SEO – Advice, tips, tools and reading
Once you get a web presence you have now got text and images on a server out on the world wide web, but how do you help people find your web presence? Good question and one that many people never ask themselves, their web designer or their website developer. ‘SEOtime‘ as coined by Michael MacGinty is the time you invest to make the website or overall web presence work well for your business. Your time or hired help time. Get found by the people you want to have find you and then get those visitors converted to customers, by getting them to ask you a question or order something from you. If you had people walk in to your “Bricks & Mortar” store, then walk straight out again, you would ask why, so do the same with your website.
SEO Search Engine Optimisation is the answer
This is or should be no big dark secret and a good SEO advisor or practitioner will explain, that first and foremost you need good quality content and then manage the signposts available. Oh and you need both the good content and the backlinks, that confirm it is good content. Look carefully at the meta tags as in Page Titles, Meta Descriptions, Keywords, Key terms, Links internal or external and Social Media Integration with every article or page on your website. This is to drive traffic, convert visitors and offer some great free advice, which in turn may lead to some business for you, if you show your experience, authority and usefulness. Proper meta tags tell Google what the page is about and Google in turn tells people who search for these key words or terms. The whole point is to show expertise, authority and trust or EAT. This is what Google and visitors want to see.
Driving traffic to your website is one thing, what do you want the visitor to do when they get there ? Here, content is king, so make it engaging, entertaining or educational. CTAs Calls to Action are priceless to help visitors find what they want and view or buy it. Use your textual content to filter out the visitors and avoid getting calls for services you do not offer. Make it easy to share.
All of this is easy to do for an experienced practitioner or by learning how to do it yourself. If, it is not your Core Competency, then outsource the work to someone who can do it quickly and ask for a guarantee of agreed results.
Warning: Do not use an amateur, as this can seriously damage your web reputation and Google will punish you for any breaches of proper conduct, such as ‘black hat’ techniques.
Remember that this is NOT a numbers game, so getting thousands of people to look at your homepage will not necessarily generate sales. If you sell canoe accessories, then you do not want anyone who has no interest in canoes or only wants cheap canoes. Do not be fooled by promises of high traffic, focus on the visitor conversion and return on investment. Even page ranking is no guarantee of a sale, so base your decisions on what is getting real results.
NB: High traffic that bounces away immediately is bad for your ranking as it tells Google that people do not want your page for the term that they searched. It could also be that the visitor gets what they want from that one page, maybe a phone number, but then leaves the site without clicking on any of your links. So avoid high Bounce Rates.
SEO Costs – what does SEO cost ?
Costs vary, usually by experience & ability, but expect to pay about €65 to €100 an hour for actual work and €125 or €150 an hour for Consulting or training. So draw up a plan with the appointed SEO person on what you are willing to spend and what results you expect in return – set targets. Give it a few months and check each month for results. 12 weeks will make a difference, at which point your income from web income will need to exceed your SEO bill. Put in some metrics to gauge results and measure ROI Return on Investment. Agree a monthly rate, probably €650 at the lower end and €1250 or €1500 at the medium end, maybe €3000 to €5000 for serious involvement. Get the right person and pay a fair price to invest in your future success. If at first you get a poor SEO person, then find another one, just like you would a printer or caterer. It is not about the cost, it is all about the return on that investment.
Ask for Guarantees! A good SEO practitioner who believes that they can deliver results for your business should stand over their work and even offer some level of Money Back Guarantee. You cannot manage what you cannot measure – so get the proof to show that your investment is working. A good practitioner will be very happy to provide the proof, in order to have you continue with investing in their services.
Offshore SEO offers cheaper or lower costs, from as little as $7 per hour. Does it work? What do you think? If you let someone at your SEO they can totally ruin your business, reducing traffic, conversions and sales.
If you want to talk about what SEO can do for your own business, book a complimentary call with us now, so get in touch.
Typical investment: See our plans here.
SEO Tips – 30+ ways to improve your SEO
The rules of engagement for SEO are changing all the time, but here are some tried and tested tips, to help you be better at SEO.
- Plan – start with a plan on why you want to do SEO, what you want to achieve and how you will do it
- Content – create great content that is engaging, entertaining and or educational. Provide useful or helpful advice to help you increase visitors or readers and generate likes or leads that will bring a visitor to become a follower and then a customer or referral source.
