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How to Audit Your Website to Maximize SEO Performance

Are you happy with your website’s current SEO? If not, it may be time to perform an SEO audit.

A site audit will help you take a close look at your site architecture and see where there are potential improvements to be made in terms of search engine optimization. In this blog post, we will show you how to audit your website for SEO purposes.

What is an SEO audit?

An SEO audit is a process for assessing your website’s compliance with search engine optimization best practices. The goal is to identify any potential issues that could be holding your website back from achieving its full potential. 

There are two types of SEO audits: technical and content-focused. A technical SEO audit focuses on your website’s code and structure and identifies any issues that could be preventing search engines from indexing or ranking your site. Content-focused SEO audits examine your website’s text, images, and videos and assess whether your content is optimised for the keywords you’re targeting. 

Performing a manual google search

If you’re like most business owners, you know that SEO is important but you may not know where to start when it comes to auditing your own website. We’ll walk you through how to perform a manual Google search for an SEO audit.

Enter your website’s URL

The first step is to enter your website’s URL into the Google search bar. Once you hit enter, you should see your website listed as the first result. If you don’t, that’s an indication that your website’s SEO needs some work.

Check Your title tag

Your title tag is the text that appears in the search results when someone enters a query related to your website. A good title tag will be descriptive and accurate, and it should include your target keyword. To check your title tag, simply hover over your listing in the search results and look at the text that appears. If it’s not what you were expecting, that’s an indication that you need to revisit your title tag and make sure it’s optimized for SEO.

Check your meta description

Your meta description is the short description of your website that appears beneath your listing in the search results. Like your title tag, your meta description should be accurate and descriptive, and it should include your target keyword. To check your meta description, simply hover over your listing in the search results and look at the text that appears beneath your title tag. If it’s not what you were expecting, that may be why you’re not getting as many clicks from the search results as you could be.

Make sure only one version of your site is searchable

One way to do this is to use what’s called a “canonical” tag. This is a piece of code that tells Google which version of your site is the preferred one and you add the canonical tag to the head of your HTML code.

The second way is to set up what’s called a “301 redirect.” This tells Google that the preferred version of your site is located at a different URL than the one being requested. For example, if someone tries to go to www.example.com/old-page, they will be redirected to www.example.com/new-page.

Leverage your analytics and compare site metrics

Both Google Analytics and Google Search Console are incredibly powerful on their own. But when used together, they can give you an even deeper understanding of your website and your users.

Here’s how to leverage both Google Analytics and Google Console for better business insights.

Compare site metrics

Comparing site metrics helps you identify trends and patterns that you might not have noticed otherwise.

For example, let’s say you want to track the number of people who visit your site from different countries. With Google Analytics, you can see how many visitors you have from each country. But with Google Console, you can also see how fast your website loads in each country. This information can help you identify areas where your website needs improvement. 

Or let’s say you want to track the number of people who visit your site from different browsers. With Google Analytics, you can see which browsers are most popular among your visitors. But with Google Console, you can also see which browsers are most compatible with your website’s code. This information can help you make decisions about which browsers to support in the future. 

Check the speed of your website

One way to check your site speed is to use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.

To use it, just enter your URL into the tool and click “Analyze.” PageSpeed Insights will then give you a score for your mobile and desktop versions of your site, as well as tips on how to improve it. 

Here are a few general tips for improving your website’s speed:

  • Optimize images by reducing their file size
  • Minimize HTTP requests by consolidating files
  • Use caching to reduce the time needed to load pages
  • Minimize code by using efficient coding techniques
  • Reduce redirects that slow down web page loading times
  • Enable compression to reduce the size of files that are sent from your server 

Manage your internal and external links

Here we will discuss managing both internal and external links.

Internal Links

Internal links are those that connect one page on your website to another page on your website. These are important for a few reasons. First, they help search engines understand the structure of your website and index your pages accordingly. Second, they help users navigate your website more easily. Finally, they help spread link equity (i.e., ranking power) around your website, which can help all of your pages rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs).

External Links

External links are those that connect your website to another website and are important for a few reasons. First, they show Google and other search engines that your site is credible, and has high-quality content since other websites are linking to it. Second, they provide users with additional resources that may be helpful or interesting to them. Finally, they can also help spread link equity around the internet, which can help your website rank higher in the SERPs.

