Popularity; being well-liked is important to some people. It’s also important to businesses. Generally, one can assume that if a business is popular that it is good and provides a valuable service or product. But, is that always the case?

If you can make a thousand people say you’re the most popular person, are you really the most popular person? If you can create a system to have a thousand websites link to your website, does that mean your website provides the most valuable information? That was something Google and other search engines had to fix when link-building was at its height of popularity.

If you own a website and have undertaken any sort of SEO over the years, you’ve likely heard the term ‘link-building’. When SEO first became a method of marketing, link-building was one of the most important tasks an SEO professional would undertake.

As with many things, some took it too far and all of a sudden directories build specifically for link-building were created. People began offering link-building services and the entire process could be automated for $10 to $100. Those who didn’t understand the reasoning behind getting links to a website never cared where the link came from, they simply wanted more links. Because of this, links became diluted.

Although link building got a bad rap, it’s still an important part of the SEO process. But, even as was the case back then, it’s important to seek quality links to your website and/or to help links develop naturally.

Why Links Are Important

The idea behind link building stems from popularity and authority. If your website is popular, provides authority in your industry and has relevant topics, people will like it, share it and link to it.

This signal shows Google and other search engines that your website is valuable and valid and can help in ensuring your website ranks well for popular keyword search terms.

In addition, if your website is linked to from another website, that’s another avenue of traffic for you.

Both of these can help increase your SEO rankings. So, in turn, link building is still good for SEO. But more importantly, it’s good for your website traffic and to gain potential targeted leads.

Search engines use links for two fundamental reasons:

The first is to help them discover new pages for their databases. Every time your website publishes an article or a blog, the search engine needs to find it before they rank it. If your internal linking system is well-structured and you have a good xml sitemap, this might be easy. But, the more websites that also link to this content, the easier and quicker it might be for the search engines to find.

Search Engines also use links to help determine how a page should rank for a particular keyword. A link can be seen as confidence about the content and information that is to come.

It’s important to keep both of these linking fundamentals in mind when you begin to build links for your website.

Link Building Benefits & SEO

White hat link building has long-since been touted as an effective part of an SEO strategy. It’s otherwise known as link-juice and is one of many ranking signals used by Google and other search engines to determine the validity of a website for a specific keyword phrase.

Link metrics are calculable. There are programs designed to help you determine the quality of a website and link from that page. Alternatively, you can seek out new links by hand. But, it’s not wise to rely solely on link metrics alone. Natural links may not have passed your link metric test; however, they can prove to be invaluable. The same goes for a link that actually drives valuable visitors and potential leads to your website.

Having websites point back to your domain improves your domain authority. It provides search engines with a signal that your content is worth linking to. In turn, if you’re generating website traffic from these links, this too can help with your SEO.

The Indirect Benefits of Link Building

Link building should be a task on every SEO professional’s to-do list. Yes, because it helps with SEO and ranking on search engines. But, and perhaps even more importantly, the real benefit of additional links is more indirect.

Builds Trust – When someone links to your content, it’s their way of saying they trust you enough to share you. This influencer traffic is an important citation for your website. The more industry authority you can have, the more serious your website will be taken. Consumers today are looking for trust signals before they make a connection with a business. This comes from testimonials, citations and authoritative content.

Builds Branding – The more your business is mentioned elsewhere, the more known your brand will be. You might not derive a sale from a link; however, there is a subconscious act of knowing that takes place and the more a person sees your business name or website, the more likely they are to subconsciously begin building trust in your brand.

Increases Visitors – A well-earned link on another niche or popular website can increase targeted visitors to your own website.

Increases Leads – While some think about link building primarily from an SEO standpoint, when you curate links for the benefit of actually building business, this is when you really win. There are local websites, directory websites, resource websites etc. that people visit every single day. If you have related content, or a related link, you could actually earn business, rather than just link juice. And, that’s the real point, right?

As an example, let’s imagine you are a mortgage broker. You can list your business in local directories. Perhaps you exchange links with fellow mortgage brokers across the country as part of a referral network. You may have a link on your main company’s website. As you start to create good content (video, podcasts, articles and blogs) you may find that people begin sharing your content. Now, think about places where your content could naturally live:

  • Real estate agent websites
  • Home design websites
  • Home builder websites
  • Real estate lawyer websites
  • Financial planning websites

The link authority from any of those types of websites would be good. But, the visitors to those websites likely have a vested interest in your service. So, if your content is excellent and authoritative, if people begin to trust your brand, you can use this opportunity for more than just the link juice. You can use this link to actually generate visitors and business leads.

And, that’s why, when it comes to link building, good content is always stressed. Know your audience. Know your target. Know their target keywords and ensure that your content is authoritative, different and relatable.

Natural vs Curated Links

A natural link is one that happens more by accident. You haven’t done anything to secure the link; rather, someone has liked something on your website and has chosen to link to it from their own.

A curated link is a link you have specifically requested. Maybe this is on a local website or an industry-leading informative website. Maybe you have created relative content for a related industry.

Both natural and curated links can be valuable for your business and for your website.

How to Get Natural Links  

Have good content – this is the best advice for when you want to get links to your website. Have well-written, easy-to-read shareable content on your website that is unique from what a person could find anywhere else. Answer questions. Have a unique solution to a common problem. Update your blog regularly. Make your content so good that people want to share it or source it on their own websites.

Write guest blog posts – find niche websites and request to write a blog or article for them. Be sure to include keyword rich backlinks to your own website when applicable.

How to Curate Good Links

Link Requests – It’s ok to ask for links still; you just want to be sure that you’re asking for links on a quality page that isn’t a ‘link building’ page. If content is related and your website would be a valuable resource, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Directories – Local or niche directories provide a valuable service for visitors. So, ensure your site is listed if related and that your profile is properly filled out.

Social Media – Keep your social media profiles up-to-date with a link in your profile. You can also use your own social channels to share your good content. Others might pick it up to post on their own website, thus creating a natural link!

Here are the Top Benefits of Link Building

Build relationships – the very act of sourcing out related links to your website could help you build business relationships.

Get your content indexed faster – When you create good content, it’s important that the search engines can find it. Having your own website and others link to it will help ensure search engines will find it, spider it and index it faster.

Build your website authority – A well-placed link on a related, good website is a signal of trust and authority.

Receive traffic from other websites – Great links are for more than just SEO; they actually provide website traffic and leads for your business.

Improve your seo – Links are used as a ranking factor for SEO. If you’re looking to increase your ranking for a specific keyword phrase, ensure you have good content related to this keyword and then begin sourcing links to this content.

Improve your brand visibility – The more times a person can see your brand, the more your brand will make an impression on them.

Link Building Tactics

Have good content including video, infographics, images and articles – content is king, queen and everything in-between, especially when it comes to links. Having content that is shareable and digestible is always a good idea when it comes to link building.

Guest blogging – Find related websites and ask to have your content featured. Be sure the content you provide is unique and answers a question or solves a problem in a way that is conducive to both that website and your brand.

Build links from broken links – the Internet is filled with links that no longer work. If you have content that could fit, you could ask the webmaster to link to your content instead. This involves a lot of research and work but can be invaluable to your success in the long run.

Research who links to your competition and request links – This is usually stage one of link building. Research the competition and find similar link building opportunities.

Whether you are new to SEO and link building or have been doing it for years, if you’re reading this article, you know link building is important. How to build links and where to get them from is always changing; however, the idea behind links has always been the same. It’s when you try and find quick wins that you begin to steer yourself in the wrong direction.

Gaining high quality links for your quality content hasn’t changed. It’s the cornerstone of any link-building campaign, and always has been. It’s just become harder (or more clear) to find what constitutes as a high quality link.

White hat link building strategies are good for any website. But, this opportunity takes research, effort and time. The benefit will pay off. Good link building is building for tomorrow, not this instant. Isn’t that the case with content, too?

