Hands on guide to SEO (digital marketing training) Google ranking factors

Chloe Christine | LinkedIn of Legal Marketing UK – TBD Marketing Agency for Lawyers led an information-packed workshop on SEO for PM Forum – PM Forum. SEO is a core element of digital marketing – and the search algorithms change all the time. Many professional services firms use external agencies but it’s important to know the basics so you can monitor their performance.  Hands on guide to SEO (digital marketing training).

Delegates at the Hands on guide to SEO session

Delegates from law and accountancy firms included digital marketing executives and assistants, content executives and marketing assistants. Some were keen to obtain a general introduction to SEO and others were interested in the latest trends and more technical insights. A poll revealed that 80% considered themselves beginners and 20% intermediate levels. Some were just starting to look at SEO and others had questions about how to prioritise.

Back to basics – What is SEO?

Chloe started with definitions – Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is optimising your web site to rank higher on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS). Attracting more visitors organically by making your site more attractive to search engines. She reminded us that Google has 97% market share.

She explained the different types of SEO

  • On page SEO – individual pages on your web site
  • Off page SEO – beyond your web site (e.g. backlinks)
  • Technical SEO – enhancing technical aspects of a website (e.g. site speed, mobile friendliness)

She explained why SEO is important: higher rankings, organic traffic, authority, brand awareness, lower costs and sustainable growth. It is an alternative or supplementary strategy to paid online advertising (PPC) to attract web site traffic. She explained that there are costs associated with SEO (especially if using an agency) and that SEO may run at a loss for the first few months. But over time you tend to generate more traffic and more enquiries (CPL or CPE) and it can be more sustainable.

She then talked through key SEO concepts: SERP (Search Engine Results Page), organic traffic, keywords, backlinks, meta tags and analytics.

Search engine ranking factors

We looked at 26 different Google ranking factors – the most important ones included:

  • Content quality and relevance
  • Key words
  • Back links
  • Technical SEO
  • User engagement
  • Local SEO
  • Internal links

Chloe dispelled some misconceptions about meta descriptions, keyword density and social media signals in SEO. She also explained that neither Domain Authority (DA) or Domain Rating (DR) are used by search engines to rank websites. They are created by Moz and Ahrefs to gauge the strength of a web site’s backlink profile (score out of 100) – she had posted this link earlier (1) Post | Feed | LinkedIn

Understanding KPIs and SEO metrics

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and SEO metrics were used for:

  • Performance measurement
  • Goal alignment
  • Data-driven decisions
  • Continuous improvement

A delegate poll revealed that the most popular KPIs were: engagement rate, organic clicks and organic impressions. Chloe indicated that there were no right or wrong answers but common SEO KPIs included: organic clicks, keyword rankings, conversion rate, bounce rate, page load time and impressions.

Introduction to GA4 (Google Analytics) and Google Search Console (GSC)

These tools (and Chloe explained the differences) are used to plan, execute and measure SEO strategies.

We looked at how to use GSC to track SEO. For example, keyword position (varies between countries), number of ranked queries, branded vs non-branded split, conversions (via GA4), engagement/bounce rate and time on page post click.

And she talked through different SEO strategies for:

  • Home page
  • Service pages
  • Case studies
  • Other pages

Chloe suggested that tracking through a dashboard was the easiest way to visualise data and provided a LookerStudio template. She also talked through how to monitor the number of ranked key words – starting with just 10-30. And how to optimise for the primary term (seed keyword) and options to rework the content depending on the stats.

She urged us to look at the content that’s already there – and how effective it is – and rewrite, add, consolidate or delete it rather than simply generating lots of new content.

A delegate poll revealed the following tools were used: GA4, GSC, Ahrefs, SEMRush, Google Keyword planner and Moz. No one was using BiQ, Labrika, Screaming Frog and People Also Asked.

Chloe then took us step-by-step through analysing one page using GSC. How to check if it is indexed (and requesting indexing if it is not or it’s new). Then seeing what queries the page is already ranking for. She showed how to filter for a specific country to obtain average position updates.

She then created a new, customised acquisition report in Analytics to enable you to track and monitor the SEO on important pages.

How to do on-page SEO optimization

The advice was to get to grips with analytics so that you can see the priorities for action. She suggested looking for pages with high impressions but low click rates as these might require just simple edits to the meta description to encourage clicks.

She also advised key word research

  • Analyse your own data
  • What terms are you currently ranked for – and positions
  • See the different pages that rank for that topic

Key word research helps you uncover user intent, guide target content creation and obtain insight into what your competitors are doing – all of which can improve web site traffic. Google Keyword Plans and Google Trends are also tools to assist here. But Chloe noted that sometimes a decline in search performance could be due to people searching for the key words less frequently.

There was a quick demo of RankingGap (subscription required) where you enter your web site with 4-5 competitors to show you the key words they rank for. Similarly with BiQ – seeing how your content compares to your competitors for a keyword and obtaining suggestions for how to change the content to improve ranking. Both helpful tools for competitor analysis.

There was also guidance on identifying seed keywords and using secondary keywords.

Chloe then moved onto crafting effective URLs, titles (primarily using H1 to H3 headings), descriptions and content that incorporate key words.

She repeated the advice to avoid “orphan” pages by ensuring that you incorporate internal links in all web pages. To illustrate the other benefits of internal links she explained “the Wiki effect” and mentioned plug-in tools that can help identify places to include internal links. Towards the end of the session, we explored the dos and don’ts of web site navigation and finished with some guidance on ensuring crawlability and indexability.

Thanks again Chloe for a great session. And thanks too to Neha Singhvi | LinkedIn and Morag Campbell | LinkedIn for being great hosts.  Details of future PM Forum training workshops: PM Forum – PM Forum

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