3 things to do before SEO

by Jim July 15, 2019

Coming to you from Portugal again this week. A lot of people asked me what they should prioritise when we caught up at SEMrush, and I explained that from our perspective, working mainly with retailers, we aim to get an uptick in revenue as fast as possible. There are proven ways to do this, and they should be the focus before SEO.

What I learned

  • What should I prioritise?
  • Target a revenue jump and build from there
  • Ensure data integrity
  • Measure your speed
  • Mystery shop your own site


Hey, welcome back, Rankers. I’m speaking a little bit quietly this morning, because I’m sitting on a rooftop in southern Portugal, not long after dawn. And it’s a Sunday morning, and I think people might get a little bit grumpy if I’m too loud.

What should you prioritise?

With that said, I want to talk to you about a couple of things, still the SEMrush conference last week, and I’ve been thinking about a lot of the people I was talking to and trying to explain what we do in the revenue model and some quick and easy concepts. But what’s more important, I think, is that a lot of people get caught up in, “What I should prioritise?” And for us, because we primarily work with retailers, it’s about what’s the fastest way we can get a lift in revenue, because that helps pay for a lot of our services. Right? If you can get that started quickly, then you can neutralise what the customer’s paying you, and then you build up after that.

And I was saying to Efa, hi Efa, the three main steps that we would do is, first of all, data integrity. Okay, so you’ve got to get your data right. And by data integrity, it’s mainly things like Google Analytics that I’m talking about, and making sure that the revenue, and this is of course for retailers, the revenue that you see on the leads, or whatever it is or whatever you’re measuring, because so many businesses measure so many ridiculous goals and actions in Google Analytics, which just clutter up.

And they can measure how many … make it a goal if someone gets to page X. Well, for us, it’s all about e-commerce, so make sure you’ve got e-commerce tracking switched on. I’m sure if you’re an e-commerce retailer, make sure you’ve got e-commerce tracking switched on, of course.

And one of the easiest ways that I tell retailers to look at, say, look, this is the number that Google Analytics is reporting. This is the revenue that Google Analytics is reporting. Is that what you’re seeing in the bank? And if you went within 10, 15% depending on the size of the business, that’s usually a key. You can usually work with that because quite often there’s going to be double-ups with things like Afterpay transactions showing up twice or you’ll get Zip paid transactions showing up twice, once as a referral and once as a normal transaction. And all these other little bits and bobs that you’ve got to fix first.

But you need to do that first, because if you don’t, then of course everything you do from that flows from the data that you’re looking at, so you get that done first. And then what we look at primarily is speed. And the reason we do the data integrity before the speed is because we want to understand what the impact of fixing speed issues is on the user, and we can measure that accurately in Google Analytics.

Check your speed

For speed issues, there’s so many of them. Right? And I would use a number of different tools to test every time. And there was a conversation at the SEMrush All-Stars, a group on Facebook, when someone was asking about this plugin on this theme, and one of the things I always do is go on and measure with GTmetrix, go and measure with WebPageTest, go and measure with whatever your favourite speed tool is. Lighthouse in Chrome, the web.dev measure, which has got Lighthouse, part of it as well. Go and use all these.

Go and use all these tools to measure your speed. And I’ve heard a lot of feedback about Lighthouse and web.dev and how it’s not really measuring speed because it’s emulation and all these sorts of things. Just it’s a point of reference, and it brings out a whole other bunch of things, and have a look at it in relation to how your speed is against your competitors, because that’s really important. Right?

And then you need to identify what the most common things are. In this conversation, where I was having in the SEMrush All-Stars, is where I like to start is to get a point of reference, if you like, across all these other measurements that you’re doing, is what is the bot seeing in Google crawl stats? Go and have a look at the old version of Google Search Console. And in there there’s crawl stats, and you’d go out and have a look at the speed of the bot in there. And that’ll give you some idea.

Now if it’s above a second, you’ve probably got a big problem. I’d like to get it as low as possible. If we can get it down to 200 to 300, 200 on a Shopify site or something like that. And different e-commerce platforms are going to be slower. But one of the most common problems that we see is time to first byte issues, which can often just be fixed up with database optimisation and these sorts of things. And the reason that you do all these things first is you get an uptick in revenue.

And the other speed issue that you have to look at is speed to purchase. And I taught this at the Retail Global workshop, and that is, it’s hard to measure accurately. There are ways you can do it, but think of yourself as a mystery shopper and shop your own site, or get a family member, or get a friend to shop your own site, give them the most popular product, don’t give them the link. Just tell them what the most popular product is. Get them to find it, and get them to buy it. Obviously, yeah, refund them, give them a coupon code or whatever.

But get them to find out how long it takes them to get the information of shipping and final costs. Because quite often those two things can really slow down the purchase, because users can’t find them or they can’t see them. And then once you’ve done that, then you can understand, do I have a problem? Because the faster that they can purchase, the more you’re going to sell.

Hopefully that’s helpful and we’ll see you back in Melbourne next week. Thanks very much. Tell your friends! Bye!

Jim’s been here for a while, you know who he is.

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