Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter

How to Learn SEO in 2019 (According to 130 Experts)

What’s the fastest way to learn SEO?

I asked 130 real SEO experts to find out.

Here is the question we asked 130 different experts:

“If you had to start over, what steps would you take to learn SEO?”

Out of the 130 answers, there were many common recommendations for learning SEO.

Top 8 Ways to Learn SEO

  1. Take Action
  2. Learn the Fundamentals
  3. Get a Mentor
  4. Focus on Your Strengths
  5. Invest in an SEO Course
  6. Work at an SEO Agency
  7. Don’t Chase Algorithms
  8. Go to Conferences

1. Take Action

Getting your “hands dirty” and getting more real life experience is the best way to learn SEO (and any skill).

2. Learn the Fundamentals

Follow top SEO blogs, SEO news websites, join SEO communities, and go to SEO conferences to get exposure to all facets of the industry.

3. Get a Mentor

Having an experienced mentor/SEO expert guide you through the process can save you years of trial and error.

4. Focus on Your Strengths

For example, if you are a good writer, then focus on the content-side of SEO. Or, if you are a social butterfly, then focus on the relationship building and PR-side of SEO/link acquisition.

5. Invest in an SEO Course

Quality courses are structured and easy to follow. This is important when you’re starting out because there is an unlimited amount of SEO information online. That makes it challenging to put all the moving parts together.

A proven course trusted by over 700 students can help (hint, hint… Gotch SEO Academy)

6. Work at an SEO Agency

Working at an agency will help you grow as a professional at an accelerated rate. Not only will you be forced to learn SEO quickly, but you will also get exposure into how agencies operate.

7. Don’t Chase Algorithms

Focus on developing timeless skills such relationship building, persuasion, sales, SEO content creation, copywriting, and marketing in general.

8. Go to Conferences

SEO and marketing conferences are the single best way to network with other likeminded individuals. Also, you get to be around people who are more accomplished than you are. This forces you to elevate your gain and to learn.

Start Learning Now With These SEO Resources

You can start learning SEO right now by diving into these resources.

General SEO

What is SEO? – You probably already know that SEO is an acronym for “Search Engine Optimization”. That’s important, but there’s a lot more to know how this industry than you think. This guide is a good place to start.

SEO Strategy – Every successful SEO campaigns starts with a well-designed strategy. This guide will show you a simple 4-step strategy that has worked across nearly every vertical.

SEO Audit – The best way to start an SEO campaign is with a detailed audit. Properly performing an SEO audit will help you identify what to focus on. This is critical because not all SEO actions are created equally.

SEO Mistakes – I’ve made many mistakes throughout my SEO career, but you can avoid all of them by reading this guide.

Best CMS for SEO – Believe it or not, WordPress isn’t the #1 CMS for SEO. Read our data-driven case study to find out which one is.

On-Site SEO

On-Page SEO – Most people think on-page SEO is just placing keywords on a page. Wrong! There’s so much more you need to do to achieve perfect on-page SEO. This guide will show you our 80-point checklist.

Title Tags – Understanding how to optimize title tags is fundamental SEO skill. Real SEO pros know that it’s much more than just jamming keywords into the title. Use this guide to learn the nuances of optimizing title tags.

301 Redirects – 301 redirects can be used to exponentially grow your site’s authority. They can also destroy your website at the same time. Read this guide to learn how to use them to your advantage.

404 Errors – Not all 404 errors are “bad”. You just need to know how to handle them. This guide will show you the right way to design 404 pages. Then, I’ll show you how to find and fix them.

HTTP vs. HTTPS – Your website should be using an SSL certificate. This guide explains why.

Redirect Chains – Redirect chains can rob your page’s of precious link equity. The good news is that you can avoid it by reading this guide.

Content

How to Write a Blog Post – Your blog can be used a catalyst to grow your company. Don’t take it lightly!

Link Building

Backlinks – It’s nearly impossible to rank and achieve long-term SEO performance without quality links. This epic guide will give you the baseline knowledge you need to succeed with link building.

Expired Domains for SEO – Most people use expired domains to do shady, grey hat SEO. This guide teaches you how to leverage them in a safer way.

Anchor Text – Understanding how to optimize anchor text is fundamental link building skill. This guide will show you how to do it the right way, so you get killer results and avoid getting penalized.

Link Building Services – Finding quality link vendors is a tough. That’s why I teamed up with Chris Dreyer and analyzed over $1,000,000 worth of link orders from the most popular vendors. Our goal was simple: to find out what vendors produce the highest quality work. The #1 vendor might surprise you.

PBNs – Every experienced SEO has used or been tempted to use PBNs in their career. The question is: are they worth it? Find out when you read this article.

SEO Tools

Ahrefs – Ahrefs is the best SEO tool on the market. This guide will show you how to use it the right way to drive more organic search traffic to your website.

Google Search Console – There aren’t many free SEO tools that can compete with Google Search Console. It’s extremely powerful and can be used to explode your organic search traffic.

