Regardless of size, all businesses have the same needs for access to the market and visibility. When it comes to SEO, however, many small businesses rightly feel unfairly penalized for having fewer resources and smaller budgets. However, if you run or represent a small business, that doesn’t mean you should leave SEO to the big players.
The SEO community has been increasingly open to sharing hacks, templates, and free tools that can work together to give you a top-quality SEO toolbox, often for free.
Auditing your website is one of the first steps to finding–and fixing–problems, or setting benchmarks for future improvements.
If you’re not a technical SEO, this might sound daunting, but it shouldn’t be. If you need an introduction, a good place to start would be a glossary of technical concepts that explains why each is important.
But there are also checklists out there that will walk you through the steps of a complete audit. Highly qualified consultants–and even top agencies–will often share their processes. One of the oldest and most-cited is Annie Cushing’s spreadsheet. Another great checklist was published by the agency Distilled.
If you keep tabs on industry and niche SEO specialists, you can often find audits adapted to your company’s area of expertise, such as this audit template for hotel and travel SEO.
Monitoring is a broad term for a host of different activities: monitoring what Google does on your site, monitoring how your site does on Google, and just keeping an eye on different indicators, from how often your server is down to how long people stay on your site.
Server logs and Googlebot
Your web server logs every visitor, whether “bots” (automated web scripts) or humans, and their requests for different pages and files on your site. Monitoring what Google’s bots do can, for example, identify problems that prevent Google from exploring and indexing your best pages. Log monitoring solutions can be expensive–but they don’t have to be. For example, OnCrawl made the underlying technology behind its log monitoring solution freely available in 2016.
Don’t stop at basic keyword research. Whether or not you believe content is king, tracking market trends where keywords and searches are concerned can give you a huge advantage. In Search Engine Land back in February, Hülya Çoban shared a method for tracking Google Trends in Data Studio. Since then, others have put it into practice to understand and predict market changes in search even when COVID-19 meant that historical data was no longer helpful.
Moving a website to a new location, changing any part of your web address, or redesigning a website are stressful moves. Monitoring is key to success here, so that you can catch anything that goes wrong before it has a negative impact. And again, there’s help out there: Simon Cox shows you how to monitor your migration from HTTP to HTTPS, following Google’s strong security recommendations and Chrome’s move to mark non-HTTPS sites as not secure.
Search behavior and rank tracking.
Like big business competitors, you might want to follow your pages rank and how people search. Aleyda Solis has shared multiple templates for tracking various information related to search behavior and page rank on Google.
You can automate many SEO tasks to free you up to spend more time on other things. Currently, there are two main ways to automate in SEO.
First, you can create programs, processes, or scripts to mass-produce elements. For example, instead of opening every post in WordPress to optimize the title and meta description that are used to create your search listing on Google, you can export this data into a spreadsheet, make all your changes at once, and import it back into your WordPress. Or you can even use machine learning to generate meta descriptions for you. Many of these scripts, processes and code have been shared by their creators: just Google them!
Second, you can replace manual monitoring with alerting. In other words, instead of checking daily or weekly how things are doing, you can set up alerts to let you know when things require you to step in. This can range anywhere from complicated scripts to simply setting up alerts in Google Analytics.
Don’t forget that there are other tools out there for SEO tasks. Instead of assuming, or collecting and validating data by hand, keep an eye out for free tools for specific tasks.
Boost your SEO
Small businesses should never let limited resources stand in the way of a top-notch technical SEO strategy. The free tools, resources, guides and templates shared by skilled SEOs go a long way in bridging the gap between what enterprise tools can offer a multi-person SEO team, and what a single SEO can do on a budget.
And if you don’t know where to start? There’s help for setting up an SEO strategy out there, too.
Rebecca Berbel is the Content Manager at OnCrawl, an awarded SEO software company. She’s a fan of SEO, content strategy, data analysis, and anything technical. She regularly writes articles for different blogs, but you can also find her on Twitter.