Our 8 Week SEO Plan to rank on page 1 of Google and an update for July 2018

As you know we recently revealed our brand new website to the world and felt proud in doing so. A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into the new content, look and functionality of the site and we expected Google to acknowledge that. We sat back smugly and waited for our ranking to improve, but nothing happened, in fact if anything we slipped a little further down the ranking ladder. We were genuinely baffled as we had done everything Google had asked of us. We spoke with Google themselves numerous times and were repeatedly told to improve content, page titles, include H1 headers, key word density etc. We had followed the rules and yet they results continued to be less than encouraging. It has been a frustrating time but we refuse to give up. Instead we have decided to challenge oursleves with this eight week case study.

We will give you our actual provable figures and tell you what we do to improve traffic and conversion. Also how we will determine conversion, how do we tell who contacted us after seeing us online. Our aim is not to receive 100 enquiries a week to have to respond to, in order to get 1 or 2 conversions.
We only want 3 or 4 suitable enquiries a week and convert 1 or 2 to clients. Every enquiry takes time to respond to and have discussions, write a proposal etc.
You will get the full monty and it should help you to improve your own website performance.

Facts – The indisputable cold truth Day 1
Last month, as in August 2016, we had 493 visitors, 66.1% new and a bounce rate of 10.03% with the average visit being 3.16 minutes and people on average looked at 6 pages. Our WooRank was 61
August Google AnalyticsSee actual image of our Google Analytics Report –>

5 Targets for Week 1 Sept 11th to 18th:
1. Reduce Bounce Rate to below 10%.
2. Increase website enquiries from 1 a week to 2.
3. For the term ‘Web Design Donegal’ we are number 1 page 1 locally. For ‘Web Design’ we are page 11 locally and nationally. We want to be on Page 1 locally and
4. Rank on Page 1 or 2 nationally for web design.
5. Improve user experience which is rated 25 by Google.

The Game Plan in Week 1 – Add value
Task 1: Start a Google Adwords campaign to promote MeanIT as Web Partners in Donegal ONLY. This is to improve local traffic, but avoid getting traffic from the rest of the country.
Task 2: This will also help test the flow or UI user interface of the new website to see how well it works. The result should be that we get 3 or 4 good calls a week through Google Adwords, rather than 1 or 2.
Task 3: Optimise Metadata on main pages, as in page title, H1s Heading 1 keyword density and
Task 4: Add Tags to all Blog items

We agreed to bare all, so follow us for 8 weeks to see how well we perform.:-)

Week 1 – Actions and Results September 12 – 16:

Task 1 – This was easy, having committed to a bigger spend on Google Adwords we are appearing in Paid Ads on Page 1 and Page 2 for certain key terms.

Task 2 – We tweaked our main pages to improve flow, the UI or user interface, basically help people find where to go after they read a page. If they land on a page about website support, there is a link to a page which then offers a few different website support options and explaining why it is worth having.
Task 3 – We edited the Page Titles and Metadata or description, on the main menu items, so that there was just one single focus for each page. For example for the small business website design page we just refer to small business website design in the titles and metadata with similar terms in the main body of the page to improve keyword density. We used SEO Centro to check this.
Task 4 – Ivan added relevant tags to any of the Blog articles which were not already tagged correctly.
Task 5 – Get a few more followers for our Google My Business page – we got 3 or 4 more. Please please Follow us HERE
Task 6 – Submit a new XML sitemap in Google Webmaster Tools
Task 7 – We contacted Google to ask them why we ranked so poorly. They recommended we get more followers and publish more in Google+ Please Review us HERE

Google Analytics Sept 17 2016You can help us now by Following us in GoogleMyBusiness or Reviewing us in Google+ THANK YOU

The Facts for Week 1
After one week, over the last month, as in to Sep 17 2016, we had 650 visitors up from 493 visitors, 66.1% new and a bounce rate of 2,51 much better than the 10.03% with the average visit being 2.50 minutes from 3.16 minutes and people on average looked at still just under 6 pages. Our WooRank is 64.

Results: We are on Page 7, well up from Page 11 as of Saturday Sepember 17th. Our WooRank is 64 up from 61. We used FatRank to check this as well as Google itself.

