Category: Basics

Beware Of Your Own SEO Metrics

Whilst developing a new website, have you ever gone on holiday or stopped working on a site for a period, only to find it rise in rankings? Then when you return enthusiastically to work on it again, the positions drop?

This is all to do with engagement metrics on your site.

A very important part of SEO to Google is user engagement, they go to huge levels to try and measure how any visitors interacts with your website. If the signals are good, such as dwell time, pages visited, scrolling down the pages etc, when combined with a good CTR, you will get a ranking’s boost.

User engagement

The problem arises when a website is new and does not yet have any substantial traffic, where in fact you are the main visitor of that website, adding content, checking things over etc.

Google does not remove your visitor metrics from everyone else’s, so how you interact with your own website affects your metrics and maybe your rankings.

For example, have you ever checked where you rank for a specific search term, clicked on your page to make sure it loads fast, then bounce back to Google? If you have, stop it now! These actions increase bounce rate and lowers your engagement score.

Have you ever visited a single page to check spelling or design, then clicked away? Then don’t do it anymore. Again, this is bad metrics.

Do What The SEO Professionals Do

When speaking to professional SEO consultants, strategists, and developers, you will often hear them talk about developing a website, then just leaving it, sometimes for months. It takes months for Google to find changes anyway and apply them to the overall authority of a site, but if the engagement signals are natural, it can help with rankings too.

The good news is, that when traffic rises and you stop being the main visitor, these issues reduce in importance, and when high volumes are achieved non-existent.

But until those days arrive, every time you visit your own site, think about what engagement signals you are sending to Google, visit a few more pages, linger on them for a bit, scroll down as if reading the content etc. You could opt not to use the search console or analytics until the site is fully ready, but some metrics will still be collected.

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SEO Is A Competition

It can be very easy when learning SEO to assume that as you improve your website, your competitors around you stand still. It isn’t true and in the real world, the reality is, your competitor websites are measuring you as much as your analysis on them.

In my agency years, one of the most frustrating things was getting a client to understand that SEO is not an administration process and by adding a few links here and a bit content there, is not enough for a long-lasting strategy, especially if rankings are stolen from someone else. As soon as the competitor notices a drop in their rankings, then the same instruction to recover rankings is sent to their SEO agency.

business competition runners with internet

Just Like Any Sport Or Business, It Is Ever Moving

But it is not all bad news, because not all businesses are tuned into visibility or wish to invest in the right people to keep them at the top of the correct search rankings. The initial question when employing a local SEO agency “what are the overall objectives” to this online investment are often not answered. Very often it is all about the Kudos of ranking for a few search terms, rather than a strategy that targets a set consumer base that matches that business.

A Luxury Car Dealer could get more traffic to their website if the website is optimised for “cheap cars” or “value family cars”, but would sales increase? I doubt it, there needs to be research and an understanding of the customer’s search intent and those who will buy from you. Not only that but it will create negative engagement signals, if those vising your site, bounce back or fail to click on your site in the first place. Google uses these signals like CTR and retention times, to measure a sites’ quality and relevance. Real customers will stay on your site and show their interest.

There are regions in the UK such as my local area of Teesside, that do not have the visibility of major cities, but have a lot of talent to share. Ranking for “Teesside” based search terms may not attract the Nationwide customers being sought.

Being part of the competition does not mean always playing be the same rules, there are strategies than can match the customer bases and be more cost effective.

 Long tail search terms can bring very little traffic, but they are known to have a much better conversion rate, especially if your website is one of the few who have targeted those.

Only Join The Competitions You Can Compete In

There are some reality checks, competing against large corporations who have an unlimited budget, may be a mistake. So, seeking out other less competitive search terms that match your customer base and convert, will always be more fruitful.

Putting together the content and strategies that match a businesses unique selling point and relating them to the right type of customer, can separate the quality of the agency or consultant being employed.

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A Brand Can Identify With Trust Online

Trust in business is as important than ever and a brand identifies that trust. Think about the times we have visited a store to purchase a washing machine a drill a laptop or most anything else, and ask when have we bought a large ticket item without knowing the brand?

Personally, very rarely, unless it was an item that can be tested before purchase and was aware of the risks.

Selling online has the same challenges, are you trustworthy, will you deliver on time is the platform safe to use credit card etc?

brand strategy

Think About A Brand Management Strategy

Brand management has been part of any decent SEO service provider’s strategy for some time now, Google does consider, reviews, trusted backlinks, social media engagement and citations as part of its algorithm, albeit at different levels.

The good news is that there is a high crossover from face-to-face business and online on this subject. If a great service is delivered, your customers will leave positive feedback if you ask them and will return to your website resulting in positive engagement, which can help with ranking.

Engaging With Online Reviews

It makes sense to engage with review sites such as Trustpilot, etc, then ensure any negative review is replied to, with a solution where possible.

Reviews can also be left on Google My Business; this is a basic online marketing requirement for any local business wishing to be found locally. It is free to set up and should positive review be left, will help send positive branding signals to Google, albeit on a small scale to other ranking factors.

Be Found Online For Your Brand

The first requirement in digital marketing is to be found for your brand name online. It does not matter how good your business is on a day-to-day business, if you cannot be found for your brand name, the trust falls to the floor. So, choosing a good brand name is important, even if you choose to have a second website with a search term for a URL

Use Social Media For Positive Impact

Social media has a real positive impact on branding now. You customers can see you face to face, read your comments, and see what work you are doing regularly.

Take a local landscaper for instance.

After every job he shows the before and after photos. A complete mess to a great looking landscape. It doesn’t take long before the brand gets stronger and the demand for that service grows when potential customers see work being done in real time and to what standard. Social media often means your customers get prompted to see the posts, rather than having to make a conscious decision to visit a website. Add an easy to remember brand name to these stories and business will boom.

Regular updates to social media are very important to the fact, that a Facebook page that has not been undated in the last 12 months, will have a larger negative effect that not having a page at all. You are telling your customers, that nothing good is happening in your business. If there was, why are you not shouting about it?

Online Influencers

An article by Sean and Thora Dowell advertising their book, “Brand Renegades” suggests using online influencers to take the brand even further such as celebrities and youtubers. This is a way of using their trust to influence yours.

But it is also true that customers like to see business owners stand in from of camera and explain what they stand for and promise a great service or product. Sometimes business owners themselves are the trust factor, take Richard Branson and Virgin for example.

What Not To Do

Using SEO or online marketing to fill the gaps of a bad service just does not work. A fancy website may give a good first impression, but without continued trust it is only a matter of time that negative reviews or social media comments are left, such is the power of the internet.

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