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On Page SEO Uncategorized

Keyword Research and Content Mapping

It is not difficult to explain to anyone what is a keyword, most of us use Google everyday and we type words/questions in the search box to find information, answers, services and products. When we try to market a service or a product in search engines it is very important to find keywords that can make a difference to the bottom lines (leads and sales), finding relevant keywords to any website is not a difficult task but understanding the intent behind those keywords and map that intent to the marketing funnel needs some extra efforts.

Looking at the funnel above can raise a simple question, why do we need to target keywords in the awareness and interest stage, should not we target bottom of the funnel keywords only?  There are few reasons for that:

  • There is a limited inventory for bottom of the funnel keywords for every business
  • Bottom of the funnel keywords are normally very competitive and difficult to rank for especially for new website
  • Bottom of the funnel keywords do not fit informational content like blog posts and articles which are very important component of SEO

Before going through examples that we can use for each stage, there are three attributes that you need to keep in mind for a keyword that will help you to do the right mapping:

  • Intent, use your judgment to decide the location of a keyword in the marketing funnel, words like buy, hire, services are buying signals
  • Search volume (the number of people that search for a keyword on a monthly basis)
  • Keyword difficulty, this metric is an estimate provided by third party tools like SEMrush predicts how difficult it is to rank for a specific keyword
  • Number of words in a keyword, normally more words means less competition (long tail keywords)

Awareness keywords (top of the funnel):

Let us assume you offer SEO services in Toronto and see what keywords we can use for every stage of the funnel. Thankfully it is 2019 and the level of awareness with SEO is really high but there are still many businesses that do not know about it or know a little about it.

We can target people that never heard of SEO using digital marketing content that speaks to SEO, examples:

  • How to rank higher on google
  • What is Digital marketing

For people that heard about SEO but they are seeking more information:

  • What is SEO
  • How to do SEO

Articles and blogs are the best form of content to use to target awareness keywords, working with a SEO client that doesn’t have a blog or an article section to create awareness is almost impossible.

For clients that sell popular products and services (dentists, lawyers etc) awareness might not be required but blogging on a regular basis is still recommended to target top of the funnel keywords (writing interesting educational topics to their users).

Expect a very low conversion rate for top of the funnel keywords, you need to target highly searched keywords or a large number of keywords at this stage to make it up for the low conversion rate. There are many benefits targeting top of the funnel keywords that go beyond short term conversion rate:

  • Establishing authority in the space
  • It is easier to find low competition keywords that can fit the awareness stage, there is almost unlimited inventory of them
  • Blogging on a regular basis will send freshness signals to search engines
  • On average, it takes approximately five to seven touchpoints to close a sale and a visit from those keywords will count as one of them

It is strongly recommended to use marketing automation to nurture top of the funnel traffic and move it down in the marketing funnel.

Interest keywords (middle of the funnel):

Some people also call them also consideration keywords, they are used to target users that become totally aware of what they need to solve their pain point, in our example the client now is aware that they need to do digital marketing  to keep growing their business and they need to hire someone to do that for them as they do not have the expertise themselves or in-house. Examples of the keywords we could be used for this stage:

  • Digital marketing agencies
  • Online advertising services

In general marketing or product pages will be used to target those keywords, in some cases blogs or articles could be used also depending on the keyword. A better conversion rate is expected from those keywords comparing to the awareness keywords but they will be more competitive with a limited inventory.

Decision keywords (bottom of the funnel):

At this stage the user (potential client in our SEO example) decided (possibility after a lot of research) that they need search engine optimization >> to improve their ranking >> that can lead to a relevant high conversion traffic >> which will lead to business growth (in other words they will make more money), the reason I mapped this thinking process that way (which I recommend sharing with the client) is to make sure that the client has the right expectation about the service, every client’s ultimate goal is  making more money but our accountability as SEOs at the beginning of the project is to rank and drive relevant traffic, being accountable only for revenue is not fair as conversion rate has too many variables (UX, prices, reputation etc) beyond our control. Examples of keywords to use in this stage:

  • SEO company Toronto (location is a very strong buying signal)
  • SEO services
  • SEO company

The home page, marketing or product pages will be used to target those keywords, blogs and articles do not fit well here. A better conversion rate is expected from those keywords comparing to awareness keywords but they will be more competitive with a limited inventory.

