Is Your SEO Actually Working?
Search engine optimization is still a big deal, despite what you might hear in some marketing circles. And it costs a pretty penny – or a lot of your time – to get it done right, too. The problem is that these two facts don’t marry too well, especially when you consider there are still plenty of SEO companies out there who are more likely to sink your rankings rather than rocket them sky high.
So, whether you are paying Dodgy Dave’s SEO or currently working through the search engine bible and taking the DIY approach, it’s vital to have a grasp on the success or failures of your campaign. In this guide, we’re going to show you a few things you can do to find out. Let’s take a closer look at your options.
Most website owners rely on third parties to provide SEO for them – and many of these don’t really understand what it is. It’s a huge mistake. If you own a website, you have a responsibility to understand some f the basics, at least. And if you don’t have the time, make sure you have someone trusted on your team that does.
This isn’t the place for a full breakdown of SEO, but there are a few things you should know about, and be demanding of when it comes to getting reports from your consultants. First of all, you need to know about your keyword performance – without proper keyword research, it is unlikely you will rank anywhere on the SERPs with any intent. Your consultant should also be bringing home the bacon when it comes to increasing your organic traffic – which we will discuss further a little later.
Ultimately, though, given SEO is all about driving people to your site, you have to have a goal for what they do when they get there. It all depends on your business model, of course, but you need to discuss conversion rates with your consultant. If making sales is a critical aspect of your online business, your SEO needs to deliver. Average conversion rates vary from industry to industry, but if your SEO is only hitting between 0% and 1%, you should be asking why.
When it comes to checking your results yourself, you will need some analytics software to track your results. There are plenty of services out there which we will go into in a moment, but the best, cheapest and easiest place to start is Google Analytics. Here, you can find out those all-important traffic numbers, as well as looking into how long visitors stay on a page and what percentage of people are leaving almost immediately.
However, as good as Google Analytics is for the basics, you need to extend things a little further. Services like MOZ, SEMrush, Marketing Cloud FX and Ahrefs can all help you dive a little deeper into your analytics. With these tools at your disposal, you will be able to do things like work out your domain authority, get a better picture of your visitors, and even understand your link performance a little better. One word of warning – other than Google Analytics, these tools can cost a significant amount of money. So, if you do use them, make sure you know how.
Now you have the tools set up, which metrics are making a difference to your SEO performance? Traffic is an obvious starting point, but don’t just fall for the numbers game. A website with a million visitors per month with no sales is not performing as well as another site, selling the same product, with 150 visitors and 50 sales. It’s vital to track your traffic, gain that valuable info on what they are doing, and then use your findings as a way to optimize your strategy.
Another thing to bear in mind is that any improvements you or your consultant make are unlikely to make any immediate impact. You won’t always see changes – positive or negative – for around a month or so in some cases. It’s also a good idea to set up some weekly and monthly experiments. It’s simple enough to do this if you know your way around a spreadsheet – it’s just a case of importing the relevant figures and watching them methodically over time. You will find you get a really nice overview of your SEO performance – and some clues on where to look when things go wrong.
Check out these
There is a whole industry out there dedicated to creating tools to help you with SEO. For example, you can track your keyword prominence with something like the FATRANK keyword checker, or use Optimizely to split test your web pages and decide which one performs best. Google has – unsurprisingly – a whole bunch of tools to use, too.
Given site speed is increasingly important for SEO, Google’s PageSpeed Insights is essential. And you should be getting to know the Google Search Console page like the back of your hand, too – letting the search engine know you have updated your site will speed up the crawl and indexing process.
The warning signs
By reading some of the guidelines above, you will not only know what works – but also what doesn’t. There are a few other warning signs to watch out for that could be the first steps towards a Google penalty. Any mention of your SEO putting your website into hundreds of thousands of directory submissions, article submissions, and social bookmarks should ring alarm bells. Overemphasis on rankings is a potential trouble spot, too – no serious SEO would ever promise to get you to Number One on the SERPs.
And finally, just watch the work that is produced – specifically content such as blogs. Google is placing more emphasis on clearing the search engines of articles written for search engines. Instead, they want readable, valuable customers. So if your SEO is filling up your site with junk articles packed full of keyword stuffing, make sure you ask some questions. Good luck!