Conclusion: A big improvement, but more work to do and it will get harder. From Page 7 we can now try to move up bit by bit to page 6 and so on.
Remember: You can help us now by Following us in GoogleMyBusiness or Reviewing us in Google+ THANK YOU

Plan and Targets for Week 2 Sept 19th to 26th:

Task 1 – Create a logical landing page for each Google Adword campaign to help bring visitors to the exact page they want and to help us see how our adverts are performing.
Task 2 – Check all interior links on our website are working correctly with no 404s.
Task 3 – Check the Alt tags on any images in the site. These are the names given to photos rather than something like 4234.jpg or 231.png which are titles given by the camera.
Task 4 – Talk to Google to try and identify why Local ranking is still the same as National ranking.
Targets – get more followers and reviews and get to Page 6 for web design Nationally. Improve WooRank and improve speed of website loading time.

Week 2 – Actions and Results September 19th – 26th:

Task 1 – Create a logical landing page for each Google Adwords campaign to help bring visitors to the exact page they want and to help us see how our adverts are performing. To be honest, we did not do this last week 🙂 So it needs to be done this week.

Task 2 – Check for any outstanding 404s. We did this last week and it obviously helped.
Task 3 – Check the Alt tags on any images in the site. These are the names given to photos rather than something like 4234.jpg or 231.png which are titles given by the camera. We did this and again it helped. We will now try to use them further.
Task 4 – Talk to Google to try and identify why Local ranking is still the same as National ranking. We are coming up on Page 1 now in position 9 if we search in Letterkenny but we are unsure that this is correct. We have been using an incognito window but we are still doubtful so we need to check it out.
Task 5 – Improve the page speed. We used a Design Theme for our new website and it looks great for users, but seems to be slow, because there is so much code in the design. We will need to spend a few hours tweaking the code and make the pages load faster.
Gratefully, this is a recent theme from a good source, which is well supported. We scored 25, but test your own website performance HERE https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/

Sept 26 Google AnalyticsThe Facts for Week 2 – Good and bad.

After two weeks, we can see that over the last month, up to Sep 26 2016, we had 896 visitors up from 650 visitors. 75.02% new up from 66.1% new and a bounce rate of 2.97 much better than the original 10.03% with the average visit being 2.24 minutes. This is down slightly from last weeks 2.50 minutes and people on average looked at 4.44 pages down from just under 6 pages.
Our WooRank is 67.9

Results: We are still on Page 7, albeit further up the page at 1st position from 9th position as of Sunday September 26th. Our WooRank is 67.9 up from 64. We used FatRank to check this as well as Google itself.

Conclusion: An improvement, but it is a bit frustrating, more work to do and it is demanding. From Page 7 we can now try to move up bit by bit to page 6 and so on.

Remember: You can help us now by Following us in GoogleMyBusiness or Reviewing us in Google+ THANK YOU

Plan and Targets for week 3 Sept 26th – Oct 2nd:
1. Google My Business followers – We are up to 24 from 19 last week, let’s look at getting to 30.
2. Google+ followers – we are up to 58 from 51 – thank you, thank you. Lets aim for 65 for next week.
3. Ranking – We aimed to get to Page 6 for web design Nationally – we are still on 7.
4. Improve WooRank – it went from 64 to 67, lets aim for 70.
5. Improve speed of website loading time. We did not really help this and need to focus on it this week. Google Ranked us as 25, lets aim for 50 plus.

Week 3 – Actions and Results September 26th – Oct 2nd:

Task 1 – Create a logical landing page for each Google Adwords campaign to help bring visitors to the exact page they want and to help us see how our adverts are performing. This brought two new enquiries from local companies. (We are ONLY advertising locally in Google Adwords)

Task 2 – Check for any outstanding 404s. We did this again and it does make a difference, having less 404s or broken links.
Task 3 – Check the Alt tags on any images in the site. These are the names given to photos rather than something like 4234.jpg or 231.png which are titles given by the camera. Again, this made a small difference and at this level the small differences all help. We also compressed the images to make them smaller file sizes.
Task 4 – Talk to Google to try and identify why Local ranking was still the same as National ranking. Now after optimising more for Donegal we are coming up on Page 1 locally now in position 5 or 6, if we search in Letterkenny, but position 24 from Buncrana about 25 miles away – go figure.
Task 5 – Improve the page speed. We used a Design Theme for our new website and it looks great for users, but seems to be slow, because there is so much code in the design. We will need to spend a few hours tweaking the code and make the pages load faster. Still to be done as it is a days work for us.
Gratefully, this is a recent theme from a good source, which is well supported. We scored 25 last week and 7 this week, after we added a Portfolio and Blog on the Home page to show recent work. Having said that we scored 100 for visitor experience, which is more important to us than speed. Target number 5 achieved at the expense of site speed. Test your own website performance HERE https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/ Remember we want to have a site that works well for visitors NOT just Google robots.

