Think your SEO is fine unless you make a big change to your website? Think again.
Even if you don’t plan on making any changes, Google is always behind-the-scenes, tweaking their algorithm in ways that can have a big impact on your website.
In this previously-recorded webinar, produced in partnership with Greystone.net, we’ll show you how to stay up-to-date with SEO best practices and learn about new risks so you can mitigate them before they cause damage.
You will learn:
- What changes you make that would create an SEO risk
- What changes Google makes that ding your SEO
- How to mitigate internal and external SEO risks
Laura Clemmons 0:02
Welcome, and thank you for joining us this afternoon. My name is Laura Clemens. I'm Director of Operations for gray stone. I'm like to let you know that after this presentation, we'll be taking questions from attendees. If you need to ask a question, please use the box on the right side of the screen. There will also be a short survey at the end of this webinar, and we'd really appreciate your feedback.
Now I'd like to welcome our presenter today, Christy Jones. Christie is the Director of Marketing and Optimization at Reason One. She has over 15 years of marketing experience and helps healthcare organizations and nonprofits drive traffic, gain leads, and monetize revenue from their online channels. Christy's background includes specialized work marketing associations in conjunction with over 50 conferences and events. Now I will turn it over to Christy to to begin this afternoon's presentation.
Christy Jones 1:06
Great, thanks, Laura. And thanks, everyone for joining me today as we talk about SEO and maintaining SEO in times of change. As Laura said, my name is Christy Jones, I'm the Director of Marketing and Optimization for Reason One, I've been with Reason One for about four and a half years. And just looking at Reason One, we are a digital web and marketing agency.
We're a distributed agency with staff members across the United States as well as in Canada, and even in Ireland, as an association or I mean, as an agency, our mission is really to help those who do good, do better. We really seek out purpose driven organizations that are working to have them make an impact on the world. In terms of ourselves, we invest in our communities, and we believe heavily in volunteering. Many of our staff volunteer on a yearly basis doing various initiatives, we believe the web is for everyone. Accessibility is at the backbone of everything we do. We believe an accessible website is experience is of utmost importance. And we use our business as a force for good. It's not enough to simply drive profits, we're also trying to achieve that triple bottom line where we're supporting people and the planet as well.
So looking at today's outline, what are we going to talk about? Well, we'll start by talking about what are the risks? What are the risks for SEO? And then when are you at risk? What are the different types of changes that you could make that puts you at risk. And there's some strategies to mitigate those risks. And then we'll finally follow up with some questions and answers to starting out certain actions and events risk having a negative impact on your website's SEO.
What does that mean? Well, a negative impact on search engine optimization translates into a drop in your site in the search result rankings, which then translates into a drop in organic traffic and less people coming to your site. Inevitably, a large percentage of traffic that comes to website is from organic traffic from search results. And so any negative impact on SEO is going to have a direct impact on the amount of traffic coming to your site. And for healthcare organizations that could be less people coming to your site to find the providers they need, or to find a location of a health system. So these are real impacts and real results that search engine optimization could have on your website. Let's look at what are the risks. There are three major risks from site updates, a loss of links, a drop in organic traffic, and 404 pages. And so I'll go into a little bit of detail on each one of these.
Let's start with a loss of links. What is a lost link that no longer refers your site to rank on search engines? Essentially, it's a link where when somebody clicks on the link, they are not taken anywhere. They're not taken to the page that they intend to go to. And there is no redirect, so they're not then redirected to another page. They're essentially just taken to a dead end page not found.
Christy Jones 4:36
What are the risks of having this? Well, the risks are associated with both internal and external links. Looking at internal links, internal links are those links across your site where links on certain pages will then link over to other pages. And that internal linking has a lot of SEO benefit but there are also some risk associated with it when there's internal links are broken, your derailing the user's path or your site, you've now broken their user journey and essentially ruined their website experience. Nothing is more frustrating than click being on a website, clicking on a link to go to a certain page, and then just having that experience broken and not being taken to that page. And website experience, as we all know, is something Google factors into SEO when it considers SEO rankings.
