Why an SEO Website Audit is Important

In the same way you regularly visit the dentist and doctor for a checkup, you need to regularly check in on the health of your website. Without monitoring your site’s functionality, you won’t know if something is wrong and needs to be fixed, and you could be driving traffic away without even realizing it.

An SEO audit of your website can diagnose technical issues that need to be fixed, as well as determine ways in which your content can be improved to help you improve your ranking.

Boost your organic search performance

If you want to appear on the first page of Google for a specific keyword or phrase, you need to have a solid SEO strategy in place. An SEO audit of your site can help you see where you need to improve to get that ranking—or to maintain the ranking you already have. Content that isn’t optimized and technical issues can both have a negative impact on your ranking, and an audit gives you an opportunity to correct those issues.

Improve your user experience

Optimization isn’t just about search engines. It’s also about ensuring that your site is functional and easy to use for your visitors. Things like slow load times, no call-to-action and poor site structure can drive users away—and keep you from generating leads. An SEO audit can pinpoint issues with your site that are negatively impacting your user experience, providing you with a plan for improvement.

Strengthen your content

Searchers are more likely to spend time on your site if you provide them with content and resources that they find useful. In addition to finding technical issues with your website, an audit can also examine your content and find room for improvement. Keyword-rich content that meets—or even exceeds—visitor expectations can help you improve your ranking and get your site in front of more potential clients.

Stay on top of algorithm changes

Google and other search engines constantly update their algorithms, and it can be a challenge to keep up. A comprehensive SEO audit reviews your site with current best practices in mind, ensuring you can make the necessary changes to meet the requirements of the latest algorithm updates.

Develop a better keyword strategy

An SEO audit can help you determine better ways to strategically use your keywords to improve your ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs). While you want to avoid practices like keyword stuffing, when you deploy your keywords strategically and naturally throughout the content on your website, you can improve your chances of ranking higher in search results.

Build out a plan for improvement

If you don’t know what’s wrong with your website, you likely won’t know where to start to make it better. An SEO audit gives you the opportunity to recognize issues with your site and develop a plan to fix them. Regular SEO audits also allow you to measure and compare how your website has improved since your last audit.

Ready to take the first steps toward improving your SEO? Start with our free SEO Audit!

Ultimate SEO Guide

What is SEO?

The goal of Search Engine Optimization is to maximize the number of visitors to a website by making sure that the site appears high on the list of search engine results for specific queries.

Search engines, like Google, Bing and Yahoo, help humans access the wide array of content on the internet by providing search results based on a user’s specific query.

But before you even begin to optimize your website, you need to make sure you have a solid foundation in place.

Indexing vs. Ranking

In order to rank, your website first has to be indexed by Google and other search engines. When your site is indexed by Google, it’s saved in the search engine’s database, or index. If you add any new content or pages, they have to be indexed as well in order to rank. Google will automatically crawl your website on a regular basis, looking for updates, but you can also request Google to index a specific page by using Google Search Console.

Once your website is indexed, it can then be ranked. Your site can rank for a variety of keywords. Google looks at over 200 factors to determine how relevant your website is to specific search queries. 

Web Hosting

Your web hosting company provides the technology needed for your website to be viewed online. The web server your hosting company uses determines the speed of your website, page load times and the amount of data that is in a queue to deliver that request to the client.

There are several different types of web hosting, and it’s important to know the differences between them before you choose a web hosting service.

Server Performance

A variety of factors can affect the performance of your web server and thus your website and ranking.

Speed & Performance

Search engines pay attention to how long it takes for your webpage to load.

Website Downtime

If your website goes down for an extended period of time, such as a few consecutive days, Google could potentially remove your website from its index. Even if the site comes back online before that, it can get flagged as unreliable, causing your site to rank below its previous position.

Shared Hosting Services

If you use shared hosting services with big companies like GoDaddy, HostGator & BlueHost, you will share the web space with various other sites that could potentially cause harm.

Server Load

Server load refers to how many processes are waiting in the queue to access the computer processor. This is calculated for a certain period of time and the smaller the number, the better.

Slow Performance

Slow performance is usually caused by system tasks that need tuning or might indicate a memory, disk or network bottleneck. Indicators of slow performance are issues like 503 error service unavailable or your website taking a very long time to load.

Top Tools to Check Your Website Speed & Performance

Before you choose a web hosting company, be sure to take a look at what is included in the pricing and what isn’t. For example, do you have to pay for your own SSL Certificate or is one included? With some hosts, you will have to install your own SSL Certificate and manage the renewal process on your own, which can result in your SSL Certificate going down and creating an error message that your website is not secure.

You should also take a look at the company’s technical support to make sure they will be available to help you out with any issues you may have. Ask yourself the following questions about each web hosting company you are considering:

Website Architecture

Your website architecture is the approach used to design and plan out your site to meet both your business needs and the needs of your users. The design you choose will have a huge impact on how both visitors and search engines interact with your website.

When it comes to website architecture, there are multiple important factors to consider for SEO.

Site Crawlability

Search engines “crawl” websites, going from one page to another incredibly quickly like speed readers. When a search engine crawls your site, it makes copies of your pages that get stored in what’s called an index, which is like a massive book of the web.

When someone types in a search query, the search engine flips through this big book, finds all relevant pages and then picks out what it thinks are the very best results to show first. To be found by search engines, you have to be in the index. To be in the index, your website has to be crawled.

Crawl Rate Limit

The crawl rate limit is designed to keep Google from crawling your pages too much and too fast, which can hurt your server.

Crawl Demand

Crawl demand refers to how much Google wants to crawl your pages. This factor is based on how popular your pages are and how stale your content is in the Google index.

Crawl Budget

Crawl budget is determined by taking the crawl rate and crawl demand together.

Factors to Consider for Search Engines

Mobile-First Indexing

You want to have a responsive website where the primary content and markup is equivalent across both mobile and desktop versions of your site. If your content is not mobile-first or responsive, your indexing ability in Google will be limited.

Avoid Duplicate Content

Duplicate content is defined as content that appears on the internet in more than one place. “One place” is a location with a unique web address. Therefore, if the same content appears at more than one URL, it is considered duplicate content.

If you have one page that is accessible by multiple URLs or different pages with similar content, Google will see these pages as duplicate versions of the same page. Google will then choose one URL as the canonical version and crawl that page, while all the other URLs will be seen as duplicates and crawled less often.

You should avoid duplicate content because search engines won’t know which version to include or exclude from indexing. If a search engine is not told which version to use, it may give all versions equal weight or pick a version for you. As a result, your page may be less likely to rank.

Use Descriptive URLs

By using keywords you want to rank for in your domain name or page URLs, you can improve your chance of ranking for those keywords. While descriptive URLs are not considered a major ranking factor, they do send signals to search engines to help them determine what your page is about.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Expired Certificates

Make sure that your SSL Certificate is always up to date. It’s a good idea to have your web host set your certificate to auto-renew to ensure that your certificate never expires.

Crawling Issues

Don’t block your site from crawling using robots.txt.

Indexing Issues

It’s critical to allow indexing of your pages by search engines wherever possible. Avoid using the noindex meta tag (more on this later).

Mixed Content

Be sure to embed only HTTPS content on HTTPS pages.

While your website architecture can have a significant impact on your SEO, it’s important to focus on user experience to ensure that human visitors to your site can easily navigate and find the information they’re looking for. Search engines are modeled on human behavior, designed to prefer experts and look for popularity, trends and traffic.

As you review the performance of your website architecture, ask yourself these questions:

Auditing & Analytics

Monitoring the performance of your website is essential to creating a positive user experience and improving your SEO and ranking. A Website Audit provides you with a full analysis of all factors that affect your site’s visibility to search engines. You should perform a complete website audit at least every six months and keep the reports so you can compare changes and see what’s working and how your site has improved.

In addition to regular website audits, use these tools to monitor the performance of your website:

Google Search Console (Webmaster Tools)

Google Search Console is a free service that helps you monitor and maintain your website’s presence in Google Search results. You don’t have to sign up for Google Search Console for your website to be included in search results, but doing so can help you understand how Google views your website and enable you to optimize its performance in search results.

Google Tag Manager

This is a tag management system that allows you to quickly and easily update tags and code snippets on your website.

Bing Webmaster Tools

Don’t forget about Bing! This free service helps you monitor and maintain your website’s presence in Bing and Yahoo! search results.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a freemium web analytics service that tracks and reports website traffic. There are a wide variety of tools available on Google Analytics, including traffic insights, conversions and goals and search terms used to find your website.

