SEO used to be about including as many keywords in your content, creating some backlinks to beat your competition, optimising your web pages and then leaving it up to Google to do the rest.
Unfortunately, this is no longer the most effective way to do SEO in 2016.
Beating your SEO competition
Any spam SEO tactics which were used previously are now defunct. Google has made it clear to webmasters that to clean your website up and send high quality signals to your users that you must focus on building a website which has the user in mind.
There’s a lot of other businesses competing in the same marketplace as you, however, how do you beat the SEO competition?
Improving website traffic and rankings will ultimately improve business performance online.
Increasing referring domains
Our website has experienced an increase in referring domains over previous months. What does this mean for our SEO campaign?
Increased domains pointing to our website results in increased traffic and ranks.
Note: You can lose referring domains (other websites pointing to yours) or you can create new domains. Relevant and trusted domains pointing to your website signals to Google that you are high authority and trustworthy.
A perfect link should guide the user to the relevant page and answer their questions / help them find out further information.
Satisfying user intent
Understanding Google and its search quality guidelines is the first step to having a successful SEO campaign.
Great content is about answering questions, providing in-depth information, adding images, creating and embedding videos, e-books and PDFs.
Standards of search engine quality and results presented
Google is very strict with their content quality guidelines. If you want to rank on Google and be rewarded with relevant traffic some of the main rules to follow are listed below:
- Create your web pages for humans and not for search engines.
- Don’t trick your website visitors
- Every time you make a website change you should ask yourself “does this benefit my website visitors?” and am I comfortable with the changes I’m making and explaining these changes.
- Create a unique website which serves a purpose to your website visitors.
If website visitors are not happy with the web pages which you are creating your website will be negatively impacted at some point, and potentially penalised.
How do search engines rank your website?
Google may show preference to websites which consistently serve customers high-quality, informative and factual content. This can be done through various formats of content, such as video, articles and imagery.
Competition comes into play when trying to rank a website for a specific keyword. Especially if the website is in a competitive marketplace.
Google provide estimates and data to help you make an informed decision on whether your marketplace is competitive or not. Google Keyword Planner Tool helps webmasters understand how competitive your domain is in comparison to your competitors.
Analyse your competition
An SEO expert will appreciate that in the search engine landscape your competitions’ website ranks can change dramatically.
When your website becomes a higher standard in terms of the content which you are producing you can then start sharing your content with others around the web.
I use Ahrefs and SEM Rush to analyse and understand market competitiveness which means that I can then inform my clients how and what search engine marketing strategy to take, whether it’san SEO campaign or a PPC campaign.
Software and tools
Software and tools can identify exactly what your current website health status is. Automation is key to understanding these issues and fixing them. Automating this website health check-up means that I can then pass the results to my staff to implement.
Our project management system Wrike is great for managing our workload and tasks. Once our SEO tools and software informs us of any website health issues across our clients we can then import this data into our project management tool.
Each folder on the project management system has either marketing, design or development and an associated team member.
Client tasks are then allocated to each team member based on their job role, whether that is an SEO consultant or web developer.
This software has permission and priority sections so that our staff know exactly what to do and when to complete the task by.
Understanding how to react Google and other search engines
Google has now made life much more difficult for SEOs and search engine marketing managers.
As most digital marketers and SEO companies now have no idea which keywords convert (unless they pay for ads using Google Adwords and set-up) life becomes trickier for SEO consultants and companies in 2016.
How do you react to Google Algorithm updates? Nobody knows what Google will do next, but that is the thrill of the ride.
The main point here is focusing on the user first and increasing the quality of your website (in general), this will upgrade the satisfaction signals on your website.
What else we need to do as search engine marketers
The first step is Google penalty avoidance.
This means understanding what a Google penalty is (whether it’s an algorithmic penalty or whether it’s just a manual review. Depending on the severity of your website issues you may have one type of penalty or both.
We can help remove a Google penalty for you if your website has been the victim of Panda or Penguin.
What SEO changes do we need to consider?
SEO changes to a website can consist of technical SEO changes, off-site changes, on-page changes and UI / UX changes.
- Do these UI/UX changes make the site more accessible for users and search engines?
- Are changes improving the page for the target audience?
- Are the optimisation changes making the page more detailed and valuable?
- Can any changes be potentially manipulative to Google?
- Is my website code breaking Google Webmaster Guidelines?
- Are the changes which are being made making the page and domain higher quality and more trustworthy?
- Are new pages being added for users or for search engines?
