Tag Archive for: SEO

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!

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. 

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.

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.

search rankings on google on mobile

How to Use Off-Page SEO to Supplement Your Growth Content

search rankings on google on mobile

SEO can be a confusing topic for marketers who typically focus on paid strategies for acquiring customers. If you split SEO into on-page and off-page, it’s even easier to get confused about what you should focus on. At Tuff, we primarily help companies with developing on-page SEO content strategies and fixing technical SEO issues. Once you’re up and running with on-page SEO and you’re starting to see some traction, you can supplement your efforts by focusing on off-page SEO.

What is off-page SEO?

Off-page SEO is anything done outside of your website that can influence your search engine rankings. One misconception about off-page SEO is that all you can do off of your website to improve your rankings is to build backlinks to your site. There are actually many more strategies that you can use to improve your search engine rankings and organic traffic to your website.

The key to doing off-page SEO well is figuring out where potential customers are researching your industry or your business and making sure that you are represented in as many of those places as possible. 

What is included in off-page SEO?

Backlinks

Backlinks, while not the only aspect of off-page SEO, play an important role in showing Google that your site is trustworthy and valuable. It’s important to focus on acquiring high-quality backlinks from trusted websites, rather than getting a ton of low quality links from shady websites. Backlinks are one of the most important ranking factors for getting your content to rank highly on Google.

search console top linking sites

Backlinks from highly reputable sites like Yahoo, The Wall Street Journal, or Wikipedia will provide the most benefit to your search engine rankings, while links from spammy sites can actually hurt your ability to rank.

As you acquire more backlinks and establish more domain authority for your site you can begin targeting more competitive, high-value keywords and start driving more organic traffic from those keywords as you start to rank. 

If you want to start building backlinks for your website, we put together this guide to SEO link building that includes an email template for reaching out to sites for backlinks and guest post opportunities.

backlink example

Guest Posts

Guest posts are incredibly valuable, especially for newer startups or businesses that are having trouble getting their website to rank for their target keywords. You can create content targeting these keywords for other sites to capture the same search traffic that you’re struggling to rank for. 

Guest posting can be a long process as you’ll likely have to go through a submission process, and or build relationships with the site’s editors to even be able to submit a post. However, even if the process is difficult, the backlinks you can acquire from these posts are typically high-quality, and can provide consistent referral traffic to your site.

Business Listing & Review Sites

Business listing and review sites like YelpExpertise.com or CNET are important for making sure your business is represented when someone is doing research before making a purchasing decision. Whether you are an ecommerce business or a restaurant, people are likely to look at different listing sites to determine if your business is the right fit for them. The more active you are on these sites, the more control you have over the first impression that people will get when looking for more information.

business listing and review sites example

In the same way that testimonials on your website are a powerful marketing tool, having positive reviews and testimonials on third-party websites is another way to build trust with potential customers and ultimately drive more revenue for your business.

Off-Page SEO vs. On-Page SEO

Both on-page and off-page SEO play a key role in a complete SEO strategy. They are related because your site needs to be optimized (on-page) so that when someone finds you on another website and clicks a link to your site (off-page) they don’t run into slow load times or other technical SEO issues.

On-page SEO

On-page SEO is about making your content and your website’s structure easy for search engines to understand. When search engines can clearly interpret what your website is talking about they are more likely to rank your content higher and start sending organic traffic your way. 

It’s important to do an on-page SEO analysis to fix any issues your site may have before focusing on off-page SEO, otherwise new visitors to your site may find broken pages or other issues that cause them to bounce from your website. If you find that your site is running slowly or some pages are broken, a technical SEO agency can help fix these issues and set you up for success when you start publishing content.

Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO is everything that you’re doing away from your website to try to improve your site’s ranking and traffic. This could be building backlinks on other websites, getting your business mentioned in list posts, or responding to people talking about your brand in forums or on social media.

Both on-page and off-page SEO are useful for gaining traction for your website, so neither is inherently better than the other. They both play an important role in attracting visitors to your website.

