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This blog post is one in a series of ‘How to maximise the return on investment in your digital budget for 2016/17’. It provides an introduction to the topic of SEO via keyword audits and the tips and tools to use.
In short, keyword audits are one of the cheapest ways to boost your web traffic: you’re tailoring your pages according to what visitors are really looking for.
Below is a guide to doing an audit yourself.
If you’re planning on conducting a keyword audit with your agency in the year ahead, then drop a line to Caroline Burfield we can give you a price for doing so.
They may sound like an enormous task, but with the right tools and a few little hacks – you can get the basics done with relative ease and the rewards are handsome.
Let’s start by explaining what a keyword audit is. Essentially, it’s looking at all the pages you have on your website and deciphering what keywords each page is targeting. That’s important for numerous reasons, from ensuring the page is targeting the right keyword to making sure it has the correct content in place.
The majority of traffic from search engines still comes to your site because the search engine matched a search result to your page because of a keyword attributed to it. That’s why getting them right is so important.
Building a website without keyword strategy is like building a motorway without signposts. You know where to go but no-one else does.
Equally, different people search for different terms when they’re looking for the same information (based on their level of knowledge, vocabulary, culture or a range of other factors). If you allow for the broader range of terms that might be searched for when people are looking for your web page, then you won’t miss out on major volumes of web traffic.
One example for this blog post would be to allow for the following search terms, all of which (and more) are valid searches to bring you here:
“what words should I use on my blog to improve traffic”
“How do I get Google to love my page”
But how do we get started?
Step One: Site Crawl
Let’s start with the site crawl. You need to obtain a list of all the pages you have on your site, alongside the title tags and meta descriptions. A title tag is section of text which shows in the search engine results (highlighted in purple below) and at the top of the browser window. Below that, you’ll see the meta description – that’s the text excerpt which search engines show the user, but doesn’t appear on the front end of the website.
That sounds like a laborious process, but with the right tools, it’s pretty straightforward. We use a couple of tools – either Screaming Frog or the Moz Site Crawler. Once you’ve got this list, it should look something like the below, with a full list of your URLs.
When you have that information, you can get to work on keyword auditing. Depending on the size of your site, you might want to split this down into manageable chunks – we’re just going to focus on our homepage for the purpose of this post.
The next step is to add a column to the spreadsheet and assign the keyword which the meta description and title tag are targeting – in our case, it’s “Web Design Bath and Bristol”. Once we have that information, we can start with the really interesting section – looking at search volume and interest.
For the purposes of this exercise, we’re going to use the Google Keyword Planner. It’s a tool which is designed primarily for use with Google Adwords – but is still very useful for SEO. There are a whole host of tools which you can use, but we always feel Google’s free tool is one of the best – ultimately, they own the data first hand.
Once we have this data, we’re able to analyse and decide on the best keywords to target. In this case, web design bath is the highest term in relation to searches and is also very relevant to our homepage, so we don’t need to change anything. What this does point out however is several other terms with high search volumes – and in the case of web design agency bath, lower competition levels. There are numerous different tasks, which will come out of this and ultimately drive higher traffic to our site.
In this specific case, the terms are reasonably similar and Google is much smarter than it ever used to be in relation to understanding language – so we don’t need to create any fresh pages. What we will do is add some of the terms to the content on our homepage. They don’t need to be shoe-horned into position for the sake of it, but merely adding the term once or twice should be suffice – at least to start with. You can also change your title tags, meta descriptions, internal links, H1 tags etc, but the on-page content is the crucial part.
If this had brought up terms which we didn’t feel worked with the current homepage, we’d look at creating a fresh page on site to specifically target the relevant keyword.
Tracking your keywords
It’s a process which has been around for well over a decade, tracking your keywords. Once you’ve gone to the trouble of auditing and updating your site to target the relevant keywords, you need to track the progress. There are multiple ways of doing this, some are more useful than others.
Keyword tracking tools can be useful, as they give you the position that your website appears in the Google search results in relation to the required keyword. I could list about 15 tools that do this, but Authority Labs [http://authoritylabs.com] is a great little tool for this, and is well priced. They give you rankings on a daily basis, giving you granular data to work with. You’re then able to see if you move up the results page, which in theory should drive more traffic.
That’s alongside the obvious measures, increased traffic. Look at landing pages within your Google Analytics account (Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels > Organic Search then change to landing page at the top). It’s relatively easy to compare month on month data, and please bear in mind – this process takes time – once you’ve made the changes it can take anywhere from 2-10 weeks to see results. Sometimes you won’t see results at all, which is when you look at tweaking again. SEO is an ongoing process; it simply takes time and refinement.
Good luck maximising the return on investment in your digital budget! We hope these tips are helpful to you – you can do this work yourself – it takes time but you can see your results. Alternatively, if you’re time poor (who isn’t?) then don’t forget to ask Caroline Burfield for a price for us to do this for you instead.