Think you need to be an expert to help your clients with SEO? You don’t! Here to explain the simple foundation you can and should create for your clients is Kate Toon, an award-winning SEO copywriter and SEO consultant.
Today she’s sharing the 5 fundamental components of a website’s SEO foundation and why every web developer needs to provide these for their clients.
[And remember to download Kate's free checklist at the end of the show notes!]
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Kate Toon has been working in the advertising world for almost 20 years, and she got her start in the digital era back in 1997. She’s worked with such notable clients as eHarmony, Curash, and Kmart; her first major digital job was creating Marks and Spencer’s e-commerce website which was one of the first online shops in the UK.
Today she has evolved her expertise to SEO copywriting and consulting, and also offers SEO courses, memberships, conferences, and podcasts. Kate is the founder of The Clever Copywriting School and The Recipe for SEO Success eCourse, as well as co-host on the Hot Copy Podcast. She also just wrote her first business book and is now promoting it. In other words, she’s incredibly busy and productive!
Because of her extensive experience and knowledge, I was excited to bring her on the show today. We talk about why it's important for you as a developer to create a solid SEO foundation for your clients and why you need to pay attention to copywriting, in general, for search engine ranking purposes.
Kate says that content has always been important, but as it continues to play an ever-growing role as Google improves their algorithm for understanding the context of your content, and Google becomes better at crawling content to find out whether it's quality or not. The basic rule to remember for SEO is if you can bring in humans through good quality content then you'll please Google in the process.
But if you're just starting out as a developer and SEO feels mysterious to you, what do you do to lay a proper SEO foundation for your clients? Kate has given us her top 5 considerations for a solid SEO foundation for your clients in 2017.
But first, she says the most important thing you can do as a web developer is to understand your limits. Don't over-promise and under-deliver! Don't say you've delivered an SEO-friendly website unless you are 100% confident that the website you have completed is in fact SEO-friendly. Remember to be realistic about what you have done for your client.
And that concept overarches these 5 points:
This is the foundation of all SEO. If Google can't crawl your site, then anything else you do won't matter. Google needs to crawl your site in order to index it properly and make it searchable. To make a site crawlable you need to use a plugin like Yoast or All In One SEO. And you need to do this so you generate a sitemap. She explains more about why sitemaps are important during our conversation.
We all feel the need for speed! Slow sites don't perform well. As more of us search from our mobiles this becomes even more critical. Kate says it's something like 60-65% of all searches are now done from mobiles rather than desktops. And mobile speed has to be even faster than desktop. A good benchmark is a small business site loading in about 1.5 seconds – that is what to aim for.
To ensure the site is fast, test it after you build it. She loves Pingdom and GT Metrix for this because they will not only tell you how fast your site is, but also why it's slow (whether it’s giant images, big java scripts, etc).
This term simply means that the website responds to the device in which you are viewing it – whether that is a mobile phone, tablets, iPads, desktops, etc. Kate loves the Divi theme but recommends that whatever you choose, test the responsiveness of the theme. Try it on a variety of devices and see if it works quickly and properly.
For this step, you must decide where will you draw the line and when your responsibility stops for the site you have created. At a minimum, Kate says you need to add titles and meta descriptions for all the pages you create.
Unless you understand SEO copywriting and keyword research, it's not your responsibility to draft those. But it is your responsibility to add the terms to all of your pages properly. It's equally important to find an SEO copywriter or content person you feel comfortable working with and refer your client to them.
And it's also your duty to be sure your client knows where your SEO responsibility ends.
5. Training and Maintenance
Finally, don’t just give someone their site when you’re done! They will go away and break it without help from you. Be sure you give them an hour of WordPress training or refer them to a resource that offers training and support (like Video User Manuals or WP Elevation).
Kate also recommends that you explain to your clients the importance of maintenance and regular updates. Maintenance is important for functionality of course, but also for SEO. Your client needs to know that if their site goes down repeatedly then Google will lower the site in its rankings.
To address this issue you can put together a maintenance package for your clients that includes updating plugins, Google search console monitoring for broken links, etc, and adding more content for them.
But if you don't want to do that then explain to them what they will need to do for ongoing maintenance, and let them know poorly maintained sites will be penalized by Google.
To wrap up the show we recap those points, and Kate also explains why her experience and research has led her to focus on these 5 steps as being the key components to a website’s proper SEO foundation. You’ll learn about that and more on this edition of WP Elevate with Kate Toon!