SEO

SEO: 6 Things to Do When You Have Nothing to Do

Search engine optimization is self-directed. Unless you’re being managed by another practitioner who tells you what to do and when to do it, SEO can be difficult to plan.

These six things can help fill your days with interesting work and deliver natural search value.

Plan SEO Projects

First, if you don’t have an SEO plan for the month or year, make one. Plans don’t have to be intimidating. Create a simple list of desired outcomes. Include events and campaigns you need to support. Make sure to pair action with a date.

Actions and dates can be updated as business situations change, but a plan without dates is certain to fail.

If your plan is on paper, put it somewhere safe that you can see regularly. Better yet, use an Excel spreadsheet and share it with your extended team — especially those whose assistance you’ll need. Planning to update default title tags? Loop in IT, legal, creative, and any other department you need to work with.

If you’re not sure what to put into your plan, read “4 Steps to Better SEO in 2019” or “7 Tips to Optimize Content for Search Engines.”

Prioritize Pages

One of the best ways to spend extra time is identifying which pages to optimize.

Priorities should always be based on demand versus performance. Demand is the measure of how many searches are performed in an average month for an individual keyword theme. You’ll find demand data in your keyword research.

One of the best ways to spend extra time is identifying which pages to optimize.

Locate keyword performance in your Google Search Console’s Performance report. Don’t look in your web analytics. Keyword data there is woefully inaccurate based on actions the search engines took years ago to guard searchers’ privacy.

Look for keyword themes that have high demand and compare that to keywords that have low impressions and clicks in Google Search Console. The next time you optimize content, you’ll know which pages to tackle first.

Reclaim Link Authority

Link authority is a huge contributor to natural search algorithms. The more links you have from other topically relevant, trusted sites, the more likely your site will rank prominently. Acquiring link authority isn’t easy. When you have it, you need to keep it.

When pages return 404 errors, links that pointed to them immediately stop driving authority to your site. When this happens en masse, such as in a site redesign or when an entire section is removed, all those 404 errors tell search engines to ignore those links. That can have a big impact on natural search performance.

You can fix the issue, though, by finding all of the URLs that return 404s, identifying which have link value, and insert 301 redirects.

The “Coverage” report in Google Search Console will tell you which of your pages are returning a 404 error. Taking that list and running the URLs through a tool such as Majestic’s Bulk Backlink Finder will identify if any had links pointing to them, to salvage. Those are the priorities to 301 redirect.

If you don’t have the Majestic or similar tool, look in your web analytics to see which of the invalid URLs drove the highest natural search traffic. High natural search traffic likely means higher link authority; thus target those for 301 redirects.

Find Technical Errors

Search Console’s Coverage report has more errors listed than just 404 pages. Look, especially, at 500 server errors and spikes in the number of “excluded URLs.” An increase in either means that Google can’t crawl your content. No crawl means no ranking and no traffic from natural search.

You’ll likely need help from developer’s to assess the reasons for the errors. But just flagging it may uncover a problem. Regardless, resolve crawl errors quickly as they impact natural search performance.

Browse Search Results

How often do you browse Google search results as a customer would? Start with a search phrase that your site should rank for. Does the search result appear like it should, with the blue link text and the black descriptive text and any rich snippets you expect to have shown?

How often do you browse Google search results as a customer would?

When you click to your site, do you land on a page that has a quick path to conversion? Is it obvious to new visitors? Is it even the right page?

As you browse, try to ignore your knowledge of the site. Look through the eyes of unfamiliar consumers. What would you change?

Spy on Competitors

Investigate your competitors. See their results or features that could spur new optimization ideas on your site.

Don’t overlook sites with different business models. Every site that ranks for your phrases is a competitor in natural search. You likely can learn something from every one of them.

  • Do they appear in Google’s position zero answer box or “People also ask” cards?
  • Do they have more content? Is it more or less optimized than yours?
  • How is their navigation or other internal linking structures?

Investigate, be open to what you find, and think how you could employ something similar. After considering it, the decision may be that it doesn’t fit your brand’s image.

But before you decide, consider an educational session for your extended team. Show them what’s ranking in your place and why. Solicit their ideas. You might be surprised by the response.

Jill Kocher Brown

Jill Kocher Brown

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