Search Engine Optimisation tips are aplenty online. Some posts go into depth on many of the topics outlined within this post, and we have provided links to some of the best resources to help you.
When done effectively, SEO is one of the most effective channels for your business. It’s not a short-term game, so work to a much longer game plan and you’ll save yourself any frustration.
I’ve provided some useful tips on tracking and measuring success at the end of this post, which will keep you on course towards your goals.
This post is broken down this post into the following sections:
In this section, we look at the foundational part of SEO. Without this in place, you’re going to work 10x as hard to get half the results, if you see any at all.
Technical SEO must be the starting point of your journey in SEO. Here are some tips to get you started.
1. Run a site health audit
There are well over 100 ranking factors that combine to give you an overall ‘health’ score. Industry leading tools will have this built-in, and will also give you the errors and fixes that you should carry out in order to improve your score.
As a rule of thumb, you’re looking for 80+ out of 100. Sometimes getting above this will mean compromising between what you’re delivering for your users and the algorithms that dictate your rankings.
If you don’t have access to premium tools, please fire up a chat and we’ll run it for you for free.
2. Pagespeed is key
Speed is a major ranking factor for search engines and, more importantly, it’s crucial for engaging your audience. It’s 2021, expectations are high, and your customers do not want to be sitting around waiting for your pages to load.
First, run a speed test using one of these free tools:
Ideally, you want to set your server choice to your locality in order to best replicate what your customers might experience. For example, if you serve UK clients, choose a UK-based server.
Your choice of hosting solution and location of server(s) will have a major impact on speed. Brian Dean at Backlinko analysed over 1 million search engine results pages (SERPs) and his study showed overwhelming evidence that the highest ranking websites load faster.
Some hosting providers might appear to be incredibly affordable, but if your UK customers need to ping Texas and back to retrieve your website, you’ll be losing their attention. This doesn’t even begin to explain the security risks with sharing server space en masse.
So the real question is whether you can afford not to invest in your hosting and technology stack.
3. Think mobile-first
Mobile-first was enabled as the default index on July 1st 2019. Here is the exact snippet from Google’s official guide:
Mobile-first indexing means Google predominantly uses the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking. Historically, the index primarily used the desktop version of a page’s content when evaluating the relevance of a page to a user’s query. Since the majority of users now access Google Search with a mobile device, Googlebot primarily crawls and indexes pages with the smartphone agent going forward.
This puts businesses with mobile-optimised versions of their website at an advantage, so if that’s not you, it’s time to catch up.
From an SEO standpoint, this means ensuring that your Search Console has both desktop and mobile versions of your website verified.
You might also want to consider an AMP version of your website for faster delivery. AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages. Whilst AMP pages don’t directly help your rankings, faster pagespeed does.
User engagement and conversions can also improve massively when AMP pages deliver a super-fast experience.
Check your Analytics report (Audience > Mobile > Overview) to reveal how your website visitors are experiencing your website. Be sure to take a long enough date range to make your findings statistically significant.
Let your findings (and audience) guide your SEO and UX strategies.
4. Find and fix your broken links
Broken links will always appear, no matter how much you think you’ve nailed it. Content around the web is moved, changed, killed off, and renamed all the time.
Run crawls using software such as SEMRush or Ahrefs, or use Google Search Console, to highlight any broken links on your website, and make a plan of action to fix them.
To do this, either find the new URL of the webpage that you’re linking to, or find a new source if the original no longer exists.
5. Optimise your images for web
Images can weigh heavy on a website’s loading speed. Often the images we see on websites are poorly optimised, which can negatively affect performance.
Optimising the images on your site will contribute to improving your site speed, user experience, and overall SEO performance.
Use tools such as Google Pagespeed Insights to test website speed & optimisation.
On-page is perhaps the most easy to understand of all the SEO practices, but that doesn’t make it any easier to master. Thinking with a user-first mindset whilst also trying to balance SEO practices is a challenge.
Here are some digestible tips to get your on the right path:
SEO has changed. If you still think that you can get away with writing poor content and sprinkling in some awkward keywords every 9th word, you will be sadly mistaken and left short-changed at the end.
Every algorithm update, in short, has been about improving to meet the needs of your users. You see, the web is crowded. It’s full of sh*tty content that, frankly, serves very little purpose. And it’s now becoming the MO of search engines to simply get rid of it.
Focus on writing and adding value so that your readers stay engaged with you. If you can do this first and genuinely help someone, your content will have cracked the majority of content out there for usefulness.
If it helps someone enough, they might share it to others. Another +1.
Add to this other on-page optimisations and you’ll see rankings climb, almost guaranteed.
Before anything else, focus on your user and meeting their needs first.
2. Refresh existing content
The other problem with the internet is that not only are we a junkyard of crappy content, but people are creating more and more of it every single day.
So rather than joining the herds of people destined to fail, play it smarter by looking at what you already have.
