Main Effective SEO and Content Marketing: The Ultimate Guide for Maximizing Free Web Traffic

Effective SEO and Content Marketing: The Ultimate Guide for Maximizing Free Web Traffic

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Get beyond the basics and see how modern-day users are reimaging the SEO process SEO is often underutilized and overlooked across the marketing realm today. SEO is not merely trying to improve your website ranking on Google, but it can spark and optimize ideas. Above all it can help improve the amount of free traffic coming to your web properties. This book provides you with a comprehensive approach to make sure marketing spend is utilized as effectively as possible and deliver the best ROI for your brand and business. Maximizing your organic (free) traffic channels should be a top priority and this book will provide you with insight on how to do that. From working with social media influencers to steering creative ideas and campaigns, modern day SEO requires a full-service perspective of marketing and its processes. General education on SEO and organic content marking Understanding which search engines to focus on How SEO and content can solve business problems Building a new brand through SEO and content Identifying who your true competitors are Which Analytics reports you should be regularly monitoring How to establish research channels that can inform your business initiatives Building personas and audience purchase journeys Prioritizing locations, demographics and countries What needs to be in place to maximize free traffic levels to your brands assets Understanding all the key tasks and attributes for an effective content program Data-Driven Content: Detailed instruction on how to use data to inform content responses, ideas and asset types Understanding different content asset types from standard items like articles to highly advanced assets like films, podcasts, white papers and other assets Calculating ROI for SEO and Content initiatives Small business marketing via content and SEO and having the right small business mindset for success Website and content design considerations (accessibility, principles of marketing) Optimizing for the future and looking at other search venues Amazon Optimization YouTube Optimization App Store Optimization (ASO) Podcast Optimization Optimizing Blogs and other off-site content Prepping and optimizing for the newest technologies, including voice search, artificial intelligence, and content discovery vehicles How to build an optimization path and programs that drive results and manage risks In addition to learning the most effective processes to structure your SEO, you will have access to bonus materials that accompany this book which will include worksheets, checklists, creative brief examples, quizzes, and best interview questions when hiring an SEO specialist. Modern-day marketers, business owners, and brand managers, this book is for you!
Year:
2020
Publisher:
John Wiley & Sons
Language:
english
Pages:
336
ISBN 10:
1119628873
ISBN 13:
9781119628873
File:
EPUB, 33.18 MB
Download (epub, 33.18 MB)
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Table of Contents


Cover

Introduction

CHAPTER 1: Getting on the Same Page Free Traffic

Learning SEO

How Search Engines Work

Executing Search Engine Optimization

Focusing on Google First

Preparation for Algorithm Updates

Quiz





CHAPTER 2: Your Website Why Your Website Is Critical

Search Engine Optimization Process for Your Website

Step 1: SEO Technical Audit: Identify Technical Roadblocks

Step 2: Improve Conversions

Step 3: Consider Accessibility: SEO Design Considerations

Step 4: Set Up a Good Site Architecture

Creating a New Website or Replacing an Old One

Bonus: Interview with Website Experience Expert

Quiz





CHAPTER 3: What Brands Are Missing to Optimize Organic Traffic Why Brand Initiatives Fail

The Modern-Day Marketer's Skill Set

Why SEO and Content Projects Fail

Modern-Day SEO Deliverables and Analysis

Common SEO Issues

Bonus: Interview with an Executive-Level Marketing Strategist

Quiz





CHAPTER 4: Stakeholders for the Modern SEO and Organic Content Process SEO Expert

PR/Social Media Strategist

SEO Copywriter

Creative Director

Producer

Web Developer

Media Manager

Brand Researcher/Planner

Analytics/Reporting Resource

Link Analyst

User Experience Analyst

External Vendors

Project Goal and Mind-Sets

Recommended SEO Tools to Use

Resource Checklist for SEO Program

Quiz





CHAPTER 5: Data-Informed Creative Fighting Inertia and Navigating Personalities in the Content Space

Journey Writing and Persona Development

Need States at the Core of Content Strategies

Content Production Process Principles

Bonus: Content Marketer Interview

Sample Project Brief

Quiz





CHAPTER 6: The Best Content That Can Drive Traffic Missed Opportunities

Content Discovery

Use Demand to Dictate Your Content Response

The Importance of Content Diversity

Reputation Management: Content Responses When Your Brand Is in Trouble

Bonus: Starter List of Potential Content Types

Interview with Content Discovery Expert

Quiz





CHAPTER 7: Thinking Beyond Traditional Search: Looking at O; ther Critical Search Venues Email and Customer Relationship Management

Amazon Optimization

YouTube Optimization

Digital News Releases

Blogs

Influencer Content or Partnered Content on Another Website

Facebook Optimization

App Store Optimization

Optimizing Podcasts

Leverage Sales and Marketing Best-Practice Principles

Quiz





CHAPTER 8: Optimizing for the Future Voice Search and Conversational Commerce

Machine Learning

Artificial Intelligence

Customer Relationship Management Interview

Other Future Content Discovery Vehicles

Quiz





CHAPTER 9: SEO and Content Marketing for Your Small Business The Small Business Mind-Set Needed to Win Online

Bonus: Interview with Small Business Expert

Quiz





CHAPTER 10: Creating Your Optimization Path Building an SEO and Content Vision Throughout Your Company

Understanding Which Search Engines to Focus On

Establishing Your Research Channels

Taking Inventory of Your Assets and Platforms

Identifying Your True Competitors

Knowing and Managing Risks

How SEO and Content Can Help Solve Business Problems

Building a New Brand Through SEO and Content

Prioritizing Locations, Demographics, and Countries

Providing a Positive Brand Search Experience

Staying in Tune with Search Engine Changes

Program Considerations by Industry

Calculating ROI

Compiling Your Optimization Plan

Quiz





CHAPTER 11: Case Studies How to Keep the Success Going

Why Case Studies Are in This Book

Automotive Brand

Financial Services Brand

Auto Insurance Brand

Major Coffee Brand Website Redesign

Press Release Case Study

Major Women's Clothing Retailer

Conclusion





Index

End User License Agreement





List of Tables


Chapter 1 Table 1.1: The Dos and Don'ts of Building Links





Chapter 5 Table 5.1: Content creation framework around need states





Chapter 6 Table 6.1: Content Response Strategy Based on Search Volume





Chapter 7 Table 7.1: Recommended Podcast Lengths





Chapter 8 Table 8.1: The Three Pillars of Good SEO and Questions That Machine Learning ...





Chapter 9 Table 9.1: Web Directories Your Business Should Be In





Chapter 10 Table 10.1: Media Channels and Their Benefits and Challenges

Table 10.2: Owned Media

Table 10.3: Content Formats and Types

Table 10.4: SEO Competitive Matrix Sample

Table 10.5: Content Competitive Matrix Sample

Table 10.6: SEO and Content Marketing Considerations by Industry

Table 10.7: Ranking and Click-Through Rate Correlation

Table 10.8: Optimization Project Plan Example





Chapter 11 Table 11.1: Financial Category Relevant Searches





List of Illustrations


Chapter 1 Figure 1.1: How search engines work

Figure 1.2: The three pillars of good SEO

Figure 1.3: Kmart diamond buying guide

Figure 1.4: Car Insurance long-form copy example that ranks #1

Figure 1.5: Example of rich newsletter promoting content on website from...

Figure 1.6: Search engine share study, Jumpshot 2019





Chapter 2 Figure 2.1: General process flow

Figure 2.2: Screaming Frog URL input

Figure 2.3: Screaming Frog output

Figure 2.4: Response Codes tab

Figure 2.5: Set up a page like this…

Figure 2.6: …instead of this

Figure 2.7: Response Time column

Figure 2.8: Address column

Figure 2.9: Page Titles tab

Figure 2.10: Long title tag

Figure 2.11: NerdWallet title

Figure 2.12: NerdWallet title code

Figure 2.13: Meta Description tab

Figure 2.14: Nike description tag

Figure 2.15: Meta Keywords tab

Figure 2.16: H1 tab

Figure 2.17: Nike H1

Figure 2.18: Nike H1 code

Figure 2.19: H2 tab

Figure 2.20: Nike H2

Figure 2.21: Nike H2 code

Figure 2.22: Directives tab

Figure 2.23: Robots tag indicating to not rank the page

Figure 2.24: Schema.org

Figure 2.25: Reviewing the search result

Figure 2.26: hreflang attribute

Figure 2.27: HTML sitemap

Figure 2.28: Whole Foods XML sitemap

Figure 2.29: robots.txt file blocking

Figure 2.30: Nike navigation

Figure 2.31: Amazon breadcrumbs

Figure 2.32: Nike search widget

Figure 2.33: Keyword Planner tool

Figure 2.34: Getting the search volume and forecasts

Figure 2.35: Input keywords field

Figure 2.36: Getting results

Figure 2.37: Search term data

Figure 2.38: Input date

Figure 2.39: Input data range

Figure 2.40: Specifying a location field

Figure 2.41: Content consumption study visualNielsen, Jakob. F-Shaped Patter...

Figure 2.42: Google Analytics

Figure 2.43: Google Search Console, Performance

Figure 2.44: Google Search Console, Sitemaps

Figure 2.45: Google Search Console, Links tab

Figure 2.46: Disavow Links dialog

Figure 2.47: Disavow links file example

Figure 2.48: Google Analytics engagement data

Figure 2.49: Google Search Console impression data

Figure 2.50: Valid pages' indexed data

Figure 2.51: Link data

Figure 2.52: Google Analytics Device report





Chapter 3 Figure 3.1: Early SEO scope

Figure 3.2: Current SEO scope

Figure 3.3: Traditional SEO process

Figure 3.4: Ideal SEO process for the most effective SEO

Figure 3.5: Example of a keyword research deliverable

Figure 3.6: Content strategy

Figure 3.7: Example of a content calendar deliverable

Figure 3.8: Example of a relatively SEO optimized article that ranks high for ...