Read More: The Difference Between On-Page, Off-Page, and Technical SEO

How Off-Page SEO Supplements Your On-Page SEO Efforts

It’s important to focus on-page SEO to ensure that when people find your website they aren’t running into technical issues like broken links or slow pages. Before focusing on off-page SEO to drive traffic to your site, it’s important to build a solid on-page foundation so that people are able to easily find the information they are looking for on your site. After getting your site optimized for the best user experience possible, you can start looking at off-page SEO to bring more visitors to your site.

Off-page SEO allows you to expand your footprint on the internet beyond your website. The most important aspect of off-page SEO is putting your brand/business in all the places that your customers could potentially find out about you. This could be industry blogs and authority sites, product review sites, or even social media. You can have the best website in the world, but if people aren’t finding it or searching for your brand, your SEO efforts won’t be successful.

Why is off-page SEO important?

Off-page SEO can provide huge benefits for your business, by showing Google and potential customers that your company is an authority in your industry.

Domain Authority

Off-Page SEO is especially valuable for young companies that haven’t established a high domain authority for their websites. If your website is relatively new and hasn’t acquired valuable backlinks, it’s unlikely that your content will rank for competitive keywords. Off-page SEO allows you to gain awareness for your brand without having to put in the months of work to develop your website’s domain authority.

For example, if you have a software as a service (SaaS) business and you’re trying to outrank your competitors you can publish blog posts and landing pages on your website, but they aren’t going to outrank established websites in your niche. If you get listed in articles like this one from HubSpot – people searching for your product will see that an established, respected brand has mentioned yours and might click through to your website.

Off-Page SEO Allows You To Own More Search Engine Real Estate

Take a look at the results page for a given keyword. You will likely see a list of webpages all from different websites. If you’re only focusing on on-page SEO, you could be leaving valuable space on the search engine results page open to your competitors. 

When you publish content on other websites besides your own, you can occupy more space on the front page of Google and capture more of the attention share for a given keyword.

One way to understand the impact this can have is to look at branded searches. When you search for a major brand name on Google — McDonald’s for example — you’ll see more than just their website. You’ll see the company’s Twitter and Facebook pages, you might see a news story about the company, and maybe a Wikipedia page. These are all examples of off-page SEO. 

Authority Hacking

Not only can you indicate to Google that your business is reputable and a solid choice for your target audience — off-page SEO allows you to build awareness and authority simply by showing up in more places that potential customers are looking. If someone is searching for a solution to their problem and they see that your business is mentioned in the top 5 articles on

Google, they will be more likely to trust that you are the right choice for their needs.You can gain awareness from inclusion in listicles, reviews on listing sites, guest posts, and roundup posts. Because these types of mentions are from third parties, they often appear more trustworthy than content you post on your own website. You can build trust by getting your brand to show up in lists of the best companies in your industry. 

Domain authority is a metric that estimates how trustworthy and reputable your website is. Google rewards sites with higher domain authority because the content on these sites is more likely to be high quality and valuable.

Use Off-Page SEO for Referral Traffic

One use of off-page SEO that often gets overlooked is using strategically placed off-page links to drive traffic back to your site. Let’s say you’re having trouble ranking for a keyword that is valuable for your business, you can use off-page SEO to target that keyword from another site.

If you’re able to get a guest post published on a site with high domain authority and a large readership, you can rank for more difficult, higher competition keywords. If you can place valuable backlinks to your site within the guest post, as the post starts to rank, you will likely see some referral traffic start coming in from the article. The great thing about this type of traffic is that even though it may take some time to get working, once the post is ranking and people start clicking through to your site the traffic can be really consistent (and free)!

How do you make an off-page SEO strategy?

If you’re new to off-page SEO, it can be overwhelming to decide how you will go about creating and implementing a strategy. Choosing the best off-page SEO tactics for your business depends a lot on what industry you’re in and what type of traffic is most valuable for you.