While the landscape for link building is always changing, one thing remains unchanging. The benefits for producing quality content will never go away. The benefits of quality links will never go away.

There has always been a benefit for having quality links to your website. So, if you’re looking to improve your website’s visibility, seo and traffic it’s important to start creating shareable, unique content that is worthy of a link.

More Traffic Doesn’t Equal More Sales

Are you experiencing more traffic but no sales?

Years ago, when the Internet was in its infancy and businesses were urged to get their very first place in cyberspace, there was a philosophy that ‘if you build it, they will come.’ There was this ‘first on the scene’ mentality that if you could get online first, you could reap all the benefits of the world-wide-web. Suddenly, local businesses could have worldwide audiences. Businesses were dreaming big.

Then came the onset of SEO or Search Engine Optimization. The goal was to utilize the power of search to get more traffic and more sales.

Website traffic used to be a modern-day version of a popularity contest where businesses promoted their page views as a factor in their success. That school of thought is now over because not all traffic is good traffic, especially if you have more traffic but no sales!

What good is having all of that traffic if your visitors are not actually converting – using your services or buying your products? No matter how many people visit your website, or how good your ranking position may be on Google, it’s not helping if your visitors don’t do anything.

Businesses are now demanding so much more from their websites and from their Internet marketing partners because more traffic but no sales won’t sustain a business.

ROI (return-on-investment) has quickly become a very important buzzword. SEO professionals are now elaborating on their reports. It is now necessary to include key metrics that show how ranking results and traffic are also converting and helping the bottom line.

Lead-generation and conversions have since taken over as the new buzzwords. And, rightly so. After all, most websites are built with a goal in mind: to generate more business.

More traffic but no sales could mean you are not attracting the right kind of traffic. It could also mean that you do have the right kind of traffic but your website isn’t helping that traffic to convert.

In either case, it may be time to conduct a conversion and lead audit.

Evaluate Your Website Traffic

What steps do you need to take when you have more traffic but no sales?

First, you need to determine if the traffic you are getting is the right kind of traffic. There are a lot of questions you can ask to help you get to the bottom of what your visitors are doing on your website and what they’re looking for.

  • Are your website visitors looking for what you have to offer?
  • Are they ready to make the next step?
  • Are they purely interested in information?
  • Do they fit in with your target demographic?

You or your Internet marketing professional can dig deep into your website analytics to uncover a lot about the people who are visiting your website. You need to uncover how they got there, what they did once they got there, and even what they might be looking for.

How to Identify Your Target Market?

If you haven’t yet identified your target market, now is the time to do so. By identifying your target audience you are defining your ideal audience for your particular niche. The better you understand your target market, the more you are able to customize your advertising and website content to match.

Some businesses start with a very broad target such as Baby Boomers or Millenials. Others tighten up the demographics slightly such as single professionals ages 30-60. What you need to know is that the more you tighten up your target market and then speak directly to that audience, the higher your conversions will be.

Here’s how you can identify your target market:

  • Compile research and stats on your current best customers including age, location, interests, spending power, spending patterns, language, and stage of life.
  • Analyze your website and social media analytics to determine the types of people who are interacting with your business already. If you have more traffic but no sales and your website isn’t converting, ask yourself if your analytics match your ideal target market.
  • Then, once you’ve uncovered your ideal target market you should create a target market profile. You can even name him/her.
    For example: Meet Jane. She is {gender} aged {age range} who lives in {place or type of place} and enjoys {activity}.

Target Market – Is Your Website Reaching The Right People Based on Their Demographics

Once you’ve identified the type of visitor that is most likely to convert, it’s time to really analyze your website traffic to make sure they are the ones who are visiting your website.

Then, you need to take a look at your website and landing pages with a critical eye for what this target market expects. If your website is soft shades of turquoise and blue but your target market is a business executive, your website probably isn’t attracting their attention.

Location – Are You Reaching The Right People Based on Where They Live?

Use more traffic but no sales to your advantage. By that, we mean analyzing your website data based on city demographics. This can help you determine if you’re falling flat in reaching the right people in the right locations. If you have multiple locations and markets you should determine if there are locations that could use further marketing efforts based on traffic markets.

In some cases, your traffic might be coming from everywhere other than your ideal location. In these cases, you need to set a new strategy to do location-based targeting.

More Traffic But No Sales – Where Are They in the Sales Funnel?

More traffic but no sales could also mean that the traffic is still in the wrong part of your sales funnel. Ideally, your website will be designed to speak to and reach visitors at all the various parts of the sales funnel. But, all too often, many websites fall short at capturing visitors when they’re ready to convert.

If your website has a lot of traffic, it could be because you offer some really valuable information. In fact, providing information, articles, and tips is a great strategy to get people familiar with your brand and your expertise. But, you want to make sure that also offer then the correct calls-to-action – get them to take the next step so you get something from them in return, right?

It’s time to take a critical look at how you move people through the sales funnel on your website and ensure they utilize your services or products when they’re finally ready.

Your Calls to Action – Are Your CTAs Working?

When your visitor is ready to convert, whether it’s buying a product or contacting you, are you making it easy for them to do so? Where are your calls to action (CTA) in relation to your visitors’ movements, habits, and actions? Visitors these days are impatient. They don’t want to have to search for your contact information. They don’t want to have to look for how to make a purchase or get in touch. Your CTAs need to be intuitive. If you can capture them impulsively, that’s even better.

If you are getting a lot of traffic but no sales and you are not seeing the business benefit of all of these people, it’s time to audit your calls to action. What are they? Where are they placed? What do they say? Are they intuitive for the visitor?

Ideally, a call to action that speaks directly to the visitor and asks them to move forward in a specific manner will convert better than a very generic “contact us” button.

Content – Is Your Website Saying The Right Things?

More traffic but no sales will also affect your bounce rate. How’s your bounce rate? Are people hitting your website or landing page and then failing to move further? Are they leaving your website once they’ve arrived? If so, you likely have a problem with your content (text and visuals).

Once you understand your target market, you can identify what it is they will be looking for online. Your content needs to:

  • Match their inquiries
  • Solve their problems
  • Capture their attention
  • And help them on their journey

If it can do this, you’ll stand a much better chance at connecting with and converting your traffic.

Your issue might not be with the people visiting your website, but rather, with the website itself. All too often we’ll get calls from businesses who want to get more website traffic; however, sometimes the best strategy is to really analyze the pages all this traffic will be landing on. You need to build your website and content strategy based on your target demographics and what they will like and be interested in, rather than based on what you like.

If your website is bringing in a lot of visitors but they aren’t converting, it could be an issue with your content, your colour scheme, your page layout, your images, etc.

It’s important that you provide detailed information for SEO; but, it’s also important you don’t give away everything online. Leave the visitor hanging and then follow-up with a strong call to action to get more information. Lead them in. Tease them. Give them good, solid information. But, leave them with a question that only you can answer. And, encourage them, at the right time, at the right place, to reach out to you.

Here’s the thing: many visitors are actually unaware of what they need, where to find it and what to do next. Do this for them. Guide them, lead them and then hook them.

Trust Signals

Items that many pages and websites are missing are what we call trust signals. If you have more traffic but no sales it could be a trust issue. Trust signals include reviews, testimonials, and other elements that prove that your business will do what you’re promising. Portfolio items, case studies, reviews, awards, and certifications are all trust signals that can help your traffic convert.

Mobile vs Desktop

Analyze if your visitors are on a mobile device, a tablet, or a desktop. Does one screen size convert better than the others? Navigating websites on mobile devices must also be intuitive and if it isn’t, it could also lead to more traffic but no sales.

Now, take a look at your website and landing pages on each screen size. If your website is hard to use on a phone and yet 75% of your visitors are browsing from their smartphone, you’ve got yourself a usability problem. There isn’t any amount of traffic that can fix this.