How I manage SEO campaigns
I use Pro Rank Tracker (PRT) for tracking client’s rank positions. This is a third party tool so should be used with caution.
Pro Rank tracker updates in real time and allows us to export client keyword rank positions in seconds. We can manage all of our client’s websites in one place which increases our SEO productivity.
Using PRT effectively
PRT has various benefits for the client and SEO company. One of the best features I have found is the monthly progress reports.
This report allows you to report on keyword rank positions from specific dates, such as Oct 2015 – May 2016. This is a great tool for keeping our clients up-to-date with regards to their keyword position ranks.This progress report gives you the top, bottom and average position for the selected URL per keyword.
I use this to analyse rank position increases and drops. This analysis then informs our content strategy moving forward.
SEO for the long term in 2016
If you intend on having a long-term SEO solution for your client or website, then you must act on improving site quality scores and user experience. It would be wrong to link client websites to client websites. This is why we intend to avoid this SEO practice.
SEO used to be about repeating practices, now it needs to be about testing, changing and reacting to Google’s changes.
Overall, having patterns is bad SEO practice, for example, building the same links all the time.
Google can pick up on these trends and potentially rate your website lower because of this practice. A quality website will be recognised and rewarded by Google if it is created naturally, over time within best practice guidelines.
After Google Hummingbird every SEO consultant and company aimed to answer the user’s questions through creation of quality content.
Now, it’s about promoting the content, not just creating it. As SEO practices evolve over time search engines evolve alongside, if not ahead of time.
Google will always change and keep evolving, so it is up to webmasters, SEO companies and other digital marketing experts to keep up with this ever changing landscape.
Marketing automation helps every SEO expert, from increasing efficiency to making your life easier, whether you are a one-man operation or a highly skilled team of 20.
Take for example, you want to crawl a website and find out how many redirects the domain has. Using an SEO tool like Screaming Frog will automate the crawl. I then export the file and pass this to our technical SEO expert to implement all of the required changes.
Imagine going through every page individually and creating a spreadsheet, this would take years. Automation is key to a successful SEO campaign.
Reviewing your website manually
Depending on how long it takes to review a website, depends on how long it will take to implement the SEO changes. For example, if a website takes a full day to perform an SEO audit on it then it may take 2-3 hours to check the website each month.
SEO companies across the world tend to use the same data and information analysis tools / sources for particular search engine optimisation (SEO) tasks.
For example, Google Search Console, Google Analytics, Ahrefs, Site Explorer, Pro Rank Tracker etc. There is not a large amount of SEO tools which are at our disposal for improving our client SEO campaigns.
Google Search Console
Reviewing your website manually will highlight areas of your online marketing strategy which are lacking and need improved.
Search Console gives webmasters great insight into their website. For example, server errors, access denies, soft 404s, not founds, server connectivity, DNS issues, sitemap issues and whether Google can find your robots.txt
Reviewing your website on a keyword level is important for understanding which search queries are being matched to your content. Below is an example of our website and some of the search queries which website visitors search each month to find our website.
For further insights regarding your website visitors you can install Google Analytics tracking code on your website.
You can see exactly where your website traffic is coming from, for example Google / organic or other search engines such as Bing.You can also monitor other important stats on your website such as demographics.
Backlink analysis is important for tracking competitors, keywords and brand mentions.
Below are the benefits which this backlink analysis software provides:
- Site Explorer
- Positions Explorer
- Content Explorer
- Position Tracker
- Crawl Report
- Ahrefs AlertsThese elements are great for tracking your SEO campaign and analysing your competition. Ahrefs is also great for crawl reports, similar to Screaming Frog.Crawl reports inform you which areas of the website are lacking and highlights important elements such as 301 redirects, 404s, canonical tags, h1s, h2s and page titles & meta descriptions.
Why do I use them?
The data sources which we use are well reviewed, sit at the top of the best tools in the world and often provide extra assistance such as great customer support. This is essential when managing large scale projects.
How I approach SEO and task management
During a normal day I read SEO articles, research new approaches, schedule tasks on Wrike and SEO audit websites.
I also read and analyse the reports my SEO team create. Whenever a problem arises on-site I check the site manually and implement any required changes.
If, when I am approaching SEO tasks I find a website that has issues, but the SEO tools which we are using don’t pick these issues up then a plan will be developed. Usually this plan involves our in-house programmer and our SEO consultants.
Below is a screenshot of the custom CRM we are currently building to manage our SEO campaigns.
Contact us for an SEO audit on your website.