SEO Tools and Analytics with Steve Wiideman

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

What are the best SEO analytics, metrics, and KPIs to determine if my content strategy is working?  What SEO tools should I be using?  Do I need to hire an SEO agency?  In this episode, Chris and Ryan talk with Steve Wiideman about the importance of transparency in SEO, when to outsource vs. in-source your SEO, and which tools and analytics you should be using regularly.

A question we often get on social media is what tools are you using to measure your SEO efforts? And while there’s no shortage of tools, some of them free and some paid, each of them have their different strengths and weaknesses. And while we certainly have some of our favorites, our guest today is an expert in the field of SEO and has a much deeper working knowledge of tools and analytics. 

Writer, scientist, professor, and practitioner of search optimization, Steve Wiideman lives, breathes, and eats SEO, SEM, and inbound marketing. When he’s not leading his team of SEO consultants for franchise, multi-location and ecommerce brands, he’s a cheeseball romantic, entertaining dad, and world traveler with a passion for life; embracing culture and diversity. 

While serving as an adjunct professor at UCSD and CSUF, Steve’s also building the Academy of Search, while volunteering time to help improve transparency and industry standards as an agency trainer.

Podcast Highlights

What are the top questions SMBs ask about SEO?

Steve Wiideman: [00:06:17] I would say the number one question is, is “how do I know that the company I’m working with is doing a good job?” They’re not transparent about what they’re doing because they call it secret sauce. I get reports, but I don’t know what those reports mean or if the numbers are what they could be or should be and I don’t I don’t get a forecast. I don’t get a plan. I don’t get any key performance indicators to measure against. And I wouldn’t even know what they would be. 

I think those are the primary challenges that small businesses have. But you’re right. Going back to what those the sort of core principles of SEO, you know, there’s really only three when we think about organic search, it’s relevancy to the keyword. 

Do you have a page? You know, when somebody searches for a non brand search term and they’re not searching for your name and the searching for your service or product, do you have a page for that? That’s number one. And that’s the first question I asked. 

When someone says, hey, I’m having trouble ranking for a keyword, I say, well, what page are you trying to rank? And they go, I’m just trying my website to rank. No, no. What page on your website are you trying to get to show up and search for that keyword? 

Number two is going to be visibility. It’s making sure every month that’s when Google and Bing are crawling through the Internet that they’re finding your business name everywhere and maybe even some links back to your site to, you know, to crawl through and really study your website more often. So getting that visibility off your website is part two. 

And part three is really more around user behaviors. You don’t hear this a lot, right? You hear a lot about content and links, content and links. If I do those two things, I’m going to show up in search results. But from our testing and our observation of looking at Google’s own Search Console tool, it turns out that the keyword piece of it is really just in the beginning for them to understand what words to test your page for. 

And then secondly, it’s once you’ve kind of been qualified to show up for those search terms, it’s making sure by getting votes from other websites through links that you’re relevant for that keyword beyond just what’s on your website. So we’re talking maybe three months to get your website qualified, three months to earn those votes from, you know, from other websites and then from six, six months – 2 years to have those user behavior signals kick in.  

And that is if somebody searches and they choose your results more often than the others because it stands out as a beautiful thumbnail next to it of a picture of something on your website or your service or maybe some FAQs below it, maybe a rating. Right. You’ve got a compelling title and description that makes them want to click and they click on that listing. 

Google says, hey, good, this must have been a relevant result. They click this listing more often than the others. But if your site hasn’t adhered to on-page best practices, accessibility, security, privacy, it hasn’t really paid attention to mobile usability the way that we are now. They’re going to click back and going to choose a competing result. 

And Google is going to go, oh, I guess that wasn’t a helpful result. I’m going to go ahead and demote this one, because over time it seems like more people who do click on this tend to come back and choose something else. And we’ve noticed that we’ve but we can take the content completely off the website in a year. And that listing will still stick at the top as long as the information and the content the user was really looking for is still there and it’s still the most helpful result. 

So short term, yeah, your content, your relevancy is key. 

The second is getting other websites to vote for you and the third is really around that user behavior signal and constantly trying to improve your click through rates, improve your conversion rates, improve your bounce rate, improve everything that you can do on that page when you’re compared to competing pages and you’re going to be rocking. 

And I think that’s a challenge, I think, for small businesses, because who’s going to do all that? Who’s going to be the analytics person to to really look into what search terms I need to up here for and who’s going to understand buyer behaviour to understand the difference between transactional and informational content while at the same time being charismatic and outgoing enough to do some outreach to get other websites linked to mine.  

What types of personnel go into an in-house SEO team? 

Steve Wiideman: [00:10:10] So for small businesses (SMBs) who can’t have a full SEO team of those different personalities, you’ve got this SEO specialist in his job or her job is is to be all of those roles, to be the introverted technical nerd who can also be understanding of fire behavior and psychology while also being charismatic and outgoing enough to do some outreach, you know, to really try to build links to the website. So they’re like the challenge for any business getting into search engine optimization is understanding those different disciplines and the personalities required to be able to execute across all of them. 

What are your thoughts on SEO and paid ads running simultaneously?

Steve Wiideman: [00:11:46] Yeah, it feels like a catch 22, too, because you had mentioned, hey, we do paid ads and we can get the traffic quicker. But if we’re targeting keywords where we want to have a specific page of content that we’re sending the user to from the ad, we kind of need both right. And running in tangent and creating content and then sending an ad group to that page is phenomenal. 

But to just launch some paid ads without that page, you’re forced to send them to a page that isn’t very well optimized, which will impact your costs and your quality scores, or you’re forced to send to the home page and make them search around your website to figure out how to get to the specific product or service that you were selling. So it is a bit of a conundrum. So I would say run an engine for every page on your website, create an ad group, obviously don’t create one for your privacy policy or terms and conditions. 

But for every product or service page or maybe even some of that long form upper funnel content, the ‘how to’ and and ‘where to’, and strategies and tips, and ideas and checklists. Right. Maybe do some upper funnel with that and maybe even maybe even turn some of that into video and do some video ads. And those are so affordable. 

Businesses just don’t want to take the time and feel like it can’t be perfect. I’m not going to do it. So they don’t do a video. But the reality is you can take your phone, which has 4K now, put it on a tripod and film something very basic that solves an upper funnel problem. 

Do some advertising on YouTube for one cent per view, you know, really build some brand awareness and still just target your area. You can actually just target the geography that’s your primary audience. And then the call to action is get them to learn more and then they visit your website. 

Once they visited your website, you could use remarketing to bring them back. And that’s where I think a lot of businesses might get kind of hung up is, you know, I have done these videos, but it doesn’t seem to be effective because you’re using them to drive them to the website and instead of using the remarketing that happens after the fact to drive them to be a customer. I think that’s where some of that challenge is. But I would say you should be doing a little bit of everything and optimizing everything.  

Chris Casale: [00:50:05] If there was one takeaway you wanted somebody who was listening to remember to stick with them, what would that be?  

Steve Wiideman: [00:50:12] It would be to make sure that if you’re working with an agency that that there is a spirit of transparency, #1, and that if you are thinking about running your own team, you can do it. You just need to have somebody outside with a little experience to give them the tools and the list of things to work on. You can absolutely do it in-house. 

And it’s so much more beneficial to the voice of your brand. You know, the person’s already there. They’re going to be able to take pictures and do things while they’re on-site because they work there. So I would encourage all businesses to consider in-housing as much as you can. And if you are going to work with an agency, make sure that there’s transparency there. 

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