How (and Why) You Should Use Internal Link Optimization

If you’re working to improve your website’s structure and search engine optimization you’ve likely focused on publishing great content and building backlinks to that content. However, one aspect of SEO that is easily overlooked is optimizing your internal links as well. Internal link optimization can drive long-term wins for your organic rankings and site traffic. 

First of all, What Are Internal Links?

Internal links are links on your website that point to other pages on your site. These types of links are useful to both users navigating your site and search engines crawling the pages on your site.

The Different Types of Internal Links

  • Contextual Links: These are text links embedded within your content. You may add these to a blog post to link to another post on a specific topic that you think your readers will find valuable or interesting. For example, if we were discussing on-page vs. off-page SEO (← this is a contextual link) in a blog post we could include a link to another one of our blog posts on that topic.
  • Navigational Links: Navigational links are intended to make it easier for visitors to your site to find other pages on your site. These links could be in the header bar of your site, or included on longer pages to take users to specific points on the page.
  • Footer Links: Footer links are any links you add to the footer of your website. These links can be powerful SEO tools because they show up on every page on your website. Adding footer links to your most important pages can help give them an SEO boost by letting search engines know which pages are the most important on your site.
  • Calls To Action: Call to action (CTA) links are typically included on your site’s landing pages and within blog posts to encourage users to convert, which could be buying a product, signing up for your email list, or downloading a lead magnet.

What is the Purpose of Internal Linking?

Internal links can serve a number of purposes – from making your site more user-friendly to making it easier for search engines to crawl your content. Internal link optimization should also accomplish the following two things:  

Give your site structure.

When you add internal links to your existing content in new pages or posts on your site you improve your site’s structure. Adding internal links to your site helps reduce the crawl depth (or the number of clicks it takes to reach a URL) for your content. 

In addition to reducing crawl depth, internal links are another way of grouping related pages on your site. If you have a blog post on a certain topic, it makes sense to add internal links to that post to any other pages on your site that discuss that topic.

Improve User-Experiences

UX and SEO are actually closely related. Higher quality content is more likely to keep users on your site longer. This can be an indication to Google that your site is worthy of ranking for a given keyword. Adding internal links to your site can make it easy for users to visit multiple pages on your site, which will help increase the average time users spend on your site.

Internal Linking Strategy Works Together with Your Content Strategy 

To truly crush your internal link optimization strategy, you need to have a range of pages and blog posts on your site to add those links to. If your goal is to get more organic traffic to your site, you need to focus on content strategy first, and then focus on building internal links into that strategy.

Internal Links Work How People Assume Backlinks Work

Internal links tell Google which pages to prioritize and which to ignore. The more internal links a given page has, the easier it will be for you to rank. The opposite is also true. The fewer internal links a page has, the harder it will be for that page to rank.

Google confirms in its Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide that internal links are a ranking signal that Google uses when crawling and indexing your content. 

How To Improve Your Internal Linking

1. Use Natural Links and Anchor Text

When adding internal links to your pages, it’s important to optimize your anchor text so your links have the maximum impact. You shouldn’t over-optimize your anchor text to the point that it hurts user experiences.

The anchor text should align with the target keyword of the page you’re linking to – and should make it clear to users what the page is about. Having vague or nondescript anchor text will make users less likely to click on your links.

2. Link to Deeper Pages

You can use internal links to deeper pages on your site to make them easier for users to find. For example, if you have a high value blog post on your site but it’s buried deep on your site people may not be able to easily find it. Adding internal links can keep users visiting your old content, and can also make it easier for search engines to crawl your site.

Adding internal links that go to your homepage doesn’t provide much value, because people can already find that page easily. Your homepage is likely already linked from your header and footer, so adding additional links to your content isn’t necessary.

3. Make Links Useful

Including useful links that people will actually be interested in will help maximize the impact of your links. If you’re able to strategically include links within your blog posts, for example, rather than people bouncing off your site – they will continue reading the next article. This will keep users on your site for longer and will give them more opportunities to convert to become customers.

4. Use Follow Links

When adding links to external sites, sometimes it can make sense to add ‘nofollow’ tags to those links. For internal links though, you should use ‘follow’ links. This allows you to pass on the “link juice” to the pages you’re linking to, and allows search engines to crawl those links. 

5. Don’t Use An Unreasonable Amount of Internal Links

All this being said, more internal links doesn’t necessarily mean that your site will be more SEO friendly. A page that has tons of internal links stuffed in won’t provide much value. Too many links could be distracting for users, make it difficult for search engines to know which pages to prioritize, and can make your site look spammy.

Another thing to consider is that adding too many links in your footer can have negative effects. If every page on your site has hundreds of links in the footer, it can cause your site to look spammy, and can even lead to Google penalizing your site.

How We’ve Used Internal Linking To Improve Tuff’s Organic Results

Over the past couple years at Tuff, we’ve placed a strong emphasis on growing our organic traffic. Internal link optimization has played a strong role in contributing to our organic growth, as we’ve continued to publish new content on the site.

We’ve Implemented a Pillar and Cluster Content Strategy

As we develop content strategies for our website, and for our partners, we spend a lot of time on keyword research. If we find a keyword that is especially relevant and high-value to our business and organic goals, we will create a landing page that specifically targets that keyword. That landing page is a “pillar page” – which provides in-depth coverage of the page’s topic, and includes links to more specific pages or blog posts on our site. 

These specific pages targeting more specific keyword variations are known as “cluster pages”. In addition to targeting more long-tail keywords, cluster pages also provide internal links back to our pillar page.

We Implemented a Site-Wide Footer

Part of our internal linking strategy was adding a footer to our site with links back to our key pages. We included links to our key landing pages that are valuable from an organic search perspective, and that are valuable for visitors to our site looking for specific services.

Example of Site Footer Structure from Tuff Site

Footer links are especially powerful because they show up on all the pages on our website. So adding a page link to the footer is a quick way to build hundreds of internal links quickly.

All of Our Blog Posts Include Internal Links to Our Existing Pages

We consistently publish new posts on the Tuff website, and every one of those blog posts includes internal links back to other pages on our site. 

For example, if we’re writing a blog post about growth marketing strategies, we’ll likely include links back to our Growth Marketing Agency landing page. Not only does this improve our site structure and make it easy for Google to crawl our site, it also helps our pillar pages rank for their target keyword.

SEO Doesn’t Have to Be a Mystery

Whether it’s technical SEO improvements, a strong on-page strategy, or marrying a good user experience with traffic-driving content, you don’t have to do it alone. If you’re stuck in the weeds with your content strategy and SEO work, let’s talk!

An Ecommerce Guide to Optimize Product Page SEO

With so many ecommerce companies using paid search ads, you might be thinking—does product page SEO really matter? The answer is yes.

Businesses need a holistic growth marketing strategy that combines SEO and paid search. It is not an either/or situation – and as an ecommerce growth agency, we incorporate both strategies for our partners. 

Paid search can help you grow fast and stay competitive. If your site is new, it can get you to the top of search results faster. However, you pay for every click that comes to your website. On the other hand, organic search provides sustainability and long-term growth. You don’t pay for clicks, and you could get traffic from SEO-optimized product pages and content years after it was first published. 

Here are just a few reasons why organic search is so important to ecommerce businesses.

 

What is product page SEO? 

A product page is a landing page on your website that provides all the product information that a customer needs to make an informed purchase. Great product pages don’t only provide product information–they are intentionally designed to entice visitors to buy. 

Product pages are transactional, meaning that most visitors are in the market to buy. However, that doesn’t mean that they will. If your product pages are not optimized for conversions or SEO, then they aren’t generating nearly as much revenue as they could. 

Product page SEO is the practice of optimizing product page descriptions, structure, content, and other elements to increase your visibility and overall organic search traffic. With SEO-optimized product pages, you can rank higher in search results and get more visitors to your site. 

How to optimize your product pages 

There are a lot of elements to consider when creating product pages–increasing conversions, providing shoppers with product details, creating the best user experience, and more. How does SEO fit in? 

SEO’s impact may not be obvious on the page, but it is a key part of why many ecommerce brands have been successful. To optimize your product page SEO, follow these tips. 

1. Include keywords in your product names and titles. 

What makes a good product page title? It should be descriptive, but also include keywords.

Keywords are the search terms that your potential customers are using when they search for products like yours. To determine if a query is a good keyword for you, conduct keyword research. 

Look for terms that have high monthly search volume and low keyword difficulty. For example, if someone is searching for “fanny pack”, the search volume looks like this: 

Now, the keyword difficulty, or competition to rank is fairly high, but it’s not impossible to rank. To really develop your keyword strategy, you’ll want to add variations and long-tail keywords.

  • A keyword variation might be a description like the available colors “pink fanny pack” or a synonym like “belt bag”.
  • Long-tail keywords are queries that have around 4 words or more. They are usually in the form of questions, but not always. Although they aren’t usually product page keywords, they are great for longer-form how-to or informational SEO content.

Now, once you have a list of keywords that are associated with your products, you can create SEO titles. 

If you search for “fanny pack” (and many other products), you’ll eventually see Amazon in the results. It’s because Amazon is using product page SEO best practices. Its product listings have specific requirements for titles. If you look at Amazon’s product naming guidelines, you may notice that they are designed for SEO. 