Figure Out Where Your Customers Spend Time Online

It’s important to understand which websites your target audience spends the most time on if you want your off-page SEO strategy to be effective. For example, if you’re a software company that targets ecommerce businesses, you need to figure out what sites ecommerce business owners and employees read to learn more about their industry.

Determine the best way to capture their attention.

After you’ve identified a few places you could reach your customers, you can decide which type of content they are most likely to find valuable and interact with. It’s important to consider the questions that they may be asking and the problems that they need help solving.

Create content that provides value and encourages clickthrough to your website.

From there you can decide what type of content is most valuable to them and you can reach them by getting guest posts published on the sites they read. One important part of the content is that it should have a clear call to action that directs readers to your website. Linking to the content on your own website will provide a backlink and will make it easy for readers to learn how your business can help them.

google search on mobile

Keyword Ranking Fluctuations: Why Does it Happen, What Can I Do About It?

google search on mobile

You have worked hard and finally rank first overall in SERPs for that specific keyword you’ve been targeting. 

Your site is gaining more traffic organically, and you are starting to see conversion rates increase. 

Now that you rank highly,  your authority increases, and you can start targeting more competitive keywords. 

One day you check your traffic in Google Analytics to look for more non-branded keyword opportunities and notice that your traffic has started to decrease. Panicking— you look for reasons why you are no longer the top rank in SERPs. 

You aren’t even on the first page anymore! 

What have you done to deserve this? Why are you no longer ranking in SERPs when you were just a few days ago? 

You didn’t change anything about the article, and the information is still all relevant, so what gives? 

This is a common problem many marketers face— keyword ranking fluctuation

What is Keyword Ranking Fluctuation? 

Keyword ranking fluctuation is when the SERPs change for a keyword you are targeting. Google, like most companies, wants to provide as much value to the end user as possible. To do this, they roll out new algorithm updates, altering the search engine results page to find out which articles are best for the reader. 

keyword rankings example

These tests can last from a few days to a few weeks. Most companies who see a change in their SERP position will return to their natural position once the tests are over. At the same time, some companies may see a more permanent change in their position. 

When companies start to see a change in their rank, they begin to panic and change their article that already ranks highly. Sometimes for the worst. 

Keyword ranking fluctuation is natural, temporary, and should be expected. However, the most important thing is not to panic and make an impulsive decision. 

So why did Google choose your article to move down in position, and when should you start to care or panic? 

What Causes Keyword Ranking Fluctuations?

Websites that recently started ranking for a keyword are much more susceptible to keyword ranking fluctuations. The longer you’ve ranked for a keyword, the less likely you will see a change in position. 

However, how long your content has been published and providing value to the end user is not the only cause of keyword ranking fluctuation. 

Google has a variety of factors they consider when they shake up the positions in SERPs. Here are a few of the most common causes of keyword ranking fluctuations. 

Google Algorithm Updates

It is very common for Google to change its algorithm. It’s Google. They are always innovating and trying to be better.  

Often, Google will roll out an algorithm update without telling anyone and will make the information public months later after testing and perfecting the changes.

Algorithm updates try to weed out content stuffed with keywords and is more focused on SEO tactics than actually providing value to the reader. 

It’s always important to stay updated with Google algorithm updates to gain a competitive edge. 

At Tuff, we always explain to clients that Google is going to rank the content that provides the most value to the reader the highest. Regardless of keywords and vanity metrics.

To keep it simple, write to provide value for the reader. Use natural language when talking about a subject, don’t stuff it with keywords. 

Issues with the Platform You Are Using

There are a ton of great SEO tools to analyze your traffic and ranking in SERPs. Unfortunately, although they can be extremely helpful and provide valuable insights, they aren’t always 100% accurate. 

Issues with the platform you are using are a common cause that companies see their keyword ranking fluctuate. 

SEMrush is one of the best tools on the market, but it uses third party data that may not be up to date. The metrics they provide aren’t completely accurate. Your traffic could be higher or lower than what their data says, and the same goes for your ranking positions for certain keywords. 