In short, if your website is getting a lot of traffic but is underperforming, there’s a lot you can do to fix these kinds of problems.

Here’s a recap of what we’ve covered.

  1. Identify your ideal target market. Who is your ideal visitor?
  2. Identify your current website visitor.
  3. Are the people visiting your website actually your ideal target market?
    – If yes, it’s time to analyze your website.
    – If no, it’s time to begin to target your ideal visitor with your SEO and marketing efforts.
  4. Identify the steps in your sales funnel. Generally, people are either conducting research, comparison shopping, looking to have a question answered or are ready to make the conversion. Does your website address every stage and then provide a clear call to action or lead-in to the next stage? Are visitors arriving on the right information based on what they’re looking for? For instance, if they’re just at the research page, they shouldn’t be arriving on a page that is designed for purchasing.
  5. Analyze your content. Is it written, created, and designed for your ideal target market?
  6. Analyze your calls to action. Don’t be vague. Don’t use marketing language. Be simple, clear and concise. Tell them, show them, and guide them to what they need to do next.

When it comes to more traffic but no sales, you either have a traffic-type problem or a website usability/target problem…or both.

Target the right people with your traffic-generating tactics. Use your website and content to speak directly to your target audience, answer their questions and provide them with the information they’re looking for. Quickly and easily lead them to the next step and capture their information along the way.

When you look at your lead generation strategy from the perspective of the visitor, rather than from what you like or think the visitor should do, you can begin to look at your strategy and content with all new eyes.

You should then have more traffic and more conversions. Your return-on-investment from your website and marketing efforts will be greater. After all, it isn’t just about getting people to your website. It’s also about getting the right people and then ensuring you’re handling them appropriately based on where they are at in the sales funnel.

And, the number one tip to achieve this? Make it simple for the visitor to understand what they need, what their next step is, and why they need the services/products of your business.

About 1st on the List

1st on the List is one of North America’s leading SEO companies that offers complete SEO services. Please call our SEO experts at 1st on the List toll-free at 1-888-262-6687 to learn more about SEO or if you still have any questions about getting more traffic but no sales.

Why is an SEO Technical Audit Important?

An SEO technical audit is akin to doing a regular check-up on your website. It helps you determine what’s working, what needs improvement, and where any critical fixes might be necessary. To be successful online, your website needs to function properly and be accessible for both the search engines and your website visitors. 

Websites are complicated. They are designed and created to engage the visitor but they must first rank well on search engines for common user-queries. Inevitably, the Internet will continue to evolve much faster than your website. Google’s algorithms are now AI influenced and seem to change daily. It often feels impossible to keep up with what Google wants.

SEO has become more and more complex but remains one of the most crucial elements necessary for online success. It’s important to remember that SEO is not a “set-and-forget methodology.” In fact, there isn’t one way to ensure your website will rocket to the top of Google and stay there.

Google, the Internet, and even your competitors’ websites keep evolving. This means that anything can change and change can happen quickly. Whether done externally or internally, an SEO technical Audit is a valuable tool to ensure your website evolves along with them.

How Often Should You Do an SEO Technical Audit?

Comprehensive SEO Audits should be conducted regularly, at least once per year; however, every six months is highly recommended. Some professionals like to run audits quarterly and may even conduct mini-audits monthly.

Here are some indications that an SEO technical audit may be necessary:

When Rankings, Traffic, and/or Conversions Decrease

If you notice a sudden decrease, or a gradual change in rankings, site traffic, or conversions, that’s a good indicator it may be time to conduct an SEO Technical Audit.

So many elements can affect your website performance and rankings can drop suddenly or gradually over time. As soon as you notice a consistent decrease, it’s time to look into why. It could be on-page or off-page elements that are affecting your results. Conducting a thorough SEO audit is a great way to determine why there has been a change and point out any fixes that might need to be made.

Before/After Making a Big Change to Functionality or Hosting Environments

Conducting an SEO Technical Audit before you make a major change to your website can help determine if any other changes need to be made in tandem. You can think of this as preemptive discovery. In addition, it is a good practice to conduct a full SEO/Website audit after you’ve made a big change. A big change can be a new feature, a change in plugins, a change in the hosting environment, etc.

When You Notice Poor Page Load Speed

Page Speed seems to be a common theme on the tongues of SEO professionals. This is because website visitors are impatient. Remember back in the early days, back when Netscape Navigator was the browser of choice and we all connected via dial-up connections? Back then, people expected to wait minutes for a website to load. Now, you’re hard-pressed to make a visitor wait seconds.

  • Nearly 50% of users will leave a website (and won’t return) if it takes more than 3 seconds to load

If your site is not performing at optimal speed, it’s time for an SEO audit.

Regularly Scheduled Audits

Ideally, you’re running SEO audits on a regular basis so that you can preemptively strike before a major problem arises. SEO and search engines are in a constant state of flux, which means things can change at any given time. Knowing your numbers and your stats inside out can help you determine when there’s a potential problem on the horizon.

Who Should Conduct a Website/SEO Audit?

Check your spam folder and you’re likely to have multiple emails advertising SEO audits. Generally, these are used as a sales pitch to earn your business or get you to sign up for something you likely don’t need. But, there’s something to be said for having an outside set of eyes looking in.

We recommend having your SEO technical audit completed by one of the following:

Internal SEO Professional

Your hired SEO professional should be running and sharing their regular SEO audit results. Good and experienced SEO professionals want to run regular audits (yearly, quarterly or even monthly) so they can have a good handle on what is working, what needs improvement and flag items that require an immediate fix.

You shouldn’t be concerned that your hired SEO professional will skew results to make their work look good. An experienced SEO professional knows that nothing in the realm of SEO is a constant and there is always room for more improvement. Running their own internal SEO audit helps them to do their job more proficiently.

External SEO Professionals

Having an external organization take a look at your website and SEO is also an option. In fact, even some SEO professionals will outsource the SEO technical audit every-so-often, as a second set of eyes with a different focus just might be able to uncover other issues.

An external SEO technical audit is also often a part of the quoting process when you shop around for SEO services.

What Elements Should Be Included in an SEO Audit?

SEO Audits are more complex and comprehensive than regular reporting. An audit is meant to uncover vulnerabilities, successes, errors, and areas for improvement, whereas your regular marketing reports are generally performed to showcase key performance indicators.

15 Elements To Be Included in an SEO Technical Audit

1. Crawl Errors
A crawl report is a quick way to determine how your website is functioning from a technical standpoint. It shows you if there are places where a search engine is getting stuck or if there are page errors or crawl errors. 
You can automate this process with a number of SEO tools such as Screaming Frog or SEMRush. You can then begin to fix any of the errors or warnings in an effort to ensure your website is free of errors and as optimized as possible.

2. URL Status Code Errors
Let’s face it, it is difficult to check up on every page of a website regularly. Sometimes you don’t know a page is broken, or how long it has been broken. A regular SEO technical audit can help you assess broken pages and links. You can get a list of status code errors from your crawl report or right within Google Search Console. Any URL errors such as 404s will show up here. It is important you fix these errors as soon as they arise.

3. XML Sitemap Review
The XML Sitemap acts as a map to show Google and other search engines what pages are on your site. It should include all pages within your website. Make sure every page within your sitemap returns 200 status codes and proper canonicals. This helps to ensure you are not wasting your crawl budget on broken links and removed pages.

4. Site Load & Speed Testing
It is important to regularly check how fast your website loads. According to SEMRush, over 23% of websites have slow page load times. Poor site speed can affect SEO and other key metrics. You can check your site speed by using Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool.

5. Mobile-Friendly Test
It’s likely your website is mobile-friendly, and if it isn’t yet, it ought to be. It’s still important to run your website through a mobile test such as Google’s Mobile Friendly test.