Figure 3.9: Example of an infographic

Figure 3.10: Example of an SEO-optimized press release

Figure 3.11: Chase bank versus Wintrust keyword coverage (source: SEM Rush)

Figure 3.12 Chase bank versus Wintrust link coverage (source: SEM Rush)





Chapter 4 Figure 4.1: Ideal project team structure

Figure 4.2: Vendor deliverables and expertise





Chapter 5 Figure 5.1: Typical need states

Figure 5.2: Find My Audience profile for coffee shop regulars

Figure 5.3: Content process





Chapter 6 Figure 6.1: Total content diversification opportunity

Figure 6.2: Current level of content diversification

Figure 6.3: Suggested searches for Boeing 737 include crash

Figure 6.4: Taco Bell's content response to controversy

Figure 6.5: Taco Bell rebounds

Figure 6.6: Transunion Facebook response to a user post

Figure 6.7: Air Jordan product review

Figure 6.8: TransUnion content promotion tactic via Facebook Share

Figure 6.9: TransUnion article “What Is a Credit Report?” that was promoted ...

Figure 6.10: Walmart brand search results pulling in social media assets





Chapter 7 Figure 7.1: Amazon.com New Balance running shoes example

Figure 7.2: Adidas Amazon brand seller page

Figure 7.3: Where to buy Cetaphil

Figure 7.4: Video script format framework

Figure 7.5: YouTube categories selection options

Figure 7.6: YouTube's “Add to playlist” option

Figure 7.7: Google News search results for marketing services

Figure 7.8: Finn Partners marketing services news release

Figure 7.9: How to fix a flat tire

Figure 7.10 Adidas vanity URL

Figure 7.11: About page for Adidas on Facebook

Figure 7.12: Location page for Adidas on Facebook

Figure 7.13: Facebook audience optimization

Figure 7.14: App Store description for the Adidas app





Chapter 8 Figure 8.1: Quick answer example

Figure 8.2: Device report

Figure 8.3: Google survey results: what voice searches want from brands





Chapter 9 Figure 9.1: Wix.com small business template example

Figure 9.2: Trip Advisor example

Figure 9.3: Localized keyword research

Figure 9.4: Location choices

Figure 9.5: Search terms and volumes

Figure 9.6: Google My Business

Figure 9.7: Google My Business setup

Figure 9.8: Claim Your Listing on GoogleMyBusiness





Chapter 10 Figure 10.1: Search engine market share

Figure 10.2: Analytics

Figure 10.3: Search results for tires

Figure 10.4: Keyword competitor coverage chart from SEMrush

Figure 10.5: Audience/Location report in Google Analytics

Figure 10.6: U.S. state view in Google Analytics Audience report

Figure 10.7: City view in Google Analytics Audience report

Figure 10.8: Google Trends global popularity view

Figure 10.9: Gender breakdown in Google Analytics

Figure 10.10: Age range breakdown in Google Analytics

Figure 10.11: Brand search example

Figure 10.12: Industry marketing budget/spend breakdown





Chapter 11 Figure 11.1: Automotive brand SEO process

Figure 11.2: Financial services process

Figure 11.3: Auto Insurance brand total traffic results

Figure 11.4: Auto insurance page results

Figure 11.5: Coffee search traffic

Figure 11.6: Coffee search sales results

Figure 11.7: Year over year PR pickups

Figure 11.8: Increased keyword rankings for important product category terms l...





Effective SEO and Content Marketing





The Ultimate Guide for Maximizing Free Web Traffic





Nicholas Papagiannis





Introduction




This book came about after many intensive hours in the digital marketing, content, and SEO spaces. I've been in the industry for 20 years and have had all kinds of experiences, clients, and projects: some good, some not as good. This book is designed to offer modern-day marketers the templates, processes, education, and other resources to help them execute free traffic initiatives through effective search engine optimization (SEO) and content marketing. I've seen many wasted hours on projects that didn't meet goals, and this book outlines how to ensure your program runs as optimally as possible. SEO and organic content are often underutilized and overlooked across the marketing realm. SEO is not merely trying to improve your website ranking on Google. SEO can spark and optimize ideas, and organic content can be the form for those ideas.

SEO is no longer a stand-alone discipline; it has evolved beyond a simple marketing tactic that should be applied throughout the marketing process. I would argue it should be used to inform and regulate the complete marketing process in an effort to optimize free traffic levels to your brand.

In my opinion, maximizing your organic (free) traffic channels should be a top priority, and this book provides insight on how to do that. This is the most effective way to spend total marketing efforts and dollars. From working with social media influencers to steering creative ideas and campaigns, modern-day SEO requires a full-service perspective of marketing and processes. To date, it's hard to find a book that provides a comprehensive view on how to incorporate SEO throughout each marketing discipline and the broader marketing delivery process.

Currently, many books on the market focus mainly on the basics of SEO but fail to demonstrate how and why SEO needs to be integrated into each marketing competency (social media, PR, creative teams, etc.) for the best return on total marketing investment.

The following are the key areas of this book:

General education on SEO and organic content execution, and marketing

Important search engine strategies and analytic reports

Understanding which search engines to focus on

How SEO and content can solve business problems

Building a new brand through SEO and content

Identifying who your true competitors are

How to establish research channels that can inform your business initiatives

Building personas and audience purchase journeys

Prioritizing locations, demographics and countries

What needs to be in place to maximize free traffic levels to your brands assets

Understanding all the key tasks and attributes for an effective content program

Data-Driven Content: Detailed instruction on how to use data to inform content responses, ideas, and asset types

Understanding different content asset types from standard items like articles to highly advanced assets like films, podcasts, white papers, and other assets

Calculating ROI for SEO and Content initiatives

Building an SEO and Content vision through your company with the right content principles, team structure and processes

Small business marketing via content and SEO and having the right small business mindset for success

Website and content design considerations (accessibility, principles of marketing)

Optimizing for the future and looking at other search venues Amazon Optimization

YouTube Optimization

App Store Optimization (ASO)

Podcast Optimizations

Optimizing Blogs and other off-site content)





Prepping and optimizing for the newest technologies, including voice search, artificial intelligence, and content discovery vehicles

How to build an optimization path and programs that drive results and manage risks



The book aims to provide an exponential return on investment by optimizing marketing budgets across paid and owned content via nonpaid tactics like SEO and organic content marketing. It also aims to bring the readers up to speed on the latest and emerging SEO tactics and factors, content marketing principles, and processes. It also provides quizzes for each chapter, checklists, templates to get started, and interviews with industry leaders.For more information on the author, book, contact information, consulting services, and other valuable free content (discussion forums, news) please visit http://www.effectiveseoandcontentmarketing.com.





CHAPTER 1

Getting on the Same Page




The goal of this book is to provide marketers and business leaders with an understanding of how to gather and optimize free traffic to their brand. This book is designed to offer an exponential return on investment. If you follow the tactics laid out in this book, I am confident that you will see significant increases in traffic and revenue.

The ensuing chapters of this book will provide a roadmap and understanding of how to best optimize your overall web presence through search engine optimization (SEO) and content marketing, as well as how to raise your organic traffic footprint and performance. There are many books on the market that speak to SEO and content marketing, but they do not speak to both. SEO and content marketing depend on each other these days. This is because of the way Google's algorithm works and the way digital marketing and user experience have evolved. Do not focus on one without the other.

This book is essentially a guide for how to leverage both sciences to create a higher amount of free traffic to your brands. It is a framework that modern-day marketers should know, and it's a low-cost way for business owners and marketers to gather a basic understanding and skill set and learn how to provide exponential traffic and marketing effectiveness to their clients and businesses.





Free Traffic


Capturing free, high-quality, high-qualified traffic is a core function and goal of an effective digital marketing strategy. Getting free traffic is not an easy thing. There are many levers that need to be pulled and optimized. Free traffic can benefit an overall marketing program in a lot of ways, especially if there are paid or media tactics involved. The levers of free traffic can help boost paid media performance as well. There are many instances where applying organic optimization techniques through SEO, user experience, content, and other organic strategies can yield a better sales conversion process, more search engine keyword rankings, and stronger traffic levels.

However, it's not easy to make all the free traffic cylinders work well together. There are several things that are required.





Responsive Teams


You need a cooperative IT and website management team. This is necessary so that optimization recommendations can be quickly implemented and rolled live. Oftentimes, IT can prove to be a hindrance in implementing recommendations that ultimately fueled better website performance and traffic. The more responsive the IT team is in making changes quickly, the better the performance output can be.





Strong SEO


You also need a strong SEO expert. Over the years, I've come across many different types of SEO experts. Some were strong technically and only technically, while some were strong on the content side. Some are not strong in either and are generally unhelpful. As we will discuss later in this book, the SEO strategist is the quarterback for a lot of the tactics that generate free traffic. It's important you have a strong quarterback who bridges the gap between technical and content opportunities. Additionally, SEO experts should be well-versed in emerging search channels like social media sites, Amazon, and other platforms beyond your website.





User Experience Expertise


It's extremely important to have a well-seasoned and strong user experience expert. A lot of the conversion or sales process online can be hindered by bad user experience techniques. As the user experience transforms from devices to other things like voice or conversational commerce, it's important to have a strong user experience expert who is well-versed in these channels and can stay in tune with emerging channels to better position your site for changing user behavior and dates.





Ongoing Content Production


Content production is critical. Having a strong content team that is able to create content quickly and effectively is paramount to having a successful free traffic or organic traffic program for your brand. Content, as we’ll get into later, essentially creates your free traffic footprint and is necessary for capturing organic traffic. Think of content as a fishing net. The larger it is, the more fish you're going to catch. It's no secret that news sites tend to drive the most traffic because they are constantly pushing out new content and have a strong content discovery and promotional strategy in place. All these things help sites with a large amount of content and web pages capture the most free traffic around. Back in the day these were called content farms, but now many of those low-quality content farms have dissolved, and high-quality websites that offer a broad spectrum of quality content tend to capture the most free traffic these days.