Don’t panic. Take the information with a grain of salt and give it some time to become more accurate before you make any changes. 

Loss of Important Backlinks

Backlinks are essential in your page ranking. If other websites are linking to your content, it shows that you’re a thought leader and have authority in the space. 

If you start to lose those backlinks because companies are linking to competing articles instead of yours, you may see your backlinks and ranking decrease. 

You can analyze your backlinks with a variety of SEO tools, like SEMrush, and ahrefs

backlink audit

Google Penalty

Google penalizes websites for a variety of red flags they find when crawling your pages. For example, you can be penalized for duplicate content, keyword stuffing, hidden links, or not being easily accessible for all users. Some of these are automatic, but others occur when Google pushes updates and recognizes something negative in your site.  

If you are penalized by Google for duplicated content, it’s time to worry. Plagiarism isn’t acceptable, and neither is unoriginal content. 

Your content should be original and be unique compared to the other search engine results. For example, if your content simply summarizes the top 3 articles for a keyword and doesn’t provide any additional insights or value, you will most likely see your position change.

Backend Site Issues

Common backend site issues that cause your rank to change include slow load times and other backend issues that are inconvenient for users.

Google wants the users to have a seamless experience. If your site has extremely slow load times, users are going to leave. And if users leave your site, that hurts your ranking. 

If you notice a decrease in site traffic, it could be a result of your page speed. A page speed report can show you how fast your site is. Testing competing websites is a great way to gauge where to stand on the spectrum. 

Pro tip: Images typically make up about 75% of total page weight when they aren’t optimized, resulting in longer load times. Optimizing your images is a great way to increase page speed and reduce load times. 

Your Site Has Been Hacked

Site security plays a large role in how Google views and ranks your website. If your website has been hacked and no longer is secure or safe for users to enter, Google will reduce your rank to protect the user. 

When Do You Need to Worry? 

Keyword ranking fluctuations are only temporary for most companies and shouldn’t raise too much concern. It’s common for these changes to stay in place for 3 to 4 weeks. So don’t panic right away and give Google time to adjust. 

If you still see that you are no longer ranking highly after a month or two, that should be a red flag, and changes should be made.

One of the best things to do is to look at competitor sites. 

  • Where are your competitors ranking?
  • How were they affected, if at all? 
  • What are some of the websites that moved up in rank?
  • What are they doing differently than you? 

Odds are, the keyword ranking fluctuations didn’t only affect you. Your competitors should see a change in traffic and rank as well. Unless, as mentioned earlier, they have been the top result for years. 

If you notice that you are the only one affected by these changes and it’s been longer than four weeks since the change, that should raise concern and you should take action. 

What Can You Do About Keyword Fluctuations?

The true answer (the answer that no marketers want to hear) is that all you can do is wait and see. You need to give Google time to gather information and adjust accordingly. But, again, most websites will return to their normal position after 3 to 4 weeks. 

If you don’t return to your normal position, there are a few things that you can do. 

  • Site audit 
  • Backlink audit 
  • Content remediation 
  • Competitor analysis 
  • Learn about the algorithm 

Site Audit

Performing an audit on your own site is an easy way to evaluate your website’s overall performance and search engine friendliness. This is where you learn about page speed, site security, and how user-friendly your website truly is.  

Backlink Audit

Backlink audits are similar to a site audit, but they strictly analyze the external sites that link to your content. Therefore, when performing a backlink audit, you should pay attention to the types of websites linking to your content, the quality of the backlinks, and how often websites link back to your website. 

Content Remediation

Content remediation is something that most websites should do regardless of how high they rank or if their rank has changed. Information changes as time passes, and Google wants to see that websites are keeping up with the times. Your content might be missing key questions that readers have and want answered. Adding new relevant content and improving existing content can help get you back to the top of SERPs. 

Competitor Analysis

A competitor analysis is a great way to discover what Google is looking for. If a competitor jumps above you in SERPs analyze their content. 