Making Money

How to Make Money Online – Client SEO is the single fastest way to grow your income online. This is the only guide you’ll ever need to get your first or more clients.

How to Build a Niche Website – Building niche website is the single best way to learn SEO and to build a new income stream. This is literally the only guide you’ll ever need.

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

Squeeze Pages – Getting more organic search traffic is great, but converting that traffic is even more important. Did you know that ~98% of your website visitors are not ready to buy? That’s why it’s critical that you get them on your email list so you can nurture them. The first step is to build high-converting lead capture pages (also known as squeeze pages).

What’s Possible When You Learn SEO

I know it’s super internet marketer-like for me to say this, but learning SEO literally changed my life.

Here’s my story.

More Articles

Part 1: Grow Your Business and Leads With SEO

This is a 2 part series written in conjunction with Aktify.

Part 2: How To Revive Dead Leads To Increase Business Growth

Growing one’s business and leads are two of the top goals of every businessperson. Lead growth and business growth go hand-in-hand. You won’t get one without the other. Many business owners, particularly start-ups think business and lead growth begin with the salespeople making phone calls. This view of building a business is outdated and unsuccessful.

While the good old telemarketing phone calls are still around, most communication happens online. Computers and smartphones grant people 24/7 access to information and each other. If your sales team isn’t complimenting their phone calling with online communication via email, social media and SEO, you won’t be growing your business or number of leads well any time soon.

The acronym SEO in the last sentence may have caught your attention. What does search engine optimization have to do with leads and growing one’s business? In short, a whole lot.

With the readily accessibility to the Internet, users expect to find information and answers to their questions immediately. Websites provide the content containing this information users are hurriedly looking for. However, there are millions of websites out there on the Internet and not all of them appear in search results. Only the ones deemed most relevant and credible appear. After all a user is in a hurry to get specific information so they don’t want to waste their time reading irrelevant website content.

This is where SEO, or search engine optimization, comes in. Behind every search query typed in by a user, a Google SEO or search engine robot indexes and collects data from every website published on the web. Spiders crawl websites looking for keywords that match or are related to the words used in a user’s search query. The search engine robot uses a formula to then rank certain webpages in the search results that are seen by the user.

In search engine marketing, ranking is important. Every internet marketing company strives to get their own website and the websites of their clients to the coveted #1 search result position.

Why is ranking important? Well, going back to the previous points of 24/7 Internet access and people’s expectations for immediate answers and information, the first handful of search results will be read while those on the following pages will likely be ignored. After all, who is going to click through multiple websites when their time is precious and short?

It is only through implementing  a good online marketing with SEO optimization of one’s website that there is a greater chance of your website receiving one of these top rankings and thereby increased website visitors and possible leads and customers.

SEO not only brings more traffic to your website, but it also attracts quality leads who are interested in your brand, product or service.

Start tracking your keyword rankings with a serp ranking tool to monitor the results of your SEO efforts.

If search engine optimization is a foreign concept for you, it can be overwhelming as to know where to start and what to do. Here are some simple SEO tactics you can start to implement in order to catch the attention of search engine robots and gain a higher, more visible search results ranking:

  • Utilize Keywords

An excellent starting point for an SEO strategy is the implementation of keywords. When you set up an account with Google Search Console, you  can access a handy keyword tool where you can find which industry or niche specific keywords, keyword phrases and keyword groupings to target and implement throughout the content on your website. When determining which keywords to target, look for ones with lower search volume, but high monthly searches.  Those with lower search volumes mean they aren’t as competitive so your company has a better chance of ranking for them.

You may be tempted to go after broad, short keywords and phrases, but so will everyone else. When you decide to target long-tailed keywords (keywords or keyword phrases that contain more words that are also more specific), your website’s chances of getting ranked increase and the people who find and visit your site will be more likely to be interested in your product or service.

  • Write Good Meta Descriptions

The meta description is the one or two line blurb that appears under the clickable web page heading. It gives a brief description of what that specific page is about. The length of the meta description has been lengthened  from 160 to 300 characters. Meta descriptions longer than this are truncated, which is something to avoid. Meta descriptions are to be short and concise. They are also prime places to insert some of your targeted keywords. When writing meta descriptions, think of the web user and the questions he or she may be asking when they are conducting a search. Let your meta description be your answer to one of their questions.

  • Make Your Website Mobile Responsive

More people now browse the Internet on their smartphones than on a desktop or laptop computer. You likely have noticed the difference in screen size between a smartphone and a computer. Websites that aren’t mobile responsive will fit the screen size of a desktop or laptop computer, but won’t shrink to fit the small screen of a smartphone. The result is an ugly, hard to navigate website when a user uses his or her smartphone.

Search engines, like Google don’t like unhappy Internet users and since mobile responsiveness is a big deal  for user experience that it is now a ranking factor in its search ranking algorithm.

By having a website that is mobile friendly you not only satisfy search engines and possibly get a boost in search results rankings, but you’ll also give your site visitors a pleasant experience.

