SEO first aid with Ahrefs – Your questions answered!

🚑 An SEO first-aid session with our friends at Ahrefs Read time: 4 minutes Questions as they appeared in video… Write up This week, Ahrefs ran an SEO first-aid session answering real questions from the TMM community. The session was hosted by Product Advisor, Technical SEO, & Ahrefs Brand Ambassador, Patrick Stox, who responded to […]
seo with ahrefs

🚑 An SEO first-aid session with our friends at Ahrefs

Read time: 4 minutes

Questions as they appeared in video…

  • 00.11 – My company has a website built using Bootstrap framework and we’re finding SEO quite challenging. I am doing the more common work of on-page keyword optimisation etc but am struggling getting too far – any tips? Are there any best practices specifically that I should look at?
  • 00.58 – What’s the ONE we thing we should: Do more of. Change. Stop. in an effective 2023 SEO strategy
  • 01.48 – What are the first 3 Triage points of SEO, if you had to say start here then do this and this, what would they be?/What are the most important factors to consider when setting up a new website to give you the building blocks to work from?
  • 02.19 – If you’re a small business, is there any point at all in using the most popular key words/phrases on your site, as competition from bigger businesses means the likelihood of appearing on the first page is slim. Is it better to solely focus on long-tail key words/phrases?
  • 03.23 – The ‘right’ mixture between long- and short-tail keyword targeting, considering budget and resources as well as timeline.
  • 04.04 – How can you regularly measure SEO and keep a track of it all? And what data is useful to track for a SaaS business?
  • 05.05 – If you are considering a rebrand, but also considering bringing an SEO agency on board to help with lead gen – what should come first? Is there a way to still bring authority to the current website, and ensure that if a rebrand and new website happens, that all the hard work from SEO activities isn’t lost?
  • 06.30 – Why should I pay for SEO when I can just pay for Google PPC?
  • 07.28 – When is it time to decide to retire old or unsuccessful content?
  • 08.24 – What type of content works best for SEO? – short form, long form, blog content, data-led content, video, photo galleries etc
  • 09.03 – What is the best way to describe the importance of SEO in a marketing strategy to peeps who don’t understand the mechanics of it.
  • 09.46 – What specific data analytics should we be challenging our SEO marketing agencies on for maximum impact 😉
  • 11.05 – In modern search, is buying authoritative, high organic traffic websites and redirecting them and keyword mapping them (professionally) still an effective strategy to deliver results. Let’s say I have website A, it’s high traffic and good position in SERPs, but I come across website B, which is similar, should I buy website B and amalgamate them by redirecting website B to website A
  • 12.49 – My question is what’s going on here? A search for my client’s URL is returning a title, meta description and site links to another clinic’s site. The title and URL still point to, but the other site links go to another site altogether.
  • 14.12 – Of course an AI question… What are your top tips for embracing AI tools such as ChatGPT to aid the process of creating authentic & well optimised content?
  • 15.38 – Scenario: You create a well optimised piece of content that features prominently within the site architecture. Would your recommended next step to improve the ranking still be to build some trusted backlinks to the article or something else? If backlinks, do you have any recommendations?
  • 16.18 – First, in managing my own website, if a blog story starts to fall in the rankings on a given keyword, what can we do to disrupt that story to get it going back up? Or should we just give up on that post, and create a new story?
  • 17.05 – Second, all my efforts are on earned search. But if I use PAID (which I never do) to get in those top slots, does that help me in the earned, or do I go back to where I was on earned when I stop paying?
  • 18.05 – Organic traffic’s declining. Where to start?

Write up

This week, Ahrefs ran an SEO first-aid session answering real questions from the TMM community. The session was hosted by Product Advisor, Technical SEO, & Ahrefs Brand Ambassador, Patrick Stox, who responded to all of your SEO questions, scenarios, and problems.

Check out exactly what Patrick had to say here, or read on for the highlights.

👁️ One eye on the future

  1. If you’re putting together a 2023 strategy, Patrick’s key piece of advice is to do the basics well. Don’t go chasing anything new this year. Do the basics better than anyone else and you’ll be successful. Patrick’s advice is to:
  • Write a content strategy
  • Plan your pieces of content
  • Internally link them
  • Promote the content
  • And then work on improving the content
  1. If you have a rebrand on the cards and you’re concerned about how it might affect your SEO activity, Patrick recommends asking your team or agency to focus on the future state of the website, rather than the current one. Go ahead and start looking at anything related to the new site or internal linking. 301 redirects will take any of the value from the old site to the new, and you can also use the migration tool in Google Search Console. 

Be aware though, that you’ll typically see a period of flux during the migration – you might be down for a few weeks – but then everything should be fine again ⚠️

  1. Bear in mind that how you rank on Google isn’t solely down to your SEO content. Whilst your paid activity isn’t a direct ranking factor, over time it could have some secondary impact because it does help with awareness, in the same way social media does. The awareness generated via other channels can help with extra exposure, shares, and add links over time.

💻 Troubleshooting

  1. If you’re in doubt about your SEO efforts and don’t know why they’re not working, Patrick’s top advice is to check your headings and titles. If you’re struggling, visit the Ahrefs blog for resources and advice.
  2. What should you do with an old or unsuccessful piece of content? 

Patrick recommends giving a post 6-12 months before you make a decision on it. He’s hesitant to ever retire a piece of content, unless it really serves no purpose. Most of the time, it probably just needs an update. Look at what is ranking above it to try and understand why that might be. Ahrefs have a whole content auditing process – learn more here – which provides an in-depth guide to making content decisions.
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, our organic traffic can start declining. Patrick explains how you shouldn’t wait too long to start asking why. Look at which pages and which keywords are dropping, and then try and figure out why that might be. It could be an algorithm update, or it could be that a competitor used your content and wrote something better than your original. Whatever the cause, you’re best placed to fix it if you start with why.

📈 Optimisation

  1. If you’re a small business, it’s hard to know whether your energy is best spent focusing on long or short-tail keywords. Patrick explains that the key to striking the balance here is really a question of whether you’re interested in driving better results in the immediate or longer term. You’ll have more success with the long-tail now, but if the short-tail terms are something you want to target, then there’s no better time to start. It’s really up to you and when you want to see success.
  2. What type of content works best for SEO? With so many different content formats out there, it can be increasingly hard to know where to focus, and Patrick explains that there is no right answer. If you want to rank for – ‘what is X?’, then short form content will do the trick. Longer form can rank for a lot of different things, and data led content is usually pretty good for getting links. Video could open you up to a completely different market so it’s worthwhile considering that too. Everyone’s consumption habits vary, so it’s about finding a balance that works for you.

🗂️ On reporting

  1. In order to improve, we need to be measuring our SEO efforts and results. Patrick recommends reporting in a way that most aligns with the objectives of who you’re reporting to. If that’s stakeholders or the SLT, you want to be talking about revenue, leads, conversions and traffic value. If you’re reporting into an SEO specialist, they will want more detail on the traffic, keywords, competitor data, and performance.
  2. And for all you brand-siders, an all-important question as budgets get squeezed this year – where should you be challenging your SEO agency? Patrick shares how he used to work in-house at a major corporation and the number one thing he would show stakeholders would be the top-ranking pages for the relevant search terms. Ask your agency what links your competitors have that you don’t, and then ask them to go after those links and create content that adds more value than your competitors’.

Please join us in sending the BIGGEST thank you to TMM sponsors Ahrefs, and Patrick, particularly, for the time and expertise they lent to answering our questions. Check out the full video here.