Having spoken to a great selection of small businesses, we often hear how they’ve optimised their site, yet are struggling to see any results.
Sometimes we will spot a number of quick wins, while other times we can focus on building a long-term strategy to increase organic visits, while occasionally it could be that the target is unrealistic (don’t bother going for ‘car insurance if you’re a small brand’).
Either way, it can be demoralising when your hard work doesn’t pay off, so below I will list a number of factors you should consider.
Or for the traditionalists such as myself, Webmaster Tools. Make sure you are setup properly on Search Console and have a quick look through for any clear issues. Under ‘search traffic’, quickly check ‘manual actions’ to ensure you haven’t been hit by a manual penalty (alarm bells should go off if you have, time for a mass clean-up).
Under ‘Google Index’, check ‘index status’ to make sure your pages are actually being indexed properly. Does the index number match-up with how many pages should be turning up for search results? Do a quick site:domain search on Google to see if these figures match up.
Go into ‘crawl’ and take a look at the crawl errors. Are there any obvious issues, such as products that have disappeared from the site, which shouldn’t have. Are you still heavily internally linking to removed pages? Then go down to ‘crawl stats’ and check on the different metrics. You don’t want the ‘time spent downloading a page’ score to be too high, as this could highlight an issue with page speed loading time. While there isn’t an exact figure you should be aiming for, if you feel concerned, I’d recommend using GTmetrix and Web Page Test.
As much as people try to highlight other tricks, links are still the biggest ranking factor. You obviously need to ensure you have the infrastructure and framework right before you focus all your efforts on external factors, but this should be a key consideration.
If you’re a small business, why not work out story angles for your local paper, they are incredibly easy to get into if you have a physical location within the pertinent area.
Partner up with other local businesses to work on a joint link building project. You can benefit from each other’s skill and double the amount of exposure.
It is time to take a look at the site properly, while I would recommend using Screaming Frog for this. There are a number of areas I would recommend looking at. Firstly, focusing purely on the key pages for now, does each page have a unique title? How about a unique H1? You don’t want pages to be cannibalising each other for the same term.
You can check the word count for each page. This might be a good way to highlight areas with a lack of content. While there isn’t a ‘magic number’ as many businesses ask for, what you have to do is consider the key term the page is trying to rank for, take a look at the top 10 and analyse how you can be beat this page.
This term was coined by Moz’s Rand Fishkin, which is a decent way of looking at page anaylsis compared to the old school mindset. For too long, people would say “I need x amount of links” or “I need X amount of words on the page”, thinking that this would be a magic switch and they would therefore rank number one. The 10x content strategy is to look at the greatest result on Google and then to consider how your page can be 10 times better.
This doesn’t just mean 10 times as many words, but considering everything that makes up that page. How quickly did it load? How much did they use rich media? Did they add schema markup? Is it HTTPS? Does it provide a unique experience or is it matching what is already present in SERP’s? Does it work just as well on mobiles as it does on desktop (you should start to think mobile-first nowadays)? How many social shares has it gained?
Re-Analyse Your Key Terms
When communicating with a local pizza company, they complained that they weren’t ranking for their key term. I asked them what they hoped to be ranking for and they stated ‘pizza delivery’. Considering they are competing against thousands of bigger businesses, I explained to them that they would be better off focusing on a local SEO strategy. This would help them to rank for people within the local area looking for pizza, which is 100% perfect as these are the people they are capable of delivering to. At the end of the day, if you had a single store in London, you wouldn’t be interested in someone from Edinburgh coming across your pizza delivery site. Have a read of my local SEO tips to boost your businesses rankings.
A Few Extra Points
Do you have an XML sitemap in place? If so, is it set on Search console? Is your robots.txt blocking any important pages or URL strings? Do you have a no-index meta tag on your important pages? It isn’t just about external links, take a look at your internal link structure to see how many internal links your key pages have got and whether they are keyword rich.