  • Get Active on Google Business Listings

Google My Business (GMB) is a great way for local businesses to get listed online. With GMB, businesses are listed on Google maps with directions, a summary of the company’s products and services, the company’s address, telephone, hours of operation, pictures, reviews and a link to the company’s website.

To take advantage of GMB, one must “claim” their business. The provided business summary section is another prime place for inserting keywords. Here, however, try and implement local keyword phrases like “hair salon in X city.”

Reviews are also crucial. Aim to generate as many positive reviews as you can. With people conducting more business transactions online without interacting with the company, reviews are an invaluable way to gauge whether someone should work with a company or make a purchase from a business. Online users making their first purchase from a business will automatically read reviews about the company first.

  • Regularly Produce Quality, Optimized Content

While it is great to include keywords in the URLs, titles, meta descriptions and images used on each page of your website, a blog where one regularly publishes fresh, informative content is the sweet spot to implement keywords. Search engines also look for fresh, new content that would provide users with useful information that they are looking for. Blog posts provide users with relevant, informative, interesting content as well as places where you can implement keywords and links. Consistent blogging also shows web users and search engines that you’re a credible  and reputable source of information which goes a long way in boosting your website’s search results ranking.

Your blogs should be written in a way that is easy to read and understand and be free of spelling, grammar and punctuation errors and contain a call to action or some form of engagement with the reader. When blogging, some things to be aware of include link bait and buying, keyword stuffing and plagiarism. Only insert relevant links from other credible websites into your blog posts, don’t excessively use the same targeted keywords and make sure your blog content is 100% unique and original. Website visitors and search engines will thank you.

  • Share Your Wealth of Knowledge Through Guest Posting

With guest posting, you write a blog post which is then published on another website. This is a great way for your blog content to get more exposure and more visits to your website. If your blog post is published on a reputable site within your industry, the credibility and reputation of your own website will get a boost which will catch the attention of search engines who in turn may reward your website with a higher search results ranking.

Ideally, guest posting should go two ways where you agree to publish someone else’s blog post on your site in exchange for them posting your blog post on their website. This is the best, and most ethical way to exchange links as well.

  • Improve Your Website’s Speed

Web users expect to get what they’re looking for almost immediately. They are not going to sit around and wait a minute or two for a website to load. Instead, they will immediately go to another website. Site speed is also a factor search engine robots use in awarding search results rankings. Some ways to improve the loading speed of your website include allowing caching, compressing the size of images and videos, remove unnecessary plugins and scripts and have a reliable web host.

  • Optimize Your Images

While most visitors to your website will have no problem seeing your images, those who are blind as well as search engines will be unable to view them. Search engines are computers and only read text and numbers. Blind visitors can have a description of the image read to them. To make it possible for everyone, including search engines to “see” your website images, an ALT tag is used. These are brief descriptions of a few words telling what the image depicts. It is a good idea to implement keywords in the ALT descriptions. With keyword rich ALT descriptions, your  website will appear more relevant to search engines.

Implementing SEO onto your company’s website can greatly grow your business and leads. It can be tedious and take time to see an improvement in search results page listing rank. The algorithm, or formula used by search results robots change frequently so it is important to constantly monitor your website’s SEO tactics and to continually adjust them.

While the basic search engine optimization tactics make for a good foundation and are easy to implement, it can be a challenge to keep it up. SEO isn’t a “one and done” thing. It requires constant maintenance and adjustments over multiple years. For many small and medium sized businesses, this can be more than what they can handle while also trying to manage the day-to-day operations of their businesses. As a result, many choose to hire an experienced, outside digital marketing company to handle and oversee their website’s SEO.

If you’re in this latter group and need help with your website’s SEO, be sure to check us out at SEO.com. We are an SEO company made of experienced internet marketers in the areas of web development, PPC, SEO, social media marketing, remarketing and content marketing. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how they can help your website’s SEO generate more leads and grow your business.

SEO can help grow your business by attracting leads to your website. Once the leads are obtained, the sales team must take them through your sales funnel to convert them into paying customers. Some leads, however, become stagnant, or dead. These dead leads, however can be revived through products and services that help with sales funnel management like those by Aktify. SEO combined with platforms to revive dead leads like Aktify can help your business grow by leaps and bounds.

Part 2: How To Revive Dead Leads To Increase Business Growth

The post Part 1: Grow Your Business and Leads With SEO appeared first on SEO.com.

Read More »

5 Ways to Use Google Search Console (Like a Pro)

Google Search Console is a fundamental tool for every successful SEOs toolkit.

The best part?

It’s free!

In this guide, I’ll show you how to use Google Search Console to improve your SEO performance, so you can get more traffic, leads, and customers from organic search.

Let’s jump in.

Before I show some cool tactics, I need to cover the basics.

