Jesse Dolan: One of our other kind of core parts for SEO is, make sure you’re doing your competitor research, right, for your own market for certain keywords. What is showing up? Google hides it in plain sight when it favors. Are they favoring blog posts, or just pages on your website, or maybe it’s a lot of videos? Who knows? For your content in general, make sure you’re doing searches. Just a reminder, right? Make sure you’re doing searches. See what’s showing up for your keywords in your market. And that’s the kind of content Google’s going to see you put out, too.
Jesse Dolan: Welcome back to Local SEO Tactics, where we bring you tips and tricks to get found online. I’m your host, Jesse Dolan, here today with Bob Brennan-
Bob Brennan: How you doing?
Jesse Dolan: … Bob Bob, Sue Ginsburg-
Sue Ginsburg: Hello.
Jesse Dolan: …and special guest, TJ Elder. How’s it going, TJ?
Sue Ginsburg: Hey.
Jesse Dolan: First time having you on the show here.
TJ Elder: How’s it going? Doing well here.
Jesse Dolan: Thank you. TJ is our SEO manager here at Intrycks. Been with us for a while, helping run our team, working with a lot of new clients coming on board, seeing a lot of websites. And we’ve been talking kind of in the background about some ideas for TJ to come on here and share some wisdom with us, some things that we see often on client websites or prospect websites that are basically clear indicators that you need some help with SEO.
So, we’re going to round table some stuff. TJ’s got some things prepared to kick us off with a few topics and things that he’s seeing. But for everybody out there listening, I think the context here is, as you hear us talking, and some of the examples TJ’s going to lay out for us, check your website, right, as we’re going here. Pause it, do it, or if you’re listening just while you’re working or whatever. He’s going to bring up some things that are going to be pretty tangible, some things you can check on your own website, or pass this along to your trusted person that’s working on your website.
And long story short, if you get a yes to any of these, for us, it’s kind of an indication of you might want to check and see what’s going on with your SEO, because this list we’re going to talk about, that is the topic, right? Things that we usually see on a website that doesn’t have SEO or is severely lacking in SEO. These are pretty basic things, and again, things that you should be able to check on your own website right now.
So, TJ, with that being said, again, credentials-wise, you’re our SEO manager. Very smart in SEO, implementing SEO on a lot of websites, very much integral in our process here at Intrycks, for when we bring a new client on to kick off the project, take a look at things. Kick us off with a thing that you see often on a website that’s a big red flag for saying they need some help with SEO.
Yeah, Absolutely. And thanks for having me on, Jesse. I think one of the things that always gives me a little bit of a chuckle when I see… If you go to the homepage of a website, it’s the first time you’ve been on there, and in the little browser tab at the top, it just says “home.” That’s an indication right off the bat to me that one of the most basic parts of SEO, which is optimizing your title tag, hasn’t been given much thought. So, right off the bat having “home.”
And then often, after that, it’ll just be the name of the website after that. So, just kind of having that default title tag on your homepage is probably… If anybody’s watching and they want to check that on their own website, that’s the first place I would look, I’d say.
Jesse Dolan: So, you’d just go up, pull up your website, look in your tab. I’m using Google Chrome. I would just hover over the tab up there. Not where I type it in the address, right, but the little icon with your website?
TJ Elder: Exactly. Yep.
Jesse Dolan: Hover over that, or even a little preview up there might even say the text, right, of what you’re talking about?
TJ Elder: Yeah.
Jesse Dolan: So, if that says “home” and/or dash your business name, or things like that, that’s a red flag. And then what would you expect to see there, though? If somebody’s got that kind of default stuff, what would you rather them pick?
TJ Elder: So, the title tag is going to be what shows in that little browser tab that we were just talking about. It’s also what’s going to be showing up in Google search results when people find your business there. So, it’s kind of twofold. You want to think of an opportunity of how to entice people and convince them to click on your website, but then, also, it carries value for SEO to have keywords in there. So, what’s the number one thing you want people to arrive at your website for? Having that in the title itself can do a lot to boost the value for SEO on the homepage and on the site in general.