6. Keyword Cannibalization
If pages within your website are all competing for the same keyword, this can cause confusion for the search engines and also reduce your opportunity for top results. Sometimes, Google and other search engines will even decide which page is best, which may not be the page you want your visitors to land on. By using Google Search Console’s performance report, you can identify pages that are competing for the same keywords. You should then determine canonical issues or consolidate pages.

7. Review of Robots.txt
A regular review of Robots.txt allows you to see the instructions you are providing to the search engine bots. For instance, if there are pages you do not want the search engines to spider and display, they will show up on this report. This is why it is essential to regularly review the robots.txt file. You can ensure you are only disallowing the pages you actually do not want Google to see. Sometimes developers block a page they are working on and forget to unblock that page or even the website. If you notice pages are not ranking, this is the first place you should check.

8. Google Site Search
Performing a Google search of your website will help you determine how Google displays your indexed pages. Go to google and search for “site:yourwebsite.com”

9. Duplicate Meta Data
Unfortunately, it is common for large websites and e-commerce sites to have duplicate meta Titles and Descriptions, or to be missing meta data. This can occur when you allow an SEO system to create meta data for you based on parameters, or you’ve copied descriptions from one page to the next. A detailed crawl report can alert you to issues with metadata. It’s a time-consuming process to fix, but worth it.

10. Meta Length Review
Ensuring your pages’ meta descriptions are the proper length may not help your SEO but it can help your click-through rate. The meta description character length has increased to 320 characters, which now gives you plenty of space for your keywords, specs, and a call to action.

11. Check for Broken Links
Any broken link, whether internal or external, can be bad for SEO and user experience, which can lead to lower rankings. Use your crawl report to identify any links that are broken and fix them as soon as possible.

12. Perform a Backlink Audit
Use a tool such as the popular Ahrefs to identify websites that are linking to your content. By assessing your link profile you can identify areas you can focus on with your link building and you can even assess your competitors’ backlinks and work to outperform them.

13. Duplicate Content Review
Over half of all websites have duplicate content issues, either internally or with external websites. Use a service such as Copyscape to run regular duplicate content checks. Duplicate content can cause confusion for the search engines and negatively impact your SEO.

14. Review H1s
Every page of your website should have one H1 header. Your crawl report can alert you to pages that have multiple H1s. An H1 is read by the search engines as the main point of the page. Your heading hierarchy should include one H1 and then can include multiple H2 subheaders and even H3 subheaders.

15. Determine Underperforming Pages/Content
The above metrics can help you determine underperforming or error-ridden pages and content on your website. From there, an improvement plan should immediately be put into place.

Summary

Ensuring you are regularly auditing technical SEO elements and content both on-page and off-page is an essential part of any SEO strategy. While SEO professionals may have their favorite tools to get the job done, they all agree that it is essential to perform an SEO technical audit regularly.

Consistency is key. If you are consistent with evaluating your technical SEO and website, and making fixes, your site will continue to gain strength in the search engines. Taking an hour or two to perform a regular SEO technical audit is well worth the effort. It will provide a road map for improvements to be made while ensuring your website is up-to-date.

Best practices, market trends, competition, and search engine algorithms are always in flux. Make sure your website is keeping up. 

If you still have questions about an SEO technical audit or you would like more information, please call our SEO experts here at 1st on the List at 1-888-262-6687.

Inevitably, every client wants to know how long does SEO take to work.

Everyone wants instant gratification. We live in a time where nobody really wants to wait too long for anything. We’ve been conditioned to believe that faster often equates to better. We want instant food, instant miracles, instant success, and instant everything! But that’s not reality.

Let’s take food for instance. You can open up a can of soup, heat it up in the microwave and within seconds you can be eating your lunch. It’s delicious, quick, and provides you the sustenance you need to get through the next part of your day. Sort of. It’s also filled with salt and preservatives, and in many cases, the nutritional value can be lost or minimal.

Now, think of that homemade turkey soup you cooked right after Thanksgiving. You created a broth from the bones that you let simmer for hours in order to extract every ounce of natural flavor. You added in your fresh vegetables and herbs. It might have taken all day (not to mention the day it took to cook the actual Turkey) but the result was the perfect bowl of homemade soup that was chock-full of goodness and taste.

It took time, but it was worth it. The same can be said for Search Engine Optimization.

SEO Takes Time, But It’s Worth It

Almost every single client will ask the all-important question: how long does SEO take to work?

The industry-standard answer is 4-6 months…perhaps. You can find hundreds (or thousands) of articles on the Internet that agree with this consensus. And you can say that to every-single-client, but sometime within the first week or two, every client asks if it’s working yet.

Clients are excited. They’re nervous. They need to account for their spend. You’ll remind them that you ensured they’d start to see some results within 4-6 months, but at some point, they’ll begin to get impatient. It might not happen every time, but it happens enough. How long does SEO take to work will depend on a lot of variables.

Sometimes results can take a day, a year, or even more. It all depends on the goal, the key performance indicators (KPIs), the competition, the industry, and the ever-changing landscape of the Internet.

Let’s Determine What The Results Will Be!

Instead of providing the generic four-to-six months answer to the question “how long does SEO take to work,” we find it can be far more beneficial to outline what our anticipated results will be.

Key Performance Indicators – KPIs

KPIs are objective, tangible metrics that are used to measure the success of a campaign.

In the realm of SEO, there are several KPIs that can constitute successful results.

1. Growth in Organic Sessions – Tracking traffic from organic search is a measurable KPI. Growth can be slow going, as it does take time for pages and websites to make their way up the search engine results, especially in competitive industries. It is the objective that lies at the heart of any SEO campaign since more targeted traffic from the search engines is something that always excites clients.

2. Increases in Keyword Rankings – Back in the day, SEO companies would provide clients with spreadsheets outlining keyword results for targeted keywords. It was a metric the clients loved. But, with the growth of localized and individualized search results, it became more difficult to provide an accurate measure of keyword rankings. A website could be sitting at #1 for one user but #4 for someone else in a different location. Now, SEO companies might provide a more generalized average for keyword rankings.

Keyword ranking isn’t the be all, end all though. Going from number 50 to number 8 might not make a huge difference in traffic; however, going from number 8 to number 4 likely will. This is because most users will click on the first few results, but not wade too much further down the list.

3. Leads & Conversions – What good is all of this extra traffic if they are converting into leads? More and more companies are getting savvy with the results they expect to see, and leads, orders, and sales have become a valuable KPI for SEO campaigns. On average, the best results for a website come from organic traffic results. After all, this traffic is highly targeted for specific searches. If a person is searching for the best place to wash their car, it is likely to assume they are further down the path-to-purchase than a person who gets advertised to by a car-wash display ad or social media post.

4. Session Duration – Generally speaking, once you implement an SEO campaign, you will likely start to see an increase in session duration. This is because the quality of traffic is highly targeted, which means the user would likely be more genuinely interested and engaged in your website and information.

Targeted Traffic vs General Traffic

If you look at just numbers, one might think that having 10,000 visitors a day vs 5,000 visitors a day is a win. But, if the 10,000 visitors who are coming are more general in nature, is it really a win? They’re likely not spending as much time on the website, or they’re browsing without intent to purchase, contact, or convert. They take more effort to convert or bring back. So, if you can get 5,000 visitors who are specifically searching for one of your particular products or services, they’re more targeted. They’re likely more ready to convert or purchase. Those 5,000 visitors are more valuable than the 10,000 generalists.

How Long Does SEO Take to Work Depends on Tactics

Depending on the industry and the competition, an SEO professional will undertake a variety of tactics to achieve results. Think of it like growing a garden. Some plants, fruit, and vegetables take longer to bear fruit or flower than others. In addition, you can’t quite ever predict how long it will take before the tomatoes are ready to be picked.