Christy Jones 5:29
Then looking at internal links, site architecture changes can cause you to lose internal links. And site architecture changes are when you change the order of your pages on your site. And a lot of times with site architecture changes comm URL pages, and that those URL changes can lead to a huge loss of links. Because anytime your URL changes, if you're not checking your links to make sure that the URLs are also updated in the links, the result is a lot of broken links. And those broken links restrict the flow of like equity throughout your site. Link equity is the SEO value that those links bring. And when you have a broken link, all of that link equity value is just dropped, it's you know, it's goes down the black hole, it's no longer of value.
Now looking at external links, those are called backlinks. And it's when other websites link over to your website. And older higher authority pages tend to collect the most backlinks pages that have been on your site for quite a long time, what it could be some very popular blog posts, it could be your home page, it could be some of your services or condition pages. And when you lose those links, you'll lose all of those external backlinks. So anytime those links are broken, whenever people on those other websites click through and click on that link to go to your site. They're taken to that page not found they're not taken where they're intended to go. And what happens with that is all the equity you know, similar to with internal links, where you have SEO equity built up in the links that go to one another, it's the same thing with external links, there is a lot of SEO value in other websites linking over to your website. And when the link is lost and broken, all you lose all of that value.
Now let's look at a drop in organic traffic. Here is the risk without doing any type of SEO risk mitigation. You risk losing search engine rankings traffic's and leads. Here you can see a drop in website users, it's a pretty significant drop, and this drop was a result of a website launch. I will say without doing any type of risk mitigation, when you redesign a website, you can expect to see a loss in organic traffic. It typically takes anywhere between three and six months for that traffic to rebound. But that traffic can be significant. And within those three to six months, it can translate into a significant business impact for your site.
So looking at the risks, there are three main areas that we want to look at. The first are search result rankings, and that is changes in keyword rankings causing a shift in overall search result rankings. This goes without saying, search results are driven by keywords. They're driven by the keywords that users use when they type something in a type a search query in a search engine. They're driven by the keywords that your web pages rank for that cause them to appear in the search result listings. And they're also the backbone of the content that's on your site. It's made up of keywords. So content changes that can potentially eliminate keywords that were ranking cause a drop in organic traffic because it causes less of your pages on your website, to have the ability to rank in search results. 301 redirects during site redesigned, or URL changes, anything that can result in changing URLs. If you don't set up 301 redirects to redirect that URL to a new page, you're going to end up with a page not found which is otherwise known as the 404 error. And anytime you have that, that is going to have a direct impact and direct result in a drop of organic traffic and a drop in the amount of traffic to your site. And it can be changes to the domain the subdomain or protocol. So whether you're moving your blog from being a subdomain to a sub folder, or whether you're changing certain URLs to be more SEO friendly, any of those types of changes. If they aren't accompanied by 301 redirects which take them to the new web page, then you're going to have a broken page, you're going to have a 404 error, and you're going to have a drop in your organic traffic.
And then finally, crawl issues. Google and Bing, the way that they understand and index your site and know what your site's about, is by crawling it. And when they crawl it, it's similar to, I would say, file folders they go in, they look at how the site's organized, and they go through those file folders or the pages of the navigation to understand which pages are most important. What is the content of the pages? is it relevant? What are the main keywords on the pages, and is this a good user experience, and all of those things, then factor into whether or not your pages show up on search results listings. So if Google and Bing can't crawl your site, then those pages don't have the opportunity to show up in search results. And you're going to see a drop in your organic traffic. Now let's talk about four four pages. What's the four four page before a four page indicates that a user reached the domain they requested, but the URL path provided no information. That's a fancy way of saying that the user tried to go to a URL. But when they went to the URL, they ended up at a dead end page not found, you know, we've all seen those pages four four error page not found, there's nothing more frustrating to a user experience than trying to go to a web page and getting stuck with that 404 page not found. There are many things and risks that can result in four, four pages. One is page level changes that create broken internal links throughout the site. And we talked about internal links earlier. And when those internal links change, the URLs change, that can result in 404, page errors, changes to URL structure can have the ripple effect. I've seen URL structure changes where a site has updated the organization or the site architecture of their site. And this has resulted in a large number of URLs changing. And the ripple effect of that was that it created a large number of four or four pages, because there were still links out there, there were still bookmark pages out there that were sending people to the old pages. And that resulted in hundreds and even 1000s of 404 pages. And ultimately, four or four pages, stop the flow of page authority, all of your SEO page authority, all of that equity and SEO juice that's in the page that helps that page. Once it hits a 404 you lose all of that. So we've talked about what are the risks? Now let's look at when are you at risk, what are the different types of changes that occur that can put you at risk for those SEO impacts.