Jesse Dolan: So, the example you’re using is seeing “home,” right, and we’re on the homepage of a website. But like you just said, your site in general, this is something if we’re seeing it on the homepage, easy to identify because the word home potentially, right, is a default. But odds are, we’re probably not going to see optimized title tags on the other important pages of the website, too, right, if you’re seeing this on home. It’s not just about the home page here, right-
TJ Elder: Right.
Jesse Dolan: … is the point. It’s multiple pages, probably, are suffering from the same thing.
TJ Elder: Yeah. Great point.
Jesse Dolan: And I think you’re also reading into it a little bit, and projecting towards all of you who are listening or watching that are like, “Oh crap. That’s me.” I think we usually find, too, that there’s a lack of doing the keyword research and understanding what you should be targeting. Right? Not only have you left this thing as a default and not optimized it, you don’t know what you should be optimizing it for from a keyword research standpoint, too. That’s an easy big one for everybody to check out. What other things do we see come across?
TJ Elder: Yeah. I’d say-
Jesse Dolan: Or you see come across, personally.
TJ Elder: Yeah. I think just continuing on to what’s on the actual page. So, the title, tag’s not something that’s going to show up on the page itself, it’s going to be in the browser tab. It’s going to show up in search results. But then, when you’re looking at just what text is on the page, I always like to look at the H1. Has the person optimized the H1 tag on their page? Because outside of the title tag, that’s probably the number two spot to put your main keyword in there.
Jesse Dolan: H1, for everybody who’s not practicing SEO every day, is your number one headline, your main headline, your primary headline. Literally, if we’re in WordPress, for example, right, or even if everybody’s familiar with a Word document in a word processor, your Headline 1, right? Your biggest font, in a largest type set, bold, all that. If somebody’s on their website, TJ, and they don’t know if this is an H1, things like that, we’re talking usually the main thing at the top, right? The big letters at the top of the page?
TJ Elder: Absolutely. In most cases, it’s going to be just the biggest, highest-up piece of text on that page.
Jesse Dolan: Right on. And that should, going through SEO basics, have the same or similar keywords as whatever we want to optimize the page title for. If it’s home, that’s a bad sign for you, but whatever word or words needed to be in there, we want to see something very similar in the H1, too.
TJ Elder: Yeah, absolutely. That’s right, then it’s one of the first things Google will read on your page, and if they’re seeing consistency between those two things, they’re going to have more confidence that’s what your page is about. So, being able to put in the keywords that you want people coming to your website when they search and having Google have the confidence that that’s what this page is about, it’s going to increase your odds that you’ll come up.
Jesse Dolan: For sure. That kind of speaks towards something, too. That’s pretty much an SEO thing. Bob, I know we talk a lot about converting, and kind of that adage of making sure people know and think they’re in the right place.
Where TJ is speaking from, you need this for SEO, for relevance, for keywords, and all that. Also, as a human being, once we land on the page, we want to know that it says the right thing and be reinforced by those keywords. Right? We know that for a fact, too.
Sue Ginsburg: TJ, I have a question about that. You’re talking about on every page, right, not just the homepage?
TJ Elder: Yeah.
Sue Ginsburg: Right. So, I think what I see a lot of businesses doing, is they have as their H1 some clever compelling phrase, like “Wish you lived in luxury?” or something like that.
TJ Elder: Sure.
Sue Ginsburg: Would you say that is not a good thing, unless they’re keywords in whatever the compelling phrase is that you’ll often see?
TJ Elder: Yeah. That’s a great thing to try to balance, right? Because you want to look professional. You want to have good types of messaging on your website that’s going to convince people to engage with your services, right? So, maybe it’s a realtor’s website, and they’re trying to sell luxury real estate.
What that doesn’t do, though, when you have “Live in luxury,” is it doesn’t tell Google this is a real estate website that sells luxury properties. So, it’s definitely a balance. There’s some tricks you can employ to be able to kind of, not show Google one thing and the user another thing, but there’s a way to have a catchy headline like that, but that just isn’t in your H1 tag, right? So, maybe your H1 tag is just right below that, and it has a little more description on your services. But then you still have a nice styled headline above that that’s going to carry less weight for Google, but might be more attractive for users on the website.
