I used to have a box full of papers that drove my girlfriend crazy.
I’ve lived in at least eight different apartments over the last ten years, and this box would come with me in every move. Sometimes it would end up in a closet, maybe tucked away under the bed. It was an old box that originally stored reams of printer paper, and over the years, the cardboard broke down until it barely resembled a container. I had no idea what was in the box, as I would toss in anything from tax documents to unopened credit card offers to the occasional bill. My girlfriend hated it. It followed me, and eventually us, everywhere.
One day last spring, on the cusp of yet another move, I had enough. I poured a glass of bourbon, put on headphones, and got to work sorting through years of old mail, receipts, and even a couple of college papers. It took an hour and a half (and another glass of whiskey), but eventually I had a pile of papers ready for shredding. I was triumphant.
And now I’d like to share that feeling with you, so here are five SEO practices you can ditch this Spring.
1. Ignoring entrances
If your campaign revolves around driving organic traffic to a site through increased rankings, then you really need to look outside of sessions and towards entrances. Entrances are triggered on the page during which a session begins, which for an organic traffic session will generally mean a click from a SERP result.
“But it’s about trends! Entrances and sessions typically move in the same direction,” I hear you say.
It’s true, but don’t you want to report more accurate numbers? Sessions are great for understanding how organic traffic flows through your site; entrances are the actual number SEOs should be interested in.
2. Sending weekly reports without insights
This one was a hard habit for me to break. Sending a top-level report with pretty charts and graphs seems like a great way to keep stakeholders aware of your work. But SEO moves slowly, and week on week (WoW) views are frequently too short a time span to demonstrate impact. We’ve all received the dreaded email questioning a WoW drop in traffic only for it to bounce back a few days later. The solution? Start putting insights into your reports. Action items, notes and takeaways – however you frame them, make sure your report is useful. Even if it’s just to say “nothing to worry about this week.”
3. Not tying SEO metrics to stakeholder goals
Whether you’re client-side or at an agency, you’re going to have stakeholders who have a vested interest in organic succeeding, whether they know it or not. Therefore you simply must learn what the specific goals are for your stakeholders.
For a client, it may be their overarching business goals or a specific metric they’ve been tasked with improving (and it may not be an organic metric). If a stakeholder’s goal is to increase audience engagement on the site, you should be reporting on – and gear your projects towards – increasing time on page and decreasing bounce rate, by retooling content to be relevant to users who end up on a page. If they’re looking to drive conversions, make goals your top-line reporting.
4. Calling page titles “meta titles”
This is wrong. You’re thinking of meta descriptions. The proper term is “page title.” It may not be particularly impactful, but it’s important to be technically correct.
5. Conflating crawling and indexing
There are functionally three parts to ranking high in SERP results: crawling, indexing, and serving results. Unfortunately, many SEOs tend to conflate the first two steps of the process. This isn’t without good reason and they seem to happen simultaneously however it’s crucial to creating a functional site that we always consider the difference, especially as Google keeps a tight lip on what goes into each.
For example, in a robots.txt file you might instruct a spider to disallow a directory – this indicates that the spider should not crawl that directory. However, if that directory had been crawled previously, it may already be indexed – and a disallow will not remove the directory from the index. Instead, you’d need to noindex those pages (Google has told us that we shouldn’t rely on noindex directives in robots.txt files, so do this at your own risk).
There – don’t you feel better? Go outside, maybe walk through the park, enjoy the warm weather – all the while knowing you’ve lightened your burden of several sticky SEO bad practices.
If you’d like to know more about our SEO services or about Croud, get in touch.