There are four main events that I wanted to talk about a website redesign changes in URL structure, major content changes, and algorithm updates. So first, let's look at the website redesign. A website redesign. It's a complex and comprehensive process of revamping your site. It typically includes updating your content, changing your information architecture, changing your site architecture, improving your navigation, updating your design, and layouts, all to achieve better conversions and site performance. The ultimate goal of a website redesign is to come out the other end with a better site that performs better for the healthcare world. That could be a site where patients can more easily find the information that they're looking for, where they can more easily request and schedule appointments. And all of those things that go into the redesign have the goal of just getting people to do the actions they need to do more easily and in a more streamlined way. But website redesigns carry a significant level of risk to existing organic revenue and rankings.
As you can see here, this is a chart showing organic sessions. The redesigns can cause disastrous dips in organic traffic. It's similar to the chart I showed you earlier. When you have a redesign, you can have a huge drop organic traffic. And because organic traffic is a significant part of your site's overall traffic, that can mean a huge dip in the overall number of people coming to your site. So why why do website redesigns pose an SEO risk? What is it about them that is so risky. And some of these things we've talked about earlier, a change in user experience. Anytime you're changing the user experience, you're changing the flow of pages, you're changing the user journey, you're changing the way that the user interacts with the website. And those are all things that Google takes into consideration when it does it search rankings, user experience and page experience are factors that Google takes into consideration and ranks highly when it looks at search rankings. For errors, you know, we've talked about this multiple times. With website redesigned URLs are changing, Nat can lead to four or four errors. You can also have a loss in keyword rankings. With a redesign, you're changing your content, you're updating your content. And sometimes those updates cause a drop in the usage of keywords. That were the reason that your pages were ranking highly in search results. When you get rid of those keywords, then you lose those rankings. And that loss in search rankings can also be attributed to the ultimate loss in organic traffic, you can see a potential drop in performance metrics and KPIs. When you're losing that much organic traffic across the board, your performance metrics are going to suffer. Then finally, a lack of custom metadata. When I'm talking about custom metadata, I'm looking at page titles, I'm looking at meta descriptions, a lot of those elements that are customized on websites. But when you do a website redesign that doesn't necessarily automatically carry over. And so if that's not addressed through the redesign, then you're going to lose that. And that can have a negative impact on your SEO. So let's look at changes in URL structure. URL structures tell Google what different pages of the website are about in how they relate to each other changes to URLs can have a significant impact on how visible you are on Google and ultimately affect your rankings. Let's talk about that for a minute. URL structures have the structure where you have the domain, then you have the route, and then the sub folders and then the pages. And that is how Google understands the way your website is made up. And the way your pages are organized in relation to each other. So anytime you make changes to your to your URLs, you're changing the way Google views your website, and views how the different information and pages on your website relate to each other. And all of that factors into your search engine rankings.
Why URL changes pose an SEO risk. Here's another chart that shows a drop in organic search visits. The difference with this one is that this company had a redirect strategy and they had optimization strategies in place. So while they did see that lost in organic search visits after launch, they also saw an immediate rebound. And ultimately, they ended up in a much better position than they started with. So it just goes to show that you know even with URL changes with website redesigned, they can and likely will cause a decrease in your organic traffic. But by putting in place strategies, you can rebound that traffic and you can even get your your organic traffic in a better place than it was pre launch. And the other reason URL changes pose an SEO risk that dreaded 404 page not found error.