Strong Analytics


Digital marketers require strong analytics. Data-driven initiatives and content have become the norm nowadays. For a marketer to showcase their effectiveness, there have to be data points and evidence around performance. Strong data analytics and experts are critical to the organic and free traffic process. This book will discuss the different processes needed for achieving strong SEO and content marketing results. A core lever to the organic traffic process is having strong analytics with a frequent cadence of reporting to inform the types of content users are interested in and the effectiveness of your brand's content. It also shows whether the traffic coming to your side is incrementally growing from free channels as a result of good SEO and effective content marketing. Without analytics, you will be a ship lost at sea.





Data-Driven Culture


We live in a data world, and it's imperative that creative ideas and concepts begin with data. Data should inform the ideation stage, and the analytics team should provide this to help ideation and creative concepting.





Process Management


Marketing projects live and die depending on process management. Marketing projects have gotten more complex and technical, which require detailed planning, communication, and process execution. Brands need dedicated and strong project or process managers.

If you're a brand that cannot provide these levers, it is better to wait on free content initiatives like SEO and content marketing, whose results will be severely impacted and compromised. Instead, I would increase the budget for paid media and paid advertisements and focus more on a paid traffic strategy. Paid strategies are clearly more costly, but they do work and provide short-term workarounds until you get your free traffic levers and infrastructure in place.





Learning SEO


I remember my first foray into a search marketing agency, where I was initially a project manager. Search engine optimization seemed so complicated and foreign to me. My manager at the time said some people get it, but most people don't. He rolled his eyes and I felt like taking a gulp, little did he know I thought I was destined to be one of those people who don't get it. At the time I felt I would never understand all the different terminology, the algorithm factors, the definition of content, and the different website management systems. It seemed so overwhelmingly complex, and I was discouraged. I started being thankful that I was a project manager and not the actual subject-matter expert who was in charge of compiling deliverables and educating clients on how it all works. It took me a year of intensive client meetings, several walk-throughs of deliverables, and many repetitions of executing an SEO program to get a comfortable high-level understanding of what it's all about. I am so thankful for that overwhelming time because it not only gave me a thorough knowledge of search engine optimization, but it gave me a great perspective and understanding of how to simplify it and spoon-feed it to the common marketer who is first learning about it.

I also recall the first time I saw a website that I was working on rank #1 for a broad product term, women's swimwear, and the thousands of website visits and sales it yielded. It was an unbelievable, homerun feeling. That was more than 13 years ago, and the core fundamentals of good SEO have not changed.

It might be surprising to know, but SEO is actually not that complicated on a strategic level. Understanding the vision that search engines hold is a great first step in understanding the system of how search engines work.



“Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Google: https://about.google/



As this quote says, it's Google's mission is to organize all the world's information so users can universally access it and are provided with the most useful information. We can dissect each key term in that quote to the following areas:

Organize relates to Google's algorithm, which ranks and organizes content for search results.

Access relates to conduction web crawls, which are essentially programs that scour the Internet to discover websites and content and then provide users with links via the search page to the content.

Useful describes the content Google finds, which is also the most trustworthy and authoritative around a given subject.





How Search Engines Work


Search engines are constantly seeking new information on the Web. They have their own software programs that scour or crawl the Web looking for information. These are sometimes also called spiders or bots. They go from site to site and collect information. They use a ranking algorithm that determines which sites to rank and in what order (Figure 1.1). This is done to provide users with the most relevant and useful content and with an experience that allows users to easily consume content. If you aren't providing that as a brand or website, you are likely not ranking or visible to search engine users. If that's the case, it is time to educate yourself and/or employ a search engine optimization expert to help provide services that help you. Google provides its own “Starter Guide” for websites looking to learn about SEO, but I would argue that you should always employ a search engine expert who understands SEO on a very detailed level and whose job it is to stay up-to-date on the latest Google algorithm processes to help you build and maintain a strong presence on the search results page. Also, it's important to think beyond the technical and HTML code aspects of SEO. It's evolved into much more of a comprehensive game that requires a longer view around tech, content, and popularity aspects. In fact, according to Andrey Lipattsev, search quality senior strategist at Google, high-quality content and link building are the two most important signals used by Google to rank your website for search (source: Search Engine Watch, 2016; https://searchengineland.com/now-know-googles-top-three-search-ranking-factors-245882).



Figure 1.1: How search engines work





Executing Search Engine Optimization


Whether you are a brand marketer with the benefit of having an SEO subject-matter expert on hand to provide you guidance or a small business owner who is trying to do SEO themselves, it's important to understand the key levers that are needed to affect and optimize your search engine presence and rankings. It's actually quite simple; the science and art of search engine optimization can fall into three pillars that must be executed together and in order (Figure 1.2).



Figure 1.2: The three pillars of good SEO





An SEO initiative should provide guidance on how to drive and optimize these three areas of website environment, content, and popularity. Let's dive into each of these because they are essential to understanding and executing the right SEO program that will get you ranking higher in search results for most search engines.





Priority 1: A Great Website Technical Environment


A sound and fully optimized website technical environment is critical and the top priority when it comes to SEO and capturing strong organic traffic levels. If you don't have your website technology set up correctly, your content will not get crawled, so it's useless and pointless to not focus on your website technology first and foremost. Websites are usually managed via a content management system housed on a website server. Both the content management system and website server have important influence on how search engines crawl your content when reaching your website. Most SEO crawling tools and SEO platforms look at these key areas as part of their auditing features. Typically, they crawl the site and pull a list of issues around the following topics into a report.

There are some important areas that must be “set up” correctly to ensure the ideal crawling of your website. While not an exhaustive list, these are typically the most critical:

Redirects: Redirects are used when a page has been moved to a different location or URL. These can be temporary or permanent. There are many kinds of redirects, but it's important to know that search engines recognize and pass SEO value only for permanent redirects. These are also called 301 redirects (whereas temporary ones are called 302 redirects). Both are managed through the web server. As a website, you almost always want to use permanent redirects because pages are rarely moved temporarily (a few days). SEO audits typically scan your website to identify the kinds of redirects your site is using. If you are using a redirect for temporary purposes, it should be flagged and evaluated as to why you are using it and for how long. Otherwise, an SEO subject-matter expert will likely instruct your IT team to change it to a 301 permanent redirect so SEO value is transferred to the new location of the page.

URL structures: URLs are an important area for search engines. The actual URL string provides a unique identification for the page, almost like what a Social Security number does for a person. Additionally, URLs are a key area search engines look to when identifying what the page is about. In fact, it is critical that URLs and their folder structures include keywords. It's also best to use hyphens when separating terms. For instance, this is the number-one ranking for the search men's adidas shoes: https://www.adidas.com/us/men-shoes. The terms are all in the URL and spaced out by hyphens. Hyphens communicate to search engines to separate out the terms versus merging them and ranking them for the merged phrase search results. Additionally, the closer to the root folder of the URL, which is the folder closest to the .com, the more emphasis the keyword gets. The more competitive and general the search ranking you might be trying to rank for, the closer the phrase should be to the root folder. Additionally, it's critical to use only one URL for a page throughout your website. Some sites use variables to track users or to display dynamic content based on where the user clicks throughout the site, which is generally bad for SEO performance results and rankings and, in the case of creating duplicate content, may result in ranking penalties from search engines.

Web page and website load time: How quickly a web page loads, or page speed, is one of the most important ranking factors right now. The top search engine ranking is typically dominated by faster-loading pages, especially on mobile devices that are at the center of Google's design. Furthermore, quick-loading pages positively affect user experience and may increase your conversion rates. According to a study by the Aberdeen Group, every one-second delay in load time equates to a 7 percent drop in conversions. Google will reduce your search engine rankings if your site or web page loads slowly. Slow load time is typically attributed to your server performance and the density of your web page's HTML code. Keep code simple, clean, and easy to process. If your server is causing the issue, work with your website host to determine why and/or consider moving to a different provider that may be closer in distance to your target audience and your location.

XML sitemap and robots.txt files: XML sitemaps and robots.txt files are files that allow you to communicate to search engines the web pages that should get into the search results and rankings. Be sure to leverage your CMS tools to build a complete XML sitemap and robots.txt files and have them validated and submitted via Google's Search Console tool.

Broken pages or 404 errors: A 404 error page means that a web page is not accessible or no longer there. This is usually a result of a broken link or a link using the wrong URL for a web page. The 404 error hampers the user experience by preventing a user from connecting to a desired page. Because of this, websites that produce many 404 errors can lead to a drop in SEO rankings and traffic.

Duplicate content: Duplicate content was one of Google's original spam checks and part of its algorithm early on. Web pages are considered duplicates if their content is 80 percent or more similar. Sites that have duplicate content are usually significantly affected by penalties and lower search engine rankings. Sometimes duplicate content happens by accident due to CMS or URL structuring reasons, so it's important to ensure there is only one URL created for a web page.

Page linking: Page linking within a website is extremely important. Search engines follow them while crawling the site, and the anchor text that links use are another area search engines look to for determining what a page is about (also called relevancy). Every page should have at least one internal link pointing to it and should include the term that you'd like the page to rank for in the anchor text. It's also recommended that the number of links to a page from within a site (not external sites) be no more than 3,000.

SEO meta tags: HTML tags are extremely important to search engines. They explain what your site is about, what to display in the search engine result copy it ranks for, and what type of page it is (recipe, product page, etc.). Each page should have its own unique set of tags. Similar to duplicate content, tag duplication can be a big hinderance to search engine rankings. Be sure to keep tags within the right character limits, and be sure you have an ongoing tag management strategy that uses the latest Schema.org tags, which are constantly changing.

HTTPS encryption: Providing users with a secure website has become a top priority to search engines. Security has become part of the search engine ranking algorithm. Google says, “HTTPS is an internet communication protocol that protects the integrity and confidentiality of data between the user's computer and site” (https://developers.google.com/web/fundamentals/security/encrypt-in-transit/why-https). Websites that do not support HTTPS connects should expect a lower ranking in search engine results and be surpassed by sites that are using HTTPs in search results.

