Get Your SEO Campaign Off to the Right Start with These Free Tools
Search engine optimisation is vital to any company’s digital marketing strategy.
By targeting a specific set of keywords, you can lead customers with the intention of buying to your website.
But SEO can be difficult to learn. The topic is so vast. There are so many factors to consider, all equally important. If you don’t know where to start, the sheer number of resources available will overwhelm you.
In this post, we’re going to give you actions you can take to get your website’s SEO campaign off to a great start. They’re simple steps and will have a huge impact on search engine rankings.
Let’s get started.
Take advantage of Google’s free tools.
Before you can create an action plan, you need to know where you stand.
Google Search Console is a tool that gives you more control over how Google indexes your web pages.
According to Google Search Console Help, it “is a free service offered by Google that helps you monitor and maintain your site’s presence in Google Search results. You don’t have to sign up for Search Console for your site to be included in Google’s search results, but doing so can help you understand how Google views your site and optimize its performance in search results.”
If there are pages on your website you don’t want Google to index, Google Search Console gives you the option to remove them from search results. It also shows you which keywords people used to find your content.
The second free tool is Google Analytics. It provides the data you need to determine your current SEO standing. It lets you see how many visitors your website gets, how they found you and what keywords they used.
Before we discuss Google Analytics further, let’s define a few terms first.
- Pageviews – The number of views a web page has received.
- Average Time on Page – The average length of time users stay on a page.
- Bounce Rate – The percentage of viewers who land on your website and leave without viewing another page.
Your SEO strategy shouldn’t completely focus on keywords.
Google wants to show users content they’ll find helpful. That’s why it’s important to keep the factors we defined above in mind when create or revising content.
Let’s say you’re a public relations agency in Sydney. You have a service page for Media Training Services, and you’d like it to rank for the keyword “media training services Sydney.”
The page is getting a lot of organic traffic, but its bounce rate is quite high. It could mean that a lot of users are finding the page via search engines. However, they leave right away after reading the content.
The numbers are telling you to evaluate the page’s performance and change things.
Maybe your web page copy is too boring or isn’t resonating with visitors. You could rewrite it and examine the results afterwards.
You could choose to do this for some or all your web pages.
Generate a sitemap.
To avoid confusion, you need to understand that there are two types of sitemaps.
- The HTML sitemap helps visitors navigate your website. These are links to all the pages on your website. If your website has a good navigation system, there really isn’t a need for an HTML sitemap as it is redundant.
- The XML sitemap tells search engines which pages should be indexed and in what order.
In this section, we will be discussing XML sitemaps.
Google uses crawlers to index websites. According to Google’s Search Console Help, a “crawler is a generic term for any program (such as a robot or spider) used to automatically discover and scan websites by following links from one web page to another.”
Creating an XML sitemap makes the job easier for crawlers.
You’re handing them a complete list of all your web pages to ensure they index all your content.
This may sound like a time-consuming step, but there are free tools online that make it simple.
XML-Sitemaps is one example of such a tool. All you have to do is enter your website’s URL and click on Start. It will then generate an XML file for you.
Once you have an XML file, you have to:
- upload it to your web hosting file manager.
- submit it to Google via Google Search Console.
Make sure to look out for broken links when creating an XML sitemap.
Broken links are links that no longer work. They may link to pages that no longer exist or whose URLs may have changed.
When Google crawlers attempt to index your site, they’ll be unable to index all your pages due to broken links. If you’ve provided an incorrect URL to a web page, Google will not be able to find and index it.
Checking every link on your website can be very time-consuming. Thankfully, there are free tools online that find broken links for you.
Broken Link Check is one example. You enter your website’s URL and hit enter. It will then examine every page on your website and notify you if there are any broken links. If you find broken links, you should fix them before submitting the XML sitemap.
Know your keywords.
Before beginning your SEO campaign, you need to know which keywords you need to target. Here are the two types of keywords:
- Short Tail Keywords – These are one-word keywords. Examples include “shoes” and “happiness.” They’re quite vague and don’t tell you much about the searcher’s intent.
- Long Tail Keywords – These are keywords usually composed of three words or more. Examples include “hotels in sydney” and “cheap flights to sydney.” They give you more specific information regarding the searcher.
If you’re trying to find customers online, it’s important to pay close attention to long tail keywords. These are the keywords that can lead customers who are ready to purchase from you.
