share might be larger than expected. Bing not only powers the search results on Bing, but they are also used for Yahoo search results.

So, Bing not only has a decent chunk of the market share, but there is also less competition. If you start focusing some effort towards Bing you may find the traffic converts better than Google. The search engines both have different demographics so the traffic you receive from the search engines will not be equal. It’s worth seeing if the Bing audience converts better or worse on your website than the traffic you receive from Google. (Towards the end of the article we’ll go over how to view how much traffic you get from each search engine in Google Analytics.)

Start By Listening to Bing

Bing provides a few options to make it easier to understand how they rank content.

Bing Webmaster Guidelines

The first, are the Bing Webmaster Guidelines. This is a pretty short read. It is a concise overview on some of the most important ranking factors and on-page elements Bing takes into consideration when ranking websites.

It’s good to review the guidelines so you have a clear understanding of what is important to Bing.

Bing Webmaster Tools

Next, are the Bing Webmaster Tools. You’ll want to setup and monitor the Bing Webmaster Tools. This is a portal Bing provides to website owners at no cost that has a ton of free information and tools.

It provides data specific to your website and has a ton of useful tools. It has a tool to submit your sitemap to Bing, an SEO analyzer to identify SEO improvements on a page-by-page basis, and lists out any crawl errors. You can even use it to submit URLs to Bing that you want indexed. It also notifies you of suspicious activity or security issues.

This is the best way for Bing to get in direct contact with you. If there is an issue with your website preventing you from ranking as well as you could be, this is where they are going to tell you about it.

The other nice option about the Bing Webmaster Tools is it not only allows Bing to communicate with you, but you can also contact them. There is a help menu at the top (question mark icon) with a link to contact support.

contact bing

This will allow you to send them an email with a specific question. Now, if your question is generic and can be answered with their support forum you probably won’t get a response. But, if you have a question specific to your account this is a great option.

Create Content for Searchers, Not Search Engines

Before we worry about the specific ranking factors, we should remember to always create content for searchers, not search engines. This comes directly from the Bing Webmaster Guidelines, but it applies to every search engine.

Whether you want to rank on Google or Bing, your best bet is to provide the best value possible for your target audience. This is how you’ll see long-term SEO success. Search engines want to provide the best experience possible for their audience, and if your website helps accomplish their goals, then you’ll rank higher.

Instead of trying to take advantage of every new trend to rank higher, think about how you can provide the best content and experience for your reader. Then, as search engine algorithms change, your website will only get ranked higher and higher. You won’t need to worry as much about changes and new trends.

Bing Ranking Factors and Differences from Google

User engagement is the primary focus for Bing and their strongest ranking factors are based on engagement. Those factors include pogosticking, social, and site authority. There are several other factors that play a role as well. We’ll go over some of the most important Bing ranking factors and how they vary from Google.

Pogosticking

One of the important metrics used to determine engagement is referred to as pogosticking. This is when a user clicks your link in the search results, visits your site, but then immediately clicked back to the search results page and selected the next response. When this happens, the search engine decides the page did not match the search query in a way that was helpful to the user. If that happens often, the page will start to rank lower. This behavior is something Google monitors as well.

pogo-sticking

The best way to monitor this behavior on your website is by looking at your bounce rate metric.

Social

Bing has made it clear that social networks do play a role in their ranking algorithm. (Google claims social has no impact on their rankings.) Bing has also made it clear that trying to game the system will not help you. They have a system in place to gauge influence. So, by using social networks in a natural manner and building your following over time, you can positively impact Bing rankings as well.

Site Authority

Bing places high value on site authority. They look at factors such as the age of the domain and the name, brand, or keywords in a domain. Google looks more at the authority of each individual page whereas Bing looks more at the site as a whole. The Page Rank metric was actually created by Google and is completely irrelevant on Bing.

Exact Keywords

Bing prefers exact keyword usage more than Google. Both in the site content and as the text in links. Google uses synonyms interchangeably but exact keyword usage still plays a role in the Bing ranking algorithm.

Mobile

Bing does want your site to be mobile friendly. It doesn’t use a mobile first index like Google does, but it does still factor into your ranking.