How to Set Up Google Search Console

1. Go here and enter your email address.

Google Search Console Homepage

2. Click the dropdown on the upper lefthand side.

Step 1

3. Click “Add Property”

Step 2

4. Select the “Domain” option and enter your root domain (example: gotchseo.com). Then click “Continue”.

Step 3

5. Copy the txt record and sign in to your registrar (where you purchased your domain).

Step 4

6. If you’re using GoDaddy, click on “My Products”, look under the “Domains” section to find your domain, and then click on “DNS”.

Step 5

7. Click on “Add” under “Records”.

Step 6

8. Select “TXT”. Enter “@” under “Host”, enter the TXT record you copied from Google Search Console under “TXT Value”, and click “Save”.

Step 7

9. Go back to Google Search Console and click “Verify”. You may end up seeing the “Ownership verification failed” message like this:

Ownership Verification Failed Google Search Console

10. Google recommends waiting a day and then trying to verify again. In most cases, you’ll see the “Ownership auto verified” message like this:

Ownership Auto Verified Google Search Console

The last step is to integrate Google Search Console data with your site’s Google Analytics data.

How to Integrate Google Search Console Data with Google Analytics

1. Go to Google Analytics and click on the target website. Then click on “Acquisition”, “Search Console”, and then “Landing Pages”.

Step 1

You’ll see this screen (click “Set up Search Console data sharing”):

Step 2

If you don’t see your domain on the list, then click on “Add a site to Search Console”.

If you dont see site

As of right now, this is a glitch.

For some reason, when you add a site on the new Google Search Console, it doesn’t add to the old version. Google Analytics is integrated with the old version, so it’s causing some issues.

That said, add the target site to the old version and then go back and refresh the page. It should be showing now.

Select it, make sure it matches the “Web Property” at the top, and click save.

Select site

Click “OK” when you see the “Add association” pop up.

Add Association

Go back to Google Analytics and refresh the page. It should now be integrated.

Integrated

Keep in mind that it will take a few days to start showing data inside Google Analytics.

Now that you’re all set up, let’s jump into how to use this amazing free tool.

5 Ways to Use Google Search Console to Increase Your Traffic

  1. Optimize Crawling and Indexing
  2. Identify Low Hanging Fruits
  3. Increase Organic Search CTR
  4. Perform CRO
  5. Track Branded Search Performance

Optimize Crawling and Indexing

The first way to use Google Search Console is to use the URL Inspection tool.

The URL Inspection tool is useful because you can check the indexation and mobile-friendliness of any URL on your website. Copy any URL and enter into the search bar:

URL inspection tool

You’ll end up on this page and the goal is to have green checkmarks for every option.

URL is on Google

Here’s how it might look if Google hasn’t crawled and indexed a page on your site:

URL is not on Google

What do you do in this scenario?

First, do not “Request Indexing”.

If your page isn’t getting crawled and indexed there’s a reason (or many reasons). You need to audit your site to identify what’s preventing Google from either crawling or indexing your pages.

Let’s start with crawling because Google can’t index a page unless it can crawl it.

There a few possible reasons why Google can’t crawl a page:

  • Your robot.txt file is blocking Google’s crawlers.
  • Your page is buried within your site’s architecture that Google’s crawlers can’t it (or have given up).
  • Your website’s loading speed is too slow and Google’s crawlers give up.

If Google is crawling your site, but your pages aren’t indexed, then it might be because:

  • You’re using the “noindex” tag
  • Your site architecture is poorly structured
  • Your page is slow
  • Your page is unresponsive
  • Your website rarely publishes new content

And many other reasons outside the scope of this guide. The good news is that you can actually use Google Search Console to find some of these issues.

Let’s move onto the “Index” section. Click on “Coverage” and this section will show you every technical issue that Google has found.

Coverage section

If you’re having indexation issues, then see if you have an obvious “Errors” such as “Submitted URL marked ‘noindex’”.

Submitted URL marked noindex

Click through and make sure you actually want these pages to be noindexed.

Affected Pages

Otherwise, remove the noindex tag and Google will crawl and then index it.

If you don’t find the suspect URL in this section, go back to the “Coverage” overview section. Then click on “Excluded”. Scroll down and click on “Excluded by “noindex” tag.

excluded by noindex tag

For example, I want my “Story” page to be indexed in Google, but it’s using the “noindex” tag by accident.

Excluded

If you click on the URL, Google Search Console will give you two options:

  1. Inspect URL
  2. Test Robot.txt Blocking

Two crawl options

Start with “Test Robot.txt Blocking” and see your robot.txt is blocking Google’s crawlers (it will take you to the old version of Google Search Console).

robots txt tester

If it passes the test, move onto the “Inspect URL” option. Make sure you have removed the “noindex” tag from the target page and then click “Request Indexing”.

Request Indexing

You should see the “Indexing requested” confirmation popup.

Indexing Requested

Now just wait a few days (maybe even a week) to see if the page is indexed.

The “Coverage” section is robust and there are many technical issues you can tackle. I recommend digging through the “Excluded” section and fixing each issue one-by-one.

Excluded Section

One other issue you’ll want to look for isn’t as obvious. It’s called index bloat.

