SEO For WordPress – What you need to know in 2020

SEO is a complex subject made up of hundreds if not thousands of industry words, acronyms, and important tools. It doesn’t have to be complicated, in fact it shouldn’t be. Let’s go over Organic SEO for WordPress and what you need to know as a business owner or hobbyist. This guide is for WordPress SEO but feel free to apply these tips to other types of websites were applicable.

Lots of these areas will have a direct and indirect impact on organic search ranking and traffic. So, pay close attention to every topic. Real SEO isn’t a one-day project. This must be a priority for you long term. If you are a business owner posting your own content pay attention. Read this page and come up with a solid process to follow each time you post to your website.

If you have any questions or comments send us an email. We love hearing from everyone.

We will briefly cover the following topics:

  1. Design and User Experience
  2. Content
  3. Metadata – Search Engines
  4. Schema
  5. Inbound Links
  6. Tracking and SEO Tools – 2020
  7. WordPress SEO Plugins – 2020
  8. Business Reputation
  9. Website UX
  10. How We Handle SEO
  11. Social Signals
  12. Conversion Rate
  13. Hosting

web design seo outline

Design and User Experience

Before you even think about spending loads of time on SEO ask yourself a few questions:

  1. Is my website easy to read?
  2. Is my website easy to navigate?
  3. Does my site load fast enough?

Website Technical Issues

Address any technical issues on your site as well as make improvements before you go any further. Make sure your site is up to date with the latest version of WordPress, Theme, and Plugins when possible. Remove any errors in coding, website features, and links. WordPress 5.2 is handier than ever for addressing website issues.

Readability

You don’t want to lose traffic because your font is too small or there isn’t enough contrast. You want to keep visitors around and exploring your website. Keep things simple where you can and uniform. There is something comforting about predictability and uniformity in design. Make sure your website looks and functions great on mobile and desktop browsers. Mobile traffic will be stronger than ever in 2019 and mobile friendliness is a ranking factor. In almost every case a responsive design should be chosen over a secondary mobile site. If you can think of a solid reason for a second site, please let me know!

Improve WordPress Page Speed

There have been endless studies on website loading times https://neilpatel.com/blog/loading-time/. They pretty much all conclude the slower your page loads the more you are missing out on opportunities. Make sure your website loads fast. You should use caching everywhere that you can. Before you upload images, optimize them. Minimizing page sizes and server resources needed to load your page is paramount when it comes to speed.

Use a plugin like https://wordpress.org/plugins/w3-total-cache/ if you aren’t already. This can even be used in conjunction with other caching solutions.

Security

You must keep security in mind for your website. Your site and even your hosting logins should be protected from unauthorized access. You can easily add secondary authentications to something like cPanel and WordPress. Coupled with your secondary authentication you should implement brute force protection.

You want to protect your website from spammers. Keep spam comments out of your website and minimize their access to commenting via bots. Those same spam comments will turn into website content should you ever let a spammer login to your website from lack of security.

web design seo ssl browser

SSL

Protect your user data with SSL. SSL encrypts website traffic. Google sees SSL as a standard feature now. Your site needs it.

Content

SEO is all about content. Search engines like Google provide a service bases around providing the most relevant content to users. Picking out the most relevant content is done with a secret algorithm. These methods are closely guarded and widely speculated upon by SEO professionals. In 2019 there are an estimated 200+ ranking factors according to https://www.bluecorona.com/blog/google-ranking-factors-2018.

You don’t need to memorize these ranking factors. In fact, seldom think about them. Just focus on content as your number one priority. Content will get you links. Content will get you social shares. Good content will get you visitors. Having quality website content should be the cornerstone for any website and SEO campaign.

There are things you need to keep in mind while making content. Let’s go over some tips for WordPress content be it on a blog post or page.

WordPress Content Format for SEO 2020

Content Guidelines:

  1. Easy to read
  2. Easy to navigate with informative headings
  3. Contain images and links
  4. Unique in subject and text

Readability

There are many tools to check over your content. Keep your content free of grammatical errors and spelling errors. Take a look at readability analysis with a plugin like Yoast https://yoast.com/yoast-seo-readability-analysis/. If you are even more serious about your content try https://app.readable.com/refer/ffm. Your subscriptions to Readable help support us and it doesn’t cost you additional to help us.