Jesse Dolan: I think imagery, too. What’s coming to mind is, we’re saying this, with your example, TJ, and then Sue, with your question kind of expanding on it, is this H1, this thing that we’re seeing and reading, is always going to be usually towards the very top of the page, one of the first things you see.
And if you can make sure your images, like especially with this “Live in luxury” type deal, if your images represent that, but then your text says something maybe more keyword specific, or the “Live in luxury” isn’t the biggest thing, it’s kind of a sub thing, I think that can really help reinforce that intent you’re trying to get across with the right wording.
Because I do think sometimes people, especially if you’re coming from a design perspective, again, as a business owner or a marketing manager, you’re wanting that statement to be kind of kitschy and lure people in.
But Google doesn’t necessarily get all that inference like we do as humans, right? They’re literally reading this text saying, “Oh, this is the main headline. This is the main crux, or the important part, what this page, this article, this document is about.”
So, different head space. But I digress. But yeah, if you’re trying to get that great H1 with the keyword, like TJ’s saying, and you’re like, “I still have to make this come off a certain way,” don’t forget about your image is there, too. What other kinds of things are we seeing, TJ?
TJ Elder: Well, you bring up images. That’s another place where, sometimes people don’t realize, how does Google interpret images on your website? So, Jesse, you were just saying having a big image showing luxury real estate on your page, to continue with that example, anybody looking at that is going to understand what that means.
But the way that image might be implemented, Google might not be able to read it at all. One of the main things that Google’s going to look at to understand what an image is about, is alt text. So, if those images don’t have alt text along with them, you’re missing out on an opportunity to tell Google what is this image, and how does that image relate with the rest of the content on the page?
Bob Brennan: So, real quick, as far as images go, unique images might be better than something you might go out and buy canned, because a canned image could have several different inferences. Or does alt text kind of determine that image, so to speak? Does that make sense?
TJ Elder: Yes.
Bob Brennan: I know it’s kind of a mixed question, but.
TJ Elder: Yeah. I mean, if you’re talking about a stock image that Google might pick up on many, many websites versus-
Bob Brennan: Yeah.
TJ Elder: … an image that it’s never come across before, to be honest, I’m not 100% on the details of how that would be different in Google’s mind. But with either scenario, adding the alt text there is going to give you a benefit. So, make sure to have that entered in, and have that related to the rest of the content on the page.
Jesse Dolan: Hey, everyone, just a quick message about our free SEO audit tool on localSEOtactics.com, and we’ll get right back to the show. If you haven’t taken advantage of it yet, go on out to localSEOtactics.com/freeSEOaudit, or look for the yellow button up on the top-right corner, click that, and it’s going to take just a couple seconds. You enter in the page that you want to optimize, what you’re looking for the audit to score against. Enter in that page, enter in the keyword you’re looking to get optimized for, and enter in your email address, click the button. And it’s going to take a few seconds, and then it’s going to send you off a PDF report via email.
It’s a great report. It’s going to kind of give you an overall score of some vital SEO areas for that page, and for your website at large, even though it’s auditing this page. That’s going to tell you some of the good things that are happening, some of the bad things that are happening, too. It can give you, basically, a checklist of some things that you need to shore up, and what you can do to improve your SEO for that page for that keyword that you’re auditing.
Now, you can use this as many times as you want. You can do multiple keywords, multiple pages, multiple keywords on the same page. You can even use this to check against your competitors, right? If you want to do a little reverse engineering, see how they’re scoring for a certain keyword, what they may be doing good that you’re not, and some things to improve there. So, lots of different ways to use it. Completely free.
Again, go on to localSEOtactics.com/freeSEOaudit, or look for the yellow button in the top-right corner of the website.
The thing to address Bob’s comment, I can chime in a little bit, TJ, is in general, if you can use your own custom images instead of stock, we always recommend that. Just to be clear with everybody, and especially nowadays with a great phone in your pocket, with a camera built in that’s as good as a lot of point and clicks were a few years ago, there’s really not a excuse for not being able to capture some kind of images for your website.