Page Speed

And just like in Google, page speed does matter. However, Bing doesn’t believe the user experience should be jeopardized to improve page speed. You won’t be penalized on Bing for having a 4 second load time instead of a 1 second load time if the experience the site visitor gets on the website is ideal.

Where to Review Bing Data

You can review your Bing data in Google Analytics and the Bing Webmaster Tools.

Google Analytics

In Google Analytics go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels. Then, click on Source at the top above the data table. This will list out each search engine as a source. You may see Google, Bing, and Yahoo listed.

bing data in google analytics

Bing Webmaster Tools

You can also see data directly in the Bing Webmaster Tools. Once you login, just click on Search Performance. This will show you your search impressions, clicks, average click-through-rate (CTR), and average position.

bing webmaster tools data

If you want to compare the data found in Bing Webmaster Tools to Google, you can log in to your Google Search Console account. In the Performance tab in Google Search Console you’ll see the same metrics listed. This will allow you to easily compare the data.

For the most part, if you’re focused on optimizing for your target audience, your search rankings will increase in both Bing and Google. But, knowing the differences and how you can improve your Bing rankings can help you get an advantage over your competition.

Do you focus on optimizing for Bing or only Google? Do you plan to change that in the future? Please share in the comments!


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So, you have a blog and you want some more traffic. You’ve heard SEO is a good way to get traffic to your blog. But, you don’t know how, you don’t have a team, and you don’t have a budget to outsource it. Can you do it yourself? The short answer is yes. Let’s go over how to do SEO yourself, even if you’ve never done it before.

Is it hard to do SEO yourself?

If you haven’t done SEO before and you’re starting at the very beginning, it will be as hard as learning any other skill. You will be able to do it, there is a place to start. Just like any other skill, as you continue to learn about SEO, it will become easier and you will be able to do more and more of the SEO tasks that you once considered to be hard.

It has a learning curve just like any other skill. The good news is it isn’t too steep. You don’t have to be scared to start. And you don’t have to be a master to see results. Do what you feel comfortable doing, it will be better than nothing. There’s no reason to overwhelm yourself with advanced SEO tactics until you feel comfortable with the basics.

Here are six steps you can follow to do SEO yourself.

Step 1: Know Your Audience

First off, you need to know who you’re talking to. To do this, create a persona. Really, this should be done before you even begin your blog, but if you haven’t done it already, just do it now.

Creating a persona helps you form a story to better understand your target audience. It allows you to visualize exactly who your website is for.

This will help you create and optimize your content for a specific person. Your SEO will be more effective if you are targeting a particular type of person. Not only does this benefit SEO, it will help the entire process.

Your blogs will resonate with the right people because you are speaking directly to them. Then, that person will sign up for your email list because the lead magnet is exactly what they need. Later, when you have a product or service to sell them, they will buy because it is the exact item they need to solve their original problem that brought them to your site initially.

Having a clear picture of exactly who you’re talking to will help align the content with the goal.

Step 2: Have a Content Plan

Content is going to be an important piece of SEO. You need content in order to optimize it for SEO. You need content pages for search engines to display in the results. And, you need content so your website stays current and continues to help your readers.

Post Regularly

You need to post on a regular basis. Posting on a regular basis will help grow your website traffic and make it easier for your readers to know when they can expect a new article.

How often you post depends on your availability and what you can commit to. If you can, add a new post weekly. If that’s too much for your schedule then do every other week or monthly. If you have enough time for daily posts, great!

If you can’t post weekly, that’s okay. It just will take longer to see results. Being consistent is important so choose a schedule that makes sense for you and stick to it.

When you’ve decided on a frequency (weekly, monthly, etc.) choose a specific day of the week and time you will post. You want a specific plan. This is a benefit to your website and readers, and it helps hold you accountable when you have a clear deadline you need to meet.

Perform Keyword Research

When you’re creating your content, don’t just write whatever article comes to mind. Do keyword research to make sure you’re focusing on the ideas that are most likely to see success.

I have an entire article you can read to learn exactly how to do keyword research, so I won’t go into the details here.

Keyword research will help you organize your brainstorm ideas in a productive manner. It provides a system to prioritize existing ideas while gathering new ideas.