Keywords & On-Page SEO

On-page SEO involves optimizing individual webpages to help them rank higher on search engines. Put simply, on-page SEO is anything on the page, including content and the HTML code, that you can improve to increase your page’s visibility to search engines.

To ensure the quality of your webpages, there are several tactics you should avoid:

Sneaky Redirects

If you display content to human users that is different than the content made available to crawlers, then you are violating Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Don’t be deceptive—instead, focus on creating quality content.

Before creating a redirect, consider the intent behind it. You can redirect URLs to another page with good reason, such as a new website address, consolidating several pages into one or changing a URL link’s name.

Automatically Generated Content

Automatically generated content is text that makes no sense to the reader but contains search keywords. This automated text is typically generated by a tool that hasn’t been reviewed or curated by a human before publishing the content.

Link Schemes

Any links, incoming or outgoing, that are intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and are a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

This can include buying and selling links that pass PageRank, whether that involves exchanging money or goods or services for links, or even sending someone a “free” product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link. Link schemes also include excessive link exchanges (“I’ll link to you if you’ll link to me”), using automated programs or services to create links to your site, and advertising where payment is received for articles that include links that pass PageRank.

Other examples of link schemes include:

Instead of resorting to these kinds of practices, the best way to get other sites to create high-quality, relevant links to yours is to create unique, relevant content that can naturally gain popularity in the internet community. The more useful content you have, the greater the chances someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link to it.


Cloaking is presenting different content or URLs to human users than you present to search engines. This is considered a violation because it provides users with different results than they expected.

Examples of cloaking include presenting a page of HTML text to search engines while showing a page of images or Flash to users and inserting text or keywords into a page only when the person requesting the page is a search engine, not a human visitor.

Hidden Text & Links

Hiding text or links in your content to manipulate Google’s search rankings can be seen as deceptive and is a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. There are several ways to hide text like excessive keywords, all of which should be avoided:

Non-Accessible Content

Search engines have difficulty accessing content like JavaScript, images or Flash files, so you can improve your site’s accessibility by providing descriptive text for these items. Descriptive text doesn’t only help search engines; it also helps human visitors who use screen readers, mobile browsers or browsers without plugins or have slow internet connections.

You can test your site’s accessibility by turning off JavaScript, Flash and images in your browser or using a text-only browser.

Doorway Pages

Doorway pages are websites or pages created specifically to rank highly for specific search queries. These types of pages are bad for users because they can lead to multiple similar pages in user search results, where each result ends up taking the user to essentially the same destination. Doorway pages can also lead users to intermediate pages that aren’t as useful as the final destination. The primary purpose of doorway pages is to attract visitors from search engines in order to send them to other places.

To determine if you are using doorway pages, ask these questions:

Scraped Content

Some webmasters use content that is taken or “scraped” from other, more reputable sites because they assume that increasing the volume of pages on their website is a good long-term strategy, regardless of the relevance or uniqueness of that content.

Scraped content may not provide any added value to your users and may even constitute copyright infringement. It is definitely worthwhile to take time to create original content that sets your site apart and will keep users returning to your website.

Examples of scraped content include websites that copy and republish content from other sites without adding any original content or value; websites that copy content from other sites, modify it slightly and republish it; websites that reproduce content feeds from other sites without providing some type of unique benefit to user and websites dedicated to embedding content such as video, images or other media from other sites without substantial added value to the user.

Affiliate Programs

While there is nothing wrong with occasional affiliate links, pure affiliate sites that consist of content that appears in many other places online are highly unlikely to perform well in Google search results and may even be negatively perceived by search engines. Unique, relevant content provides value to users and distinguishes your website from others, making it more likely to rank well in search results.

Irrelevant Keywords

Keyword Stuffing involves overloading a webpage with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results. These keywords often appear in a list or group or out of context, instead of as part of the natural prose of your site. Keyword stuffing not only results in a negative user experience, but it can also harm your website’s ranking. Instead, focus on creating useful, info-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context.

Examples of irrelevant keywords include lists of phone numbers without substantial added value, blocks of text listing cities and states a webpage is trying to rank for and repeating the same words or phrases so often that it sounds unnatural.

Malicious Pages

Distributing content or software on your website that behaves in a way other than what a user expects is known as malicious behavior. This includes anything that manipulates the content on the page in an unexpected way, anything that downloads to a user’s computer without their consent or anything that does not comply with Google’s Unwanted Software Policy. Google’s goal is not only to provide relevant search results for users, but also to keep them safe while they’re browsing the web.

Examples of malicious behavior include changing or manipulating the location of content on a page; injecting new ads or pop-ups on pages or swapping out existing ads on a page with different ads; including wanted files in a download that a user requested; installing malware, trojans, spyware, ads or viruses on a user’s computer and changing a user’s browser homepage or search preferences without informed consent.

User-Generated Spam

Spam can be generated on a website by malicious visitors or users. This spam is usually generated on sites that allow users to create new pages or otherwise add content to the site.

If you receive a warning from Google about this type of spam, the good news is that Google generally believes your website is of sufficient quality and didn’t see a need to take manual action on the whole site. However, if your website has too much user-generated spam on it, that can affect Google’s assessment of the site, which may eventually result in them taking manual action on the whole site. Since user-generated spam can pollute Google search results, we recommend you actively monitor and remove this type of spam from your site.

To prevent comment spam, consider whether it is worthwhile to enable a guestbook or comments on your site. If you are unable to monitor comments, is it worth it to enable them? If you do enable comments, be sure to moderate them for any content that appears spammy.

Page Structure

When building out pages on your website, it’s important to pay attention to proper page structure to help your pages rank.

Page Title

A unique and attractive page title intrigues human users and lets search engines know exactly what your page is about. You should create a unique title for each page on your website, and your title should accurately describe the page’s content and be brief but descriptive. Avoid using extremely lengthy titles or stuffing unnecessary keywords into your title tags.

For your user, your page title shows up in three main places: the browser tab, the search engines result pages (SERPs) and shared links. That’s why your page title is so important: Its goal is not only to describe the content of the page, but also to encourage users to click.

Keep in mind that, if your page appears in search results, the contents of your title tag may appear in the first line of results. That’s why it’s important for your page title to clearly describe what users can expect to find on the page.

Optimize Your Content

Make your site interesting and useful to visitors by creating compelling, educational content. Users know good content when they see it and will likely want to direct others to it.

When you’re creating content for your site, it’s important to know what your readers want. Think about the words that a user might search for to find a piece of your content. Remember that users who know a lot about a topic might use different keywords in their queries than someone who is new to the topic. Consider these differences in search behavior when writing your content.

Your text should be easy to read. Users enjoy content that is well written and easy to follow. Avoid copy with many spelling and grammatical mistakes and awkward or poorly written content. Be sure to organize your topics clearly so that visitors have a good sense of where one topic begins and another ends.

Take time to create fresh, unique content. New content not only keeps your existing visitor base coming back, but it also can help bring in new visitors. Be sure to avoid rehashing (or even copying) existing content or having duplicate or near-duplicate versions of your content across your website.

As you are optimizing your website content, remember to focus on users, not search engines. Designing your site around visitors’ needs while making sure your site is easily accessible to search engines usually produces positive results.

Use Links Wisely

Link text is the visible text inside a link that tells both users and search engines about the page that you are linking to. Links on your page may be internal (pointing to other pages on your website) or external (leading to content on other websites). The better your anchor text is, the easier it is for users to navigate and for search engines to understand what the page is linking to and what it is about.

Choose descriptive text

The anchor text that you use for a link should provide at least a basic idea of what the page linked to is about. Avoid writing generic anchor text like “page,” “article,” or “click here.” Make sure that your text is on topic and relates clearly to the content of the page it links to.

Format links so they are easy to spot

Make it easy for users to distinguish between regular text and the anchor text of links. Your content quickly becomes less useful if users miss links or accidentally click on them, so be sure to avoid using CSS or text styling that makes your links look just like regular text.

Think about anchor text for internal links too

If you pay more attention to anchor text used for internal links, you can help both users and search engines navigate your site better.

Optimize Your Images

The “alt” attribute allows you to provide a descriptive filename and description for the images on your website, allowing you to specify alternate text for your images if they cannot be displayed for some reason. If a user is viewing your site using assistive technology, such as screen readers, the contents of the alt attribute provide information about your images. Optimizing your image filenames and alt text makes it easier for image search and users to better understand your images.