Global SEO elements: Global brands understandably need to have multiple versions of their website for each country and language. Ideally countries should have a different ccTLD for each country (Amazon.com for the United States versus Amazon.ca for Canada), which is the preferred method to tell search engines which content to rank in each country. If that's not possible, another option is to use a subdirectory (spotify.com/fr). Once you determine your URL style, be sure to use hreflang tags (rel="alternate" hreflang="x") on each page as they communicate to search engines which pages should be shown to web page visitors based on their location. Also, if you offer multiple languages in the same country (e.g., a Canadian site that offers French and English content for respective audiences), it's even more important to use this tag.

Page layout and text usage: The top-ranking pages typically offer long-form content, so it's important that your pages have a lot of text around a given subject. Search engines tend to reward fast-loading pages that offer a lot of basic text copy (some even more than 500 words) with the top rankings. Be sure your web pages offer a lot of text, especially in the “above the fold of the page” area, or the area at the top of the page that is initially displayed upon loading, without scrolling. Copy that's within an image does not count since search engines have a difficult time reading the image and typically just scan a page and extract basic HTML text.



These are the key “website environment” areas that take top priority before moving to the content pillar of good SEO. Be sure these are set up and implemented correctly before moving to the next step: content.





Priority 2: Creating the Right Content


During my early days in the SEO world, and still to this day, I remember constantly hearing the saying “Content is king.” This is still the case today, but I believe this applies across all of marketing. I believe the marketing world is still trying to define what good content means and what's included when it comes to defining content types. I will break down content in much more detail in Chapter 5, “Data-Informed Creative.” In my opinion, the list of marketing content is vast. It's not just a blog article or website landing page. Content can mean a lot of things in the marketing world, and SEO can help inform and regulate its creation so it gets the most views possible.

Content is extremely critical to the SEO process because content allows you to rank for the searches you are targeting. Unlike a paid search, to show up for an organic search, a website must typically have a piece of content with the phrase you are targeting. For example, a brand may consider itself an auto insurance provider, and their site solely uses the term auto insurance. They task their team with ranking for car insurance or motorcycle insurance as well as their core term, auto insurance. To rank for car insurance or motorcycle insurance, the brand would have to build content on their site that specifically mentions and is optimized around those terms. For the best chance at ranking, a brand should build a dedicated web page for each search term they'd like to rank for. There are a few exceptions to this, and sometimes content will rank without specifically mentioning the term, but it's rare, usually a fluke, and does not last.

Creating the right content takes a lot of research and understanding of your audience, and that effort is worth it only if you have a sound, SEO-friendly technology environment to house it. If you follow the top-priority tech environment tips discussed earlier, you should be in good shape.

Identifying content ideas can come in many ways, but in general there is nothing like the insight search keyword data provides. I would argue that it's the best way to identify what content you should create. The process is fairly simple, and there are many keyword tools available on the market for purchase. Google also provides keyword data in its AdWords Keyword Planner tool. Once you identify what phrase or category of phrases you'd like to rank for, you need to identify what kind of content you'd like to create.

If you are looking for your website to rank for a phrase, you need to create a long-form piece of content that speaks to that phrase in several key areas, including the URL, the title of the page, throughout the copy, and the link text on the page. Figure 1.3 shows an example of an actual page for diamond buying guide that ranked #1 for the term.

As time has gone on, it's even more important to have long-form content, especially for search terms that are extremely common and competitive and have a lot of content already ranking in search engines. The average Google first-page result contains 1,890 words (source: Backlinko, 2016).

The example in Figure 1.4 for best car insurance is a page that has more than 4,000 words and 12 mentions of the exact phrase. The phrase is also in the URL and SEO HTML tags (like the earlier example).



Figure 1.3: Kmart diamond buying guide





Figure 1.4: Car Insurance long-form copy example that ranks #1





For extremely general and common search phrases, a more comprehensive content approach may be necessary. This will be outlined in Chapter 5. The key takeaway is to provide an SEO-optimal web page for each term you'd like to rank for.





Priority 3: Popularity of Your Web Page and Website


The third pillar of good SEO, popularity, is the most difficult to affect. Oftentimes, search engines find your website and web pages through links from other sites. They assign a “trust factor” or quality factor to those links to determine whether a piece of content is popular and should be trusted. Links from .gov or .org websites are traditionally looked at as having even more power and quality because they are looked at as strong authorities and very trustworthy due to their affiliation with the government or an association.

As often as a few years ago, brands could easily manipulate the link factor. There were all kinds of link networks and vendors that you could subscribe to that would essentially allow you to “rent” links in their website network. In essence, you were buying links artificially. There have been several algorithm updates since then, and search engines have penalized sites that seem to be acquiring links from low-quality sites. The best way to build links to your site is do so organically and to be deserving of them by providing useful, high-quality content. This requires long-term, strategic thinking. It also requires a combined approach that leverages online assets a brand may create outside of their website on other high-traffic websites and to embed links in those assets that go to their content (that they're trying to rank).

Additionally, brands need to be vigilant and regularly monitor that low-quality sites aren't pointing links to them; these are also called toxic links. Fortunately, search engines provide a link disavow option via their Google Search Console or webmaster website monitoring tools, which allow you to mark incoming links as low quality and instructs them to “disavow” or essentially ignore them. Many SEO tools have a feature that checks the quality of links pointing to your site and provides you with a list that you can upload into each search engine's platform to disavow poor-quality links.

To boost links, nothing works better than offering useful and unique content. I once had an automotive brand that we were working with that was looking to build links. When we started working with them, their site had only about 1,200 links pointing to it. This is incredibly low considering many websites in their industry had more than 1 million links pointing to them. We were at a major disadvantage to ranking well and leapfrogging the competition. We conducted a content and search term analysis to determine what topics people were searching for and provided a gap analysis to show where they were missing content. We built many “how to” and other types of help content.

As a result, the link counts increased significantly. Within two years, the link count went to more than 100,000. When we dove deeper, we found that a huge number of local auto dealers were linking to their site and content because they found it useful and complementary to their dealer sites. Additionally, we saw that other channels were driving a lot of traffic to them, email and social media in particular. As a result, we saw our total website rankings increase exponentially. Table 1.1 shows the dos and don'ts of building links.

Table 1.1: The Dos and Don'ts of Building Links



DO DON'T

Aim for getting links from high-quality sites, especially .org and .gov websites Get links from low-quality sites

Point links to your home page and other important pages that you are trying to rank Just link to your home page

Include the term that you are trying to have your website rank for in the anchor text of the link pointing to it Use a general anchor text like “click here”

Consider content promotion tactics to help boost awareness of your content Forget to use the search term in the anchor text that you would like to have the page rank for

Use a link quality tool to run monthly checks to determine if your links are low quality and disavow them using Google Search Console Buy or rent links



The key is to understand that acquiring links should be done organically, by providing high-quality content that other sites link to. There are some additional organic ways to build awareness of your content and links.

Paid media: Paid search or content promotion vehicles can drive a significant amount of traffic to your content, which can yield links or shares of your content.

Custom content strategies (bloggers, influencers, publication sites): Custom content pieces are often collaborative and allow brands to provide an “assignment brief” where they can discuss the guidelines for the project. When soliciting proposals and completing assignment briefs, brands can often ask for links in the copy to important web pages of the brand website. This can increase the awareness of your content and could increase links as well.

Social media updates: Sharing content on social media channels (Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, etc.) can be a great way to bring awareness of your content, particularly if you have a robust following.

Email newsletters: For brands that publish email newsletters and have a large email list, adding a link to a new article can be a great way to build awareness and attract views of content that may lead to links. See Figure 1.5.

Digital news releases: For brands that drop online press releases, consider using a newswire service like PR Newswire. These services push out your release to hundreds of news publications at once and typically allow for embedding links to content and other owned media assets that you are trying to increase links to in the release. Including search terms in the anchor text is an excellent way to build links. It's a really quick and passive way to bring awareness of your content and your site.

YouTube videos: YouTube is considered the second most popular search engine according to the New York Times. For brands that have videos on YouTube or a program on YouTube, they should employ SEO best practices (to be discussed later) to maximize free views of video content. They should also include a link to a relevant web page for each video.



While the factors that affect search engine rankings are constantly changing, I've found that the three pillars of good SEO that I just outlined have lasted since the beginning of Google. I am confident that if brands focus on optimizing the three pillars of good SEO and optimizing the factors underneath them, they will see significant improvements to their organic traffic levels and search engine rankings.



Figure 1.5: Example of rich newsletter promoting content on website from mrporter.com





Focusing on Google First


The big three search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing) focus on most of the same elements of a web page but weigh them a little differently. This makes it difficult to optimize around all three search engines at the same time, so we recommend focusing mostly around Google since it controls the largest share of users by far. See Figure 1.6.



Figure 1.6: Search engine share study, Jumpshot 2019





At the end of the day, Bing and Yahoo look at page, domain, and link quality but weigh them slightly differently. If you are not ranking well on Bing or Yahoo but are ranking well on Google, consider looking at the following factors:

Your domain characteristics: Bing and Yahoo favor older domains with keywords in them, for example, if your target search term is in your domain (www.mensshoes.com).

Link quality: Yahoo and Bing weigh links from .edu, .org, and .gov websites and exact match anchor text more heavily.

On-page elements: Yahoo and Bing favor web pages that include the specific phrase you are targeting in key web page areas like the header, title, web page copy, and description tags.

Social media signals: Bing has come out and said that it factors social media factors into its results, so content that is shared more on Facebook, Twitter, and other channels typically will rank better.



If you are concerned about a lack of rankings on Bing or Yahoo, work with your SEO expert to craft a plan specific to ranking on those engines. You have to remember that some of the factors they weigh might look “spammy” to Google and could risk your rankings on Google since they are more stringent around exact match links and exact match domain structures.





Preparation for Algorithm Updates


Search engines typically make several updates to their ranking algorithms throughout the year. The most news chatter is usually around updates that Google makes. It's important to monitor Google's blogs and search engine trade websites like SearchEngineLand.com and SearchEngineWatch.com to keep up with the latest news.