Writing content takes time. That’s why you want to make sure you’re writing content on topics people are looking for.

Create a Content Calendar

The last step in creating a plan is a content calendar. So, you know how often you want to post and you have a list of keyword ideas. Create a content calendar to map it all out.

I like to do this with a spreadsheet. You can use a calendar or a text document if you prefer.

I normally create a spreadsheet with my post dates in the left hand column. Then next to that is the keyword or topic for the article and then I add all of the data from my keyword research in the following columns.

I like to plan out through the quarter as a minimum but sometimes I’ll plan it out all the way up to a year. Just add in the dates you are planning for, then map your keyword ideas to the dates that make sense. This lets you adjust for holidays and seasonal articles.

You don’t have to stick to everything in your calendar. Things change and it’s good to be flexible. But having a content calendar gives you a great place to start and speeds up your process. It allows you to get started on the next article as soon as you’re ready.

Step 3: On-Page Optimizations

You want to have a basic understanding of the on-page optimizations that improve SEO. That way, when you’re writing your blog posts you can add these optimizations as part of your original post.

It will save you time so you aren’t later reviewing your articles to determine how to improve them for SEO. And once you’ve done it a few times, it becomes a very natural process and the SEO updates can appear as natural and authentic additions to your article. And that is exactly how you want them to be for long-term SEO success.

Here are the on-page optimizations you want to be aware of.

Title Tag

Make sure you have your keyword in the title tag. The closer to the beginning of the title the better.

If you’re using WordPress, this will probably be the post title field.

To confirm what text you have in your title tag:

  1. View the page on your website
  2. Right click and select View page source
  3. Use Find (ctrl+F) to search for <title>
  4. The text directly after that tag is your title
<title>This is Your Title</title>

Meta Description

You want to add your keyword to the meta description as well. For information on how to do this view the full article on meta descriptions.

Article Body

You also want to add the keyword within the body of the article. Specifically you want it to be in the H1 tag, first paragraph and subheadings.

H1 Tag

The H1 tag is the primary header on the page. You can check to see what text is in your H1 tag the same way you checked to see what text was in your title tag. But instead of searching for <title>, you search for <h1>. The text between <h1> and </h1> is your H1 tag.

You can also view this by looking at the code for your post in your admin panel. In the interface where you add your blog articles, if you view the post code, you should be able to see what text is in the H1 tag.

First Paragraph

You want to include your keyword somewhere in the first paragraph of your article. If this isn’t possible, then include it as close to the top as you can. You want the article to make sense for the readers. Don’t add a keyword for SEO purposes if it doesn’t also make sense for the readers.

Subheadings

Try and include the keyword in at least one subheading. The subheadings are in H2, H3, and H4 tags. You can find them the same way you found the H1 tag. And remember, keep the user in mind. Only add the keyword to subheadings when it makes sense for the reader.

URL

If you can include the keyword in the URL, do it. If the article already has a different URL, or this is not easy to do with your system, then don’t worry about it.

Step 4: Add Internal Links

After you’ve published your article, make sure you add internal links. If you have any questions about how or why to do this you can view the complete guide on internal links.

You want to add internal links on your new article to any older relevant articles within the text of the post. And you also want to do the opposite. Add links to your new article on any older relevant articles.

You are using internal links to create a web. You are making it easier for readers and search engine spiders to navigate through your website. You always want to think of people first, if a link would benefit a reader, add it.

Step 5: Gather Data

Even if you don’t understand analytics yet, start collecting data. You’ll figure out what it all means soon enough.

You can set up Google Analytics on your website. It’s easy and free.

The data in Google Analytics will start being collected when you install the tracking tag. You will not have any data from before that tag was set up on your website. So start collecting now and worry about what it all means later.

It will be better to have the data so you can make informed decisions when you’re ready.

Step 6: Keep up with Industry News

Things change all the time with SEO. You need to have a plan to stay up to date with the SEO industry.

Whether you subscribe to an email digest, listen to a podcast, or follow some SEO related blogs, you need to have a plan to make sure you’re aware of any big upcoming changes. Here are my favorite marketing resources to stay up to date.