One thing to keep in mind is that broken links or links to duplicate content can drive visitors away from your site. You can use tools like Google Search Console to audit internal links or a site audit tool like Screaming Frog.

Conduct on-page SEO checks

Here is a checklist of on-page SEO checks to help you get started:

Header Tags (H1-H6)

Header tags are HTML tags used to denote headings and subheadings on a webpage and range from H1 (most important heading) to H6 (least important heading). Header tags are important for both users and search engines because they help break up content and make it easy to scan.

Images 

Images are an important part of any website because they help break up text and make a site more visually appealing. However, they also play a role in on-page SEO because you can optimize them with keywords. When auditing images on your site, be sure to check that all images have descriptive ALT text that includes relevant keywords. 

SSL Certificate 

An SSL certificate is a digital certificate that encrypts information sent from a user’s browser to a website’s server. It helps protect sensitive information like credit card numbers and login credentials from being intercepted by hackers. As part of your audit, be sure to check that your site has an SSL certificate and that it’s valid. 

Check Mobile-Friendly Issues

If you’re not sure whether your website is mobile-friendly or not, don’t worry. Here are some of the most common mobile-friendly issues and how to address them.

Text that is too small to read

If your text is too small, users will have to zoom in to read it, which makes for a frustrating user experience. 

The fix: Make sure your text is large enough to read without zooming. You can also use responsive design techniques to ensure that your text scales appropriately on different screen sizes.

Links that are too close together

Another common issue is links that are placed too close together. On a desktop computer, this might not be an issue—but on a mobile device with a smaller screen, it can be very difficult for users to accurately tap the link they want. 

The fix: Make sure there is enough space between each link so that users can easily tap the one they want without accidentally tapping another one. A good rule of thumb is to use a minimum spacing of 32px between links.

Images that are not sized correctly

Images are an important part of any website, but if they’re not sized correctly, they can cause problems on mobile devices.

The fix: Make sure all of your images are sized correctly before uploading them to your website. If you’re not sure how big they should be, you can use a tool like Photoshop to resize them. Once you’ve resized your images, upload them to your website and test them on different screen sizes to make sure they look good at different resolutions.

Canonicals and href lang tags

Here is what canonicals and href lang tags are, how they’re used, and why they’re important for SEO.

Canonicals

A canonical is an HTML element that tells search engines which version of a given page should be indexed. For example, if you have a website with both www and non-www versions (e.g., www.example.com and example.com), a canonical can be used to tell search engines that the www version is the preferred version to index.

If search engines index multiple versions of the same page, it can hurt your SEO because it dilutes the link equity of the page (i.e., the value that search engines place on links to that page). By using canonicals, you can avoid this issue by telling search engines which version of the page to index.

Href Lang Tags

Href language tags are HTML elements that tell search engines what language a given page is written in. For example, if you have a website in both English and French, you would use href lang tags to tell search engines which version of the page is in English and which version is in French.

Href lang tags are important for SEO because they help ensure that your website’s content is properly indexed by search engines. If your website’s content is not properly indexed, it can hurt your SEO because search engines will not be able to understand it and will therefore not rank it as highly in their results pages.

Summary

Performing a thorough SEO audit on your website is essential for ensuring it is properly optimized to rank highly in search engine results pages. From leveraging Google Search and conducting on-page SEO checks to managing internal and external links, there are many factors to consider when optimizing your website for SEO. By taking the time to properly audit your website for SEO, you can ensure it is optimized correctly and increase its visibility in the SERPs.

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4 Benefits of Hiring An SEO Agency

Your customers are online, so it’s more important than ever to make it easy for them to find your company online. The challenge is that very few people browse past Google’s first page of search results. If you’re not on page one of Google’s search results, your company basically does not exist to your potential customers!

Building an SEO campaign is a great way to gain more customers. An effective campaign will spread awareness of your brand, build your company’s credibility, bring more organic traffic to your web pages, improve your user experience, and ultimately convert more of your website traffic into potential leads.

Search engine algorithms frequently change, and your potential customers search the web in different ways as technology evolves. Consider the increasing popularity of voice search: People who use Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home for voice search will often use different search phrases than what they type in a Google search on their phone or laptop.