This book provides general usability and search engine practices that should position your site to rank well and be in line with current search engine guidelines. However, since usability requirements change and search engines make updates to accommodate for them as well as spam filtering and security needs, be sure that you or your SEO expert stay in tune with any published updates that might affect your SEO performance.

Google does several different algorithm updates throughout the year to help sift out spam content and low-quality websites. Over the last few years Google has done several updates every few months, including the following through June 2019:

August 2017: Google did the Hawk local algorithm update. Google was trying to force similar businesses that were near each other to be filtered out of local search results. Google then followed up that update to essentially correct it and put businesses near each other even if they're similar.

November 2017: There were rumors that Google did another update in November 2017. It decreased the search engine ranking on many small sites with minimal content that offered ads. Essentially, Google penalized sites that were trying to rank for search results to capture traffic and solicit advertisements to that traffic.

December 2017: Google confirmed that it did an update that targeted websites that had way too many limited landing pages targeting different keyword derivatives, as well as sites with too many ads or thin content on them. This update essentially targeted spam sites.

March 2018: Google representatives confirmed that they did a ranking algorithm update but did not disclose what exactly they penalized.

April 2018: Google representatives again confirmed that they did a core algorithm update and gave no significant feedback as to what they filtered out. Many sites did not see a significant impact from this update.

August 2018: Google representatives confirmed that they released a major search algorithm update to reward quality websites with higher search engine ranking results. According to Google, the update was not focused on demoting low-quality content but rather providing more relevant results to users that offer high-quality comment content.

September 2018: Google representatives confirmed that they released a minor search algorithm update on the company's anniversary, September 27. They did not disclose any details regarding the impact of this update and the types of content it penalized or rewarded.

March 2019: Google representatives confirmed that there was a broad algorithm update dubbed the Florida2 update because it was discussed at the Pub Conn Florida conference. Since it was a broader update, they didn't disclose any specific changes or impacts to look out for. In general, it was rumored to just focus on the quality of search results and how well content how well content is mapped to search query or phrase.

April 2019: Google confirmed that there was a glitch in its algorithm and the company had to do an update because it led to some websites and content being in the index and removed from search engine results. The update was essentially to fix the indexing issue. Normal sites were typically not impacted unless they were deindexed.

May 2019: There was rumored to be another algorithm update because Google had issues indexing new content. This update was rumored to be a fix for that issue.

June 2019: Google rolled out the well-publicized domain diversity update. It was aimed to improve search results in that instance where a single domain dominated all the search results for a search phrase. As Google says, going forward, it will generally not show more than two URLs (listings) from the same domain as a result of this update.



The big takeaway from this timeline is that Google frequently updates its algorithm that ranks content and websites. It's extremely important that marketers pay attention to the latest news on Google algorithm updates because they can severely impact your websites and content performance. These updates could compromise free traffic as well and decrease the overall return on investment (ROI) of your web assets. In my opinion, it's extremely critical to have an experienced SEO expert on hand at all times to ensure your website is positioned well to handle the turbulence that comes out of these frequent search algorithm updates. Google is constantly tweaking its ranking algorithm and rewarding users with a better user experience by molding irrelevant content and low-quality sites. It's critically important that brands stay ahead of the curve by offering high-quality content and a great user experience.





Quiz


What redirect type is best for SEO? 302 meta refresh redirect

301 permanent redirect

301 meta refresh redirect

404 permanent redirect



Answer: b



What are the three pillars of good SEO? Content, website environment, trust

Technology, linking, copy

Copy, website environment, linking

Content, website environment, popularity



Answer: d



True or False: Google's mission is to optimize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. Answer: True



True or False: For good SEO, links should be high-quality and numerous. Answer: True



Content should be: Unique

Long-form

Useful

Search informed

All the above



Answer: e.



True or False: Typically, link building is the toughest of the three pillars to affect. Answer: True



Which of the following is not a good example of a content promotion tactic to build awareness and links to content? Influencer strategies

Partner content: custom content on a partner site

Placing links to brand web pages in the YouTube description of highly viewed videos

Social media sharing

Adding a link to your content from a website's XML sitemap file



Answer: e



If you are trying to get a page to rank for black shoes, where should you include the exact search phrase that you would like to have the page rank for? HTML title tag (page title)

Header tag (or h1, h2)

The URL

Anchor text

Image/alt tags

In the page copy

All the above



Answer: g



To have a free-traffic oriented marketing program, which of the following do you not need? Analytics

Content production process

SEO expert

News-writing expert

User experience expert

Data-driven creative team members

All the above



Answer: d



How often does Google conduct algorithm updates? Several times a year

Once a year

Every few years

Once a week

Every day

Every few days

All the above



Answer: a





CHAPTER 2

Your Website




Search engine optimization and other digital marketing channels are reliant on a brand's website, so it's important that you think about your website as the centerpiece to your program.





Why Your Website Is Critical


The benefits of a website cannot be overstated. From a search engine optimization perspective, a website is the critical piece to strong business performance. Many brands neglect their website from many different areas or fail to properly monetize and optimize their website to rank well. A website can provide many brand and marketing benefits.





Improves Search Engine Rankings


A website can provide search engine rankings, which are comprised of web pages and content from websites. A brand's website gives them an opportunity to dictate what search engine rankings say and how high that content ranks. A strong website can help you boost the number of search rankings a brand ranks for and thereby the amount of traffic it can collect. The more quality rankings you have in search engine results, the better your free traffic levels will be.





Communicates Brand


A website allows brands to tell their story and describe their products and the benefits of their offerings. Once a user enters a brand's website universe, the user is taken through a brand experience that communicates what the brand is about, what it offers, and how it could help the user. Also, the user learns what products or promotions the brand offers as well as answers to any questions the user might have. The website essentially allows brands to communicate with an audience interested in their brands and products. It allows brands to control their communication and engage users with their story and utilities.





Provides Information About Audience


A website allows for a brand to learn more about their audience. If a website has adequate analytics tracking set up, it will be able to provide brands with very valuable information about what website visitors are interested in and what they engage with. This data can help inform several areas of marketing and research. It is critical for brands to properly set up analytics so that the website's benefits can be leveraged. As we get into the next chapters, we will learn how to help inform marketing and content initiatives.





Captures Customer Relationship Management Inputs


A website allows for brands to capture contact information of their audience that can be used for remarketing purposes. Customer relationship management is an established area of digital and traditional marketing. Websites can help feed customer relationship management (CRM) strategies by collecting contact information of audiences. Contact information can be as little as an email, which can be collected by offering valuable content such as a white paper or an ongoing newsletter. Users are typically open to sharing their contact information in exchange for valuable content or content that offers utility and entertainment.





Provides Traffic Monetization Opportunities


The most obvious benefit to our website is traffic monetization opportunities. Whether it's a purchase, lead generation, click to call a business or other sales conversion types, websites offer brands a channel to create sales and orders of their products and services. Most brands build websites for this purpose. It is important to determine how to best monetize your website. A monetized website provides marketers with a means to assign a return on investment to their marketing initiatives. A website that is not monetized properly will fail to inform and measure the effectiveness of marketing initiatives.





Search Engine Optimization Process for Your Website


When it comes to your website, it's important to understand what the ideal SEO process is for an effective program and what activities fall under each step. Generally, SEO and marketing are most effective if they are process-driven. Having a process in place assigns ownership, ensures certain steps happen, and enables the final product to be the highest quality possible. For SEO, the process also should address the three pillars of good SEO. Figure 2.1 shows a general high-level process flow to follow when executing an effective SEO process on your website. (Chapter 3 will have a much more detailed project process for a comprehensive SEO and content program, so please stand by for that.)



Figure 2.1: General process flow





This chapter contains a breakdown of each step to help you employ an effective SEO stand-alone program for your website.





Step 1: SEO Technical Audit: Identify Technical Roadblocks


The SEO technical audit is the first key deliverable that needs to be completed when executing an SEO program. This deliverable is typically technical, can take many shapes, and outlines many areas of technical issues your website might be having. Typically, this deliverable is done in a presentation format, if a vendor is compiling it. If you are doing an audit for your own site, you can do something informal like a simple list of issues with their respective URLs. The goal of the audit is to identify technical roadblocks and issues that are comprising search engine rankings and indexing. When summarizing an issue on a site, it's important to know how to fix it. So, each audit issue should have a corresponding description of the issue, the URL, and how to fix it. This should be submitted to the website team for fixing. If you are not an SEO expert, you might want to discuss the issues with the website team to figure out how to fix them. There are many audit tools on the market that provide several features to make your life easier when doing SEO audits. Consider leveraging them. One popular website auditing tool is called Screaming Frog, and it's free to use for free websites. Consider downloading this for your use on your website at https://www.screamingfrog.co.uk.

Screaming Frog offers a free website crawl, and it pulls technical information into its platform and assesses it. Once you download it and log in, all you have to do is input your website URL at the top (Figure 2.2).



Figure 2.2: Screaming Frog URL input





Once you put in the URL you would like to crawl and click Start, the program runs, crawls your website, and begins to populate the interface and tabs with specific information about your website.

If you click through each tab, you can see a list of the URLs on each tab. See the example of Nike.com in Figure 2.3.

The first tab, Internal, is a combined view of all other tabs except for External, Hreflang, and Custom Tabs. This gives you a comprehensive view of the website data that you can export and analyze further if needed.

The next tab, External, is essentially a list of outbound URLs that Screaming Frog found referenced on the website. You can view details for the external links such as status and crawl depth. Typically, there aren't many issues to look for on this tab.



Figure 2.3: Screaming Frog output





From an SEO audit point of view, the important tabs are the Response Codes, Page Title, Meta Description, Meta Keywords, H1, H2, Images, and Canonicals.





Response Codes Tab


The Response Codes tab offers the list of page URLs and the response code for each page (Figure 2.4). The response code is a code that is returned by a web server when a website visitor makes a request to access a web page. The response code is typically three digits and can mean different things. Some response codes are positive for SEO, and others are negative.