Bonus: Use ClearPath Online

This is a bit of a shameless brag, but another great way to do SEO yourself is to use ClearPath Online. Full disclosure, this is our product and normally our blogs offer free support and advice with no selling. This felt like an important message to add though since it could be a big benefit.

If you want to do SEO yourself, but you need a task list that tells you what to do, when, and how; that is exactly what ClearPath Online does. It breaks down SEO tasks into manageable action items with step-by-step directions.

Instead of staying updated with SEO changes yourself and juggling which tasks you did last and what you need to do next, it takes care of all of that. The system is preloaded with everything you need to do.

The most important part about doing SEO yourself is to start now! It’s a process that takes time. No matter which route you decide to take to get started, do it and it will become easier and more beneficial as time goes on.

Are you ready to start doing SEO yourself? If not, what’s stopping you? Let us know in the comments!


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SEO is always changing. And you have limited time. How can you make sure your time is spent focusing on the SEO tactics that matter most? Here are four simple ways you can stay up to date with SEO trends.

1. Follow Industry News

The first tip to stay current on SEO tactics, is to follow SEO industry news. You can subscribe to marketing resources to hear the latest changes.

You can find this information in whatever medium you find easiest to consume. You can get SEO news from blogs, podcasts, and email digests. To find links to my favorite marketing news sources, view the full digital marketing resource guide.

The key here is to subscribe to only enough sources to stay informed, not overwhelmed. If you aren’t sure how much marketing news you can add to your current routine, start small. Choose one blog or one podcast or one email digest to follow. Then, start to add more as you find the time.

If you instead follow as much as possible and start to feel overwhelmed, you will end up ignoring all of it.

2. Configure Webmaster Tools

The next thing is to set up Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools.

These tools allow the search engines to directly communicate with you. If there is advice the search engines want to give you, you should be available to receive it.

These tools make it easy to submit your sitemap, get notified of crawl errors, and identify if there is any suspicious or malicious activity.

They are free tools, and there is no reason not to sign up and start benefiting from the extra data and communication.

3. Use a DIY SEO Tool

Another way to stay up to date on SEO trends is to leverage a tool. You can use a DIY SEO tool (such as ClearPath Online) to follow SEO tasks for your website.

Instead of you spending time to figure out the best SEO tactic to tackle, a DIY SEO tool will guide you through every task step-by-step. And when a search engine algorithm changes and completely disrupts the standard SEO tactics, you don’t need to know.

You just keep following the tasks in the DIY SEO tool which update to reflect the newest trends. That way, you know you aren’t wasting time doing something that improved rankings a few years ago, but now can hurt rankings.

4. SEO Periodic Table

Lastly, you can download and reference the SEO Periodic Table. The SEO Periodic Table is a graphic created by Search Engine Land. It visually describes the most important SEO factors. They update it annually.

It’s nice to look at and provides a good overview of what’s important for SEO this year. It won’t keep you updated daily, but it’s still a nice overview of what is the most impactful for SEO this year.

No matter how you choose to do it, if you want to be successful with SEO, you’ll need to find a way to stay up to date with the latest SEO and digital marketing trends. Hopefully one, or multiple, of these methods will be able to help you do so.

What is your favorite way to stay up to date on SEO trends? Let us know in the comments!


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Creating content takes time. That’s why you want to make sure you’re writing content that people want to consume. To do that, you need a keyword research system. We are going to walk through a simple process to find the keywords worth writing about.

Create a Spreadsheet to Track Your Keywords

Use a spreadsheet to track your various keyword ideas.

To start, you’ll want a column that you can use to document all of your keyword ideas. Create a column with the heading of Topic / Keyword. We’ll add more columns later in the process. Right now, just focus on generating ideas.

Brainstorm Content Ideas

Think about your business and your target audience. Start listing any ideas that come to mind in the first column. Don’t worry about details at this point. We’ll refine the list later, just add some topics as a place to start.

Use Tools to Refine and Grow Your Keyword List

Next, look at some data. There are a number of tools that you can use to help grow your keyword list. We’re going to go over some of the non-paid tools you can leverage. If you already pay for a keyword tool, that’s great, and you should certainly use that data. But, we won’t be discussing any specific paid tools here.

