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How to Do an SEO Audit of Your Website

Why periodic assessments of your website are a must.

AJ Kumar

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SEO-Checklist

Because search engine optimisation (SEO) best practices and procedures change all the time, business owners should conduct periodic assessments to determine whether or not adjustments need to be made. If a business website isn’t properly optimized for search, it’s most likely missing out on a significant amount of traffic from the search engines, including from potential customers.

To properly audit your site for SEO, carry out the following steps at least once or twice a year:

1. Check on-page tag optimisation.
One of the easiest ways to quickly improve your website’s SEO is through on-site changes. While it can take time to build high-quality backlinks, another hallmark of good SEO performance, on-site tweaks require just a few hours of effort.

Begin your SEO audit by asking the following questions. Identifying weaknesses in this area could provide an easy place to begin future website improvements:

  • Are my title tags (headlines) written to appeal to both website visitors and search engine visitors, or are they “keyword stuffed”?
  • Do my title tags contain relevant SEO keywords and brand mentions?
  • Are my title tags no longer than 65 characters?
  • Do my meta description tags (which display a preview explanation for a page in search results) provide interesting content that will appeal to viewers of search engine results?
  • Does each page on my website contain a naturally written, keyword-rich <h2> tag (headings within posts)?
  • Does each page on my website include high-quality, original content?
  • Do my pages contain internal links to facilitate visitor and search engine robot movement throughout my site?
  • Are my images optimised according to current SEO best practices?

2. Check for broken links or dead pages.
Avoid broken outbound links or links to internal “dead” pages that have since been deleted from your site. They can be detrimental to your site’s SEO performance, so be sure to identify such problems.

If your website runs on a content management system (CMS) or an e-commerce platform, you may be able to install a tool that can check this automatically. For example, if your site runs on WordPress, installing the Broken Link Checker plugin can notify you whenever broken links are detected.

Alternatively, simply navigate to a site like BrokenLinkCheck.com and run the service’s free link check to identify any issues on your site that need to be resolved.

3. Make sure your site can be indexed by the search engines.
Beyond making sure that broken links don’t trip up the search engine robots while they’re on your site, it’s also important that these automated programs can access your site in the first place.

Any number of issues – from improperly installed code files to hacked site content – can prevent the search engines from reading your content correctly. To determine whether or not this is occurring on your site, head over to WebConf’s free Search Engine Simulator and enter your site’s URL. If you can see your content displaying correctly as text, the search engines can as well.

4. Examine your link profile and compare it to competitors.
Once you’ve finished with on-site elements, check the state of your site’s backlink profile. The number and quality of links pointing at your site play a major role in your content’s performance in search engine results.

To do this, use a link explorer tool like Majestic SEO (free version available, with paid plans starting at $49.99 per month) or the SEOMoz Open Site Explorer (free version available, with paid plans starting at $99 per month) to view a list of all the links pointing at your site. Pay particular attention to:

  • The types of links that your site has received, such as directory links, press release links, social media links and more.
  • Whether or not the sites sending you links are reputable.
  • Whether or not the sites sending you links are related to your site’s content.

Then, run this same assessment on your competitors’ websites. This process could turn up backlink building opportunities for your future off-site SEO efforts, as well as uncover link-building patterns in your industry that you should be paying attention to.

5. Test your site’s speed.
Examine your site’s average speed and page load times, as Google has unequivocally stated that it intends to prioritise site speed as a ranking factor in its natural search algorithms.

To find out whether your site is fast, slow or somewhere in between, head over to Google’s Page Insights tool and enter your URL. This tool will then analyse your site’s load times and provide suggestions on making improvements. You can either make changes on your own or enlist the help of a developer if they require technical expertise.

These steps should give you a general overview on how well your website is performing from an SEO standpoint. If you go through the steps, make changes but still don’t get the search results you’d like, consider working with an SEO expert to improve your site’s natural search performance.

AJ Kumar is co-founder of Single Grain, a digital marketing agency based in San Francisco. Single Grain specializes in helping startups and larger companies with search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media and various other marketing strategies.