Figure 2.4: Response Codes tab





SEO Positive Response Codes


These are the positive response codes:

200 status code: A 200 code is good and means that the web server will provide a direct and successful response with the page information that you were expecting.

301 status code: A 301 code is also good but indicates the page has moved permanently. It will forward your request to the new page and provide you with the page information you were looking for.





SEO Negative Response Codes


These are the negative response codes:

302 status code: A 302 status code is tricky. It can be bad for SEO performance if a page has permanently moved because it indicates that the page is temporarily redirected, and it may not pass along SEO value. Use this code only if the URL of the page has temporarily changed. For the most part, 302 codes are something to note in Screaming Frog. You should verify the page is meant to be redirected only temporarily.

400+ or 500+ status codes: Status codes 404, 401, 403, 410, and 500 or 503 are almost always negative for SEO. They essentially mean the web page or URL is no longer available, there's an error, or the user is not allowed to access it. You don't want to see any of these in your Screaming Frog data.



If you see any negative status codes, you should take up the issue with your website hosting company and quickly resolve the issue in one of several ways.

Change them to a correct, live URL and removing all website references/links to the broken or dead URL across your site.

If a 404 response code is used, put a custom 404 error page together that includes the navigation and a friendly error message for the user (Figure 2.5 and Figure 2.6).

Set up 301 permanent redirects from the erroneous URL to the live, appropriate URL.



The other item you should look at on the Response Codes tab is the Response Time column (Figure 2.7).

This metric essentially indicates how long it takes for the server to respond when a user requests a page. This is a critical metric since search engines now penalize sites with slow load times. Google's research claims that the chance of a user leaving your site increases 32 percent when your load time is longer than one second. Try to keep response times as low as possible and definitely less than one second. If you have a response time that's higher than one second, you should consider reaching out to your website hosting company to see whether there's anything they can do. You should also consider testing the page on Google's Page Speed tool and resolving any other issues with your website developer or the person who programmed your website. Try the tool here: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/.





Figure 2.5: Set up a page like this…





Figure 2.6: …instead of this





Figure 2.7: Response Time column





Address Column


Take a look at the Address column on the Response Codes tab in Screaming Frog to assess whether the site has good SEO (Figure 2.8). URLs are extremely important for SEO.



Figure 2.8: Address column





As mentioned in Chapter 1, the actual URL string provides a unique identification for the page, and URLs are a key area where search engines look when determining the page content.

Be sure that your website URLs and their folder structures include keywords instead of numbers. It's also best to use hyphens when separating terms.

Make sure the term you'd like to target the page to rank for is as close to the root folder of the URL as possible, which is the folder closest to the .com.

Also sort through the URLs and make sure they're all different since it's critical to use only one URL for a page throughout your website.



Be sure you are only using HTTPS in your URL structure. Google is pushing for a more secure Web and rewards secure websites with a minor ranking boost. A URL that is using HTTP and not HTTPS indicates that it's not using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). SSL is a standard technology that is used to keep an Internet visitor safe and safeguards any sensitive data, such as logins or personal data. Lacking this security means the website isn't as secure, and Google has announced it will reduce its ranking for the site's content.





Page Titles Tab


The Page Titles tab is an important tab in Screaming Frog because it indicates what the title tag in the HTML is for each page (Title 1) and the character length of the title (Title 1 Length). Figure 2.9 shows these columns.



Figure 2.9: Page Titles tab





It's important to look at each of these columns to make sure you don't have title tags that have the same copy on multiple URLs. Additionally, it's important to keep character length within 45 to 65 characters to have an effective message displayed in the search results because this tag is typically the top blue part of a search engine result. A title tag greater than 65 characters runs the risk of getting cut off, as shown in Figure 2.10.



Figure 2.10: Long title tag





When looking at your titles, it's also important to look for duplicate content on different URLs. Be sure to look for any duplications by checking for duplicate title tags, which are a sign of it.

Also, be sure to check for duplicate title tags in general, as they are also potentially negative because the title tag is the first place search engines look when discerning what the page is about and what search terms to rank it for. Having duplicate title tags can result in multiple pages competing for a search ranking, which can waste SEO value. Good title tags are less than 65 characters and clearly state what the page is about, which can increase click-throughs on the search results page. Place the targeted search phrases as close as possible to the beginning of title tags. Be sure to target only one phrase for very competitive searches and no more than two for other terms. Figure 2.11 shows an example of a great title tag that ranks #1 in Google for mortgages, which is a competitive search phrase. Figure 2.12 shows the corresponding HTML code.



Figure 2.11: NerdWallet title





Figure 2.12: NerdWallet title code





Meta Description Tab


The Meta Description tab pulls the meta description tag and its character length for each page (Figure 2.13). This tag is extremely important because it provides the copy on the search engine result page below the URL (black font in Figure 2.14).



Figure 2.13: Meta Description tab





Figure 2.14: Nike description tag





This copy should be 160 characters or fewer. It can be looked at as a form of advertising; it should include brand messaging and a call to action and should mention the topic of the page.





Meta Keywords Tab


Though no longer important to SEO rankings, I still consider using keyword tags a best practice whenever possible. The keywords tag is a tag that's typically found in the HTML of most pages and was originally a place where search engines also look to determine relevance or for the search term to use for ranking a web page. In Screaming Frog, the Meta Keywords tab essentially outlines what the keywords tag is for each page (Figure 2.15). Remember, it's not important to have a keywords tag from an SEO standpoint, but it's still a best practice to include one. Try to have one for each page, whenever possible.



Figure 2.15: Meta Keywords tab





H1 Tab


The H1 tab indicates whether a head tag or an H1 tag is being used on the page. Every page should be using an H1 tag, since it's a key area where search engines look to determine what the page is about. The tag is important too from a website visitor's standpoint because it's usually displayed on the page as the page header (Figure 2.16).



Figure 2.16: H1 tab





Figure 2.17 shows an example of a page header (h1 tag).



Figure 2.17: Nike H1





Figure 2.18 shows the HTML code where the H1 is.



Figure 2.18: Nike H1 code





If your site is not using an H1 on a page, look into why to determine whether you can add one. The tag doesn't really have a character limit and should include the term that you'd like the page to rank for.





H2 Tab


While not as valuable as the H1 tag, the H2 is another page header tag search engines look at when determining what to rank a page for. Most sites fail to use H2 tags because they are already using an H1 tag and they might think it's unnecessary or they don't have enough copy on the page that's relevant. Look for the H2-1 column in Screaming Frog to determine whether a page is using the tag (Figure 2.19). The tag should also include the phrase you'd like the page to rank for.



Figure 2.19: H2 tab





In the page shown in Figure 2.20, the “Tiger Woods” link was marked as an H2. You can see this in the HTML code shown in Figure 2.21.



Figure 2.20: Nike H2





Figure 2.21: Nike H2 code





Directives Tab


The Directives tab has one column that is important to SEO, the Meta Robots 1 column, which indicates whether a web page has a noindex tag (Figure 2.22). This tag essentially tells search engines to not rank the page at all in the search engine results. If you see a page in a Screaming Frog column that says “no index,” make sure you want it to not be ranking, because it's likely not. If you want it to rank, edit the tag by removing the “no” so that it says “index.”



Figure 2.22: Directives tab





After using Screaming Frog for the previous basic checks, it's important to view the HTML of your website for specific opportunities that require a manual view of the code (Figure 2.23). These consist of checking for Schema.org tag opportunities, language and country designations, and sitemap.xml files.



Figure 2.23: Robots tag indicating to not rank the page





Schema.org Tags


Schema tags are advanced HTML tags that provide additional details for search engines and users. They offer a way to communicate to search engines what type of page you have. Some examples are “product page,” “recipes,” or “review” pages (Figure 2.24). For the most part, these tags require a basic tag element to be implemented on each respective page.



Figure 2.24: Schema.org





Schema tags are as important as ever these days. They provide a richer SEO experience because some of the content is pulled into the search results page (Figure 2.25). The added features in the results tend to increase click-through rates significantly. In fact, according to Search Engine Land, they can increase your click-through rate by 30 percent (https://searchengineland.com/how-to-get-a-30-increase-in-ctr-with-structured-markup-105830).



Figure 2.25: Reviewing the search result





Additionally, Schema.org tags are extremely helpful in getting your site to rank for voice search results. It's important that you consider which schema tags need to be used for your website so that the site is set up as well as possible in traditional and voice search engine results.

For a detailed list of the pages and their respective code to use, visit https://schema.org/docs/schemas.html.





Language and Country Designations


If you have a website that serves multiple countries and/or languages, it's important that they are set up the best way possible to rank in search results in those countries and languages.

The hreflang (rel="alternate" hreflang="x") attribute is an HTML tag on a web page that helps search engines understand which page should be shown to visitors based on their location. Utilizing this attribute is necessary if you're running a multilingual website and would like to help users from other countries find your content in the language that is most appropriate for them.

Be sure that you are using the correct country code to avoid any problems with hreflang links. We recommend that you review any hreflang tags on your website to ensure you are using the correct ISO 639-1 language code and the correct ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 country code. Click the page on your website aimed for foreign visitors and make sure the tag has a designation. Figure 2.26 shows an example of a website using the hreflang attribute on the French version of its website.



Figure 2.26: hreflang attribute





XML Sitemaps


A website should have two forms of a sitemap. First, it should have a standard web page linked at the bottom of the page that provides links to all the pages of the site (Figure 2.27).



Figure 2.27: HTML sitemap





Also, a sitemap in an XML file is needed. Be sure your website is providing an XML sitemap since search engines reference this when crawling your URLs. It helps provide guidance to the search bots with regard to which URLs you'd like to get scanned and ranked in search engine results. The sitemap is typically located in the root folder and is usually publicly reachable by simply typing your domain (www.abc.com) and attaching sitemap.xml at the end of it (www.abc.com/sitemap.xml).

Figure 2.28 shows an example of the sitemap for Whole Foods.