Google Trends

Find out what’s trending. Go to Google Trends and enter in one of the topics you jotted down. Now, you can enter in a similar topic to see which one is more popular, or scroll to the bottom to find related topics and related search queries. Reviewing the related terms can provide new ideas to add to the list. Comparing similar terms can allow you to fine-tune your list.

google trends related queries

Google Suggest

Next, go to Google. When you start typing in keyword ideas there will be a dropdown that tries to predict your desired query. Take a look at the suggestions and add any relevant ideas to your list.

YouTube Suggest

Similar to Google Suggest, you can use the YouTube auto suggestion feature to generate more ideas. Go to YouTube and start typing in your keyword. A dropdown will appear with suggestions, just like Google. Use those suggestions to add more ideas to your list.

Google Related Searches

Go back to Google to get a few more keyword ideas. Perform a search with one of your keyword or topic ideas. Scroll to the bottom of the results page and you’ll see some related searches. Take a look at the related search terms and add any relevant ideas to your spreadsheet.

UberSuggest

Go to UberSuggest and click on Keyword Ideas to start to refine your list. This is a good spot to enter in some of your vague topic or keyword ideas and replace them with popular search terms.

UberSuggest will show you keyword suggestions, related terms, questions, prepositions, and comparisons. This data can provide new ideas as well as assist with refining existing terms.

AnswerThePublic

Another useful tool to find specific topics is AnswerThePublic. This tool expands on a keyword and groups it out in several different variations including questions, prepositions, and comparisons. The result returns a visual chart that makes the data easy and fun to look at.

This is an amazing resource to be able to drill down on some of your topics and find content ideas that are more targeted than your initial thought.

Ubersuggest also allows you to view questions, prepositions, and comparisons now but these two tools don’t always provide the same data. It’s good to look at as much data as you can get your hands on.

Use Your Own Data

Review the queries in your Google Search Console Performance report. Sort the data by highest Impressions.

This will give you an idea of the queries your website already ranks well for. These are the topics Google already sees you as an authority on.

Review these terms to find if there are any phrases that don’t already match content on your website. You likely already have content for the majority of these phrases. But, you may be able to find a topic where you have a gap or be able to expand on the topic.

Add Data to Your Keyword Ideas

Now you have an extensive list of keyword ideas. Next, we need to add some data so you know which terms and topics are worth your time. Let’s start adding more columns to this spreadsheet.

Category

Group your topics into categories. If some topics or keywords are too similar, you’ll most likely want to target them on the same page (or only use one). Creating categories makes it easy to determine where you have overlap.

It’s also nice to have categories clearly defined so you can choose to launch an entire topic at once. You can publish multiple articles in the same category and add internal links so users can jump back and forth where appropriate.

Option

For each keyword, identify if there is an opportunity to rank for a particular type of content. Perform a Google search for your keyword. Make a note whenever the top of the search results displays images, videos, products, or local listings. If they do, you can leverage this information by making sure to include that type of content on your page.

Business Value

Go through each topic and determine what the business value is for you. I would recommend doing this by assigning numbers to your funnel stages. If a topic is at the top of the funnel and the reader of that topic would have a very low chance of converting, than assign it a number such as 1. If the topic is extremely relevant and would likely attract someone in the buying stage, assign it a higher number such as 4. I’d recommend keeping a key with the exact criteria you use to assign the various number ranks so your data could be as objective as possible.

Search Volume & Difficulty

It’s nice to get a rough idea of the average monthly search volume to include on your spreadsheet. This data is easy to get with UberSuggest.

If you have a different tool you prefer this data, that’s not a problem. Just use the same tool to capture the metric for all keywords so you are comparing apples to apples. Even if the numbers aren’t exactly trustworthy, it’s still a great comparison metric to determine which of your topics are more popular than your other topics.

To use UberSuggest, simply enter in your keyword. Then, record the Search Volume and SEO Difficulty metrics found on the Overview tab. These metrics give you an idea of how popular each topic is and how competitive it is to rank for the topic.

Once you have all of the data, sort by category and add some conditional formatting to the business value, monthly searches, and competition metrics to make it easy to review and prioritize the ideas. (If you’re using the template that has already been configured.)

