January 8, 2024
One of the most important tactics when starting your SEO journey is understanding your baseline metrics. This is true whether you're starting the process alone or want to hire a technical SEO team. We'll break down some of the metrics within Google Search Console and what they mean before discussing trends to watch for as you begin.
COO & Co-Founder
This first metric shows how many times your site has been clicked on when found within Google Search results.
The second metric you'll see in the Google Search Console is Total impressions. This metric measures the number of times your site shows up in search results.
Your average CTR, or click through rate, is the number of times your site was clicked on, divided by the total number of people that saw your site in the search results. If your website came up in Google Search results 1000 times, and was clicked on 30 times, you would have a 3% average CTR (30 / 1000 = 0.03).
The average position in Google Search Console shows the average position on the page your site is seen. It spans across all searches for which your site shows. We’ll discuss more about trends that may affect this metric.
The last data we’ll discuss in this post is the list of queries just below your main dashboard. This is the list of search terms for which your site is appearing in Google Search Results. Attached to each keyword, you’ll also see the impressions, average CTR, and average position of your site when users are searching for a particular term.
If you’re just beginning to optimize your website to improve its chance of ranking, you may notice that these baseline numbers change rapidly. That’s because SEO gets progressively harder. It’s typically much easier to jump from 100 monthly impressions to 500 than it is to go from 10,000 to 15,000, for example. Our team of SEO experts often works with clients at different stages of their online journey. We’ll discuss some of the best practices we employ before offering tips on how to hire an SEO agency, including important questions to ask, key considerations, and what results you can expect.
One of the first steps our team takes when onboarding a new client is conducting a technical SEO audit. This includes evaluating page performance, analyzing the speed of your web pages, identifying and redirecting broken links, and ensuring meta tags, descriptions, and other on page technical SEO requirements are in place.
We utilize tools like SEMRush to perform the SEO audits and conduct keyword research during the process. The reports we develop offer in-depth analyses of your site on its own, and compared with other competitors, in order to identify opportunities. We view this as a prerequisite before proceeding further. It helps us get an understanding of what is (or isn’t) working so far and ensure the foundation is in place to begin next steps.
Website performance is a ranking factor because Google and other search engines want to gatekeep the quality of their users’ experience. Sites with high bounce rates, difficult-to-navigate content, or those that aren’t optimized for mobile create a negative user experience, which makes search engines less likely to recommend your page.
Content that is informative, original, and well-optimized is great for helping to improve ranking. Once you’ve got the fundamentals in place, our team often plays the role of SEO content manager for clients. We assist with content creation efforts like writing blog posts or developing case studies.
Effective content must strike a balance between its two audiences: the human readers and search engines. We’ve all experienced keyword stuffing. If you’re not familiar with the term, you’re at least familiar with posts that seem to do nothing more than attempt to fit the right word or phrase into an article as many times as possible, loosely strung together by a narrative.
This content not only confuses readers, but also fails to satisfy the algorithms for which they’re intended. Overuse of keywords in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings is looked down upon by search engines and your actual audience alike.
So what do you do? Working with a full-fledged marketing team helps. On any team worth its salt, you’ve got a blend of at least one professional writer and one SEO specialist (in some cases, you’re fortunate enough for one person to meet both these criteria). Any content representing your brand should be natural and authentic while satisfying the technical requirements needed to get your website ranking for important search terms.
Any piece of content being written for your site should consider things like header tag use, keyword inclusion and distribution, image alt text, and the use of external and internal links. For a more in-depth breakdown of technical steps, check out this article on mastering SEO.
We often work with clients who are hiring an SEO team for the first time in their organization’s history or who have had poor experiences in the past. One of the first things we try to do is help ensure everyone's expectations are aligned. We begin each project by laying out a clear path forward based on our initial audit for how we aim to help your site improve its SEO. This also includes a rough estimate of when those changes may begin to take effect.
Everyone’s experience may differ. This is a frequently asked question, however, so we’ll share our typical response. The expected timeline for SEO work to “kick in” is typically three to six months. This is backed by both our client experience and many SEO software companies’ analyses, such as Ahrefs’. The earliest we’ve seen positive trends start to take place is in the 30-60-day window, but this is reserved for clients who’ve had little to no SEO work done in the past because getting 1000% monthly increase in impressions is a lot easier if you’ve had 100 impressions prior. Everything is relative!
I’ll reiterate again that the specific first steps can and should vary based on your business’s specific needs and SEO journey to date. That said, there is a general outline that we and many other SEO agencies would likely follow. This is where the steps and practices above go into practice.
I touched on this above, but a thorough analysis at the start is essential for a healthy engagement because it helps us identify the steps we should take and determine benchmarks. This lets us properly assess how much of a positive impact we’re able to have on your business.
We’ll evaluate the current keyword performance, which includes reviewing the queries for which your site appears in search results that we explained above. We also review what keywords your competitors are using for which you either currently don’t rank at all or rank, but not as well as them.
Once we’ve got an in-depth understanding of the current performance and keyword opportunities, our team gets to work optimizing your headers, on-site text, image alt text, schema markups, and more, depending on your site’s existing content.
Not all backlinks are equal, and our team makes sure to analyze the number of backlinks that are regarded as “toxic” and determines whether or not to disavow them. Just like how your reputation can be tarnished if the wrong person endorses you, toxic backlinks can have a similar effect. While it’s not a perfect metaphor, a careful evaluation of which sites are linking to yours does affect your domain authority. We’ll help carefully prune backlinks that are regarded as spam to ensure brand integrity.
The links you have from one of your pages to the other is an indicator to Google what you prioritize on your own site. That’s why a careful review of your on-site internal linking strategy helps us communicate to the algorithms which areas of the site are higher priority.
The other side of the backlink review is ensuring healthy links to your site from reputable sources (such as directory sites, e.g. Yelp) are present. These are healthy, reputation-building links you’ll want to have in place both to appear in front of more prospective customers and to increase your standing in search.
If you’re not sure where to begin your SEO journey, our recommended first step would be to reach out to our team and book a free introductory consultation. On it, we’ll walk through your site, pull a preliminary report so you can better understand your current SEO performance, and learn about how we might be able to help you advance your business online.