Figure 2.28: Whole Foods XML sitemap





Be sure your website uses a sitemap that lists all the URLs of your website to ensure their visibility in search engine results.





robots.txt File


The robots.txt file is the first page search engine bots visit when crawling your website. The file is a simple text file that resides in the root folder. To examine the one for your site, type your domain and add /robots.txt at the end of it, for example (abc.com/robots.txt).

This file allows you to prevent some URLS from getting crawled and indexed. For the most part, unless you want specific URLs crawled, your robots.txt file should look like this, which allows all web crawlers access to all content:

User-agent: *

Disallow:



If you would like to block URLs from a section of your website (this sometimes happens for various reasons), you can use this language in it:

User-agent:*

Disallow: /subfolder you want blocked/



As part of your audit, check your robots.txt file to take note of any pages being blocked by simply typing your URL and robots.txt after that. Verify you'd like these pages blocked from ranking in search engine results. Figure 2.29 shows an example of a comprehensive robots.txt file that's blocking many different subdirectories on Wholefoods.com.





Image Filenames and alt Tags


The alt attributes within img tags are referenced by search engines to understand what your image is about. It's essentially the text that goes after the alt= in an image tag that's right next to each image in the HTML code.

If you neglect alt attributes, you may reduce your ranking in image results and regular search results. Not using the image alt attribute is also a failure for visually impaired users who depend on the image results. Be sure your site is using alt tags for each image and the text explains what the image is about.



Figure 2.29: robots.txt file blocking





Also, be sure to include the search term you'd like to rank for in the name of the image file. So, if you want the image to rank for ABC Company's logo searches, be sure to include that in the filename. Here's an example of a file that's optimized with alt tags and filename to rank for ABC company logo searches:

<img src="abclogo.png" alt="ABC Company's logo"/>

These are the key areas to examine in your website audit. It's important to review each line of these to ensure you are utilizing these elements correctly and that the technology of your website is up to par for search engine rankings.





Step 2: Improve Conversions


Whether it's a sale, an email submission, or a call to your business link, a conversion can come in many forms. Follow these steps to ensure the most conversions and the best possible return on investment.





Having Effective Site Navigation for SEO


One of the most important areas of a website is the navigation element. The navigation summarizes, organizes, and provides the hierarchy of a website's content. It's one of the first areas a user sees when they reach your website, and it's typically part of the main website template and visible on every page of your website. The better this is organized, the better the user experience. A better user experience usually means more sales.

It's also important to know that search engines reference your navigation when populating the sublinks of your result for your brand terms (Figure 2.30). Creating an optimal navigation that provides great page categorization and organization will help you garner more traffic and engagement with your site.



Figure 2.30: Nike navigation





There are some key practices to consider when determining the navigation of your website.

Keep the top-level structure simple and intuitive: Think about the user first coming to the website. Ask yourself, what are their possible needs? What are the various sections of content they may be looking for? Start from the top level and keep the navigation to the topmost popular/content categories. If you are selling shoes, consider dividing up the shoes by the key categories, men's shoes, women's shoes, kid's shoes, etc., and then drive users down from there.

Use search data to determine terms to use and which pages to include: Use a keyword tool to determine which terms to use in the copy of your navigation. For instance, if you had a shoe website, pull together a list of the top related searches in the shoe category and around your brand. Go line by line to see which terms have the most search frequency or volume to prioritize navigation choices. If the term men's shoes has more search volume, be sure to put that ahead of kid's shoes in your navigation. Start your navigation priority from the top or left side of the page, and go with the terms that have the most searches first. So, for the top categories, if search volume indicates this is the order of popularity, start with women's shoes, have men's shoes as the next link, and kid's shoes as the next. Use keyword data to determine navigation hierarchy and priority.

Help users find content with fewer clicks: There's a rule of thumb in the user experience world: the more a user has to click to find what they're looking for, the higher the risk of them dropping off from your site. You can look at your website analytics tool and funnel reports to determine this, and you'll likely see that as users move along on your site, the more they drop off and the fewer their visits. Keep that in mind when designing navigation and keep things to fewer than three clicks.

Take some tips from your competitors: It's always important to take note of good-performing websites in your product category. On top of determining why they do well, consider their structure. Is their content layout simple and intuitive? Does it allow for the user to find their content relatively easily?

Use breadcrumb navigation: Breadcrumbs are small subnavigation elements that are visible on each page of your site. They are an added feature to a good user experience and offer a subtle way to help the user navigate through your site. They also offer direct SEO benefits since they help build keyword relevance. This is why the most popular websites use them, particularly ecommerce sites. Be sure to use them on your site and use the same terms that are in your other navigation links to keep things simple and consistent for the user. Figure 2.31 shows an example of Amazon using breadcrumbs.

Figure 2.31: Amazon breadcrumbs





Use a website search widget: Website search features a variety of uses, one of them being user experience. It enables a user to input exactly what they're looking for and enhances the user experience. This is critical, especially for ecommerce sites, which need to leverage every visit as a potential sale (Figure 2.32).

Figure 2.32: Nike search widget





Keyword Research


Keyword research is a critical task that provides information, which can be utilized for your website content and for other content ideas, outside of your website. There are many keyword tools available, and if you subscribe to an SEO program platform like SEMrush, BrightEdge, and Ahrefs, you likely have a keyword research tool available. The process should be pretty similar regardless of the tool. For our example, we will use the Google Keyword Planner tool. This tool is traditionally a keyword information tool for running pay-per-click ads or paid search ads; it's free to anyone who has set up a Google AdWords account. Here's how it works:

Once you set up a Google AdWords account and log in, click the Tools button on the top right of the page and access the Keyword Planner tool in the top navigation on the Planning tab (Figure 2.33).

Figure 2.33: Keyword Planner tool





Click Get Search Volume And Forecasts (Figure 2.34).

Figure 2.34: Getting the search volume and forecasts





Input the types of keywords or topics you'd like to find data about. Then click Get Started (Figure 2.35).

Click the top-left Keyword Ideas button, type in the topic you'd like to find data about, and click Get Results. In this example, I entered running shoes (Figure 2.36).

Figure 2.35: Input keywords field





Figure 2.36: Getting results





Analyze the data (Figure 2.37). You can see how many searches the keyword topics get on average per month in the Vol. column. Additionally, the competition in the third column for that term (indicative of how many paid search ads are running) can also apply to the number of sites vying to rank for that term organically.

Figure 2.37: Search term data





Other Considerations


If you are trying to identify seasonal ideas, you can adjust the dates as far back as 12 months. So, if you'd like to see what was trending last holiday season, you can click the date range on the top right and see what the top searches were for that category.

Just click the top-right date range and put in the dates you'd like to see (Figure 2.38).



Figure 2.38: Input date





You will have the option to go back a few years, which can help you look at the trends in prior years for a time period and identify any seasonal trends (Figure 2.39).



Figure 2.39: Input data range





Location Targeting


If you are looking for information in a specific market, you can edit the location at the top left to find specific keyword topics for a city or metro area (Figure 2.40).



Figure 2.40: Specifying a location field





Optimal Web Page Layout


An optimal page layout can mean different things depending on your goals. If you are not concerned with ranking on search engine results, which I would argue goes against your best interests, you should design solely to move a user to a sale. The Nielsen Norman Group did a study several years back that indicates users tend to consume content from the top left outward (Figure 2.41). Keep that in mind when building content, since the most important areas of the page are in those areas.



Figure 2.41: Content consumption study visualNielsen, Jakob. F-Shaped Pattern For Reading Web Content (original study). (April 16, 2006). Retrieved from: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/f-shaped-pattern-reading-web-content-discovered/





If, on the other hand, your goal is mainly focused on ranking higher in search engine rankings, it's important to have the following attributes:

Have a lot of text copy: As mentioned earlier, the top results usually have a lot of text about a given subject. The higher level or more general your web page topic is, the more you should plan on writing. For top navigation pages, consider a web page template or layout with a lot of text. Preferably more than 500 words if possible.

Use headline text or page header (h1): This allows users to see exactly what the page is about.

Use bullets to call out important details: Consider using bullets to help summarize what the page is about and/or any key features. This will allow you to call out important points to the user.

Use a responsive design: When mobile visits and website traffic have surpassed desktop devices, be sure to create a web page that loads quickly on mobile devices. Longer load times can result in worse performance, as mentioned earlier.

Include social sharing buttons: This will help users share content and encourages more views of your web page.

Use images and other content types: Depending on the focus of the page, it's important to offer different types of content that can make the page more visually attractive. Consider adding images, videos, charts, and any other ways to display content.





Strong Analytics


Analytics are the backbone of your SEO and content programs. Without sound analytics, you will not perform as well as possible. From an SEO standpoint, analytics can mean many things. There are two key analytics tools that should always be installed and regularly monitored either directly through the interface or through a compiled report via the SEO expert and analytics teams. Be sure to have the following set up on your site:

Google Analytics or other website analytics programs: For your website, it's important to have Google Analytics set up. Google Analytics provides a user-friendly navigation structure. Look at the different channel reports to drill down to SEO channel data where you can drill further down into landing pages and specific performance data for that page (Figure 2.42). If you have a sales page or other important transaction pages, from here you can pull how many visits are coming from SEO and other channels.

Figure 2.42: Google Analytics





Google Search Console: Search Console is another type of analytics tool that Google offers for free, mainly for website managers (and SEO teams) to install and use. It's often overlooked by marketers, but it should be installed and used because it offers many important features to your website program. It even allows you to communicate with Google to an extent. These are the key features of Search Console to look at once you have it installed: Performance tab information: This tab allows you to view the total clicks in any time period you'd like, impressions, average click-through rate, and average position for all rankings of your website (Figure 2.43). These are important to view regularly and can provide a great window into how you are doing from a search engine standpoint.

Sitemaps feature: This feature is critical and allows you to add a new XML sitemap file (discussed earlier) and to see whether your sitemap file is successfully read (Figure 2.44). This is critical to make sure your pages get crawled by search engine bots and ensures your web page's ranking.