Major content changes. Let's look at that for a minute. I want to preface this adding new content and boost SEO, Google loves fresh content. It loves new content. So adding new content can help your SEO however, major changes to page content can negatively impact your SEO visibility, your traffic and your rankings. And by this I'm talking about significant changes to the page content that already exists. And I added this slide - it's anatomy of site content. I like this slide because it just shows all of the different types of pages that comprise a website, and all the different areas where we could be changing content, we could be changing organization, we could be changing structure. So there's really a lot of opportunities for changes to happen that can impact our SEO. So what content changes put your at risk? What are those major content changes that you need to look out for? The first is main page content. When I talk about major main page content, I'm talking about your homepage, I'm talking about your top level navigation pages, I'm talking about those pages that received the highest number of traffic, making major changes to the content on those changes, or to the content on those pages can put you at SEO risk. Also, your navigation menu, your navigation menu has a huge influence on the user journey and how the user gets to the pages that they want to go to. So changing your navigation menu can put you at risk, because you're now changing the user experience and the user journey. Same with information architecture. When you change your information architecture, you're changing the order of the pages and how they're configured. With that configuration, the changing of the content in that configuration can put you at risk blog, major content changes to the blog, the blog, and blog articles can have a huge impact on SEO. For many sites, the blog is the one biggest opportunity to maintain fresh content and new content. So making major content changes to your blog could put you at risk, one content change that could happen is if you change the URL structure of your blog, then suddenly all of your blog URLs change. That's a huge risk. And then looking at headers, headers are those H1 tags, or the main heading over the information on your website pages that tell the users what it is they're about to read. And it tells Google what it is that the page is about. Those headers are a big ranking factors when it comes to search result listings and changing those headers can have a big impact on your search result listings, it can have a big impact on the user experience as well. And then finally, looking at rich contents videos images, there are some SEO benefits to both videos and images with videos you can have video transcripts with images, you have image alt tags, but one thing you do have to be careful of is the ratio of content, text to rich content and making sure that you maintain a healthy ratio so that you don't suffer from what SEO calls thin content, where you have a low proportion of text to the number of videos and images on your page.
And here's another one of those dreaded charts. Content changes can cause disastrous drops in keyword rankings. This is a chart of keyword rankings. And as you can see, this drop happened after major content changes happened to a site. So they do carry a significant level of risk to your existing keyword rankings, which if you think about it, it makes sense whenever you're changing your content, you're changing your keywords. When you're changing your keywords, you're changing those things that determine how your pages rank in search results. Now let's look at algorithm updates. And when I'm talking about algorithms, talking about those formulas that search engines use to determine whether a web page is relevant, whether it has a good user experience, what the type of content is on the page, what the page experience look like. These are all factors. And search engines use these factors to determine search engine rankings. And the algorithm is always unique to search engines. Google uses a completely different algorithm than being uses. So there is no one broad generic algorithm. It's all unique to the different search engines that you're using rosae SEO should beat the competition, not the algorithm.
I cannot express enough you cannot outsmart the algorithm. SEOs for years have tried to figure out the algorithm, outsmart it, determine what the formula is. And it's just impossible. The algorithm changes so often. So the goal isn't to figure out the algorithm. The goal is really to adapt and respond to the algorithm faster than your competition because ultimately, you're competing with other websites for those search result rankings. And so when their algorithm updates, the quicker you can adapt and respond, the quicker you can ensure that you maintain your search result listings, and potentially increase your listings in response to your competitors. So understand the roles, become an expert, Think fast, act fast and play to win. Let's look at Google's focus on the user experience because algorithms change all the time. And there are major algorithm updates, usually, at least once a year, they will have some very significant algorithm updates.
Now, this is just Google's algorithm. And if we look at this, what you'll notice is there was a trend that started around 2015. And it was a trend towards mobile, they made a mobile update, which focused on mobile content in the users experience on mobile, then it became pertinent that a site was mobile friendly, then it became very important that a site was mobile first, and that the content on the mobile version of the site was the content that Google was going to index for search results. And that was a trend that is still going on today. But really sparked and was the catalyst for the importance of your site's mobile design and mobile version.
Now what we're going into is the page experience update, and where it's really looking at the experience, that experience the user has on your web page, how fast that page loads, and specifics that are called core web vitals. I won't get into too deep and technically into this because it gets very technical very quickly. But core web vitals breaks down the page load speed, so it's no longer a matter of Google likes your page to load within three seconds, it has been broken down into how long it takes the majority of your page to load how long it takes until that page has interactivity to it, and how long it takes until all of the images and content on that page are visually stable. These, these are now major ranking factors that Google takes into consideration when determining search result listings. So these are now new metrics that you have to keep in mind. And you have to monitor on an SEO basis. Google Search Console reports on core web vitals, so you can log into your Google Search Console account and see how your different pages are performing when it comes to the core web vitals and where there may be pages where that needs to be optimized.
