Top SEO Practices That Can Radically Transform Your Business with Andrea Barnhill [EP. 57]
Your website’s SEO can hugely impact your bottom line, but how can you transform your website to generate real business results?
Andrea Barnhill is the Co-Founder and Director of Operations at Socratik, an SEO agency aiming to execute customized SEO strategies that boost ROI for mid to enterprise-sized businesses. Andrea is an expert in radical SEO transformation and helps businesses create a framework for exponential growth.
In this episode of The Opportunity Podcast, Andrea shares with us how to create a site that climbs the SERPs, even in competitive niches, and the SEO roadmap she uses to influence her clients’ bottom lines.
Listen to The Opportunity Podcast Episode #57
Topics Discussed in this episode:
- How Andrea got her start in SEO
- How to build credibility in a competitive industry
- The four most common website scenarios for troubling SEO
- Andrea’s winning framework for SEO transformation
Why Invest in SEO?
A lot of resources go into building a website, including creating content and digital marketing initiatives, so ensuring people can find your website is vital. SEO is the way to get your website higher up in the SERPs and really help it stand out from the crowd.
If your website isn’t search engine optimized, then it risks falling into the “black hole” of information. This is what Andrea calls any results that don’t feature on the first page of Google. If this happens, it’s unlikely your site will get found.
SEO is also about providing quality information to people who are looking for it, instead of opportunistically presenting people with an advert. In Andrea’s opinion, ads are more about convincing people to buy a product rather than providing a helpful solution in the person’s moment of need.
The key to success in SEO is catching leads at the right place and time, when and where they need your products or services most.
What Kind of Sites Need SEO Transformation?
Andrea’s team specializes in transforming a website’s performance through enhancing its SEO. She says that most businesses she works with are in one of the following scenarios:
There is no keyword strategy or general SEO
This is the most common site that Andrea and her team work on. Sites that fit this profile can be in good shape, but they’re missing opportunities. In this case, the Socratik team’s role is to capitalize on any potential for leveraging SEO strategies to boost the site’s performance.
The website has been developed without SEO in mind
The site has experienced a dip in organic traffic
Another common problem people seek help for is a drastic reduction in traffic to their site. This could be for a number of reasons. In most cases, a competitor has invested in SEO and has squeezed them out of their top rankings. Another reason could be that an algorithm update has penalized the site, although this is less common.
Relaunching a site without SEO
A more recent addition to this list is businesses relaunching a website and seeing a drop in traffic or losing their keyword rankings. This can happen if there’s no redirect plan in place to ensure you keep your pre-existing traffic post-launch.
This final scenario can be devasting for businesses that have spent thousands on a relaunch, only to end up with a website that doesn’t perform. Luckily, Andrea notes that it’s not too late to fix this issue. If you’re going through a website revamp or are planning one in the future, Andrea recommends that you loop in SEO specialists early so that you’re not fixing your site retrospectively.
Starting Your SEO Transformation: A Winning Framework
Radically transforming a website’s SEO performance isn’t a copy and paste activity. Each business requires a unique approach that starts with understanding the business’s goals.
Andrea says that while their processes don’t drastically change from business to business, no one cookie-cutter strategy works for everyone.
Step one is a deep dive, usually an initial call where they talk to a stakeholder about their pain points and capacity for implementing an SEO strategy. This is all about working out where the company is and where the stakeholders want to take it next.
Next is a preliminary audit. Here, Andrea’s team looks at the site’s current keyword rankings, where it’s driving traffic, and what Google sees the site as an authority in.
The most crucial part of this audit is the competitive analysis. This is where you dig into sites that are competing for the same keywords and securing the top places in the SERPs. Andrea suggests dissecting each result to see how they’re driving traffic, what content formats they’re using, how in-depth their content is, and so on. This gives you a roadmap for what Google is looking for.
Other things Andrea suggests looking at during this analysis stage includes:
- Your backlink profile – where are your backlinks directing traffic to?
- Your non-branded vs. brand traffic ratio – if you’re driving mostly branded traffic to your site, that means only people who already know your brand are finding you.
If your site is getting a lot of non-branded traffic and traffic coming through blog posts and product pages, these are all promising signs that your site’s optimization is working.
Doing this deep dive and conducting an analysis might not be the most exciting part of the SEO process, but Andrea notes that getting a holistic picture of what’s going on first is important. Then you’ll know where your biggest opportunities for transformation are.
The Roadmap to SEO Success
Once you know where you’re going and what you want to achieve with your site, the next stage is to start executing tasks to get you there. Andrea breaks down what usually happens at each stage of the SEO overhaul, and gives a timeframe for working through it.
In the first month, Andrea’s team focuses on the keyword strategy, the website, and the technical audits. The audits include using tools to do a full crawl of the site to uncover any underlying SEO issues and using manual checks to understand a site’s overall useability.
These findings then become part of a prioritized work plan that gets delivered to the client’s team. Then it’s all about implementing the changes and following them up with adequate QA and testing.
Your keyword strategy can also be an important part of these changes but should be tackled differently. Your audit will help you understand which keywords drive converting traffic. The next task is to pair every existing landing page with a target keyword so that it’s clear what the pages should rank for.
You can go the extra mile during your audit to make notes of any content gaps and recommend content creation for these areas.
Then it’s all about optimizing the site to leverage that keyword strategy. This usually happens in the second month, alongside implementing any other technical changes or findings.
After this, Andrea’s team move into the link building and content production stages, which they continually implement. Then it’s just a matter of time before sites start to see results, such as keyword ranking improvements and organic traffic gains. Andrea notes that this usually happens between months three and six.
Implementing SEO transformation in this way is front-loaded, but Andrea says that after you’ve done the bulk of the work early on, your site should run like a well-oiled machine.
The Dos and Don’ts of SEO
When done correctly, SEO can be transformative for your site and your bottom line. But even the smallest of mistakes can land you in the “black hole” or, worse, penalized. Here are some key SEO pitfalls to avoid:
- A messy technical setup – i.e., broken pages, especially any with powerful backlinks
- Duplicate content – Google needs to know exactly what page to direct traffic to for that keyword, duplicating content can confuse the search engine
- A “set it and forget it” attitude – your SEO strategy needs to be revisited at least quarterly to ensure your site is performing to its highest possible standard
Not making mistakes with your SEO is one thing, but there are also some tricks of the trade that can boost your performance. Here are some of Andrea’s recommendations for growth through SEO:
- Increase your internal links – these can make a huge impact on your site’s SEO performance and are great for improving your user experience
- Revisit your site architecture – make sure that the URL structure is clear and the content hierarchy is optimized
- Build authority through content and links – creating more top of the funnel content generates more interest in the initial stages of your sales process and helps to capture a wider audience
- Prioritize testing – there’s always more you can do with SEO, so keep testing to find out what works best for your site
To gain the best possible results from your SEO strategy, Andrea says the key is to be consistent.
“Growth from SEO is all about consistent execution of a holistic SEO strategy. So using a keyword strategy and implementing that through on-page optimization, executing those low-hanging fruit items on the technical side, pumping out data-driven content, and building links to the money pages.”
Whether you do this yourself, invest in help, or outsource the process entirely, transforming your site with best SEO practices is extremely worthwhile, and could be the difference between a winning website and one lost to the “black hole”.
For more SEO advice and recommendations, tune in to the full discussion with Andrea on The Opportunity Podcast. Press play on the player at the top of this page or tune in to The Opportunity Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your usual podcast app.
Employing common SEO practices like the ones listed above can make a huge difference to the sale price of your online business. Want to know more? Try our free valuation tool to find out how much your site is worth now.