Online Marketing

The Launch Of Instagram TV

Giving a run to other institutions for their money, Instagram today has launched IGTV, a new application that will allow users to upload videos on its Instagram facility.

Jandre de Beer

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_igtv

Commencing with one minute long videos, speaking at the launch today, Instagram CEO, Kevin Systrom, announced that users can now upload up-to an hour long video. This application will allow famous videos from celebrities. However, with IGTV, one does not necessarily need to be a big-name or famous, since creative individuals and groups can upload videos.

For now, everyone who enjoys the clutter free, easy to navigate Instagram, will be able to upload an hour-long video, except the smaller and new accounts that will enjoy this application after the expansion of the facility. This application will be globally available on Android and IOS and will allow viewers to browse through many longer videos, as well as visit the browse tabloids or suggest followed videos.

Furthermore, viewers will have the choice to watch ‘old’ videos and also get notifications on recent uploads. IGTV will also allow creators and inventors to develop Instagram Channels with various videos that other viewers can subscribe to, drive traffic of viewers to particular videos, granting the inventors the capability of uploading clear links of the video.

Related: The Insta-Evolution: 5 Years of Selfies, Hashtags and #TBTs

Systrom confirmed that there will be no advertisements on IGTV for the meanwhile. He added that this is still a great platform to put up advertisements at a later stage, as creators or inventors put in more time into videos for IGTV. This translates into an opportunity to make money. Instagram will not pay creators for the IGTV videos at this stage. IGTV has so much potential since creators will be from the over 1 billion current Instagram subscribers. At the same time, this could be big business, since the number of subscribers may rise.

Expectations are there to add to the monetisation option, and these include the potential of Instagram getting profits close to $5.5 billion in 2018, as compared to Facebook, which is just above $202 billion.

Moving up from just filtering and sharing photos, today Instagram has advanced from mobile networks, screens, and cameras, of which neither the longer videos could be supported. This has opened a new mobile TV for teens and families.

Additionally, Instagram can become the dependable place to view something on that small screen via creators’ and publisher video content curation, as opposed to YouTube, which always has a wider breadth of content.

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Online Marketing

5 Steps In Adwords Competitor Analysis: A Practical Case Study

In the second part of this article, we’ll be getting practical. What steps to take and what to do in each step.

Steven Slotow

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adwords

In PART ONE of this article on the importance of competitor analysis in an Adwords campaign, we demonstrated to you the value that can be uncovered by performing a proper analysis of what your foe is up to on Adwords and how they can actually help you do better.

In the second part of this article, we’ll be getting practical. What steps to take and what to do in each step.

Pens sharpened? Batteries charged? Lets go!

As a case study of a local Adwords campaign, we’ll be taking a look at one of the main spenders on PPC in South Africa, booking.com, and see what information can be gathered about their competition in paid search results.

Step 1. Find out who your client’s true competitors in paid search are

First of all, let’s get on the same page, by stating that your organic and paid search competition is not the same thing. If you know who you share the SERPs with, it doesn’t mean that you’ll share the paid ads section with the same set of companies.

Booking.com knows what we’re talking about.

Here’s the organic part of the SERP for ‘book a hotel’. Booking.com shares it with Trivago, hotels.com and Agoda.

serp

They could have thought: Okay, so these are my competitors, I know what they’re up to, I’ll look into their strategies and I’ll be fine in both organic and paid search. But wait, what is happening there at the top of the SERPs? Who is this dark horse?

hotel-booking-serp

It’s Expedia! In organic search it stands further down from booking.com than the rest of the domains from the first page, yet in paid results Booking and Expedia are the closest rivals.

Related: 16-Step Blueprint to Master Your Digital Marketing

But that is just one keyword. There are many other keywords for which the companies want to advertise in Google, so to know whether you’re actually competing with them, you need to evaluate your competition level.