You always want to write content with a reader in mind. Write for people not for traffic. Enough said there.

Easy to Navigate

For a longtime now headings have been important with SEO. You should be using headings to tell users what each section of text is about. Headings can save a reader time and it keeps your content easy to understand. Write relevant structured headings. Avoid using bold or formatting titles other ways.

Use Images and Links

ALL your website pages should contain links and images in the content. Images can improve page appearance and even provide additional information. Infographics are the ultimate form of website content image. Infographics can be highly informative and easily shared on social media.

If you can, include a video. The more visually appealing and engaging your content is the better.

If you are including an image to show visitors additional information (like with an infographic), make sure you touch on that data with text. Search engines aren’t going to index all the data on your images. Be sure to include text to help get your additional info indexed.

Images

If you don’t have a budget for photo shoots, check out some free image websites:

http://pixabay.com

http://unsplash.com

https://www.pexels.com

Be sure to check licensing for anything you download and use on your website.

Links

It’s great to include both internal and external links in your content. Linking to related subjects or relevant pages within your website can be engaging. It promotes additional action from the reader. External links can be used to share helpful resources or support your point.

Unique Content

First, you want to post only unique content to your website. You never want to post content that is other places. It’s not important if it’s duplicate and it can penalize your search ranking.

Secondly, you want to avoid 25 website pages containing the same information repeatedly. It’s far better to combine those elements into a single page and 301 redirect back to the combined page. Keep your traffic on that subject matter heading to one place. It’s better for the reader, better for controlled reader landing, and better for traffic. Combining pages/posts is something I tend to do early on with SEO projects.

URL

Take a moment to look over all your website URLs. You should have human readable website URLs for every page possible. If you have weird strings of numbers and special characters get rid of them. Keep URLs relevant to your content. Ending a link in how-to-buy-wholesale looks much better than showing WordPress Post ID or some other string.

You can edit your URLs in WordPress page by page or set up site wide rules by going to settings – permalinks. Post name or category/post name are great options. Keep in mind changing your permalinks may result in 404 errors for incoming links or even search engines. Do this carefully and only if you’re sure of what you are doing. If you are concerned about high traffic pages with links from external sources, you can do a permanent 301 redirect for old URLs.

If you want a little more information on permalinks take a look here for more info https://yoast.com/what-is-a-permalink

Legal (Not Legal Advice)

Stay within the Terms of Service and applicable laws while collecting data on users. For Google Analytics https://analytics.google.com special information has to be on your website to notify user’s that you’re collecting data on them. If you aren’t notifying visitors and collecting user data, you could end up in hot water.

Every website needs a privacy policy, contact information, and TOS page clearly posted. It’s not a one size fits all kind of thing. Your Privacy policy and Terms of Service needs are dependent on what features your website has, what data you collect, and how you use that data.

Consult an attorney for help with compliance and protection.

Metadata – Search Engines

It’s very important to spend the extra few minutes adding metadata. Metadata is kind of like behind the scenes Info for search engines to view. You can add all kinds of things to your meta tags. Here is a list of meta tags that Google understands https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/79812?hl=en.

Title and Meta Description

Using Yoast you can easily edit your title and meta description. That’s what Google displays as your search result when it’s more relevant than a snippet taken from your website content. Take a few minutes to explore what Google has to say about those subjects before your go crazy changing your site around. https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35624?visit_id=636937011821833559-2025014632&rd=1

Scoring a click worthy accurate description is golden.

Image Title and Alt Text

So, after you have uploaded that shiny new optimized for speed image you have a couple more steps. You can add and image title and alt text within the WordPress Media Library. This should be done for all your images.

Image Title

This title can be shown to the user depending on how you add the image. It might be shown near the image or on mouse over of the image. Make your image titles pertinent to what is being displayed.

Image Alt Text

Image alt text is displayed in place of an image when it can’t be loaded for some reason. Alt text also tells search engines a little more data about what is being displayed. Write helpful descriptions of what is meant to display.