Google Analytics Oct 2 2016The Facts for Week 3 – Good and bad.

Results: We are on Page 9 nationally from 7 – Target number 4 NOT achieved and locally on Page 1 at 5th or 6th position as of Sunday October 2nd – Target number 3 achieved. Our WooRank is 70.1 up from 67.9. We used FatRank to check this as well as Google itself.

Conclusion: More improvement this week, but still frustrating. From Page 7 nationally we fell to Page 9, when we made the Home page more user friendly for visitors. It slowed down the page speed score to 7, but increased the user experience score to 100. Target number 5 achieved. We got two organic enquiries as a result – Target number 2 achieved, but that is just one week, lets see what happens in the coming weeks. Both had been referred to us and checked out the site. Meantime, locally we are on Page 1 which is one major target achieved already – Target number 3 achieved.

Remember: You can help us now by Following us HERE in GoogleMyBusiness or Reviewing us in Google+ THANK YOU 🙂

Week 4 – Actions and Results October 3rd – Oct 9th:

After four weeks, we can see that over the last month, up to October 9th 2016, we had 1100 visitors up from 1063 visitors. 76.43% are new up from 75.77% new and a bounce rate of only 1.93% much better than the original 10.03% – Target number 1 achieved. Average visits being 2.22 minutes, is down slightly from last weeks 2.37 minutes and people on average looked at 6.367 pages up from just under 4.73 pages.
Our WooRank is 69.1 from 70.1 because we added more content to the Home page and slowed it down a bit more. Obviously, visitors are finding plenty to read on the site, BUT we did not get any organic website enquiries this week, which is disheartening. Both new clients this week came from Referrals from existing customers. Targe 2 NOT achieved this week. User experience is still scoring 100 – Target number 5 achieved.

Plan and Targets for week 4 Oct 3rd – 9th:
Google Analytics Oct 9th1. Google My Business followers – We are up to 26 from 25 last week, just a slight increase, let’s look at getting to 30. This needs work, as clients find it hard to work out – we need to send the actual link and ask for a follow HERE.
2. Google+ followers – we were up to 59 from 58. Lets aim for 60 for next week. Please click HERE to help us.
3. Ranking – We aimed to get to Page 6 for web design nationally – we are on 9 now. Lets try for Page 8 Nationally for next week. Still on Page 8 so Target 4 NOT achieved. Locally, we are on Page 1 and up to 5th or 6th position. Target 3 achieved, but lets try to get higher up on Page 1 now. No move at all – may need a bit of patience with this one, but again load speed is critical.
4. Improve WooRank – it went from 67.9 to 70.1, a great result, so now lets aim for 72. Fell to 69 from 70.1 because of website load speed.
5. Improve speed of website loading time. We did not help this at all. Google Ranked us as 7 from 25, so we need to get technical now and code the design theme. This is the first ‘Technical’ developer work we have needed. Only started this today Sunday, so next week should make a difference. This speed issue is obviously critical to moving up the rankings. Since we made the changes today Sunday, Google results show our Mobuile page speed up to 68 which is way better than the 7 we had scored and desktop today is at 84 which is very good. Lets see how this affects our rankings over the next week.

Tasks for week 5 include:

1. Improve page speed – this is a technical or developer job
2. Reduce number of Blog items by amalgamating some of the short form content in to longer form articles.
3. Get more Google+ and GoogleMyBusiness followers and more reviews in Google+

Note: The client who had fallen to page 4 are now back up on page 3 and moving the right direction again.