To optimize your images, use brief but descriptive filenames and alt text and avoid using generic filenames like “image1.jpg” whenever possible. If your website has thousands of images, you might want to consider automating the naming of images.

Be sure to use commonly supported file types for your images, such as JPEG, PNG, GIF, BMP and WebP image formats. The extension of your filename should match with the file type of that image.

Make Sure Your Pages are Mobile-Friendly

Mobile browsers are similar to desktop browsers in that they can render a broad set of the HTML5 specification, although their screen size is smaller, and in almost all cases their default orientation is vertical.

Google recommends making your site mobile-ready by creating a Responsive Web Design (RWD). With a responsive design, the server always sends the same HTML code to all devices, and CSS is used to alter the rendering of the page on the device.

Use Google’s mobile-friendly test to check if the pages on your site meet the criteria for being labeled mobile-friendly. You can also use the Google Search Console Mobile Usability report to fix mobile issues.

Use the Description Meta Tag

A webpage’s description meta tag gives Google and other search engines a summary of what the page is about. The page’s title may be only a few words or a phrase, but the description meta tag might be a sentence or two, or even a short paragraph.

Google Search Console provides a handy HTML Improvement report that will tell you about any description meta tags that are either too short, too long or duplicated too many times.

Like the page title, Google might use the description meta tag as a snippet for your page, especially if it does a good job of matching up with the user’s search query. Adding description meta tags to each of your pages is a good practice in case Google can’t find a good selection of text to use in the snippet.

Your description meta tag should accurately summarize the content of your page, both informing and interesting users if they see the description in search results. While there is no maximum or minimum length, it’s a good idea to keep your description to between 50 and 300 characters so that it does not get cut off if it shows up in search results.

Use Heading Tags to Emphasize Important Text

Heading tags typically make the text contained in them larger than the normal text on a page, providing users with a visual cue that the text is important. There are multiple heading sizes that can be used to create a hierarchical structure for your content, helping users to navigate your page more easily.

When using heading tags, imagine that you are writing an outline of your content. Consider what the main points and sub-points of each page will be and use heading tags appropriately to convey those points.

Be sure not to overuse headings on your page and only use them where they make sense. Do not use heading tags just to style text. Heading tags are designed to present and define the structure of your page.

Plan Navigation Based on Your Homepage

Navigation is important in helping visitors quickly find the content they want and can also help search engines understand which content the webmaster thinks is most important. Although Google’s search results are provided at a page level, Google also likes to have a sense of what role a page plays in the bigger picture of a website.

All websites have a home or “root” page, which is usually the most frequented page on the site and the starting place of navigation for many visitors. Unless your website has only a handful of pages, you should consider how visitors will go from a general page to a page containing more specific content. Do you have enough pages around a specific topic area that it would make sense to create a page describing these related pages?

Use a Simple URL Structure

Your website’s URL structure should be as simple as possible. Consider organizing your content so that the URLs are constructed logically and in a way that is most intelligible to humans. Remember, you want to focus on human users, not search engines. Whenever possible, use readable words rather than long ID numbers.

Google recommends that you consider using punctuation in your URLs and suggests that you use hyphens instead of underscores. By creating descriptive categories and filenames for the documents on your website, you not only keep your site better organized, but you can also create easier, “friendlier” URLs for those who want to link to your content. Keep in mind that visitors may be intimidated by extremely long and cryptic URLs that contain few recognizable words and that the URL to a webpage is usually displayed in a search result in Google below the page title, so the easier your URL is to read, the better.

Create a Simple Navigational Page for Users

A navigational page is exactly what it sounds like: a page on your website that displays the structure of your site, allowing visitors to easily navigate to a specific page. A navigational page usually consists of a hierarchical listing of pages on your site. While search engines may visit this page, its primary purpose is to assist human visitors.

When building out your website, it’s important to create a naturally flowing hierarchy.   Make it as easy as possible for users to go from general content to the more specific content they want to view on your website. All of the pages on your website should be reachable through links and should not require an internal search functionality to be found by visitors.

You can control most of the navigation from page to page on your website through links within the text on your pages. This makes it easier for search engines to crawl and understand your site.

You can also create a navigational page for users, as well as a sitemap for search engines. An XML sitemap file ensures that search engines discover any new and updated pages on your website by listing all relevant URLs together with their primary content’s last modified dates. Be sure to keep your navigational page updated so that there are no broken links on the page, which can create a negative experience for users.

Schema.org Markup

Schema is structured data or code which is added to your site to improve the way search engines read and represent your page in Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). Schema.org is a result of the collaboration between Google, Bing, Yandex & Yahoo! to help you provide information that their search engines need to understand your content and provide their users with the best search results possible. Adding schema markup to your HTML improves the way your page displays in SERPs by enhancing the rich snippets that are displayed beneath the page title.

Google Structured Data Markup Helper helps you mark up elements on your webpage so that Google can better understand the data on the page. Once Google understands your page data more closely, the search engine can then present your website more attractively and in new ways in search.

Data Highlighter is a point-and-click tool inside of Google Search Console that allows you to show Google the way you have structured data on your pages without having to modify the pages themselves. Google then uses this structured data to provide better search result snippets to users.

When using schema markup on your website, be sure to check your markup and make sure there are no mistakes in the implementation. You should also monitor how your marked up pages are doing. You can do this by using the Structured Data report in Google Search Console, which shows you:

Local SEO & Choosing Keywords

Google uses stemming technology, which means that it will search not only for you specific search terms, but also for words that are similar to those terms. For example, if you search for “wedding photos,” Google will also search for “wedding pics,” “photography” and other variations of your search terms. Just like your actual terms, any variations will also be highlighted in the snippet of text accompanying each search result.

If your website does not show up in search results for a specific keyword, then you will need to take time to optimize your pages for that keyword. The best way to ensure that your website shows up in search results for your preferred keywords is to include those words and phrases on the relevant pages of your site. Google and other search engines will crawl your pages and analyze the content to determine which search queries your keywords are most relevant to. So, if you create an information-rich website that clearly, accurately describes your topic, your site will likely show up in search results for your desired keywords.

Search Analytics Report

This report shows how often your website appears in Google search results. By running this report, you can see how your search traffic changes over time, as well as where your traffic comes from and what search queries are most likely to show your website. The Search Analytics Report also shows you which pages have the highest and lowest click-through rate from Google search results. You can even learn which queries are made on smartphones and use this information to improve your mobile targeting.

Links to Your Site

This report provides you with a list of links that Googlebot discovered during the crawling and indexing process, as well as the most common link sources and pages on your website with the most links. You can also see the most common anchor text found by Google. While not all links to your website may be listed in this report, it can still provide you with a clearer picture of how users are getting to your site.

Internal Links Report

This report reveals the number of internal links pointing to a page, which is a signal to search engines about the relative importance of that page. If an important page on your website doesn’t appear in this list, or if a less important page has a relatively large number of internal links, you should consider reviewing your internal link structure. If you are deleting or renaming pages, check this data first to help identify and prevent potential broken links.

Crawl Errors

Google recommends that you regularly review the Crawl Errors page to check for any 404 errors that Googlebot may have encountered while crawling your site. Set a reminder on your calendar to review your Google Search Console at least once a month.

Google My Business Page

Your Google My Business listing can have a huge impact on your local ranking and help potential customers find your business and learn more about your services.

Google determines local ranking based on relevance, distance and prominence. A combination of these three factors are used to help find the best match for your search query. For example, the Google algorithm may decide that a business that is farther away is more likely to have what you’re looking for than a closer business and therefore rank it higher in local results.


Relevance is defined as how well a local listing matches what someone is searching for. By adding complete and detailed business information to your Google My Business listing, you can help Google better understand your business and match your listing to relevant searches.


Distance is how far each potential search result is from the location term used in a search.  If a user doesn’t specify a location in their search, Google will calculate distance based on what is known about their location.


Prominence is how well-known a business is. Some companies are prominent offline, and search results try to reflect this in local ranking. Google bases a business’ prominence off information from across the web, such as links, articles and directories. In addition, the number of Google reviews you have and your overall review score are also factored into your local search ranking. The more reviews and positive ratings you have, the better your local ranking.

Your Google My Business listing pulls information from four main sources: you, your website, users and third-party sources.

Choose a Business Category

Categories are used to describe your business and connect you to customers searching for the type of services you offer. For example, if your primary category is “wedding photographer,” Google may show your business in local search results to people who search for “photographer” or “Wedding Photographer” in their area.