This is a very common problem when I’m conducting SEO audits. In short, “index bloat” is when you have pages indexed in Google that shouldn’t be.

This can cause crawl issues, duplicate, and thin content issues, and it can even dilute your site’s authority. I recommend exporting the URLs from the “Valid” and “Submitted and indexed” section.

Valid

The best way to decide if pages should be indexed is by using a combination of data and manual analysis.

Check out the video below on how to perform a content audit. I use Screaming Frog SEO Spider in the demonstration, but the general thought process and nuance will apply no matter what tool you’re using.

Subscribe on YouTube for more free SEO training videos.

The last thing you need to do in the “Coverage” section is to make sure you’ve submitted a sitemap.

Submit Sitemap

Now let’s move onto the “Performance” section.

Identify Low Hanging Fruits

Google Search Console’s “Performance” section is where all the magic happens.

Performance

If you’ve had it installed on your site for a while, you have tons of critical data at your fingertips.

I’m not going to bore you and show you how to look at the data.

Instead, I’m going to show you how to leverage this data to get more organic search traffic.

The first method is to identify low hanging fruits.

A “low hanging fruit” is any keyword phrase ranking from positions #11 – #20.

These keyword phrases are only a few tweaks away from landing on the first page. You know this, but being on the second page of Google is almost like being completely invisible.

To find these low hanging fruits, click on “Average position”.

Average position

Then scroll down and click the filter option.

Filter Position

Check “Position”, select “Greater than” from the dropdown, and enter “11”.

Greater than

These keyword phrases are your low hanging fruits. I recommend going after phrases with the highest volume.

Now the question is:

How?

The fastest method is to make sure the phrase is mentioned on the page. If it’s a high volume keyword, then you may need to create another section on the page.

Google is telling you what keywords should be targeted on that page. Take advantage of it!

First, click on the target keyword phrase.

query

Then click on the “Pages” tab. This tab will show you what page on your site is ranking for that keyword.

Pages tab

Second, view the page and search for the keyword phrase. “Backlink builder” isn’t mentioned once on my guide about backlinks.

Search

That means that the first step is to figure out how to integrate that phrase onto the page. I recommend searching the exact phrase in Google to see what the intent is.

In this case, 7 out of the 10 results are tools.

SERP example

That means it might make sense for me to add a section about “Free Backlink Builder Tools”. I could also reframe it to show a list of the “Top Backlink Builders”.

The key takeaway is to model the search intent for the keyword. In some cases, you can add the keyword variation a few times in the copy (read this guide about on-page SEO).

Once you’ve optimized the page for long-hanging fruits, annotate inside Google Analytics.

Then wait a few weeks. You can go back to Google Search Console and see how that keyword phrase is performing by comparing date ranges.

Click the “Date” filter option. Then click on “Compare” and select the appropriate dates.

Date Filter

You can then see how the page has performed since you made the changes.

Comparison

If it hasn’t produced any movement, then reassess your optimization and content strategy.

If you feel that both categories are on-point, then I recommend examining the UI/UX, your site’s architecture leading to that page, and the backlink profile for that page.

Increase Organic Search CTR

The next way to leverage Google Search Console data is to increase your organic search Click Through Rate (CTR).

There is no faster way to get more organic search traffic than increasing your CTR. Here’s how to do it:

Go to the “Search Results” section, select “Average CTR” and “Average Position”.

Average CTR

Then scroll down and click on the filter button. Select “CTR”, click “Smaller than” from the dropdown, and enter “1.0”.

smaller than 1

Then go back to the filter and select “Position”, click on “Smaller than”, and enter “10”.

smaller than 10

Now you should be looking at keyword phrases that you’re performing well for, but your CTR is lacking.

Bad CTR

Now there are a few things to consider before I explain how to optimize for CTR.

Here are 4 Factors That Will Impact Organic CTR:

  1. your position (lower rankings = lower CTR)
  2. Google Ads (more ads = lower CTR)
  3. SERP features (more SERP features = lower CTR)
  4. search intent

Search intent isn’t as obvious as the others. In general, navigational search phrases (like “Gotch SEO”) that you don’t own will have low CTR. For example, my CTR for “blogger.com” is a brutal 0.1%.

I can push my rankings up further for this phrase, but I know it’s a waste of time and resources. Why?

Because people searching navigational phrases are generally looking for the brand itself. The takeaway is that you prioritize increasing organic search CTR for non-navigational keywords.

That means you should focus on informational keywords like “SEO competitive analysis” or “affordable SEO service”.

Now let me explain how to actually increase your organic search CTR.

How to Increase Organic CTR

Select an informational keyword with low CTR. You should pick a keyword that has low CTR and a high position. Sort the data by “Position” to see the top-ranked keywords.

In this example, I’m going to focus on “buy backlinks for SEO”.

keyword target

Once you’ve selected a target keyword, benchmark its current CTR. I recommend adding this data to an annotation in Google Analytics.

Keep this open because you’ll be adding whatever changes you made to it as well.

