Before we start a campaign for a new client we use our knowledge and experience to evaluate the effectiveness of the site’s existing digital marketing. We call this a “digital health check”.
The health check looks at ways we can maximise your site for boosting search rankings, attracting more traffic and offering an excellent user experience to convert more visitors.
This article will take you through what we look for in six very easy steps.
1. Organic search visibility
We know how vital it is for your site to appear at the top of the search engines’ organic results pages. Most searchers will click on the organic – or free – listings at the top of the search results. More than one-third (roughly 40%) will click on the first result they see.
The image below shows typical click-through rates for the top of Google’s results:
Armed with this knowledge, it is easy for us to find missed opportunities: keywords that attract lots of traffic, but where the site isn’t ranking in first position. We’ll identify these keywords based upon relevant brand terms and products and services your business offers.
Visibility for key search terms: brand traffic
We start by evaluating the site’s performance for its main brand term. Generally, we would expect the site to be ranking in first position for its brand keywords. For example, we expect that the online clothing business “ASOS” ranks in 1st position for the brand name.
The table below shows a fictional site’s top brand keywords. It shows important information about each keyword, here is a quick breakdown of what they actually mean:
- Impressions- gives us a sense of the number of people who are searching for a particular keyword which in turn gives us an idea of the size of the market.
- Clicks – indicates the number of times that searchers visit the site.
- Click-through rate (CTR) – tells us how attractive the Google listing is.
- Average position – demonstrates how well the site is ranking on Google. The lower the score, the better it is.
We have highlighted terms that do not rank in first position – as these are missed opportunities:
|Query||Impressions||Clicks||Click-through rate (CTR)||Avg. position|
When a client’s site does not appear in first position on Google for important brand terms we would recommend:
- (i) an on-page site audit followed by
- (ii) a link building campaign.
These two activities should help push the site up Google’s listings, so that searchers can find it more easily.
Visibility for key search terms: non-brand searches
We would expect most established sites to rank well for brand keywords. In fact, when we see a high proportion of brand terms, we are usually missing an opportunity, because as marketers we want to focus on improving rankings for non-brand terms too. That’s how we’ll increase our market share and grow the business.
Before we start working with a client we’ll want to agree objectives. For example, we might know that only 10% of the site’s organic traffic comes from non-brand keywords. This shows that non-branded traffic remains largely untapped.
A link building and online PR campaign is the best way of generating the links needed to boost rankings for these non-brand terms. We will look at link building later in the post, before then let’s look at the site’s on-page SEO.
2. On-page SEO
Imagine your website is a racing car. As you can imagine a car must be mechanically sound if you want it to win races, so your website must be technically sound if you want to win at search engine optimisation (SEO). Therefore, when conducting a health check, we look into the technical infrastructure of websites to ensure ongoing marketing campaigns are built on strong, solid foundations.
On-page ranking factors
Search engines want to provide the best possible results for their users and send traffic to relevant authoritative sites. So it is important to ensure your website’s content is relevant to what people are searching for. The first step to achieving this is adding keywords on the most important page elements: the titles, descriptions and headings.
Sometimes, we find sites that are well optimised. But, where we feel there is room for improvement we would undertake keyword research to ensure that we are targeting the most profitable keywords for each page on the site.
Having conducted the keyword research, we would rewrite the website’s titles and descriptions to make sure that each is of an appropriate length, reads well and targets the most appropriate keywords.
Page Load Speed
There are many other factors that affect a site’s SEO .During our health checks, we explore the other factors to ensure that any obstacles preventing the site from ranking well are rectified or removed.
For example, Google uses page load times as a factor in its search ranking algorithms. It recommends a page load speed of 3 seconds or fewer. Therefore, slow loading web pages can harm rankings. To avoid this, it is recommended to speed up the page load time.
If during our health check we find a page load speed that is higher than the recommended level, we suggest ways to improve on this.
Broken Pages and Links
Similarly, broken pages and links are a negative signal to search engines, and devalue a site, causing it to rank badly in search engines. Sometimes for example, link equity is lost when a 404 page is not redirected properly.