If the conversion rate is still low causing a very high CPA (cost per acquisition) here are few things you can suggest to the client:

  • If you see any glaring UX issues (e.g. missing call to action above the fold) suggest fixing them otherwise propose a UX audit
  • If a call tracking is implemented with call recording listen to few phone calls and make sure they are answered professionally
  • Implement user engagement solutions like exit pop up or chat
  • Apply a competition analysis to find out if the client’s pricing is competitive and if they have a unique selling proposition

The keyword research process:

Regardless of the available budget for any client a full keyword research is recommended at the beginning of any SEO project, here are few recommendations that can help with keyword research:

  • Hold a meeting with the client to understand their business and find out if they interested to rank for any specific keywords. It is also important to understand their areas of operation (which countries or cities they can service)
  • Requesting access to any paid search campaign will help a lot to find the right target keywords quickly (keywords with a high number of clicks and a high conversion rate)
  • Asking the client to provide few competitors to be used later in a ranking competition analysis

After getting the information above we should be able to come up with few seed keywords, the seed keywords for a SEO company will be something like:

  • SEO
  • Internet marketing
  • SEO services

The seed keywords will be used in your favorite keyword research tools (e.g. SEMrush, Ahrefs or Google Keyword Planner), I will be using SEMrush for this example

With some work on the filters available in this tool like:

  • Number of words
  • Questions
  • Search volume
  • Country (in my case I have chosen Canada)

You should be able to generate a list of keywords that can fit all marketing stages (top, middle and bottom of the funnel).

Keyword Gap is another tool that is available in SEMrush that can help a lot with keywords research using ranking competition analysis

Please note that there is some vetting required here to refine the keyword lists that SEMrush produces, SEMrush provides Excel exports for all those lists making easier to work with them. After vetting is completed you should have a list of keywords in three groups:

  • Bottom the funnel keywords, those are the most important keywords where the home page and other key pages will be used to target them
  • Middle of the funnel keywords
  • Top of the funnel keywords that will be used in the blog calendar if the client decides to blog

Tow factors will decide which type of keywords you can target first when you start a project:

  1. The level of authority available for the website comparing the difficulty of the keyword (SEMrush provides a keyword difficult score)
  2. The budget available for the project

Here are few scenarios you can expect:

  • Low budget project and low authority domain with difficult keywords: Start the project with easy keywords in the bottom or middle of the funnel and long tail keywords (low search volume relevant keywords with low difficulty and multiple words).
  • Healthy budget project and low domain authority with difficult keywords: Choose easy keywords in the bottom or the middle of the funnel and provide a content plan to target top of the funnel keywords
  • Healthy budget project and high domain authority with difficult keywords: Choose a mix of difficult and easy keywords in the bottom and the middle of the funnel and provide a content plan to target top of the funnel keywords

At this stage we should have a list of target keywords and we can move to the content mapping process where we run our target keywords against the list of keywords that the website is already ranking for (we can get this list from Google Search Console), with some Excel processing like using VLOOKUP we should be able to split the target keywords into 3 groups:

  • Keywords that already ranking somewhere (not top 5 results), already have good content available for them and their landing pages are not used to target other important keywords (those keywords will be placed in the queue for on page optimization)
  • Keywords that are ranking some where (not top 5 results) but their landing pages are used to target other more important keywords, those keywords will be considered content gaps or content opportunities and new pages will be created for them
  • Keywords that do not rank anywhere and there is not landing pages to target them, those will be considered content gaps and new content will be recommended for them

Additional recommendations:

  • Similar keywords that could be targeted using one page must be grouped together (no need to create a dedicated page for every close variation of the same keyword)
  • While doing on-page SEO on existing pages it is very important to look at all keywords each page ranks for and make sure not to de-optimize the page for high traffic keywords
  • Keywords that are not in your target keywords list that are ranking somewhere (not top 5 results) must be be added to the on-page SEO queue (low priority task)
  • Keywords that rank in the top 5 spots, on-page SEO should be done if need be. CTR optimization (on-SERP optimization) is recommended if those keywords have a low CTR
  • Keywords that rank on the first page and trigger featured snippets like answer box (SEMrush can produce this list) must be optimized for the answer box
  • Keywords that trigger Google local three pack (SEMrush can produce that list) must be used to optimize GMB (Google My Business), those keywords could be used to produce city pages (a dedicated page optimized for each major city in the area of operation)