So looking at why algorithm updates pose an SEO risk algorithm updates, they can impact search result rankings, they can impact your website traffic, they can impact your over SEO match overall SEO metrics. One thing about algorithm updates is that their impact can be noticed immediately. There's always a buzz around the SEO industry and on the blogs about when the next update is going to happen. And when it does, you see a lot of chatter about some sites having a negative impact because these are algorithm updates will always impact some sites, and not others, it depends on the nature of the update. But you can see the impact immediately. That's the good thing. You don't have to wait and see. Once there's an algorithm update, you can log in and look at your organic traffic and see the impact that it had. And while there are hundreds of algorithm updates per year, approximately 10 to 15 of them are significant and affect SEO. And I would say out of that 10 to 15. You know, maybe one is going to be a major major update that's going to have a major impact on SEO.
So now let's look at some strategies to mitigate mitigate these SEO risks. We've talked about what the risks are, we've talked about when you're at risk. So let's talk about what you can do to minimize that risk. The goals of SEO risk mitigation is to keep search engines informed about changes to website structure. You want to make sure that Google always knows what's going on in the most recent copy of your website. You want to help retain keyword authority and SEO authority. You want to minimize any last organic search traffic and transfer previous keywords and content that was redesigned over to new content pages. So looking at strategies, I want to talk about three main strategies to mitigate the SEO risk. I want to talk about 301 redirects, custom for four pages, and custom metadata.
Let's start with 301 redirects. 301 redirects there used to direct users from a page on the old site to a page on the new site, with the result being so that they don't land on one of those dreaded dead end for a four page not found. And this can be during a website redesign where you're directing from the old site page to the new site page. Or it could be during a major content change where you're just updating the URL structures. And you want to redirect from the old URL structure to the new URL structure. The benefits of 301 redirects are that they transfer backlink value to a new page. As we talked about earlier, backlinks are those external websites that are linking to your site. All of the value that comes with that is maintained when you redirect your URLs to a new page also transfers page authority to the new page page authority is a determination of how credible Google thinks your pages. And so page authority is also a good determination of what are your chances of ranking highly in search results. So when you set up those 301 redirects, that page authority is going to transfer to the new page as well. And then also it prompts search engines to de-index the old URL, because ultimately, we don't want that old the old URL to show up in search results listings. We want to de-index so that the new URL will show up instead.
System strategies for 301 redirects, like how do we approach them, what we recommend is analyze. Always start by analyzing the data. Look and determine what your high value SEO pages are. And I have a max of 100 pages here, just because you don't necessarily want to redirect every single page, you want to look at those pages that are providing an SEO value to your website. And that can include your top organic search landing pages, your top traffic site pages, what are those pages on your site that that get the highest volume, the pages with their high value keywords? Which pages do you have keywords that are ranking in positions one through three or even one through five? Those are key SEO pages. So you definitely want to make sure you redirect those your top level navigation. Just because that is almost the gateway of your website. Those are the top level pages that users go through on their journey to then get where they want to go. And pages with a high number of backlinks. Backlinks are a major ranking factor for search result listing. So if you have pages that have a high number of backlinks, you want to make sure you have 301 redirects set up so that all of that backlink value can transfer to a new page. And then once you've determined what those high value pages are, you want to map the redirects, which is just taking the old URL and assigning a URL to to that URL so that it can be redirected from one to the other.
Looking at implementation of it. First is setting the redirects to the new URLs so that they point to the new version. And then once all of that's done in the 301 redirects have been implemented, you want to submit your XML sitemap to search engines. And that for Google, it's through Google Search Console. For Bing, it's through Bing Webmaster Tools. And the reason for that is that submitting your sitemap is saying to Google and Bing, hey, I've made some updates to my website, go ahead and crawl it. So that way, they can update the pages. And they can work quickly crawl the site, index the new pages index, the 301 redirects, and that will help minimize any for for errors and ultimately minimize the negative impact to organic traffic. And then finally, keep the redirects You know, this isn't a temporary process. This isn't something that is meant to only happen for a short period of time. You keep the redirects for as long as possible, because you never know how long URLs may be out there that are pointing to the old pages. And you just want to make sure that you have your bases covered there. And then whenever those do occur, they're always redirected to the new pages so that you can maintain and transfer over all of that SEO value.