Your category is just one of many factors that can affect your local ranking. Depending on the type of business you have, your category may also be used to assign a place label to your business. A place label is a feature of Google Maps that provides information about landmarks, businesses and tourist attractions. The Google algorithm determines place labels based on a large number of factors, including the accuracy of your business information and the richness of the content associated with your business.

Improve Your Local Ranking on Google

Local search results appear for people who search for businesses and places near their own location. Google uses your business’ information to provide relevant local search results, not just in Search but in other products like Maps as well. For example, if you own a photography business, your listing may appear in local search results for people who search for “family photographer near me” because you have provided information that includes your address and hours.

Add complete and accurate information

It’s important to enter complete data in your Google My Business listing and to make sure that your information stays up-to-date. Local results favor the most relevant results for each search, and businesses with complete and accurate information are easier to match with the right searches. Be sure to enter all your business information in Google My Business so that customers can learn more about where you are, what you do and when they can visit you.

Verify your location

In addition to providing complete and accurate business information, make sure to verify your location. Doing so gives you the best opportunity to appear for users across Google products like Maps and Search.

Provide your business hours

Keep your hours accurate by not just providing your regular operating hours, but also including special hours for holidays and events. This lets potential customers know when you’re available and gives them confidence that, when they visit your location, you will be open for business.

Manage and respond to reviews

One of the best ways to engage with customers is by responding to reviews that they leave about your business. Responding to reviews shows that you value your customers and the feedback that they leave. High-quality, positive reviews from your customers can help improve your business’ visibility and increase the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location.

When responding to customer reviews, keep in mind that all reviews are public, so it’s important to be kind and avoid getting personal. Your responses should be courteous, useful and readable. Double-check for any spelling or grammatical errors and be sure to thank each  reviewer. Remember that the point of responding is not to be a salesperson but to be a friend. Since your reviewers are already customers, you don’t need to try to sell them anything. Instead, provide them with useful information that can help make their experience with your business even better.

Add photos and videos

You can show people your products and services by adding photos and video to your Google My Business listing. Use this content to help tell the story of your business. Accurate and appealing images and videos may also show potential customers that your business offers what the products or services that they’re searching for.

Let customers message you

With your Google My Business listing, you can provide a way for users to contact you through text messaging. Just keep in mind that your customers rely on your prompt replies, so don’t keep them waiting. People appreciate a quick response to their questions, so during listed business hours, respond as quickly as possible to messages that you receive from customers.

Add posts to your listing

Posting through Google My Business gives you a way to publish your events, products and services directly to Search and Maps. You can post text, photo or video content, allowing you to get information about special offers and events in front of customers when they find your listing.

There are a variety of post types available, including Events, Offers and Products. When choosing a post type, ask yourself these questions:

Consider what you want your post to do: encourage customers to visit your store, sell something or announce a new feature. You can also post photos and videos to reinforce your message and help your text post stand out.

The Knowledge Panel

When people search for a business on Google, they may see information about that business in a box that appears to the right of the search results, known as the Knowledge Panel. This information can help potential customers discover and contact your business. While you can’t pay a fee or request to get your business listed in the Knowledge Panel, you can continue to provide complete, accurate information to Google to improve your business’ chances of being listed in this way.

Links to your business’ social profiles may also appear in the Knowledge Panel. Google gathers information from a variety of sources and may include your social profiles to give customers a more detailed overview. Like being featured in the Knowledge Panel itself, you can’t request to have your social profiles added to your listing. Instead, this information will be automatically added to listings for eligible businesses. However, there are some factors that can improve your chances of having your social profiles added to your Google My Business listing:

NAP Consistency

NAP stands for Name, Address and Phone Number and is a critical part of SEO. A company’s name, address and phone number should be listed in the same way anywhere it appears online, including the business’ website, social media profiles and directory listings such as Google My Business and Yelp. Keeping your listings consistent involves not just ensuring that all listings have the same information, but making sure the spelling and formatting is the same across platforms.

When human users see your business listed under multiple names with varying addresses or using inconsistent phone numbers, they get confused. If search engines find conflicting information about your NAP, they are not going to know for certain what your business is or where it’s located. Search engines then lose confidence in your business listing and are more likely to provide users with another listing that they’re more confident about.

Content Strategy for SEO

You may have heard the phrase “Content is king,” and it’s true. Your content strategy plays a huge role in ensuring that your website is optimized for search engines and that prospective clients find your business.

Understand your buyers

With the abundance of information available online these days, prospects are much more informed about you and your competitor’s products and services. In fact, most customers have identified their own needs and know what they need to know before making a purchasing decision.

Build content strategies around scenarios

Plan your content strategy around specific scenarios so that you can better serve your clients and meet their unique needs. Consider the following information:

Create a plan

It’s important to create content that engages users and generates traffic to your site, so you need to be a master at connecting emotionally with your customers. Pay special attention to the headlines and titles you use for your content and use images that connect with your readers and convey emotion. In short, your goal is to be a great storyteller.

Build smarter content

Creating and distributing quality content leads to better results. Content marketing generates three times as many leads at a much lower cost than traditional marketing. Your content should have a clear purpose that should be evident in the title. When creating content, be sure to define the objective of your content right on the page and support the main subject to help establish yourself as an authority in your industry.

Use emotion in your content

By understanding the degree to which our brains rely on emotion when making decisions, marketers can appeal to the feelings of customers to boost leads and even sales. Both positive and negative emotions play a role in content marketing. Content that evokes happy emotions leads to more shares, while content that evokes sad emotions leads to more clicks. Mainstream media outlets tend to focus on negative emotions, while social media tends to focus on more positive emotions.

Clearly define your target audience

When you have a clear understanding of the target audience you are trying to reach, you can produce more relevant and valuable content that they will want to read. As your business grows and matures, you may have to adjust your content to continue to stay relevant to your target audience, so plan to revisit your audience parameters every year.

Figure out the need for your product or service and focus on what problem it can solve for your customers. You can then refine your target market by identifying who has bought your product or service already.

How to identify and analyze your target market

To determine your target audience, ask yourself these questions:

Share the same values

Make sure you and your prospect share the same values. Remember that every product or service has a cultural value attached, so you need to clearly define the value your services offer to clients. Answer questions like:

Audit your content

You should regularly perform an audit of your content to make sure it is working for you and your business. Check Google Analytics for content that is generating traffic and figure out how traffic is being generated to your site. Pay attention to what type of content your visitors enjoy, whether that’s blogs, videos or some other type of content, as well as demographic information, like what age groups and genders are interested in your content and the type of devices they use to view your website.

Types of Content

Set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

A Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is a measurable value that demonstrates how effectively a company is achieving a key business objective. Organizations use KPIs at multiple levels to evaluate their success at reaching their targeted goals. Examples of KPIs include:

Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO is the process of optimizing your brand’s online and offline footprint through the use of content, relationships and links to create an optimal experience for both prospects and crawl bots. Off-page SEO typically leads to gradual increases in positive brand mentions, search rankings, traffic to your site and even conversions.

Off-page SEO can help improve your brand’s reputation among users across the internet. A website that is high-quality and useful is more likely to have references (links) from other sites. High-quality sites are also more likely to be bookmarked and shared among communities of like-minded users.

By improving your off-page SEO, you can help get more traffic to your website and improve your click-through rate (CTR) due to being ranked higher in SERPs. You can also help increase your website in PageRank, a numerical measure that Google gives each  individual page on your website based on the number and quality of links to each page. Off-page SEO can also provide your business with more exposure, which means more traffic. More traffic leads to a higher chance of your target audience clicking on your website and contacting you.

Link Building

Link building is the process of acquiring high-quality hyperlinks from authority sites that link to relatable content on your own website. Search engines will crawl the links between individual pages on your site and the links between entire websites.

In order to engage in link building, you need something of value to build links to. In many cases, this is the homepage of your website, but you can also build links to specialized resources, such as blog posts, research studies or graphics. These assets may exist well before you start your link building campaign, or you may create them specifically with the goal of link building in mind.

There are two types of links:

No matter which type of link building you do, you need to give other site owners a reason to link to the content on your site.

Link Building Tactics

There are multiple ways you can work on link building. You can guest blog on other websites by providing high-quality content that relates directly to your audience. You can also target a directory or list of top publications and send them relevant content that you have created on your website.

You can also reclaim any links on your site that fail to provide any SEO value by improving the content. You can even find broken links on other websites and contact the webmaster with your own alternative content to post in place of the broken link.