 

Finding the right keywords that take in consideration business priorities, the current level of authority, the keyword difficulty and the existing performance is the foundation of a successful SEO project

Next stop on-page optimization

On Page SEO

Interactive Onpage Optimisation and Content Maintenance

This stage starts when:

  • The SEO technical fundamental are well optimized (Crawlable, indexable website with a SEO friendly CMS)
  • Content creation and on page optimization are completed for top target keywords

The reason I call this stage interactive is that it can start only few weeks or months after doing the first wave of SEO where search engines will complete processing the new changes so we can evaluate if our SEO work :

  • Generates the planned results
  • Needs more tweaking
  • Creates new opportunities

Evaluating the results of a SEO project:

There are too many ways to evaluate the success of a SEO project but for the sake of interactive optimization the best way to evaluate success is the ranking improvements of the target keywords before and after the project, if most of the target keywords reached the desired ranking (top 5 spots in the SERPs for example) then it is missions accomplished we just need to monitor those keywords and move on to another project, on the other hand if the ranking did not reach the desired results we need to reassess the situation and try different actions, the most popular actions to try in this case are:

  • Enhance the content and optimize on-page elements (it is very important to check the top ranking websites for the target keywords and better their content and on-page work)
  • Increase the number of inbound links pointing to the content/pages where the target keywords did not achieve the desired ranking (could be done using the website navigation or the blog contextual links), make sure to use a keyword rich anchor text while doing that.
  • Increase the number of external links pointing to the content/pages where the target keywords did not achieve the desired ranking
  • Keep working on the website overall authority and branding

If all controllable SEO elements (content, on-page, technical SEO and internal linking) are optimized well but the desired ranking for the keyword is still not achieved then most likely the authority level required to rank for this keyword is not enough for this website/domain, going after a less competitive keyword or a different variation (less competitive) of the same keyword is recommended in this case.

Exploring New SEO Opportunities:

To start this process we need a keyword mapping document preferably in excel that lists all the keywords the website ranks for, the URL, Search volume, impressions, CTR. Google Search Console is the only place where you can find all this data, SEMrush report also includes the majority of this data (using both is recommended as some data like answer box and local pack are not available easily in GSC). Once this document is available you need to create 7 categories for those keywords:

  • Keywords that rank well and they have a good CTR (just monitor them)
  • Keywords that rank well and they have a low CTR (do on SERP optimization for them)
  • Keywords that do not rank well and they are the target keywords for that landing page (you need to apply the recommend actions listed in the previous section)
  • Keywords that you did not plan to target but search engines find your content relevant to them, in most cases the landing page will not be able to target them while keeping the page optimized for the existing target keywords, those keywords will be marked as content gaps
  • Keywords that trigger a local 3 pack (those will be used to optimize Google My Business GMB profile)
  • Keywords that trigger an answer box or any other featured snippet that you are interested to rank for  (featured snippets optimization is recommended if they rank at the top of the first page)
  • Knowledge based keywords like when, what, where, how type of keywords  (those will be used in the blog calendar)

Based on performance and priorities a new SEO project must be created to handle the new available findings in each keyword category.

Content maintenance:

Time does not always work well for SEO, after few years working on a website few things will happen:

  • Search engines may change their algorithms and guidelines in a way that can impact negatively ranking and traffic
  • Content can expire, not all content is evergreen
  • Even for evergreen content the bar will be risen in some cases by other websites that enhance/improved their content (e.g. adding media files like videos)

Monitoring content performance and reacting quickly to red flags will be key to maintain and improve organic search engine traffic. Thankfully the new version of GSC with some crawling tools have made content monitoring easier, what do we need to monitor?