An SEO plan that is really content-driven can take a lot of time; however, the results might come in spurts. The SEO professional will target a keyword, have a piece of content written and published, and depending on how competitive the keyword is, results may start coming within a week or longer. No one really knows how long it takes for SEO to work.  It could also take six months or more. In the meantime, with each new piece of content, site authority and ultimately results will start to build.

Budget Also Affects How Long SEO Takes to Work

Nobody wants to admit that the more you pay the better results you will get; however, budget equals time and resources.

How long does SEO take to work? Simply put, the more you put into it the more you should get out of it. Three team members spending six hours should see results faster than one team member sending two hours.

At the end of the day, SEO is not a quick-fix for a business that requires results immediately. It’s a long-term process that requires a strategy and if done properly, can provide long term results. SEO is a process where every step builds upon the one before it. Today’s results are likely built upon the effort from six months ago.

So, while you’ll likely find it takes four-to-six months to start seeing results, it isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. There are many types of SEO services that can be brought into play. Instead of offering a timeline for how long does SEO take to work, it can be more beneficial to offer education on the KPIs. That way, you can start celebrating the little wins along the way.

Please call our SEO experts at 1st on the List toll-free at 1-888-262-6687 to learn more about SEO or if you still have any questions.

For additional information on this topic, visit this informative article by Search Engine Journal.

In the late 90s and early 2000’s, it was a lot easier to choose an experienced SEO Services firm because there were not that many of them. Of course, like any industry, there were some amateurs and bad apples in the mix. The term ‘black hat seo’ stemmed from early SEO days where some individuals and businesses were looking to cheat the system, rather than figure out best practices for success.

But, even back then, many businesses had a hard time justifying if the work was worth the cost or if they had found a good company. SEO is complicated and not in the average business’ wheelhouse so it can be more difficult to understand the complexity of the results.

After all, if a business knew how to do it and had the resources to do it in-house, they wouldn’t be hiring out.

So, when it comes time to look for an SEO services firm, having a basic understanding of what’s involved and knowing the questions to ask during the interview process is key.

Recovering from a bad SEO strategy or unprofessional tricks is time consuming and costly. You can avoid this by ensuring you’re selecting an SEO Services firm that has the experience and methods to achieve success.  

Benefits of Search Engine Optimization

Traffic from organic search engine results is highly targeted. This means, when a user queries a search engine they are looking for something specific (be it an answer, information, a product or service). The goal of the search engines is to deliver the best results for the query. So, the idea is that if a visitor lands on your site from a search engine, it his highly likely they are looking for your product, service or information.

The art and science of having your website appear for related search queries is called Search Engine Optimization, or SEO for short

A good SEO strategy places your business in a position to receive targeted visitor traffic to your website. A targeted visitor is further down the path to conversion/purchase which makes them a great target market.  

SEO is a long-term marketing strategy. It can take some time to implement; however, the results are usually long-term.

Generally, an SEO firm will recommend a long-term monthly program. A well-run and successful program is ongoing and includes a variety of items including on-page continuous optimization, content strategies, technical elements, link building and more. Analyze. Rinse. Repeat.

How is SEO Achieved?

There are a variety of tactics involved in a good SEO strategy. Often, you will see that a web designer offers ‘SEO’ under their list of services. Usually, this means they are outfitting the site with a tool designed to allow for the integration of Meta tags (strings of code read by the search engines). This is only one factor of SEO and is not a strategy or a tactic, but rather a tool.  

For the average business owner, if they’re told they’re getting ‘SEO’ they believe it, right? What many are not aware of is that there is SEO and then there is SEO. How do you tell SEO from SEO? Ah, now that’s the big question!  

A Successful SEO Plan Generally Includes:

1. Keyword & Market Research – What is the targeted web visitor searching for to find the website? What are other websites providing? Where is there room for improvement and market infiltration?

2. Content /Site Planning – User experience is everything because SEO is designed to get a visitor to a website, but what happens once they are there is equally as important. Determining the required content, order of pages, importance of items and site flow is paramount.

3. Site Navigation – A cleanly navigated website is easier for the visitor and the search engines.

4. Content – Content is king (and queen, and prince/princess/commoner, too). Again, SEO is designed to get a visitor to click on a search result. Content is what keeps and converts the visitor once they arrive on a website.

5. Clean Coding – A well-built, clean-coded website does wonders in helping a website rank.
6. Speed – Search engines factor in site speed and website load when looking at a website. Speed on mobile devices and desktop computers should be looked at.

7. U/X – User-Centered Design/Content – Some businesses design the website they want to see, or the website they like; however, well-performing websites are designed 100% for the visitor.

8. Meta Tags – Title and description tags are integrated on every page to help aid the search engines in what that page is about.

9. Page Titles– A page title is important for the search engines and the web visitor.

10. Technical SEO Items – There are a variety of technical elements that can help or hinder SEO.
11. Analytics Review – It’s important to continue to monitor campaign results, traffic, and user-flow on a website to adjust strategies and get new ideas.

12. Repeat – SEO is not a one-time affair. For long-term success, an ongoing strategy is essential.
13. Plus various other factors – There are a variety of factors that go into how well a website ranks on the search engines. From link-building to alt-tags and everything in between, a professional SEO services firm prioritizes tactics for your success.

One of the first things you will see is that there is a good deal of planning and strategy that goes into an SEO-optimized website before the build even begins. This is because it is important to build a website that is designed for the targeted web visitor. A site plan, content strategy and website that is built with SEO in mind from the ground up has the right foundation for success.

How To Choose an SEO Services Firm

With so many SEO Services firms out there, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the choices. Finding one who can talk the talk and walk the walk is key.

In addition, because SEO is a long game strategy, choosing the wrong firm can set you behind. But even more so, when SEO tactics are not implemented properly, or black hat tricks are used, long lasting damage can often be done to a site that takes a lot of hard work and time to overcome.

By asking these questions, a business is able to better ascertain who is reputable, and who is not.

Top 5 Questions To Ask An SEO Company

1. How Many Years Experience Do You Have (and can you show me examples and case studies of your success stories)?

Perhaps the general philosophies and tactics of SEO can be book-learned; however, actual industry experience is priceless. Through working in the industry, SEO experts can delve beyond best practices and recommendations because they have developed an innate ability to naturally assess a situation and implement a strategy that will work.

By asking this question, you’re looking for an SEO services firm that has been around for years and can provide many examples of top search engine positioning and lead generation results in a variety of industries.

2. Do You Follow Industry Best Standards and Google’s Webmaster Guidelines?

Ideally, we’d like to think this is the easy question that every SEO professional would answer properly; however, there are some out there who have developed proprietary practices designed to trick the search engines. That’s your cue to run away.  Another cue? When they tell you they can rank you in a day or a week and offer ranking guarantees. If a sales pitch sounds fishy, generally, the practices put in place are too.

You should only hire a company that continues to stay up-to-date on recommended best practices and uses white-hat SEO practices.

3. How Is Your Success Measured?

Reputable SEO companies work with you to outline goals, targets and timelines. They send regular reports and updates that measure things such as keyword positioning, website traffic, visitor demographics, time on site, bounce rate and lead conversions.

It is important you know the goals of the SEO firm and that they align with your goals. What kind of traffic increase are you expecting? How many visitors per month are the targeted keywords expected to get?

4. What Keywords Can You Guarantee?
Here’s the trick question! You want to hire an SEO services firm that can look you in the eye and explain that keyword positions cannot be guaranteed. There are many companies out there touting first page positions, guaranteed! But, for what keywords? And, for how long? Organic search engine results are not something that anybody can guarantee so it’s best you work with a company that is upfront about the goals and the strategies to get there.

Generally speaking, the more popular a keyword, the more competitive the keyword which means the more work and time it will take to rank. We’ve worked tirelessly for multiple years to rank a website for a very popular keyword while others can take a week or a month.