Robots Text

Using many WordPress SEO plugins, you can edit your robots.txt file. The robots file tells search engines your website structure and what to index. You can also add these robot text files to search engines, ensuring you have no errors and the right file is being used for the correct search engine. One place to do this is https://search.google.com/search-console/about

You should edit this file using a WordPress Plugin like Yoast. If you are using Yoast, under your SEO sidebar option you will see “Search Appearance.” From there check out the taxonomies tab in the main window. Taxonomies allows you to modify how certain types of content default in search engines and what to index.

You should likely remove some of these taxonomies from search results. This will control how a user comes into your website as well as keep you from ranking on weird pages that have little value. Its far better having a user enter your website on a blog post or page than some auto generated jumble of random stuff.

The taxonomies that appear will be site specific according to your WordPress Plugins and Theme. Click the help button on Yoast to see a nice video explaining this area. While you are here you can even no index some other areas like the WordPress Author Archives from the archives tab if you choose.

Signing up and using a tool like Google Search Console will notify you of website issues. It’s important to monitor and handy to use.

Schema Markup

Schema markup is a way to structure data on your website. Adding structured data to your website helps major search engines to gain additional context in relation to your content. This means search engines can easily extract which content is a review, product, event, etc. Displaying some great reviews in your Google search result could be a powerful addition resulting in more traffic.

For a list of Schema markup available to improve your website visit https://schema.org/docs/schemas.html

If you are unsure if you’re using microdata on your website, use Google’s structured data testing tool. This will show what Schema you’re using and if there are errors. https://search.google.com/structured-data/testing-tool

Inbound Links

Links are one of the early adopted ranking factors for search results. Despite what you may read or hear, links are very important for SEO. Good content and companies are linked to all over the place. It’s a great signal for search engines to see links and links establish authority for your website.

Avoid spam link building offers. Avoid paying for links. Avoid spamcomments. Avoid blog networks. These strategies were widely used in the past, and sometimes still used, but will inevitably lead you to being penalized or worse, blacklisted by Google. However great the offer you find guaranteeing links and ranking increases looks, just stay far away.

When it comes to links you want natural meaningful links on good standing websites. You can use free tools to inspect your links and gain insight into who is linking to you. If you find potentially harmful links, you can use the Google Disavow Tool to remove those links from being factored in.

There are endless ways to get website links. Usually the more creative the better. Let’s go over a few simple ways.

web design seo meeting

Collaboration

Reaching out to similar businesses or people in related fields for a collaboration can be a surefire way to gain link back to your content. Come up with a plan to help both parties involved. Be ready to do most of the work and ask for a link after the content is up on your site.

Interviews

You would be surprised how many people would be willing to answer some questions for you in exchange for a little promotion of their brand or service. Those people might even just want to be helpful. Find people with a following and do your research. Look for past interviews and plan some solid questions to ask.

Shareable Content

Including highly shareable content within your site will help in securing website links. All your content would have great assets within it in a perfect world, but that’s not always the case. This stuff takes time to create.

Adding Infographics, free plans, tools, and special resources for visitors can easily lead to get some links. You could show off some special statistics in an image. Offer free plans to for a DIY project. Entice visitors with a special online industry tool. Guides can also be great to get shares. The more helpful and interesting your shareable content the better.

If you have some design talent or access to some stock graphic resources infographics are one of the easiest ways to get links. People love looking at data this way.

Be original here. The more your resources stand out the more likely you are going to pick up some links.

Competitor Links

Finding out what websites your competitors have links on can also be a super helpful way to find opportunities. You might not always want links on those websites, but you should find some great link opportunities doing a quick search.

Time for a little shameless promotion. We are an affiliate for SEMrush. If you want to help us out head over to SEMrush and sign up for a free account. It’s a suite of tools we use and love.

There are tons of serious tools there including a backlink gap checker. You can easily compare links between numerous sites at a time and see what links they share and what inbound links are unique to each URL. It takes the guess work out of building great links and shows you lots of data on sites all in one place. There are tons of SEO tools out there, but we feel like this one is a must have. For the time savings and data access the Pro account is a great value, but at the very least take advantage by signing up for a free account.