Annotate in Google Analytics

Now you need to examine the SERPs for that keyword. The first thing I notice in my situation are the ads.

SERP

Take note of the headlines.

The next thing to consider is my page that’s ranking #1.

Does the search intent for the keyword phrase “buy backlinks for SEO” match my page?

search engine result

I think it’s appropriate that it’s ranking because it is on topic.

However, someone searching “buy backlinks for SEO” seems to already have an objective in their mind. It seems that they already made the decision to “buy backlinks”.

That means they may not want to change their mind about buying links.

That could be a reason why the CTR for this page is suffering.

So, in this example, it doesn’t make much sense for me to change the strategy of my blog post.

This is a good reminder that being an SEO expert isn’t always about what you do. It’s also about what you don’t do.

Since that keyword phrase didn’t pan out, let’s take a look at the keyword phrase: “seo st louis”.

ctr example

From a quick SERP analysis, it’s easy to understand why the CTR is so poor for that page. There’s a Google Ad and the local pack is pushing the organic results below the fold.

SERP features

Now if I was serious about ranking for this keyword phrase, I would focus on the local pack. My page is ranking #2 in organic search and there’s a lot of room for improvement.

SERP features example

The first step to increasing your organic CTR is to improve your position. In this case, I would see a major boost in CTR by moving from the #2 to the #1 spot.

I recommend optimizing, improving, and adding more content. Then if it makes sense, try to acquire links to the page. While that’s happening you also want to try to improve your CTR.

I always look for a featured snippet because that’s an easy way to increase your CTR. You have to restructure and optimize your page for featured snippets.

Take note of a few elements in this example:

  • The #1 result has structured data and breadcrumbs showing
  • The #3 result has site links

That means that our page can also get those features. It makes sense to add reviews to our page that are using structured data.

Not only will these increase the organic CTR, but it will also add more unique user-generated content.

I’ve talked about a lot of technical optimization tactics. Now I want to show you how to optimize your title tags and meta descriptions for CTR.

You’ll need to put on your copywriting hat for this.

The first question is:

What does this searcher want the most when they search “seo st louis”?

This individual wants to work with a competent, trustworthy, and successful SEO company located in St. Louis. They likely want to meet face-to-face and shake your hand.

How do I know?

Because I’ve done exactly that with countless businesses in this area. How business owners operate in St. Louis compared to how they operate in New York City is different.

These nuances are huge. I won’t get into the psychology of midwest culture right now.

That said, your title and meta description should persuade your ideal customer.

So, if you’re targeting business owners in St. Louis, you need to clearly state why you’re the best option.

“Best St. Louis SEO Company” is a good start, but WHY is Gotch SEO the “best”?

Ask yourself:

What does a business owner in St. Louis value the most?

Some things they might value are:

  • Only working with a company that’s located in St. Louis
  • Working with a company that’s willing to meet in person and shake their hand
  • Working with a proven company with a visible track record of results
  • A sense of security that trying SEO again will work this time because it’s never worked in the past

List as many ideas as you can. Step into their shoes. Then, create at least 10 different headlines using these ideas.

Here are some examples:

  • #1 SEO Company Located in St. Louis (with Over 153 5-Star Reviews)
  • #1 St. Louis SEO Company (See Why 134 Other Companies Trust Us)
  • St. Louis SEO Company That’s Driven Over $12,031,231 for Clients
  • Most Trust SEO Company in St. Louis (139 Real 5-Star Reviews)
  • The Only ROI-Driven SEO Company in St. Louis
  • St. Louis SEO Company with Over 1,304,012 First Page Rankings
  • #1 Recommended St. Louis SEO Company (Insane Results for Clients)
  • St. Louis SEO Company – Get 112% More Traffic Like Our Clients
  • St. Louis SEO Company – Get 212% More Revenue Like Our Clients
  • St. Louis SEO Company – See Why 174 Others Trust Us

The combinations are endless. That’s why it’s critical that you test.

Add these same concepts to your meta description as well.

I recommend making your changes and then waiting at least a few weeks to see the results.

Make sure you annotate your changes in Google Analytics.

If you don’t see better performance, then iterate, and test again. There is no “end” to optimizing a website for organic search.

Perform Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

The third way to leverage Google Search Console data has nothing to do with SEO.

I recommend that you perform Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) high-performing organic search pages.

Getting traffic is nice, but converting that traffic into leads and new customers are even better.

I won’t get into CRO here, but check out these resources:

One thing that you need to keep in mind is that every single page on your site should have a goal.

It doesn’t have to always be transactional either. In fact, trying to score a sale is a poor strategy because ~98% of website visitors are not ready to buy.

That’s why it’s fundamental that you convert a percentage of that traffic into email subs or get them on a retargeting list.

Track Branded Search Performance

The last way to leverage this data isn’t actually a tactic at all. I recommend monitoring your branded search performance.

Branded Search Performance

While ranking for informational keywords is critical for increasing traffic, branded search is what will keep you afloat when rankings fluctuate.

