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How a Website Audit Can Unlock a Higher Google Ranking

SEO, or  "search engine optimization”, is the process of enhancing your website to catch more organic or unpaid traffic from Google search engine results. Successfully managing this process can be the make-or-break practice for getting your site seen by possible clients. Without good SEO, folks won’t find your site when looking for similar businesses. But, with successful SEO, search engines will find you when scanning the web and serve your site in top search results (a process often referred to as “crawling”). 

Hiring a good SEO optimizer, like those we employ here at The Branding Agency, to audit your site can be a game changer for your business. Poor SEO employed by an inexperienced optimizer can damage your site and reputation (costing big bucks for you to fix). That’s why enlisting the help of a pro to conduct an SEO audit of your site is essential. 

Let’s take a moment to walk through what a basic SEO audit looks like, and review some next-level tools that are sure to set your site apart from the competition.

SEO Audit: The key to your site’s success

An SEO audit can help you find essential metrics and information regarding your site’s online performance. Identifying how your pages rank against competitors will help you see what’s working—and what’s not working—across your website. 

A pretty good SEO industry average score is about 76% (that percentage reflects that amount of traffic that is reaching your site). This reflects the average baseline. But, the very best, top-tier websites see scores of 92% or higher. 

So, how do you get to that stellar score level?

Working with an SEO expert, like the Branding Agency, is the answer. 

We often see audit scores for new clients that enlist our help initially ranking in the high 50s or low 60s. That baseline tells us that search engines don’t like the way the site was originally developed and the site creator is getting penalized for poor SEO.

For these folks, any money they’d previously invested into their site is quickly going down the drain. Even if they’re blogging and adding new, clean content to their site, search engines just aren’t ranking them high enough, due to dismal SEO optimization.

Taking the pulse of your site with a baseline SEO audit

How healthy is your site? An SEO audit is the best way to see how strong your site performance is—and help diagnose what may be negatively impacting your search results.

We like to start our site audits with Google Webmaster SEO Guidelines. Adhering to these important, industry-standard guidelines ensures your site is optimized with Google’s most up-to-date best practices (which can change often, as the internet grows and evolves). 

When we use webmaster guidelines in a baseline audit, we follow five main touch points:

  1. Research: Every web project we embark upon begins with research to identify the keywords that your specific audience uses when searching for your business. We’ll help you identify and employ keywords that have the right mix of monthly search volume and rankability. 
  2. End-User Content: The Branding Agency creates content using the themes that are most appreciated by customers, prospects, bloggers, and others who are likely to share and link to thoughtfully designed content. Our professional content designers often create onsite blog posts for clients that inform and educate customers and prospects. This end-user content can be a helpful SEO booster.
  3. Links: Even the very best web content won’t shine, unless it has inbound and outbound links that Google can find when it crawls your site. We use several strategies to incorporate links on your site pages and acquire backlinks pointing back to your site, to positively impact your website's search rankings.
  4. Analysis: For realtors, it’s all about location, location, location. But, for web designers and strategists, it's all about analysis, analysis, analysis! Analysis comes before, during, and after every project we tackle. Our approach to analysis includes both tracking and fine-tuning: We monitor and track rankings, organic traffic from keywords, and search traffic, and adjust accordingly throughout site maintenance, so we can make corrections as needed to ensure your goal metrics are being hit.
  5. Reporting: We strive to provide a direct line of site to your  traffic, rankings, and conversions—so you can see how many visitors are coming to your site, picking up the phone to call you, or filling out contact forms on your pages. 

Using the above touchpoints for an initial review and cleanup of a site can often boost site scores that had been in the low 50s and 60s up into that baseline average (around 75%). 

But, for us, hitting a baseline isn’t quite good enough. Our goal is to go another step and dive deeper into your site audit to further boost that baseline ranking up to  90% or higher.

Leveraging SEMrush for an added layer of optimization

On top of basic SEO optimization and adhering to Google Webmaster SEO guidelines, many web experts are looking at more innovative ways to optimize their client's websites. Using SEMrush, a valuable optimization tool, offers us one such way to achieve those high-level SEO ranking and help your site function as effectively and efficiently as possible. 

With a massive database of over 46 million domains and 120 million keywords, SEMrush has the ability to help really dig into your site audit. Some of the next-level opportunities that help to set apart this level of SEO optimization and site review include  identifying SEO operational issues and making improvements in key areas, like: 

  • Crawlability. Remember when we mentioned how essential it is that Google be able to crawl your site? Here’s where we can really dive into your sitemap and ensure there are no errors and everything is working in your favor.