Look to existing content that is almost ranked in a decent position and make it your mission to upgrade that content to achieve those top positions.
There are a couple of stand out advantages to doing this:
- You’ve already written the content. Sure it’s not ranking as well as you had of hoped, so this is your chance to make it better rather than a complete waste of time.
- It’s a while ago now that Google rolled out their Freshness update but it’s still a meaningful one. The basis of this update is to reward against a number of factors relating to bringing content up to date.
I recommend Aleyda Solis’s fantastic Content Reusage Workflow to review your existing content:
Aleyda covers off four points:
- Updating content
- Expanding content
- Reformatting content
- Curating content
These four options will change your fortunes. So go all in on your existing content. Improve the content, expand the topic, and increase the value of what you’re delivering.
Then sit back and watch the traffic pour in… Or go and do it again, and again.
3. Invest in video and upgrade your media mix
Video is growing at an insane rate. In fact, Cisco believes that by 2021, 80% of all the content we consume on the internet will be video-based.
Now, whether this turns out to be true or not isn’t important. The important part is that video is growing and you’re falling behind if you’re not using video or if you’re not at least planning now.
So how can you use video for on-page SEO success?
Start by looking at how you can support existing content by creating video around it. Perhaps you could summarise the key points in your post via video? Or expand on a certain point that you’ve raised.
Could you cover the topic on a video using a whiteboard (real or virtual) to explain your points?
Video will give you another traffic source, so it’s important to optimise your videos and to keep them fresh and up-to-date much like your blog content.
Whilst production quality has some importance (people will bounce off videos with poor audio, for example), it’s the value of what you’re delivering that’s most important.
If you can nail both value delivered and production quality, then you’ve just won 2021 vs competitors.
4. Maximise readability
Consider your audience heavily when constructing your on-page content. Are they likely to read a lot? Would they prefer video or audio?
What level of understanding do they have? We’ve seen, on multiple occasions, businesses that have transformed their digital marketing fortunes once they really get to grips with the audience and their expectations. In fact, it was our client and our work.
The audience of this particular client was technically knowledgeable and yet we were dumbing down the language used. The client wasn’t diving deep enough and so we discovered that the reader lost patience and left.
They (the audience) was looking for product-specific information, by product code. They knew that it was T45 alloy they were after, and specific parts to meet their needs. Giving them vague catch-all content wasn’t useful to them and so this was the first thing we changed.
Who is your audience? Do they know your subject inside out?
Copy sells. It’s your chance to communicate with your target audience and to give them a reason to become a customer.
There are recommended guidelines to follow when creating copy for a landing page, so let’s check them out:
1. Claim what’s yours
Local, and directory link placements should be a starting point for all off-page SEO activity. Having a strong link profile can contribute greatly to the success of your campaign, so make sure you’ve got the basics ticked off ✅.
Review link placements and identify new opportunities to build links back to your site. Google My Business, Bing Places, and trade websites are good examples of the links that you can claim to start building your link profile.
2. Link Building
Further to local directories links, every website should have a link building strategy in place to grow its link profile. Building quality links will over time improve a website’s Domain Authority, which will positively contribute to the sites SEO performance.
Look for relevant opportunities within your sector that will either bring high volumes of traffic, or high (Domain Authority) DA links to your site as both can be valuable. Authority figures such as magazines, forums and information sites can be good opportunities to build strong links.
3. Engaging Social Media profiles
Another way to improve off-page SEO is through social media profiles. Creating an engaging profile that drives relevant traffic to your site can have a positive effect on your SEO efforts.
Having basic social profiles for your business isn’t enough. Showing search engines that the link is high quality and drives traffic will have a stronger effect. This can be done by creating an engaging page that attracts your target audience.
4. Google My Business
Google My Business is good example of a local link placement. Not only does it provide potential customers with the necessary information to find your website/physical location, but it also tells Google which areas you cover.
5. Guest Blogging
Finding, and gaining relevant link opportunities can be difficult. One way to engage with new, and relevant platforms can be through guest blogging. This involves writing content relevant to the audience of a specific blog, with some crossover between what you do. This can then be published on the blog/site with links back to your site.
6. Influencer Marketing
Utilising influencers is becoming an increasingly popular method for brands to increase brand awareness and drive new traffic. It is estimated that the Influencer market will be worth over $13billion in 2021, having grown rapidly from $2billion in 2018 (source) showing that more and more businesses are allocating budget to influencer marketing.
Finding relevant influencers with engaged audiences can be a key way to grow your brand awareness, and support your off-page SEO efforts.
Forms are the most common and recognised method of achieving a conversion and collecting your customer’s data. When you’ve communicated enough value for your user to give you their details, the form is the last barrier – but it can be a killer, so beware!
Here are some clever ways of using forms that will help you to maximise the value of your forms:
1. Business listings – GMB + Bing
A starting point for any local SEO campaigns should be to ensure your local business listings are accurate, and up to date. Ensuring consistency across your website, and listings will help to clear information to your users.