The question is:

How do you get more branded searches?

You need an all-encompassing marketing strategy outside of SEO.

In general, if you produce exceptional value and your products are excellent, then you’ll get branded searches.

I recommend using Google Search Console to track your branded search performance every month.

If it’s not growing, then you know you need to adjust your strategy.

Bonus Google Search Console Sections to Investigate

Another Google Search Console section you’ll want to investigate is “Enhancements”.

Enhancements section

The “Mobile Usability” section will show you issues impacting the mobile search user’s experience on your website. It’s important to fix anything that shows up here.

Mobile usability section

Think about this way:

If Google is dedicating a section to it, it’s likely an important factor for organic search performance.

The same logic applies to every section within Google Search Console.

The “Security & Manual Actions” section is one to visit if your organic search traffic falls.

security and manual actions

Both manual actions and security-related issues can wreck your traffic. Go to this section first if your traffic plummets.

No manual actions detected

The last section to examine is the “Links” section.

Links

I prefer using Ahrefs for all link analysis, but Google Search Console can give you some solid intel. It doesn’t give you all your link data.

However, it is a decent sample set. One thing to examine is the “Top linking text” section.

Top linking text

This is your external link anchor text profile. Ideally, your “Top linking text” should be branded.

You should also look at the “Internal links” section because it may indicate some inefficiencies with your site architecture.

Internal links section

For example, my “best link building services” page may not have as many crawler pathways as I would like.

Internal links example

The appropriate action would be to create more internal links that page, so it performs better.

The other way to use this section is if you get a manual or algorithmic penalty. In many cases, websites get penalized because of low-quality links and over-optimized anchor text.

How to Clean Up Your Link Profile Using Google Search Console

Click “Export External Links” and select “More sample links”.

Export links

Then copy 200 of these URLs and open up Ahrefs. Go to “More” in the navigation and click on “Batch analysis”.

Ahrefs Batch Analysis

Paste the URLs, click the dropdown under “Target mode”, select “domain with all its subdomains” and start the analysis.

Quick batch analysis ahrefs

Click “Export” and open the file.

Ahrefs batch analysis export

Delete every column except for “Target”, “Domain Rating”, “Ref domains Dofollow”, “Total Backlinks”, “Total Keywords”, and “Total Traffic”. Then copy the data and paste into the Google Sheet (or you can filter through it in the .csv).

backlink profile analysis

I would filter the links by “Domain Rating” and then manually go through each link.

You can categorize them as “Good, Okay, Bad”.

I won’t get into link analysis here, but I recommend reading this article about the best link building services and my backlinks guide.

These will both give you a framework for what a quality link looks like.

That’s a Wrap!

Google Search Console is a robust free SEO tool that cannot be overlooked. Take advantage of it and start increasing your organic search traffic.

Read More »

User research: the ultimate guide

When you want to make some considerable improvements to your website, what’s the best place to start? At Yoast, we feel that research is always one of the most important things to do. It’ll help you find out what needs work, why it needs work, and of course, what you have to do to make things better.

Looking at our website data in Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and other SEO tools, is already part of our weekly activities. But, in order to dive deeper than just having a look at the plain data, we love to do user research. This is the part where you truly get to know your customers and where you’ll discover your blind spots when it comes to your own website. Within this ultimate guide, we’ll show you what types of user research could be valuable for your own website or company.

Table of contents

The top task survey

What kind of user research fits and complements the existing data always depends on the type of project you run. However, we believe that running a so-called ‘top task survey’ should always be the first step when you start doing user research. As you’ll able to use the outcomes of a top task survey within all future projects.

So, what is a top task survey exactly? To get to know why your customers visit your website, you’ll need to talk to your customers. And, how do you get to talk to your customers without actually having conversations with lots of customers? You could set up an online top task survey, which pops up on your visitor’s screen as soon as you like, either immediately after entering the website or after a couple of minutes. 

Questions in a top task survey

The popup is set up for one simple reason: to find out the purpose of their visit to your website. 

To make sure you’ll get valuable data out of your top task survey, it’s important to ask the right question. We recommend asking one open question: ‘What is the purpose of your visit to this website? Please be as specific as possible.’

With this open question, you give your customers the chance to truly say what they think. Closed questions make this harder, as you’ve already drawn up certain answers and then you risk missing other important thoughts or opinions your may customers have. And we know, analyzing the answers will take a lot more time, but when you do this right you’ll get the most valuable results.

Next to this one open question, it is possible to add one or two closed questions to take a closer look at your respondents. You might want to know the age or you want to know the type of customer it is. This data can be valuable to combine with the outcomes of the open question answers. In the top task surveys of Yoast, the second question is: ‘Do you have the Yoast SEO plugin?’. This is valuable information for us because we can see the difference between what free users are looking for on our website and what Premium users are looking for on our website. 

How often should you do a top task survey?

We recommend running your top task survey once a year. If you have a small website, you can choose to run the survey once every two years. The market you work in is always changing and customers always change, so every time you’ll run the survey, you’ll receive new, valuable information to work with and to improve on. 