  • How does your content stack up to theirs? 
  • What are your competitors doing in their content that you aren’t? 
  • What questions are they asking and answering that you’re missing? 

Competitor analyses are easy to perform and can provide valuable insight into what changes you need to make. 

Learn about Google’s Algorithm Updates

Like we’ve said, Google is constantly innovating and updating its algorithm to provide the most value to the end user. Learning about the algorithm and staying ahead of the curve can give you a better understanding of what Google is looking for. 

This is a lot easier than most people think. Twitter is a great place to gain some valuable insights. Both @RustyBrick and @DannySullivan are great Twitter follows that tweet daily updates on how Google’s algorithm is changing and how it may affect your website. 

Overcoming Keyword Ranking Fluctuations 

With so many different factors affecting your keyword rank, it can be hard to find the specific fault that is causing you to lose traffic and conversions. Therefore, the first step in overcoming keyword ranking fluctuations is knowing where to start and implementing the right strategy to improve results and increase conversions. 

It’s important to remember that keyword ranking fluctuations are typically temporary and shouldn’t raise too much concern right away.

If you find that your SERP positions are falling too low, not returning to your average rank, and you aren’t reaching your goals as a result, our team at Tuff can help. We offer free growth strategy sessions and will analyze your current content strategy/performance to correct any keyword fluctuations you may be suffering from. 

Need help overcoming keyword ranking fluctuations? Let’s talk. 

 

Content Remediation: How to Boost Your Ranking By Refreshing Old Content

So, you’ve done the heavy lifting making your case for content, doing your competitor and keyword research, identifying your best opportunities, creating a content strategy, etching in goals, and putting pen to paper.

But now that your content creation engine is chugging along like a sleek machine, you know there’s got to be other activities you can be doing to sneak up in the SERPs and capture more organic traffic. Enter: remediation!

Remediation is only a viable option if you already have a relatively deep well of content to work with (think at least 20 blogs published more than a few months ago). If you’re just starting out, no problem! Bookmark this page and revisit it next quarter or next year.

What is content remediation?

Content remediation is the systematic and strategic process of updating your growth content in order to give your readers new and up-to-date information and, debatably more importantly, send out the signal to search engines that there’s exciting fresh content that deserves a ranking boost.

As part of your bigger-picture content strategy, it can help fortify target keyword pillars and build greater authority in strategic areas.

Why remediate blog content?

I know what you’re thinking, your content is already great. And that’s probably true! But beyond adding some fresh information to make sure your post is as up to date and timely as possible, there are a lot of other reasons to implement a remediation strategy including but not limited to…

  1. You lost rankings because your competitors updated their content and you want to compete with them.
  2. You average time on page is low and you want to add new creative to the content to get readers staying on the page longer.
  3. The publish date is old and may discourage readers so you want to update the content and show the updated date to visitors. 
  4. Your bounce rate is higher than average and it’s because you don’t have enough internal links linking to your pillar pages. 
  5. You’re ranking on page 2 and you think with some minor improvements you’ll be able to rank on page 1.

The biggest takeaway: when we tell Google content is new, we’ll likely see a spike in traffic, making the relatively tiny amount of work required well worth it.

How to remediate content

First of all, it’s best to have a strategy in place before you start remediating old blog posts. If you have hundreds or thousands of blog posts, you’ll certainly need a plan for tackling all of these in bite-sized chunks over time. 

Process

Let’s begin with process and strategy. Before you begin creating content you typically start by building a content strategy, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do when we focus on remediation.

Similar to a content calendar, it’s useful to build out a content remediation process for each piece of content going forward. This is typically done on 30, 60, or 90-day basis, depending on how time-sensitive or evergreen your content is.

Once you’ve got the overall strategy nailed down, you’ll want to develop a strategy for each individual piece of content, which I’ll discuss now.

