After an engaging and informative (yet strangely tiring!) first day of BrightonSEO talks, we settled in for another fully packed schedule of talks on the second day of the remotely-held conference.
Third-party tags can have a real impact on the performance of a website and are often added to a site without understanding the effect they can have. The challenge is to achieve a balance between performance and collecting data. Sites should conduct a tag audit to understand what tags are in place, where they are coming from and what they are used for. From this, determine which tags are no longer needed and remove them from the site and then choreograph tag loading of those that are still needed to ensure they are loaded into the page at the right point, according to their purpose.
Time to First Byte is the time it takes from the request being made until the first byte of information is sent back. This metric is used to measure the performance of a website and can be found by looking at Chrome Developer Tools, Google Analytics or in web page speed test reports. This metric can be improved by looking at DNS Lookup speeds to ensure the provider that’s being used is fast, using HTTP/2, using WebP formats for images, using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) and avoiding redirects and in particular redirect chains.
A content audit looks at how existing content on a website is performing against its purpose. Each page on a website should be assessed and categorised according to performance and purpose to determine if it should be re-optimised, deleted/redirected, no indexed or needs link building. A content audit is important to identify any pointless content that can be removed, content that has cannibalisation issues where multiple pages are competing with each other as well as to find hidden gems that could perform well with some additional effort.
Not all businesses have large SEO budgets so the key is to prioritise and not fear going ‘back to basics’ by concentrating on having a site that has great content, is crawlable and indexable, has a good site structure, is easy to use and navigate, is on-brand, contains clear calls to action, has trust and is fast to load. Don’t be afraid to test - keep a record of the tests and results and share these with the team. The key is to craft things your way; find out what you do well and run with it! It helps to have stakeholder buy-in and to link SEO activities to stakeholder KPIs to make your business case and justification of SEO effort.
This is important to get buy in from stakeholders, to keep SEO budgets and keep funding for the tools used to carry out SEO tasks. To measure, it’s all about the data and understanding what you need to look at to determine success for your business. This could be monetary, awareness of a cause or visibility of a brand and then ensuring the right metrics are used. To ensure you have a fully rounded analysis, it’s important to consider all factors that may have contributed to the success (or otherwise) of SEO activity. To start with, look internally at what digital activity has been carried out by other SEOs, developers and marketers that could have had an impact on organic traffic. Marketing activity such as paid campaigns, social media activity, referrals as well as offline marketing can all contribute to changes in organic traffic. External factors then also need consideration such as industry trends and how people search for things online, competitor activity as well as search engine algorithm changes. To really prove SEO activity is paying off, you need to go granular and look at which pages have been affected, which keywords have been affected and what time period the changes have occurred over. From this you can build your theory and justification as to what you think has happened and contributed to the changes; sometimes you may have to be imaginative as it might not be clear cut.
Topic clusters are interlinked pages on a website that talk about different areas within the same topic. Google now understands natural language much better following the BERT update and so the creation of topic clusters in natural language around the target topic can help search engines understand that your business is an authority in that field. Internal linking helps join together these clusters. Topics can often be identified based on keyword research and auditing the existing content. Find out what questions customers are asking in customer services and look at what search terms are used online. From this write unique content for humans, answer commonly asked questions and create an internal linking infrastructure.
A product can be out of stock when it is discontinued and therefore permanently unavailable or when it’s temporarily unavailable. These can damage your SEO and result in a low user experience. It is recommended that a 404 is used if there are no visits, backlinks or revenue that would be negatively affected if the page is allowed to die. If however you need to retain visitors, a redirect can be used (to a relevant page, not just the homepage) but should tell users what is happening rather than just redirecting straight to the page - tell the user the product is out of stock and they are being redirected elsewhere. For temporarily out of stock products include the ability for the user to be notified when it is back in stock. Similar products could also be displayed in a popup or similar to provide users with alternative purchase options or a search bar that allows the user to conduct their own search.