  • Keywords and pages that are losing traffic and ranking year over year (you can monitor that month over month but you need to mind seasonality), finding the reason behind that decline will decide next actions (e.g. if the content has expired refresh the page or write a new one)
  • Pages that are not getting any impressions (those are normally pages with thin content or very old content that you need to improve, remove or redirect)

Interactive SEO optimization is an endless project especially for large websites and it is the main reason for hiring an in-house SEO specialist

Next step technical SEO

On Page SEO

On Page SEO

On-page SEO refers to any search engine optimization work  you do on your website (mainly on the content and the source code of the page), on-page SEO is not expected to be very technical. At this stage I assume you have completed the keyword research and the content mapping which should enable you to produce a list of URLs with one or two keywords to optimize each URL  for.

Before start doing any on-page SEO you need to have some understanding to what constitutes a web page, a web page is simply a combination of HTML code, text and embedded resources (JavaScript files, CSS files and more) that are passed from a server to a browser, the browser will be able to render that combination of codes and resources into the visual web page that you see everyday, on-page optimization focuses mainly on the visible text on the page and the HTML code. In order to view the source code of a web page just do a right mouse inside the page >> click view source and you will see a code similar to the code below (just a basic page I created as an example):

This code will render in the browser like this:

It is very important to understand the visibility of each element in the HTML code to users and search engines, there are three possibilities for a web page element visibility:

  • Visible to search engine crawlers only not to users but it will be used in the search engine result page SERP  (e.g. description tag)
  • Visible to both users and search engines  (e.g. H1 tag)
  • Visible mainly to search engines and social media bots with less chance to show on the SERP (e.g. structured data and rich snippet)

On-page optimization cannot be done in isolation of a marketing plan, content should appeal to users and encourage them to take certain actions, if the element is invisible to users we can possibly optimize it more for search engines.

On-page SEO in few words is making sure that key page elements like title tag, H1, URL and page content include directly or semantically the target keyword, so keyword mention is important but it should not be done at the expense of user experience:

  • If the element is visible to users on your page you have to be extremely cautious (not to damage user experience while optimizing) and focus more on users than keyword mentions (H1 tag for example)
  • If the element is not visible on your page but visible in the SERP (ALT tag for example) you can be more aggressive with keyword mentions but you also need to focus on making that element more enticing to page to click

Title tag:

Visible to search engines and has a significant weight on ranking, not fully visible to users as browsers will show it in the uppers status bar and it is used in many cases by search engines as the clickable text that leads to a website in the SERP

Optimizing the title tag is a tricky process as search engines will show only 50-60 characters or no more than 300 pixels which could be 5-10 words only depending on the size of each word. The first segment of the title tag should describe what is the page about (a keyword mention is recommended in this segment) the second segment could be generic like including the brand name, example (Assuming I am optimizing a page for SEO expert):

SEO Expert 15 Years Doing SEO  – Wisam Abdulaziz

You can see that the title tag includes one mention of the keyword, it has a marketing message (15 years doing SEO) then another partial mention of the target keyword (SEO), the brand name was placed at the end

Description tag:

Visible to search engines only, doesn’t have a significant weight on ranking, it is used in many cases by search engines as a snippet in the SERP which gives it a huge value from a click through rate (CTR) prospective.

Similar to title tag there is a length limit (155-160 and can go longer than that in some cases), this is a decent real-estate to deliver a good marketing message that entices people to click on your listing in the SERP, a keyword mention is still recommended as Google normally bold searched keywords inside the snippet, example:

A long career as a SEO expert where I helped more than 1000 clients to gain more exposure on search engines that lead to more traffic and business.

I have one keyword mention and a marketing message.

H1 Tag:

Every page should have a heading, some CMS (content management systems) contain it in H1, H2, or H3 others will not use any Hx tags, regardless of how your heading is coded in the page this section will speak to optimising the first heading of a web page. H1 tags have a premium location on the page, they are always located at the top (above the fold in most cases) and totally visible to users because of that user experience and delivering the right marketing message are more important than keyword mentions as people that read H1 tags are on your website and they are potential leads or customers.

