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How To Target Multiple Cities Without Hurting Your SEO

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How To Target Multiple Cities Without Hurting Your SEO

Can you imagine the hassle of finding an electrician if every Google search returned global SEO results?

How many pages of search results would you have to comb through to find a beautician in your neighborhood?

On the other hand, think of how inefficient your digital marketing strategy would be if your local business had to compete with every competitor worldwide for clicks.

Luckily, Google has delivered a solution for this issue through local SEO.

By allowing you to target just the customers in your area, it’s a quick and easy way to give information about your business to the people who are most likely to patronize it.

But what if you have multiple locations in multiple cities?

Is it possible to rank for keywords that target multiple cities without hurting your local SEO?

Of course, it is.

But before you go running off to tweak your site for local searches, there’s one caveat: If you do it wrong, it can actually hurt you. So, it’s important to ensure you do it correctly.

It’s a bit more complex than regular old search engine optimization, but never fear – we’re here to guide you through the process.

Follow the instructions below, and you’ll rank in searches of all your locales before you know it. Ready to get started?

Why Is Local SEO Important?

If local SEO can potentially “hurt” you, why do it at all? Here are two good reasons:

Local SEO Attracts Foot Traffic

Imagine you’re out of town for a cousin’s wedding.

On the night before the big day, you’re in your hotel room when you crave a cheese pizza.

You pick up your phone and Google … what?

“Pizza?”

I don’t think so.

No, you’re probably going to Google a location-specific keyword, like [best pizza in Louisville].

When you get the results, you don’t say, “good to know,” and then head off to sleep.

No. Instead, you take the action that drove the search in the first place. In other words, you pick up your phone and order the pizza.

Or you get up, take a taxi, and dine out at that spectacular pizzeria.

And you’re not the only one doing this.

In fact, every month, searchers visit 1.5 billion locations related to their searches.

And you’re not the one in a million person who’s doing a local search, either.

Nearly 46% of Google searches have local intent.

That’s huge!

So, the next time you’re thinking of skipping local SEO, think again.

It could actually be your ticket to getting that random out-on-vacation dude to check out your pizza place. (Or beauty salon. Or hardware store – you get the point.)

Local SEO Ranks You Higher On Google

We’re all well-informed on the SEO KPIs you should track to rank on Google.

Two of these are:

  • Clicks to your site.
  • Keyword ranking increases.

With local SEO, you hit both of these birds with one stone. Note that it’s based on the searcher’s location distance/relevance to the business.

City Pages: Good Or Bad For SEO?

Long ago, in the dark ages of SEO, city pages were used to stuff in local keywords to gain higher rankings on Google.

For example, you’d create a page and write content on flower delivery.

Then, you’d copy your content onto several different pages, each one with a different city in the keyword.

So, a page for [flower delivery in Louisville], [flower delivery in Newark], and [flower delivery in Shelbyville], each with the exact same content.

As tends to be the case, it didn’t take long for Google to notice this spammy tactic.

When it rolled out its Panda Update, it made sure to flag and penalize sites doing it.

So, city pages can hurt your SEO and penalize your site.

But not if you do them right.

This brings us to…

How Do I Optimize My Business For Multiple Locations On Google?

1. Use Google Business Profile

Remember, Google’s mission is to organize and deliver the most relevant and reliable information available to online searchers.

Its goal is to give people exactly what they’re looking for.

This means if they can verify your business, you’ll have a higher chance of ranking on the SERPs.

Enter Google Business Profile.

When you register on Google Business Profile, you’re confirming to Google exactly what you offer and where you’re located.

In turn, Google will be confident about sharing your content with searchers.

The good news is Google Business Profile is free and easy to use.

Simply create an account, claim your business, and fill in as much information as possible about it.

Photos and customer reviews (plus replying to reviews) can also help you optimize your Google Business Profile account.

2. Get Into Google’s Local Map Pack

Ever do a local search and get three featured suggestions from Google?

You know, like this.

Screenshot from search for [plumbing near Florida], Google, November 2022

Yes, these businesses are super lucky.

Chances are that searchers will pick one of them and look no further for their plumbing needs. Tough luck, everyone else.

