We know there’s a lot to think about this Christmas. What gatherings can you safely arrange? What set of food options will satisfy the picky eaters? How early can you start on the chocolates without being accused of unforgivable gluttony? It’s enough to make anyone’s head spin. But there’s something else that warrants your attention. Something you may have overlooked.
If the title didn’t give it away, I’ll state it clearly: I’m talking about your website. It’s been fighting for you all year: entertaining guests, spreading word about your brand, and bringing in the actionable leads you need to keep your business going. Doesn’t it deserve some recognition? With the right SEO-centric gifts, it can take your Google game to the next level.
A suggestion, then: take a moment to slip the lid off this search-friendly selection box and offer your trusty website a treat or two (or seven). You’ll emerge from the festive season with a new lease of SERP life, all the vim and vigour you can shake a stick at, and other mixed metaphors.
With all that said, let’s get on with the computational confectionery. Bon appétit.
A comprehensive audit
Since getting your website up and running, your work on it has likely been piecemeal — playing a game of technical whac-a-mole to resolve issues as they appear. This saves time, but answer this: when did you last take a step back and review the site as a whole? The problems aren’t always where you expect them to be, after all. Additionally, you may have missed overall trends.
Auditing your site will give you broad insight into every part of it. It requires going through the navigation, checking the content, identifying broken or incorrect links, testing the speed, gathering the analytics, and various other things. A comprehensive approach will also factor in rival sites so you can see where yours stands. Are they better? Does your site have an edge?
You can perform such an audit manually if you have the skills and the inclination, or you can outsource it to a friendly company known for running a handy blog and offering posts including this one. (Sounds like an easy choice to me, really.) Best case? You discover that your website is already in tip-top shape. Worst case? You learn that you badly need a site migration.
Yes, it’s true that there are tools out there that can perform many of the initial actions required for an audit — but they leave out the vital part of parsing the information. Imagine someone without medical training looking at a battery of health-check results. They’d be just as likely to overreact to something trivial as they would to miss something important.
An Ahrefs subscription
The Seeker squad is firmly on the Ahrefs bandwagon. Lest you suspect that the developer sent us a gigantic bag of cash (which would be nice, admittedly), let’s be clear: this praise is provided free of charge. It’s purely because Ahrefs is that good. This SEO tool is fantastic at what it does, and it does so many useful things that it’s an embarrassment of riches.
We use it both for clients and for the Seeker brand: it makes it simple to conduct keyword research, pick out valuable trends, track rankings, identify content gaps, and fuel link building. The interface is clear, the options are plentiful, and the service is always improving. It’s actually difficult to find negative things to say about it. The name isn’t very catchy, I suppose.
It even offers some fantastic video guides that are absolutely worth checking out. If you’re on the lookout for a new SaaS subscription that can provide you with all the data you’ll need to make great choices about the ongoing development of your website, here you are. There’s no Seeker promo code for you, sadly. You’ll just need to pay full price.
A round of mobile optimisation
Across the board, at least 50% of all website traffic is from mobile devices (and it’s been reasonably consistent for quite some time), which explains why terms like mobile responsive and mobile-first have been ubiquitous in SEO recommendations in recent years. They’ve been mentioned so much, in fact, that all issues with mobile navigation have been resolved. Right?
Well, not exactly. Even though all mainstream website platforms are natively mobile-ready at this point, there are still websites out there using legacy versions of open-source systems (perhaps afraid to update for fear of breaking things). And it’s hardly impossible to take a mobile template and render it ineffective through strange design choices.
There’s also the difference between making a website look decent on mobile devices and having it function well on them. Using a layout that makes neat use of a phone screen won’t automatically mean that you’ve placed buttons appropriately or understood the distinct demands of capturing and holding a mobile user’s attention.
Whether it involves rethinking your content categories or creating a progressive web app so your website can find pride of place in some app drawers, just one round of mobile optimisation can significantly improve the extent to which mobile users enjoy visiting your site.
An EAT-based overhaul
EAT isn’t just one of the core Christmas imperatives driving you to wage a one-person war on Quality Street: it’s also an acronym used by Google to refer to the combination of factors it uses to gauge the quality of a site. It stands for expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. Google’s key concern is catering to searcher intent, of course, and it will only want to suggest a site if its content is truly good enough (which is why intent is central to our content audits).