For instance, they must include a descriptive keyword, and they have title length limits. Amazon’s title length is 80 characters max, but we recommend under 60. 

Here’s an easy-to-use format for creating SEO-friendly product titles: 

  • Primary Keyword – Description (material, color, or size) – Brand Name

It’s also important to note that you may rank for product category pages with SEO, in addition to individual product pages. Category pages tend to have more general keywords (belt bags and fanny packs), whereas, product pages may be more specific (faux leather belt bag). 

2. Make sure your product URL structure is descriptive.

The URL structure of your product pages is more important than you may think. The URL appears at the top of the browser, and although, it may not be read by shoppers as much as your title, search engines are reading it. 

Good URL structure helps Google crawl and index your site. Bad URL structure can impact your organic search performance. Common URL issues for ecommerce sites are duplicate and non-descriptive text. 

Avoid URLs that look like this: 

https://company.com/skincare/collections/product/index.jsp?productId=1234567

It’s long. It includes a lot of numbers that are not descriptive. Plus, it’s missing keywords. Instead, opt for a URL like this: 

  • https://company.com/product/keyword

Cooking company Caraway does this beautifully. For instance, look at the product page for its fry pan

The keyword “fry pan” is right in the title and URL. Overall, the URL structure is short, descriptive, and SEO friendly. 

3. Use canonical tags to eliminate duplicate content.

Even if you have a consistent, keyword-rich product URL structure, there are common SEO issues that happen with every ecommerce site. This is because ecommerce sites may have many variations of the same product. 

For instance, you could have one product, but different sizes, materials, and colors. Each product variation creates a unique URL, even though the content on the page doesn’t change much. 

In addition, many ecommerce sites use breadcrumb navigation. The URL structure changes based on how you clicked through the site to eventually land on the product page. 

This creates duplicate content issues for ecommerce sites. To solve this, you’ll want to implement canonical tags. 

Canonical tags tell Google and other search engines that a specific URL is the master URL. 

By implementing rel=canonical tags, you let Google know that it’s not duplicate content.

4. Add unique product descriptions.

If you don’t have unique product descriptions, you’ll run into two major problems–duplicate content and likely, lower conversions. Product descriptions are written first for buyers, not bots. 

That said, a good product description for buyers should also be good for SEO. Here are some tips for writing product descriptions for SEO and conversions: 

  • Include the most important information above the fold. 
  • Highlight benefits, but provide a bulleted list of product features.
  • Include keywords in your product description.
  • Put yourself in your buyer’s shoes.
  • Make it skimmable–include icons and bulleted lists.
  • Eliminate empty words–every word should add meaning to the description.
  • Answer common questions–what is the product, what does it do, and why is it worth buying?

For an example of product page descriptions that work, look at Glossier. 

The product description for Glossier’s milky jelly cleanser includes all the important information (pricing, sizes, etc.) above the fold. It includes keywords like “conditioning face wash” and “gel face wash” throughout. It is also easy to read with short descriptions, product images, and bulleted lists. 

5. Add high-quality product images, but watch out for loading speed.

A fast loading speed is critical to ecommerce websites. Unbounce reports that 70% of shoppers say page speed influences their likelihood of buying from an online store. 

Page speed impacts the user experience, and it’s a ranking factor for search engine optimization. Ideally, your pages will load within one to two seconds. 

Many factors impact page loading speed, but the size of images is one of the easiest that you can control. The rule of thumb for images is to keep the size below 70 KB. 

If you are having a difficult time reducing the size without impacting quality, you can try a smaller image size. You can also change image formats. For example, a JPEG image usually has a much smaller file size than a PNG. 

6. Name image files with keywords and add alt text.

Speaking of product images, make sure that when you upload them, they are named descriptively using keywords. For example, instead of adding a product image that is titled “image1.png”, rename it with a descriptive keyword like “blue-fanny-pack.png”

Then, add alt text. This is descriptive text that appears for screen readers, and in case an image doesn’t load on your site. It’s not only important for SEO but for accessibility standards.

7. Embed product videos.

Video content can vastly improve your product page conversions. Combine it with SEO, and you can have more traffic and potential customers. 

Sometimes, the best way to describe how your product works is by showing how it works. Site visitors that watch a product video are 73% more likely to buy. Of course, the quality of the product video is important too. Some quick tips for product videos are: 

  • Keep it short–under 30 seconds.
  • Show how your product solves a problem. 
  • Bring the product to life–go beyond an image and show the product in action.

Another advantage of product videos for SEO is that, if they are set up with schema, they can appear in Google’s rich video snippets. (More on that below.)

8. Add schema markup to appear in rich results.

Google is continuously adding more search results features to help users discover products. Rich results, also called rich snippets, are Google search results that go beyond the basic text and blue link format. They can be image carousels, videos, or interactive elements. Common rich results for ecommerce companies are:

  • Product – (Popular Products)
  • Reviews – (Star ratings and customer reviews)

To appear in rich results, there are specific product page SEO requirements–mainly structured data or schema markup. You can test whether or not your product pages support rich snippets by adding the link to Google’s Rich Results Test.

9. Include social proof, most importantly reviews.

Out of all the elements on a product page, you can bet that people will read reviews no matter what. In fact, 93% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase. 

It is probably obvious by now that reviews influence a customer to buy a product. However, did you know that reviews also impact SEO? 

Reviews act as trust signals for customers and search engines. If you feature reviews from real customers on your site, you could be rewarded with a higher search engine ranking. 

Allbirds has some of the best product page reviews. For example, on the product page for its men’s wool running shoes, visitors can search inside reviews. It signals that Allbirds cares about customers’ experiences, and makes it easier for new customers to research. 

Visitors can sort and filter results to look for past buyers that have similar shoe sizes, widths, and more. 

10. Pair product pages with high-quality SEO content.

Product pages are instrumental to any ecommerce site. However, they are designed for people that already have some idea of what they want. In other words, visitors may be in the consideration or conversion stage of the customer funnel already. But, what if a purchase requires a little more education? What if a customer is familiar with a product, but isn’t sure what size or other features they need? 

High-quality SEO content like how-to blogs can help educate consumers about your products in ways that product pages can’t. 

Take REI for example. The outdoor gear and clothing store is taking a holistic approach to its marketing. You can tell because they appear on the first page of results in paid search, organic results, and rich snippets for highly relevant keywords. It doesn’t cannibalize keywords because each result is different. For example, there are local searches for retail locations and keyword-based results. 

In addition, when you search for “sleeping bags”, REI appears in Google’s Popular Products as well as general search results. 

Now, in addition to optimizing its product pages for SEO, REI is optimizing content. Using sleeping bags as an example, a question that people searching for sleeping bags often have is what temperature rating do you need? 

Temperature ratings are a sleeping bag product feature that new buyers may not be familiar with, so it’s worth educating them through long-form SEO content. In fact, REI does just that. Looking at this blog on How to Choose a Sleeping Bag, you’ll see one of the first sections is “Understanding Sleeping Bag Temperature Ratings”.

 

REI is currently ranking for the keyword “sleeping bag temperature ratings”, as well as other sleeping bag-related queries.

Of course, much more goes into optimizing product pages for ecommerce. It’s a good idea to A/B test changes to a product page to see how it impacts conversions. Fixing technical product page SEO issues can be much more complex too. Features like adding structured schema can take a lot of time and attention to detail. These tips can set you on the right path, but if you want to dive deeper, you may want to seek an ecommerce growth agency with experience in product page SEO to get additional expertise. 

SEO Strategy Overview

How to Develop an Effective Ecommerce SEO Strategy in 2022

SEO Strategy Overview

It’s 2022, and the world has changed. 

Some things haven’t—like the fact that the number of active internet users worldwide is rapidly growing towards 5 billion and that 30% of global web usage comes from people using search engines to find something they want or need. 

But other things have—most notably, how those searches are made, have.

With a market that becomes more competitive every day, you need to have a solid SEO strategy to ensure your eCommerce store can stay afloat. But with so many different approaches and techniques out there, how can you decide which is best for your business?

The good news is that although eCommerce SEO can be challenging, it’s not impossible, and as an eCommerce growth agency, we’ve learned a few things that can be helpful for you. Here are some significant steps to help you get started with your eCommerce SEO strategy today.

When building your SEO strategy, you always want to begin with either keyword research or technical SEO. In this case, we’ll begin with keyword research. 

Keyword research

Keyword research is the most fundamental step in any SEO strategy. To start, you’ll want to use a tool like SEMrush to find out which keywords you should be targeting. You probably already have  a few in mind but by researching your top-performing keywords and pages, you will get insights into which keywords are performing well and it will help you narrow down your list of keywords to the 5-10 most important keywords. 

When doing keyword research, you’ll want to look at the monthly organic traffic of non-branded search terms, the keyword difficulty, and the searcher intent first. 

These metrics will help you narrow down to your 5-10 most critical target keywords for your eCommerce store. These are the ones that: 

  • have a high search volume, but aren’t too broad
  • are relevant to your business – look at the search results
  • have low competition (low keyword difficulty, first page results have low domain authority). 

