Does your website show up in the search results for phrases that will create an actual lead or a customer?
Google will look at your website as a whole to try and determine what phrases you should show up for in search results. Besides links to your website and E-A-T (Expertise, Authority, and Trust), Google looks at the actual words used throughout your website.
Many searches for local wedding vendors will comprise of the area and the needed industry. As an example, if a bride-to-be is searching for a New Jersey wedding DJ, her searches may include South Jersey wedding DJ, Philadelphia Wedding DJ, Cape May Wedding DJ, Gloucester County wedding DJ and wedding DJ near me.
With many/most of the top search results going to authoritative directories like The Knot, Wedding Wire and Yelp, it is vital that your company shows in the local maps 3-pack. See the image below for reference.
Location is very important. You need to review search volumes for your area based upon location. Henderson, NV is the second-largest city in Nevada. Even though Las Vegas and Henderson are located next to each other, the number of searches for Henderson vendors is a smidgeon compared to those for Las Vegas. This is why vendors need to target both searches even though a business may be located in Henderson.
Google needs to know the area in which you conduct business. This is why it is vital to have your keyword phrases within the verbiage of your website. Your pages must be optimized for the locations so that you can try to obtain rankings in search for such terms.
Next, you want to review what searches your website does show in Google search to verify if you are targeting the correct intent. If you are ranking for North New Jersey photographer but you are located in South New Jersey, you are not getting the correct targeted potential customers to your website. Plus, if you show up for searches on how to take your own wedding pictures, there is a high probability that these searches will not turn into a lead.
A review of which search phrases your website shows for in search is valuable information. Keyword phrases in search results will tell you if you need to adjust your website content and SEO strategy for phrases you do not show for in search, have a low ranking in search, and phrases not getting any clicks to your website.
Why is an SEO audit important?
Google crawls your website to know which searches to show your website for in its results. First and foremost, your website must have a basic foundation so that the crawler can do what it needs to do.
Technical website factors do affect search rankings!
Here is a basic list of technical factors that will make the Google crawler happy and could result in higher rankings:
- Hosting – A viable hosting platform is essential in the security of your server and the speed of your website.
- Do you have an SSL certificate installed on your website and seeing the green padlock on every page? This envokes trust to Google and your website visitors.
- Does your website have a sitemap? This tells Google what pages and posts exist on your website.
- Is your robots.txt file correctly setup? This tells the Google crawler where to go and points to the sitemap. We have seen several websites in the past block the Google crawler and have pages omitted from search results.
- Google loves original content. If your website loads the www version and the non-www version, Google would see this as duplicate content and hurt your website rankings.
- Do you have links that lead to a dead-end to internal pages and external websites?
Website design does affect search rankings!
Here are a few website layout factors that do affect rankings!
- Does your website look great on a desktop computer, laptop, and smartphone?
- Is the font size a minimum of 16 pixels on every device? I actually prefer a minimum of 18 pixels.
- Do you have page headings that contain your targeted page keywords?
- Do you have content that is digestible? We live in a world of smartphones and very short attention spans. Visitors must be able to skim your content and find the answers they need within seconds.
- When was the last time you updated content or posted new content on your website? You must give Google a reason to come back to your website and show that you are still in business.
How is your company represented within Google search?
Google needs to trust your business. If information across the Internet is not consistent, Google will not trust your business is viable and not show it in search results. This is why NAPU (business name, address, phone number, and URL) needs to be the same on every website.
In addition, did you know that you can add code to your website, called structured data, that tells Google all the important information about your local business? The code includes business name, address, phone number, hours, description and more.
When a person performs a search on Google, the results shown are your page titles, page descriptions, and the URL. Optimizing your page titles and page descriptions are critical to getting more clicks – even more than the listings above you! Page titles and descriptions should contain your keywords for the page, a benefit to the search and a call-to-action.
Another factor in rankings is the number of reviews and your reviews rating. Websites like Wedding Wire, The Knot, Google, Yelp, and Facebook are popular review platforms. You must respond professionally to both positive and negative reviews in a timely manner.
Numbers you should be tracking on an SEO monthly report.
As business owners, the primary goal of the website should be to get leads that result in paying customers. This is why you must be tracking the source and outcome of phone calls and form submissions from the website.
On way to accomplish tracking and reporting is by using two free tools by Google. The first is Google Analytics. You must verify that it is installed correctly and giving you the information needed to make business decisions. The second is Google Search Console. GSC will give you valuable search data including phrases shows in search results.
Two other accounts also must be fully optimized – Google My Business and Bing Webmaster Tools. If you are not familiar with the four mentioned accounts, you must create and optimize them today or request ownership from your marketing company.
KPIs (key performance indicators) are a great way to check for issues with your website and if you are meeting your goals. Here are a few KPIs you should be tracking. Don’t get overwhelmed with too many numbers!
- Number of phone calls from the website and % converted into a customer
- Number of form submissions from the website and % converted into a customer
- Number of website visitors from paid ads, organic search and social media platforms you spend time on and the number of customers from each.
- Google My Business listing activity
- Business reviews and ratings
- Google search impressions and clicks
- Keyword phrases showing in search
An SEO audit will reveal the transparency of the effectiveness of you or your marketing company’s efforts.
Unfortunately, there is no degree needed to classify someone as an SEO specialist. Not every website or industry is created equal. The best way to become an SEO specialist is to work with it every day through constant analysis.
As a result, not every SEO company is created equal. Whether you just launched your website or have had a marketing company for years, it is the job of the business owner to be informed about the basics of SEO and determine if SEO is needed or is seeing positive or negative results.
As a business owner, SEO is like taxes. If you submit your yearly taxes with errors, you cannot play dumb. You can still be fined by the government. The same can be said about SEO. You must educate yourself enough to know if your money is well spent. You own your money, it doesn’t own you.
What’s in the audit? Click here to learn more.