Define Your Audience

Use these questions to help determine your target audience:

Appeal to Your Audience

The best way you can appeal to your audience is to write amazing content that is purposeful and intentional. Research how your audience consumes content (e.g. video, audio, blogs, etc.) and find websites that match your niche and relate to the topics you cover. Contact these sites to write about your products and services. You should also pay attention to where your audience hangs out and be present in those places. You can even use social media to expose your content to your target audience.

What Makes for a Good Link

Avoid practices like buying and selling links and don’t waste your time trying to link to low-quality sites. Remember, when it comes to link building, the goal is quality over quantity. Links to a few high-quality, reputable websites are more valuable than dozens of links to low-quality websites.

Important Definitions

URL – Uniform Resource Locator. Used to reference a specific resource on the internet.

Domain Name – The friendly name used to locate an organization or other entity on the internet

Domain Name System (DNS) – The internet’s system of converting alphanumeric names (domain names) into numeric IP Addresses

Web Hosting – A business that provides the technologies needed for the website or webpage to be viewed while using the internet

Web Server – A computer that runs websites

Website – A collection of related pages published on a web server

Webpage – A page that is visited or viewed using a web browser

Webmaster – A person who is responsible for the creation or maintenance of a website for a specific organization or company

Website Architecture – The approach used to design and plan a website to meet both business and user needs

Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) – Standard markup language used to display webpage on the internet

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) – Used to format the layout of webpages

JavaScript (JS) – Programming language used in web development. Used to enhance interactive effects within web browsers.

Page Load Speed – The time it takes to download and display the entire content of a webpage in the browser window (measured in seconds)

Content Delivery Network (CDN) – A group of servers strategically placed across the globe with the purpose of delivering static content to users much faster (CSS, JavaScript and images)

Varnish Cache – HTTP accelerator designed for content heavy dynamic websites that speeds up the delivery of content with a factor of 300-1000x

Top Reasons to Perform an SEO Audit for Your Website

If you want your website to rank on the first page of Google for your desired search terms, then an SEO audit is essential in helping you reach that goal.

Performing an SEO audit on your website is critical, and it shouldn’t be something you do just once. You should plan on regular SEO audits to monitor your site’s health and diagnose any issues that need immediate attention.

Running an SEO audit is also a key component of keeping your SEO strategy updated and ensuring that your website is optimized based on current algorithms and best practices.

But what is an SEO audit?

Think of an SEO audit like a check-up, similar to when you take your car into a mechanic. You want to make sure your car stays in good working condition and won’t break down on the side of the highway.

In the same way, you want to make sure that your website is fully functional and won’t frustrate your visitors. You also want to do everything possible to boost your site’s chances of appearing in search engine results pages (also known as SERPs).

An SEO audit covers a whole host of potential issues with your website and provides you with a list of items that need your attention. You can then use these results as a checklist to fix any errors on your site and improve your optimization.

Below are just a few reasons why you should perform an SEO audit on your site ASAP.

Find a starting point for your SEO strategy

Your initial SEO audit can help you see your site’s strengths and weaknesses. Once you know what you’re doing right and what you need to improve, you can start to build out a comprehensive strategy for your SEO.

For example, you can start with fixing the errors your audit uncovered before moving on to the harder work of creating keyword-rich content and building out backlinks.

Identify technical issues

A comprehensive SEO audit pinpoints technical issues on your site that may prevent you from ranking. Think of a technical SEO audit as a health checkup for your website. Improving your technical SEO allows search engine bots to more easily crawl your website. An audit can identify a wide variety of issues, giving you an opportunity to fix these problems and ensure your site runs smoothly.

Here are just a few of the technical issues an SEO audit can discover:

·           Broken images

·           No XML sitemap

·           Missing or incorrect robots.txt

·           Slow page speed

·           Duplicate content

·           Missing alt tags

·           Broken links

·           Not mobile friendly

Stay on top of changing algorithms

Did you know that Google changes its algorithm every year? Every search engine regularly updates their algorithm to improve their user experience and provide their users with the best possible search results. In order to stay on top of algorithm updates, you need to make changes and adjustments to your site. Otherwise, you may lose all the traffic you worked so hard to get.

That’s where an SEO audit can be a lifesaver. It’s next to impossible to keep up with Google’s algorithm changes on your own, not to mention all the other search engines out there. An SEO audit can provide you with the most up-to-date suggestions for optimizing your website and serve as a checklist for making changes.

Measure the success of your efforts

An initial SEO audit gives you a baseline for how well your site is functioning and whether your current SEO strategy is working. Once you have that foundation, you can do additional SEO audits after you’ve made changes to see if your score has improved—and to assess what parts of your site still need work.

If you don’t have a clear starting point before you make changes, you won’t be able to measure how successful your changes have been. A regular SEO audit allows you to check in on the health of your site, as well as see how effective your SEO strategy is and whether there’s anything you need to improve.

Review your content

An SEO audit can also review your content and find where you can improve, such as adding your keywords in your page title or headings or working on your title tags and meta descriptions. Editing and optimizing your content for search engines plays a huge role in helping your website get ranked for your desired keywords.

Your audit can also provide you with suggestions for ways to improve old content on your site to help you improve your rankings. Once you understand how to make your old content better, you can use that as a guide for creating new content that your users will find compelling and helpful.

Improve your user experience

An SEO audit doesn’t just give you ways to better optimize your website for search engines—it can also help you improve the functionality and experience for your users. And the happier your users are, the more likely they are to spend more time on your site and end up doing business with you.

Ready to get your website on the right track? Start with our Free SEO Audit!

Lower Your Overhead Costs on Marketing by Learning SEO Yourself

When you think of SEO, what do you think of? Complex technical jargon? A list of rules you don’t know how to follow?

Search engine optimization may seem complicated, but it’s not as hard to learn as you might think. In fact, even a basic knowledge of SEO can help you get your business ranked on the first page of Google.

No way, you might be saying. It would take me years to learn enough about SEO to do that.

Well, think again! If you built and maintain your own website, you actually know a little more about SEO than you might realize. And with a little more education and training, you can improve your website’s optimization and get the results you want while saving money on marketing.

Let’s take a look at some basic concepts you’ll need to know to optimize your website.

Understand exactly what your prospects are looking for

You shouldn’t invest any time in SEO until you have a clear understanding of what your potential customers are looking for. Brainstorm keywords and phrases that someone searching for your services might type into Google. You can even ask previous customers how they found you online.

Once you have your list of potential keywords, start typing them into Google. Pay attention to the autofill suggestions and add any of those phrases you hadn’t thought of to your list.

You can add even more keywords to your list by typing a phrase into Google and adding each letter of the alphabet after it in turn. For example, if one of your keywords is dallas newborn photographer, type the letter “A” after that phrase and see what suggestions come up. Repeat with each letter of the alphabet, and you’ll have an even longer list of keywords.

Create pages optimized for search

Keyword research is only the first step. Once you have your list of words and phrases your prospects are searching for, it’s time to start building out pages on your site that are optimized for your top keywords.

When optimizing pages on your site, don’t think only of search engine bots. Think of the human users that visit your site. Start with making sure your user experience is positive and that every part of your site is functional and easy to use.

Next, you want to put together content based on the keywords users are searching. This content should align with searcher intent.

Want to dive deeper on what searcher intent is and how it works? Check out our blog post here.

Use short, descriptive URLs

The web address of your page lets search engines know what content is on the page and what information users can expect to find. Avoid using generic URLs that feature numbers and instead create a URL that describes the page. For example, if your page is about newborn photography, keep it simple with yourwebsite.com/newborn-photography. And don’t forget to use dashes to separate words.

Put work into your meta titles and descriptions

Search engines show both meta titles and meta descriptions in search results to let users know exactly what the page is about. Your meta title tag doesn’t appear on your page but serves as the title in search results and in the browser tab. This makes the title tag a great opportunity to include a keyword you want the page to rank for and compel users to click on your site.

Your meta description should also be compelling enough to encourage users to click, while also providing a clear summary of the content on the page.

Optimize your images

Images are essential for making your website visually interest, but search engines have a hard time understanding what images feature. That’s why it’s essential to add alt tags to your images. These tags describe what is in the image and let search engine bots know how the image relates to the content on the page.

Ensure your website loads quickly

Speed is important to both search engines and human users. Your visitors are more likely to leave your site if it takes more than few seconds to load. You can use tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights or GTMetrix to check your page speed and get suggestions on how you can improve it.

Make sure your site is mobile-friendly

Over half of searches are performed on a mobile device instead of a desktop. As more and more users transition to using their phone or table for internet browsing, it’s critical to make sure your website is fully functional and easy to use on mobile. Search engines like Google also consider your site’s mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor.