5. Am I Under Contract? What Happens if We Part Ways?
Many reputable SEO services firms are confident in their ability to establish long-term client relationships and are happy to not work within locked-in contracts. Some may require contract terms. Regardless of whether you are locked-into a relationship or not, more importantly, you need to understand what happens if you choose to part ways.

There are a variety of reasons a business may cancel or pause their SEO services. Best practices are that the business retains their content, access to their website (if with the same company) and all logins/passwords for accounts.

Trust, Integrity and General Likeability

One of the reasons a business might have difficulty selecting an SEO services firm is because they do not understand the process and therefore, find it more difficult to ascertain what to look for. Business owners regularly have to contract out services that are outside their own scope of work. When a business can build a long-term relationship with an outside vendor, there is a greater opportunity for success.

A successful relationship with an SEO services firm can be highly beneficial to a business. So, it is important you select a firm you can trust and is based on integrity. This firm and their professionals will be working hard on your account so it’s helpful if there is a good working relationship.

Selecting the least expensive company or the company with the slick sales pitch doesn’t necessarily bode well for long-term success.  

Ideally, a company that has been around, achieving successful results, for years is best suited to help your business achieve long-term success. They’ve not only seen, but experienced, search engine algorithm updates. They’ve had experience with competitive keywords, dropped rankings, and cleaning up technical code on a website. They’ve developed an innate understanding of what it takes to achieve results. They stay up-to-date on best practices and up-and-coming trends but have a solid grasp of the foundation and good, sound business.

They can speak client and programmer and act as a bridge for your company between these two, very different languages. They can delve deep into analytics to continue to strategize for best results and then provide you with key indicators in a way you can understand. They can stay up-to-date on the trends but also are not bound by the trends.

Ideally, you’re looking for a company that has a proven track record, satisfied clients and has achieved long-term successful results that go beyond positioning and into ROI and lead generation.

As a business owner, you don’t need to know how to do SEO to hire an SEO services firm. You just need to know the right questions to ask so you can ensure you’re hiring a reputable firm that has your best interests in mind.

About 1st on the List

Located just outside Vancouver, BC, Canada, 1st on the List is a boutique SEO Company that has been offering search engine optimization, pay per click, and SEO web design services since 1997.

To learn more about our services, please call us Toll Free at 1-877-562-7965 or send us an email.

Whenever someone asks me “What do you do?” it really is a loaded question because understanding what I do requires just a little understanding of SEO and how SEO works.

More often than not I find myself answering like this, “I work for a local Internet Marketing company that specializes in Search Engine Optimization”. Then I follow it up with “Essentially, it’s like an advertising company for websites.”

I am always prepared to get a puzzled face that may recognize the term ‘SEO’ but not have any clue as to what SEO is, what it means or how it works. I must also be prepared to explain in more detail exactly what is SEO. This is usually how the conversation might play out:

Me: The whole point of SEO or Search Engine Optimization, is to improve your web pages and make sure that they meet and adhere to the search engine guidelines so that your website can be found at the top search engine results pages (SERPs).

Person: But how does SEO work? What does it mean to “optimize your site”?

Me: What search engine optimization does is …

“Improve your web pages and make them better, more useful
and more effective for everyone including the people who visit your site
and for the search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing.”

In other words, search engine optimization helps both the search engines and the visitors.

Person: Oh, you mean like you get the website at the top of the page?

Me: Yes but it’s a little more complicated than just “getting” it there. Websites don’t just magically appear at the top by following a secret formula or paying a fee to Google. There’s much more to it …

Most times, they’ve heard enough but sometimes the person is intrigued and wants to hear more. The rest of the conversation might be summarized below.

Understanding How SEO Helps the Search Engines

Search engine optimization works by making sure your web pages meet the search engine guidelines and become more relevant. SEO helps the search engines to:

  • Find your web pages easier
  • Review your web pages faster
  • Better understand what your website is all about
  • So they can Index your web pages properly (add your pages to their database)
  • Rate your web pages more favorably
  • And list your web pages near the top of the search engine results so people can find you easier

In summary, search engine optimization works to help your web pages:

  1. Be Found
  2. Be Understood
  3. Be Indexed
  4. Be Rated Properly
  5. And Be Visible to people who are searching

Understanding How SEO Helps Your Visitors

Optimizing your web pages to make them as good as possible will help your website perform better in the search engines, which in turn, puts you in front of the very people who are searching for what you have to offer.

Search engine optimization works to help visitors find your website faster and easier plus your website will:

  • Be more relevant for the terms people use to find your website
  • Be easier to navigate
  • Help visitors find what they came looking for faster
  • Help visitors make better decisions (sooner) about what you have to offer
  • Help convert visitors into customers

In summary, search engine optimization will help visitors to:

  1. Find your site faster
  2. Understand your offerings
  3. Make better decisions about what they want
  4. Convert sooner

Understanding How Search Engine Optimization Works

While you may not know how to do SEO, there are many ways to optimize your web pages to make them as good as possible for searchers and for the search engines.

During search engine optimization, improvement changes can be made to any of the following (plus much more) to help improve your web pages and your page performance.

So in answer to the question, “How does SEO work?” here are some of the many places SEO helps to make improvements to your website:

  • Web Page Content
    – Body Text Content
    – Keyword Usage
    – Page Titles
    – Sub-Headings
    – Link Text
    – Images
    – Meta Data (Meta Titles, Descriptions, Alt Text)
    – Content Management Systems (CMS)
    – E-commerce Systems (shopping carts)
  • Source Code
  • In-Bound Linking
  • Page Loading Times
  • Image Sizing
  • Site Structure/Architecture
  • Site Navigation
  • Social Media/Videos
  • Server Setup
  • Hosting
  • Performance Analytics

Learn More About How Search Engine Optimization Works

By the end of the conversation I usually like to look at the big picture again; In marketing, the primary goal is to get your message out to as many potential customers as possible so they will buy your product or services.

Online marketing can be very powerful because no other marketing medium has the potential to reach as many potential customers 24/7 as do the search engines. And search engines like Google simply want to give their searchers the best, most relevant pages that they think will match what is being searched for.

The purpose of doing search engine optimization then, is to try and do just that: Provide the best, most relevant pages for the keyword term that was searched on.

Still looking for more answers? Visit our detailed explanation of “What is Search Engine Optimization” or contact our Search Engine Optimization Consultants.

I know that you want to see results from your website project.  And I know it can be disappointing when you don’t start getting results soon after you have launched the website.  It is natural to want to give up on the whole idea and conclude, “You can’t get leads for your business from the Internet”.

That’s fair, because you really should expect results from any advertising.  If it doesn’t work, you should stop using that promotion.

But there is another aspect of Internet marketing that you should consider.

I’m not trying to convince you of anything but, as a businessman, I know you have been asking yourself one question since the day you started and will continue to ask the same question for as long as you are in business.  I chose to be in this business with the same question in my mind.

Every businessman is always asking:  “How can I grow my business?”

When you boil it down, there are only two options:

  1. Referrals – When you start out you don’t have much of a budget so you somehow find a few clients to get started with, treat your clients like gold, and hope they will recommend their friends and family to help you grow.
  2. Advertising – At some point, every business person finds that referrals don’t grow the business fast enough and there are never really enough referrals to make a good living.

After struggling to make a living for a while, every businessperson turns to advertising to try to achieve the success they see others achieving in the same business.

Advertising sounds like a great idea, but pretty quickly you find out that it is easy to blow away thousands of dollars with little or nothing to show for it.

Even the cheapest of advertising can cost $1,000 to $2,000, with no guarantee of return.  In most cases, even after you spend the money you may never see any results.

I have clients in the roofing and driveway paving business that spend $20,000 to $30,000 at a time on a flyer campaign, four or five times a year to get a handful of new clients each time.  I asked them “How much do you spend, on average, to get a client?”