Doing a quick Google search is the quickest way to determine searcher intent for a keyword. If the top-10 results are unrelated to your business, even though you think the keyword is a great fit, then it’s not a keyword that you want to spend time trying to rank for. 

Note that for eCommerce sites, transactional queries tend to be more critical than informational ones because they drive a higher conversion rate and should be weighted when comparing keywords.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO is the foundational building block of SEO and should be the first step in any eCommerce SEO strategy.

It entails:

  • Running an SEO audit of your existing website;
  • Creating a plan to fix any technical issues, and 
  • Implementing technical SEO fixes before adding additional content to your website. 

The last thing an eCommerce agency wants to do is invest resources into content creation to find out the site isn’t even crawlable or has major accessibility issues that kill the user experience.

Another technical SEO implementation to be aware of for eCommerce websites is making sure you’re adding structured data schema to your product pages. By adding the appropriate structured data to your product pages, you can display your price, ratings, and product image directly in Google’s SERP and increase your CTR.

If you spend time now making sure your site is healthy from an SEO standpoint, it will be easier (and cheaper) to make on-page SEO changes as needed in the future.

Example of structured data on SERP

Optimize Site architecture

Ecommerce site architecture will help your users find the information they need while also helping Google find and index your pages.

Look at your navigation structure and make sure it makes sense. Do all categories, subcategories, and products have a logical flow? Will you be adding pages in the future and will they fit into the existing site structure?

To optimize your site architecture:

  • Ensure your categories are easy to navigate and link to the correct pages.
  • Avoid duplicate content
  • Make sure breadcrumbs are in place – breadcrumbs (a navigational feature showing the user’s location within a website)  help users navigate your site, especially if they get lost along the way.
  • Use SEO-optimized page titles – Page titles are like a newspaper headline; they tell the reader (and Google) what the page is about. 
  • Create internal links between relevant categories, products, and landing pages.
  • Focus on user experience by adding necessary filters, tags, or search bars to help users navigate through your website easier. 

 

On-page SEO

If you don’t have the right on-page SEO strategies in place, the chances of your products or services ranking highly in search results are less likely.

Keyword Mapping

The first step of on-page SEO is keyword mapping, making sure each page has a unique target keyword and that the target keyword is relevant. Learn how keyword mapping helped us increase Salam’s organic traffic by 117% in 90 days.

One of the first things to look for during keyword mapping, if you haven’t already during technical SEO, is to find pages that shouldn’t be indexed in Google. It’s important that you’re only indexing pages that have an SEO value to them and benefit your users. 

You can build a keyword mapping spreadsheet by crawling your website with ScreamingFrog and exporting all data to a spreadsheet. From there, you can either determine the target keyword of each URL by analyzing the data in the URL and title or you can export all target keywords from Yoast if you’re using Yoast Premium on WordPress. 

Example of keyword mapping

Once you have a unique target keyword for each page then ensure they are included in the title tag, meta description, and H1 tag of that page. 

Once you’ve done this, it’s essential to optimize your product pages by adding internal links from other pages within your site that contain relevant content. 

Ecommerce SEO Content

A specific eCommerce SEO strategy is adding SEO-optimized content at the bottom of all of your product listing pages. This is a strategy that is widely used by the eCommerce behemoths and has worked very well for our clients. By adding this content at the bottom of your page, it doesn’t interfere with the user experience, helps improve page ranking, and provides useful information for your customers. 

SEO content example for Renogy

Internal linking

Internal linking helps users navigate and find more relevant content on your site while also helping search engines figure out what pages are most important.

Here are some best practices for internal linking:

  • Start with a sitemap. The first step to effective internal linking is creating a sitemap that lists all the essential pages of your website. This is not only good for internal linking but also for crawlability. 
  • Always display “Products You May Like” or something similar on the individual product pages to help improve internal linking and user experience.
  • Make sure every page has at least 2 or 3 internal links pointing to it. This ensures that every page on your site gets some love from Google and visitors alike.
  • Link only relevant pages together. Don’t link one article to another just because you want to link to it somewhere—make sure it’s relevant or valuable to the person reading the content.
  • Use SEO-optimized anchor text when linking pages.

 

Focus on high-converting and high-ticket items

As a general rule, high-search-volume keywords will be more competitive. You can still rank for them, but it’ll take more effort and resources than ranking for low-volume keywords.

The problem with this scenario is that you’re focusing on eCommerce SEO without defining the problem you’re trying to solve beforehand. 

Instead of optimizing for high-volume search terms because someone told you to, defining goals and KPIs is much more effective before beginning an eCommerce SEO strategy. This is something that you will decide when you’re doing your keyword research and narrowing down on your 5-10 most important keywords. 

Determining which specific products generate the highest revenue makes it easier to pinpoint the most valuable pages on your store. 

It is recommended to look at monthly revenue per product if you have hundreds or thousands of products. If you have fewer than 100 products, you could look at quarterly or annual data instead.

If you have low-performing pages that are ranking well, try to find other ways to take advantage of that traffic by adding related products to the page. 

Conversion Rate Optimization

Every extra conversion you make increases your revenue, which means that CRO has a real and direct impact on your company’s bottom line.

eCommerce marketers optimize for CRO in parallel with SEO to provide a seamless experience for your customers from landing on your website, reading your content, and taking that desired action.

It’s all about understanding how users behave on your website and making changes to improve that behavior. And, it’s not just about improving conversion rates; You can also use CRO techniques to reduce bounce rates, increase time on page and enhance visitor engagement.

The main aim of CRO is to create an experience for your customers that will encourage them to complete their purchase or other desired action on your website. 

Conclusion

There you have it—a fully-formed eCommerce SEO strategy that you can use to tackle the rest of 2022 and beyond. You’ve got the tools and the knowledge, and now you just need to get started.

When it comes to developing a successful eCommerce SEO strategy, the key is to understand your customers and what they’re looking for. 

If you can consistently provide the best products and answers to your customers’ questions, you’ll be able to build a strong eCommerce business over time.

How UX and SEO Can Work Together to Increase Organic Traffic

You can have a website that is 100% optimized for search engine ranking, but what if that comes at the expense of your site’s user experience? Well, you could actually be holding yourself back from ranking for your target keywords.

Tuff’s SEO team works with our UX designers to publish SEO-friendly landing pages with great user experiences. This collaboration has boosted our SEO team’s results for Tuff’s clients. So what is the link between user-experience (UX) and search engine optimization (SEO)?

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization (SEO) involves making it easier for people to find your business online. You can achieve this by making changes to your website to make it easier for search engines to understand your content. You’ll also need to upload new pages and content to your site to answer people’s questions. And finally, drive traffic back to your site through links and mentions from other sites.

What is UX?

User-experience (UX is how people interact with and experience a product, website or software tool. For websites, it encompasses how users navigate the site, how quickly they find what they’re looking for, and how intuitive the design is on the page.

Is SEO a part of UX?

SEO focuses on aligning your content with the questions people are searching for on Google. After someone clicks on your webpage in the search results, it’s important to make it easy for them to find the answers to their questions. Having a good UX design for your landing pages and blog posts will make it easier for visitors to find what they’re looking for.

There is no reason why you can’t optimize your site from a UX and SEO perspective at the same time. In fact, working to align your SEO and UX efforts can actually boost your results in both areas.

Your SEO efforts will drive traffic to your site, while UX will make sure the information on your site is easy to find.

SEO content that is written only for search engines will be hard to read and not very useful. A website that isn’t designed for PEOPLE will be difficult to navigate and understand.

Why is UX Important for SEO?

UX and SEO Are Both About Making Your Users Happy 😃

The goal of SEO is to bring users to your site to give them the information they are searching for. The goal of UX is to make it easy to navigate the page on your site to find that information. One important aspect of SEO is looking at user-intent and aligning your content with that desire or motivation. Improving the UX design on a page can help meet that user intent faster.

Making your website search engine-friendly is key for driving organic traffic. However, if you want to maximize the impact and reach of your content, user-experience is just as important.

UX Makes Your Website Sticky

A good user-experience will keep people on your website for longer. This can encourage them to visit more pages on your website and can even make the call-to-actions on your site more enticing. 

Optimizing your site’s user experience can make it easier for your visitors to navigate to other pages on your site that interest them. This helps increase the time that visitors spend engaging with your content.

Good User Experience is a Ranking Signal for Google

Google says that “when ranking results, Google Search evaluates whether webpages are easy to use and promotes more usable pages over less usable ones, all other things being equal.”

Google’s RankBrain algorithm looks at “behavior metrics such as the site’s bounce rate, organic CTR, pages per session, and dwell time.” In addition to looking at the quality and structure of your website, it’s also important to look at your site’s user-experience to give your content the best chance of ranking in Google Search.

UX Impacts How People Perceive Your Brand

Your website’s user experience (UX) is partly driven by search engine optimization (SEO). The two work together in the sense that both affect how users perceive your site.

The most prominent component of your website’s UX is, of course, your content. If you want to write SEO-friendly content, you need to make sure that your writing is structured well and easy to understand. If people view your site as a trustworthy source of information they will be more likely to return to your site, or do business with you.

