12 months is a long time in search, so how can site owners large and small stay agile and ensure they move with the times?
At A4U Europe in Amsterdam, Jon Quinton from SEO Gadget discusses how to keep up to date with SEO in this fast-paced industry with lots of algorithm updates. Including what tools to use, how to react, and how to analyse data to help you stay on top of your SEO and how to react should a shift in rankings impact your business.
What do site owners need to know and do?
You need to gain a solid understanding of your search landscape. Keep up to date with industry news and how it affects your landscape particularly. How are your competitors doing? Make sure you know this. Learn to analyse what’s changing. You need to understand some data and find out the story it’s telling you, you can take out the guesswork to move forward. Be in a position to react really quickly – this is really important. With clients, the biggest issue is low resource when something does happen. Panda and Penguin is a great example of how a lot of resource may be needed very quickly.
Understanding the Landscape
Know where there’s a flux and understand it. 2 weeks is a long time to be offline, as Jon found out. Mozcast is a great way of identifying this flux at a first glance. It won’t give you the answers but gives you an idea if there’s something to check. Search Metrics is also great at a first glance of organic visibility. Moz also has a great algorithm change timeline, which you can use against analytics to see if they tally up with your own metrics. Chart Intelligence is also a great chrome plugin that plots dates within analytics for all kinds of algo updates. To glance at industry updates, SearchCap is a great resource.
Be the First Person to Know
If you’re good enough, you may be able to see an algo update before it’s announced. AWR is a great rank checking application. Use it with multiple proxies and run as frequent as you want. SEO Gadget run rankings daily, as well as competitors, so they know what changes have happened very quickly when they look at 9am. Custom alerts in Google Analytics – great for things such as drop in organic traffic by over 20% in 24 hours.
Identify and Watch Competitors
Search Metrics again is a great resource, especially looking at the winners/losers table – SEO Gadget study the losers table to see if there’s anything obvious that made them lose to ensure they don’t do it themselves. Again, Search Metrics is a great way of looking at competitors and their relevant SEO visibility.
Always ask ‘Why?’
Using the information already covered, you’ll know who’s won already. Ahrefs.com gives you a quick glance at how ‘natural’ your competitor’s backlink profile might be. Their charts on top referring TLDs and referring pages for anchor phrases are extremely useful. Also, their referring domains chart is a great way to see if competitors are removing links over time. OSE just discovered is brilliant for mentions on Twitter, and can let you idenfity if you (or a competitor) are getting good mentions and PR over Twitter. Sites that dominate the SERPs are still good to study so you can see how they execute their SEO strategy.
Prepare some Resource
After a penalty, resource is the biggest issue. Development resource is important – try to get them booked in early in preparation for potenital work. Content improvements is another big issue as it’s a big job if a lot of content is needed in a short space of time. Link removal needs a lot of manual labour – studying, identifying, requesting, maintaining – usually more than you think and it’s tough. Don’t have resource? Copy – peopleperhour.com (in Jon’s opinion, better than oDesk).oDesk is great for “heavy lifting” – but you need to police this outsourcing to make sure you find the right people. Design – dribble.com, Behance.net (starting to bend towards the Behance for quality work). Tip: start with smaller tasks to see how the freelancer system works so you get a feel for it.
Keep Detailed Records
Especially with link removal – keep a record of everything. Make a Google Doc of everything and categorise everything to make life easier
Learn to Analyse Data
Raw link data is cool, but you need to make it work for you. Use MajesticSEO or OSE or Ahrefs – or a combination of all 3 – then pull in metrics you want within Excel. Use SEO Tools for Excel and macros and you can easily plot anything – including linking C block peaks and quality of linking domains. With the latter you want the “fat man sleeping” – a dome shape in the middle of the chart.
The same goes for onsite too. Webmater Tools is great for identification but you need to do the rest. One cool thing is to download the crawl errors and seeing the proportion of HTTP status issues sitewide.
Build your own Reports
Use the SEO Gadget Majestic added Links API tool for Excel to combine all data and identify any fluxes. Use XPathOnUrl to find what page a site is placed in SERPs. Use majesticAPI_toFit to find top 10 anchor text by domain. Coupled with the number of referring domains lets you see how you are doing against your competitors.
Jon Quinton – SEO Gadget
Jon is an SEO Consultant at SEO Gadget, a UK based Search Agency