Improve

When setting out to improve an old post with good structure, it’s good to start with improvements in keyword targeting and general writing and grammar. You want to make sure that your blog post has a clear focus, targets a specific topic and keyword, and is doing so in proper English (or whatever language your blog may be in).

Once the content itself is in good shape, make sure to add any technical improvements that the piece may need, such as relevant internal links, alt text, or schema markup.

Then it’s time to make sure it’s pretty. Instead of big blocks of text, look for ways to make it chunkable and easier to read. This could be adding line breaks, paragraphs or creating bulleted or numbered lists. Visual improvements impact user experience and can keep people on the page longer, improving overall SEO. 

Expand and update

Another way to get more value out of your content is to repurpose or update the information contained to make old content fresh again. Data says that this is well worth the effort, with business bloggers who update older posts being 74% more likely to report strong results.

A few ways to expand or update a post are to explore a different take on the initial thesis, add newer data, or integrate more recent developments or changed opinions. Look to correct any data that is more than a year old with the most current information.  

Increasing word count has also shown to be beneficial, as longer blog posts typically perform better. This goes the same for adding images and other rich media such as infographics, videos, and charts and graphs.

Many of the blogs we recommend for remediation are under 750 words. We want to add more content as long as that content is good quality, answers FAQs, and provides the audience with useful information.

Update and add keywords

While remediating content, we also want to update the target keywords and add as many semantically related keywords as possible without crossing over the keyword stuffing line. The best way to add keywords is to include them within a sentence where it sounds natural. 

For example, in the sentences below, the keyword is in bold. Note how the first option sounds more natural, while the second one forces the keyword to create a jarring experience for the reader and the search engines.  

Do this: 

As a business owner, time is money. Save both by outsourcing bookkeeping services which allows you to focus on your company and not just your books.

Not this: 

Business outsourcing bookkeeping services tend to save time and money.

Add Images

Sometimes adding images to long-form content can completely rejuvenate the content by increasing the average time that readers spend on the page and in turn increasing its organic rankings. 

We recommend adding at least 3 images for every 1,000 words of content if possible. This can be done using a free stock image website such as Unsplash if you don’t have an extensive image library.

Content Remediation is The Low-Hanging Fruit of SEO Strategy

One of the things we find ourselves explaining most often: a great content strategy is one of the best long-term investments you can make when it comes to growth strategy. While, true, it’s a time consuming and can be more costly strategy to fire up and maintain, once you have a solid well of content, strategies like remediation can have you reaping riches for years to come.

Excited but not quite sure where to start? Let’s chat!

A person reviewing data on google search console

How Long Before you See Results from an SEO Content Strategy?

A person reviewing data on google search console

Your website is up and running. You’ve added some basic keywords to your landing pages and posted some thoughtful, organized blog articles. Maybe you even updated your HTML and other technical SEO factors. And yet…nothing. You’re left wondering, “How long does SEO take to start working?” 

The answer is: It’s complicated. There are numerous factors that affect your SEO results, and content while essential is only one of them. 

Organic SEO is a long-term play with a lot of moving pieces. But once the foundation is laid, you’ll be set up for success long into the future.

How long does an SEO content strategy take to show results?

A holistic SEO content strategy will typically take 4 to 6 months to start showing results. The amount of time depends on many different factors, including the current status of your website, your competition, and the resources you have to put into SEO. The quality of your content is also a big factor.

Remember: SEO results are cumulative. While you’ll start to see results in 4 to 6 months, after a year your results will compound even more. A solid, ongoing SEO strategy is the gift that keeps on giving. Have you noticed that certain types of searches always seem to return the same websites, over and over? Once you become a trusted, knowledgeable source in the “eyes” of the search engines, they’ll start amplifying your content automatically.

Why does organic SEO take so long?

There are dozens of ranking factors and signals that determine the overall organic health of your website and therefore your SEO results. Let’s go over the major ranking factors you need to know about.

Keyword competition

Do you have a unique product, or are there a lot of competitors in your space? The more competition you face, the longer it will take you to rank for those keywords. Selling neon-colored unicycles? Not a lot of competition. Selling kids’ bicycles? Probably really competitive. 