SEO is a continually evolving practice that requires diligent research and adaptation to new technology and processes. For most businesses, the best way to approach SEO is to hire an experienced SEO company

Below are four reasons why most businesses benefit from working with an SEO agency rather than trying to do their SEO optimizations in-house.

  1. SEO and Website Design Improvements

Getting visitors to your site is only one piece of the SEO puzzle. Once they arrive, you need to provide a great experience so they stick around, browse your site, learn about your product or service, and eventually make a purchase. Here are some ways an SEO agency can improve your website design.

Improve Site Structure

If your website structure isn’t logical, people won’t be able to navigate your site and find the information they need, so they’ll leave. If humans can’t navigate your site, Google won’t be able to either, which means it isn’t likely to recommend your site to searchers. 

An SEO agency can assist you with creating a logical hierarchy for your pages with clear pathways to the information that your visitors want to find.

Make Your Site Easy For Google To Index

You can do several things to make your site easier for Google to understand, making it more likely that Google will recommend your site to searchers. An SEO agency can assist with adding:

  • Alt text — Describes the images on your site and is a great way to include keywords
  • Transcripts for video or audio files — Helpful for people with disabilities and makes it possible for Google to understand
  • Meta descriptions — Short blurbs of text that tell Google what each page is about and is another great place to add keywords

Make It Mobile Friendly

For many industries, mobile devices now make up the majority of web traffic. Many sites are not optimized for mobile users, so they’re slow to load and difficult to view on a small cellphone screen. 

SEO agencies can help you optimize your web pages for all devices by creating responsive, stripped-down pages that load quickly.

Improve Your Load Time

Did you know that 53% of users will leave your site if it takes more than three seconds to load? You may be losing half of your traffic before they ever get to see what you have to offer!

Partnering with an SEO agency can solve this issue so you never lose customers to a slow-loading page again.

 you’re curious about Nettra’s results with website design, check out the case study about our work with Kuykendall Solar, a California solar subcontractor. We were able to optimize their web design and make their site more appealing to their target audience. This produced a 24% conversion rate, which led to a 408% ROI with Google Ads and a 550% ROI with Facebook Ads.

  1. High Ranking Backlinks Using Strategic Link Building

Link building has always been an essential element of an effective SEO strategy. A backlink is simply a link from one website to another. For example, if the CEO of a credit union writes a blog about mortgage interest rates and it appears on Forbes and links back to the credit union’s website, that would be a very high-quality backlink.

Google’s algorithm utilizes over 300 different ranking factors to determine how every website ranks for its specific keywords. Backlinks are a crucial factor because they help Google determine the most relevant results for every search. They also give your site credibility because they position you as an expert in your field.

If someone is searching for a credit union in San Diego, the site with more high-quality backlinks is going to rank higher than a site without quality backlinks.

How To Build Good Backlinks

Knowing that you need backlinks and actually getting them are two separate things. For many businesses doing their SEO in-house, this is one of the biggest challenges. How do you convince a website to link to yours? That’s where an SEO agency can come in handy. 

Agencies have a portfolio of sources to tap for backlinks that fit your business. These may include:

  • Being a source for reporters or bloggers through Help A Reporter Out (HARO)
  • Publishing high-quality blog content on your own site that others WANT to link to!
  • Publishing in popular formats, like “ultimate guides,” “why” and “what” posts, and infographics
  • Reaching out to high-quality sites and asking them to feature you

Backlinking Mistakes To Avoid

When it comes to backlinks, quality matters more than quantity. The following backlink mistakes can actually hurt your search ranking:

  • Links from low-quality, spammy sites
  • Buying links — Google only likes natural links, so buying fake links can get you banned from the search results
  • Getting links from irrelevant sites — Having a cooking blog link to your credit union site isn’t likely to help you
  • Building links to just one page on your site, such as your homepage

If you’d like help building a successful backlink strategy, an SEO agency can help you avoid these pitfalls and identify which strategies will be successful for you.

  1. Digital Marketing Services That Include Your Businesses Ideal Marketing Channels

While SEO can be a standalone service, it’s usually a component of a more comprehensive digital marketing campaign that includes social media marketing and content marketing. This is often where great SEO agencies separate themselves from everyone else because it takes a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience to manage and optimize a cross-platform marketing campaign successfully. 

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing isn’t just about posting to Facebook or Instagram. Instead, it uses those platforms to target potential customers and then push them to your website through ads. 

