Looking After The Little Things
The concept of incremental or marginal gains took the cycling world by storm in 2012. By embracing the idea of doing the small things right, and aiming to improve the efficiency of everything by 1%. Dave Brailsford, the General Manager of the successful British Cycling team Team Sky, has masterminded four Tour de France victories in the past five years and successes at two Olympic games. So why not use the same principle to try and find White Hat SEO improvements?
The idea of incremental gains itself is simple. If you improve everything by one percent, those 1 percent points add up and can amount to a big increase in performance. Like my mom used to say, if you look after the cents, the dollars look after themselves.
For Brailsford, the formula was to work out exactly what could be improved, then improve upon it. They started with obvious things, like fitness and the ergonomics of the bike. But then they moved further and found the best pillow, to increase the quality of sleep. The pillow was then taken everywhere the athlete would need to sleep. They even went as far as teaching the team the most efficient way to wash their hands, to reduce chances of getting sick from poor hygiene.
The lengths they went to were sometimes extreme (athletes were not allowed to walk to the store or run errands while recovering from a training session for fear it would overwork their muscles), but often just common sense like finding the perfect seat or hand grips for a bike. Similarly, incremental SEO improvements are often overlooked when searching for the big wins like applied keyword research or schema.
Searching for the Micro SEO Improvements
Marginal gains can be applied anywhere, from finding the most efficient way of getting dressed in the morning, to give you 5 minutes more sleep, to having a diet soda instead of a milkshake if you go to McDonald’s and saving 600 calories. White Hat SEO is no exception. So why not try to improve the little things?
A big problem that I’ve seen is ‘priorities’. Everybody’s busy. Everyone has a long to-do list and they’re focused on getting that done as quickly as possible. You have targets, and objectives, and you know how to do them, so you focus on getting them done, and you don’t have much time for introspection about what you’ve done or if it can be done in a simpler way.
Data is just one example. If you’re trying to create a report on the best performing search terms on your website, how many times do you do a ‘quick fix’ while you’re trying to manually get the right data in a useful format? By ‘quick fix’ I mean something outside of what is considered the optimal workflow for the software. When you could take 30 minutes to create an automated report that formats the data for you every month, exactly as you want it.
For example, one client sent a weekly newsletter; each time they sent one out they had to go in and manually remove seven clients from the list. Why didn’t they just update the list? “Because I don’t have time for that.” Okay, sure. No time for that, but you can waste 15 minutes every week manually finding the companies on the list to uncheck them…
Little obstacles like this add up, and as well as taking time away from the person doing the job, they also make it more difficult to give the job to somebody else. Or to train a new team member, because what should be simple has become much more complex.
Don’t Duct Tape Problems. Fix Them.
Here’s our list of incremental SEO improvements that can make a big difference:
- Automate whatever you can. If it doesn’t work perfectly, spend time trying to fix it. Don’t accept that you need to manually download three CSVs until you’re sure that there isn’t a way to get all the data in one.
- Try to really understand any SEO tools you use like Screaming Frog, MOZ and SEMRush. Don’t just train to do the small task. The more you know, the more you’ll be able to get out of it.
- Break tasks down. If you find out that you have 15 meta descriptions that are too long, don’t do them all at once. Do two or three a day until they’re all done. That way you don’t get derailed from any other major tasks you have.
- Run SEO audits regularly. Tools like Screaming Frog or Metaforensics, but if you only use them every 5 years you’ll obviously have a lot of things to fix. Try to check periodically, then your to-do list won’t get too long.
- Aim to connect with your audience. Review to see what content is gaining traction (a good position in SERP, page visits, shares) and search for related topics. Find related or synonymous keywords and add more to your website’s library.
- Optimize and update your Google My Business profile. Most searchers don’t remember URLs; they now search on business names. For brand searches, you can get more of the SERP page dedicated to your business but claiming and optimizing your Google My Business profile. Keep it updated, as this info is used in local SEO. As a side note, make sure you optimize other profiles on Yelp, LinkdedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
- Fix page speed issues. One of the most obvious SEO elements under your control is page speed. Run tests using the Google tool and you’ll get a grade. The tool also provides a guide on how to fix any issues that slow down your site. Sluggish sites don’t perform well in SEO.
None of the above SEO improvements are a going to get you on page one alone, but if you add them all together they will have a cumulative effect. In our experience, these little things are usually ignored, or put off for far too long. Then they become a problem. What I’d suggest is going through and listing all the small things you think you could improve and tackling them once a week, perhaps on a Friday afternoon, until they’re all fixed.
Do you have any these small White Hat SEO improvements on your to-do list?
How can we help?
Do you have lots of little SEO problems you need fixed? Do you need someone to help give you a list of your SEO marginal gains?
We are Spectrum Group Online, and we offer strategic and tactical consulting so you can monetize your online presence. Call us for a complimentary 30-minute consultation to discuss your website’s user experience and translate that into sales.