Marketing professionals are always looking for quick SEO wins, but in truth SEO success requires meticulous planning and sweating the small stuff. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t low-hanging fruit that’s ripe for picking; you’ve just got to know where to look.
Here are a few accessible SEO shortcuts that are often overlooked. These tips are designed to help shape your search marketing campaign and most can be carried out in-house - or you could always ask us to do it for you...
Content quick wins
Content refresh - When starting a digital marketing campaign, it’s all too tempting to overlook existing content and busy yourself producing something new. However, that’s a seriously short-sighted approach that ignores readymade opportunities. Refreshing tired pages is a quick way to climb the results, while ignoring them sends negative signals that can undermine overall performance. If you’re in any doubt about which pages need refreshing start by looking at your bounce rate.
Content refocus - Bringing your content up to date with the latest facts, figures and thinking provides the perfect opportunity to refocus your keyword goals. Search behaviour is changing and today it’s all about targeting the niche, which is understandable given that long-tail terms are easier to rank and visitors are further along the buying process. So give searchers what they want.
Content repurpose - Featured snippets are a great way to bypass the competition and jump to the top of the search results. Repurposing key copy into bite-sized chunks which directly answer searchers’ queries can help you punch well above your algorithmic weight and earn the top spot. Think ‘snackable’ and ‘snippable’ content and take inspiration from Google’s People Also Ask feature.
Lack of content - Searchers and search engines want something to get their teeth into and it makes sense to use your most important (and strongest) pages to generate valuable brand noise. Nevertheless, you’ll be surprised at the number of high-profile websites that don’t mention their products or services on key landing pages.
Duplicate content - Duplication remains one of the biggest SEO stumbling blocks and one that’s largely misunderstood. It’s worth taking a step back and considering that Google stays ahead of the game by serving-up the best results and that means indexing the most authoritative (or canonical) version of a piece of content. Duplication can happen for all sorts of reasons and is most often caused by lack of insight into how search spiders crawl a site, rather than deliberately republishing content or copyright infringements. The good news is that webmasters have the tools to rectify duplicate content issues and can tackle internal duplication with the canonical tag and external duplication with a third-party monitoring tool such as Copyscape. Given that 65% of webpages suffer from duplicate content issues it’s a staggering statistic just 10% of webpages use the canonical tag.
Crawling quick wins
Site speed - It’s not often the Google tells webmasters how to get an algorithmic boost, so when they do it makes sense to sit up and pay attention. Google is on a mission to speed-up the web and they reward faster sites with better rankings, plus you’ll enjoy lower bounce rates which ultimately mean higher conversions. To help developers get the job done Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool covers everything from sluggish servers to code bloat.
Sitemaps - Research has revealed that 20% of websites don’t have an XML sitemap (and a further 10% have fatal formatting errors) so give Google a helping hand by making sure that yours is kept up to date and regularly submitted to Google Search Console.
Indexing - Most websites suffer from crawling and indexing issues and if your content can’t be accessed it won’t appear in the search results. There are plenty of possible causes for this and things can quickly get complicated, but the first step is to establish whether you have a problem. Google Search Console shows the balance between valid pages and excluded pages and goes further to detail why certain pages aren’t being indexed. If you’re still stuck further insight can be gained by using a third-party tool (Screaming Frog is our favourite) to perform a deep crawl.
Linking quick wins
Media mentions - By signing-up to an online monitoring tool like Mention you can keep a close eye on what people are saying about you and your competition. Brand and product mentions allow you to steer the conversation and will give your link building campaign a real shot in the arm.
Content outreach - Connect with journalists and build authority as the recognised industry experts by subscribing to outreach services (such as Response Source) and take things to the next level by pitching content to connected publishers. Once you have got the mainstream media covered reach out to key influencers and bloggers and build your own PR team with ninja outreach.
Clean up backlinks - Backlinks are the backbone of any search campaign and the bane of SEO’s lives. Google’s Penguin continues to fight manipulated links and it’s time to clean-up your profile. Low quality links can seriously impair site performance and can be weeded-out using third-party tools such as SEMRush and disavowed in Google Search Console.
Hopefully there are a few things here that you can try for yourself. If you’d rather leave it to the experts, or even learn from us, just get in touch.
Nick Maynard is an SEO performance specialist at Ridgeway