Week 5 – Actions and Results October Oct 10th – 16th:

After five weeks, we can see that over the last month, up to October 16th 2016, we had 1137 visitors up from 1100 visitors. 77.11% are new up from 76.43% new and a bounce rate of only 1.67% instead of 1.93% last week and much better than the original 10.03% – Target number 1 achieved. Average visits being 2.34 minutes, is up from last weeks 2.22 minutes and people on average looked at 5.04 pages down from just over 6 pages.
Our WooRank is 69.4 up from 69.1. Obviously, visitors are finding plenty to read on the site and we got two organic website enquiries this week, one from Dublin and one Donegal. Two other new clients this week came again from Referrals from existing customers. Target 2 NOT achieved this week. User experience is still scoring 100 – Target number 5 achieved.

Plan and Targets for week 6 Oct 17th – 23rd:
Google Analytics Oct 17th2016Google Analytics Oct 17th
1. Google My Business followers – We are still at 26, let’s continue to look at getting to 30. This needs work, as clients find it hard to work out – we need to send the actual link and ask for a follow HERE.
2. Google+ followers – we are still at 59. Lets aim for 60 for next week. Please click HERE to help us.
3. Ranking – We aimed to get to Page 6 for web design nationally – we are still on 9 now. Lets try for Page 8 Nationally for next week. Still on Page 9 so Target 4 NOT achieved. Locally, we are on Page 1 and up to 5th or 6th position. Target 3 achieved, but let’s try to get higher up on Page 1 now. No move at all – may need a bit MORE patience with this one, but again load speed is critical.
4. Improve WooRank – it went from 69.1 to 69.4, a good result, so now lets aim for 72. This is because of website load speed which is still slow and is hard to improve without affecting the user experience negatively. People who visit the website like what they see and look at 5 pages, so to make the home page smaller would take away from that experience. It is a serious challenge.
5. Improve speed of website loading time. We did not help this at all. Google Ranked us as 25 from 7, so we need to get technical now and code the design theme. This is the first ‘Technical’ developer work we have needed. Only started last Sunday and it has improved. This speed issue is obviously critical to moving further up the rankings. Temporarily, we were at 68, but it settled at 25.
6. Again a little technical, but worth reading. We noticed that the upgrading of the design theme to Joomla version 3.6.2 has re-introduced the /index.php extension. This is a challenge we need to sort out. We have amended the Robots.txt file and have to wait for Google to reindex the website. We will edit the htaccess now. Basically, it means that Google is seeing www.meanit.ie and www.meanit.ie/index.php which looks like there are two websites. Try going to your website and putting in /index.php after your domain name or website name. If www.yoursite.ie.index.php comes up talk to your web partners. It should redirect to your www.yoursite.ie instead.

Week 6 – Actions and Results October Oct 17th – 24th:

After six weeks, we can see that over the last month, up to October 24th 2016, we had 1250 visitors up from 1137 visitors. 76.48% are new slightly down from 77.11% new and a bounce rate of only 1.04% instead of 1.67% last week and much better than the original 10.03% – Target number 1 achieved. Average visits being 2.35 minutes, is up from last weeks 2.34 minutes and people on average looked at 5.15 pages up from 5.04 pages.
Our WooRank is 67.2 down from 69.4, because our mobile speed is now 3.24 seconds and we need to be under 3 seconds. Two new clients this week looked at the websites, but again came from Referrals from existing customers. Target 2 NOT achieved this week. User experience is still scoring 100 – Target number 5 achieved.

Plan and Targets for week 6 Oct 24th – 30th:

Google Analytics Oct 24th
Google Analytics Oct 241. Google My Business followers – We got to 30, from 26. Great, but we will want more, so we need to send the actual link and ask for a follow HERE. For Google Local this is becoming a bigger and bigger determining factor.
2. Google+ followers – we are still at 59 again. Lets aim for 60 for next week. Please click HERE to help us.
3. Ranking – We aimed to get to Page 6 for web design nationally – we are still sticking on 9 now. Lets try for Page 8 Nationally for next week. Still on Page 9 so Target 4 NOT achieved. Locally, we are on Page 1 and varying from 5th to 10th position. Target 3 achieved, but let’s try to get higher up on Page 1 now. Google applied an update recently and this has affected us negatively, so we need to look at our NAP details, as in Name, Address and Phone. We do not use a local telephone number and it is affecting us.
4. Improve WooRank – it went down from 69.4 to 67.2. This is because of website load speed, especially in mobile view is still too slow and is hard to improve without affecting the user experience negatively. People who visit the website like what they see and look at 5 pages, so to make the home page smaller would take away from that experience. It is a serious challenge. We will consider a plugin for this.
5. Improve speed of website loading time. We did not help this at all. Google Ranked us as 25 from 7, so we need to get technical now and code the design theme. This is the first ‘Technical’ developer work we have needed. Only started last Sunday and it has improved. This speed issue is obviously critical to moving further up the rankings. Temporarily, we were at 68, but it settled at 25. Check your website speed HERE at Page Speed Insights.
6. Again a little technical, but worth reading. We noticed that the upgrading of the design theme to Joomla version 3.6.2 has re-introduced the /index.php extension. This is still a challenge we need to sort out. We have amended the Robots.txt file and still we have to wait for Google to reindex the website. We will edit the htaccess now. Basically, it means that Google is seeing www.meanit.ie and www.meanit.ie/index.php which looks like there are two websites. Try going to your website and putting in /index.php after your domain name or website name. If www.yoursite.ie.index.php comes up talk to your web partners. It should redirect to your www.yoursite.ie instead.

Tip: Check your own NAP name, address and phone number to ensure that it appars on your homepage & Contact page and that your NAP details are ‘exactly’ the same in your GoogleMyBusiness page as well as in your Google+ details, plus anywhere esle you have a listing such as the Chamber of Commerce etc.

Week 7 – Actions and Results October Oct 25th – 31st:

Week 7 update. Spinning our wheels – time for the rubber to hit the road.
Google Analytics Oct 31stWe achieved four out of five targets pretty quickly, but we are still not ranking highly in national search, sitting on page 9 for web design. You could bury a dead body there and nobody would find it. Other terms are working better and locally we are still on page 1 for all our terms.

The results prove that we increased our traffic threefold to 1250 as of last week and 857 this week. Those visitors really like what they see because they are getting great value content without being sold to – note the incredible less than 1% bounce rate at exactly 0.88%. Visitors are still reading over 5 pages and staying for over two minutes. New visitors still incredible at 80.74%. Google tells us we have a great 100% in user interface. However, the bottom line is, we do not know who our visitors are or why they come to us, what they like about our content or whether they are likely to be customers or referrers of customers. Having created a good sticky useful website we now need a Digital Marketer to look at our traffic and our content, then work out how do we engage enough to get the contact details from our visitors without charging for our content or becoming too Salesy. The target is not to sell to all our visitors, but rather to connect with them and through that connection, find people who need the services that we offer. Having so many visitors now is wonderful, but it does not pay the bills.
The digital marketing agency that we have chosen is Finn Media, so next week we will have recommendations from Denis Finnegan and his team to achieve our targets. No pressure Denis. Stay tuned for more as we will hopefully see how a good website combined with good digital marketing can deliver great results.

Week 8 – Actions and Results October Nov 2 – 10:

Week 8 update. Digital Marketing advice from a Pro.
Google Analytics Nov 10thFour out of five targets in the bag, the site is working well and visitors like it, is number 1 or 2 on page 1 locally, but we are still not ranking highly in national search, sitting on page 9 or worse for web design, depending on where you are when you search. It is NOT improving. Time to talk to a Pro, so Denis Finnegan at Finn Media gave us some tips this week to apply and will look at it again over the next few weeks. This is what he recommended:

Digital Marketing Tips from the Pros
1. Add Breadcrumbs to the website to make it easier to navigate. Visitors and Google like this.
2.
Remove any links that look like they go to duplicate content. We have a few links in our navigation that go to the same page and that can look like duplicate content. For example we have https://meanit.ie/business-website-design/ and we have a dropdown menu item that goes to the same page, but because it is in a dropdown the link is longer as in https://meanit.ie/business-websites/business-website-cms so we need to get rid of that one.
3.
Our Google map is showing us in a building 500 mtrs away – fix the link or edit the postcode in Google Maps.
4.
Back links – we have a lot of back links, but we do not have any Authority sites linking back to us, so start work on getting those links by getting involved in conversations, giving answers and support, with a link to some useful content in our own website that answers the question.
5. Reviews – get more reviews in Google my business, LinkedIn and Facebook – reviews are set to become a major ranking factor. They are not easy to get, mainly because Google want to see people jump through some hoops to give a review to ensure that you are getting serious reviews.
6. Create and add some video content – video is also becoming a major ranking factor.
denis finnegan marketing ceo7. Create some anchor text at the bottom of the home page for web design ireland and create a page of content that relates to this offer to do web design for clients anywhere in Ireland.

