7 Quick Sets of SEO Improvements [May 2021]
Updated: May 7, 2021
Make these 7 sets of improvements today, expect more appearances in search and a better outlook for your digital presence tomorrow and beyond.
These are some of the first things I take care of with new clients to expedite the ranking improvement process.
1. Setup Tracking, Submission to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools
Level of Difficulty: Easy
Purpose: Communicate to search engines that your website is here, and setup a data source you can gather insights from
Typically I work with Google Tag Manager to implement Google Analytics. This makes it easy to track form submissions, clicks on PDF's, phone number or email link clicks, or transactions and revenue.
Tracking that can help you set benchmarks and goals, sooner. You'll gather a lot of insights from data that will help you to continually improve rankings. Also, you'll be able to attribute conversions to particular traffic channels or marketing efforts (ex: digital ads, social media campaign, email marketing campaign, trade show/expo, etc.)
Another source of data is Google Search Console. This allows you to see impressions (appearances) and clicks (to your website) for specific search phrases and landing pages from Google. It also provides any recognized crawl errors, and improvements you can make to your site on mobile. If you have a new page or post, you can submit it here to get it indexed faster. GSC is a great resource!
2. Adjust indexing settings, including the sitemap.xml and robots.txt files
Level of Difficulty: Medium
Purpose: Ensure that only pages and posts that are valuable to searchers are being indexed, and make it easy for bots to crawl your website
You can always adjust indexing settings on a page-by-page basis, or with the robots.txt file.
Typically, I work in WordPress and prefer to utilize the Yoast plugin. There, you can go to the "Search Appearance" settings and adjust what you'd like to be indexed/not indexed. These settings also control the sitemap. The robots.txt can be created and is accessible there as well, via tools-->file editor.
You don't want pages with no content or content from your original theme indexing in the search results. A good rule of thumb is: anything that creates extra work for bots and doesn't help searchers should not be indexed.
3. Quick Research + Update meta information
Level of Difficulty: Medium
Purpose: Understand target audience, communicate with those searchers and bots about what is on your page for improved understanding. This will lead to improved engagement metrics that influence rankings
With an SEO campaign, you'll always be doing research. To start, you can research basic search phrases that might correspond to pages on your site, see what's going on with the search results (related searches, people also ask, search features, etc.) and target appropriately.
This will help rev up appearances in search, and give the pages on your site more potential to rank.
A good example of this is when a website has a page that targets "Services". This is extremely vague and not specific to your services.
Let's say this business does HVAC services. A much better meta title and primary heading would be "HVAC Services in [Location] | [Company Name].
Then you can take this a step further with the meta description that appears in the search results and explain the specific services, and points of difference that could draw searchers in.
4. Run a crawl, fix unnecessary 3xx's, 4xx, and 5xx errors
Level of Difficulty: Medium-Hard, may require design/dev assistance
Purpose: Eliminate user-experience issues, improve crawlability for bots, technical improvement for search engine algorithms
Screaming Frog is a great tool that I use frequently! It will crawl a site in its entirety, and give details on each page, images, or bits of code (ex: .js).
By running a crawl and filtering to "HTML"-You'll be able to clearly see anything that is broken, or unnecessary redirects-and eliminate them.
There is even an inlinks section of the report that will show you where pages/images are linked from, to help identify and resolve issues.
An example of this is: You have an ecommerce store and removed a product. The result was a broken URL, and broken links to this URL from other pages. Running a crawl would identify this URL, where it's being linked from, and guide you to the fixes.
A lot of times this does not take that long and can help you to make an impact faster. You can also export reports based on response codes, so if you have a design team or other team members that can help-these can be exported and sent out. I actually did this with a colleague today!
5. Running an automated audit with a tool like SEMrush, resolving those errors/issues
Level of Difficulty: Ranges based on the issue being address
Purpose: Improve user-experience, improve crawlability for bots, technically sound for search engine algorithms
The Site Audit within SEMrush is one of many great tools. Setting up a client domain in software and utilizing tools will help you to recognize issues and opportunities faster. This leads to faster resolutions and ranking impact.
6. Claim, update and utilize Google My Business, Bing Places, and other local business listings
Level of Difficulty: Ranges
Purpose: Mentions, backlinks, and additional traffic sources
All of your business listings on the internet should be claimed and regularly updated. They can encourage more exposure.
Google often rolls out new features, and I tend to think they prefer businesses that utilize their products to the fullest. Adding posts, new images, updating holiday hours, utilizing the messaging feature, and other new components of the business listing are all worth keeping on top of.
Other listings provide additional traffic sources to your website, offer a place to garner reviews, and strengthen brand perception.
7. Make UX and CRO improvements
Level of Difficulty: Medium-Hard, may need design/dev assistance
Purpose: Make user-experience more enjoyable to improve rankings and encourage a higher conversion rate + more conversions
These improvements focus on the user and making it easy for them to go through the desired funnel.
Some of the smallest changes can make all the difference:
Narrow the main navigation to focus on products/services and a CTA
Add internal links where they make sense to encourage natural exploration of informative content (content creation may be necessary)
Make the checkout process as easy as possible-TEST
Make improvements to the checkout process and funnel based on data as it accumulates
So much more
Here's an article I wrote on CRO
This should get you off to a great start!
From here you get into the more advanced strategies like backlink acquisition, technical SEO, etc.
Thanks for reading, I hope this is a helpful resource!