 

  • Site Architecture. Like any good house, your website needs a strong foundation and architecture. Having a healthy site architecture means happy users—and effective crawlability. Next-level site auditing can ensure you have SEO-friendly URLs and your website’s internal and external linking are free of mistakes or errant redirects.

 

  • On-page Issues. Content duplicates, poor page titles and headers, and ineffective meta descriptions will wreck your site. Luckily, we can help with that.

 

  • Technical SEO.  Is your site optimized for mobile viewing? And, how is your HTML coding? Don’t let poor tech SEO hurt your site. Fixing these issues is a  big SEO booster (and unfixed issues are an even bigger SEO breaker).

 

  • HTTPS. The “S” in HTTPS is an important differentiator—it signifies an extra layer of security. But, moving your website to HTTPS isn’t a DIY project. Leave this task to the pros. They can ensure the process of moving your site moves smoothly, and they will ensure it stays maintained and running safely.

 

  • Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). AMP is a complicated technology that can help to boost your site’s page speeds. As SEMrush explains, sites with AMP allow mobile users the ability to open the desired content from Google’s search results in an instant. (To help you set up your AMPs correctly, SEMrush audits can detect over 40 AMP related mistakes while showing you the exact line of code where the error crept in. Once that info is identified, we can then help you fix it.)

 

Initiating an SEO Audit

Now that you know just how important and beneficial an SEO audit can be, let’s get you started. 

 

The Branding Agency is your first step in the SEO audit process. Our affordable SEO packages and helpful resources can get your site quickly evaluated, so you can start seeing positive results. (Many of our clients find the additional traffic they see coming to their site practically pays for the service itself.)

Give us a call at (704) 800-7413 or email us today to learn more about how we can help improve your website performance with an in-depth site audit.

Huge Google sign, Android robot sculpture and main Google office.

Improve Your Website Performance with Google Search Console

As a small business owner, it is essential to have a solid web presence. Your  digital storefront is your online calling card, and ensuring your site is designed well and optimized for maximum exposure is integral to people finding (and hiring!) you and your services. 

But, as we all know, running a business is time consuming and often expensive. And, some small business owners may cut corners to save a little extra time and money, by standing up a quick-and-easy DIY website to get their business online. 

Although this may seem like a good way to go, if you’re feeling a little strapped for cash and time, unfortunately it isn’t. By going this route, your chances of finding success are rather slim. You may have a shot if you’re in a smaller town and you’re one of only a handful of businesses. But, if you’re in a mid-to major market with 250,000 people or more, you’ll be competing with multiple businesses—with stronger web presences. And amplifying your business with a free Wix site, for example, just isn’t going to cut it. You’ll likely get lost under far more successful sites.

That’s where Google Search Console can be a real lifesaver.

What is Google Search Console?

Google Search Console is a free service that can help you and your business monitor and maintain your site’s presence and performance. Focusing on Google search results, this valuable tool can help you troubleshoot--by seeing what’s working well and what’s not. 

What does signing up for Google Search Console do for you specifically? It gives you a line of sight into any issues your site may be having, your top pages and keywords, and where your site needs improvement. Email alerts help you easily stay on top of it all, so you can identify and fix these problems quickly.

The following are a few additional examples of what the Console can do for you:

  • Confirm that Google can find your website and successfully crawl your content. 
  • Identify any indexing problems—and fix them or request re-indexing of new and/or updated content.
  • See your website’s Google Search traffic data. Including how often your site pops up in Google search, what queries pull up your site pages, and how often people are clicking on those queries and into your site.
  • Receive email alerts regarding site issues, to help you identify and fix problems quickly.
  • See what other sites are linking to your website and it’s pages.

Why do you need Google Search Console?

If you’re a business owner with a website, Search Console is essential to maximizing your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) potential, so that internet users can successfully find your site.

 

Plus, the Console can help you better manage your site, review and understand your site analytics, and track your traffic. Having this important visibility into your site’s key analytics, like the four metrics below, can be the difference between making or breaking your site’s successful web performance:

 

  1. Impressions: How often your pages surface in Google search results
  2. Clicks: The number of folks clicking into your site from Google search
  3. Average CTR: CTR or clickthrough rate measures how many people see your site pop up in search, and then actually click through to your site’s pages.
  4. Average position: The ranking of your site’s keywords and/or pages on Google search pages

Having access to these tools can help you better identify and fix maintenance problems and server errors, site loading issues, and also help you boost your security. 

Google Search Console is indeed a valuable business asset, but unpacking and understanding everything the tool offers can sometimes be complicated. 

 

How can we help you and your business?

Building and maintaining a website that adheres to Google Best Practices and configures to the Google Search Console is a sure-fire way to be successful online. But it is time consuming and can be confusing, too.