These factors are particularly important for sites in the YMYL category — a site that counts as your money or your life, as that label implies, has the potential to damage its users’ finances and/or wellbeing. Think about financial investment sites, or those selling medical treatments. When those sites act in unscrupulous ways, they can cause serious life-altering harm.
Since Google’s Medic update in August 2018, the influence of its EAT assessments has risen. It’s ever-more important for a site to make its case for being considered reliable and valuable. Various things impact EAT: the quality of your on-site content, the use of author attributions, the adherence to best SEO practices, and the inclusion of notable trust badges, to name just some.
Taking the time to ensure that your website demonstrates each facet of EAT will help you get a great start to 2021 — particularly if your site slots neatly into that YMYL category. It will likely require some additions to your overall brand strategy, though. I’ll expand on this shortly.
A set of brand guidelines
Nothing undermines a brand quite like inconsistency. If you’re funny, people will anticipate your witticisms. If you’re insightful, your sage wisdom will become a valued resource. But if you’re funny one day, overly serious the next, insightful after that, and finally dull as dishwater, how will people remember you? They mostly won’t. Your content won’t fit together into a body of work.
If anyone does remember anything about you, it will solely be the brand name, but they’ll assume it to be an umbrella of sorts. You’ll seem like an aggregator taking content from disparate sources, akin to a somehow-worse Buzzfeed. No one will ever think “I’d love to know what [your brand] has to say about this” because they won’t perceive a real brand.
This is why you need a set of brand guidelines, and why it needs to be really good. It should cover everything from the tone you should typically strike to the level of content you want to reliably produce. Every piece of content marketing you create should be unmistakably yours in various ways—most notably laden with your visual hallmarks to make it wholly distinct.
Furthermore, everything you create should gel with the EAT updates you make to the core of your website. If you’re stating that the people behind your website can be trusted and that they’re producing PR statements and outreach content, then you mustn’t undermine the polish of your on-site copy with some sloppy listicles. Set a quality standard and stick to it.
An updated social strategy
The main cast of the social media world doesn’t change very often. Facebook and Twitter are the venerable headliners, and only occasionally will a young whippersnapper like TikTok come along to shake things up. But that doesn’t mean that the world itself doesn’t change.
In a very real sense, it is the content it channels, and that content — along with the thought and sentiment behind it — is always in flux. A post that would seem delightfully apposite one month might be viewed as an egregious faux pas the next. Unsurprisingly, then, using a fixed social strategy (even one that operates in quarterly segments) is a recipe for disaster.
While it’s true that social activity might not directly influence rankings (though Google’s comments on the matter must always be taken with a heap of salt), it will heavily impact how frequently your brand is mentioned, ultimately leading to more people finding your site if you’re able to gather some social momentum.
What topics do you want to address in 2021? What platforms do you want to target? How are you going to get eyes on your brand? Pay close attention to what your competitors are doing and come up with something to set you apart (e.g. a unique visual style or UGC campaign).
Remember that popular sentiment is in an odd place as we move into the new year, with some vaccine-led optimism clashing with understandable scepticism. What people want keeps shifting, and you’ll need to leave slack in your strategy so you can adapt your approach on the fly. Your brand guidelines will be vital for keeping your ad-hoc tactics in line.
A broad content refresh
Finally, after you’ve delivered every gift we’ve looked at so far, you can do something that leans slightly on all of them: refresh your brand content. Writing new blog posts and outreach pieces is obviously important, but you mustn’t abandon the content you’ve already generated just because it’s a little weathered and behind the times.
When you rummage through your website analytics, you’ll probably find that some old pieces are still getting visits but doing nothing with them. Alongside those, you’ll spot some high-quality content that was a contender but has since been nudged out of the race by newer entries from your competitors. Don’t just let these pages gather dust. Help them out!
Take those consistent performers and tie them into newer pages through internal links and calls to action. Expand upon them slightly to make it clear that you’ve updated them, and ask Google to crawl them again. Feed off their established value to grow your site as a whole. To reuse our own wording, great content doesn’t just sit there looking pretty: it gets things done.
And as for the former contenders, figure out how far they are from being current contenders. In what ways have newer pieces surpassed them? Instead of putting a lot of time into creating new pieces using the skyscraper method (slightly iterating upon the leading pieces), you can apply that method to your old pieces, leaving you much less work to do.
This Christmas, you should invite your website to dinner, give it all the best side dishes, offer it a prime position on the sofa, and hand over this delightful SEO selection box. If you work together, you can become an unbeatable team. The internet is your oyster.