On the other hand, if you write content that reads like it was written for search engines, your users will find it difficult to read and not very useful. This could turn them away from your site and lead to them doing business somewhere else.

UX Helps Improve Your Conversion Rate

While SEO focuses on bringing users to your site, UX focuses on how to best keep those users on your site and how to increase the conversions you get from that traffic. By placing CTAs throughout your pages and by making your site easier to navigate, UX designers can play a key role in conversion rate optimization.

6 Steps to Improve Your Site’s UX and SEO

  • Make your site responsive: This improves user experiences for visitors on mobile devices like phones and tablets. Google predominantly uses mobile versions of content for indexing and ranking, even if your visitors are exclusively on desktop.
  • Break up your content: Use headers, bulleted lists, and graphics to break your content into smaller, easier to read pieces. Avoid large chunks of text, which can cause users to look for the answers to their questions elsewhere. This will keep visitors on your site longer, which can be a strong signal for Google that your content is valuable.
  • Improve your site speed and page load times: When your site loads quickly, visitors won’t have to wait around for your content to load. This allows them to jump right into your content rather than potentially clicking the back button.
  • Make your site easy to navigate: Once users land on your site, it should be easy for them to navigate through your content to find what they are looking for. If you have other pages that they might also be interested in, you should make it easy for them to find those pages as well.
  • Minimize your bounce rate: A high bounce rate indicates that users can’t quickly find the information they are looking for, or they are running into another issue that is causing them to leave your site immediately after arriving. Improving your pages’ UX can help decrease your bounce rate.
  • Improve your site’s hierarchy: By organizing your pages on your site in an intuitive way, you make it easier for users to navigate through your site. The navigation on your site guides users from one page to another, so making this as intuitive as possible will improve user experiences.

Do UX Designers Need to Know SEO?

Not necessarily, but it’s certainly a valuable skill for anyone to have when making changes to your website. If the UX designer isn’t knowledgeable of SEO principles, they can still work alongside an SEO specialist to make sure that their changes are having the intended impact on your site, and that your site is search engine-friendly.

What are Best Practices for UX and SEO?

A strong user experience and search engine optimization are two of the most important aspects of managing a website.

Users and search engines alike benefit from the following practices: 

  • Make your content easier to digest by breaking it down into smaller sections
  • Use bullet points and numbered lists
  • Use more images and illustrations to communicate your message
  • Write content that aligns with your users’ intent
  • Test your pages on different devices (desktop and mobile) and different browsers
  • Minimize your CSS and JavaScript
  • Make your site load quickly
  • Publish content that is user-centered and easy to read

Integrate Your UX and SEO Practices

Rather than publishing SEO landing pages on your site and then trying to go back through them and optimize them from a UX perspective, you should try to implement UX best practices at all stages of the development process.

If your UX and SEO teams can collaborate and exchange constant feedback, you’ll end up with a much better end product.

Conduct a UX/SEO Audit to Find Opportunities to Improve Your User Metrics

  • Look at time-on-site metrics like average session duration or bounce rate. Pages on your site with a low average session duration or high bounce rate, could likely benefit from a UX redesign or content update.
  • Monitor your site for broken links or slow loading pages. Slow loading pages and broken links are frustrating for the people visiting your site. Redirect or replace your broken links and speed up your page load times to improve your user experience.
  • Check for pages with low conversion rates. If certain pages on your site are getting a lot of traffic but aren’t driving conversions, you may need to adjust the CTAs on the page to make them more relevant.

Here’s how our SEO and UX teams go about developing new content for our clients:

  • We identify a need for a certain page on the website. This typically comes from keyword research, if we notice that a relevant term for their business has a high search volume or is especially valuable for our client.
  • Our SEO team creates an outline for the page and works with our writers to source the copy. The outline is where we determine the direction and the structure of the page. We then make sure that the copy is clearly written and aligns with our target keyword and search intent.
  • The SEO team formats the brief and hands it off to our UX team. When providing our UX designers with the copy for a landing page, our SEO team formats it in a way that makes it easy to understand the structure of the page, and the important sections that need to be included.
  • The UX designers create mock-ups of the new landing page. Our UX team creates wireframes and mockups in tools like Figma or Adobe XD, for the client to approve. This step makes sure that the new pages are optimized from a UX and CRO perspective.
  • We present the designs and walk the client through the mockups. After putting together the mockups, we share them with our clients to walk them through the new content and give them a chance to provide any feedback.
  • Then, we hand off the mockups to the developer to implement and push live. Once we’ve received approval, we give the mockups to the developer to implement on the site.
  • The last step is to make sure the page was implemented properly and optimized. We make sure the focus keyword, meta description and other SEO data are set correctly and that the page doesn’t have any bugs or broken links.

How We’ve Combined UX and SEO for Tuff’s Clients

For new landing pages on our clients’ websites, our SEO team works closely with our UX team to produce landing pages that are optimized from both an SEO and UX perspective.

Landing Page for Visory’s Bookkeeping Service

Tuff worked with Visory, an online bookkeeping service, to create landing pages around bookkeeping for specific industries. Our SEO and UX teams collaborated to create pages that were optimized both for ranking on Google and for providing great user experiences.

Homepage example for Visory

This landing page, for example, is targeting keywords related to “bookkeeping for eCommerce”. We looked at the top ranking pages for our target keyword and identified what we needed to include on our page to match the search intent for our target keyword.

Our UX team also considered how we could make this page intuitive to navigate and easy to read. We also looked at how we could make the calls to action (CTAs) more enticing for users to click on, to optimize the page’s conversion rate.

Footer Navigation for Salams

Tuff worked with Salams, a Muslim dating app, to increase organic traffic to their website and to drive organic app installs. We were able to increase organic traffic by 117% in 90 days by publishing new content on their site and making technical SEO optimizations.

Beyond just publishing this new content, we also redesigned the footer on the Salams website to improve both SEO and UX.

Salams footer example

As we started publishing new landing pages, we noticed that many of these new pages were “orphan pages” and weren’t linked to from other pages on the site. Our solution was to add these new pages to the footer so that they would be linked to from every page on the site. This helps show Google that this content is important and is worthy of ranking.

This also helped improve the UX on the Salam’s site. By having these pages linked in the footer, users can easily navigate to other pages that they might be interested in on the site. This helps keep people browsing on the site rather than clicking the back button and looking for more information elsewhere.

building a growth marketing strategy for a business on a computer

Little-Known Ways to Leverage SEMrush

At Tuff, we use SEMrush every day. If you aren’t familiar with SEMrush, it is a powerful tool to conduct marketing research. 

You can run technical SEO audits, keyword research, competitive analysis, and much more. 

With SEMrush, you get a lot of data at your fingertips. However, the challenge with comprehensive tools like SEMrush is figuring out how to use them effectively. 

How can you leverage SEMrush to get better marketing results? Sit tight, and read on. 

  1. Identify your search competitors.
  2. Compare your competitors’ traffic (and where it comes from). 
  3. See how much competitors spend on paid traffic.
  4. Prioritize keyword opportunities with the Keyword Gap Tool and filters.
  5. Outline content with the SEO Content Template. 
  6. Track keyword movement.
  7. View your share of search. 
  8. Get SEO ideas from the On-Page SEO Checker.

1. Identify your search competitors.

Each company has market competitors and search competitors. Market competitors are the companies you directly compete with–you have similar target audiences and products. Some examples of market competitors are: 

  • Samsung and Apple 
  • Peloton and NordicTrack
  • Nike and Adidas
  • McDonald’s and Burger King

Search competitors, also known as organic competitors, are the sites that show up in search results for the same queries or keywords that you are targeting. 

For instance, if you are a company selling indoor house plants online, you might be trying to rank for queries like “indoor succulents”. When you search “indoor succulents”, you will be competing against blogs about plant care as well as direct competitors. 

Sometimes the two buckets overlap, but not always. When we do a competitive analysis, we look at both. 

Here’s how to find your search competitors in SEMrush: 

  • Go to Organic Research, add your site, and search by Root Domain. 
  • Click on the Competitor tab inside organic research to see your results. 

You’ll see a graph called “competitive positioning map”. This shows your top five search competitors based on your current content rankings. You can also see a full list of organic competitors. Note that your market competitors might also be search competitors, but again, not always. 

For fun, let’s see what a competitive positioning map looks like if we use Webflow as an example. 

looking at competitors in semrush

As a website builder, Webflow has a lot of market competitors like WordPress, Shopify, and Squarespace, but currently, Wix is their biggest search competitor. 

Once you have a clear picture of who you are competing with, you can learn how to beat them–with a little help from SEMrush. 

2. Compare your competitors’ traffic (and where it comes from). 

The amount of competitive data that you can pull from SEMrush goes beyond just identifying competitors. In fact, you can learn exactly what marketing strategies competitors use to get traffic within SEMrush. 

Take your top competitors–these can be a combination of search and market competitors–and compare them. 

Here’s how:

  1. Go to SEMrush’s Domain Overview and enter your site domain. 
  2. Click on Compare Domains and add up to four competitors. 
  3. Hit compare.

