6 short term SEO wins
You can be forgiven for thinking that quick wins don’t exist in the world of search engine optimisation. SEO professionals tend to talk in months and years, rather than days and weeks, and most will warn you away from promises of instant results, as this is at best unrealistic, and at worst, a site penalty in the making.
Whilst I’d still advise running a mile from anyone making guarantees of fast results without in-depth knowledge of your site, there are areas of optimisation where it’s possible to see quick wins. Some of these tactics may take time to plan or implement, but once rolled out it’s entirely possible to see changes in site performance within mere days – positively speedy by SEO standards.
Here’s our list of the top six areas where ‘quick win’ opportunities are just waiting to be discovered, and that should deliver tangible results for your site in 6 months or less.
1. Website errors and poor technical performance
Is anything on your site broken or not working as it should? This means things like:
- Pages that don’t exist, resulting in a 404
- Internal links that don’t work or go to a page that 404s
- Pages that are mistakenly ‘no-indexed’, preventing them from being included in search results
You’ll need a full technical audit carried out by an expert to establish if these problems exist on your site and if they do, prioritisation and a developer to tackle them, but once fixed it’s possible for performance to improve almost immediately.
With your audit in hand the next thing to look for is underperformance in areas such as site speed, accessibility and image optimisation. It may take a little longer to deliver improvements in these areas, but if you have the development resource to make changes you’ll usually see an impact on site performance within 6 months.
2. Site architecture
If your site architecture lacks coherence, then restructuring can help you reap rewards in record time. A logically structured site with a clear page hierarchy is easier for users and search engines to understand and navigate. Relocating pages and ensuring they are appropriately linked to, increases the visibility and perceived authority of pages, which can radically and quickly improve performance.
Here’s how to get started:
- Review what the main categories pages for your site should be. Do you have a dedicated page for each category, and are these pages linked to from your homepage? Position main category pages just one step away from the homepage in your page hierarchy, and if any category doesn’t have a dedicated page, create one.
- Relocate subcategory pages to fit within your amended structure and reduce the number of levels within the page hierarchy as much as is logical.
- Review high converting, high traffic and other valuable pages to make sure they aren’t ‘buried’ miles down in the hierarchy.
Keyword research will help you to determine what your category pages should be and understand where the opportunities are in terms of search volume. At Blue Array we create a ‘Keyword Universe’ for clients, which comprehensively documents keyword terms and clusters them into groups, which helps to inform website structure.
3. Internal links
Simply linking to a page more effectively can have a rapid effect on its performance. It’s common for pages to be added to websites with little thought given to how they might connect to the rest of the site. Being poorly linked to makes content harder for users and search engines to find, inhibits the flow of PageRank around the site and may cause pages to be seen as unimportant by search engines.
A crawling tool can help you identify pages that are poorly linked (but have high search potential), and find opportunities to connect them with relevant parts of your site. Once you’ve benefited from updating your internal links, put in place guidelines for clustering and linking related content that can be applied to all new content added to the site.
4. Small on-page updates
If your site is in a reasonable state technically and architecture isn’t a major issue, improving pages with small on-page tweaks is a good next port of call. For the quickest wins look for pages in Search Console that have high impressions, but a low number of clicks.
Check what search terms a page appears for, then review the top ranking URLs for inspiration on how to update elements like:
- Title tags and meta descriptions
- Main headings and subheadings
- Content, making small changes like adding more long tail queries
Content created without search in mind often has scope for lots of small adjustments, which in combination can bump up ranking positions by several places. Particularly when this is enough to push a page into the top 10 of the search engine results pages (SERPs), the potential to see a big shift in organic traffic is huge. Appearing as a top 10 result doesn’t just increase visibility, it also increases the chances of your content appearing in a featured snippet or as a rich result.
5. Updating page templates
While you’re hunting for opportunities to make on-page updates you may notice whole areas of your site that suffer from similar problems. If the page template is at fault, this is your chance to right a whole lot of wrongs. Rolling out improved page templates allows you to make incremental changes to multiple pages, which has the potential to have a big impact on your site.
For fast SEO gains, put reviewing and updating page templates near the top of your priority list. It’s a great way to get results quickly, whilst also laying the foundations for longer term SEO success as you develop new content.
6. Updating or developing new content
Developing content always has the potential to ‘move the needle’ relatively quickly, but content churned out without a clear strategy is unlikely to be effective. The mistake we see most often is businesses chasing keyword volume for its own sake. Seeing site traffic trend upwards certainly seems like a positive, but if leads, conversions of other ROI measures remain stagnant, is this really success?
It’s always best to set out your measures of success before you start working on content, and ensure you have clarity on who you are targeting. If brand awareness is your priority then focusing on keyword volume might be the right goal, but if conversions are what’s most important this will influence the type of content you create.
Once your objectives are clear, there a couple of good ways to pinpoint what content topics to work on:
- Competitor Keyword Gap Analysis – this involves researching the keywords your competitors appear for and comparing them with the keywords your site appears for. Reviewing where your content ranks much lower than competitions, or where there are phrases you don’t rank for at all, can help you determine where you have content that needs updating and where there are gaps for new content to be created.
- Search Console Performance Report – use search console to review the queries where your site ranks in position 8 through to 15. In these cases Google has decided your content is relevant to the query, but your ranking position is too low to generate much traffic. Updating these pages in line with the content at the top of the SERPs can be a shortcut to ranking more highly, and quickly boosting traffic to these pages without the need for brand new content.
Short terms wins in the wild
Working on SEO strategy with The Private Office, an award winning chartered financial planning firm, Blue Array uncovered a series of opportunities to deliver ‘quick wins’ whilst continuing activity targeting longer term goals.
We identified a page that had historically performed well, but over time had dropped position and consequently traffic. By making small on-page changes and improving internal links page performance improved rapidly with a MoM uplift in traffic of 142%.
The site also experienced a separate issue with a sudden loss of impressions and clicks. After some digging we found this was caused by a popular page being mistakenly no-indexed. We removed the no-index tag and as soon as Google recognised the change, performance bounced back to previous levels.
Building quick wins into your SEO roadmap
Quick wins in SEO are possible. The catch, if there is one, is that site changes often take careful planning, and require time and resource to implement before you get to see the results. It’s also important to balance your desire to see short term wins with your plan for longer term, ongoing success. It’s inefficient to chase quick wins if this is at the expense of foundational optimisation activities that take longer to pay off.
Setting clear objectives at the start of the optimisation process is the best way to plan for success. Having clear goals and a timeline for activity will help you weigh up the relative importance of short and longer term wins and line up the resources needed, so you can deliver changes promptly and see the rewards sooner.