So-called SEO experts often use SEO scores and scans to scam people into thinking they need to pay to fix their site, when most of the time the “fixes” do very little.
But surely there are times when you really do need to make improvements to your site, right? So how can you tell?
Here are a few easy ways that most business owners or marketing managers can do themselves to learn if their site could benefit from a bit of work.
Use Your Own Website
Navigate it on multiple devices. Is waiting for it to load painful? Do elements shift as it loads, making it annoying to navigate?
This isn’t 100% fool-proof, because your internet connection or computer hardware may be at the root of the issue. But if you’re frustrated, then your users are, too.
Look at Your Analytics
What Google really wants is simple: happy users.
Are your users happy? They’ll vote with their (virtual) feet.
If your users only stick around for a few seconds, that could be a sign they’re frustrated by a slow loading experience — or arriving on a page that doesn’t meet their search intent (i.e., they didn’t find what they were looking for).
Check for Big Changes in User Behavior
After you run an update or make a major change on your website, be sure to pay closer attention to your user’s behavior.
In particular, look for a sudden change in bounce rate or average time on site.
Also, check to see what pages they visit right before they leave the site. Is there a change there that doesn’t make sense? It might indicate a problem.
Talk to Your Users
Make it part of your client onboarding. Or include it in your surveys or performance reviews. Ask them if they found the website easy to navigate and quick to load.
It’s notoriously hard to get anyone to complete a survey. So this may mean making a point to pick up the phone now and then to talk directly to your users.
Get the Scoop from Google
Most website owners are aware that it’s a good idea to set up Google Analytics. But Google Search Console is often overlooked.
This tool shares information directly from Google about how you appear in Google. A few things you can check:
- Keywords your pages show up for.
- If your rank is going up or down for a particular keyword or page.
- Crawl errors on your website.
- If you pass the mobile-friendly test.
- How many pages Google has seen.
Hire a Trusted SEO Professional
This is easier said than done. After all, if you don’t understand all this jargon, how can you properly assess if the SEO pro does?
So instead, pay attention to what the person wants to know about your business. Your goal should be to find someone who ask questions like:
- Who is your target audience?
- What locations do you serve?
- How long have you owned and used this domain name?
- What actions do you want users to take on your site?
This means the SEO professional understands that their goal should be to support your marketing goals — not to simply check all those technical boxes.
Why Technical Proficiency Alone Doesn’t Cut It
Even if you hire someone who is technically proficient, they can do more harm than good by implementing SEO if they don’t understand your business.
Here’s a quick story. A law firm hired us because their previous SEO firm did a great job getting them ranked for “car insurance claims”.
Unfortunately, they didn’t handle car insurance claims.
Instead of bringing them business, this SEO firm helped them run up a sky-high bill with their answering service by getting them a bunch of unqualified leads.
Make sure your SEO company understands you won’t be impressed with a ranking for a keyword that means nothing to your business — or a perfect score on some scan.
What you’re looking for is help bringing in the right audience using search engines.
Pay for an SEO Audit & Tune-Up At Least Annually
You can get away with waiting longer if you keep up with website maintenance and don’t make major changes to your website.
On the other hand, if your business relies heavily on your website for operations or conversions, then you want to get a check-up more often (on top of that regular maintenance from a professional).
If you keep up with regular maintenance, it often is a small project to give your website a performance tune-up.
Here’s an example from a client that took our team just three billable hours.
When we were done, there were still many items on that list of “recommended improvements,” but we knew well enough to leave them alone.
After all, chasing down an extra percentage point wasn’t the point. The goal was to provide a better user experience with a faster, cleaner load time, so site visitors would stick around to hire our client.
Remember to keep your eye on that ultimate goal: growing your business!