The answer was, “Well, over $500 … You never know if you will get any clients even after all the money has been spent.” 

Every single business person is in the same situation.  They spend a bunch of money and “hope” they will get clients.  Sometimes it works, many times it doesn’t.

This is where the Internet comes in.

In a scenario where every little magazine and promotional flyer requires a minimum of $500 to $2,500 with no promise of returns, what can a small businessperson do to grow his or her business without going broke?

Until the Internet came around, there was never a good answer to this question.

On the Internet, you can spend $500 to $1,000 per month and you will attract qualified prospects to view your proposition.

Every month that you promote your business online, you get more and more qualified prospects viewing your business.  Some of these people start picking up the phone and calling you.  Your business grows with new clients from the Internet and from the referrals they send you.

On the Internet, the longer you continue to promote, the more exposure you get for the same small budget of $500 to $1000 per month.

There is no other advertising medium that builds and builds your reach, the longer you keep advertising like SEO can.

If you decide to stop promoting your website, you will still face the same question, “How do I grow my business?”  You will have the same options you always did:  spend, spend, spend on advertising that produces little or no results.

After seeing and living through many different marketing programs, my conclusion is this:

SEO is by far the cheapest way to promote your business and get new clients.

When I start promoting a website, there is usually little or no traffic.  After a two or three months they start getting several hundred qualified prospects coming to their website every month. And frankly, this is just the beginning.

In the next six months the traffic builds and builds with the plan I implement.

I have a client where last month he got four people who filled out his website’s contact form.  I bet a few people phoned him as well, but they didn’t mention his website.  I also bet a few people saw where he was on the map on his website and stopped in without telling him they saw his address on the website.

How many clients will it take for you to break even with spending $500 to $1,000 per month?

If you got 10 new clients in the next 12 months would that cover your advertising expenses and more?  In my opinion you should be able to get 10+ new clients every month once the online marketing campaign matures.

Over time, a properly SEO’d website gains “Equity”.  It produces more and more business for you.

As you consider your options for “How do I grow my business?” I hope you will keep these points in mind.

I can help your business grow… slowly at first, and then faster and faster and faster as your website builds “Equity”.

If you feel that you want to work with me and 1st on the List, I would be happy to evaluate your situation.  If it looks like we can do something for you, we’ll let you know.  For some businesses Internet marketing on its own is just not enough. You may have to combine Internet marketing with other techniques to get good results.

The first evaluation is free.  Most people get a lot of value from the investigation we do initially.  Give us a call today at 1-888-262-6687 and let’s get your business growing!

Once your site achieves a first page search engine ranking, your listings’ click through rate plays an important factor in whether it will remain there.  Once you learn how to increase your click through rate it will not only help you keep that top ranking, but also improve your rankings over time.

Obtaining a high ranking for a competitive phrase can be difficult, but maintaining it can be just as hard.  Google’s algorithm allows them to track the click through rates on your listings and determine if your site is worthy of keeping that top ranking.  While density, keyword location, placement and PageRank™ may have had a lot to do with you initially obtaining the ranking, your visitors and how they select the listings they wish to visit will determine your ability to remain at the top.

That’s the secret! Having a good strong click through rate can help you keep your rankings!

Understanding the Thought Process

Put yourself in Google’s shoes for a moment.  If your primary goal is to show the most relevant results to your visitors, then you may be able to build your initial results through density, but with millions of searches being completed each day, visitors can help further assist with the selection process by adding that human element a search engine wants to emulate.

For example, if your website was listed in position 4 for “Red Scarves” but visitors clicked on the listing in position 5 over 70% of the time, then it would make sense that your site be moved to position 5 and their site take your ranking.  Their websites rankings would improve because they received more clicks than yours. This would move the more popular sites higher up into the rankings allowing their visitors to locate the more relevant sites faster.

If this process was carried out on the search engine rankings over a period of time, then Google is essentially allowing their visitors to aid in the selection process of what they wish to be served.  As SEO’s, you may think that this takes away from your abilities to keep a site ranked in the top of Google, however this is untrue.

Maintaining & Increasing Your Rankings

In order to maintain and increase your site’s rankings in Google, you will need to have access to the Google Webmaster Console for that website and have it verified.

Once this is completed you will want to allow data to be collected for at least 1-2 weeks.  When you have enough data to see a large enough sample you can view the top search queries for your site.  This information will tell you about the top keyword phrases your site was ranked for and the positions they were in for that selected time period.  Review the click through rate of the top 10 keyword phrases and record the position you are listed in for that period.

For example it may say that you were ranked #4 for the keyword phrase “red scarves” and that when you were #4 people clicked on your listing 12% of the time.  If you look at the previous weeks data and you see that you were listed #2 and your listing was clicked on only 4% of the time, then it would be easy to see why your listing may have moved down, allowing a site with a higher click-through rate to be shown higher in the results.

Now there are two things that you can do; say to yourself that this is just the natural order of things, the site is getting a higher click-through rate at position number 4 and that is fine; or you can determine what causes visitors to select other sites and make the needed changes to your listing to increase your click-through rate.

Increasing Your Sites’ Click-Through Rate

To increase your website’s click-through rate there are a few things you need to do.

The first thing would be to identify the other sites that are listed within the top 10 for the keyword you are targeting.

Once you have done this, begin to study their rankings.  Just as your site bounces around a few positions at various times of the day / week, their sites do also.  Begin to study if they are always in the same position, or if there were number 5 today, 8 another day etc.

If you see that their site is bouncing around, it is likely because the search engines are determining whether they get a higher click-through rate at various positions, and if other sites get a higher click-through rate in their position.

Now you will want to begin studying their actual listing, and compare it against your own.  Ask yourself a series of questions to gather the information you need:

  • Is their title catchy?
  • Is their listed page the home page or an interior page?
  • Is their page on topic?
  • Does their page directly provide the solution to the visitors search query?
  • Is their description a snippet, or is it the actual Meta description?
  • Do they offer a discount, or sale within their listing?

Once you have gathered this data, answer the same questions for your own site.  Your goal is to determine what your site is lacking so that you can make the necessary adjustments to increase your click-through rates.

After making the needed adjustments, simply implement them within the site, update your Google Sitemap and continue monitoring your rankings and click-through rate through the Google Webmaster Console.

Learn more about Click Through Rates in Google and Bing or how our SEO Services can address poor click through rates for your website.

Is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) just a buzz phrase you hear floating around the office among your colleagues?

In this article our goal is to help you understand SEO better by explaining the fundamentals of how Search Engines work, what Search Engines need to rank your website and how we “SEO” a website in an effort to give the Search Engines what they need.

Understanding How Search Engines Work

Search Engines are the directories of the Internet. Imagine the Internet as the largest library in the world. Now picture finding an image or article in this vast library. Unless the image has some defining terms to enter into the library directory, that picture is just a piece of paper floating around without categorization in the miscellaneous drawer. Now envision the billions of pages that users around the world have deposited onto the internet.

Search Engines were originally created to sort through all the information uploaded to the web daily. Search Engines use spiders to find and crawl the information on each new page. The Search Engines then have to decipher how this information fits with every other page on the Internet. The page is then categorized and added to an index so that is it faster to recall and show in a Results page for a relevant search.

There is a big difference between what Search Engines actually show in results and all the potential results they could show that are stored in their results. In fact, Google uses more than 200 factors in its algorithm and is continually updating the formula to meet user demands. In the last year alone, there have been almost 900 updates!

What Search Engines Need from a Website and How You Get Ranked

Before any website can be shown in Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) the Search Engine must be able to:

  1. Find your website.
  2. Crawl (or spider) your website pages.
  3. Understand what information is on your website.
  4. Categorize each of your website pages in the indexes based on what it understands from your Source Code.
  5. Understand the intent of any Search Query by a person and display the pages in its index it believes are most relevant.