Plan Your Publish Dates

Now that you have the keywords you want to create content for, commit to a timeline. Assign publish dates for the various topics and get started writing that content!

This system generates a great list of ideas to start with. As you continue to think of new ideas follow this system and add them to your spreadsheet. This process is intended to be repeated on a quarterly basis. That way it remains current and full of fresh ideas.

What is your favorite way to generate a new keyword idea? Please share it with us in the comments!

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The best long term SEO strategy is to align the goals of your website with the goals of the search engines.

Search engines are trying to provide the best experience for the user. If your website can provide the best solution for the keyword then your website will rank at the top.

Keep the User in Mind

You can try the next new SEO gimmick but any traffic boost you gain won’t last. Google updates their algorithm more than 500 times a year. At the end of the day, they provide the best result and experience possible for the user.

With each change you make, you need to keep your desired audience in mind. If you are always improving your website for your users and providing a high-quality experience, you will see long term success.

Create an amazing experience for your users because you and Google both want them to be satisfied. Always prioritize the needs of your readers over specific SEO tactics.

With that being said, now we can dig in to some specific items that can be done to provide a good user experience.

Publish High Quality Content

Content is important. For over a decade people have been preaching that ‘content is king’. With such a large stress on more content, it’s easy to publish low quality content.

For content to be a successful SEO tool, it needs to be high quality. Write content people want to read.

Don’t worry about keyword density or word count. Use the keyword as many times as you need to for the article to make sense. And keep the content to the word count you need to express your point clearly. Don’t add fluff just to add words. Don’t worry about metrics like these, just write a good article.

What does high quality content look like?

A high quality article will be easy to read. It gets to the point and provides information the reader cares about.

In addition to the content, a high quality article should be formatted in a way that’s easy to read. Most online readers like to scan content before they read it in its entirety. To make it easier to scan make sure you include subheadings, bullet point lists, and bold text.

Adding media elements such as images, charts, graphs, and video also enhances the content and makes it more appealing to people.

Add Content People Care About

The other piece of the puzzle to long term SEO success is to write about topics people care about.

You know you need to write high quality content. But, if no one is looking for content about that topic than you’ve wasted your time.

Perform keyword research and prioritize your content schedule based on demand.

Make Your Website Easy for Your Readers

So, you have content your readers care about and you’ve spent some time to make that content outstanding. Now, make sure there are no other hurdles for your readers.

Make Your Site Easy to Navigate

Make it as easy as possible for users to find the content they need on your website.

Not only should your main navigation menu be clear and concise, you should also include internal links. Whenever an article mentions a topic discussed in one of your other articles, add a link if it would be a benefit to the reader.

This will help SEO and make it easier for search engines to crawl your website. But, the main reason to add internal links is it will keep readers on your site longer as they browse more and more resources. If you have information that will help them, make it easy for them to find.

Don’t Make Your Readers Wait

The longer you make your readers wait, the higher the chance they’ll leave your site. 53% of mobile site visitors leave a page that takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

Google has a PageSpeed Insights tool that will analyze the page speed of your website. Just enter your URL and it will analyze the page. You will then receive results that display the current speed and a list of changes you can make to improve it.

You can also look into implementing AMP to improve your mobile page speed.

Make Sure Your Site is Great on Every Device

You want your site to be mobile friendly. But, even more than that, you want your site to work great on the resolutions your readers use.

You can find out what resolutions are the most common for your website in Google Analytics. Just go to Audience > Technology > Browser & OS. Then, on the Primary Dimension text link tabs (directly above the data) click Screen Resolution. This report will show you the most common screen resolutions for your website.

screen resolution data in google analytics

Review your website on different devices and resolutions to make sure it’s always a great experience.

Remember: SEO is a Long Term Strategy

It’s important to be patient when trying to improve your SEO. Any SEO strategy worth doing will take time.

If you find a hack that provides quick SEO results, it will probably only help you for a short time.

If you want to see long term success, you need to have a long term plan. Don’t think of SEO as a one-time project. Instead, create habits and routines to make SEO part of your everyday strategy.

What routines do you have in place to make SEO an ongoing part of your marketing efforts? Please let us know in the comments!


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