Let’s take the house plants example that we used earlier. If we use The Sill as an example,  SEMrush will generate a competitive report that looks like this: 

reviewing search competitors in semrush

There’s a lot in this table, but for our purposes, we’re going to look at these columns: 

  • Organic traffic – how much traffic comes from organic search monthly
  • Organic keywords – how many keywords a site ranks for 
  • Paid traffic – the average monthly spend on paid traffic 

As you can see, The Sill is beating Bloomscape and Urbanstems at organic search. Over 1.3 million in traffic each month comes from organic search alone. 

If you look at the non-branded/branded section, you can also get a sense of where that traffic is coming from. 

With this, you can view the percent of non-branded and branded traffic. If a company has significantly more branded traffic than non-branded, it usually signals that most of their organic traffic is direct, meaning it comes from people that already knew the company. They likely don’t have a strong SEO content strategy yet.

3. See how much competitors spend on paid traffic. 

As a holistic growth marketing agency, we know that some of the best and most sustainable results happen when paid and organic marketing efforts work together. 

If a company only focuses on paid traffic, it could end up spending a lot on short-term wins and miss out on the long-term growth opportunities from SEO. Knowing how much your competitors spend on paid can help you determine your own ad budgets, but it can also tell you why competitors are beating you. 

For example, Urbanstems has a large ad budget ($460K+ according to SEMrush), but lower organic traffic than The Sill. On the other hand, the majority of The Sill’s traffic is from organic search, and they are able to have lower ad costs in comparison ($35K). 

4. Prioritize keyword opportunities with the Keyword Gap Tool and filters. 

There are many ways to conduct keyword research. One way to get started is to learn from your competitors. 

The idea isn’t that you should copy your competitors. Rather, by knowing what keywords your competitors rank for, you can identify your strengths and weaknesses. This will help you to identify growth opportunities for keywords and content. 

Here’s how: 

  • Go to the Keyword Gap tool. 
  • Enter your domain and your top competitor. You can technically enter up to four competitors, but we recommend one at a time.

You’ll see a report like this one. 

how to use semrush to find keyword opportunities

As you can see, there are thousands of keyword results. If you’re just starting out, it can be hard to identify which opportunities you should prioritize first. 

Here’s an insider tip for using SEMrush: filters are your friend. These are some of my favorite filters to use to help prioritize keyword research: 

  • Position – Go to the position filter dropdown and competitor domain. Then, depending on the number of results you have, filter by top 10 or top 20. 

This tells you that you or your competitors rank in the top 10 or 20 search results. These are usually the most relevant terms for your business, and the top traffic drivers.

  • KD – In the SEO world, we look for keywords that hit the sweet spot of high search volume and low difficulty to rank (keyword difficulty or KD). Most companies will want to stay below 70 keyword difficulty. 

To filter this, go to the KD and set a custom range between 0 to 70. 

  • Intent – Great SEO content has the potential to also lead to conversions. The key is figuring out which queries are high-intent. 

High-intent keywords are my personal favorite because when someone searches for them, it is a strong indicator that they are looking to buy. If you can rank for high intent keywords, you could bring in more organic conversions

To filter in SEMrush, go to Intent and choose commercial.

Now, with the Keyword Gap and some filtering, you’ll have a solid list of keywords that you can prioritize even further based on relevancy for your business. 

5. Outline content with the SEO Content Template. 

Once you have identified a target keyword for a piece of content, then drop it into the SEO Content Template. Choose the country, region, or city that you are targeting, and hit create SEO Template. 

This tool helps you structure SEO content so that it performs better. For example, a fintech company might be trying to rank for a keyword like “best starter credit card“. When you put the keyword into the SEO Content Template, it will generate a template like this one. 

SEMrush seo content template

We can use this to start a SEO outline, but we don’t want everything here. These are the most important sections to get you started: 

  • Semantically related keywords – Copy and paste the semantically related keywords. These are the words that the top-ranking results use when talking about “best starter credit card”.

Your target keyword is the priority, but try incorporating these words throughout your content at least once to outrank the existing search competitors.

  • Text length – This indicates about how many words you will need to write. For this one, the suggested word count is over 4,000, which is pretty lengthy. With a length like that, this post is likely going to be pillar content.  
  • Competitors – To beat your search competitors, the quality of the content you create has to be greater than their content. Inside the SEO Content Template, you can see the top organic results and how they use your keyword to structure content.

6. Track keyword movement.

SEMrush also makes it easier to track your keyword movement with the Position Tracking tool, but there’s much more to it than that. 

To use position tracking, you first must set up a Project in SEMrush. You can do this by going to Projects, clicking the Create Project button, and entering your website details. 

Now, you can go to the position tracking tool. Here’s how: 

  • Select your project, and hit set up. 
  • Set your targeting parameters. You can set the search engine, device, location, and language.
  • Add your keywords. You can copy and paste them in or import a file of your target keywords list. 
  • Click Start Tracking and SEMrush will gather the data. 

SEMrush’s position tracking is powerful because you can track: 

  • Visibility – This score shows the percent of visibility, or what percent of your keywords appear in the top 100 results in Google. 
  • Positive and negative movement – See what positions you have gained and which you’ve lost by looking at positive and negative impact. Your wins will be in green up arrows and losses are red down arrows. 

Maintaining a top position once you’ve moved up in search results can be a challenge. Position tracking gives you real-time keyword monitoring, so you can identify a drop in position and refresh content when you need to. 

7. View your share of search. 

There are many ways that you can view competitors inside Position Tracking. If you have a business plan, you can track your share of voice, also called share of search.

Share of voice measures brand awareness by comparing how many mentions your brand has in a channel compared to your industry competitors. It usually is used for branded terms, but SEMrush can measure it by all keywords in search, non-branded and branded.

The Share of Voice feature counts the ratio of organic traffic that all of your keywords get from search. Then, it compares that to your organic competitors’ share of search inside a line graph. 

With it, you get a clear picture of the competitive landscape. You can see which brands are dominating organic search, and how you stack up against them. 

8. Get SEO ideas from the On-Page SEO Checker.

Last but not least, if you are still searching for opportunities to improve your SEO, SEMrush’s On Page SEO Checker can help. 

It compiles many different on-page SEO elements from title tags and meta descriptions to readability and even some technical SEO and off-page SEO items like backlinks into one dashboard. 

Here’s what it looks like in SEMrush. 

on page SEO checker in semrush

It breaks the information down into individual landing pages, so you can click on the ideas and see exact recommendations for content, backlinks, technical SEO, and user experience. 

However, to view user experience ideas, you have to connect SEMrush to Google Analytics. 

Like any tool, SEMrush can be used to make smarter decisions but it can’t implement the suggested fixes. It can also take some time to learn how to best leverage SEMrush to level up your SEO strategy. These tips can help you get started. 

A person reviewing data on google search console

How to Increase Your Organic Traffic by 117% in 90 Days: The Inside Story of Salam’s SEO Strategy

A person reviewing data on google search console

When it comes to driving traffic and revenue from organic search, it’s typically a long-term solution and not a quick fix. Organic traffic, in general, is high-quality, intent-driven with higher conversion rates than direct or paid, making it incredibly valuable to almost any acquisition strategy. It’s why, even though it can take longer than a Facebook campaign or YouTube ad, as a growth marketing agency, we almost always recommend it as a core growth tactic.  

In October of 2021, Salams reached out to Tuff, asking our team to run a quick SEO audit and see what the organic growth potential was like for their market. Salams is an online dating app for Muslims that dominates the US market and is growing in the UK and other countries. Their growth, to date, has primarily relied on mobile install campaigns, meaning their website had very little content and their SEO strategy had never been a focal point for growth. 

After working on an organic acquisition strategy with Salams in November and then implementing SEO tactics in December and January, the results were staggering and immediate. Here’s the data from the last three months compared to the previous three months: 

  • Impressions are up 130% 
  • Organic traffic is up 117%

google search console results

And when it comes to keyword movement, here’s what we are looking at today: 

  • From #12 to #1 for Muslim dating (Our #1 target keyword)
  • NEW: Ranking #2 for Muslim man
  • From #68 to #1 for Muslim dating rules
  • NEW: Ranking #2 for walima
  • NEW: Ranking #1 for dating a Muslim girl
  • NEW: Ranking #1 for dating a Muslim man
  • From #20 to #4 for Muslim dating site
  • From #35 to #1 for dating a Muslim
  • NEW: Ranking #1 for Islam dating rules
  • NEW: Ranking #1 for dating a Muslim guy
  • NEW: Ranking #3 for what is Nikah

In this blog post, we’re going to outline the steps we took to get these results and explain how you can replicate this strategy. While your results will vary depending on the competition, search volume, your existing traction, and the search landscape, there are elements of this process that can be applied to drive organic traffic and revenue for almost any business. 

  1. Start with foundational research and let this inform your strategy 
  2. Fix any and all technical SEO issues 
  3. Identify your list of focus keywords in a spreadsheet 
  4. Leverage on-page SEO to optimize all current pages for target keywords
  5. Use your focus keywords to build an SEO content plan that includes blog posts, landing pages, programmatic efforts, and onsite remediation 
  6. Publish new content that maps back to your focus keywords 
  7. Ensure all SEO updates are amplified with strong UX 

Foundational Research 

First things first, you have to know where you are starting from and what the search landscape is for your market. This will help you set realistic organic growth projections, as well as outline the right strategy to get there. 