This means that your website must be easy for Search Engine spiders to find, to crawl all your pages, understand what is on your pages (including text and images) and be confident that your web page is the most relevant. Sound like a lot of work? This is where Search Engine Optimization comes in.

How Search Engine Optimization Works in 5 Simple Stages

At 1st on the List we like to break SEO down in 5 stages that work together to make the website most accessible to the Search Engines and most relevant to what visitors expect to find.

1. Site Analysis:

Taking stock of the current state of any website provides a good strategy for moving forward and determining what needs to be fixed to make it easier to the Search Engines to access and crawl your website.

    • Review the site to make sure the Server and Hosting is set up properly, to make it as easy as possible for the Search Engines to access any page on your site at any time.
    • Review the website for duplicate content, spam, slow load times, broken links and other things the Search Engines will demerit your website for.

2. SEO Keyword Research:

A large part of Search Engine Optimization is making sure that the words people are using to search for a company like yours are visible on your website for the Search Engines to read. Keyword research provides the basis for optimizing the content on your website and seeks to discover:

    • What phrases people are using to search for your company? (these are your “keywords”)
    • What SEO Keywords are the most popular (search volume), have the fewest competiting pages and are most relevant to the content presented?
    • What phrases are most attainable for your website and will attract the most qualified traffic?

3. SEO Content Optimization

Once the research stages of the Site Analysis and Keyword Research are completed it is time to start optimizing the content on the website. This SEO work includes but is not limited to:

    • Proper page source code
    • Internal link structure
    • Meta Data
    • Alt Tags
    • Page headings and sub-headings
    • Sitemap creation
    • Body text content that supports the keywords searcher’s use.

A site must attract visitors and it must hold the visitor’s attention. Google uses engagement metrics as one of its ranking factors. The more people who visit your website and stay on it for a long time and look at a number of pages, the more often the Search Engine will show the site in Search Results.

Content optimization focuses on accessibility, reliability, readability, currency, credibility and more as these all affect site rankings. Content optimization also focuses on giving visitors the exact information they are looking for, plus anticipates what additional information the visitor will need in order to complete a conversion, such as purchasing a product or signing up for a consultation.

4. Website Analytics

Once most of the initial grunt work is complete to bring a website up to Search Engine standards the best way to increase value is to monitor its progress and growth. This stage is called “Analytics” and includes:

    • Monitoring visitor traffic to the site over a set time period
    • Tracking and understanding visitor motivations
    • Tracking where and how visitors use the website
    • Tracking and measure sales conversions

Often Analytics can give additional insights to go and tweak items from the Site Audit, Keyword Research and Content Optimization stages.

5. Ongoing SEO Maintenance

If you think SEO is a one time task you are wrong. SEO is always ongoing as the Search Engines like to see fresh and new content on your website. With more than 500 websites created every minute and with your competitors working on their SEO strategy you can’t afford to just sit back. Ongoing website optimization and maintenance keeps web content current, relevant and maintained to meet the changes that the search engine algorithms make, changes in HTML standards and what visitor searching habits indicate.

Search Engine Optimization has changed drastically in our 17 years of experience. However, our general process for optimizing websites has remained stable and is able to achieve lasting results for clients.

Do you need help applying the SEO Process to your website? Give our consultants a call at 1-888-262-6687 to set up a free meeting to discuss your needs and the SEO Plan best suited for your goals and budget.

Every day we work with bloggers, marketing coordinators and receptionists who are all tasked with the job of keeping their company’s website current and updated.

This may involve updating website pages, adding new products, blogging about events and even running social media. While they have an intimate knowledge of their brand and products as well as excellent writing skills and aesthetic prowess there are still some simple SEO tweaks to be made to further improve the website and user experience.

That’s why we’ve put together this quick article with 5 simple tips for better SEO to make your work stand out and get even more visibility. It’s these simple SEO tweaks you can integrate into your work to help you get ahead!

Write Unique and Interesting Titles, Descriptions and URLs

Many website platforms such as WordPress use dashboards that make it easy to add a new page – much like working in a Word Document. However, when you add a new page the Meta Title and Meta Descriptions are often auto-generated based on a template. This is ok but you could do better! What do we mean?

The Title and Description tag is what gets shown in Search Results most of the time. It is crucial to make this unique and interesting in order to get searchers to click on your website rather than a competitor’s website.

Title: Make it interesting, capture the searcher’s attention and make sure it includes the main keyword or topic of the page.

Description: Describe what the page is about and benefits the person will get by visiting the page. You should also take the opportunity to add your brand name, city (if you are local) and your phone number.

URL: Many websites will create a URL for your page based on the Title, especially in WordPress. You can easily override this before you publish the page to make the URL more concise and reflective of what is on the page.

The problem with using auto-generated meta tags is that they don’t give the best first impression to the public and don’t usually give the Search Engine the information to base a query referral on. Based on your experience with using the Internet what type of Search Results do you tend to click on?

In our article on Local Optimization we give tips for writing awesome Meta Titles and Meta Descriptions.

Write Search Engine and Reader Friendly Content

When writing a new page or blog post pick one central theme or idea and make sure you incorporate that theme (or the “keyword”) naturally throughout the text. Try using some of these SEO content writing tips:

  • Use different variations of the keyword in the text and even go to Google Search, start typing your keyword and use their AutoSuggest feature to see what other related topics come up.
  • Try to incorporate the keyword into the heading and at the beginning of the text, as well as your meta title and description, as outlined in #1 above.
  • As you write optimized content don’t forget about your reader. Write for the customer in customer lingo but refer back to proper industry standard for credibility.
  • When writing new content or if using industry references or instructions, write in your own words and check that you have not copied any content. Try using a tool like Copyscape.

For more tips on writing great content check out our Guide to Writing Search Engine Friendly Content and Keyword Insights page.

Don’t upload just any image – take the time to prepare the image.

Image files take up a huge amount of space and time! Bytes slow down your load time. Here’s what we suggest:

  1. Rename each image file to describe what it is. The camera assigned JPG name does no one any good – even you when looking for just the right picture. Search engines can better understand images based on a file name.
  2. Crop and resize images to fit your layout. Avoid any stretching or shrinking that can make your site look unprofessional.
  3. Compress before loading the image to your website. The less bytes the faster your site will load.
  4. Don’t forget to add the Alt Tag, which is what is shown when the image is broken or won’t load. Image alt tags also help Search Engines understand the image.

For a detailed how-to on image file set up, check out our Optimization Image Tips.

Keep your website running fast.

A slow site can annoy your visitors to the point of abandonment! Slow websites also take longer for the Search Engines to crawl, acting as an inhibitor to all of your pages being properly viewed and indexed.

If your site takes more than 2 seconds to load, you are probably losing potential sales! You need to improve your site load time as soon as possible. Check your speed with our helpful tools or find out more about improving site speed here.

There are many factors that can be causing the slow load times. Here are three:

  1. We just mentioned images affect site speed and how you need to decrease image file size for optimization.
  2. Check your site for JavaScript. It does slow down load times. Try to find alternatives.
  3. Sometimes it’s simply an inadequate service provider. Check for a new host provider that can handle your content delivery.

Finally, get trained help when you need it.

1st on the List has a great Resources section on our site that is sure to guide you in many of the areas you need. And there are thousands of other SEO resource sites out there too.

However, sometimes it just takes a bit of coaching to get through the coding and uploading and writing and updating to make a difference. That’s where we come in. If you are having problems larger than you can handle, we can offer you several options:

  1. We can provide SEO training for your staff members responsible for keeping your website updated.
  2. We can perform a SEO Site Audit to determine just what is missing on your site.
  3. We can provide an SEO quote for the cost of ongoing SEO on your website.

For an initial consultation to determine your needs call us at 1-888-262-6687 or just drop us a note at contact@1stonthelist.ca.