A Marketing Consultant’s 10 Questions and Answers

The following were questions I received from an AirPair customer. All email-to-blog content I make is secure and anonymous, and stored in the cloud for future reference and confirmation. 

1. What are some good keyword research tools, and how should I conduct my keyword research to get the best results?

This tool (Keywordeye) starts off pulling from Google UK since it was developed by a UK team, so you’ll have to change it to Google (your country). The nice thing is that it also has options for several other countries and returns results in other languages.

Google’s Keyword Planner is everyone’s default tool and should get the job done for you, but SEMRush is the gold standard in my opinion. Just type your website in there and it will show you what phrases you’re ranking for, who your competitors are, your growth the past year and more.

With Google’s Keyword Planner, start-off by typing in small, two-word keyword phrases. You’ll have your settings on broad match already so it will return a lot of results. Many will not apply to you, but when you find the results that do, you can create content ideas to target those specific phrases.

I’d suggest targeting keyword phrases that are at the very least 3 words – but four words would be ideal starting out, especially if your domain authority is low and this is your first crack at SEO.

2. How can I use Google Webmaster Tools to track my rankings, be strategic about what content I make and which pages I should update/create?

You can verify your site in Google Webmaster Tools by copy and pasting some code they provide you into your website’s header. Wait a little bit, and then you will have a verified account. At that point, Webmaster Tools will start to provide tons of data on all the search queries that people are typing into Google that are bringing up your site.

To be strategic, see where you’re on page two for certain phrases. Getting those to page one provides the biggest boost. Use the enormous list of keyword phrases to see what people are searching for – kind of like the way you would do keyword research.

If you don’t have good content aligning with the various phrases, you know you should make some or update existing content. If there’s a phrase on there that you really wanted to rank for but your position is, say, 40, that would be an indicator of a page you either want to update or revamp completely.

The “search queries” tab will allow you to filter by location. It reports your average ranking position, how many clicks and impressions you got for each phrase, and how all those numbers have changed the past 30 days.

Furthermore, you can see where you’re getting a high number of impressions on SERP’s but not a high click through rate. Check your titles to make sure they’re descriptive and sexy.

3. How can I use Google Webmaster Tools to check my website for SEO problems?

Webmaster Tools shows you the internal linking of your site, any 404 errors, any crawl errors (meaning Google can’t search your pages) and also provides an option for you to add structured data.

This webpage I wrote explains it all and is very valuable. Definitely check it out. WMT will also indicate duplicate content issues, a big SEO no-no. 

4. What are the current on-page SEO problems with my website?

In general, you want to look at the following factors on each page, and try to pick a keyword phrase from your research that the page can align with. 

  • Headers (H1)
  • Keyword phrase in the first paragraph or first sentence
  • Linking the keyword phrase
  • Including an image with alt-text of the keyword phrase
  • Other headers that include the keyword phrase
  • Overall keyword density (once every 150 words)
  • Keyword phrase in the URL

You may also want to change your site title to add more descriptive keywords. And definitely interlink the web pages on your site that relate to each other (also known as horizontal navigation). Google crawlers go from link to link on web pages, exploring their connections to help interpret their meaning.

5. What are the current off-page SEO problems with my website?

The big thing you need is backlinks from relevant sites. The relevancy of the backlink is more important than the quantity of backlinks you get. If your website is about art, get backlinks from other websites about art.

Backlinks can come in the form of:

  • link exchanges (trades with other web masters where you link to them and they link to you)
  • guest blogs
  • testimonials (you write a review of a person’s service/product and include your link in your signature)
  • Organic – you create amazing content that another person links to on one of their web pages or blogs because they think their readers would appreciate the content you made
  • Directory sites or social media profiles (generally these are no-follow)

Other off-page factors are listed here, and include social media followers, total website traffic, making sure you don’t have 404 errors, duplicate content or crawl issues.

6. What are some good SEO tools I can use to ensure I’m optimizing my website and pages correctly?

Depending on what you use to host your site, type into Google “(host name) SEO plugin.”

Generally speaking these plugins will give you information about the SEO variables on each page, like did you do your headers correctly, the URLs, alt text, etc. (If you have WordPress, use SEO By Yoast).

A good SEO audit tool to get started is http://www.seoptimer.com/. Type your site into the URL and it will return recommendations for different SEO factors your can improve.

The big one you should use is http://www.screamingfrog.co.uk/seo-spider/. This gives you very detailed info about your on-page seo problems and link issues.

You can also use SEOMoz tools, like www.opensiteexplorer.org which will keep you up to date on your sites domain authority and the page authority of different urls.

7. How do I get around the ‘not provided’ problem in Google analytics?

Within your Google Analytics, you’ll find that when you look at your ‘organic search’ traffic, the terms that people used to get to your site are hidden. In its place, it says ‘not provided.’

A nifty little trick you can use to find what keywords people typed is to filter the secondary dimension by ‘landing page.’

The topic or main content within that landing page can give you a hint as to what search phrase led people to it. If it was a blog post about San Francisco cafes, maybe that’s the term people Google’d.

This is important because unlike Webmaster Tools, you can start to see how this search traffic is performing, meaning how long did they stay on your site? How many pages did they visit? Did they convert into a customer? All of these numbers give you insight into how relevant people thought the content on that web page was and how value it is to you in terms of real dollars.

8. How can I use long-tail keywords to get more traffic?

An example of a long tail keyword phrase would be “hotels downtown in san martin” as opposed to “san martin hotels.” You could also try something like, “inexpensive foreign restaurants in san martin” as opposed to “restaurants in san martin.”

You should go long-tail and make your content very specific. This way you’re providing readers exactly what they’re searching for. You have a higher probability of ranking on the first page of Google for these keyword phrases because they’ll have less competition due to their exactness.

Here is a good article on long-tail SEO.

9. How long will it take me to see a difference in web traffic and in search rankings? What’s the best way to monitor my results?

SEO can take a lot of time. In rare cases where you have little competition and an SEO marketer, you may get results in about 4-6 weeks. But generally speaking, and for the difficult terms you want to rank for, it could take three to six months. During this time you’ll be writing a lot of search optimized content and building back links.

The best way monitor progress if webmaster tools – it’s free and has good filtering options.

10. How can I stay up to date on Google algorithm changes and learn more about current SEO best practices?

SEO is changing – some say rapidly, but I say it’s heading in one direction and the algorithm changes are all a part of Google’s journey toward making search result pages less reliant on keywords and more so on quality content. The algorithm is also being tweaked heavily to better understand the semantics of a search query, as people don’t always type exactly what they’re looking for.

Here’s a great way to stay up to date on these changes so you can take advantage of them with your content, giving you an edge over your competitors. You’ll also learn a great deal about the current SEO best practices.

Blogs to subscribe to:

1. Search Engine Journal

2. SEOMoz

3. Search Engine Round Table

4. Search Engine Land

Bonus: “5 SEO Hacks I’ve Learned While Consulting in San Francisco”

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