Of course, this makes it extremely valuable to be one of the three listed in the Local Map Pack. And with the right techniques, you can be.

Here are three things you can do to increase your chances of making it to one of the three coveted slots:

Sign Up For Google Business Profile

As discussed in the previous point, Google prioritizes sites it has verified.

Give Google All Your Details

Provide Google with all your information, including your company’s name, address, phone number, and operating hours.

Photos and other media work splendidly, too. And remember, everyone loves images.

Leverage Your Reviews

The better your reviews, the higher your chances of being featured on Google’s Local Map Pack.

3. Build Your Internal Linking Structure

Did you know that tweaking your internal linking structure will help boost your SEO?

Sure, external links pointing to your site are great.

But you don’t control them. And getting them takes a bit of work. If you can’t get them yet, internal linking will help you:

  • Improve your website navigation.
  • Show Google which of your site’s pages is most important.
  • Improve your website’s architecture.

All these will help you rank higher on Google and increase your chances of discovery by someone doing a local search.

4. Build Your NAP Citations

NAP stands for name, address, and phone number.

Generally, it stands for your business information online.

The first place you want your NAP on is your website.

A good rule of thumb is to put this information at the bottom of your homepage, which is where visitors expect to find it.

Build Your NAP CitationsScreenshot from allweekplumbing.com, November 2022

It’s also great to list your business information on online data aggregators.

These aggregators provide data to top sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Microsoft Bing.

Here are some of the big ones you shouldn’t miss.

Listing your website on all the top aggregators sounds tedious, but it’s worthwhile if you want to get a feature like this.

Build Your NAP CitationsScreenshot from Trip Advisor, November 2022

Important note: Make sure that your NAPs are consistent throughout the web.

One mistake can seriously hurt your chances of getting featured on Google’s Local Map Pack or on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor.

5. Use Schema Markup

Sometimes called structured data or simply schema, schema markup on your website can significantly affect your local SEO results.

But if you’re not a developer, it can look intimidating.

Don’t worry – it’s not as difficult to use as you might think.

A collaboration between Google, Yahoo, Yandex, and Microsoft, Schema.org was established in 2011 to establish a common vocabulary between search engines.

While it can be used to improve the appearance of your search result, help you appear for relevant queries, and increase visitor time spent on a page, Google has been very clear that it does not impact search rankings.

So, why are we talking about it here? Because it does improve the chances of your content being used for rich results, making you more eye-catching and improving click-through rates.

On top of that, the schema provides several different property options relevant to local SEO, allowing you to select relevant schema categories.

By selecting Schema.org/bakery for your cupcake shop, you’re helping search engines better understand the topic of your website.

After you’ve selected the right category, you need to select the sub-properties to ensure validation. This includes the business name, hours, the area served, etc.

The Schema.org/areaServed on the local landing page should always match the service areas set up in a Google Business Profile, AND your local landing page should mention those same towns in its on-page content.

For a full list of required and recommended schema properties and information on validating your structured data, read this article. Using a plugin, you can also find more information about Schema markup for WordPress.

6. Optimize Your Site For Mobile

If you wake up in the middle of the night to find your bathroom flooding with water from an exploded faucet, do you:

  • Run to your laptop and do a local search for the best emergency plumber.
  • Grab your phone and type “emergency plumber” into your Chrome app.

If it’s 3 a.m., chances are you chose No. 2.

But here’s the thing.

People don’t only choose their smartphones over their computers at 3 a.m.

They do it all the time.

Almost 59% of all website traffic comes from a mobile device.

global mobile trafficScreenshot from Statista, November 2022

As usual, Google noticed and moved to mobile-first indexing.

All this means your site has to be optimized for mobile if you want to rank well on Google, especially for local SEO.

Here are six tips on making your website mobile-friendly:

  • Make sure your website is responsive and fits nicely into different screen sizes.
  • Don’t make your buttons too small.
  • Prioritize large fonts.
  • Forget about pop-ups and text blockers.
  • Put your important information front and center.
  • If you’re using WordPress, choose mobile-friendly themes.

Bonus Tip: Make Your Most Important City Pages Unique

If you want to name all the cities in a region you serve, just list them on the page – you don’t need an individual page for each city to rank in most cases.