For Salams, we wanted to answer two questions with our foundational research: 

  • Are people searching for a Muslim dating app? 
  • If so, how do we make sure Salams shows up when they are searching so we can capture that demand and grow our organic traffic and revenue? 

In order to understand the answer to the above, we conducted initial foundational research in three ways: 

  • We ran a technical SEO audit using SEMRush (What’s the foundation like now?) 
  • We audited the primary search competitors (Who is the big player and can we compete?) 
  • We reviewed Salam’s existing rankings and current performance (Where are we starting from and how far do we need to go?) 

The combination of the information and data above, helped us identify where the biggest opportunities were, how competitive the space was going to be, and what realistic organic traffic and revenue predictions could look like for Salams. If you’re going to invest time and resources into something, you want to know how it might impact your growth so you can prioritize it accordingly. 

Technical SEO Fixes 

When we ran our SEO audit, the Salams site had the issues and warnings found below, with an overall site health ranking of 75%. 

Errors

  • 52 issues with duplicate title tags
  • 8 pages had duplicate content issues
  • 2 pages had duplicate meta descriptions
  • 1 pages returned a 4XX status code

Warnings

  • 63 pages had no hreflang and lang attributes
  • 63 issues with unminified JavaScript and CSS files
  • 59 pages didn’t have meta descriptions
  • 56 pages didn’t have enough text within the title tags
  • 53 external links were broken
  • 17 pages had low text-HTML ratio
  • 15 pages had a low word count
  • 5 links on HTTPS pages led to HTTP page
  • 5 pages didn’t have an h1 heading

technical seo audit in SEMrush

Technical SEO is often the “tiebreaker” for sites aiming for Google’s first page so the first thing we did in October was fix as many of these 63 errors as possible. Implementing technical SEO basics is essential if you want to ensure that your web pages are structured for both humans and crawlers – and is something you need to fix before producing more content. 

Focus Keyword List 

Once the technical SEO audit was done and the issues were fixed (site health increased to 96%), we built a focus keyword list –  these were terms we wanted to rank for because they were relevant to Salams and would bring us more quality organic traffic. For Salams, we identified 15 focus keywords using the below criteria: 

  • Does it get enough search volume while still being relevant and intent-driven? You don’t want to pick a search term that only gets 10 searches a month because the volume isn’t large enough to have an impact. You also don’t want to pick a search term with a million searches a month either, because it’s likely so generic that even if you could rank for it, you’d get a bunch of low-quality traffic. For Salams, the average search volume for our keyword list was 1,238 search per month per term. 
  • What’s the competition like? We reviewed the competition on each search term we were evaluating. We wanted to know how likely we could rank for that term if we focused on it for 1-3 months. You should know, the more competition, the harder it is going to be – but it’s likely competitive because it’s a lucrative term. For Salams, we wanted a mix. We wanted search terms that we had an actual chance of ranking for that were also relevant to the business. 
  • Is it relevant for the audience? There is no point in ranking for a search term your audience isn’t actively searching for. 
  • Are there any pages that are currently ranking for that search term? This helped us understand if we could gain traction more quickly for terms that we were already ranking for but just weren’t on page one yet. We wanted to know where we stood and if there were any we could give a quick “boost” to. We wanted to move from page 2 to page 1 in a shorter amount of time than it would have taken to get something that wasn’t ranking at all yet, to rank. For example, Salams was ranking on page two already for “Muslim dating” — a key search term. We knew that if we focused on this term initially, it would be easier to get it on page one than a term that wasn’t ranking at all. 

On-page SEO

After analyzing the existing content on Salams’ website, we built a keyword mapping spreadsheet to tie every single page to a target keyword and sift out pages that should be removed from SERPs. 

Salams had several pages indexed in Google that didn’t provide an optimal user experience for organic visitors if they landed on that page.  A few of these pages were their Privacy Policy and T&C pages as well as their blog category pages. You should understand that Google considers a blog category page a SERP and a poor user experience so it’s best to no-index those pages. 

After no-indexing several pages, we mapped every landing page and blog post to a target keyword and then optimized the SEO title and meta description to perform for that target keyword. 

We also noticed that Salams broke up a few of their blog posts into multiple and different URLs. We combined them into more lengthy blog posts to give us a better chance of ranking.  

SEO Content Plan 

Using our focus keyword list, we put together a comprehensive SEO content strategy. Too often, companies produce content (and a lot of it) but never see any significant traction because their strategy doesn’t map back to a list of focus keywords.  When you have a focus keyword list, you can cluster your content and keep it focused on ranking for a select set of terms, increasing your chances of ranking more quickly. 

For this SEO Content plan, we had three core components: 

  • Programmatic pages: These were local-specific pages we could replicate at scale for very specific keywords like “Muslim dating Chicago” or “Muslim dating Houston”. We published 18 different pages on Webflow in the first 30 days and anchored each one to the footer. 
  • Glossary/terms pages: We created landing pages with rich content that focused exclusively on a focus keyword and topic. These were more in-depth than a blog post and typically 2x the length. 

SEO + UX 

SEO design example

In addition to writing new SEO content and optimizing existing pages and content, SEO design played a big role in helping us achieve our results and actually execute on the strategy. For this partnership, we tapped the Tuff creative team to help us mockup and execute SEO landing pages, footer optimizations, and category pages. When doing this for your own company, it’s important to remember that not only do you need copy that is relevant, high-quality, and focused on a select group of keywords, but you also need the user experience to deliver. 

Here are some examples of how we took SEO content and then leveraged strong UX design for the actual implementation: 

We have to admit that there was a time when we thought SEO was all about keywords and link building. Even though these are core components to any organic strategy, SEO goes far beyond them and definitely includes User Experience. It’s now very common for our SEO and Design teams to work closely together to make the site website architecture more streamlined and to elevate the overall user experience with design. 

Disclaimer: 

These results happened FAST – this isn’t often the case with organic acquisition. 

While we’re proud of Salams’ results and the contribution organic traffic is now having in the overall traffic mix, I can’t say the timeline is typical or repeatable for more websites. Organic acquisition is a long-term, compounding solution (6-9 months), not a quick fix. Salams had a trusted brand and a strong reputation. Even though they weren’t optimizing the website or prioritizing organic growth before engaging Tuff, they had a credible brand that Google (and people!) trusted. This existing reputation was definitely a factor that allowed these results to surface so quickly. 

Whether it takes a few months or a full year, you’ll find the Tuff team invested in organic growth for almost all our partners. It’s a true game-changer when it comes together and drives real revenue growth for businesses at nearly any stage. 

planning the blog structure for seo

Subdomain vs Subdirectory for Your Blog: Which is Better for SEO?

planning the blog structure for seo

When adding a blog to your website it’s often much easier to integrate your content management system (CMS) on a subdomain, but often this isn’t the best-case scenario. 

Popular platforms such as WordPress and Shopify typically don’t allow you to install a brand new CMS into a subfolder but it is allowed on a subdomain.

For instance, you’ll run into problems if you have an eCommerce store running on Shopify – example.com – and you try to install a WordPress CMS on a subfolder of that domain – example.com/blog. 

It’s easy to accept the alternative and put your SEO blog on a subdomain but this will ultimately lead to technical SEO or organic traffic problems further down the line. As a growth marketing agency we’ve seen this a ton of times and this is usually the #1 reason why webmasters opt for a subdomain rather than a subdirectory; so we’re very familiar with the issues you may run into.

Before deciding whether a subdomain or subdirectory is the best option for you it’s important to understand what the purpose of the blog is for and what subdomains and subdirectories are specially used for.

Subdomain Structure

Subdomains can be beneficial for many reasons but they can also be harmful if used incorrectly. Let’s talk about how and when to use a subdomain. 

Simply put, a subdomain is an add-on to your primary domain. The main takeaway here is that a subdomain doesn’t automatically receive the same domain authority as your primary domain, the way a subdirectory does. 

structure of a subdomain

It’s important to understand that in most cases, a subdomain is treated as an entirely separate domain. That may mean that you need to pay extra to incorporate tools and software from your primary domain to your subdomain. You’ll also have to verify each subdomain separately and set up tracking for each separate subdomain. 

Subdomains are great when you need to separate sections of your website that have enough content to warrant their own website and don’t need the domain authority from your primary domain. Here are a few examples:

Good subdomain uses:

  • An application behind a login that isn’t being indexed in search engines.
  • Support website with troubleshooting and knowledgebase articles or forums.
  • A merch store on a non-eCommerce website. 
  • Any content that is completely different and/or secondary to your primary website.

This is not an exhaustive list and there are always exceptions, for instance, if your website is a single-page web application then it makes sense to have your blog on a subdomain so as not to interfere with the functionality of the application. 

Bad subdomain uses:

  • Translated language versions of your primary website. 
  • Your primary blog that is driving organic traffic. 
  • Core products or features of your primary website.

Subdirectory Structure

A subdirectory is a sub-section of your primary website and is recognized by crawlers as such. This means that you retain all the domain authority that your primary domain has and continue to build on your website’s comprehensive coverage.