- Blog – have a well structured regular blog that builds up in to a good useful resource – check to see which posts are liked or popular. Then do more of that, as well as offering articles to other sites or forums, with a link back to your site. Submit your RSS feed.
- Make it shareable – if a visitor thinks your content is good and wants to share it, make that easy to do, by having ‘share buttons.
- Bounce – good engaging content and good CTAs will help ensure that the Bounce Rate is low, which is going to help SEO
- Publish content on other industry websites, blog items or interviews and link back to your own website
- Directories – add an entry or listing in directories such as Yelp, Cyclex etc – Include an entry in Googlemybusiness and make sure you appear in geolocation maps
- Reviews – ask happy customers to review you in Google Reviews or Facebook and any other relevant review forms. Use these in your social output. Use an independent widget for Google Reviews or Trust Pilot on your website for more credibility.
- Mobile – optimise for a good mobile view so that people using smartphones and tablets can navigate your website with ease and find the triggers to act, to buy, call or download etc
- Google Alerts – set up alerts so that when someone mentions your brand that you are told. Find out where you are being searched for and get a link or content up there
- Competitor comparison – analyse the competition to see what they are doing well, find the good links they have and get listed there too. Check their Metadata, descriptions, keywords etc
- Keyword return – having a load of keywords rank well does not drive sales – apply metrics to measure which keywords drive leads and sales. Find out what works well for you and do more of it. Pick around 20 Keywords or key terms for your business website, based firstly on intent and second on volume and then on competitiveness
- Browser optimisation – Content is king not Google, so optimise for all main search engines
- Ask new or existing customers, which words or terms they used and then use these words in the relevant page, page title, Alt tags, H1 heading and early in content, maybe in bold once – no stuffing, no more than 4 times in an article of say 400 words – 1% to 3% is recommended keyword density
- Links – have business partners, customers and authority websites link back to you – maybe do a linking Testimonial for service providers you have used
- Social – show Google that you or your brand are Social by using your social platforms and get friends or customers interacting with your posts – include Facebook, Twitter and Google+ – submit to Social Directories
- Study – read up about SEO and stay in touch with changes – Read our article on What is SEO? or see the Moz Guide
- Limits – Page Title limit it to 70 Characters and limit Description 150 Characters. Add Keyword or term for good measure
- Agenda – Start on Number 1 again and check that you are doing the first things – have an Agenda to check the quality of your SEO every month or week – then do it religiously
- Canonical urls – Have just one url per page regardless how someone navigates to that page – try to keep them short and sensible, to avoid long nonsensical urls. Include your keyword or term, but keep the url as short as possible
- Internal links – Likewise with relevant internal linking within content, use them to connect related articles/items, ideally two per page to help people find their way from one page to another related one, to keep them on the site and interested
- Add Tags for good effect, but do not overdo it. Just have tags to simplify search within the website
- GA – Use Google Analytics to see what works, where visitors enter and depart. Set Goals and measure success. Find out where the good traffic comes from. With A/B split testing you can see what works best. You can do that in Google Optimise.
- Google Adwords – PPC Pay Per Click to get traffic to your site and see how visitors react. It costs money, but will quickly help you get your organic optimising right – #rentacrowd. The more a word is indicative of being a buying trigger, the higher the bid price will be. The term ‘Website hosting’ will be more expensive for us, as it indicates an intent to buy a service, than ‘website platforms ‘which only seeks information. If you can use Adwords planner to find which terms are the most expensive and then optimise to be found organically for them. That means some serious work on your content to beat the competition that currently ranks on page 1.
- GooglemyBusiness – keep your details updated and add some tracking code to show how well it works for you. Add good photos and encourage reviews, ideally with key words or terms in the text
- Speed – Check your website speed and improve it. Aim for less than 3 seconds. Free Google speed test tool here. Ensure that any images are reduced in file size and compressed for web. Consider infinite scroll or lazy loading where you only deliver the first few images, whilst the others load as people scroll the page.
- Sitemaps – Add a sitemap to your website and if you have a lot of video, include a video XML sitemap.
- Skyscraper article – Find an existing high quality article on another website about your subject which has loads of existing links, create a better one and then ask the linkees to link to your new improved article. Build it out in to an ebook and then sell it on Amazon as an author. Set up your RSS feed. You can then do podcasts as a guest speaker talking about your book and your subject. That will create some good backlinks.