These are just two examples of how a site’s rankings can be harmed by poor SEO. Before we start promoting a site we investigate and remedy any obstacles that prevent the site from ranking well in Google’s results.
3. Mobile Optimisation
Over the past 12 months or so, most of our clients have seen a sharp increase in the amount of mobile and tablet traffic arriving at their website.
While this additional traffic is welcome, we rarely see a proportional increase in conversions or sales. Usually this is because; mobile users aren’t getting the same quality of experience as desktop users.
As an initial piece of analysis we compare conversion rates for mobile and desktop devices.
The table below shows conversion rates for a fictional site. As you can see the conversations are much lower for mobile and tablet users. This suggests that mobile device users are getting a poorer experience.
|Device||Visits||Bounce Rate||Conversion Rate|
As a next step, we review the mobile version of the site and make recommendations about how to improve the users’ experience.
Often we find some simple changes to the marketing messages and screen layout can dramatically improve conversion rates.
4. Off page SEO: competitive analysis
As search engines want to send traffic to authoritative sites, Google measures a site’s authority by assessing the quality and quantity of the links it has attracted from other sites.
Before we start working with a client’s site we assess the site’s inbound links in order to get a sense of how easy (or difficult) it will be to rank well in Google’s results.
Let’s look at an example. The PPS Equipment website sells plastic packaging and pallets. It has a lot less authority than some of its competitors. Our research suggests the site has links from 38 sites. However, its competitors have many more links.
When you’re competing for rankings, a page published on your site should be able to out-perform your competitors site despite having fewer, albeit good quality links. You will struggle to compete against sites with greater authority.
Whilst the PPS site has attracted some links, we need to generate many more if the site is to compete effectively and climb to the top of Google’s results pages.
5. Recommended approaches to link building
Using our experience, we would recommend various creative tactics for promoting the site and links. Generally, this involves us working on the quality and variety of content on the site. Google loves fresh content so we recommend adding new website content to your site’s blog regularly.
We can work with you to create an editorial calendar and we would actively promote the content to our growing connections. Here’s run-down of some of the different content types we use in our link building activity.
How-to guides (PDFs)
One of the best ways of generating new leads is to publish PDF guides, which prospective customers can download.
We could work with you to create relevant material. Receptional has published a variety of PDFs, both on our own site and for clients. You can see an example here that explains how call tracking software works.
Once we have created content we can re-purpose it as infographics, videos, and blog posts.
Infographics and videos
Once we have created content we can re-purpose it as infographics, videos, and blog posts. We would approach our network of bloggers and ask them to host the content, with a link back to your website.
Once we start working with you, we’d set up alerts via Google and our in-house software, so that we’re aware of any relevant journalists looking for content.
Responding to journalists’ requests is a simple way to generate links and publicity. Over the past month we have generated mentions for one online retailer in The Sun, The Daily Mail and Cosmopolitan amongst others.
We’ll use our in-house software to identify your competitor’s best links and we’ll replicate, if not better them. This has a two-fold effect: it dilutes your competition’s link equity, whilst building your own.
We would want to increase the amount of original content on the site. We might, for example, invite more external authors to contribute content as a way of broadening the readership – and tapping into new audiences.
6. Analytics and measurement
Whether you’re running a small business or a large multi-national enterprise, it’s crucial to track the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.
Often when we start working with a new client one of our first tasks will be to improve the site’s analytics set-up. We believe it is crucial to know how effectively the site is fulfilling its objectives.
At the very minimum we would want to understand the site’s objectives (Goals) and measure how often these are being fulfilled.
For many business-to-business (B2B) clients, one of the website’s objectives will be to generate new business enquiries. We would want to set up Google Analytics (GA0 so that we know where new business leads are coming from. Once GA is configured you’ll be able to track incoming enquiries and you’ll know which marketing activities are working well.
While this article explored the reasons for conducting a health check and the various factors we consider, there is much more we can do to make the most of your website. If you’re interested in getting a higher ROI through your website, get in touch with us for a free website health check!