It’s a simple process of comparing the number of keywords you have in common versus the number that are unique with that competitor.

paid-keywords

By estimating this value, you can distinguish your true competitors from big generic brands, niche competition and temporary distractions in the paid search.

Jokes aside, Booking and Expedia share a relatively similar online presence and are, of course, familiar with each other’s PPC strategy. That said, if you’re not a huge domain and know your usual competitors, it is even more frustrating to miss an audacious market newcomer or an organic outsider trying to cut the line and get to the top of the SERPs with an aggressive PPC campaign. So, the analysis of your true competition should be performed regularly. For the agencies that we support, we usually revise the competitors list once every quarter.

Step 2. Estimate your competition PPC budgets

Now that you know who you are rubbing elbows with in paid search, try figuring out how much they spend on PPC. There’s no way to know exactly what their budgets are (except for corporate espionage, but we don’t recommend that), but you can still make use of an estimation.

For that, you need to know how many keywords they target in paid search, what their cost-per-click values are, as well as their estimated search volumes. That is practically impossible to reveal manually, but the competitor analysis tool in SEMrush for example provides you with an estimation of the company’s PPC budget based on the data from their keyword database. Similar tools should be found in whatever quality software you’ve opted for.

Here’s the info we could gather about Booking.com by solely analysing the keywords for which it was showing up in paid search and the CPC values of those keywords.

booking-com

Though it is a rough estimation, this info is helpful in planning your PPC campaigns in a way that meets with market trends.

Step 3. Find out your competitor’s unique keywords

What’s even better about competitor analysis is that it will help you save time by not needing to do the tough jobs yourself by letting you (legally) steal the best ideas from your competition and dwell on them. Remember, if you’re doing it to them, they’re probably doing it to you as well! All’s fair in love, war and paid advertising!

What’s the practical value of this? Well, your competitor’s unique keywords can be your missed opportunity.

keywords-match

By comparing the keywords that Booking and Expedia are bidding on, we see that there are a lot of keywords related to means of travelling and travelling companies in Expedia’s portfolio, but they are missing in the Booking.com set. It is obviously just another tactic for such a big brand, but for a smaller company, this comparison list could be a golden goose of new ideas.

Related: Beginners Guide To Digital Marketing In South Africa

Step 4. Research your competitor’s ads and banners

If you have ever been online, you know that the SERPs are crowded. The served results in both organic and paid search have to constantly overcome the viewer’s lack of attention, so the message in your ads should be short, clear, and actionable.

Your competitor’s copy can be a  great source of information.

competitor-adverts-and-banner

Comparing your ads to your competitor’s allows you to see the context and the standards of messaging in your niche and adjust your voice to or diversify from the usual tone.

Also, sometimes you need to develop multiple ad copies with similar content. Whenever creativity abandons you, you can look into your competitor’s copy and borrow a few ideas from them.

Step 5. Check your competitor’s target URLs

Imagine running an online retail business. Summer sales are coming, and you want to promote your goods with an AdWords campaign. Apart from the keywords that you want to bid on and creating appealing ad copy, you also need to think about the page which your ads are going to take your leads to.

Is it common in your client’s niche to have a specific landing page for a promo like this? Or is it enough to have banners on the home page? Take a look at your client’s competitor’s target pages and find out.

seasonal-sale

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Online Marketing

The Value Of Competitor Analysis On A South African Adwords Campaign

If you have doubts about the efficiency of an AdWords campaign being run in South Africa, here are some stats about the South African market to convince you.

Steven Slotow

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south-african-adwords-campaign

Running a successful AdWords campaign can sometimes be like trying to understand the maths that Elon Musk is using to put a human being on Mars: you’re pretty sure it will work, but trying to figure how and why burns too many brain cells.

Well, help is at hand! In this TWO PART article, we’re going to demonstrate to you the value of performing a competitor analysis on an Adwords campaign, and show you just how and what you should be looking for.