Subdirectories are the preferred option if your content strategy revolves around the same topic as your primary domain and is being used to drive high-quality organic traffic. 

How do subdirectories and subdomains affect SEO?

Google is able to crawl both subdomains and subdirectories so you won’t be penalized for either approach as long as you’ve set each up correctly on the backend. With that being said, there is more technical SEO work needed to effectively index and rank pages on your subdomain. Also, crawlers have come a long way at recognizing subdomains and attributing that traffic and rankings to your domain, but they still have a long way to go.

Subdomains should be verified and submitted to Google Search Console with an XML sitemap

Using a subdirectory strategy concentrates your keywords onto a single domain while the subdomain strategy spreads your keywords across multiple distinct domains. This essentially establishes the subdomain as its own website and is treated as such by crawlers. For SEO purposes, this is putting us at a disadvantage compared to a subdirectory, which is treated as a new section added to your primary domain. 

Should you put a blog on a subdomain or subdirectory?

When talking about an SEO blog, the answer is almost always going to be a subdirectory. Building your blog on a subdirectory allows you to build on top of the existing domain authority that your root domain has built up over time. 

For example, if the domain authority (DA) of your root domain is 85 that means that your blog is also starting at a DA of 85. If you were to add a subdomain to a root domain of 85 there is no specific information from Google to figure out exactly what the DA of that subdomain is. For that reason, it’s best to start a new blog on your root domain so that you don’t have to re-build all the authority that you’ve built up over the years. 

Conclusion

If you’re just launching your blog and looking to optimize it for SEO, consider using a subdirectory over a subdomain. Driving more organic traffic to your root domain and increasing your domain authority is something that I’m sure you’re already working on and using a subdirectory strategy will help improve your effectiveness.

If your organic traffic is suffering and some of your top-performing pages are on subdomains you might want to think about migrating them to the root domain. 

testing different desktop landing pages

How Does Site Health Impact SEO?

testing different desktop landing pages

If you’re not familiar with some of the more advanced aspects of SEO, you may not have heard of site health before. However, if you’re trying to get more traffic from Google and other search engines, improving your site health can play a role in getting your site to outrank your competitors.

What is Site Health?

Site health is a metric that SEO tools, like SEMRush and ahrefs, provide to measure your site’s structure, speed, security and technical SEO.

SEO tools provide this metric to give you an idea of how your site compares to other websites from a technical SEO standpoint. If your site is full of broken links, slow-loading pages, and other technical issues, your site will be given a lower site health score than a similar website without those issues.

Site health itself is not a metric that Google looks at to determine whether or not your site ranks, but having an error-filled site could certainly impact your ability to rank for your target keywords. If you want to increase your site’s organic traffic and improve your keyword rankings, improving your technical SEO is a good place to start. Site health is a valuable metric because it allows you to easily monitor the progress you have made over time with your technical SEO changes.

Which Factors Play a Role in Your Site’s Health?

  • Site Architecture and Crawlability: It’s important to make it easy for search engines to crawl and understand the content on your site.
  • On-Page/Content Structure: Along with making sure that search engines can understand the structure of your site, it’s also important to make sure that the content on individual pages is easy to understand. This means making sure each page only has a H1 header, meta description, and title tag.
  • Core Web Vitals: One of the best ways to improve your site health is to look at Google’s Core Web Vitals. Your site should load quickly and when loading it’s best if the content does not shift around due to slower loading elements on your page.
  • HTTPS Security: If your site isn’t using HTTPS (as opposed to HTTP), now is the time to set that up. People visiting your site could be getting a warning message if you don’t have HTTPS setup with a current SSL certificate.

SEMRush and Ahrefs Both Use Three Categories of Site Health Issues

The two leading SEO tools, SEMRush and Ahrefs both assign issues to one of three categories based on the severity of the issue:

  • Errors: Errors are issues of the highest severity detected on your website during the last audit.
  • Warnings: Warnings are issues of medium severity detected on your website during the last audit.
  • Notices: Notices are not considered severe issues, but we recommend that you fix them.

If you’re working on improving the technical SEO on a website, these dashboards are easy ways to see if the changes you’re making are accomplishing their goal.

SEMRush Site Health Dashboard

SEMRush Site Health Dashboard

Ahrefs Site Health Score Report

Ahrefs Site Health Score Report

What is a Good Site Health Score?

At Tuff, we aim to maintain a site health score of 90% or greater for our website and for our partners. This ensures that we don’t have technical issues preventing us from ranking on Google when we start publishing new content on the site.

According to SEMRush, the top 10% of websites have an average site health of 92%. If you want to be sure your site is healthy from a technical SEO perspective, 90% a good goal to shoot for.

Why You Should Monitor Your Site Health Score

If you are consistently publishing content and adding new pages on your site, it’s important to monitor your site health to keep an eye out for any technical issues with the new posts and pages that you’re publishing.

Site health can be useful for identifying issues that you wouldn’t notice when visiting your site, but that could have an impact on your search rankings. New content on your site could be uploaded without proper meta tags or without an SEO-friendly title tag, and this makes it more difficult for Google to understand what your page is about.

What is Site Health’s Impact on Your Site’s SEO?

Improving your site health can actually provide a sizable lift in traffic and search engine visibility for your site. The search console data below is for one of our partner’s websites that increased its site health from 72% to 95%. 

This site saw a 13% increase in organic clicks and a 27% increase in organic impressions following the site health improvements we made. We’ve seen similar results from other sites that we’ve worked with after improving site health.

Google Search Console Results

Fixing technical SEO errors and improving your site health can actually make a noticeable difference in your search rankings and typically these fixes can be made with just a few hours of backend work on your website.

Poor Site Health Could Be Preventing Your Site from Ranking

If you’re frustrated that your SEO efforts aren’t providing the traffic you were hoping for, we strongly recommend improving your site health as that could be something holding your site back from ranking and getting traffic.

Fixing technical SEO issues can require some knowledge of web content management systems (CMS) and some basic HTML skills. If you work with a web developer these fixes should be simple for them to make. If not, a technical SEO agency can help you make these changes to give your site the best possible chance of ranking for your target keywords.

migrate to webflow

SEO Checklist: How To Migrate Your Website to Webflow

migrate to webflow

When it comes to web content management systems, WordPress has been the dominant player for over a decade. However, in recent years no-code solutions like Webflow have become much more popular for both personal and business websites.

Webflow has become more popular with startups and scaleups in particular due to the ease of use. Since Webflow is so versatile, organizations of all shapes and sizes are leaning on it to take their site experiences to the next level. 

Does Migrating a Website Impact SEO?

Yes. Moving your website to a new CMS means that the appearance, the content, and the code on your site will be changing, even if just slightly. When Google goes to crawl your new version of your website, it will notice that things are different. If you are able to properly migrate your site and make it easier for Google to understand what is on your page, you can actually increase your rankings and the traffic you get from Google.

Migrating your website from one CMS to another can impact your organic search traffic, but if done correctly you can actually see your search traffic increase

Why Do You Need to Consider SEO When You Migrate to Webflow?

When migrating any website from one CMS to another it’s crucial to account for technical SEO or you risk losing organic traffic that your website is getting. 

How Do You Prepare to Migrate to Webflow?

When starting with a website migration project, the first priority is always scoping out what all needs to be done. For example, if your existing site has a lot of technical SEO errors, we highly recommend fixing those in conjunction with the site migration. 

Another common thing to consider when preparing for a website migration is how your user experience will be changing. Will you be adding new pages? Will you be deleting existing pages? Does your new content management system have different technical requirements for lead capture with your existing CRM? Having a full, robust scope of the project before preparing for migration is key. This prevents project delays and fire drills when the new site is migrated and launched. 

How To Transfer a Website Without Losing Your Organic Search Traffic

Gather Existing Site Page URLs

Prior to migrating your website over to Webflow, you will want to audit your existing site’s pages and URLs to see which pages are getting search traffic. If you want to maintain your traffic, you’ll need to make sure that these pages are either transferred to your new site or you can set up redirects to send users to another page.

Map Existing Pages to New URLs

The next step you need to take is to map your existing URLs to the new URLs they will use on the new version of your site in a Google Sheet like this:

Map Existing Pages to New URLs

Export Your Website Content

Use a plugin or a built in export feature on your existing site in a format that you can easily upload to Webflow. This will make the transfer much quicker than trying to manually copy and paste each blog post to Webflow.

Identify Deleted Pages and Setup Redirects

If you’re planning on deleting some of your existing pages from the new version of your website, you need to consider where to redirect users if they try to visit the old URL. You should avoid just deleting pages without providing a redirect to another page on your website. Doing so will cause any backlinks to these pages to return a 404 page, which could lead to people bouncing from your website (a negative ranking signal for Google).

If possible, you should redirect users to a page that will provide similar information or answer similar questions to the deleted page. This will ensure that people stick around and actually read the content on your website, rather than looking for the information elsewhere. 

Check Title Tags, Meta Descriptions and other Structured Data

Auditing the structured data on your website regularly is an SEO best practice, but is especially important when migrating to a new content management system. Google uses title tags and meta descriptions to understand what your website is about and which keywords are relevant for your site to rank for. If your meta tags make it easier for Google to understand the content on your page, you will be more likely to rank for the keywords that you are targeting.