A post on Facebook or Instagram only reaches a small percentage of your audience. However, ads reach your fans AND people who haven’t heard of you yet. They spread your message much more effectively and at scale.

An SEO agency can help you develop a social media ad campaign that targets the right customers with the right message, which will amplify your reach tremendously. 

Content Marketing

When was the last time you clicked on an ad and immediately bought something? It’s probably been a long time! 

Most people do at least a little research before they make a purchase. They’ll start by browsing for solutions to their problem, then reading reviews on a few options, and then making a purchase. 

The majority of prospects who visit your website are looking for great information to base their buying decisions on, and that’s where content marketing comes in. Having helpful articles and videos on your website can guide them to making a purchase from you. 

If your website does nothing but ask for a sale, people will leave. But if you provide education and insightful information, you’ll help visitors understand what you really have to offer, which makes them more likely to trust you and buy from you. 

On our own website, we have several blog posts and videos designed to inform and educate instead of asking for a sale. Some companies will implement the strategies and tactics we teach and have success. Others are looking for an agency to help them with these tactics and view our content primarily to see if we know our craft. By offering many insights into our internal processes, how we manage campaigns, best practice, and more, it slowly positions us as an expert in our reader’s eyes.

The goal of content marketing is to get your potential customers to perform their research on YOUR website, trust you, and then buy from you.

How Social Media & Content Work Together

Having high-quality content is a great start, but you also need to get visitors to your site to view the content. An SEO agency will create ads on the social media channels where your customers spend time, as well as Google, to push targeted traffic to various blog posts and videos to answer questions related to your product or service. 

A good website design means visitors will see similar blogs or videos they may be interested in, which increases their time on your site and builds your reputation. Over time, this leads to higher conversions.

  1. A Tailored Approach to Reach Your Target Audience

Your business is unique, so the approach for optimizing your SEO and growing your customer base needs to be unique as well.

Not all businesses need a website design overhaul, and not all businesses will find their target audience through Instagram ads. An agency that treats your business exactly the same as their other clients is probably not the right fit.

Our tailored approach starts with understanding your company’s customers and current web presence. Once we do this, we can identify your strengths and areas for growth, as well as which channels your target customers are most likely to find you. Then, we’ll check out your competition to find opportunities to outrank them.

Our strategic plan will take all of these factors and more into consideration as we launch your SEO campaign. We also meticulously track our campaign to identify what’s working and where we need to realign our efforts. This approach has helped us be successful with companies like Kuykendall Solar and can help your business find success as well. If you’re interested in learning more about how we can assist you, get in touch with our team.  

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What Does An SEO Company Do?

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Business owners generally understand that they should be using search engine optimization (SEO) to reach new customers and grow their business, but often that’s all they know about SEO. When you start researching what SEO is or how to do it well, it can get overwhelming quickly, especially if you’re new to digital marketing. 

When you start looking for professional help with your SEO, you’ll no doubt find many SEO companies and digital marketing agencies, but how do you know if they can actually help your business? Sure, they list the services they offer, but to non-marketers, it can sound like gibberish.

In this article, we’re breaking down what an SEO agency is, what services they offer, and how to find one that’s the right fit for your business.

What Is An SEO agency?

First, we should start by defining what SEO actually is. Search engine optimization is a collection of processes and tactics that result in your website ranking higher in search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Growing your site’s organic traffic is a cost-effective long-term growth strategy. 

An SEO company offers professional search engine optimization services to businesses to improve their online presence and search engine visibility. 

One of the major benefits of partnering with an SEO company is that they have specialized experience in helping businesses like yours rank on search engines.

SEO professionals provide a wide range of services, from website audits and web design to a personalized SEO strategy, and can help your business implement specific tactics to reach your goals. 

Ultimately, an SEO company’s job is to partner with you to boost organic traffic, drive leads, and increase sales through search results.

What Services Do SEO Agencies Offer?

SEO services are generally categorized into two areas: onsite SEO (also called on-page SEO) and offsite SEO (also called off-page SEO).  

Onsite SEO focuses on tactics you can do to make your website more search engine-friendly. It includes things like adding relevant keywords, internal linking, updating metadata, alt image tags, and schema. It also includes increasing your site speed and improving your user experience-related design.

