We all love free traffic! SEO leads to revenue that goes straight to the bottom line. Yet, many companies do not have dedicated SEO resources and the task falls upon busy marketers that have many channels to worry about, including paid search, email, social, display advertising, affiliate marketing, and more. Time is precious in this environment and needs to be carefully allocated.
In order to protect and grow SEO traffic, dedicating a structured set of tasks encompassing just 90 minutes a week can ensure that SEO gets the attention it needs and that free traffic continues to grow. The key is to schedule the time, get in on your calendar, and methodically go through the set of tasks I will present here.
With the help of free tools and just a bit of time, you can keep the SEO initiative moving forward.
Google Analytics – 15 Minutes
Google Analytics is a great first stop for SEO insights. It’s free, easy to use, and provides powerful insight into how users are arriving to your site and the actions they take while there.
On Monday morning, log on toGoogle Analytics to check organic traffic trends. A weekly examination of this data not only helps acquaint you with your website’s overall health, but also allows you to identify any issues quickly before they become larger concerns. The first step is to navigate within Google Analytics to see only organic traffic (Acquisition à All Traffic à Channels à Organic à Select “Landing Page” as “Primary Dimension”).
This report has valuable insights on how users are getting to your site, including identifying the top landing pages. Spend 15 minutes checking for trends, patterns, and changes in these key areas. In particular, look for week-over-week changes and monthly pacing. Dig into performance metrics at the page level. You should be able to spot pages that are doing well and others that could be targeted for optimization. If your company has been doing a targeted campaign or major push, check to see how the efforts are impacting site traffic.
Another option that may even further streamline this step is to set up automated reports in Google Analytics. To do this, navigate to the organic traffic page in Google Analytics and in the top right hand corner of the page, click the “Share” link. From there, you can set up weekly reports for a defined time period. For example, it would be helpful to get a snapshot of week-over-week and year-over-year organic traffic trends.
These reports are a helpful tool but should serve as a jumping off point. Google Analytics can seem overwhelming to someone not accustomed to using it, so logging in on a weekly basis is critical to keeping skills fresh and to seek out deeper SEO insights.
Google Search Console – 15 Minutes
Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) is one of the best tools to identify how organic traffic is ending up on your website. Take a look at the Search Analytics section (found under Search Traffic) to see what keywords are driving organic traffic to your site.
With this information, marketers can determine if their content aligns with search intent and if the content is ranking for priority keywords. Identify five underperforming pages and determine if any optimizations to HTML meta tags (i.e. HTML titles, meta description) and on-page content can be made to better align the page with search results and/or priority key phrases.
Additionally, you can identify keywords that you’d like to see perform better and look for ways to improve ranking either with new content development or optimization of existing content.
Site Optimizations – 15 Minutes
Next, it’s time to make adjustments on-site. Using a combination of the landing pages identified in Google Analytics and the keyword insight gleaned from Search Console, make any changes necessary to the content on your site or those pages. Record optimizations via the annotations feature in Google Analytics to help monitor any SEO effects.
If marketers have a little more budget and/or time, there are many worthwhile SEO tools on the market that can help optimize your site. For example, SEMrush analyzes your site and determines keyword opportunities that can translate to content marketing efforts. SEORadar, an SEO monitoring tool, provides alerts for any changes to SEO elements (i.e. title tags, cross-links, meta data). Screaming Frog can crawl your site and identify severe errors and broken links. Other tools, such as Moz or BuzzSumo, offers insights that can inform further site optimizations. Take advantage of free trials or downloads to determine if a tool would make a difference on your site.
Google Alerts And HARO – 15 Minutes
So far we’ve primarily discussed on-site SEO. The next two steps – for a total of about 30 minutes – are about optimizing off-site SEO: link building, brand mentions, and outreach. Two of the easiest tools to leverage are Google Alerts and Help a Reporter Out (HARO).
It takes just a few minutes to set upGoogle Alerts for your brand’s name, as well as any other proprietary or trademarked terms, or key executive names. Once set up Google sends you an email anytime the term or phrase is mentioned on the web. Check to see if a link back to your website is included, if not, reach out to thank the publication for mention, offer additional resources if applicable, and see if they would be willing to add a link. It’s a simple way to stay on top of your brand’s reputation and proactively build quality links.
HARO is a crowdsourcing tool used by journalists, PR professionals and marketers. Journalists put out requests seeking a specific sources and/or expertise. They briefly summarize the article and what they are looking for from a potential source, as well as a deadline. Anyone that meets the criteria can respond. Some require a phone interview while others are done solely through email.
Set up once daily emails and scan each day (you can even do a quick search with the CTRL+F function for key terms related to your business, i.e. healthcare, green, or startup) to see if there’s any requests applicable to your business and/or organization’s expertise. If the journalist responds and finds you provide value to his/her piece, ask if including a link back to your business’s website is possible.
Link Building Outreach – 15 Minutes
Building quality links is a key objective for off-site SEO; the more quality links a site has, the more relevant, trustworthy and authoritative search engines and users perceive your website.
In addition to monitoring Google Alerts and HARO, identify a list of publications and/or reputable websites where there are link opportunities. Each week, chip away at the list by reaching out or engaging with the publication. Pitch a guest blog contribution, share a relevant piece of content, or engage on social media with the publication either through their brand’s page/handle or directly with the editors.
Communicate SEO Insights – 15 Minutes
The insights gained from your SEO efforts can influence and guide other areas of your organization so share highlights in a weekly email or staff meeting. Colleagues from public relations, writers, social media, and even sales, can use the data to inform their strategies. For example, content writers can utilize keyword insights to develop new, relevant blog posts or landing pages. Or your PR team might have an existing relationship with a publication that could be leveraged for a link building opportunity.
Furthermore, keeping colleagues in the loop on your SEO efforts – and explaining the value of it – is a critical piece to SEO success. Websites have many contributors, and even a small organization can have multiple people, if not teams, making changes to the website simultaneously. It’s imperative that marketers build and maintain strong relationships with all of these people and processes to avoid any unintentional negative SEO impacts. The more key personnel is aware and knowledgeable of SEO, the better off the site will be in the long run.
In today’s business environment, there are always urgent requests to respond to, endless meetings to attend, and emails to answer. Senior marketers need to make SEO a priority by committing to at least 90 minutes per week. Block it off on your calendar and don’t let anything steal away that time. Devoting a fraction of your week to SEO is like putting money in the bank; the results may not be immediately apparent, but small consistent efforts will pay off long term.