Working with a pro, like our team at The Branding Agency, takes the guesswork out of making your site shine. And, having someone in your corner who knows how to monitor and interpret Google Search Console results offers you a huge advantage over competitors that aren’t leverage this tool.

We can help you identify the baseline data your SEO needs to bring site success. And, our affordable SEO packages can quickly launch positive search results. (Many of our clients find the additional traffic they see coming to their site practically pays for the service itself.)

Ready to get started? Contact us to learn more about how we can help you improve your website performance and achieve success by leveraging Google Search Console.

Google Analytics home page

Why you need to have an annual Google Analytics review/audit by an expert

What would you give to rank 1st for “near me” searches for your business? How about to see almost a 200% increase in organic traffic

 

These are pretty stunning results for a year over year review, and it isn’t unheard of to see major leaps in YOY performance if you take the time and effort to be strategic about your end of year analysis. 

 

The insights you gain from an end of year review make a huge impact on your marketing plan, and success, in the coming year. The clincher is, you need to know what you’re looking for as you dig into your Google Analytics reports, and why.

 

A deep dive into end of year analytics is a big endeavor, requiring time and monetary investment.  Is it really worth all that effort?

 

Deep dives are usually more eye-opening than a triple shot of espresso

With so many things happening in your business it’s easy to take a position of “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” and let your marketing run on autopilot. We assume if something isn’t working out we’ll notice and can handle it then.

 

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.

 

Many times an underperforming part of our marketing efforts can be hidden and only a deep dive into your Google Analytics can uncover it. Many times our clients are surprised to find glaring inefficiencies and unfavorable results they would have missed otherwise. 

 

It’s not pleasant to think you’re doing great and find out otherwise, but it sure beats the alternative of not knowing your website is underperforming.

 

YOY trends ensure you aren’t chasing down the wrong “problems”

Year-over-year traffic can give a more accurate picture in some cases than month-over-month or quarter-over-quarter. 

 

Seasonal businesses may show predictable increases and decreases around specific seasons or events. Here are some examples of situations in which your website traffic could show seasonal patterns:

  • You see a drop in visits during the summer, but an increase when families get ready for back to school shopping
  • You get spikes in traffic when you hold events or attend chamber of commerce functions
  • An annual lunch-and-learn sends lots of social media traffic each year

 

In each of these cases, traffic spikes can give the impression that there are problems with the website when it’s actually a seasonal pattern.

 

What should you be looking at in a YOY review?

Conversion Events

This is the prime time of the year to analyze (or at least set up) conversion events. Conversion goals help you measure which marketing initiatives created traffic that actually results in leads.

 

This could be a Conversion Goal on a “Thank You” page when someone completes a contact form, makes a purchase, or downloads a piece of content. Using a conversion goal allows you to measure which marketing initiatives lead to web traffic that actually result in leads

 

Event Tracking 

Event tracking lets you track actions that are specific to your website such as video plays, link clicks, downloads, or navigation. This can offer insight into the design and content of your site and help you optimize for better engagement.

 

Time out...what’s the difference between event tracking and conversion goals?

While event tracking seems an awful lot like conversion events, there is a key difference that’s worth noting because it will factor into your YOY review. 

 

Event tracking is an action-based goal, something clicking a button or interacting with a video on your website. 

 

A conversion event is different and related to behavior that sends the user to a thank-you page or similar page-based movement around your website. Usually, this means they opted in, bought something, or downloaded something that led them to a specific page. 

 

Basically, event tracking is an action on a page that tells you about how users engage with your website, while conversion tracking relates to actions that send your user to a page and gives you insights about lead generation.

 

Content Marketing Wins

Do you know what your audience is looking for when they come to your site? Your blog is the perfect place to gain insights on this aspect of your content marketing plan. 

 

Dig into your analytics to see which posts had the most views and the highest visit duration. The topics and style of the winning posts should guide the type of content you produce in the coming year. 

Internal Site Search

Your site’s internal search logs are a goldmine for data and marketing insights. The search terms users are typing into the search bar on your site are a perfect place for sourcing keywords you may not have thought of that your customers are using.

 

We have clients ranking for over 300+ search terms for their businesses, you can bet that we didn’t just pull many of those unexpected keywords out of thin air. It’s all about data and informed marketing decisions, you don’t want to be limited by using just the terms you think you should rank for.

 

Demographics and Psychographics

Who are the people coming to your website? While you may not get to meet them face to face if they don’t become leads, it helps to dig into the demographics and interests of the people visiting your site. This can help you check assumptions from your personas and targeting and make sure that the stories you tell in your content marketing speak to the people coming to your site. 

