It has been a few months since we launched the SEO workflow tool, the tool that allows you to simplify the management of online projects thanks to an overview of the basic workflow that covers the main aspects of the site. Let’s try to see together what are the practical benefits that this system – and our tool! – allow to reach, using a more analytical approach and a real framework to identify and solve problems.

The benefits of an SEO workflow

Today, more than ever, digital marketing covers a wide range of channels: search engines, social media, display ads, emails, mobile apps and more. Following all these aspects is a complex effort, which automated tools can simplify and optimize.

Having the workflow under control also makes it possible to identify more quickly the critical areas on which to concentrate operations or those that are giving the least positive results, to develop an effective and more targeted growth strategy.

A framework to identify problems

This management mode can be combined with the use of a systematic SEO framework to identify problems on the site, which negatively affect organic performances and require a prompt response to avoid losing too much traffic and visits.

When we notice a fluctuation in keyword placement, says Paul Schmidt, author of a deepening published in searchenginejournal, the first common reaction is to look for an external cause as an algorithmic update by Google or in an error of the same algorithm, especially in case of collapses. This mentality is too simplistic and short-sighted because it does not allow us to discover what are the real reasons for these oscillations, and therefore it does not allow us to replicate the successes or worse, to repeat the mistakes already made.

The 4 forces affecting the SEO

In fact, there are (at least) 4 big forces and SEO factors that affect our organic performance: knowing them – and putting them into a framework – will help us to identify and resolve key issues faster and get back on track.

According to Schmidt, the four main force types are: algorithmic, technical, seasonal and competitive, and now we will see in detail what they mean and how to improve.

  1. The effects of algorithmic changes

We mentioned it earlier as one of the best-known causes: changes to search algorithms can actually affect the site’s organic performances. This includes large-scale or small-scale updates of Google’s algorithms, the spread of featured snippets and their effects (which affect the types of results that are displayed in SERP), the increase in the percentage of ads on a SERP for certain topics.

Three steps to detect the problem

Our first task is to diagnose the presence of an algorithmic problem, identifying the date of the increase or decrease in traffic and verifying whether there were, in that period, updates or news signed by Google. The graph of the site trend in SEOZoom is useful for this purpose, because it reports on the X axis the key moments related to algorithmic changes.

Immediately after, it is necessary to check if there are reports in the Google Search Console and, in particular, if our site has suffered a manual penalty due to some violation of Google guidelines. The third step – if the previous one failed – is to understand whether the fluctuations may depend on any new SERP features introduced by Google.

How to solve the drop

Established the time sequence of sudden ranking variation (with relative decrease or gain of the organic traffic), also helping us with the Time Machine to analyze a more precise period, we can have the information useful to understand “what happened” to the site.

For example, we can find a correlation to the Google’s core updates, identifying the severity of the problem and looking for strategies to intercept again the favor of the search engine (and users) in the light of the new assessments taken over by the algorithm, For example, studying whether the reconsideration mainly concerns onpage or offpage factors.

If we do not find temporal correspondence, instead, we must first exclude that there are manual actions in place (and if necessary, to correct them), or look for other possible sources of problems.

  1. Problems of technical nature

The second “force” mentioned in the article concerns the technical interventions made on the site, which almost naturally impact on performances. For example, we may have added a new category of content, or unified two sites into one domain or switched from an unprotected hosting to a protected one.

To diagnose the presence of a problem of this type we must first establish a timeline for technical changes (front-end or back-end) made to the site, using as a track annotations in Google Analytics or logs of changes in our CMS. Schmidt recommends regular monitoring of:

  • Interventions on design
  • Consolidation of the domain
  • Large-scale content additions or deletions
  • CMS transitions
  • Hosting transitions
  • Great marketing campaigns.

Solving a technical problem

If the temporal analysis suggests that the decrease is due to a matter of this kind, we must roll up our sleeves and intervene for the correction. The possible sources of error are multiple and so you should perform a technical SEO audits to locate the exact cause, starting with a site scan with a crawling tool like our SEO Spider.

In particular, we need to check for problems such as:

  • Broken links and pages with 404 error, which can occur naturally over time, but becomes critical if large sections of the site are broken.
  • Temporary 302 redirects or long redirect chains.
  • Excessive presence of pages with low quality or thin contents, to be redirected or consolidated to other resources if they do not provide ranking, traffic or conversions.
  • Presence of duplicated content, to be solved with rel=canonical or no=index to make every page presented to Google unique.
  • Important pages of the site blocked by the robots.txt file.
  • Site structure and distance from the home of the most important pages: if higher than 4-5 clicks, you need to rethink and redesign the information architecture.
  1. Seasonality matters

As we know, even the seasonality affects the performance of the site, eCommerce and information alike, and we have had confirmation with the distortions caused by the Coronavirus effect on organic searches. If Google Trends remains a useful tool to identify seasonal search trends for our target themes, the Covid-19 Impact tool is even more accurate in indicating the updated search volume, also using the suite features that anticipate the known seasonal variations.

The goal is to provide the right message to the right audience at the right time, managing to propose to users what they are looking for or need exactly when they want and eventually also adapting the site to the most appropriate seasonality.

  1. The role of the competitors

Sometimes, our declines are simply related to the growing performance of a competitor, new or strengthened: a competitor site that makes its entry into the market, a merger or an acquisition; sites that, although not direct competitors, compete on the same keywords; increased paid media cannibalizing a larger share of clicks for target keywords.

The key to understanding if we have an SEO competition problem is to analyze the general context of the market, starting from a better awareness of the macro trends that affect our company, the complementary and substitute products and the purchasing behaviour of our buyer.

Analizing the competitors

Then we will perform a complete competitor analysis, examining the strengths and weaknesses of the competition and the individual factors on the page. The main reason why our competitors exceed us, for onpage factors, is because they have better or more content and well organized on their site, so we must also study these elements and orient our work accordingly.

No less important is then to evaluate the backlink profile of our opponents, to find out the quantity and quality of the links that target their sites and try to equip us properly to compete better in the SERPs.

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