To make the pages different, write original content for each area or city.

Which means it’s up to you.

You can simply list all the cities you serve on one page.

Or you can go ahead and create individual pages for each city.

When you take this step, make sure each page’s content is unique.

And no, I don’t mean simply changing the word “hand-wrestling” to “arm-wrestling.”

You need to do extra research on your targeted location, then go ahead and write specific and helpful information for readers in the area.

For example:

  • If you’re a plumber, talk about the problem of hard water in the area.
  • If you’re a florist, explain how you grow your plants in the local climate.
  • If you’re into real estate, talk about communities in the area.

Here’s an excellent example from 7th State Builders.

Unique City Pages

Adding information about a city or town is also a great way to build your client’s confidence.

A OnePoll survey conducted on behalf of CG Roxane found 67% of people trust local businesses – by identifying your understanding of the situations and issues in a locale, you’re insinuating that you’re local – even if you have multiple locations spread throughout the country.

They’ll see how much you know their area and trust you to solve their area-specific problems.

Important note: Ensure this information goes on all variations of your website.

With Google’s mobile-first index in place, you don’t want to fall in the rankings simply because you failed to optimize for mobile.

5 Tools To Scale Your Local SEO

What if you have 100s of locations? How do you manage listings for them?

Here are some tools to help you scale your local SEO efforts.

Ready To Target Local SEO?

Hopefully, I’ve made it very clear by this point – local SEO is important. And just because you’re running multiple locations in different cities doesn’t mean you can’t put it to work for you.

How you go about that is up to you. Do you want to create one landing page for each location? Or do you want to list all your locations on the same page?

Whatever you choose, be aware of the power of local SEO in attracting customers to your neighborhood.

Just make sure you’re doing it correctly. If, after reading this piece, you’re still unsure what steps to take, just imagine yourself as a customer.

What kind of information would you be looking for?

What would convince you that your business is perfect for their needs?

There’s a good chance location will be one of the driving factors, and the best way to take advantage of that is with local SEO.

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What Is User Experience? How Design Matters To SEO

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What Is User Experience? How Design Matters To SEO

User experience is the foundation of a site’s usability, and it’s an aspect of on-page SEO that many people overlook.

If your site lacks the positive user experience and ease of use that end users require to navigate your site, you’ll push visitors to your competitors.

In this guide, you’ll learn what user experience (UX) entails, the types of experiences, the difference between UI and UX, and why it matters to SEO.

What Is User Experience (UX)?

UX is how people interact with your website.

You’ll also find this term used for products, but we’re focusing strictly on websites at the moment.

If you have a, intuitive user interface design, users will have an easier time navigating your site and finding the information they want.

If you do have a digital product, such as a SaaS solution, this interaction will also occur on your digital product.

User experience elicits a couple of things:

In short, user experience can provide a positive experience with your website – or it can lead to frustration among users.

Note: Usability is not UX design. It’s a component of UX that works with design to create the experience your users desire.

What Are The Types Of User Experience?

User experience evaluation must look at the three types of UX design to best understand the needs of the end user.

The three types of UX include:

  • Information: One aspect of a content strategy that goes overlooked is information architecture. Time must be spent on how information on a site is organized and presented. User flows and navigation must be considered for all forms of information you present.
  • Interaction: Your site has an interaction design pattern – or a certain way that users interact with the site. Components of a site that fall under the interaction UX type include buttons, interfaces, and menus.
  • Visual design: Look and feel matter for the end user. You want your website to have cohesion between its color, typography, and images. User interface (UI) will fall under this type of UX, but it’s important to note that UI is not interchangeable with UX.

What Is The Difference Between UI & UX?

Speaking of UX and UI, it’s important to have a firm understanding of the difference between the two to better understand user experience.

User Interface

UI design is your site’s visual elements, including:

Visual elements on your site are part of the user interface.

UI definitely overlaps with UX to an extent, but they’re not the same.

Steve Krug also has a great book on usability, titled “Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability.” It was first published in 2000, and the book is a #1 bestseller today.