Custom 404s. So, I've talked about that dreaded 404 page not found, what's the custom 404 page? Well, a custom 404 page, it takes away the confusion of not landing on the page they had intended to land on. As I said, it's extremely frustrating when users intend to go to a URL intend to get to a web page and end up at a page not found. Instead, the custom four four takes away some of that frustration, it lets the user know that there's an error with the request. Maybe they mistyped the URL, maybe the pages temporary unavailable, or maybe the page no longer exists. But regardless, it has the opportunity to reroute them to key parts of the website. So instead of being a dead end page, this is now an interactive page. This is no a page where the user understands that there was an error. But they have the opportunity to continue their user journey by clicking on one of the links on the for for page that can take them to key areas of the site. And the result of that is a reduction in frustration. And also a reduction in the bounce rate, you're not going to have the users just leaving your site anymore, they can then reroute and continue on their user journey. So on the right you can see an example of a custom 404 page. It has been 404, sorry, we couldn't find that page. But that's about at the bottom, they've listed some important links to key pages on their site. And that is the key strategy include internal links back to key areas of the site, and then also be creative. This is an opportunity to show your brand's fun side, you're taking what is typically a frustrating experience in turning it into a positive one. So definitely be fun with it be creative, and make sure that the user has a good experience when they land on the custom for four page.
Custom metadata. Your website metadata consists of the page title, and meta description for every page. This information provides search engines with the data they need about the content and the purpose of the individual pages on your website. It helps them determine whether the website is relevant, and whether it should display in search results. It also helps the user determine whether the website page is is relevant to them. The strategy for this is really keyword research. When you're looking at your metadata and your page title and meta descriptions, you're looking at the information that is going to appear in your search result listings. What you want to do is align that information with the keywords that the user may be searching for. Because when they search for a query in search engines, they're then presented with a series of search results. If they see those keywords they were searching for. That's an alignment, that's going to increase the likelihood that they click on that search result listing. And so conduct keyword research to determine what are those target keywords. Really look for keywords. Do you want a high search volume and medium competition. And by medium competition, I mean, you don't have a ton of other websites tried to compete for that same keyword. And then finally, long tail keywords, long tail keywords or ideal long tail keywords have a higher click through rate. And what I mean by long tail keywords are just those search phrases or those keyword phrases that have a higher number of words involved. With implementation, right, custom metadata, and this is the title tags and meta descriptions are used by Google to understand page context and influence search engine rankings. And this is something that right now is heavily talked about in the SEO industry. But I definitely stand behind that while meta descriptions aren't an official Google ranking factor, they lead to higher click through rates. And the higher click through rates lead to higher rankings. You could have the first spot in the search result listings. But if your meta description isn't tailored to the user intent, the searchers intent, it's not customized, it's generic, then the likelihood that the user is going to click on that listing goes down significantly. And ultimately, if users aren't clicking on your search result listings, you're not going to maintain a number one spot for very long. Because click through rate does matter. click through rate shows relevancy and a higher click through rate shows to Google. Yes, this page should stay high and search result listings. And as you can see at the bottom, the title tag is the hyperlinked information that shows in the search result, and the meta description is below. And that is just the description of the page. And so it shows users what they're about to see, when they click through to the page. And with metadata. You know, the same thing that I tell clients who may be advertising, your goal is really to maximize alignment between the freight those search phrases users enter into the search engine, and then what they see in this search result listings. And then the content that's on the web page that they click through to, if you have keyword and message match continuation across the three, then you're going to have a really great user experience and a great user journey. And that's going to result in more conversions and a more successful website.
So we've talked about a lot of stuff here. Let's summarize it. When are you at risk, website redesigns, changes in URL structure, major content changes in algorithm updates. What are the risks? The risk of link loss, the risk of organic traffic drop, which is a big one, and then the risk of 404 pages. Finally, what are the strategies to mitigate the risks, 301 redirects, custom 404 pages, and custom metadata. If you have any other follow up information you want or want to continue the conversation, we're happy to definitely reach out. And we can talk a little bit more about this. But with that, I'm going to turn it over to Laura to have some questions and answers.
