This is the second part of a presentation I did for WordPress developers about SEO at WordCamp Asheville. You can read the first part (which defines SEO) before you read this or watch the entire presentation yourself.
I know some of you are like, “you know, David, I appreciate that SEO is really about measuring, but like it’s way outside the scope of what people are paying me to do.” Your job is not to be their analytics consultant. In fact, sometimes your clients are like “you know what, I don’t even care about analytics, just don’t bother to install it.” No. We aren’t doing anything unless we’re measuring it. And measuring SEO has nothing to do with rank (well, it has something to do with rank, but like I really resent when SEO gets resorted to rank; like anybody can objectively and accurately track rank anyway). Let’s get over rank. Let’s go to traffic. But traffic in and of itself doesn’t really matter. We want traffic that becomes business. And if we’re not measuring it all the way in, we’re not doing a real SEO (well, any marketing campaign for that matter).
It is painful for me when I inherit a site is that analytics aren’t set up. And when I’m thinking analytics. I mean, I’m just talking just the free, Google Analytics. We shouldn’t let a site out of our door without setting up analytics on it. I know your clients, sometimes they don’t even care. I know some of your clients won’t ever use it. But the fact is, they might not want it now, but if you’ve built a better product for them, they’re gonna wish they had it later. Do them a favor, just set it up. It’s not hard. I mean, put in Monsterinsights, done, right? Set it up for them.
Bonus points if you can install Tag Manager, because then when I’m doing other marketing, I’m not cracking open the template files to insert my codes the next time you try to update, break the site, and you get a call and they blame you because you built the site and whatever. Let’s avoid that. Tag Manager will help.
DuracellTomi’s Google Tag Manager is a great plugin for Google Tag Manager, when I use best if you hard code Tag Manager in. It’s just not ideal, I get it, but it would be better because we don’t get full functionality of Tag Manager even with WordPress plugins. So, put in Tag Manager, now it’s a bucket. And I, as the marketer, I can add and subtract marketing analytics as I need it. I don’t have to bother you, I don’t have to break your site. There’re all kinds of other things I can do with Tag Manager if you’ve taken the time to install it. Now you’ve installed it, I don’t have to bug you with a name, boring updates when you’ve got bigger things to do. You don’t hate me, the client benefits, we’re all happy, right?
Don’t forget Google Search Console. It’s easy, set it up. You’re gonna benefit from it, too. Hopefully, you have like arrangement with your clients that when you build a site, you’re not just like there. You have an agreement that you’re maintaining it, analytics, Tag Manager, Search Console will help you maintain your client sites.
Second of all, goal. What is this website trying to accomplish? I know sometimes people will call you, they just want a brochure site. They kind of don’t know what they want. They don’t have a budget, so they just, you just throw something together. Do your clients justice, help them think through what they want to accomplish. Are they trying to sell something? Are they trying to get sales leads? Are they trying to inform people? What is the purpose? And design the site according to what they want to accomplish. Oftentimes, your clients don’t know what they wanna accomplish. You will build a better product for them, if you help them think through that. And you will avoid me having to come and break your beautiful design to help the client accomplish things.
Now, you might think this is not an SEO thing. Well, I’m sorry. The Bible [Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug] says to do this. This is probably one of the best books I’ve ever read on anything web. And, you know, the basic premise. Like a brain-dead monkey could be able to come to your site and you should know what you wanna do. Right? Make it obvious. Help the person think through the business, think through what they wanna accomplish, so that anybody will know exactly what they want you to do when you visit the site. Just don’t make me think, read the book if you haven’t.
But you might say, why is this an SEO issue? This is the latest version of Google’s manual review guidelines. If you design websites, you need to read this. I went to Kinko’s the day it was published two months ago, and printed it out and read it again. This is the fourth time they’ve released this. This is as close as we’re gonna get to understanding the core parts of Google’s algorithm. You see, Google right now is driven by machine learning. But in order for the algorithms to be machine learned to decide which websites rank above others, they have to have a data set to pull from. For that data set they hire, Google hires a series of people who manually review search engine results, and they manually review pages to decide this is page of the highest quality, the lowest quality or somewhere in between.
Wouldn’t it be great to know what Google is considering a high quality and a low-quality site? Read it and you will know. According to the manual review guidelines, the best highest quality sites are the ones that accomplish its own purpose best. A low-quality site does not help the user accomplish the purpose of the website. So, you, as a designer, need to understand what the purpose of the website is, if you want Google to consider the site high-quality. This is not that hard of a read, but it’s well worth your time. We can’t separate, at this point, site design from SEO. Make sure when we’re designing our sites, the client knows what their goal is, and you design the site as best you can to help accomplish that goal.
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