Steve’s insight from over 20 years ago (although we’re now on the 3rd edition of the book) provides guidelines on usability that include:

  • Desktop.
  • Mobile.
  • Ease of use.
  • Layouts.
  • Everything UX.

If there’s one thing this book will teach you about usability, it’s to focus on intuitive navigation. Frustrating website users is the exact opposite of a good user experience.

User Experience

UX works on UI and how the user will:

  • Interact with your site.
  • Feel during the interaction.

Think of Google for a moment.

A simple landing page that is visually appealing, but Spartan in nature, is the face of the Internet. In terms of UX, Google is one of the best sites in the world, although it lacks a spectacular UI.

In fact, the UI needs to be functional and appealing, but the UX is what will stand out the most.

Imagine if you tried performing a search on Google and it displayed the wrong results or took one minute for a query to run. In this case, even the nicest UI would not compensate for the poor UX.

Peter Morville’s user experience honeycomb is one of the prime examples of how to move beyond simple usability and focus on UX in new, exciting ways.

The honeycomb includes multiple points that are all combined to maximize the user experience. These facets are:

  • Accessible.
  • Credible.
  • Desirable.
  • Findable.
  • Usable.
  • Useful.
  • Valuable.

When you focus on all of these elements, you’ll improve the user experience dramatically.

Why User Experience Matters To SEO

By this point, you understand that UX is very important to your site’s visitors and audience.

A lot of time, analysis, and refinement must go into UX design. However, there’s another reason to redirect your attention to user experience: SEO.

Google Page Experience Update

When Google’s Page Experience Update was fully rolled out, it had an impact on websites that offered a poor user experience.

The page experience update is now slowly rolling out for desktop. It will be complete by the end of March 2022. Learn more about the update: https://t.co/FQvMx3Ymaf

— Google Search Central (@googlesearchc) February 22, 2022

Multiple aspects of UX are part of the ranking factors of the update, including:

  • Intrusive adverts.
  • Core Web Vitals.
  • HTTPS Security.

You can run a Core Web Vitals report here and make corrections to meet these requirements. Additionally, you should know whether your site has intrusive ads that irritate users, and if your site lacks HTTPS.

Page performance works to improve your SEO. Google’s research shows that focusing on UX can:

  • Reduce site abandonment by as much as 24%.
  • Improve web conversions.
  • Increase the average page views per session by as much as 15%.
  • Boost advertising revenue by 18% or more.

When you spend time improving your site’s UX, you benefit from higher rankings, lower page abandonment, improved conversions, and even more revenue.

Plus, many of the practices to improve UX are also crucial components of a site’s on-page SEO, such as:

  • Proper header usage.
  • Adding lists to your content.
  • Making use of images.
  • Optimizing images for faster loading times.
  • Filling content gaps with useful information.
  • Reducing “content fluff.”
  • Using graphs.
  • Testing usability across devices.

When you improve UX, you create a positive experience for users, while also improving many of the on-page SEO foundations of your website.

Final Comments

Customer experience must go beyond simple responsive web design.

Hick’s law dictates that when you present more choices to users, it takes longer to reach a decision. You’ve likely seen this yourself when shopping online and finding hundreds of options.

When people land on your site, they’re looking for answers or knowledge – not confusion.

User research, usability testing, and revisiting user experience design often will help you inch closer to satisfying the SEO requirements of design while keeping your visitors (or customers) happier.

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How to Rank for Google’s Helpful Content Update

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How to Rank for Google’s Helpful Content Update

Zero Traffic from Google—that is what more than 50% of online content gets everyday. Ahrefs found this out last 2020.

And yet, countless websites continue to put them out regularly—a problem made even worse with all the AI-powered content tools out there. The result is an endless flood of low-quality blogs and posts that are, ultimately, not useful for anyone who reads them. 

So, what did Google do in response? They put out another addition to their algorithm, called the “Helpful Content Update.” Their goal with this one was to help make sure that valuable content that actually helps their users (a.k.a., people-first content) would be able to rank. 

Much like with every update, SEO professionals like you and I need to revisit our strategies to stay ahead of the game. In this article, I will show you some tactics I use to write content for people first, while maintaining good SEO practices. 