Laura Clemmons 42:05
Thank you so much. All great insights. So at this point, I would like to open it up for questions. And please submit your questions using the toolbox on the right side of the screen. I'm going to look real quick. So we do have a question here. How do you recommend conducting keyword search?
Christy Jones 42:32
That's a great question. When doing keyword research, the good thing is to just implement and utilize the tools that are available to you. One is Google Ads Keyword Planner, it's a free tool, and it allows you to enter in seed keywords. So it may be the keywords that are currently sending people to your website, those keywords that you think are the most important keywords on your site, you can enter them into Keyword Planner, and it will give you ideas of other keywords like that. And along with those keywords, it will show you the search volume. So you'll be able to see the different keywords and how many people are searching on those keywords. If you wanted to look into some of the paid tools that do keyword research, there's SEO Moz, sem rush, cognitive SEO, Search metrics, like they're all going to have an element of keyword research that allows you to look at not only your site and keywords that you enter in, but you can look at your competitors, and see what keywords your competitors are ranking for. Because that's a strategic tactic as well look at those keywords that your competitors are ranking for, but potentially in position, you know, seven to 10 and then see, do you have an opportunity to rank higher than your competition? Because sometimes, you know, your competition is ranking for those keywords that are valuable keywords that could lead to conversions. And so you want to implement tactics on your site to rank higher than them in search result listings.
Laura Clemmons 44:10
Perfect. Thank you. I do have a few more questions coming in. The first one is could you give insight into international ranking?
Christy Jones 44:24
Sure, international ranking requires definitely some specific tactics related to country targeting and language targeting. And when we're looking at country targeting, you want to make sure that you're specifying your target country and or the target region with an international friendly URL structure. And with that URL structure, toggle at the end of the URL, we often have.com Well, you can tailor that for an international audience. So you could have .ca for Canada, or .fr for France, .mx for Mexico, all countries would have their own code. And that is a way to target and indicate what country the content on the page is about. And then looking at language targeting, you want to establish which language your pages are targeting with the use of language tags. And language tags are just meta tags that can be used in the meta data part of the website code to indicate what language you're targeting and what language the contents in. And finally, create a maintaining the content in the target users language. If you're going to have the international friendly URL structure, if you're going to utilize the language tags, then make sure that the content on the page matches with those language tags. And with the URL structure.
Laura Clemmons 45:56
And how big of a priority is meta description to the new Google updates?
Christy Jones 46:05
Meta description with the new Google updates. Meta description is not a direct ranking factor. However, meta descriptions are one of the best things that you can do to help improve your click through rate. Your meta description is a key factor in your click through rate. And your click through rate is a key factor in your search result listing. So while they are not a direct ranking factor, they have a very heavy, heavy influence on your search result listings. And beyond that they have a heavy influence on your user experience. Because when you have custom meta descriptions that really explain what the page is about and include keywords incorporated into it that are describing what the page is about, you increase the likelihood that the user clicking on that page is really searching for the information that's on the page that they get to. Because ultimately, it's not always about the quantity of traffic, it's about the quality of traffic, and custom meta descriptions help increase the quality of your traffic. And when you have higher quality traffic, you have higher conversions and higher performance on your site.
Laura Clemmons 47:23
So how do you balance visuals on the site without compromising quality and Seo?
Christy Jones 47:31
Well, that's a tough one. And it's very, if you try to look at what the recommended ratios are of text, HTML or text, image and visuals, you'll get numbers anywhere from 25 to 70%. I always recommend that visuals should complement the content on the site. Nobody wants to go to a website and just have long form content. And that's it visuals help break up the content. They help complement the content to understand what the contents about they give opportunities for image alt tags. But you don't want to have so many visuals that you run the risk of thin content. And what I mean by thin content is the amount of text on your page in proportion to the amount of visuals. If you have just a couple bullets of text and a bunch of visuals around it, Google may look at that page as thin content and that can hurt your chance for that page to rank in search results. So to strike always striking in maintaining a good balance between the two.
Laura Clemmons 48:46
Great, and does it help your SEO to include keywords and alt tags? Are there other ways to enhance SEO with all tags?