As a digital marketer of any kind, you’ve probably had a crack at running and managing an AdWords campaign. Let me guess:

  • Predicting the results and outcomes was impossible;
  • You outsourced to an agency this one time. It cost you a fortune and they kept asking questions you couldn’t possibly have answers to;
  • Setting the budget was more complicated than understanding the nature and purpose of Snapchat;
  • And speaking of budget…it’s NEVER enough and always runs out too quickly.

Nobody is arguing with the fact that AdWords is one of the most complicated digital marketing efforts that you can undertake on behalf of a client or yourself. However, if done right, it could also be one of the most rewarding, effective and business-altering activities you could do.

Related: How to Use Pay Per Click Using Google Adwords

If you have doubts about the efficiency of an AdWords campaign being run in South Africa, here are some stats about the South African market to convince you:

South African PPC market in numbers

In 2017 the total spending on Google ads in South Africa across all industries reached $30 million. The market’s thriving!

google-ads-spend

And these websites were the most generous spenders on Google ads. If only your budgets could compete, right?

top-advertisers-in-google

However, these were the industry’s spendaholics.

Generally, businesses are way more careful with their PPC budgets: only 3.8% of all the companies spend more than R50 000 monthly, and the majority of 34.1% is just indulging their curiosity with somewhere around 1000 bucks a month.

percent-of-advertisers

And if you worry about your ad copy, take a look at the most popular phrases and CTAs used in South African ads:

top-phrases-in-adverts

Related: Implementing 2 Advanced Google AdWords Strategies

So, how do you enter that market AND, at the same time, save your money?

Well, that’s like eating an elephant — get help and do it in pieces.

If you thought that running and managing an AdWords campaign was complicated, try getting advice from the pros on best practices to net best results. Just like deciphering that Musk math again.

  • Split test your copy
  • Use different ad extensions… or all of them
  • Try out different calls to action
  • Manage and track your budget daily
  • Get your targeting on point

But also don’t forget about the foundation of any marketing campaign, digital or not: research your competition.

As wholesalers of digital marketing services to South African digital agencies, by far one of the most important and most advised best practices we suggest to the agencies that we support when running an AdWords digital marketing campaign is to ensure that they practice comprehensive and thorough competitor analysis.

What is competitor analysis for your Adwords campaign and how do you streamline it?

adwords-competitor-analysisRunning a competitor analysis during an AdWords campaign is like having a video camera in your competitions training session. It’ll help you pull back the curtain, see what they’re up to and adjust your efforts accordingly to ensure optimum results from your AdWords campaigns.

In our experience, many companies do not perform PPC competitive research, or don’t do it as often as they should. However, not having the full picture about your PPC competition is risky and can result in running ineffective campaigns. That means wasting your or your client’s budget without netting tangible results or missing the opportunities available to your client by underinvesting.

But recognising the difference that competitor analysis can make in your AdWords campaigns is only the first step. The next step is to find the right tool to help you perform your competitor analysis on a regular basis. The stats and data provided in this article were pulled by our team using SEMrush. It’s a software that we have found invaluable in helping us to provide white label, wholesale digital marketing services to the South African and international digital agencies that we support.

That being said, there are a wealth of similarly effective and powerful digital marketing tracking tools on the market worth investigating. We encourage you to get out there and see what works best for you.

Related: 16-Step Blueprint to Master Your Digital Marketing in 2016

The data that you should drill out of your competitor analysis

On all the levels of digital marketing, there’s a constant rivalry between best practice and revolutionary ideas. The question of whether to follow a well-trodden path or to do things differently in an effort to distinguish the brand you’re working on is always on the table. Or desktop in the case of digital marketing.

However, to make an informed decision you need to know the niche you are playing in as well as its main players. These questions will help you gather that information:

  • Who is your true competitor in paid search?
  • How much do they spend on PPC?
  • What are their most profitable keywords?
  • What do their ads and banners look like?
  • What URLs should your ads target?

Now you know WHAT to ask. But what do you do with the answers and how do you use them to improve your own Adwords performance.

In PART TWO of this blog, we’ll be diving into just that. CLICK HERE TO READ ON!

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