Google My Business, and Bing Places are free and easy to set-up.
2. Location pages
Creating specific location pages for your cover areas can be a good way to increase traffic and enquiries from those areas. By creating specific pages, you’re able to serve more relevant content to users searching within those locations.
Having specific location pages can also support your efforts in ranking for location specific keyword terms, for example ‘digital marketing in Oxfordshire’.
3. NAP consistency
Ensuring NAP (Name/Address/Phone) consistency across all pages and platforms is essential. It’s often common for businesses to have different names, or telephone numbers on their Google My Business listing, their Facebook page and their website. This can create confusion for the customer, and also makes it less clear for search engines who the content belongs to.
4. Backlinks from other local businesses
Similar to gaining links from industry relevant sites, getting backlinks from local businesses can be a good way to boost your local SEO efforts. Local news sites, and information forums can be easy links to gain, but will likely hold less value due to their quality.
Finding local partners with good Domain Authority (DA) can be harder to do, but when achieved will have much higher value.
5. Create local content
As mentioned previously in the post, creating local pages, and content can have a strong effect on your local SEO. Creating location specific blogs, and content pieces allows you to target location specific keywords which will help to increase the ranking for those keywords.
Identify the location specific keywords that have monthly search volume worth targeting.
6. Local Directories
Another way to gain backlinks to your site is through local directories such as Gumtree. These links hold less value than most other types of links due to their low quality, however finding relevant, and local directories can have a positive effect.
Use tools such as Google Alerts to notify you of new link opportunities.
Your Call To Action (CTA) is a critical element of your landing page. It tells your user what they need to do next.
Here are some clever ways of using forms that will help you to maximise the value of your forms:
1. Find new opportunities – Answer The Public + Google
Rich snippets provide Google with more information to serve in the search results, which can have a significant effect on CTR and user engagement.
To find new opportunities use tools such as Answer the Public and Google Search to identify questions that need answering, and create content to answer them.
2. Use Keyword Research
Often as part of keyword research you will identify a set of research based keywords, often questions, that are relevant to your offering.
Look for questions that are relevant to your offering, and have monthly search volume. Use these keywords to create new content to target new rich snippets.
3. Write for Rich Snippets
To display rich snippets for your content you must create microdata to inform search engines. This can be done using Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper.
Create your microdata and add it to your site to start serving more information on SERPs.
4. Use Search Console to measure results
Use Google Search Console to measure the success of your rich snippets. The aim of creating rich snippets is to increase CTR to the relevant pages on your site.
Compare previous periods to understand if your rich snippets have increased the number of people clicking on your results.
Tracking & Return on Investment (ROI)
The success of a campaign can only be determined by its results. Tracking your results is one of the only ways to accurately make informed decisions to improve future performance.
Here are some methods you can follow to track the success of your marketing;
1. Set goals
To measure progress, you need to have a clear goal in place to measure against. Creating traffic, and conversion goals for your website will allow you to create a strategy to achieve them. Too many marketing teams work aimlessly, completing unnecessary tasks due to the lack of direction that not having goals brings.
Use our Growth Calculator to benchmark your current performance, and set clear goals for the future.
2. Conversion tracking
To record your conversion rate, and create conversion goals you have to be able to track conversions online. This is done through tracking software such as Google Analytics, and can be set up in minutes. Creating conversion tracking within Analytics will allow you to track the visitors on your site that convert in to subscribers, leads, and sales.
Conversion data is some of the most important data you can collect as it shows which channels are driving your leads, and sales. This data can then be used to plan your marketing more effectively.
3. Know your numbers
Without knowing your current performance metrics, you’re unable to set clear and accurate goals for your business. Your average monthly traffic, and conversion rate are two key pieces of data that allow you to understand, and improve your online performance.
If you don’t know these stats, you can never know if you’re making progress against your competitors, or declining.
4. Assign values
After some time has passed, and so long as you track correctly, you’ll be able to assign visitor and goal values. For B2B marketers, this is as simple as working backwards from any sales that you have (hopefully!) made.
If you sold a single service for £10,000 from 8,550 visitors, your revenue per visit is 10,000/8,550 = £1.17 per visitor. It’s important to ensure the sale came from a website lead, otherwise you will be recording false data.
The same goes for goals – if you generated 4 leads, and sold a single service for £10,000 from those leads, then a lead is worth £2,500 to your business (10,000/4).
Tracking these numbers will give you so much more from your website data.
Drive your customers to your website with SEO in 2021
SEO should be a crucial part of your long-term marketing plans. It takes planning and disciplined execution to achieve results, and we’re here to help. The SEO agency arm of our business helps our clients to drive measurable success, and we have stacks of case studies we’d be happy to share.
At Zest, we design, build, and integrate with your marketing stack, and then optimise for maximum conversions. First, though, jump over to our Growth Calculator to calculate your goals for digital marketing. Once you know what you need to achieve, we can help you to make it a reality.