If you’re interested look at some free data they can provide on your site, but more on that later.

web design seo planning

Tracking and SEO Tools – 2020

No matter if you are publishing fresh content daily or your website sits stagnant there are some must have tracking tools that you need to be using. If you aren’t using some of these tools, you’re at a severe disadvantage. Tracking is one of the most vital aspects to any SEO. You must have your finger on the pulse of your site, changes are happening to your website if you’re updating it or not.

Using some of these tools will require certain language added to your website privacy policy to comply with their terms of service.

We will go over some free tools and paid SEO tools all in one place. Bookmark this page and come back later so you can keep this list.

Google Search Console – Must Have

Google Search Console is a powerful set of tools provided for free by Google. Here you will add your website property and be provided will valuable data and error notification after verification. You can see some basic traffic data, but you will mainly use this tool for Google site health. You can check Mobile usability, errors, check for sitemap issues, disavow links, and more.

At times you might even get emails from Google notifying you of sudden changes to your site. For this monitoring alone it’s a great resource to utilize.

Google Analytics – Must Have

If you are looking for extremely detailed information on your traffic for free, look no further. Google analytics is indispensable data coming right from the source, the world’s largest search engine. You should be looking at this data and tracking important figures consistently. This is where you see real world results to changes you are making and changes that happen with rankings. If you are unfamiliar or overwhelmed explore the site a little and then watch some videos.

Some important stuff to know that you can find out on Google Analytics:

Sessions by Device

See what percentage of users are on mobile and desktop. Maybe these numbers are surprising. Your visitors aren’t always looking at your site the same way you are. You might want to focus some more effort in making your site look better on your top platform.

Users by Time of Day

If you are email marketing or publishing new content this data could be important to you. See when users are viewer your site the most. You might want to reschedule your email times after looking through this data. Seen right on your home overview.

Users

These are unique user visits to your website. This is a good indication of website traffic and how many people your website is getting in front of.

Sessions

Sessions data shows the amount of times your website was visited. If a user is inactive on your site for a short time and continues browsing or revisits your site, they will be counted as a new session and not a new user.

Bounce Rate

Bounce rate shows the percentage of users who entered and left your site from the same page. Google shows session duration as a figure in conjunction with bounce rate. If a user views a page on your site and never navigates anywhere else, you will see a bounce because there is no action to time.

A great bounce rate is under 40%, but this figure very much depends on your website and industry. A bounce can still answer the user question or needs, but you should work on keeping users around for another click or two. Bounce rate most certainly plays a role in ranking. If you have a horrific bounce rate, why would Google keep recommending your page at its current ranking. Likewise, if your bounce rate is fantastic, that must have an impact on weighting your result. Google is trying to provide the best data to users, that’s why so many people use their site.

Acquisition

This is the area in analytics that shows where your traffic is coming from. You can quickly get an overview of traffic coming from ads, social channels, and other websites. If you find a great surprise traffic source certainly look further into getting more of that.

The social area is an awesome data set to check the viability of spending time on social platforms. You will find that some social platforms just outperform others. It all depends on your branding and industry. You want to spend the most time where your customers are spending the most time. It’s not an end all data set but gives you a great bunch of numbers to make some social presence decisions.

GTmetrix

https://gtmetrix.com/

GTmetrix shows you how your page speed stacks up. Get information on how to improve your score right in the free report. It’s totally free and doesn’t require and account. There are premium options if you want more features. Love GTmetrix!

Bing Webmaster Tools

https://www.bing.com/toolbox/webmaster

You should be using Bing webmaster tools and here is why. Bing in my experience has a different type of user. A user that you might not reach otherwise. For the small amount of time it takes to keep tabs on Bing, why miss out on potential business. Bing also has some native function within windows 10 search.

SEMrush

Again, we are an affiliate of SEMrush, but we believe in their tools. SEMrush is a complete one stop shop for your SEO data. You can integrate your Google Analytics data right into reports alongside SEMrush data. The amount of data you are going to get will be a little overwhelming most likely. Remember to focus on the key areas and use the specialty tools when planning new content or backlinks.

Some of our favorite SEMrush tools:

Site Audit

Site Audit gives you a website health report. This will show you loads of data that you could easily miss on your website. The amount of time to check these details on your own is easily worth a month of a Pro account. Find 404 errors, SSL errors, missing page titles, etc.