When transferring your site to a new CMS, you should set a focus keyword for every page on your site and make sure that the content on the page, your title tag, meta description, and each image’s alt text aligns with that focus keyword. 

So, Will You See a Traffic Drop After Migrating to Webflow?

Migrating your site to a Webflow doesn’t have to have a negative impact on your search traffic. The most important part of migrating to a new CMS is to either keep the same URL structure as your existing site, or that you have properly set up redirects for any pages that aren’t being transferred to the new site.

Webflow SEO Migration Results

Can Migrating a Website to Webflow Increase Your Search Traffic?

Yes! If your current website structure is making it difficult for Google to crawl your website or making it confusing for people to navigate, your current website could be holding you back from ranking for valuable keywords. Migrating your site to Webflow can help solve some of these issues and can lead to you seeing an immediate increase in search impressions and traffic.

Case Study: How Moving to Webflow Improved a Tuff Client’s SEO

In the fall of 2021, we partnered with an organization moving from WordPress to Webflow. In the process of migrating the content, we implemented technical SEO fixes that improved their SEMRush site health audit from a 56% to a 98%. 

With the new site, the organization did not add any additional content, and removed several pillar landing pages that they deemed were no longer necessary. The technical fixes, in addition to moving to the SEO-friendly platform of Webflow lead to significant improvements in their site performance. 

The Data:

  • 55% increase in total keywords ranked for
  • 1,726 new keywords ranked for 
  • Site Health: +42%

Search Rankings Performance: 

  • Search Rankings 1-3: 121 (-2) 
  • Search Rankings 4-10: 207 (+11) 
  • Search Rankings 11-20: 280 (+45) 
  • Search Rankings 21-50: 1,586 (+885)

In the two months since this Tuff partner’s site launched, they have generated over 2,900 additional clicks to the site compared to the previous time period, and have seen an increase of 184,000 search impressions. That is a 7.25% increase in organic traffic, and 36% increase in search engine visibility, all without adding additional content to their site.

SEO Results

using google search console to measure impressions

How Do You Evaluate the Efficacy of Your SEO Efforts?

using google search console to measure impressions

As a growth marketing agency, we spend a lot of time thinking about how to increase traffic volume to a website, product, or app for our clients. Because acquisition is 50% of the growth model, right? So, we ask ourselves on the daily: how do you get the right message to the right audience at the right time? The golden ticket to growth is to nail this and then convince that traffic to take it a step further and complete an action on your website. Acquisition + conversion = 🚀. 

With that in mind, if you jump into Google Analytics right now and take a peek at the data of any of our 30 clients, you’re going to see traffic coming from these five core traffic sources: 

  • Paid 
  • Organic 
  • Direct 
  • Email 
  • Referral 

While they all play a critical role in acquisition, organic traffic is often the second largest (if not largest) traffic driver for companies in established industries. It also happens to be my personal favorite. Organic traffic is the hardest to grow, but it’s typically the highest quality. 

Take a step back and it all makes sense. If someone has a problem or need, they’ll oftentimes take their query to Google. If they naturally find your website and you give them valuable information, they’ll trust you. Here’s an example from the Tuff blog—this is a lead that came through our form fill earlier this month after finding this blog post about the differences between performance and growth marketing

question about SEO performance

At Tuff, to help drive organic traffic and results, we’ve broken down the core components of what it takes to make a SEO strategy and built a team around them. Including: 

  • SEO Growth Strategist
  • Technical SEO Expert 
  • Content SEO Specialist
  • SEO Writers 

In short, this high-level combination is truly the only way to get serious results when it comes to your search ranking. But it’s not just about the components and the people tasked with executing it. We also get extremely specific and clear as a team when measuring the success and impact of the SEO strategy we implement. Here’s how we measure success: 

  1. Traffic 
  2. Traffic Quality 
  3. Keyword Movement
  4. Revenue 

In this post, I’m going to take a closer look at the four organic growth metrics we use to answer: “How do you evaluate the efficacy of your SEO efforts?” 

Traffic 

The first metric is easy. Is your organic traffic increasing or decreasing? 

If you’re a newer startup or company, finding initial traction with organic traffic is going to take some time. For our clients, we typically start seeing results after about 3 to 6 months of consistently posting SEO content. It’s super important to monitor organic traffic growth because it helps you understand the role that organic traffic is playing in your overall traffic mix. 

To measure organic traffic growth, we use both Google Search Console and Google Analytics

Google Search Console helps us understand impressions and the search terms our clients are showing up for. And if it’s increasing: 

google search console results

We can also look at Google Analytics to see how this is trending MoM or YoY: 

Organic Traffic results in Google Analytics

If we are putting time and resources into SEO, we want this number to go up. 

Traffic Quality 

If organic traffic is increasing, you need to ask: Is it high quality? 

It’s one thing to increase organic traffic but if the new visitors to your site aren’t sticking around or taking a desired action, it’s just traffic for traffic’s sake. 

So, we like to look at three core quality traffic metrics using Google Analytics: 

  • Time on Site: Average time on site is how long a user spent on your site in total. It’s the total time of all sessions divided by your number of sessions. According to Klipfolio, the Average Time on Page across industries is 52 seconds, with B2B leading with 82 seconds, based on 20 billion user sessions.
  • Bounce Rate: A ‘bounce’ (often called a single-page session) happens when a user lands on a website page and exits without triggering another request to the Google Analytics server. This article has industry benchmarks as well as bounce rate benchmarks by source for 2021. 
  • Pages Per Session: The average number of website pages visited during a session. Seeing a greater number of pages per session typically means that users are more engaged with your website and the traffic quality is high. 

Organic Traffic Quality

In Google Analytics, we’ll filter the view to only show organic traffic (60-second video here on how to do this) and compare these quality metrics to the rest of the site. 

If the traffic is high quality, great, go get more of it. If the quality is low, dig into the pages your organic traffic is coming from and how they found your site. More often than not, when this happens, it means you are ranking for search terms that aren’t super related to your business. 

For example, if our website ‘Tuff’ ranked highly for ‘Tuff Shed’ we might be getting a bunch of traffic from people looking for sheds. We might see that organic traffic is increasing MoM but that the bounce rate is 95% and the time on site is less than 3 seconds. We don’t want this type of traffic to our website because it’s useless to us. 

Keyword Movement 

So far, the traffic increase and traffic quality are metrics we track for all sources. Keyword movement though, is specific to our SEO efforts. 

When working on an SEO Content Strategy, here’s how we tackle it: 

  1. Research the audience 
  2. Do a search competitor analysis 
  3. Identify a list of 10-15 focus keywords 
  4. Select the type of SEO content — blog posts, landing pages, long-form, etc 
  5. Write SEO outlines 
  6. Assign deadlines and build a calendar 
  7. Write content 
  8. Publish with all the right SEO components and links 

With step 3, we hone in and identify the list of target keywords we want to see traffic from. Here’s an example of a list for one of the Tuff clients: 

focus keyword list in spreadsheet

You might already be ranking for some of the keywords in your list (always a pleasant surprise!) and you are just trying to improve positions. For others, you might not be ranking at all and you’re slowly trying to make it to page one. 

For us, it’s incredibly important to track keyword movement (did it go up or down in rankings) for our keyword list because it helps us understand if we’re making any progress. The SEO content we produce will focus almost exclusively on ranking for those search terms so tracking movement on those terms is an easy way of knowing if what you set out to do is actually working. 

For this, we use SEMRush and set up a dashboard like the one below for each client that includes our focus keyword list. 

keyword list in SEMRush

Revenue 

Last but not least, is it having an impact on revenue? Whether your business plays in the B2B, Tech, SaaS, DTC, or eCommerce spaces, you want to know if the hours of work you are putting into technical SEO and SEO content is having real, measurable business impact. 

For eCommerce, it’s easy to pull organic revenue directly from Google Analytics: 

eCommerce revenue organic

For other industries, and for more granular information, you’ll need to rely more on your CRM or Customer Analytics platforms. In a perfect world, the software and attribution all work together nicely. In reality, that almost never happens. More often than not, we’re pulling spreadsheets from Google Analytics and a CRM and merging the data manually to get a clear idea on return. While this is sometimes the trickiest organic metric to track, it’s ultimately the most important! 

Tools & Tracking Resources 

The tools we use to track these metrics include Google Analytics, Google Search Console, SEMRush, and various Customer Analytics platforms (Amplitude, Mixpanel, Hubspot, Salesforce). 

  • Traffic = Google Search Console
  • Traffic Quality = Google Analytics
  • Keyword Movement = SEMRush
  • Revenue = Customer Analytics / CRM 

The thing about organic traffic though (we’ve said it once and we’ll say it again and again) is that it’s going to take some time to see traction. When you do, though, the results will be compounding and rewarding, but you’ve got to work your way there. It takes time. It’s worth it, but you’re in it for the long haul. 

One way to help stay motivated? Know exactly how to track the effectiveness of your efforts by using traffic, traffic quality, keyword movement, and revenue as your core success metrics.