Microconf 2018

Actionable stuff from Dave Collins

Main points

  • "SEO is dead" is a very silly thing to say - don't listen to people who say it, and don't say it to others (apart from your competition)
  • Google's organic results are generated by a system - which can of course be steered, optimised and exploited
  • Google's results are primarily based on text
  • There are similarities between Google and a small child - they need some serious hand-holding and tantrums are inevitable
  • Don't believe too much hype about AI (think pooptastrophe) - we're nowhere near there yet
  • Signals play as important a role in SEO as in the real world
  • The main reason we use Google: to answer questions (plus Bing is hopeless)
  • Hijacking an answer is not the same as answering a question - people are searching for specific answers, not education
  • One of the most under-used sources for SEO ideas -> Google!

SEO tasks that produce results

Task 1: fix the machine

Start with Google Search Console.

There are loads of options to choose from - I strongly recommend you spend time exploring what's there. But initially use Crawl ErrorsHTML ImprovementsIndex Status and Security Issues.

Crawl errors - you might not be able to deal with all of them, but make sure that all main pages are error free, and that the signal to noise ratio isn't too terrible.

HTML Improvements - this is Google telling you what should be fixed to improve SEO performance. Don't ignore them. Listen to everything they tell you here, and deal with all the issues where possible.

Index Status - choose the advanced view and make sure there are no surprises. If there are, fix them.

Security Issues - if there are any issues reported here, these must be dealt with immediately. This is one of the very few stop everything and handle this now warnings.

Task 2: invest the time in your keywords.

Step 1 - how would your friend describe the page? Assuming they weren't being rude. Try to look at the content objectively.

Step 2 - carry out a reality check with Google. What shows up when you search for these terms? Your competition or something else entirely?

Step 3 - use common sense. But only up to a point!

Step 4 - reinvent the wheel. Don't start from scratch.

Step 5 - use tools, not your imagination. You can't possibly predict what terms might be popular.

Step 6 - use keywords wisely. Treat your titles and descriptions like ads. CTR is important in SEO BTW.

Task 3: content (a different approach).

Step 1 - don't write new content. Use Google Search Console to find pages with no/low clicks but lots of impressions. Export to Excel - it's far easier to slice and dice.

Step 2 - if you must write new content, use Google and their suggestions before you start creating anything.

Step 3 - get ideas & inspiration from Google, Reddit, Amazon reviews and any good keyword tool.

Task 4: use the right tools & use them correctly.

These are some of the tools we use more or less on a daily basis. 

Except for... Google Keyword Planner - don't use for SEO keyword research. It's no longer anywhere near accurate enough.

Google Search Console - far more accurate. An under-used SEO resource. Look for keywords with high impressions, low clicks - and of course that are highly relevant. Export to Excel to slice and dice.

ahrefs - very much our SEO tool of choice nowadays. I think this will become the #1 SEO tool over the next few years. It's far better than anything else that's out there.

Screamingfrog - an excellent desktop-based crawler for Windows and Mac. A great tool for finding all the issues on a website. Hits performance issues for very large websites.

Sitebulb - a relatively new tool, definitely gives ScreamingFrog a run for their money. Does more analysis, hand-holding and grouping together of issues. Incredibly good value.

urlprofiler - powerful tool for analysing link, content, social data and so much more. This has become our tool of choice for link analysis and link auditing.

Rank Tracker - desktop-based software for monitoring unlimited keyword rankings for you and your competition. Warning: it can be a little flaky and requires a fair number of proxies that need replacing each month. But it's better than just using Google Search Console, and you can monitor unlimited keywords and your competition.

Task 5: mobile-first.

Mobile first is happening - definitely. This was confirmed by Google on March 28th. This is something that no website or business can ignore.

Important: "responsive" doesn't necessarily mean mobile-friendly. Your web designer saying it works on mobile doesn't mean mobile-friendly.

Only Google get to decide!

Use Google's mobile friendly test.

Use Google's PageSpeed Insights.

Task 6: humans before spiders.

Always. Without exception.

If you have any problems with any of the above...

Don't panic. Instead email me at dave@softwarepromotions.com. I'll do what I can to help you.