The exit survey

The following two types of research we’ll discuss are more specific. And, which one you should perform at what time depends on the type of project you’re about to run. 

For example, you’ve noticed in your Google Analytics data that your most visited page has a very high bounce rate. This means that you need to know why visitors are leaving this fast. Couldn’t they find what they were looking for? Or did they find what they were looking for and are they already satisfied? You can get answers to these questions by running an exit survey on a specific page.

What is an exit survey?

An exit survey pops up when a visitor is about to leave the page. When a visitor moves their mouse cursor towards their browser bar, they are usually about to leave your website. So, this is the right moment to ask your visitor one or more questions. 

Questions in an exit survey

So, your visitor is about to leave, what do you want to know before they’re gone? We recommend keeping the survey short and simple: people are already leaving, so if you want them to fill out your survey, it needs to be short.

The question you ask depends on the page and the problem you want to solve. When you have a specific blog post with a high bounce rate, you might want to know if visitors have found the information they were looking for. The simple open question you could ask: ‘What information were you looking for today on our website?’. You could add a second closed question to see if the page fulfills your visitor’s needs: ‘Have you found what you’ve been looking for?’. A simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ is enough to get this overview. 

Within our post ‘What is an exit survey and why should you use it?’ we’ve added some more examples of questions you could ask depending on the page that needs attention.

User testing

The third type of research is ‘user testing’. User testing is the type of research in which you get ‘live’ feedback from your clients because you actually see people using your website or product. At the beginning of this guide, we already mentioned ‘blind spots’ and user testing is the best way to find these blind spots. For example, you know exactly where to find what information or what product on your website, but visitors might not. Seeing testers struggle with finding the right page on your website can be embarrassing, but the good news is, when you know, you can improve!

Why should you do user testing?

User testing can give you very valuable insights during every stage of your process. When you’re creating a new product, it’s valuable to see what potential customers think of it, but it’s just as valuable to see what your customers think of your product that has already existed for over three years. Every test will give you new insights to work with!

User testing also guarantees that the test results are ‘real’. You can see for yourself how your customers use your website or product. The customer can’t ‘lie’ about things. And, that’s a big difference with survey respondents: they can say different things compared to what they really experience.

How to get started

There are three main types of user testing which you could use for your own website or product:

  • Live, moderated user testing: your testers will test with a moderator in the same room.
  • Remote, moderated user testing: your testers will test with a moderator while they’re in contact through a video call.
  • Remote user testing without a moderator: your testers will test without a moderator in their own time and space. They will record the test so you can watch it later.

Within our specific post ‘What is user testing and why should you do it?’, we explain more thoroughly what type should be used in what situation. 

After picking the method you want to use, it’s important to set up a clear plan with goals and a test scenario. Hereby you make sure the testers will follow the right path and will give you the insights you need. After that, it’s time to recruit your testers. Decide on what types of testers you’ll need to get the best test results. We recommend recruiting different types: young people, older people, experienced people, inexperienced people, etc. Think of all the types of people that might use your website or product now and in the future. 

Then it’s time to get started! Create a plan and start testing with your recruited people. Make sure you record all tests, making it easier to analyze the results. As it’s nearly impossible to remember everything that happened during the tests. 

Analyzing user research results

There is some difference in analyzing the results of surveys, such as the top task survey and the exit survey compared to the user testing results. 

When analyzing an online survey, we recommend to export all data to a sheet and to create categories for all answers. Place every answer into a specific category to get a clear overview of what the biggest problems are. After that, you can easily see what problems need to be prioritized and you can start thinking of improvements. Set up an action plan and start improving!

For the user tests, it can more difficult to create a couple of categories that fit the test results. Here, it’s easier to write a summary for every user test and to combine those at the end. Can you discover similarities? Can you combine some issues to improve more at once? It’s important to look at the bigger picture so you can make improvements that will have a big impact on the future user experience of your website or product!

User research tools

There are several tools in which you can create a top task survey or an exit survey (or other surveys!). We’re currently using Hotjar, but we’re planning to create our own design and implementing it with Google Tag Manager. Tools we know for setting up online surveys are:

  • Hotjar
  • SurveyMonkey
  • Mopinion

On their sites, they have a clear explanation of how to use these tools to perform an exit survey.

For user testing, your needs are different. Testing a website or a product, you’ll need a testing environment for your testers or a test product they are allowed to use. Besides, you’ll need recording material: for testing a website, you can easily record a screen session, but for testing a product, you’ll need to think of a recording set up. Do you have a good camera and a tripod, for example? Then you can get started! When you’re doing user tests more often, you can use an eye tracker as well to get more insights on how people are looking at your website or product, but it’s not necessary!

Are you already doing user research as well? Or have we convinced you to start doing user research? Let us know in the comments below!

Read more: Panel research for your business: Benefits and tips »

The post User research: the ultimate guide appeared first on Yoast.

Read More »
Scroll to Top