Offsite SEO focuses on tactics deployed outside of your website that also result in a higher organic ranking. These include earning high-domain-authority backlinks and updating online directories (or citations) like Google, Yelp, YP.com, and other industry-specific citations.

It’s important to point out that not every SEO agency specializes in both onsite and offsite tactics. This is mainly due to the high degree of technical expertise onsite SEO requires, and the level of expertise offsite requires to gain high-quality backlinks.

Some specific SEO services an agency may offer include:

Business Evaluation & Site Analytics

SEO companies typically start by evaluating your website and what keywords it’s already ranking for, which involves looking at the site’s architecture and content to assess factors such as coding and keyword density. Evaluating your current website is the best way to determine its existing strengths and weaknesses before developing a robust SEO strategy.

Industry Considerations

In addition to website analysis, an agency will consider your business and industry. They will look at your target audience and overall business goals to decide which tactics can best improve your website’s organic ranking and reach your target audience.

Developing A Long-Term SEO Strategy

After completing an in-depth analysis of your website, an agency can help you create a personalized, long-term SEO plan. Developing an SEO strategy and drafting goals for your SEO campaign depends on your industry, type of business, and overall goals.

Part of developing a powerful SEO campaign involves keyword research to identify the keywords and phrases used most by your target audience. 

Optimizing Web Design & Load Speed

Search engines focus on serving up the best possible results, creating a positive user experience, and prioritizing content that offers significant value to users. If your website takes a long time to load, it will not provide a good experience to users and will not be ranked highly by Google. 

A web developer with technical SEO experience can optimize your UX (user experience) for desktop, tablet, and smartphones, boost your load speed, and fix any technical issues that could be slowing your site down.

Update Your Directory Listings

Many of your potential customers use Google, Yelp, and other online directories (or citations) to search for local businesses. Keeping your listings updated is crucial for increasing the number of leads produced by your online presence. 

While there are a handful of these directories that everyone regularly uses (Google, Yelp, Bing, etc.), there are over 500 citations worldwide! An SEO agency can help business owners to determine which directories are relevant to their businesses and potential customers, then develop strategies to optimize each listing. Doing so can boost your local SEO, help you rank higher than your competition, and build you a strong online reputation.

Building A High-Quality Link Profile

A backlink is simply one website linking to another website, but they’re one of the most critical aspects of your offsite SEO campaign. Google puts a lot of weight on backlinks because they demonstrate your authority in your industry. 

For example, if a realtor in Los Angeles writes an article for Zillow that talks about LA real estate trends and the article links back to that realtor’s website, that link would be considered a high-quality link in Google’s eyes.  

So why is this important? Because Google rewards relevancy! They want to provide their users with the most relevant results that line up with their search. If a local real estate website has very respected, highly-trafficked sites like Zillow linking to it, this shows Google that they’re very good at what they do. Google, in turn, rewards them with a higher organic ranking. 

However, one great backlink isn’t enough to get you on the first page of the Google search results. Google looks at your entire link profile to assess the quality of the inbound links your website has earned, including the number of links and their diversity. The quality of your link profile helps search engines rank your website and understand how your site relates to your competition with similar products or services.

Benefits Of Working With A Professional SEO Agency

The benefits of prioritizing your SEO are obvious: more leads, more sales, and more revenue. However, many businesses just don’t have the internal bandwidth to do SEO well. Some tangible, real results you can get by outsourcing your SEO work to an agency include: 

Strategic Improvement Of Search Engine Rankings

An experienced SEO firm knows which tactics will help your business be successful in ranking higher on search engines. It’ll take less trial and error, which means your SEO budget will go further and help you reach more potential clients sooner. 

Increased Website Traffic From Your Target Audience

An increase in traffic from the wrong visitors won’t increase your sales and revenue.

However, an SEO agency can help you strategically target the keywords and phrases that align with your product or service. If you’re ranking for words and phrases that your target audience is searching for, you’ll start bringing in more traffic from people who are more likely to buy your product or service.

Measurable Results

SEO firms can also help your business grow by delivering quantifiable results and valuable insights. This data analysis is often applied to benefit other segments of a marketing campaign like Google ads, Facebook ads, content marketing, and even traditional advertising channels.