How to DIY Audit Your Website for Improve Your SEO

Your business website isn’t something you can create and leave running. It requires constant monitoring and frequent maintenance and updates to ensure it contains to function properly and helps meet your online marketing goals.

An SEO audit can diagnose any technical and performance issues with your site, as well as review your content for ways you can better include your keywords and improve your rankings. While some of the issues discovered by an audit are relatively quick fixes, others will take a little more time and effort to correct.

A professional SEO audit can provide you with a comprehensive list of issues and help you develop a strategy for prioritizing and fixing them. But if you’d rather audit your website yourself, we’ve put together a list of questions you need to ask to pinpoint some of the more common issues you may find with your site.

Is your site secured by an SSL certificate?

An SSL certificate provides authentication for your website and enables encrypted communication between a browser and server. Installing an SSL certificate on your site is a relatively easy way to boost your SEO and ensure that your visitors feel secure when using your site.

If you don’t have an SSL certificate, your users will a “Not Secure” label in their browser when they visit your site, which will likely make them think twice about continuing to browse.

To see if you have an SSL certificate installed, type https://[yourwebsite].ext into your browser. If your site loads properly, you have an SSL certificate installed. However, if you see a note that reads, “Your connection is not private,” you don’t have an SSL certificate installed or it isn’t installed properly.

Fortunately, this is an easy fix. Talk to your hosting company about how you can get an SSL certificate through them.

Do each of your pages have an SEO title and meta description?

When you perform a search on Google, each page is listed with a title and a description. Each of your pages should have both a title and a meta description that include keywords and describe exactly what visitors can expect to find on the page.

If you built your site with WordPress, you can easily add SEO titles and meta descriptions using the free Yoast SEO plugin. Your page title should be between 40 and 70 characters, while the description should be between 120 and 155 characters. 

Is your site mobile-friendly?

As more and more people use their phones and tablets to browse the web, search engines have put more emphasis on mobile-friendly websites as an optimization factor. Having a functional mobile version of your website also provides a better experience for your users.

If your page isn’t mobile-friendly, you may want to consider switching to a responsive theme that will ensure your site displays and functions properly on all mobile devices.

Does your website load quickly?

If your site takes more than a few seconds to load, users are more likely to become frustrated and leave. You don’t want to drive traffic away, so it’s critical to make sure your site loads quickly.

Your website’s speed is also an important factor in optimization. A slower site or hindered performance can have a negative impact on your rankings.

Google PageSpeed Insights is a free tool that analyzes your site, scores your speed and provides recommendations to make your page load faster.

Do your pages have descriptive URLs?

You’ve probably seen URLs that include strings of numbers and letters that don’t have anything to do with the page. These URLs aren’t helpful for optimization or for human visitors to your site.

A descriptive URL includes keywords and lets both search engines and users know what they can expect to find on that webpage. Your URL should describe the content of the page with hyphens between words.

Does your content include relevant keywords?

While technical issues can get in the way of your website performing well, content issues can keep visitors from staying on your site and taking action. Using relevant keywords and phrases helps your site show up in organic search results, improving your chances of ranking higher and being found by your target audience.

Your content is more than just the words on the page. It also includes the titles of your images and the alt text of each image, which describes what the image includes for search engines, as well as users who may not be able to see images.

Do you use any duplicate content?

If you use the same content on more than one page of your website, Google considers this duplicate content and decides which page to display in search results. This can be frustrating if you’ve worked hard to optimize one page for SEO and that page doesn’t show up for your chosen keywords.

Be sure to check your site to ensure that you aren’t repeating content anywhere and that all your content is original and informative.

Simplify your optimization process with our free SEO audit! You can quickly get a comprehensive SEO audit that will diagnose any technical errors with your website, allowing you to jump straight to fixing them and ensuring your site functions smoothly.

Click here to get your FREE SEO Audit now!

Here’s What You Need to Do After Getting an SEO Website Audit

Your SEO Audit is complete, and now you know all the issues on your website that need to be fixed and how you can improve your optimization.

Now…where do you start?

Create a list of action items

Using your SEO audit as a guide, list out everything that needs to be corrected or improved on your site. Your audit may even include some suggestions for how to make improvements, so take note of these as well. Your completed list should be a comprehensive summary of all the issues with your site and, if possible, recommendations on how you can correct those problems.

Prioritize tasks based on importance

Some of the issues revealed in your SEO audit may be minor, while others could have a much larger impact on your ranking and user experience. Go through each item on your list and determine which ones have the biggest effect on the success of your site. If you’re not sure, you may have to do some research to determine which items are most important or even ask an expert how you should prioritize your list.

Identify the necessary resources

You have a list of priorities. Now you need to determine what resources you need to accomplish those tasks. If you have the time and knowledge to do your SEO on your own, go for it! If this is your first time dealing with optimization though, you’ll have to factor in time for learning the skills you need to fix your technical SEO errors. And if you don’t have time to learn or just want to be sure that your technical issues are fixed quickly and correctly, consider enlisting the help of an expert to tackle your list.

Determine a timeline

Once you have your action items prioritized, you now need to figure out how long it will take you to get all these tasks accomplished. Don’t get overwhelmed by the number of things you need to do! Instead, remember that SEO is a long-term commitment and not something you do all at once. Set specific goals to reach or a certain number of tasks to accomplish in a week or a month.

Develop an action plan

Now that you know which items on your list need to be fixed first and have an idea of how long they’re likely to take, you can put together a plan for getting everything accomplished. While many of the technical issues from your SEO audit may be issues you can easily fix on your own, some might be a little more complicated. Consider whether you want to hire an agency or expert to help you.

When you receive the list of issues from your SEO audit, you may be overwhelmed by how far you have to go to get your website where you want it to be. While the process of improving your SEO will definitely take time and effort, it’s far from impossible. With a well-thought-out plan, you can optimize your site for search engines and continue to make improvements that will help boost your rankings!

Don't Waste Time Trying to SEO Every Page or Post on Your Website

Optimizing your website for search engines is critical in helping potential clients find you online. But did you know that too much SEO can actually be a bad thing?

Too much SEO is known as over-optimization, and it can ruin your site’s ability to rank. When you overdo your optimization, it can have a huge negative impact on your ranking.

Here are a few signs that your SEO efforts might be veering into over-optimization territory:

Non-relevant keywords

The more keywords you use, the better, right?

Your keywords should always be relevant to your content. Just because a keyword is popular doesn’t mean it will help you site. It may draw in more traffic, but it probably won’t be the traffic you want, leading to lower conversion rates.

Pointing links to top-level pages

Your website should include internal links that point to different, related content all over your website. If the majority of your links point to top-level pages like your homepage, it can weaken your link profile. It’s important to create internal links, but pages like About Us or Contact are already getting plenty of clicks. Instead, work to strengthen your SEO by pointing to deeper internal links.

Keyword stuffing

Keyword stuffing is when you overuse your keywords to get the attention of search engines and show up in results. If you’re forcing keywords and phrases in where they don’t belong, Google will notice and dock you for trying to cheat the system. Plus, content stuffed with keywords isn’t readable, and your users will definitely notice.

Don’t waste your time optimizing pages that don’t need it, like your contact page. In most cases, the contact page doesn’t contain much content, and it will be a challenge to optimize it for SEO. Plus, this page serves a specific purpose and doesn’t need to show up in search results. Instead focus on your homepage and other content-heavy pages that you want to drive more traffic to.

This is just one thing to watch out for when optimizing your site for search engines. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, let us do your SEO for you with our SEO Services. We will audit your site for SEO errors and fix them for you, making sure your website runs smoothly and improving your rankings.

DIY SEO: A Practical Guide for Small Businesses

You’ve built a website for your business. You have a beautiful design that is appealing and modern.

You’ve spent countless hours perfecting it, but nothing seems to be happening.

It’s a common misconception that web design and search engine optimization go hand-in-hand. Most people think they are getting both when in reality they’re only getting one.

Maybe you didn’t know to ask the right questions when selecting a designer or you designed the website yourself.

Enter the debate: Did you decide to spend more for high quality or buy cheap to save money?

Nonetheless, you are here, so let’s talk about SEO and what you need to do to fix your current situation.

The objective of this article is to help you improve your rankings on Google by following the steps we’ve listed below. These are quick tutorials that you should be able to implement in less than 30 minutes. For more in-depth training, download our SEO Playbook.