It’s only natural to target the same keywords as the competition, but try to think of something unique about your business. Here are a few questions to ask yourself while conducting keyword research:
What keywords would your ideal customers use to find your business?
Your competitor’s ideal customer might use “cheap men’s shoes sydney,” because their brand is focused on offering affordable options. Since you offer more high-end choices, your customers might use “designer men’s shoes sydney.”
What results come up when I use this keyword?
So you’ve decided on the keywords you think your ideal customers use. You need to counter-check if you’re correct.
Let’s say you’re a graphic design company in Sydney. You’d like to target the keyword “graphic design Sydney.”
You do a quick Google search using that keyword. The results populate, and you’re surprised to find most of the results are job listings for graphic designers in the area.
This might be a good time to re-evaluate the keyword “graphic design Sydney.” It’s possible that a lot of users who use it aren’t people looking to hire a graphic designer. They’re actually graphic designers looking for jobs.
Ubersuggest is a free tool you could use to check how hard it would be to rank for a keyword. Before we proceed, here a few terms we need to know:
- Search Volume – This is the number of time a keyword is used during a specific timeframe.
- SEO Difficulty – This is how hard it would be to rank for a keyword.
- Cost Per Click – This estimates how much each click would cost if you choose to go with pay-per-click advertising.
Let’s say you want to target the keyword “graphic design company sydney.” You type it in Ubersuggest and choose English/Australia in the Language selection.
Ubersuggest shows you that the Search Volume for the keyword is 70 which is low. The SEO Difficulty is 26 which means it would be easy to rank for this keyword.
The ideal scenario would be to find a keyword with high Search Volume and easy SEO Difficulty. Due to the sheer amount of content online, that scenario is quite rare.
If you scroll down, you’ll see a list of keywords you could use instead. One suggestion is “graphic design agencies in sydney.” The Search Volume for it is 320, while the SEO Difficulty is 15.
This means that more people use “graphic design agencies in sydney” as opposed to “graphic design company sydney.” It’s also significantly easier to rank for. You’ll reach more people with less work.
Ubersuggest also shows you the web pages ranking for the keyword you’re targeting. You can view these web pages and study their content. Figure out how your own content can be ten times better. This tool allows you to pick the keywords to target that will give you the best return on your efforts.
Make sure your website loads fast.
Google rolled out their “Speed Update” on July 9, 2018. Due to this update, page speed or how fast your web page loads is now a major ranking factor in mobile search results.
You might be wondering what this means for your website.
Let’s not forget that quality content is more important than other ranking factors. If Website A and Website B have equally exceptional content, they’ll both have great chances of ranking higher in search results.
However, if Website B’s page speed is faster than Website A’s, it’s going to rank higher.
In a nutshell, page speed is more important than ever, but don’t let the quality of your content fall to the wayside.
Use PageSpeed Insights.
PageSpeed Insights is a free tool provided by Google. It measures how fast your web page load using data gathered from Google Chrome users.
Once you open PageSpeed Insights, all you have to do is enter your web page’s URL and hit enter. It will then show you the page speed along with useful tips for improvement.
For example, PageSpeed Insights could tell you to optimise your web page’s images. This means that you’re using image files that are too big. You could resize them without reducing the image quality, ensuring they load faster on mobile devices.
Some of the suggestions are quite easy to implement. Others are harder and may require assistance from a web development professional.
Understanding SEO and creating strategies may seem overwhelming at first, especially for beginners.
However, it’s necessary to learn it if you intend to do business online. The key is to break it down into small, manageable tasks.
Use free tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console. They give you important data regarding where you currently stand and measure if your strategies are effective.
Generating a sitemap is a quick task you could accomplish in less than an hour. It tells search engines which pages to index and ensures all your quality content can be found on Google.
Selecting the right keywords to target requires a lot of research. You need to take the searcher’s intentions, keyword volume and SEO difficulty into account.
Content is still king, but page speed is more important than ever if you’d like to rank in search engines. Ensure your website loads as quickly as possible by only including the necessary elements.
Cornerstone Digital is an SEO agency in Sydney. If you’d like to get your business found by your ideal customers, we’d be glad to craft a unique SEO campaign for you. Call us on (02) 8211 0668 or email us at [email protected]
A self-professed book and digital marketing nerd, Darlyn Herradura focuses on building trust between customers and businesses with the written word. She understands that creating valuable content is the best way to get found online and happily spends her time doing that.