- Intent – Always remember that the SERPs or Google search page results fall in to three categories based on the perceived ‘intent’ of the search. Google will determine if someone is looking for results based on getting 1. Information 2. Directions or 3. Transactions. Does the searcher want to get an answer to a question or get directions on how to do something or go somewhere, or do they want to buy something.
- Weighting – when you have a main page or article, you should have more internal links to it, to show Google that you consider this as your most important page.
- Signposting – as your website builds up its content, help people find their way around by using effective signposting. For instance, your Home page might have loads of items, so make it obvious what is important to you. If you have recent Blog items appear, ensure they are about your sey service. If you have Testimonials on the home page, ensure that they are for the specifice or preferred services, where you want to do more work. Tell Google and the visitor what is important to you.
Tasks for you or your webmaster to consider:
- Sitemap submission including video xml sitemap
- Crawl check stats, evaluate performance
- Generate and check a robots.txt file, check no follows
- Check pages that link to the site, as in external links
- List any broken links and fix them or repoint them
- View keyword searches and Click Through Rate
- Set targets and generate a simple monthly performance report
SEO Tools – Free and paid
Google Keyword Planner – First port of call. Let Google help you assess which keywords to use. Google offers quite a few free tools to help you determine which key words or terms will work for you. Use one for each page, which should appear in the url, page title and meta description, as well as on the page, along with relevant semantic terms. See good Tutorial HERE
https://ubersuggest.io/ Another way to find search terms especially long tail terms that the Google Keyword Planner might not suggest.Similarly Answerthepublic will do the same. As will Scrapebox. Likewise check out keywordtool.io for ideas. A lot of these tools have a limited ‘free’ version and then a ‘paid’ Pro version for deeper or better results.
Soovle.com will recommend key words and terms related to whatever you search
Google Search – when you enter a word or term in Google search, skip down to the bottom of the results, to see what Google recommends as Related search words or terms. This is a good source of keywords or semantic terms to use.
Google Webmaster Tools is a good place to check how well your site ranks for key words or terms.
And Google Trends will give you insights s to whether a key term is increasing or decreasing in popularity. Try Google Correlate to find related terms.
Moz – Open Site Explorer – Free part of Moz to use
Boards and Forums – do a search for your keyword and or key term in relevant forums or boards and see which come up. These are good places to find people talking about your industry in boards.ie and a good source of industry questions and key words.
Search Metrics – see what your competitors are doing and get some insights on how to tweak your search engine optimisation. Monthly rate of $69, which is worth investing in, only if you are getting serious about your SEO and have the time to devote to it.
SEMrush – FREE for limited use and paid for access at $69 per month. Mainly used by Digital Marketing specialists who love this sort of tool for research to look at competitive data, looking at keywords, backlinks, pay per click advertising etc.
Spyfu – find out your competitors best performing or profitable keywords in ‘Organic’ search or Ads stroke paid search.
Keyword Spy – Competitor analysis tool from $89 monthly
SEOBook – $300 monthly
Screaming Frog – This FREE SEO Spider can be installed on your pc and used to check websites links, script, css, apps or images. so you can see, analyse or filter the data crawled from an onsite SEO perspective. Find flaws, check metadata, look for missed redirects or duplicate page/content issues.
Deep Crawl – Analyse your website architecture to find or monitor technical issues to tweak SEO performance with this website crawler.
Moz – Open Site Explorer – again a useful free tool
Google Webmaster Tools now Google Search Console – FREE, to be found on the web, use Google Webmaster tools to get data, which provides useful tools and diagnostics for a Google friendly site, by their own definition.
Google trends – find out what is trending in search and get in on the conversation
Backlinks – How to get backlinks and why have them
Getting quality backlinks is a great way of increasing traffic to your website. Obviously, you only want quality backlinks from sites that relate to what you offer. If you offer 5* holidays then a link from Time magazine or BBC travel would be great. You can get the links by creating top quality content and asking people to link back to it. A good technique is to find an article on a pertinent subject, one with loads of existing backlinks and then create a better article than that one. You can add more relevant data or add graphs or even video. Anything that will improve upon the existing article. Then email all the people who link to the original article and ask them if they would like to link to your new improved article on the subject. Find the links by using Ahrefs or Majestic – see below. Some people have referred to this as a Skyscraper article approach.