Domain age

You can’t get around this fact: If you have a new website that is not as established as your SEO competitors, it will be tougher to rank. New websites automatically have a lower domain authority because the search engines aren’t yet familiar with your content. They also have fewer backlinks pointing to them one of the signals search engines use to determine the ranking of your site.

On-page factors

On-page SEO includes anything your website visitors see: landing pages, product pages, blogs and so on. This is the most visible part of SEO and likely what you’ve been working on. But it goes beyond cranking out content and hoping for the best. You need to think about quality, duplicate content, hyperlinking, images and more. An on-page SEO analysis is a good place to start.

Technical factors

Technical SEO is the backend of your website. Don’t ignore these factors they’re an important piece of the SEO puzzle. In fact, page speed optimization is the top tactic marketers use to improve search performance. You should also make sure the search engines can easily crawl your website, understand your site architecture, read your hreflang, and canonicalize your URLs. Sounds like a lot of big words, right? That’s what we’re here for.

Off-page factors

Off-page SEO is often the last factor you think about, but they can make the difference between making page one or being bumped to page two. Your domain authority, bounce rate, geographic location, and target market all affect your off-page SEO. The best ways to improve this category is to work on your backlink strategy, improve your social media presence and create off-page content like guest blogs to increase your authority. 

Ever-changing algorithms 

Search engines are fickle beasts. Changes in the Google algorithm (that is, the way that Google ranks pages) send SEO specialists everywhere scrambling to update their technical and on-page SEO. Penguin, Panda, EMD (Exact Match Domain), Page Layout Algorithm … the algorithms never stop. Luckily, Tuff is here to help you keep up.

Is an SEO content strategy worth the wait?

In short yes! There’s a reason that 61% of inbound marketers say that growing SEO/organic presence is their top priority. In second place at 55% is blog content creation, a closely related topic. High-value organic traffic can result in better leads and faster acquisition times, and ultimately helps drive revenue. 

While PPC can give you instant results, you have to keep the money pumping. Organic SEO results are sticky: if done right, a good content strategy will keep delivering long after the 4 to 6 months have passed. In fact, we’re living proof. Tuff increased our own organic traffic by 630% over 12 months, which drove a 60% increase in monthly revenue. 

The key is that you have to take the time and effort to ensure that your content is fresh, good quality, and a valuable resource for your customers. A growth marketing agency like Tuff can help get your organic SEO on the right track, while also serving other channels and helping you to create a holistic strategy for growth.

How We Outranked Home Depot for the #1 Position

Early in 2020, Renogy approached Tuff to handle all of their SEO needs for their US and international websites. 

Tuff had previously been creating blog content for Renogy’s US website but was not managing technical SEO or anything else.

We analyzed all of their existing websites and put together a comprehensive SEO strategy to increase organic traffic and revenue. This is how we did it.

Technical SEO

When we first took over SEO implementation for all of Renogy’s international sites nobody had previously been maintaining their technical SEO. With that being said, it’s no surprise that there were quite a few errors that needed to be addressed.

This isn’t to say that the websites were in bad shape, they just weren’t SEO-optimized and there’s a big difference. So our first step was to make sure that all the international websites were SEO-optimized. This is how we did it…

International SEO (hreflang tags)

The first issue to tackle was the hreflang tags, and Renogy had about 16,000 of them. 

If you have multiple versions of a page for different languages or regions, hreflang tags are a way to tell Google about these variations. 

For instance, you may have a US and UK website and they’re both in English but one is in US English and one is in British English. Aside from having two different URLs – either uk.domain, domain.uk, or domain.com/uk – we need to specifically tell Google about the language differences.