Actual results so far.
Quite a lot of work for us to do and we will revert back to Denis in a few weeks with an update and to get more tips, if required. Meantime, as well as getting 4 out of 5 targets achieved, we also still managed to get 812 unique visitors, looking at over 5 pages on average for nearly 2.5 minutes and new visitors still up at over 78%, plus amazingly our Bounce Rate is less that 1% so over 99% of visitors look at more than one page. More importantly we got two good new clients over the past week, neither would have contacted us without first being impressed by the website.
Next steps
We will give it a few weeks and then review our performance to see how well we are doing in National search our elusive 5th target. We hope you enjoyed this 8 week adventure and can apply some of the results to optimise your own website performance. In terms of man and woman hours we have invested a lot of time to this project, so we will have a look to see how we can integrate a lot of this learning in to the initial creation of any new websites going forward. That would generate fantastic benefits for our clients, if we can apply this learning, which would make the whole foray very worthwhile. Meantime, we definitely are benefiting ourselves by getting the type of new business that we are actually looking for, even though we realise we have a lot of work left to do in order to rank well nationally. This project has simply highlighted how much work is involved in making a web presence work well and deliver the results that would make it worthwhile. One of our guys here keeps saying ‘websites like dogs are not ‘just for Christmas’.

Conclusion
Be prepared to take a long term view, plan your strategy in advance and monitor both the progress and the results. Much in the same way that you work closely with your accountant, find a web partner who will look at your targets with a long relationship term view, rather than a one off transaction.

Tools required

One website, one person to act as the editor and maybe one other person to manage the digital marketing. Plus a bit of a budget to advertise online.
Like most things this is about someone dedicating time to the project on an ongoing basis. We had to commit a lot of man hours to this and that was the hardest part. We already had a website, that did not work very well. If you also have a website already, it may well be fit for purpose, with a bit of work. Many people think they need a new website when all they need is a new fresher look, which can be done by applying a new design theme with some new relevant content.

Regularly people get a new web partner, because they think that the last website did not work, so the developer was no good. But you may only have asked for and paid for a simple site, a digital postcard as such. Talk to your developer (and marketer), discuss what you want to achieve and if they can deliver, plan together what it is you want to achieve, set some targets and arrange to review regularly. Unlike the old digital postcard idea, the website your an ongoing project that never ends, think ‘shop window’ – would you dress it once and leave it for years? Who would even enter a shop where the window display was years old.

Update as of July 2018
We are always adding content to our website, but as time goes by we do more curating of articles than creating new ones. We improve or update existing articles to add value to them. We also continually optimise the website by running audits to see where we can improve aspects of the site, maybe it is making short articles longer or reducing the size of images or making some pages load faster.
MEANit Website Audit and ReportA recent audit produced the results to the right. As you can see we score very well, but still have some work to do. By running an Audit Report on our own site we can see where to go to improve and then run a new audit.

July-2018-Analytics-reportOur actual figures for July now show that we still have close to 1500 views a month, over 1000 unique visitors. Visitors view just under two pages on average. They spend just over one minute and then bounce off after reading that one page, which is mainly a Blog item they found doing a Google search on that topic. Our Bounce rate is now better measured, so it reflects any visitor who lands on a page and leaves or who lands on one page, reads that and then leaves after getting the information they want. About 20% of traffic is from the USA and is people looking for useful blog items, with nearly 15% from UK and doing the same thing. So just 52% is domestic Irish traffic, which is our own target market.
Bottom Line
On a daily basis we have about 50 visitors, 25 from Ireland and the conversion rate is still low at 0.40%. But that represents one enquiry a day which leads to about two meetings a week with one conversion, to give us one new website project per week. That is all we can manage at this point.
If you want to get an Full Technical Audit on your own website click HERE

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