Ahrefs – Index of links, data with rich data analysis, a powerful tool for checking links, linking domains, anchors, or pages of a domain – a pro tool is available for $99 monthly.
Majestic – See how websites link to each other with this link intelligence database, used by SEOs and online Marketing experts to analyse Link Building, reputation management, website traffic development, Competitor analysis and News Monitoring from $49 monthly
Open Site Explorer from Moz allows you to research backlinks, to find potential link-building opportunities and find any potentially damaging links.
Buzzsumo – Tool for content marketing and SEO campaigns helping to identify which content works and gets shared
Myblogu – Collaboration tool
Hootsuite – Scheduling tool for posting content across Social platforms
Answerthepublic.com – Find out what questions are being asked about your topic
Recommended SEO Reading & Listening
Beginners Guide from Moz Always a good place to start
Backlinko – Subscribe here because Brian Dean is very much worth the read
SEO Workout 2016 and 2017 or 2018 or 2019, an annual updated publication by Jason McDonald – Quirky, entertaining writer and broadcaster
the best damn marketing checklist stoney de geyter – More for referral than a straight read
The Art of SEO 2016 by Eric Enge, more mainstream guide
Search Engine Land Guide – a good place for SEO guide and news
Google Quality Raters Guidelines – Long, detailed directions from Google
SEO – Paid courses – try DistilledU at about $40 a month
Or if you have the budget, hire someone through John Doherty at GetCredo to do a site audit or even recommend what needs to be done, but expect to pay €4000.00 + a month.
SEO Podcasts – in no particular order:
Case Study – Current 12 Month Project for client who is offers a Professional service
Goals and metrics
Initially we set some goals together. They included getting more enquiries and getting the sort of enquiries the client wanted to see. (And less of the ones they did not want any more. The client agreed to ask all callers, via the door, the phone, social channels or email, where did they get the contact details. If the answer was ‘the web’ we knew we had a result and they were all recorded.
Groundwork or Research
We had to get to understand this business – what problems it solves, the products or services offered. With this knowledge we could then do the keyword research to find some top level keywords or terms that could drive targeted high-quality traffic.
Armed with these keywords or terms, we then created a sitemap to group relevant content into categories or sections of the website. The content in any one category is focused on a specific topic. Then on top of the ‘main’ page we add or create sub pages which cover detailed aspects of the main topic. Each page gets a specific keyword or terms which is then optimised..
User flow mapping
As we do this we also create a journeys for typical clients or avatars, to show user intent, where they land and how they navigate through the pages, to a point where they take an action, such as sending an email or asking for a quote. .
In this case the client had a WordPress website, so we started by doing a website technical audit to ensure that the website platform was good. We checked the mobile responsiveness and we checked the page loads speeds. We also did an analytics audit to create a report showing the starting point. Then we did a total content audit to see how much we had, houch we needed and which items needed to be improved or optimised. Basically, we did a technical SEO audit as we went through the pages of content, checking for internal linking on each page. We also audited the photos and videos.
We created a corporate profile on Linkedin, Google My Business and Facebook and populated these pages. Then we got some 5* positive client reviews and testimonials. We connected with partners and main clients in their social channels.
Connecting and showing Authority
Once we had the site working technically and the content up to speed to a point where we could show ‘authority’ and the onsite SEO done we looked for blogs or other publications to get involved in conversations, to answer questions and to add value. We connected with many authors in Linkedin and Facebook, we liked their other content, wrote to the authors and referenced their other articles or posts to show that we were following their output.
Every month we are posting to the various social channels and connecting with more and more clients, potential clients and referrers. We are creating and optimising content in the website, posting articles in Linkedin. We create monthly reports and show performance versus last month and how we are progressing towards the agreed goals. When there is a Marketing Department we work together to ensure that we are singing from the same hymn sheet. If there is a sales department, person or director we work to generate qualified leads. We create specific landing pages for services and look after generating graphic content.
Our own SEO packages are very simple. If you choose to work with us you decide whether to invest in a day or half a day a month. Try it for 3 or 6 or 9 months. Then based on the results we get, you decide whether you want to carry on with us. Whatever we do will help your SEO, so any investment will get results. You decide how big you want those results to be. We realise it is a trust thing, so we do NOT insist on any long term contracts. You pay monthly for as long as you choose. Cancel any time for any reason – you are in control. You can increase or decrease the time as you please. See our plans here.