What We Know About Google’s Helpful Content Update

The Helpful Content Update algorithm update by Google was designed to improve user experience by putting high-quality content written for people higher up in the SERPs. 

Here’s how Google put it in their own words

“The system generates a site-wide signal that we consider among many other signals for ranking web pages. Our systems automatically identify content that seems to have little value, low-added value or is otherwise not particularly helpful to those doing searches.

Any content—not just unhelpful content—on sites determined to have relatively high amounts of unhelpful content overall is less likely to perform well in Search, assuming there is other content elsewhere from the web that’s better to display. For this reason, removing unhelpful content could help the rankings of your other content.”

While this update was first announced back in September 2022, it has now progressed into a global update, impacting all languages. Google also announced that the system will continue to publish new signals over the coming months, helping their site identify more content created primarily for search engines versus people.

What does this mean for your website? Well, there are a lot of changes that others have documented in the last few months, which I summarize for you here: 

  • Purely AI-generated content is considered spam, and Google will be using its machine learning algorithm to detect it.
  • Content made for clicks (i.e., ad monetization) won’t work anymore
  • There may be no manual penalties, but sites have experienced losing organic visibility
  • It seems to affect the overall site performance, rather than hitting specific pages—and Google won’t be telling you which pieces of your content it has deemed as not useful.

Google’s Danny Sullivan also talked about this update possibly working in connection with future updates:

Google’s Danny Sullivan talking about Google

So, like Hummingbird, this update may become fundamental to ranking algorithms—which means that its exact effects could be only observed over the next few years.

Even so, it already puts a stronger emphasis on your content. Writing with a “search engine first” approach should no longer be your angle. 

After all, Google is, primarily, a space for users to learn. So, it makes sense that they’re making no room for unhelpful content.

While this update will undoubtedly be more damaging for poor-quality sites, it also presents an opportunity for well-maintained sites to take a second look at their content strategy. 

How to Optimize Your Content—and Make it More “Helpful”

With this update, we have to start thinking about our content holistically, rather than just trying to gain as many clicks as possible (or maybe even a featured snippet).

To achieve this, you have two main action points to consider: improving your intent and processes, and providing high-quality content.

Let’s go over some tips I’ve come up with in the last two months to better tackle these points (and enhance your writing): 

Review Your Intent and Your Audience

Before you even start on your next blog post, you need to know who your audience is. 

Ask yourself, who are you writing for? What are their needs, and why are they asking these questions? What do they need help with?

These questions will help you tailor your content to help your target audience. Otherwise, it’s likely that whatever you write won’t be considered helpful by Google—and you won’t be able to reap the benefits from your work. 

If you’re having trouble understanding who your audience is, then take a look at your Google Analytics data, under your demographic details report. This is the best place to gain some insight into who is currently looking at your content, as well as other things they might be interested in. 

So, beyond inserting your keyword into your blog post, consider factoring both your intended audience and relevant adjacent content. 

Provide Real Expertise, Insights, and Experiences

When it comes to making helpful, valuable content, it’s a big plus if you have some first-hand expertise to add to your writing. 

Avoid writing on topics that are trending, but you know nothing about. I also highly recommend against simply regurgitating information you’ve seen in other posts. Instead, your insights and experiences with the topic should be the main focus of your writing.

Not an expert on the particular topic you’re currently drafting? That’s okay—not everyone can be one. You can still produce helpful content by doing your due diligence, diving deep into research, and sharing what you’ve learned. 

Remember, readers can see right through you if you’re faking being an expert, so avoid making false claims at all costs. 

Use AI Content Strategically

Though this update may be primarily aimed at reducing the amount of AI-generated content out there, that doesn’t mean your tools no longer have a place in your work. 

AI tools, such as the increasingly popular ChatGPT or our recently-reviewed Content Marketing Platform from SE Ranking, can still be used to improve your work and productivity. The key is to use them strategically. 

Use them to lighten your workload, and avoid depending solely on them. For example, you can use your tools to help you generate better titles or introductions—but always remember to add a human touch to whatever they make. And, make sure that the bulk of the ideas come from you! 

Try to Hit Related Queries (Such as the People Also Ask (PAAs))

I mentioned that we have to start approaching our writing holistically, and that means providing as much valuable information to our readers as possible. 