The site issues are broken into a few categories’ errors, warnings, and notices. They are in order of importance to fix. If you are seeing things that you think are okay, you can also whitelist to keep things off the report.

Position Tracking

This tool allows you to track your ranking across specific keywords. You will see search visibility, estimations of traffic, and your relation against chosen competitors.

Social Media Tracking

Keep tabs on your social presence all in one place. This is a concise overview for social signals.

Backlink Audit

Browse your inbound links and quickly see a domains toxic score according to SEMrush. The linking domains toxic score is created under a ton of considerations and will quickly tell you if you should disavow that link. Google disavow integration is built right into this tool.

Taking the time to go over your site’s links is a great way to clean up some potential harm being done to your ranking.

All Competitor Insight Tools

A favorite thing about SEMrush is the data you can see on your competitors. You can get estimations and keywords for their ad campaigns, traffic, and links. Gaining a glimpse into their website will give you valuable data to base your website decisions on.

SEMrush is crammed full of useful tools for everything from planning content to tracking results. Finding a few low competition keywords with great traffic is a solid way to plan content for your site. Other than just not having the budget, we’re not sure why you wouldn’t use their tools.

Sign up for a free account at the very least and take advantage of what they have to offer. Here is a link for a 7 day free trial that will help support us:

https://www.semrush.com/sem/?ref=2756796291&refer_source=&utm_source=berush&utm_medium=promo&utm_campaign=link_7-day_pro_trial

WordPress SEO Plugins – 2020

Yoast

https://wordpress.org/plugins/wordpress-seo/

Yoast is easily the top SEO plugin for WordPress. It’s actively developed and at the time of this writing has over 5 million active installations according to WordPress.org. Yoast allows you to modify sitemaps, how data is indexed, and has some great overviews for writing content.

If you aren’t using Yoast check it out, this is a must have plugin for WordPress.

W3 Total Cache

https://wordpress.org/plugins/w3-total-cache/

Page speed is a ranking factor and you should be doing what you can to speed up your site. Start with W3 Total Cache. It can get complicated but works well out of the box. Make sure you check your site thoroughly after making caching changes. You don’t want to break anything and make things display weird.

If you aren’t sure what you’re doing study some guides. You can always make changes one step at a time and usually it’s simple to revert them if they cause issues.

Smush Image Compression and Optimization

https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-smushit/

Smush for images was around for a while before WPMU Dev took the torch over. This is an easy way to upload and add lossless compression to images in WordPress. Lossless compression strips unneeded data from images. The result is a smaller image without effecting quality. Smaller images mean lower page size. Lower page size means fast loading.

iThemes Security

https://wordpress.org/plugins/better-wp-security/

The last thing you want to happen is malicious code or spam on your website. With iThemes Security you can add brute force protection (someone entering in passwords repeatedly trying to login), now including network brute force protection. There are loads of other features to help keep things secure. This isn’t an end all plugin on security for your website, but it’s a great addition to any website. Shutting down bots will protect you from the most common security issues on WordPress.

Website UX

User experience is an underutilized area of SEO and improving businesses. Mediocre UX is commonplace and that “good enough” attitude is prevalent because sites aren’t making changes and they aren’t tracking/going over their data often enough.

User Experience starts the second a user is on your website. UX is how every little detail culminates into great experience or crumbles into a poor experience for your visitor. UX is often even used as a verb for working with these elements on a website.

Anything that effects the user during a visit can be classified as UX. Here is a small list of common areas that you should visit:

  1. Layout
  2. Design
  3. Color
  4. Branding
  5. Language
  6. Animation
  7. White Space
  8. Images
  9. Text
  10. Navigation
  11. Interaction

Taking two hours a month to make something on your website better can yield crazy end results! There are times where it might not be worth 20 hours to rewrite something, but at the very least snag the low hanging fruit. You would be surprised how the smallest of changes has the possibility to produce huge results.

For those more technically inclined A/B testing often speeds up the UX refinement process. You never know what your customer wants until you know.

Start with the most obvious issues your site has and work more in depth from there. Make the high-level changes first. Anything effecting the entire site should be addressed early because making those changes could adjust your needs with more detailed areas later.