The same goes for international versions with completely different languages such as German, French, or Chinese, etc.,

Some of the most common hreflang tag errors are:

  1. Not having any hreflang tags
  2. Having incorrect hreflang tags (Ex. having your French tags on your German site)
  3. Hreflang tags being incorrectly coded
  4. No self-referencing hreflang tags

The most common issue is not having any self-referencing hreflang tags, and that’s the issue that we were dealing with on Renogy’s websites. Fortunately, this can be solved programmatically so it’s not extremely time-consuming to fix all 16,000+ errors.

Meta Descriptions

Once the hreflang tags were fixed, one of the most common technical SEO errors across all websites has to do with meta descriptions. Whether it be missing or duplicate meta descriptions, this is something that commonly goes unnoticed.

Sometimes these fixes can be done programmatically by pulling the first sentence on the page and setting it as the meta description but for a variety of reasons, this wasn’t possible for Renogy. One of those reasons is that their website is hosted on Big Commerce and this makes it more difficult. Another reason is that the first sentence wasn’t ideal for a meta description.

So long story short, I began manually fixing and creating hundreds of meta descriptions so that there weren’t duplicate or missing meta descriptions across all of their international websites. 

Internal Linking & Broken Internal Links

Internal links are a very important part of technical SEO, whether it be improving the internal linking throughout the website or fixing the broken links. We did both, starting with the broken links. 

Having broken internal links on your website is another common SEO issue that can not only harm your organic performance but also your user experience and revenue. 

When fixing the broken links, my initial focus was on top-performing product pages to make sure we weren’t losing revenue due to users not being able to purchase the product. 

This is another manual fix so some of it was done in unison with the meta description fixes since I was already going through the pages manually.

No-indexing Pages

It’s important to remove low-quality pages from Google’s search engine. 

Most of us have a habit of wanting all pages to be indexed in Google and I understand it. But when we think about how Google ranks a website, it doesn’t make sense to have our blog tag archives, author archive pages, and other similar pages indexed in Google, for a few reasons. 

  1. When you search for something in Google, you are presented with its search engine results page (SERP) and for that reason, Google doesn’t like to direct traffic to another SERP, even if it’s your own website’s SERP. 
  2. This typically isn’t a good user experience. If someone is searching for 
  3. For these reasons, Google won’t rank these pages very well and if you have a lot of low-quality pages, it will eventually harm your whole website.

For these reasons, we no-indexed any low-quality archive pages that were on the Renogy website. 

Content Creation

Now that the technical SEO is all done, let’s talk about the SEO content strategy and content creation that we executed. 

We began by creating a few pillar pieces of content that we could build a cluster strategy around. We defined a few high-traffic keywords that were essential to the business and created high-quality content around those topics. These pieces of content live at the top of the Renogy blog. 

We then created 3 to 4 pieces of related content that we used to link to these hub pages as well as internally linked dozens of existing content.

Aside from the hub pages, we consistently produce one new blog post each week for each of Renogy’s website properties. 

The other main piece of content that we created was what we refer to as customer service content.

E-commerce Customer Service Content

E-commerce Customer Service Content is essentially FAQ data that is specific to the page that it is on. Not only is it helpful for SEO, but it’s also helpful for the user experience. 

You can find this content on all the major ecommerce websites. 

Ex. Amazon

Ex. Best Buy

Renogy was missing this content on their core category solar panel listing pages, including their solar panel kits listing page, and by adding it, it helped us increase organic rankings of these pages and in return, drive more sales.

We’ve seen the most significant organic improvements to the pages that we added this customer service content to.

Results

After all of these improvements and about 6 months’ time, we are ranking #1 in Google for ‘solar panel kits’ – outranking Amazon and Home Depot when we previously weren’t ranking in the top 100. We also rank #4 for ‘solar kit’ when we previously weren’t ranking in the top 100.

In addition to that, we increased our ranking for ‘solar panels for sale’ from position 12 to position 5.

We’ve also seen significant improvements in tons of other organic keywords that are essential to Renogy’s business and bottom line. 

As I write this, organic traffic is up over 32% from when we finished our implementations and organic revenue is steadily increasing and growing about 37% quarter over quarter.