Now, where do you start?

First off, most small business owners find themselves here. Some know what SEO is, while others have never heard of it. SEO can be overwhelming and confusing, but it doesn’t have to be.

SEO Components

While SEO has a lot of components, it’s actually a fairly straightforward concept. SEO involves understanding what your target audience is searching for and creating content around those topics, as well as dealing with technical issues that can get in the way of your ranking.

To make it easier to understand, SEO can be broken down into 3 main categories that help influence your search engine rankings.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO refers to website and server optimizations that help search engine spiders crawl and index your site more effectively.

On-Page SEO

On-Page SEO is the practice of optimizing individual pages in order to rank higher and earn more relevant traffic in search engines.

Off-Page SEO

Off-Page SEO refers to all of the activities that you and others do away from your website to raise the ranking of a page with search engines.

What You Can Do to Improve Your SEO

Know your target audience

In order to be found by your desired customers, you have to know how they’re looking for businesses like yours. Think about your ideal customer and list out their general demographics: age, sex, geographic location, etc. You should also think about their pain points: Why would they want to work with your business? How can you solve a problem for them or meet a specific need that they have?

One of the best ways to figure out what your customers want from you is to talk to your previous customers. Find out what questions they had before working with you and what problems you helped them solve. Remember, in order to be found by your target audience, you have to build your content around what they want and need.

Determine your keywords

Once you have a clear grasp of your target audience and what they’re looking for, it’s time to create content that answers their questions and helps solve their problems. But before you start creating copy for your site and writing blog posts, you need to figure out your keyword strategy. Keywords are the words and phrases that your target audience types into a search engine when they’re looking for products, services or the answer to a question.

Ask yourself: What keywords do you want to rank for on Google and other search engines? Brainstorm keywords related to your industry and the products or services you offer. Keep in mind that you may use different terms for your products and services than customers do, so search for phrases without any of the industry jargon.

Research your competitors

Once you know your keywords, see who your top competitors are and what they’re doing right to get ranked on the first page of Google. Ask yourself these questions:

·           What content do they have that you don’t?

·           How do they structure their site?

·           Where do they place keywords on their site?

·           How do they engage visitors?

You should also take a look at their social media profiles and reviews to see what users love about working with them. This is a great way to figure out ways you can improve your own offerings and user experience.

Create content that matches searcher intent

Google’s goal is to present the most relevant results to their searchers, so if you want to rank, you need to build content that matches the intent of those searchers. Your content should answer a question or solve a problem that searchers have.

Focus your content around the keywords that users are most likely to search for when seeking services like yours, so build out your site content with those words and phrases in mind. When building out new pages, make sure you create a page for each of your high-priority keywords for which you want to rank.

Build pages that are optimized for search

On-page SEO­ is the process of optimizing the elements of a webpage, such as the content and structure, to help it rank higher in search engine results.This includes:

·           Updating the content on your pages to include your chosen keywords

·           Building out new pages based on popular search terms

·           Creating a keyword-rich content area, such as a blog or resource library

As you create new content, make sure that you include keywords in the textual elements of the page, such as the headings, title tags and meta descriptions.

Take advantage of Google Analytics

If you want to do your SEO work well, you need to gain an understanding of analytics. Understanding your website’s traffic, conversions and other data can help you see where you need to improve and enable you to develop a more powerful SEO strategy.

Google Analytics is a free tool that allows you to track traffic to your website and analyze your visitor demographics. You can use Google Analytics to see how people find and use your website and determine which pages are the most popular. Plus, you can set goals to reach and track your progress.

Eliminate duplicate content

Using the same content in multiple places on your site can quickly cause your ranking to drop. When search engines find the same piece of content on more than one page, they will show only one page in their search results, keeping the other pages from ranking. Keep your content fresh and original to improve your chances of being pushed to the top of search results.

Use internal links

An internal link connects one page of your site to another. Using internal links on your site makes it easier for users to find and read more of your content and also helps Google to crawl your site.

Use descriptive URLs

Optimizing your URLs is a key component of SEO and can have a huge positive effect on your ranking. When creating a new page on your site, make sure that the URL is easy to read and includes relevant keywords that relate to the content of the page. Keep your URLs as short as possible and be sure to use hyphens in between words.

Improve your site speed

How quickly your website loads is a critical part of how search engines like Google rank your site. A slow load time can also have a negative impact on your user experience, leading visitors to leave your site if pages, images and videos take too long to load.

Make sure your site is mobile-friendly

Don’t you hate it when you visit a website and it takes forever to load? Your prospects feel that way too, so if you want them to stick around and becomes customers, you need to make sure that your site loads quickly.

These days many people are more likely to browse a website on their phone or tablet than on their computer. Google has even made mobile-friendly a factor in how it ranks websites in search results.

Fix your technical issues

A few minor technical issues on your website may not be a big deal, but those small problems can quickly add up and have a negative effect on your SEO.

Start with a free SEO Audit to pinpoint the major technical SEO errors on your site and how to fix them.

Before you hire an SEO expert or agency to help your site get ranked on the first page of Google, check out our list of do-it-yourself SEO tips to get you started on the right path with optimizing your site.

5 Benefits an SEO Audit Can Provide Your Business

You value your health, so you visit the doctor and the dentist regularly to check in and make sure every part of your body is in good shape and working well. If something is wrong, you learn what you can do to fix it.

Your website is no different. It’s important to regularly check up on your site to make sure everything is functioning and determine if anything is not working so that you can repair it. After all, you pour so much time and energy into your business. The last thing you want is a few website errors keeping users from staying on your site and turning into leads.

An SEO audit is a check-up that reveals how your website is performing. Without an audit, it can be challenging, if not impossible, to find out if anything is wrong with your site. Just like you may not know what maintenance your car needs until you take it to a mechanic, you likely won’t realize what updates your website needs without an SEO audit.

Recognize errors that are keeping you from ranking

There are hundreds of ranking signals that search engines evaluate to determine where your website should rank. An SEO audit reviews many of these ranking signals to see what is working well, what might need some improvement, and what issues need immediate attention. An SEO audit can reveal errors like broken links, slow loading times, duplicate content, and many, many more.

Find performance errors on your website

There are a wide variety of factors that can slow down or impede the performance of your website. An SEO audit evaluates things like page speed, title length, redirects page size, and other items that can cause issues in how your website performs. A poor performing site can cause visitors to leave without completing any action and can prevent you from driving organic traffic to your site, which means you could be missing out on potential leads and revenue.

Review your keywords and content

In addition to taking a look at the technical side of your website, an SEO audit reviews the content on your website to determine what keywords you’re ranking for and whether you are correctly using those keywords. From your page title to the body copy to the meta description, every piece of content plays a part in determining where your site ranks in search engine results. An SEO audit gives you a clear idea of where and how you can improve your content to rank higher.

Know what your competitors are doing

An SEO audit can also provide information about your competition, such as what keywords they use, how mobile-friendly their site is, and their content strategy. With a better understanding of what your competition is doing right, you can build out a more successful strategy for your business.

Develop a plan for improvement

Once an SEO audit has revealed your website’s weaknesses, you can create a plan for turning them into strengths. You can prioritize issues based on their importance, for example, focusing first on errors that impact the usability of your site before working on improving and updating your content and putting your keywords to work.

Micro-Terms: The Little Words We Use In Everyday Conversations

You know that search engine optimization is critical for generating leads and growing your business, but it can be a challenge to get results from SEO, especially if you're not an expert.

You have to put significant time and effort into link building to increase your domain authority.

Plus, algorithms are always changing and updating, which means that you constantly have to adapt your optimization strategy to ensure that your rankings don't drop.

And even if you do stay on top of Google's updates, thorough and successful SEO implementation can take 6-12 months—or even longer. And there is no guarantee that you will get the results you want.

Of course, you can always hire an SEO professional to optimize your website, but then you have to invest in long-term contracts and monthly retainers, which just means more money out of your pocket.

So, how can you get the SEO results you need without breaking the bank?

Say hello to a little thing called micro-terms (see what we did there?).

What are micro-terms?

Every day, we use thousands of words and phrases in our conversations. These are called "micro-terms." This includes popular slang or abbreviations that people might not know about but still use frequently when they speak.

For example, "fam," which is a short form of the word "family," or "bestie," which is a slang term for a close friend.

Micro-terms can also be acronyms, like ASAP or ROI (return on investment), but these terms tend to be so common that we don't even realize we're using them.