Now that being helpful is the name of the game, it’s a great time to take a look at all the related queries users have for your intended topic. Here’s what comes up when I google ‘wedding catering:’

PAAs and related searches for the keyword "wedding catering"

Check the PAAs and related searches that pop up when you type in your keyword. These aren’t just generated questions Google thinks people might ask—they’re actually being searched up by real people! These will provide good subheadings to include in your next blog article.

Ask Yourself: Will Readers Be Satisfied After Reading Your Content?

Things like word count and keyword density are now a thing of the past with this update. The most important thing now is that your audience enjoys what they’re reading, or they learn something of value from your article. 

In short, they leave your site feeling satisfied

So, always gauge your writing by asking this question: will people be satisfied after reading this?

For example, if you’re writing an article on how to properly brew specialty coffee, will the reader come away from your article with more knowledge than before? Will they have all their questions answered? Will they know how to properly brew their new coffee beans?

If the answer is yes, then you’re doing great. But, if you’re unsure—or the answer is a resounding no—you must make some changes. 

That said, not every reader that comes across your work will be happy with what you’ve written. It is, after all, impossible to please everyone each time you publish something. However, as long as a majority of your audience is satisfied, then you’re doing something right! 

Revisit Your Old Posts

Lastly, because this update affects you sitewide, it’s a good idea to look at your previous work. 

If you’re like me, then you’ve been blogging for upwards of a decade—and that might mean some of your posts aren’t as valuable to readers today. The content might be outdated, or not up to snuff with newer guidelines, but either way, this bank of legacy content can bring your traffic down.

So, revisit your work and review its ability to provide your readers with the answers and experience they’re looking for. Take the time to check if you need to make some additions to make it useful once again, or redirect them to newer content. I highly recommend prioritizing evergreen content, which is something I covered in my Blog Writing 101 guide.

This is especially important if you’re in any industry that moves fast (think fashion or tech). Content here usually goes from helpful to obsolete in a matter of months! 

Key Takeaway

Google has always favored people-first content, and this recent update is just the latest in many of their attempts to make sure the right content gets to their users. 

The Helpful Content Update will continue to release tweaks to their signals over the coming months, so it’s prime time for us SEO specialists to take a second look at our content and writing strategies.

Luckily, this update could be a win for you—just keep these tips in mind, and you’re on the right track to getting the most value from your content efforts. 

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What Are the Benefits of SEO? (And How to Get Started)

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What Are the Benefits of SEO? (And How to Get Started)

If you are a business owner, you may have heard about how vital search engine optimization (SEO) is. But how can it help fast-track your business’s growth, get more customers, and make a difference to your bottom line?

In more simple terms: Why do SEO? 

1. It increases your organic share of voice

There are an estimated 3.5 billion searches on Google each day. To tap into this audience, you’ll need to do SEO. 

One of the key benefits of SEO is increasing your organic share of voice (SOV). More organic SOV means more traffic, leads, and revenue for your business.

It also means more market share in your industry. We can see from the graph below that there is a strong relationship between SOV and market share

Relationship between SOV and market share graph

At Ahrefs, we calculate organic SOV by dividing the traffic to the site by the total search traffic for all keywords.

In other words, if you only track one keyword and the top 10 positions are occupied by pages of your website, your SOV is 100%.

So how can you measure organic SOV?

We first need to create a new project in Ahrefs’ Rank Tracker and add our keywords for the website we want to track.

How to add keywords in Ahrefs' Rank Tracker, via Ahrefs' Rank Tracker

Once you have added a new project and added your keywords, you can go to the dashboard and check your SOV.

It should look something like this:

SOV screenshot, via Ahrefs' Rank Tracker

If you click through the SOV on the dashboard, you can look at your competitor’s SOV compared to your SOV.

SOV vs. competitors screenshot, via Ahrefs' Rank Tracker

If no competitors are showing in your dashboard, you can change that by: 

  • Going into Settings.
  • Clicking on the Competitors tab.
  • Clicking on + Add competitor.

Enter your competitors manually or press the + to add them from the list below that shows the keyword intersection.

