What would I work on if I only had 2 hours per month to improve a site’s SEO?
It’s an interesting question, especially considering that UpBuild’s average engagement is 40+ hours per month. There’s a ton of amazing stuff you can do with that amount of time, but what would strategy look like if you had to get by with just a few minutes per week?
That’s what I’m excited to find out as I spend 24 hours over the course of the next year helping some friends improve SEO for their eCommerce website. The website I’ll be working on (which will remain nameless for the time being) is an eCommerce site run by a married couple I know in Massachusetts. We go waaaay back, share a lot of common interests, and I’ve always wanted to help them out and see their business do well. Unfortunately, running UpBuild takes most of my time, but when they asked if I could give them a hand for 2 hours each month, I couldn’t say no.
So it was with a fair amount of trepidation that I began this journey. I had a lot of worries starting off. Would I be able to be effective in just 2 hours a month (30 minutes per week if I wanted to break it down that way)? What would I even start with? Would it even be enough to make a difference? I started taking quick notes as I dove in and after the first 30 minutes, it dawned on me that this could be a pretty cool blog post series that might be helpful for others to follow.
Don’t have a lot of time or budget for SEO but still know that it’s a big deal? This blog post series might be for you! I’ll try to post one “hour” two Tuesdays per month, so stay tuned. So without further adieu, here’s “The First Hour”.
The First Hour
00:00 – First things first, let me crawl the site. Want to see how things look at the foundational level. I’m using Screaming Frog, BTW. I’m assuming I’m going to find a lot of page titles and meta descriptions that could be done better. Oh, looks like I need to update Screaming Frog (such a great product, every update better than the last).
00:02 – While that’s running I’ll scope the competition a little bit. I want to get a sense for what they’re up against in the organic SERPs. The first thing I’ll check is what Google’s returning ahead of them for their bread and butter keyword (I already know they’re not in the top 5).
00:03 – Okay, the number one spot is held by a juggernaut in their industry. Not sure if we can beat them in 2 hours of SEO a month, but we can see how close we can get.
00:05 – With the exception of the #9 result, the Domain Authority of every site on this first SERP is twice what ours is. No matter. We’re scrappier.
00:07 – Wow. They’re not in the top 100 results for their money keyword. Well, lots of room to improve!
00:10 – Screaming Frog crawled 666 pages on their site. I have a bad feeling about this. 😉
00:11 – Plugins. I’m going to log into their WordPress and see what plugins they’re using. That’s always low hanging fruit. Dang, Yoast’s WordPress SEO isn’t installed yet. Okay, there’s a quick win. Probably the single most impactful change I can make right now.
00:15 – I see that they don’t have Google Search Console verified. Let me get that process started before I get into anything else. That’ll be an important source of data.
00:18 – Oh my gawd. The eCommerce plugin they’re using has semantic markup baked in. Mike Arnesen likes this.
00:20 – Back to Yoast, let’s get “noindex, follow” added to blog categories and tag pages.
00:22 – Next, let’s enable XML sitemaps in Yoast. Alright, now I can hop into Google Search Console and submit these and then circle back later to make sure there are no issues with getting these pages indexed.
00:27 – I feel like I’m getting side tracked poking around in Search Console. Better go back to something that’ll make an immediate impact in this first hour. The homepage…has no meta description. Title tag is also 73 characters long. That’s not ideal. Time for a rewrite.
00:30 – The homepage’s new metadata is incredible. Might as well request an Open Site Explorer top pages and export and then get started on something else.
00:34 – Nooo! It looks like they have 4 old URLs that are 404ing that still have live links to them from external sites. Let’s get those redirected somewhere relevant.
00:40 – I’d like to thank Yoast for allowing me to edit .htaccess from within the WordPress admin panel. So great.
00:47 – The biggest time sink with redirects is finding the best home for a broken page. Luckily, with an eCom site there’s usually a related product that I can redirect a discontinued SKU to. Just gotta search the site and find appropriate targets.
00:48 – If it wasn’t 4am, I could just message the site owners and ask. I’ll make do.
00:51 – Is caffienated peanut butter a suitable replacement for a workout gel? Good enough for me.
00:55 – Okay, I think I have these redirects taken care of. I’ll just verify that the correct response code is being returned. Thanks, Ayima Redirect Checker (Chrome Extension). You’re so handy.
That’s it for the first hour! Interested in reading more of these? Let me know
in the comments on social media. Comments don’t work right now.