Make changes to your website often, especially regarding user interaction and call to action. Changing colors, sizing, accents, images, and text should be commonplace until you have created a conversion masterpiece.

In cases where you have lots of traffic you may want to introduce site changes slowly over a schedule to help ease the transition for existing users. Slowly transitioning to a new design or adding new features mainly applies to sites with high levels of interaction.

Your website should be intuitive, memorable, and an overall smooth experience for the user. Information is everywhere and one annoying thing could lead your visitors elsewhere fast.

How We Handle SEO

If you want professional SEO for your website reach out to us at First Fortune Marketing LLC. We offer 3 different monthly packages with a variety of reporting depth. Our SEO packages vary in price from $225 per month to $390 per month. Custom packages are available for more in depth work. For that price you get powerful business changing reports each month with a solid plan to move your site forward. We do the heavy lifting and give you direction to go at your very own pace. Every monthly plan also gets one on one time to go over the data and action. We prefer to meet in person to go over SEO Reports for any client in the Greater Cincinnati area, but online chats work too.

Our SEO Process Simplified

We have some early steps we take with every new project. You should take similar steps even if you handle things on your own. Let’s look at what they are.

Tracking

As soon as we get the project, we start tracking. The amount of data varies by package, but you must have data. The more data you have the more informed you can be with your advancement.

Errors

Next, we visit anything that might be holding back your website. This can be anything from broken website features to spam links.

web design seo layout

Improvements

Once we have addressed the negative, we like to start making improvements. This may include UX, updating old content, condensing content, adding images, and improving your website overall.

Opportunities

In every industry there are content opportunities that have low competition, exceptionally high traffic, and or highly relevant. We like making our work cost effective.

Targeting

After gathering data, we can start seeing trends in traffic and where your business is lacking. You could be missing out on areas you aren’t even aware of. We like to take this step to target very specific keywords that we plan with you

Bounce Rate

We make changes to the site and start taking a detailed look at bounce rates. We have seen 30%+ improvements on bounce rate in a couple of monthly changes. The benefits here are very powerful.

Competition

We are strong believers in tracking competition with detail. There are two strategies we employ while addressing competition concerns. The first is taking the most cost-effective steps to outranking your competition. We find the lowest competitive keywords to traffic and start planning action. The second strategy is going step by step through competitors in order of weakest to strongest online performers. This is more for those with world domination on their mind, but it’s an effective step in taking over a market. We target their ranking keywords and aim to outrank them. We do this for industry words and not business names.

Content Planning

We like to plan content for our clients month by month. Often leaving it up to them to come up with the copy and making changes to optimize for search. Sometimes is difficult getting your stances on the industry written up by other people. Getting article titles or subjects monthly can be a real blessing to get the ball rolling with fresh posts.

Link Building

Once the project gets in a groove and we have addressed the main issues holding things back we like to start improving the entire website’s rankings with links. We start with reports finding out where your competition gets their links and move on to other valuable opportunities for links. Getting links from the same places your competition does can really start to lower the gap in ranking.

Conversions

Once the traffic is coming in and you have lots of historical data it’s time to start improving that conversion rate. This could involve remarketing to visitors, on page optimizations, or other tactics.

For those wanting early results we like to start PPC marketing campaigns. You can start fresh leads rolling in immediately with good advertising. We start our campaigns at low budgets no matter the final budget. We then scale the performers to get the most efficient campaign.

web design seo speaking

Business Reputation

Business reputation is a very important factor in making sure you’re successful online. It’s surprising how many businesses are unaware of their online reputation and steps to take to fix poor reviews, inaccurate information, and fake data.

Search engines are much more complex in their methods of ranking than in the early days of the web. It’s now commonplace to take a “snapshot” of your entire business online and use those reputation signals as a ranking factor. Let’s cover some common reputation issues, why they matter including for SEO, and how to fix them.

Reviews

Bad reviews can absolutely crush the performance of your business online. Raising reputation can be a powerful process to raise the performance of your entire website, not just singular pages. I have seen some absolute horrific cases from new clients reaching out for help. Reviews not only help search engines determine the quality of your business but also potential visitors. You are not at your site’s full potential if you have a poor rating online. Don’t be overwhelmed or angry if your reviews aren’t great, just take steps to correct things.