Saves You Time & Money

It takes time to really understand SEO and create a plan of action for your company. You may not have the bandwidth for that within your team, which can delay getting started. An SEO agency can help you get started sooner AND complete the work more efficiently than your in-house team can. 

How To Tell A Good SEO Company From A Bad One

With so many SEO agencies competing to be YOUR agency, how do you tell the good ones from the bad ones? Here are some things to look for in an SEO agency, and some red flags that should send you running.

Good SEO agencies will:

  • Promise results that are realistic
  • Provide regular data reports on their progress
  • Have experience with businesses like yours
  • Have a proven track record of success (case studies are a great way to see how they’ve been successful with other businesses)
  • Offer customized strategies tailored to your business
  • Be open about their strategies and clearly outline the work they’re doing for you
  • Treat you like a partner — which means you’ll have to do some of the work too

Bad SEO agencies will:

  • Make unrealistic promises, like getting you the top spot in the Google search results
  • Use Black Hat strategies like duplicating other’s content or keyword stuffing
  • Be secretive about their strategies, calling them “proprietary” 
  • Not have any tangible work to show that they’ve done on your behalf
  • Increase your traffic but not your revenue (because the traffic isn’t coming from your target audience)
  • Increase your backlinks, but not on any sites relevant to your industry
  • Offer a one-time fix with no maintenance — SEO is always changing and is a long-term task

Not all SEO agencies are equal, so go with your gut and partner with an agency that you trust.

Boost Your Online Presence with SEO

If your business is actively pursuing new customers, developing an SEO campaign is a great place to start.

You can build an internal SEO team that is actively engaged in increasing your organic ranking by focusing on:

  • Technical SEO: JS frameworks, XML sitemaps, taxonomy, redirects, log files
  • Data SEO: reporting, feeds, data visualization, structured data, location data
  • Content SEO: keyword research, creative assets, copy, internal links in copy, semantic HTML

Or, if that requires too many resources, consider hiring an SEO agency. Keep in mind that not all SEO professionals are created equal. Many just focus on one or two aspects of onsite and offsite SEO processes and tactics, and their focus may not be what your business needs most.

Ultimately, the best SEO firms have a deep foundational understanding of onsite and offsite SEO processes and tactics and how they relate to each other. 

If you’re ready to partner with an experienced SEO agency that can help you understand your competitor’s tactics and recommend a strategy designed to boost your website’s organic rankings without breaking the bank, get in touch with our team today. 

Its-Time-to-Take-SEO-Seriously

Stop Ignoring SEO and Start Gaining Clients

You may think that customers are finding you through your website, but, unfortunately, that may not be the case if you’re ignoring SEO.

53% of all shoppers do research online before making a purchase decision. What’s more, companies whose websites rank on the 1st page of Google receive 90% of all traffic. 

Simply put: if your business is not on page one of Google’s search results, it doesn’t exist for your potential customers!

What Is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Why Does It Matter?

Every day, people search online for the solutions your business provides. If you’re not helping them find you on Google, you’re missing out on qualified leads (and letting them fall into your competitor’s lap). 

The process of making your website visible on Google is called search engine optimization (SEO)

The goal of great SEO marketing is simply to help potential customers find your website. Since more visitors = more opportunities to convert them to paying customers, you can clearly see that SEO is a worthwhile investment. 

When you rank on page 1, you’re seen as an authority in your market, whether local, national, or global. Even if the highest-ranked company isn’t the top-rated or the highest-grossing, it can seem that way to prospects.

You may be getting great results from strategies like paid advertising or business partnerships, but that doesn’t mean you should fall asleep at the wheel and ignore SEO as an opportunity for growth. 

Younger, newer companies often outrank older, established companies because they prioritize SEO. They may partner with SEO agencies and advertising companies to make sure they’re nailing their search result ranking.

SEO increases your organic traffic (AKA your free traffic), which is a smart long-term strategy for growth. Investing in organic traffic doesn’t pay off immediately like paid ads, but it will free you from the perpetual cycle of increasing your ad spend to keep your business growing. 

How SEO Has Evolved

Some companies are hesitant to invest in SEO services because, in the past, there were scammy SEO marketing strategies. 

