Is your SEO performance a dumpster fire? Here’s how to salvage it
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A failing SEO strategy can happen to the best of us
No doubt it’s disheartening when your competitors are miles ahead and your business is struggling to bring in new leads
Founder of LSEO and best-selling author, Kristopher (Kris) Jones provides comprehensive steps and advice on how you can salvage your SEO performance
Dumpster fires: surely they can’t happen to you. Right? But before you know it, your website’s traffic has tanked, your competitors are getting all the organic love, and you couldn’t get a conversion if your life depended on it. Folks, if your SEO performance sounds like that, you might just have a dumpster fire on your hands.
A failing SEO strategy can happen to the best of us. There’s no doubt it’s disheartening when your competitors are all miles ahead of you and your business isn’t bringing in new leads.
The good news is that it’s never too late to turn things around.
When is the best time to plant a tree? 20 years ago.
When’s the second-best time? Right now, so let’s get to it.
Here’s how to salvage your dumpster fire of an SEO strategy.
1. Review and optimize all your current content
I’m going to talk about content a few times in this post.
That’s because content has long been and remains the most important element to focus on in your overall SEO strategy.
Websites are nothing without content.
You can see a website getting by with no meta descriptions, you can see them getting by without optimized images, but without content, what do you have?
Not a website!
But if you’re focusing on content first to turn around your SEO strategy, where do you start?
Yes, you optimize everything you already have.
You don’t want to get ahead of yourself by constantly creating new content when you have a whole slew of old pages and posts that may have fallen into SEO disrepair.
Google treats optimized content the same as new content, so to start out, you’ll want to audit your existing content to see what’s good, what’s bad, and what you can fix up to be good again.
You can use a content audit tool like that found in Semrush, or, if you have a more manageable load of content to work with, checking things out manually would work well, too.
This is about more than just deciding what content you like or do not like, although you should be able to tell at a glance which topics are still relevant to your website.
But to check out the SEO performance of each page and post, you can use Semrush as I said, or go manual with Google Search Console.
What I like to do is to put each URL into Search Console and check out how it’s doing as far as impressions versus clicks, click-through rate, and the average positions of its ranking keywords.
That gives me a decent snapshot of which pages need attention.
A page with 10,000 impressions in a 30-day period but only 100 clicks will have a CTR of only one percent (not too great).
I would then go to that page to figure out what is causing the low CTR.
The page is obviously being ranked for the keyword, given its high impressions, but if few people are clicking, then maybe the page isn’t as relevant for the term as it once was.
If that’s the case, then optimizing the page for SEO could be a matter of creating new sections of content around that keyword, and certainly retooling what’s there already.
Optimizing your website’s content is a major part of improving your SEO strategy because it involves so many things that are going to help you.
For this first point, I focused only on the writing and editing part of the content optimization.
Let’s now move on to some other parts of an SEO strategy where you could update things (things that could nonetheless still be involved in content optimization).
Your pages’ meta tags play an important role in your website’s overall SEO health.
Meta tags are also one of the easiest things to let slip by as you work on your website, because they’re so brief and simple, and there are so many of them.
The thing is, meta tags can go out of date as the landscape shifts around your industry and the keywords for which you were optimizing are no longer relevant.
Meta tags are a classic example of why you can’t set it and forget it with SEO.
Meta tags are another element to look at as you go through your content pages to improve their CTR.
Sure, a lot of your content itself could use updates, but retool the meta titles and descriptions, as well.
Remember, the meta information is what organic users see as they scroll a SERP.
If your title and description aren’t interesting or urgent enough to draw in audiences that are in the awareness stage, then those people will keep on scrolling.
Redoing meta tags could include using a new target keyword, rewriting the call to action, or making everything more concise.
Maybe start with a handful of pages only, say 20 or 30, and A/B test the old and new titles and descriptions to see how traffic and CTR change after your edits.
Doing that will confirm for you whether the updating you’re doing is worth it, and whether you should continue down this road with the rest of your pages.
3. Work on your technical performance
When you have to turn around your entire SEO strategy, you have to think about your website holistically.
That means focusing not just on your keywords and content, but also on how your pages perform technically.
I’m grouping issues such as image compression, site speed, mobile responsiveness, and Core Web Vitals all together under the umbrella of “technical performance.”
Although these factors are less “creative” and open-ended as compared to performing new keyword research or optimizing content, they matter just as well.
When people get to your website and are greeted with slow pages, a messy mobile appearance, and content elements that jump around as they load, their trust in you drops.
In a world as competitive as ours, you can’t afford to give people cause for distrust, because you can bet that there are a hundred competitors waiting in line to market to those customers if you can’t do so successfully.
If development work isn’t your forte, look into contracting out to someone who can clean up your website’s coding and otherwise speed things up while also optimizing for mobile.
Images should be compressed so they take up less space but don’t lose any of their quality, and each image should have optimized alt text.
Compressing and optimizing images is something you can definitely do yourself, either through a plugin (on WordPress) or manually if it’s feasible.