Understanding micro-terms is important because many people use them in their keyword research and content creation—but without knowing about these obscure terms, your business won't rank as highly as possible when you publish content online.

So, how do micro-terms help SEO?

If you're not using micro-terms in your keyword research, and if you're not including them in your content creation, it's unlikely that you are going to rank for these hyper-specific search terms. That means that people might be searching for terms related to your business or industry, but they won't be able to find you online.

As an example, let's say that a person is looking for a New York City dentist.  She types this phrase into Google: "dentist new york city." But she's not necessarily looking for any kind of dentist. She may be searching for someone who is qualified to perform root canals and other complex dental procedures.  

To make the search more specific, our searcher might narrow down her results using geographical terms such as "New York City" or by adding an age group like "children dentist." She could also use abbreviations in her search like "pediatric dentist nyc'" or "nyc pedodontics."

All of these keyword strings are micro-terms because they contain everyday words that people use in conversation, but have very specific meanings in the online world. Identifying and incorporating micro-terms into your content creation can help boost your ranking and ensure that your content is seen by your target audience.

Micro-terms have a tendency to change from day to day

When you begin to include micro-terms in your content creation, remember that they have a tendency to change from one day to the next. If people are using certain words and phrases on social media or sites like Reddit and Quora, it's likely that other searchers will use those same keywords when they search online.

The best way to stay on top of these changes is by monitoring what people are saying online and what topics are trending on social media platforms, such as Instagram (which has more than 700 million users), Twitter (310 million users) and Facebook (2 billion estimated users).

Not only should you monitor the most popular topics and trending hashtags through these platforms, but you should also be aware of the use of micro-terms that are specific to your industry and geographical area.

You can find many of these specific keywords by simply searching Google for phrases associated with your industry or by using keyword tools like SpyFu and SEMRush, which allow you to do the same research without having to type a single word into Google.

You may have never used tools like these before, but they allow you to view keyword data from all around the internet—even if you're not looking for anything related to your business at all. These types of tools are also incredibly useful when you're trying to see how your competitors are ranking in search engines.

Difference between Micro-Terms and Long-Tail Keywords

The difference between long-tail keywords and micro-terms is that, while the latter are more specific, they also tend to have less search volume.

Micro-terms refer to a more specific word or phrase with a low number of instances per month on Google searches—for example "loan forgiveness programs." By contrast, long-tail keywords are broader and more open-ended, such as "money management."

Micro-terms are generally better at leading to conversions, which is why they're a great way of boosting your SEO efforts. Long-tail keywords are generally better at increasing the amount of traffic that your content receives.

By incorporating both into your optimization strategy, you'll not only get more traffic, but you'll also have a higher conversion rate and lower acquisition costs since your website will be converting people who are looking for what you offer.

Ways to find micro-terms

Here are a few ways that you can discover some of these micro-terms to use in your website content:

  1. Google Analytics: Analytics data and trends can be a helpful indicator of what search terms people are using to find your website. By comparing this data with common micro-terms in your industry, you can get an idea of what terms to include when creating blog posts and other content.
  2. Google Search Console: Search Console can help you understand what keywords people use to find your website, as well as the number of impressions (people seeing your pages in search) and click-through-rate (CTR) (people clicking on your page based on number of impressions).
  3. Google Autocomplete: The autocomplete function in Google Search will give you the most popular words or phrases to complete your phrase or sentence. Start with a root phrase and go through the alphabet to see the different suggestions of that search. This is a time-consuming but super helpful way to discover some of the most popular search terms in your niche.
  4. Social Media Posts: You can use social media to identify patterns in the way your clients talk about your services. Be cautious though—in some cases this could lead you down the wrong path when trying to generate more traffic because new trending terms might already be past their peak popularity. But if done right, finding micro-terms on social media can yield major results.
  5. Quora: This website relies on individual's answers to questions that are asked in an online community. The people in these communities are answering marketplace-related questions, and posts are filled with very specific micro-terms.
  6. Reddit: Discover which subreddits are best suited for your industry and niche and explore to learn what topics they cover most often. Look for at least five relevant words in the title.
  7. Google Keyword Planner: Check out your search volume data on the Keyword Planner tool to see if there are any micro-term searches related to your business.

How micro-terms lower client acquisition costs (CAC)

How much money have you invested in Facebook or Google advertising campaigns only to gain a few new clients?

You can reduce and even eliminate the expense of advertising and devote that money to other business needs by taking advantage of micro-terms.

These more specific keywords have a high conversion rate, so they're key to helping your audience finding your content and generating high-quality leads who are ready to purchase.

Let's say that each conversion from your Google ad campaign costs you $50 per click. Your Google ads are driving a wider audience to your website, which means that many of those clicks may be people who aren't ready to buy or aren't even interested in your services.

By using a micro-term, you can attract a more specific audience, ensuring that you only send people to your site who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer, reducing your client acquisition cost.

Why waste money getting clicks on ads with broad terms that miss your target audience?

Benefits of using micro-terms

High click-through rate (CTR): Micro-terms usually contain multiple words, and they are far more likely to appear in search results than single word searches. For example, if I were looking for blog themes, I would be more likely to search for something like "best modern blog themes" or "best 2021 blog themes for SEO agency," rather than just "blog themes."

If your web pages contain a specific micro-term that a searcher is using, they are more likely to click through and view your page, leading to increased traffic and leads.

Low cost-per-click (CPC): Because fewer people are bidding on micro-terms, you can get cheaper clicks than if you were going after larger keywords with much higher competition rates.

High conversion rate: With stronger trending content, you are able to reach audiences who are actively searching for information about your services or products. Using micro-terms to create educational blog posts that provide value to your reader will attract people who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer.

Ultra-specific keywords have a higher conversion rate than broad terms because they target niche interests and have less competition. The biggest benefit of all? You're paying less to get clicks on your ads, which means that you can spend more on converting those clicks into potential clients. And those clients won't just be potential customers—they'll be an ideal fit for your services or products.

What is a long-term keyword strategy?

Long-term strategies focus on using low volume, yet highly converting long-tail keywords for your website content and marketing campaigns.

By targeting these more unique and specific long-tail phrases, you will be able to increase the quality of website traffic that comes into your site while decreasing the costs associated with acquiring this traffic.

This type of optimization can lead to increased revenue through higher conversion rates, as well as decreased advertising expenses or reduced need for expensive pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns.

How long does a long-term keyword strategy take?

Creating a long-term keyword strategy requires a significant amount of time devoted to research in order to find the right search terms for your business. While you likely won't see immediate results, a long-term strategy is worth the investment and can bring you increased traffic and generate more leads over time.

The best part is that long-term strategies will continue to work steadily without you having to invest additional time or money once they've been implemented successfully.

Finding the right keywords to target

To find the best micro-terms to target, you will need to do some research. Your business is unique, and your keyword strategy should accurately reflect the services you offer.

One of the best ways to determine which keywords you should focus on is to pay attention to what kinds of questions people ask about your industry or niche.

The easiest way to do this is to speak to previous clients and find out what questions they had prior to working with you. You can also visit online forums, like Facebook Groups and Reddit, to see what questions people have about your services and products.

The more research you do, the more comprehensive your long-term keyword strategy will be.

Building natural copy

While your blog posts should be optimized for search engines, they also need to appeal to human users who are genuinely interested in what your business has to offer.

This means that you can't put artificial keywords into your blog content just because you think Google will like it.

Instead, write blog posts that target your micro-terms and phrases, but keep the text natural and easy to read. Your goal is not only to get people's attention with a catchy headline, but also to hold on to that attention long enough to convince them that you're a serious player in your field.

The more value that you can offer your readers, the better your conversion rates will be and the higher quality traffic you'll attract from search engines.

Creating Long-Form Articles

Instead of writing fluff content with clickbait headlines, focus on creating long-form articles that provide valuable information and educate your readers.

Longer content with useful information attracts higher quality traffic and builds trust with potential customers over time by providing more value than other businesses in your industry.

The more that your visitors come to trust you and your brand, the more likely they are to become customers in the future when they're ready to make a purchase.

You can spend hours researching and creating this content on your own, brainstorming ideas and potentially struggling with writer's block.

Or, you can let us optimize your content for you using a combination of Generative Pre-Trained Transformer 3 (GPT-3) and real-time discovery of these hidden search terms, where we can hyper-optimize up to 45,000 pieces of content in a single day.

IInterested in learning more? Check out our Tetro, our AI blogging tool. Tetro is the only AI tool on the market that can AUTOMATICALLY write long form expert-level content for you in less than a minute.