 

You don’t know what you don’t know…

While a YOY deep dive is a marketing best practice all businesses should be doing, it’s not an easy task.  It can take years to truly know how to navigate Google Analytics, and digging through the nuances of the platform can leave most marketers feeling like their brain is made of swiss cheese. 

 

Even the Google educational courses are a huge time investment and often leave you with more questions than you started with. 

 

Where you may be left feeling lost, a credentialed Google Analytics pro can uncover a tremendous amount of information about your website, leaving you with real, actionable data and insights.

 

More importantly, the time to start setting up your account to track properly is now. While a seasoned pro can start uncovering insights right way, you need to collect a minimum of a year’s worth of data for a really good audit. 

 

Things change, notably where your resources are allocated when marketing your website, and you will want a pro who takes these variables into consideration when performing an audit.

 

How it works

Getting started with your review is even easier, and more secure, than you’d imagine. No sharing passwords, proprietary information, or any business data outside of the metrics in Google Analytics. It’s as simple as adding a new user to your account. 

 

For security minded business owners the simplicity of this process is often a relief, knowing they can add, and more importantly remove, a user’s permissions at any time. The users you grant permission can only see your analytics data, leaving your proprietary information safe & secure.

 

Once your audit is complete and reviewed it’s just a few clicks to remove the user again.

 

 

Now it’s your turn

Ready to dive into a YOY review?  You might be surprised to learn that the examples we shared at the beginning of this article were real results we helped one of our clients achieve. They now get 85% of their traffic from organic search, saw a 190% YOY increase in organic traffic in 2018, and rank for over 300+ search terms. 

 

While some of these results are exceptionally good, we surely don’t expect another increase in YOY organic traffic of that size, a savvy look at your YOY Google Analytics can set your business up to start seeing major gains like this client did.


Ready to see for yourself where your marketing blinds spots are and how you can address them to see huge boosts in traffic next year? Contact our team now and we can get started right away. 

Google Maps on a mobile phone

A small investment with BIG results for local SEO.

With most people getting around in cars, the concept of “foot traffic” seems to be weakening.

Instead, the “near me” search on Google is filling in the gap and driving traffic to local businesses. 

Not just on Google’s native search service either, this includes any time you pull up the Google Maps app on your phone and look for businesses, services or products nearby.  In fact, the Maps app is the most common place you’ll see people using the “near me” search phrases.

A report from Google highlighted huge leaps in near me searches in just the past two years. For example, phrases like “Pizza near me now” has seen 150% growth, and time-sensitive phrases like “clubs near me tonight” have seen a 900% growth. 

Google’s VP of Marketing for the Americas Lisa Gevelber explains that if people are searching for something near them, that’s a pretty strong signal of intent. 

 

Users are searching for specific items, and they want them now.

 

This is where it starts to get interesting. We assume searches for restaurants or gas stations “near me” would be common. You’re on the road, and your tanks are low, so whether it’s food or fuel you want to find something nearby in a jiffy.

 

Interestingly, there is now a jump in item specific searches. Need cowboy boots or a prom dress now? People are looking to google for the answers and asking for “cowboy boots near me”. 

 

Whether it’s sassy new boots or a restaurant, today’s impatient consumers want things in the moment they need them—which is typically “now.”

 

The challenge for your local business is to make sure you’re giving people the answers they’re looking for as quickly as possible. Catch their attention at the right moment, and you’ve likely made that sale.

 

Show up “near me” to make more sales with minimal investment

 

If you can only do one single thing to improve your SEO this year, invest in your local citations. It’s a minimal investment that could pay dividends in driving local traffic to your business. 

 

As we saw in the examples above, people are using “near me” with increasing frequency to find the products and services that they need, when they need them. 

 

By not optimizing your business in “near me” searches, potential clients could be sent to competitors only a few blocks away. 

Curious how your business is doing? Check your listing 👉 here to see if you’re set up to get the most out of local searches.

 

There is no middle ground with local citations

The importance of paying attention to your local citations stems from one specific feature...they either positively or negatively impact your search engine rankings & consumers. There is no grey area.

 

While yes, the number of citations, accuracy, and quality all influence ranking, with local listings they either match and increase trust and ranking, or they don't. 

 

When your listings don’t match Google stops trusting your data and your business could start to slide down the rankings.

 

With this in mind, the importance of carving out a few hundred dollars to optimize your local search each year seems like a given.  For the price of barely 2 lattes a week, you could be driving significantly more local traffic to your store.

 

To learn how you can improve your local citations without blowing your budget, contact our team. We’ll check your listing and show you how your business can win at local search results.

 

 

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