Adding competitors via settings menu, via Ahrefs' Rank Tracker

Once you are happy, click the Save button and return to the dashboard. You should now be able to compare your competitor’s SOV against your website’s SOV. 

Recommendation

Check out Michal Pecánek’s article on SOV to get a detailed guide on how to measure SOV.

2. It’s less intrusive than other types of marketing

Intrusive marketing is annoying.

It may seem obvious. But when our lives are full of adverts, cold calls, and emails from random people trying to sell you their products all the time, it’s very advantageous to be an inbound marketing channel

Intrusive outreach example, via Linkedin.com
An intrusive marketing example sent to me from LinkedIn.

SEO targets people who are actively searching for your services or products. 

Because of this, it’s excellent at converting—all you need to do is focus on what they are searching for.

You can find what your customers are searching for using Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer.

Enter a relevant topic and go to the Matching terms report. Here, you’ll see many topics your customers are searching for, which you can target.

Matching terms report example, via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

You can search, discover, and analyze keywords using our very own Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer.

SEO is not just for Christmas.

In all, 45.6% of SEOs say SEO takes about three to six months. It may seem like a long time for the channel to work, but SEO is a long-term marketing channel where growth typically compounds over time. In other words, if you put the time and effort into SEO, the results will likely be well worth it. 

Looking at Ahrefs’ organic traffic graph, most of our rapid growth occurred in the last year or so when our traffic started to compound. 

Ahrefs.com organic traffic performance

Google’s algorithm updates mean that your website’s traffic will fluctuate. But as you can see from the graph, it’s a positive trend in the long term.

Over time, you should be able to rely on SEO to bring in a constant stream of traffic to your site. 

When we asked ~4,300 SEOs how long SEO takes, they gave a variety of responses. But only 16.2% of SEOs said that SEO takes between one and three months.

Pie chart showing percentage breakdown of SEOs responses to how long SEO takes

I agree with the majority of SEOs here. But I would add a qualifier—that it depends on the type of website you are working on.

For example, if you set up a brand-new website, it will have little to no authority. This is because it will have no links pointing to it and will probably have minimal content on the site. 

These elements are just some indicators or ways in which Google judges your website’s authority and decides which top results should be on its SERPs.

Recommendation

If you are improving the SEO of a website that’s been around for a few years, then the SEO will likely take effect faster. This is based on my experience, but you may get different results with your website.

Unlike paying for PPC, organic search traffic is free. 

If Ahrefs used PPC to pay for its organic traffic, Ahrefs’ Site Explorer estimates it would cost an eye-watering $2.3 million per month or $27.6 million per year.

Monetary value of Ahrefs' organic traffic, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

You can see from this example why improving SEO and increasing your organic traffic can be a highly valuable investment for your business.

Getting started with SEO doesn’t always mean you have to spend a lot, either. If you are willing to learn about SEO basics, you can do a lot of the work yourself to bring costs down.

Recommendation

When it comes to tools, you don’t have to spend a lot when you are starting out. You can use Ahrefs Webmaster Tools for auditing your site and our free SEO tools to optimize it further.

It’s always on—24/7

Unlike paid marketing, SEO is always on. It continues to work for you while you are asleep. 

You’ll get more overall value from SEO than other marketing channels. It doesn’t cost any extra to have it running all the time.

Another benefit is that once your website is established with good rankings, SEO will maintain them over time and drive consistent traffic to your website. 

The only thing that can stop this is if there is a serious technical issue with your site or you have fallen foul of Google’s search guidelines

Reduce your dependency on PPC 

It’s easy for a business to rely on pay-per-click (PPC) marketing, but it can be expensive to maintain this marketing strategy. 

SEO can help you change this.

Once you have some important keywords ranking number #1 on Google, you can consider turning off some of your PPC marketing, which could result in significant savings for your business.

5. It improves user experience

Many people have high expectations for websites these days. They expect them to be clear, intuitive, and lightning-fast. 

When websites don’t work as people expect, they get frustrated. And if they have a bad experience, this can create a negative perception of the brand. 

To do well in SEO, you’ll need to provide your visitors with the best possible user experience. 

But how can you optimize for user experience in SEO?