H1 tag does not have a limit on the number of characters as search engines do not use it very often in their SERP but I still do not see it going more than 10 words, example:

Check Points That a SEO Expert Can Audit for Your Website

I have a keyword mention, I tried to create some curiosity so the user will continue reading the page

Body Content:

This is what matters most to both users and search engines, the first priority here is to create a winning content that gives users the best answer to their question (search query/keyword), first thing needs to be done here is searching the target keyword on Google and visiting the top 5 or even top 10 results to find out the characteristics of a winning content for your target keyword also find out what are they missing, examples of a winning content assessment:

  • Average number of words is 500 words/page
  • Average number of images is 5
  • There is one video on each of them
  • They are missing some statistics regarding that topic
  • They are missing linking out to some great resources around that topic

Now start writing your content to better the current winning content, keyword mentions normally come naturally in the body content if not one or two mentions in a user friendly manner will be suffice.

Internal Linking:

Google started their search engines based on a patent called Page Rank, which is a number from 1-10 that gives pages with a lot of links (external or internal links) more value, this concept works also for internal linking optimization, the more internal links a page has the more authority or importance it will gain from Google which will give it a better chance to rank

The anchor text of the internal links will pass a strong relevancy signal to search engines about the content of the destination page.

The easiest way to understand internal linking optimization is visiting a Wikipedia page try this one you can see every time they have content/page related to any phrase in that article they will link to it, this contextual interlinking will be passing weight or page rank to the linked pages it will also passes relevancy signals by using always the keywords as anchor text

3 ways to do internal linking:

  • The Wikipedia style of internal-inking called contextual internal linking
  • Optimizing the website information architecture (IA) by linking the most important pages from the upper navigation using keyword rich anchor text, while doing IA optimization it is important to keep user experience in mind as the upper navigation’ main function is helping users to find content easily and quickly on the website
  • Breadcrumbs navigation is a good tool that can improve user experience and help with keyword rich internal linking

Answer Box Optimization:

Goolge has 20+ types of rich snippet (refers to any result that is not the blue link with gray text beneath it), the most popular rich snippet to optimize for is the answer box which normally ranks at the top of the page (called ranking 0) ranking in this position comes normally with a very high CTR that can reach 40%

Picking the right keyword to target is going to be key to achieve results here, if you do not have any chance to rank for a keyword that trigger an answer box organically on the first page (preferably top 5 spots) then find another one as your chances to take that answer box is close to zero, do not listen to those who say it is a schema play and ranking doesn’t matter, in more than 90% of the cases schema has nothing to do with answer box.

Recommendations to gain answer box ranking:

  • Do the regular on page optimization you do normally for any page as explained in this post (keyword mentions in title tag, H1, body etc)
  • Optimize the opening paragraph or any other paragraph in the article to answer the question (in most cases it is the keyword that triggers the answer box)
  • Keep the content well structured and organized (use spaces, breaks, <ol>, <p> and other mark up tags that make a post easy to read for humans)

Recommendations to gain a list based answer box ranking (with a list inside it):

  • Same recommendations above for regular answer box, make sure to include a sentence that clearly defines the purpose of the list right before the first item
  • Optimize the title tag and H1 to include keywords that normally trigger the answer box with a list  (Example: most popular, things to do, best, types of, steps, facts).
  • Each item on the list should be distinguish it from the rest of the text, (i.e. <h2>, <strong>, <li>)

URL Optimization:

The URL of a web page is not fully visible to users (browsers use it in their upper status bar where many users do not pay attention), search engines read it and use it sometimes in the SERP but it barely has any weight on ranking (it used to have a lot of weight back in the days). You can focus more on search engines while optimizing URLs, example:

www.wisamabdulaziz.com/seo-expert

Notes:

  • Do not change the URLs for existing pages only for the sake of making the URL more descriptive or keyword rich (too many things can go wrong in a process like that)
  • URLs are used by search engines as content identifier, all links will be counted to a URL, changing one letter in the URL without proper 301 redirect can cause page rank loss and potentially ranking loss
  • Keep the URLs clean and make sure the URL is changing when people navigate to a new page, avoid using # tags or complex special characters and keep them readable for humans

Images Optimization:

The two image elements that could be optimized for an image are both invisible, ALT tag (invisible 99% of the time) and file name. Those elements must describe the image content in few words, if you can make them keyword rich that will be good if not just focus on keeping them descriptive to the image content

Finally you need to know that the on-page optimization process applies to many other platforms like:

  • Google My Business
  • Youtube
  • App stores like Itunes and Google play

The have very similar elements to a web page like title and description and the concept of including keywords in them and making them enticing for people to click is the same. Few other elements that are not available in a web page:

  • Category
  • Tags
  • Thumbnail

Next stop: Off page optimization

On Page SEO

Winning Content and Professional Design

Content creation might not be the specialty of SEOs (link building was able to get mediocre content to rank) but the updates made by Google in the recent years made content creation the backbone of SEO. Nowadays gaining high ranking relying on traditional SEO tactics like on-page and off page SEO without a winning content is not possible or at least it will be facing a head wind, the opposite applies wining content will be a tail wind and requires less SEO efforts

What is a winning content?

When you are trying to rank for a specific keyword a winning content is content that answers the search query quickly with a good user experience, there are two ways to find winning content:

  • Put your self in the user’s shoes and ask your self is this content giving you the best answer for what you searched for
  • Google the keyword you are creating content and visit the top 5 or 10 results to see what is Google favoring

Content has different formats that can go beyond text to images, videos and applications. Let us take the keyword “mortgage amortization schedule”, a winning content for this keyword will be a page that has:

  • A web app (mortgage amortization calculator using JavaScript)
  • A chart showing the payment schedule (image format)
  • Advice about the best amortization rate and payment schedule (text content)

E-A-T  (Expertise Authority Trustworthiness) and content

This term is taken form the Google’ quality raters guidelines where they ask their human raters to evaluate the website expertise in the topic, authority and trustworthiness. It is easy to conclude that achieving a good E-A-T score is impossible without creating good content.

Please note that E-A-T is not a ranking factor but historically Google always starts a process using humans then build an algorithm to replicate it, a good example for that is their Penguin update that was launched in 2012, they started sending manual actions using human reviewers before making that process machine driven using Penguin Update.

The process of building a winning content:

Before creating any page you need to decide the purpose of that page, finding one or two target keywords is a good start, keywords are questions asked by users to the search engines, search engines main interest is putting the best answer at the top (that is how they keep users happy and coming back to use them again). If your content is not the best or among the best that can answer user’s question then you are doomed for failure eventually, even if it is working fine now it will not in the next algorithm update.

Content creation considerations:

  • How much text to do you need to answer  the user’s question, long text format or short text format?
  •  Do you need media content like videos, audios, images, infographics and APPs?
  • The page that contains the content has to be part of a professionally designed website that provides a good user experience
  • The content must be well formatted an easy to read
  • Add new images and be sure to optimize those images with alt tags and other image optimization tactics.
  • Do you need to include case studies and data?
  • Do you need to optimize for enhanced SERPs where possible?

Why winning content is a tail wind?

  • Winning content doesn’t mean that your page will rank at the top of the SERPs automatically but it gives SEOs the peace of mind that their efforts will have a better chance to work as it will remove a major ranking impediment (lacking of winning content)
  • Winning content has also a better chance to be shared on social media website and eventually attract more links
  • Winning content will get a website to be noticed as authority in the space which eventually will improve branding and reputation

Professional Design:

Hosting great content on a poorly designed website with a bad user experience will cause multiple issues:

  • Less people will share poorly designed websites
  • It reduces the trustworthiness of the content
  • It will negatively affect user experience which will be reflected on bounce rate, time on the site and number of pages per session

Conclusion:

Before taking any SEO project make sure the website is professionally designed (looking good, easy to use and has a nice logo) also make sure it has winning content for the target keywords otherwise you will be facing a headwind with your SEO efforts with good chance to miss the SEO campaign’s objectives

If you feel good about the website and the content let us move to the next step keyword research and content mapping

Off Page SEO On Page SEO Technical SEO Uncategorized UX and CRO

SEO Training Courses and Conferences

There are many online resources that cover the SEO fundamentals and give you a good jump start in your SEO career

Search Engine Optimization starter guide (by Google)