If you have fake reviews or reviews personally attacking owners/workers for reasons unrelated to normal business, address those right away. They are likely against the terms of service on whatever site they show up on. Reach out as soon as you find things like that for steps you can take to get those removed. In egregious cases you might even want to talk with an attorney. I have personally seen reviews for businesses simply calling out owners for not paying child support. This is not okay behavior to leave unchecked. It’s destroying your reputation online and your business.

If you have posted reviews to your own website, make sure you comply with terms outlined by site’s like Google. You don’t want to appear as if you are abusing or gaming review systems. Actual reviews should be natural, unique, and filled out by customers in most cases. As mentioned earlier, if you are within best practices for showing reviews on your own website you may want to add Schema to those reviews to get them displayed in search results.

Do not buy reviews. This will do nothing but ruin your business reputation.

Fixing Bad Reviews

There are multiple services out there to filter your customers through a review funnel to improve ratings. These services will reach out to previous customers, filter happy customers into posting reviews, and filter unhappy customers to other areas. This can be a powerful tool for quickly improving your online ratings. Just make sure tools you use are compliant with Google TOS.

If you have reviews online it’s often great on good and bad reviews to reply. Say thanks, try to make up for subpar performance, or address the real issue behind your review. It doesn’t affect the bottom-line rating, but it might comfort those looking further into your company before doing business with you. Try to keep your replies positive and avoid being vindictive when you post review responses.

Uniform Business Information

Take an afternoon and scour the web for business postings with improper business information like address, website, phone, etc. Not only could you be missing out on leads but it’s going to show search engines that you’re on top of things. This can be an especially important factor to rank locally.

Look at places like Google My Business first. Make sure all your info is correct. If you find websites with incorrect business data, you might need to claim the listing before making changes. Keep your information uniform across the web. Likewise fill out all your social media profiles completely.

If you have multiple locations be sure to fill out these listings uniformly for each location. If you have been in business for a long time the most common issue you might see is http links where your site is currently on https. This is important to fix even if your server redirects links to https.

web design seo social media

Social Signals

As early as 2010 industry pros started speculating on the value of social signals with organic search https://searchengineland.com/what-social-signals-do-google-bing-really-count-55389. Nowadays we have confirmation that social signals matter. You should be on social media if you aren’t already. Social Media can easily provide direct effects on your year end revenue without customers even touching your website.

As we outlined earlier in reputation make sure your profiles are entirely filled out as a first step. Add profile images and business info. Where you can get your exact business name as your profile link or name. Try to keep these profile names the same across all platforms.

When you post its great to add website links. Be interactive with your customers when you can.

All the typical social media interactions are going to be a ranking factor to one degree or another. Shares are among the most important to seek with your time on social media. They will help get you more brand exposure and in theory raise other things like profile likes/followers. It’s also worth noting that when it comes to shares the profile sharing your link means something. The larger the following the better the signal weight.

As the world grows more and more social online so should your business. Growing the entirety of your social profiles will help your business. We mentioned before Google Analytics social traffic data. Keep tabs on this data when you are active on social sites. You want to maximize your results by being most active on those sites that yield the most results for you. Every business is going to be different. Don’t rule out a social platform as from being highly impactful until you have established a strong presence there. You could have got a lucky share to boost a profile on a site early, when really your time is more effective spent somewhere else.

There are lots of tools to post to multiple social media platforms at once and even schedule posts. These are typically clunky and add some level of disconnect. I wouldn’t suggest any brand start out with these tools. Use them when things get to the point of needing them to keep up. Starting out they simply aren’t necessary. Do use a tool like SEMrush to see social signals all in one place.

As always don’t buy this stuff. You don’t want to send fake likes, shares, etc. to your profiles. Buying almost anything is bad with SEO. This includes that $25 dollar guaranteed first page of Google email you receive. Avoid it.

Conversion Rate

Knowing your conversion rate can give you a valuable piece of data when it comes to traffic, optimization, and spending. A conversion can be any action you like. Conversions are usually set to a more powerful customer action like a purchase or sending a message on your contact form. Simply divide the number of actions by the total visitors for your data set. The resulting number is your conversion rate as a percentage.