SEOs typically divide user experience issues into three categories: 

  • Site speed
  • Core Web Vitals
  • On-site optimization

Let’s take a closer look.

Site speed

Site speed is one of the most critical factors for your visitors. If your website is slow to use, visitors will likely leave your site and probably not return.

A few years ago, Google tested 900,000 websites worldwide. It reported that 53% of people would leave a website if it took three seconds or more to load.

To test your site speed, you can use a tool like webpagespeedtest.org. Let’s take a look at Ahrefs speed metrics using this tool.

Ahrefs' speed performance

We can see above that the speed index is under three seconds for Ahrefs. If your website loads in more than three seconds, then you may want to consider speeding up your website. 

Core Web Vitals

Core Web Vitals are Google’s quality signals it introduced to quantify the user experience of your website. 

They are:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – For load performance.
  • First Input Delay (FID) – For visual stability.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – For interactivity.

Here’s what Google classifies as good and bad scores for these metrics.

Good Needs improvement Poor
LCP <=2.5s <=4s >4s
FID <=100ms <=300ms >300ms
CLS <=0.1 <=0.25 >0.25

Defining metrics for user experience is a benefit, as website owners can know exactly how their websites perform against Google’s expectations. 

Monitoring Core Web Vitals and site performance may sound technical, but you can keep an eye on them using Ahrefs’ Site Audit

For example, here’s a screenshot from the Performance dashboard highlighting two issues with CLS and LCP. 

Pages with poor CLS and poor LCP, via Ahrefs' Site Audit

As you can see from the above, Site Audit automatically identifies all low-performing pages for you.

On-page optimization

On-page optimization is another area of SEO that can help benefit your website. With on-page optimization, SEOs critically examine your website and audit it for any issues that may impact the user experience.

A good example of on-page optimization is adding subheadings, or heading tags, to your articles. Adding subheadings makes your content easier to read by establishing a visual hierarchy.

Subheadings improve readability by creating visual hierarchy

On-page optimization is less quantifiable than Core Web Vitals, but spending time on it will pay dividends for your website in the long run.

Ahrefs’ Site Audit can monitor headings, image alt text, internal linking, and other on-page optimization factors.

Here’s an example of a scheduled report you can get for heading optimization opportunities.

Heading optimization opportunities, via Ahrefs' Site Audit

You can use this report to identify many improvement opportunities for your website.

6. It puts your store online

If your business has a physical store, you can add it to a Google Business Profile for free.

Google My Business local listing example for Google San Francisco

Adding your business to Google’s business listings means you will appear on Google Maps when someone searches for your business or related keywords.

It’s a great way to highlight your business locally. For some businesses focused on local trade, this listing can be one of their most crucial organic search assets.

It also gives you a helpful way to communicate your business hours and opening times to your customers—something they will appreciate.

By having a solid organic presence and utilizing tools such as Google Business Profile, you can be sure that your online business will pick up sales even when you can’t open your physical store. 

So how do you set up your own Google Business Profile listing?

Setting up a Google Business Profile is straightforward and a three-step process.

  1. Claim your business profile 
  2. Add your business hours and details 
  3. Manage your profile, share any business updates, and respond to customer reviews

Once you have done this, you can monitor your business profile’s performance with the built-in analytics.

GMB analytics, via Google My Business

Using a Google Business Profile allows you to discover how people are searching for your website and helps you to understand how your business connects with customers online.

Building trust with customers is just as important online as it is offline. You wouldn’t buy something from a physical shop if the shop was run-down and the service was poor. 

The same applies to websites.

Your website should be fully operational and perform well in search engines. It should be secure and provide a great user experience to your customers. 

Having good SEO on your website shows you’re an authority in your industry. It shows you have the information and expertise customers are looking for.

It also means searchers will click on your website in the results because it is more prominent than your competitors—you will get the customers, and they won’t. 

The bottom line here is that by improving your website’s SEO, more visitors will trust your brand, which will drive more traffic and sales.

Learn more

Now you know the key benefits of SEO, you may want to start learning about it in more detail.

I’ve collected some helpful resources below to help you get started, so you can learn about SEO and start to reap the benefits:

Got more questions? Ping me on Twitter. 🙂



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