What I'm learning about making my website work harder for me
How happy accidents led to great results
Three of my clients have website-related projects on the go at the moment. We’re either developing a new one, or optimising new-ish ones. The work has led me to discover some interesting tools which I’ve been playing with on my own website. In the process, I’m learning a lot about making my website work harder for me.
Website and SEO (search engine optimisation) best practice evolves constantly. I don’t have SEO agency level of knowledge, but what I’ve learned over the years has had great results for me and my clients. I’m keen to keep learning.
I’ll be honest - some of the results on my own site happened completely by accident. This blog ranks at no.6 for “in-house, agency or freelance marketing” and it’s not even my most popular blog article. In 2021, I thought - this would be useful for potential clients to know more about - and two years later, it’s out there bringing traffic to my website.
As people (and potential customers) have started to find me via search and my website, I wondered, what would happen if I focused on making my website work harder for me?
So, I’ve been auditing all aspects of my website (which I’ll explain below). It got me really excited about making the most of what I have and it's spurred me on to get some draft blogs over the finishing line.
I’m sharing this with the intention that you can learn from my process.
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An easy one to start us off. I use Fathom Analytics to tell me:
How many people are visiting my website
Where they came from
Which pages they visited
How long they spent there
It’s particularly useful when I’ve written a new blog post, or I’ve been featured on a podcast. I can see if I’ve had an increase in visitors, and which pages they visited.
Of course, there’s Google Analytics, but I always found it confusing and invasive. If you use Wordpress.com, this has some good native analytics.
I like Fathom as it’s privacy-focused and it’s incredibly easy to use. (I’ve written more about privacy-focused marketing on Medium)
A few years ago at the first-ever Search Leeds event, I learned about Domain Authority. It was developed by a company called Moz, who describe it as:
“A search engine ranking score developed by Moz that predicts how likely a website is to rank in search engine result pages (SERPs).
Domain Authority scores range from one to 100, with higher scores corresponding to greater likelihood of ranking.”
Moz has a free Domain Authority Checker tool, where I check my own and clients’ websites to review and track the DA score. You can check any website, so it’s also a great tool for competitor and industry research.
Ideally, as I add useful content and optimise a website, the score goes up. It can be a slow process, but it’s a metric I like to track. (Full disclosure - my website currently scores 8/100 so I have a way to go!)
If “keyword research” is a mystery to you, let me quickly explain before we jump in.
Here’s an example:
I want my potential customers to type “B2B marketing consultant” into their search engine, and for my website to pop up in the results.
This means it’s more likely that they will click on my website and choose me as their B2B marketing consultant.
I can help this process along by signposting potential customers in my direction.
I need to make sure “B2B marketing consultant”is included in my website content.
So keyword research is a blend of investigating:
What keywords do you want to be known for?
What keywords might your audience search for?
A keyword research tool does a lot of the heavy lifting for you:
You can enter certain terms and see whether your site ranks for that term, and how high
It will suggest related keywords and how popular they are
You can see where competitors rank against you
You can track all of this over time, so you can see what is and isn’t working
I’ve wondered if I should invest in a keyword research tool for a while. ThIf te best known ones are quite expensive, and I don’t want to use the Google Search Console.
I discovered a keyword tool called Wincher in the Yoast SEO section of my pages and posts on Wordpress:
(Yoast is a Wordpress plugin which helps you to set up your content for search page results. It also gives a useful readability score. I am told there are better alternatices but I haven’t got around to looking into them. Yoast works for me right now.)
Wincher is €39 a month and does exactly what I need for my website and my clients’ websites. It’s based on Google results, so ethically, I am not sure how this sits with privacy issues - this is something I need to look into.
So, I’ve started tracking some keywords and the gamification of it all has got me really excited about optimising my website, which leads me onto…
This one is new to me, and it started with this On-Page SEO Checker tool.
You enter your URL and a keyword, and in return you get a score and recommendations for what you can fix (each suggestion below is clickable):
I’ve been running all my website pages through this tool to make sure they’re optimised for search. In many cases, I’ve made just a few small tweaks, such as:
Making sure each page has over 500 words
The keyword is in the headings (without overkill)
My images are labelled and tagged correctly
You don’t need to take on all the suggestions if they don’t feel natural - so don’t go shoe-horning your keyword into every aspect of your website. As I mentioned in the beginning, I’ve had some accidental SEO wins purely through thinking about what would be most useful to my audience. And this should always come first.
There are still some areas I need to figure out
A few years ago, I did some learning around links. In particular, getting websites with a high domain authority to link to you - a major part of digital PR. But, there’s a technical side to backlinks that I haven’t explored, so that’s on my list.
There are also a whole host of free and accessible tools such as Surfer SEO to explore - that’s another one to add to my list.
What were the results?
It’s working. I’m seeing my selected keywords go up and up in search results 🥳
Most importantly, it’s given me a much-needed kickstart to go over old content, get it updated and move some blog drafts over the line. Now that I can see concrete evidence that content will bring traffic years down the line, I feel genuinely excited to create content.
I’m going to stop my terrible habit of writing 90% of a blog post in an afternoon, and then taking months to complete it.
And here’s my latest post
I have written a series of posts about mentoring, based on my coursework from the ILM qualification I completed in 2021. Here’s the first one to make it out of my drafts:
Does this get you thinking about your own website? This is a top-level overview of an in-depth subject which I am very much learning in the open. If you have thoughts, questions, tips or ideas, I’d love to know.