Example of monthly sales and traffic:

19.5 sales / 400 visitors = 4.875% conversion rate

Where conversion rate comes to the rescue is in making less intuitive marketing decisions. You might find a better value in a more expensive marketing campaign with a much higher conversion rate vs. a cheaper higher traffic campaign.

Closely tracking your conversion rate will also give insight into the effectiveness of your design, copy, and audience acquisition. The most subtle of changes including a simple color swap can affect conversion rate. In more complex cases you might also find this data useful in segmenting your traffic with specific landing pages for multiple audience groups.

If you research conversion rate averages, keep in mind that it varies drastically by industry. If you find yourself as a negative outlier, then the next paragraphs are for you.

Split Testing

If you are looking to make improvements in a metric, like conversion rate, split testing is an effective way to reach your goals. Split testing is also known as A/B testing or multivariate testing. Split testing is exactly how it sounds. You test two different versions of something while documenting which performs best and potentially going live with the better version. Testing modifications like this is something rarely done in smaller businesses. Mostly because of the time/cost to perceived value, but this method doesn’t need to be expensive to provide major lasting benefit.

Let’s look at an example:

You have a 4.875% conversion rate as outlined above. Your average sale is $45. You keep the same 400 visitors per month but manage through split testing to improve your conversion rate by 2%. That’s 8 more sales per month or $360 more revenue. That’s $4,320 more in yearly sales that should easily be covered with added profit.

Split testing doesn’t have to be tied to design and copy alone. Using split testing onsite and offsite as a golden rule is powerful. You can split test all sorts of things to improve your site’s success. Other things tested could be server technologies like caching methods, photo file formats (when it comes to next gen files like WebP, JPEG 2000, JPEG XR), third party integrations for things like login, and acceptable payment methods. This list is endless, and testing is how you make improvements with a process in place.

A/B testing your website is nearly certain to generate results provided you have traffic and data tracking. This is the best kept secret, hidden in plain sight, when it comes to improving your business online.

Hosting

Hosting is a very complicated subject. Nearly no two hosts are equal. They all offer different tech, locations, customer service quality, reliability, and pricing. Let’s go over a few selling points that you should look for in a host.

If you are just starting out, aren’t technical at all, and need something cheap a WordPress hosting package can get your started. If you are planning on having heavier traffic, hiring someone who knows what they are doing, and or want great optimization then get a VPS as a starting point.

Accessibility and Control

Stay away from hosts that use proprietary user interfaces for server control, and yes you probably want server control if you are planning to optimize your site or closely manage it. Using an industry standard like WHM/cPanel has huge advantages over random hosting company UI’s.

First, developers and designers are probably familiar with these interfaces. This saves time and money. Next, and this is in personal experience, proprietary solutions have limited access to certain features native to WHM/cPanel. If you need it and it’s not there it can be impossible to find a workaround. cPanel also has the major benefits of a large userbase, documentation, ongoing updates, and plugins.

Take control right from the beginning with a system like cPanel and you will be able to easily migrate when you outgrow or decide to change your hosting.

Technology

This one is always changing, so it’s difficult to nail down specs to look for. You want newer server equipment, automated backups, WHM/cPanel, up to date PHP options, and a rock-solid data connection.

If you are looking for a hosting company and don’t know where to start, we recommend GoDaddy. They have some great hosting plans and options. Show us some support and click out affiliate link to GoDaddy. We make a small commission on sales and that helps us to set time aside for content like this.

2020 SEO Basics: Check!

Our Search Engine Optimization Guide 2020 gives a great starting point for any business owner, entrepreneur, or tech person. While we could have been even more exhaustive its not meant to be that sort of document. Use these terms, techniques, and tools to get you going. SEO is always changing, so keep researching and learning.

Making your website run like a well-oiled machine takes time and detailed work. It doesn’t have to be complicated if you get the right people to help you out. If you are interested in having us handle your website, please reach out. We are available for questions too! Send me an email.

If you take away one thing from this content know that websites can be improved and should be improved. A steady effort starting now can make a huge difference for you later. A huge percentage of websites do not keep improvements and content fresh. Keep at it with a good plan and before you know it you will be ahead of the pack.