Even though page speed and load times aren’t always the most accessible kind of work to business owners and website owners, those are important issues to keep in mind as you labor toward turning around your dumpster fire of an SEO strategy.
4. Resume creating new content
You can turn around even the worst SEO strategy in the world.
Google isn’t going to hold you to the fire forever just because your SEO has been in the dumps even for the last few years.
Google crawls your site every so often whether you’re doing something with it or not, and as it sees that your SEO is improving, it can start to rank some of those pages higher.
So here is where we get into creating all-new, high-quality content.
Content in 2023 can mean a whole range of things, from blog posts to infographics to videos and podcasts and webinars and slide decks.
Whatever makes sense for your business and your industry is what you should do. Whatever types of media you know your audiences like to consume, give that to them.
In 2023, however, you have to be incredibly mindful of being comprehensive and useful for people.
If there’s anything that we’ve learned from 2022’s helpful content update, it’s that you just cannot skimp on content creation (not that you ever could, but Google is smarter than it was 10 years ago).
Gone are the days of skirting by on SEO-centric content, created just to score some ranking for this or that keyword.
Google is paying much more attention now to the intent and usefulness of a piece, and rewarding those web pages featuring actually helpful content (get it?) with higher rankings.
A perfect example of how Google is thinking these days is the product review update, also from 2022.
Google is now deprioritizing the ranking of low-quality product reviews in favor of more expert-level reviews where the reviewer has actually used the product or service and can speak to its pros and cons.
Why? Because Google wants to direct users to content they can actually trust to help them.
When you take the product reviews update and helpful content update together, you can see why content marketing has gotten so much harder over the years.
You can’t just rank after spending an hour on a 400-word blog post anymore.
You have to be a real expert, or at least put in the time and effort to create deep content if you work for a client portfolio.
These are all things you must keep in mind as you create new content for your website in the name of putting out your dumpster fire of an SEO strategy.
Now, of course, there are the nuts and bolts you have to remember, as well, when it comes to new content.
You have to mine the SERPs, develop the proper keyword strategy, and understand the correct intent behind those keywords to be sure you’re creating what people expect to see when they search that keyword.
That stuff you can all learn.
What I want you to take from this section is the idea that you have to work to create that new content. You have to put in that time and dedication to do it well.
5. If you’re local, focus on reviews
I don’t want to leave out the local businesses here: if you’re a local business, do you know that one of the single largest factors in helping your SEO is getting positive Google reviews?
Now, local businesses need to perform all the on-page SEO work that anyone else does, but what do you do as an ongoing SEO strategy?
The play here isn’t keyword-driven SEO content so much, because your local audience isn’t really going to find you that way.
Local audiences find local businesses by performing local searches and checking out the reviews in the map pack.
In fact, 77 percent of local buyers always read online reviews while checking out local businesses.
Your reviews affect the level of trust the public has in you. More people are likely to visit your website and use your business when they see that others have had a positive experience with you.
The cycle goes on when you encourage your customers to leave positive Google reviews.
The more reviews you have, and the more positive they are, the better off your chances will be of rising to the top of your local map pack.
Being at the top should translate into more traffic and better SEO overall.
6. Build natural backlinks
Finally, I want to mention another pillar of Google’s list of known ranking factors: natural backlinks.
Links are what unite everything on the internet together.
They’re also vital in keeping the ranking juices flowing to your web pages when it comes to your SEO strategy.
Backlinks to your website from other websites show Google that you’re an authority in your market niche since people want to reference what you have to say.
Link building, then, is really about building relationships to get your name out there as a trustworthy resource for others.
When Google sees your links coming from relevant, authoritative websites, it will assign more trust to your own site.
Just remember to keep the links coming from websites that make sense to your own.
The quality matters much more than the quantity here.
To do it, create content that people would want to link to, something with a lot of useful stats and other data.
You can also scout other websites in your niche to see where they may have content gaps, and then create content to fill that gap and ask for a link back.
It takes time and effort, and you’re not guaranteed anything, but it’s the natural way to earn backlinks that will actually help your SEO.
Give your SEO time to turn around
You can put out even the biggest dumpster fire when you know what to do and how to do it.
I’ll say again that SEO dumpster fires can happen to the best of us. Sometimes we go all-in on things we think will work, and they don’t.
Sometimes we get lazy and let our SEO go for years.
But it’s never too late to correct things.
It will definitely take time to see things start to shift for you, though; SEO isn’t an overnight solution. It needs anywhere from three to six months or longer to start showing a difference.
If you keep in mind both the broad strokes and the specifics of everything I’ve described here, you truly can reinvent your SEO strategy and be on your way to business growth.
Kris Jones is the founder and former CEO of digital marketing and affiliate network Pepperjam, which he sold to eBay Enterprises in 2009. Most recently Kris founded SEO services and software company LSEO.com and has previously invested in numerous successful technology companies. Kris is an experienced public speaker and is the author of one of the best-selling SEO books of all time called, ‘Search-Engine Optimization – Your Visual Blueprint to Effective Internet Marketing’, which has sold nearly 100,000 copies.
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