This should be the fist document your read, it covers the basics of on page and technical SEO

Google Quality Guidelines

This is very important one to read especially if you are planning to be aggressive in your link building efforts

Google Quality Raters Guidelines

Google uses quality raters (humans) to evaluate their search results so their engineer can improve them, what we learned about Google’s logarithm throughout the years that it will always try to replicate human quality judgment, reading this document will give you an idea where is Google’s algorithm going

SEO Learning Center (by Moz)

Similar to Google’s starter guide

Google Best Practice (mainly for ads)

This is Google’s best practice document for ad, quality guidelines for ads apply in most cases to SEO which makes this document worthy to read even for SEOs

 

Conferences to attend:

Going to conferences to learn is not going to give you the best ROI, going there to network and meet new people is the investment you should be looking for

SMX – Search Marketing Expo

Pubcon

MozCon

UnGagged

Off Page SEO On Page SEO Technical SEO Tracking & Analytics UX and CRO

Tools That You Need To Master If You Want to Be a SEO Expert

There are some tools and platforms that you need to master if you want to be the SEO expert, some of those tools are used for monitoring and tracking others are used to make your work more efficient, many of those tools will be required for a SEO specialist role (many employers ask for them in the job listing)

Google Search Console GSC (Bing also has its own):

This tool has been growing for years and becoming the most important tool for SEO specialists, why?

1- This is only place where you can see what keywords are receiving impressions, clicks, CTR and where do they rank

2- The message center is an important communication tool that Google uses to tell you about issues and improvements for your website

3- The index coverage and crawlability information contain very valuable insights that will help you to understand how Google crawls and index your website

4- A sample of links pointing to your website will be available there

A dedicated post related to Google Search will be posted soon I will make sure I link to it form this post

Google Analytics (GA):

“You can not measure it you can not improve it”, GA is the tool when it comes to track traffic sources and users’ interaction with the website. Key hings you need to know how to do  there:

1- Setup goals and track goals per source

2- Understand and analyze bounce rate, time on site and pages per session

3- Analyze traffic by medium/source

4- Attribution models

5- Reporting on conversions

It is strongly recommend to be Google Analytics certified by passing the Google Analytics Individual Qualification (IQ) test

Google My Business:

Things you need to learn:

  • How to submit and edit a business
  • How to monitor users interactions like reviews, phone calls
  • How to tag the URL using utm tags so you can identify GMB traffic in GA

Link analysis tools:

Those tools will enable you to analyze the link profile of any website, the most popular usage of those tools is creating competition analysis reports that help to understand the authority gap between your client’s website and other competitors, the most popular ones are:

Majestic

Ahrefs

MOZ

SEMrush

Keyword research Tools:

Learning about the your client’s business then finding the more relevant keywords to that business is the starting point for any SEO projects, there are many tools that can help with that and all of them are using Google’s database:

SEMrush

Ahrefs

MOZ

Google Keyword planner

Website speed tools:

Website speed is a ranking factor with Google and it is important to keep eye on website speed on a regular basis, the best tools that can help with that are:

1- Web page test

2- GT metrix (I like their speed monitoring service)

3- Google Speed test

4- Think with Google speed test

5- Google Analytics  (the numbers there are not very reliable)

 

Mobile friendliness tools:

Mobile users have surpassed desktop users a long time ago and Google is following that trend by focusing more on mobile users, Google bot desktop is being replaced with Google mobile crawler. Making sure that is a website is mobile friendly an important practice that SEO specialists need to focus on, tools that can help with that:

1- Google mobile friendly tool

2- Google search console mobile usability section

Structured data tools:

Major search engines use structured data (Schema is the most popular one) to have better understand of the content structure (providing content in a database friendly format), once structured data is added to a website there are many tools that can help to preview them and test them for errors

Facebook open graph tool

Bing markup validator 

Google rich results Test

Crawlability tools:

The first step any search engine needs to start with is crawling the web, if the content is not crawlable or reachable (via a link or site map) then search engines will not find it, index it and rank it. Best tools to find about credibility issues:

1- Google Search Console

2- Screaming Frog

3- SEMrush

4- DeepCrawl