Figure 2.43: Google Search Console, Performance





Figure 2.44: Google Search Console, Sitemaps





Links tab: The Links tab provides insights into how many links are pointing to your website, what pages are the most linked, and what sites are linking to you the most (Figure 2.45). It's important to stay in tune with these key areas because a link's quality and numbers can have a detrimental effect on your search engine rankings.

Figure 2.45: Google Search Console, Links tab





If you are seeing links come from low-quality sites or getting warning messages in your Search Console inbox, Google provides a link disavow tool here as well, which enables you to tell Google to ignore the links from these poor-quality sites. Once logged into Search Console, visit www.google.com/webmasters/tools/disavow-links-main to upload a text file that includes details of the sites you'd like disavowed (Figure 2.46).

Your SEO expert should be tasked with doing this, and uploading the file, but for learning purposes, I have provided a sample link disavow text file in Figure 2.47.



Figure 2.46: Disavow Links dialog





Figure 2.47: Disavow links file example





SEO Key Performance Indicator Metrics


Analytics are a critical part of your success, and there are several to monitor for a successful SEO and content program. You should be monitoring these at least every month, if not more. Also, trend these each time period to see whether they are increasing or decreasing each reporting period. Several reporting periods that indicate decreased performance should be addressed by re-auditing your website and content and overall marketing strategies as these can also affect your general brand searches and direct traffic to your site. Work with your SEO expert to help diagnose where the issues are coming from. For now, here are some good KPI metrics to monitor:

In Google Analytics and Most Website Platforms

Organic/SEO traffic: This report shows what your SEO traffic was for a time period. It's important to watch trends happening with this. Look as far back to the same time period as last year and see whether there are any seasonality trends or increases/decreases from year to year. If you are adding content to your site and fixing SEO issues identified in the audit phase outlined earlier, you should see some increases in traffic from the prior year or time period.

Conversions: Conversions can take many shapes. They can be sales, orders, visits to find a location page, or submitting or signing up for an email. Work with your analytics resource or decide for yourself what the most important user actions are for your site. Maybe it's a visit to a page, or maybe you need to configure the ecommerce function on Google Analytics to report sales and transactions. Regardless of what it is, be sure to figure out how to pull that information from Google Analytics. Your end goal is to increase traffic and conversions.

Engagement: You can see how long website visitors stayed on your site or individual web pages and how many other pages they clicked through to discover content on your site. Almost all analytics tools report on engagement in some way. In Google Analytics, this data is available in the Behavior ➪ Site Content ➪ Landing page report (Figure 2.48). These KPIs are called Bounce Rate, Pages/Session, and Average Session Duration. You want a lower bounce rate because that indicates what percentage of visitors immediately left your page before it even loaded (less than zero seconds). The higher the duration and pages per session numbers are, the better. A good bounce rate, higher number of pages per session, and session duration indicate a better site experience and more engaged users. Figure 2.48 shows the reporting data.

Figure 2.48: Google Analytics engagement data





In Google Search Console

Organic impressions: Organic impressions data that is summarized in the Performance report can be extremely valuable (Figure 2.49). It basically indicates how many times your website was shown in organic search results (not clicked). This can be an extremely important indicator of website SEO health and of whether there are any new issues resulting in fewer search engine rankings. Be sure to monitor this closely, since this is likely tied to overall website traffic.

Figure 2.49: Google Search Console impression data





Organic click-through rate: Click-through rate is important to monitor because it demonstrates what percentage of users clicked each of your search result positions. With improved title tags and meta descriptions and URLs, your search engine result will be cleaner and have better messaging, likely increasing your click-through rate.

Valid pages indexed: This report is available in the “Coverage” section of Google Search Console and shows how many valid website pages are getting indexed or ranking in Google search results (Figure 2.50). It's important to keep the number flat or trending up. A decrease in valid pages loaded can indicate pages getting blocked or not crawled, resulting in fewer search engine rankings.

Link report: As we mentioned, the number and quality of the links pointing to your site is one-third of the SEO equation. You need numerous, high-quality links to rank for important searches. Ideally links should be increasing each month as you employ link building and content promotion tactics. This will benefit your site and increase your search engine results. It's important to monitor and trend how many links are pointing to your site and where they're coming from (Figure 2.51).

Figure 2.50: Valid pages' indexed data





Figure 2.51: Link data





Other Data Sources


There are other data sources to consider monitoring, too, if you or your SEO expert are using an SEO program management tool, like SEMrush (my recommendation). These tools have significant price differences. In my opinion, the best low-cost one is SEMrush. In the higher-priced range, there are Brightedge, Conductor, and some others that require a significant budget and are great for comprehensive programs. Either way, there are some other KPIs that you can generally report on, as listed here:

Audit score: Audit score is a summary of your total website's SEO health. It's typically a scale of 100. You want to see an audit number of at least 70/100 and have it increase the more you do website fixes as part of your audit.

Errors: Many SEO program tools provide a numeric summary of the total SEO errors a website has. As time goes on, you want to see this number decrease since you are fixing the errors outlined in your audit phase (via Screaming Frog or whatever tool you might use).

Mentions: Brand mentions are traditionally a PR or social media metric but are now proving SEO value. The more often your brand and website are mentioned online tends to result in more traffic and links, so it's important that you monitor if this is on the increase. Ideally, it will be increasing each month.

Referral report (available in Google Analytics or other website analytic tools): This report is critical if you are doing optimizations on other websites outlined in the coming book sections (YouTube, blogs, press releases, Amazon) in the hopes of getting traffic back to your site. Google provides a list of websites where users are clicking from in the Acquisition ➪ All Traffic ➪ Referrals report. Trend how many visits are coming from referring sites and list individual traffic trends from important sites that you're optimizing (for example, YouTube, etc.).

Device or operating system: In Google Analytics, a report is available that provides a list of devices that are driving users to your site (Figure 2.52). Upon logging in, visit the Audience ➪ Mobile ➪ Devices report to get an idea of what devices are driving traffic to your site. If a device is not driving traffic, engagement, or conversions, you should consider testing the user experience within the device to see whether there's an issue.



Reporting on these metrics often is important. Typically, I recommend pulling these KPIs into a trended report at least on a monthly basis. I've seen some sites do a report every week or every quarter. It's up to you and your expectations and goals for SEO. The higher the expectations, the higher frequency of reporting you should consider.





Figure 2.52: Google Analytics Device report





Step 3: Consider Accessibility: SEO Design Considerations


Having an accessible site is still important for users with disabilities and SEO. There's some overlap in providing content effectively for users that also allows for search engine bots to crawl and index content effectively. What's great is that if you use the recommendations in this book, some of the key areas of accessibility are covered.

Focusing on accessibility is important because the Internet has significantly evolved in the way people consume and seek content. Content should appeal to all users and website visitors. Google seems to agree; in fact, following some of its recommendations tends to equate to more and better search engine rankings. Here are the key areas outlined by ADA.gov that promote good SEO and accessibility on websites:

Use descriptive image tags: As we outlined earlier, image alt tags provide an area to input copy explaining what the image is about. This benefits your site by explaining to search engines what the image is about and what to rank it for. Additionally, screen readers or refreshable Braille displays that are used by visually impaired visitors rely on alt text. Also, consider using the longdesc= tag for more complex images that require a longer description.

Use text-based formats: Documents in PDF or in image-based formats are not accessible to screen readers and text enlargement programs or in different color and font settings. Text-based formats are the most compatible with assistive technologies, so be sure to put copy in basic HTML text format versus other kinds of file formats. Additionally, search engines have a difficult time scanning copy that's not in HTML text format, so using a text-based format will also provide SEO benefits.

Consider your video content: Video content is a commonly consumed form of content on the Web these days. In fact, according to Cisco's Visual Networking Index report, video traffic will be 82 percent of all consumer Internet traffic by 2020. Video creates problems for users with vision or hearing impairments. It's important to make video accessible to these users and consumable to search engines, which also have a difficult time consuming content that's within a video. Consider adding audio descriptions of image changes (changes in setting, gestures, and other details) for visually impaired users and provide text captions for users with hearing impairments. Also consider adding the transcript of the video in the description or in the HTML text.

Use SEO tags: HTML tags that are commonly used for search engine optimization also benefits accessibility. Providing concise and complete title, meta descriptions, header, and Schema.org tags, as outlined earlier, help search engine bots as well as readers and other assistive technologies.

Use a website sitemap: Be sure to use a sitemap in case your navigation is too difficult for readers to pick up. This will provide an alternative way for readers pick up all the pages of your website.

Other considerations to improve accessibility: Accessibility can affect the overall user experience, which can affect SEO performance in the long term. Be sure to consider these additional tactics to make your site even more accessible: Include a telephone number, chat, or email for visitors to request more information in an accessible manner.

Conduct periodic testing with disability groups to provide feedback on any content readability issues.

Make sure your website is designed to be displayed using the color and font of settings of a visitor's browsers and operating system to cater to the needs of visitors who need enhanced visuals.





Step 4: Set Up a Good Site Architecture


When setting up a website architecture, there are key rules to consider for user experience and SEO success. It's important to follow these core principles when kicking off design discussions for your website and web page templates. A website and web page should be

Easy to discover: Make content and web pages easy to find through clear navigation that requires as few clicks as possible to find desired content and good search engine optimization, which links users directly to the most relevant content.

Relevant to a user's needs: Consider the user's intent and needs. In addition to standard product content, build content that answers common questions around your brand and product category. Consider what kind of content is likely needed for each stage of the conversion funnel.

Easy to share: Share ability is an extremely important facet of good architecture for a few reasons. It can help garner more views and links.

It can reach users who aren't coming to your site or haven't been there before, which can build awareness and help other marketing tactics (retargeting, etc.).





Device agnostic: Designs should be mobile device–centered and should also be optimal for other platforms to consume content. The list of devices that users are using to reach your site has grown from traditional desktop devices to mobile phones, tablets, and even smart TVs. As time goes on, be sure to create a design that's responsive to different screen sizes and platforms.

Easy to ch