We recommend that you avoid the following old-school SEO tactics:

  • Keyword stuffing – You know those articles and pages that repeat the same keyword or phrase in every other sentence? Yeah, don’t do that.
  • Fictitious link building – It sure seemed like a good idea to set up fake websites and give yourself backlinks, but Google caught on and penalized the perpetrators
  • High volume, low-quality content – Back in the day, sites used to churn out dozens of blog posts per week in a strategy that was only about volume, not quality. Boy, do we feel bad for anyone who ever worked at a ‘content mill’.

Those old ways of doing SEO will actually hurt your search rankings and lower your chances of appearing at the top of page one, which means fewer potential customers.

It’s All About Google’s Algorithm

We know what Google doesn’t want, but what about what it does want?

Google has created and continually improves one of the world’s most complicated algorithms. It considers over 200 factors when ranking thousands of websites in a few milliseconds, for a single internet search.

The algorithm not only determines the rank of websites but also measures the desire and intent of the person performing the search based on their online behavior. Then it matches up all these data sets to display their search results.

In addition to how they gather data, Google is always updating its algorithm to deliver higher-quality search results. And while much has been said about the constant Google algorithm updates, only a few updates have had a big impact on best practices. 

Most updates are simply maintenance tweaks to their core algorithm and minor features such as marking HTTP sites as ‘not secure.’ (Getting an SSL certificate lets site visitors know that any information they enter on your site is protected. It’s a simple process and an easy fix if you haven’t already done it.)

There’s much hoopla and hype, but fortunately, what Google ‘wants,’ so to speak, is clear. 

Google’s algorithm prioritizes

  • Domain authority
  • User experience on-site
  • Search term relevance
  • Updated content (you should post and update your content regularly, but never prioritize speed over quality)

Now that you understand the importance of SEO, we’ll dive into the difference between on and off-page SEO and 6 actionable ways you can improve both.

On-Page vs. Off-Page SEO

On-page SEO (also called on-site SEO) is anything you do on your website to make it easier for Google to understand what your page is about. When Google understands your page, it’s easier to rank higher. On-page SEO is 100% in your hands to improve, so it’s a great place to start. 

Off-page SEO (also called off-site SEO) is any action that happens off your website that improves where you land on the search engine results page (SERP.) Off-page SEO is a little harder to control, but there are some great principles you can apply.

Both on and off-page SEO are important to focus on if you want to improve your rankings and get found by customers, so our list includes strategies for each.

6 Ways to Improve Your SEO

6 steps of a modern SEO campaign that you can start implementing today are

1. Reverse Engineer Your Top-Performing Competitors

To beat the competition on Google, you need to know their wins so you can make sure you’re playing on the same field. One way to do that is with the free tool UberSuggest. A quick search lets you see which key phrases your competition is currently ranking for. 

If any of those keywords or phrases are relevant to the product or service you offer, you can start targeting them on your own website pages. Easy ways to do this are by updating the current content on your pages, adding a new website page about the topic, or creating a blog post about it.

Don’t worry if your competitors are out-ranking you! You can also use Ubersuggest to spy on your competition to see why they’re ranked so high for their key phrases. 

In our experience, it’s often because they have other relevant websites that link to their site. These are called backlinks, and they’re a big deal in Google’s eyes (for more on backlinks, see strategy 5 below). 

2. Use Ubersuggest for Keyword Research

In addition to competitor research, you can also use Ubersuggest to research keywords you can target on your site. Type in the kind of business you run and your location, and you’ll see dozens of related search terms that you can target in your current or new web pages.

Getting a huge list of keywords can be overwhelming, so don’t overcomplicate it. Start by targeting keywords that represent your core business offerings. 

If you offer low-interest rate loans for veterans, make sure that key phrase appears on your website.  

3. Improve Your On-Page SEO

Once you’ve determined the key phrases your competitors are ranking for and which you want to rank for, you can: 

  • Target one main keyword or phrase per webpage, including related secondary key phrases
  • Write metadata that includes your target keyphrase 
  • Place your target keyphrases sparingly throughout your content
  • Include alt image tags for all images on your site that include your target keyword 
  • Publish fresh content regularly targeting keywords and phrases that are relevant to your target customers and product or service

Other ways to improve your on-page SEO that aren’t related to keywords are: 

  • Make sure your website is optimized for mobile (since 58% of Google searches are on mobile devices)
  • Add internal links between related pages on your website to increase credibility
  • Create a consistent naming convention between page names and URLs
  • Optimize your website’s speed
  • Take care of other housekeeping things like SSL certification (HTTPS), setting up a 404 page, and sharing your privacy policy

4. Manage and Update Citations

A citation is an online directory that lists your relevant company information. With over 1,000 online directories on the web, it’s important that your phone number, website, and office hours are accurate and consistent across the most relevant ones. 