Christy Jones 48:58
Yes, definitely can help alt tags are a great benefit of images to SEO because they provide the opportunity to incorporate keywords that said, The main purpose of image alt tags is for accessibility. People that are using screen readers aren't going to see the images they're going to see the alt tags. So what's important is that the alt text that you enter in, describes what that image is about. And what I always recommend to clients is that when you're using target keywords in image tags that you do it naturally, you know keyword stuffing is never a good idea. But if there are opportunities to naturally use your keywords in your image alt tags to describe what the image is about, then that's going to give you a little bit of an SEO boost.
Laura Clemmons 49:54
And something I'd like to interject with the accessibility, readability, SEO, all of these things are really hard to balance on top of having your user, you know, wanting them to be able to go to your website and, and see something that's visually appealing. Do you happen to have any examples of, of maybe a page that would meet all those criteria?
Christy Jones 50:32
I'm trying to think offhand of a page, I know that when we build websites for clients, we build websites that are accessible. And so a lot of it when you're talking about accessible design, you're focusing on contrast. So definitely the contrast of colors, looking at the background, color the text on it, making sure that it's readable, you're looking at font sizes, to make sure that the font size is large enough that it's easily readable, when you're looking at designs and imagery is making sure that there's alt text for that imagery. Or if you're using something like a carousel, making sure that a user can scroll through that carousel with their keyboard and not just their mouse. And so while offhand I can't think of a page, it's just little elements, but accessibility is becoming such a larger and more prevalent importance in the website world that I think accessible design is getting on the forefront. And it's becoming, it's becoming not as difficult to have an excessively designed website that still looks great, and functions great. Like there's, there's no reason to compromise one for the other anymore.
Laura Clemmons 51:55
Great, thank you for that. And how do you monitor and report progress with SEO? How do you report current state and progress with SEO and KPIs to monitor?
Christy Jones 52:09
Sure, I use two main tools. They're free tools, Google Analytics and Google Search Console. In Google Analytics, I use that to look at the organic traffic coming to my website, you can apply segments in Google Analytics. So I will apply a segment to filter all the data down to just the organic traffic. And when I do that, I could see conversions and goals by organic traffic, I can see, you know, the user journey of the organic traffic visitors and which pages they leave the website. And that really gives you a good insight into how your organic traffic behaves, and what the opportunities are for SEO optimization, or A/B testing to try to improve that user journey. And the second is Google Search Console. Google Search Console is a platform designed solely for organic traffic, it's going to tell you the crawlability how many pages are indexed on the site. It's going to show you the search queries that not only your website appeared in search results for but which search queries actually people clicked on. So you'll see the click through rate of different search phrases. And that's extremely important in understanding what are the keywords that are driving people to your website? But also what are the keywords that your website showing up, but people aren't clicking on? Because that's a key area of optimization, as well. And so I utilized metrics from both of those just to keep an eye on the pulse of the organic traffic and how it's performing in proportion to the rest of the site.
Laura Clemmons 53:49
And does reusing content in multiple places on your site and negatively impact SEO?
Christy Jones 53:58
It definitely has the possibility of negatively impacting SEO, I would say it depends on how it's done. And the purpose, I would have to question what the intent would be reusing content in multiple places looking at it. From the user experience point of view. If there's certain content that the user is looking for, then there's a specific journey they should take to get to that content. And if you're reusing it multiple places, you're creating a disjointed user journey. However, if it's certain things like locations of certain hospitals, and you want to include that content in multiple places of your website, so it's easy to find stuff like that, no, it's not going to hurt you. from an SEO standpoint, if you have large long text forms of content, paragraphs of content, and you just want to verbatim repeat that on multiple plate pages of the site, then you are at the risk of duplicate content. So I would say at the very least read purpose that content so it's written in a different format or a different way. So it's not just a straight duplication.
Laura Clemmons 55:10
Great. Well, I know we've thrown a lot of questions at you. We appreciate it. And it was a wonderful presentation, like to thank our speaker. And please remember, there's a brief survey following the conclusion of this webinar. Thank you so much. And like I said, Don't forget to fill out the survey.
Christy Jones 55:40
Right? Yes, thank you everyone for coming to the webinar. I hope you enjoyed it and learned a lot.