The citations sites you should optimize first are:

  • Google My Business
  • Facebook
  • Yelp
  • BBB
  • Bing
  • Yahoo (yes, some people still use it!)

In addition to these, there are usually industry-specific citations you should consider updating. For example, if you’re a community bank, you should also optimize your citations with the ICBA. If you’re an attorney, you should also optimize your citations within Avvo and SuperLawyer.

5. Increase Domain Authority with Quality Backlinks

A backlink is a link from one website to another, and they’re often a major contributor to a successful SEO campaign. However, getting backlinks to your site means that other websites need to choose to link to you. 

How do you go about getting another website to backlink to you?

Sometimes, you just need to ask.

For example, a mortgage broker who wants to create a high-quality backlink to their site might reach out to Quicken Loans asking to write a guest blog post for Quicken’s website. The blog post would credit the mortgage broker by mentioning their name, and, more importantly, Quicken Loans would also link to the mortgage broker’s website. 

Google loves this because you’re making their job easier. 

Of the over 200 ranking factors that Google considers, backlinks are one of the top 3 factors for determining relevance and placement on the search results page. 

If Quicken Loans, one of the largest mortgage companies in the US, is linking to a mortgage broker’s website, it’s considered a high-quality backlink and helps that mortgage broker’s website rank higher. 

If you discover (after using UberSuggest) that your competitors are actively building quality backlinks, you definitely can’t skip this step, or your chance of outranking them is very low. Even if your competitors don’t have a lot of backlinks, you’ll quickly gain ground on them by establishing some of your own.

In addition to reaching out to credible websites yourself, you can use HARO (Help a Reporter Out) to acquire backlinks on your own. HARO helps journalists source experts on a variety of topics. The journalist provides some details about the article they’re writing and a few questions they’d like to ask an expert. 

Respondents email the journalist answers to their questions for a chance of being featured (and linked to) in their upcoming article. This is a free service that’s it’s very worthwhile since many regional and national publications request expertise. The result is more quality backlinks that increase your domain authority and give you a higher chance of ranking for your desired search terms. 

Backlinking is often viewed as the cornerstone of a modern SEO campaign. 

Once your website is optimized for on-page SEO (strategy 3 above), your SEO strategy must focus on gaining high-quality backlinks to outrank your competition and get discovered by your target customer.

6. Optimize Your Google My Business Listing

You’ve probably noticed the Google Map at the top of some search results pages for things like ‘San Diego dentist’ or ‘Bay Area credit union.’

Almost one-third of all mobile searches are location specific. If you have a location-specific business, you must show up on that local map.

However, Google only lists three businesses. To see more business listings, you must click on the ‘More Places’ button, which very few people do. 

To increase your chances of appearing in the top three, you can optimize your Google My Business page by adding your:

  • Physical address
  • Phone number
  • Website domain
  • Hours of business
  • Photos of your business, employees, products, and happy customers 

In just a few minutes, you can make it much easier for your target customer to find your business.

Bonus Strategy: Get Online Reviews

91% of consumers say that positive reviews increase their chances of using a business, so you need to get online reviews. Positive reviews attract new customers and factor into your organic ranking on Google’s online directory. 

Companies that have a lot of positive reviews almost always rank at the top of Google, which means they continue to get their brand in front of more potential customers. 

Like backlinks, the best way to get more reviews is to ask! When a customer has a positive experience with your business, text or email your Google My Business listing and ask them to leave you a review. Over time, you’ll build a large library of raving reviews.

Take Your SEO to the Next Level

At the end of the day, SEO optimization is a really important part of your strategic marketing plan because it will help your business get in front of the right customers. 

However, most businesses simply don’t have time to manage their own marketing. That’s where a marketing agency or specialized SEO agency comes in handy. 

We’ve mastered SEO and can create a custom approach tailored to your business and target customers.
If you’d rather focus on the high-level strategy work that only you can do and let us bring more customers your way through SEO optimization, get in touch