Hiring a professional photographer, of course, that’s a whole different level there, but custom images are going to be better than stock images. But still, if you have to use stock images to make a good looking website, sometimes that’s necessary.
And Bob, you are hitting on… There is something I think we’ve talked before a little bit, Google vision AI, where Google can understand an image, like TJ’s saying, that picking up, this is on multiple websites, yeah, you can maybe distance yourself or make yourself unique with the alt text. There’s also what TJ… like title, image title, image alt text, and then image file name, right?
So you, even if Bob, TJ, Sue and Jesse are all using the exact same image on our own websites, we do have those areas to make them slightly different. But yeah, Google is still going to understand it’s the same image on these multiple websites, and any relevancy that Sue’s, Jesse’s and Bob’s website has is a little bit tied to that image, and Google may kind of have that context with TJ, which sometimes can be good, sometimes can be bad.
But for sure, to stand out above the crowd, to look the best, to be unique, and to really be able to optimize your content your way, Bob’s short answer there is, unique images are definitely going to be the best and what we would always prefer, but doesn’t mean stock images are going to be horrible for you.
Sue Ginsburg: Well, I have a question.
Jesse Dolan: I think there are also is a little bit of… I’m sorry, Sue. One more quick thing. Understand your competition. If you’re seeing the same stock image on the same three websites that you’re trying to rank against, just from the mind of the consumer, you want to be different and not look like the exact same thing, too. What were you going to say, Sue?
Sue Ginsburg: I was going to ask, I understand Google can tell if it’s unique to you, or it sees it on 40 other websites. But what about just back to the question of, if Google does see a custom photo, do they know that it’s the photo of a building, versus a playground equipment, or anything else they see?
Jesse Dolan: Yes. I would say yes.
Sue Ginsburg: Wow.
Jesse Dolan: More and more every day. Their algorithm, their AI, however we want to term it, is getting trained more every day. And you can do that just by doing an image search in Google, doing reverse image searches. For sure.
If I took a unique image of maybe a very popular landmark, the Eiffel Tower or whatever, right? Google’s going to know that’s the Eiffel Tower in their system, right?
My building that nobody else has really taken a photo of, they probably won’t be able to pinpoint where I’m at. They will know it’s a building, or certain parts of it they might parse out. But summer of 2022 here, Sue, that’s learning and adapting, who knows. 2023, next year, or 2024, the year after, this may be way more advanced, if somebody’s listening this down the road. So, it’s heading that direction-
Sue Ginsburg: Crazy.
Jesse Dolan: … that they are getting more advanced every day, every day.
Which is where we go back to unique images, right? Because also there’s a little bit of an inherent hunger within Google for more images about these same things, right? They want to explore what images are and try to reverse engineer them kind of for their own AI learning and stuff. So, feeding in unique images, unique content, is great for you, and it’s also something they’re looking for, right? So, it’s kind of a good apex there of all that coming together.
Okay. So, images, kind of went a little bit into some weaving paths there, where we can do some things for optimizing them, or using them properly. But again, going back, this is a clear spot where we can tell real quick if somebody’s really doing some good SEO or not, by looking at what they’re using for alt titles, things like that.
TJ, what are some other things that people out there can check their website again, and just check their level of SEO thoroughness? And, by the way, when I say check the level of SEO thoroughness, we’re talking about some basic stuff here, too. So, if you’re seeing this, there’s other more advanced stuff that we’re betting in the farm probably isn’t done on your website, too.
TJ Elder: Yeah, absolutely. Another thing that comes to mind is some people have their website set up, but they haven’t really thought about the blog yet. So, if you go over to the blog, maybe it’s one of the default links on the menu, they haven’t gotten around to making any posts yet. And you get to their blog homepage, and it just says, “hello world.” So, that’s something-
Jesse Dolan: And we know you’re in WordPress, so that’s the case, right?
TJ Elder: Default right there. So, I think it would be good, instead of having “hello world,” to just go in and put a little message if you’re planning on blogging, but you haven’t gotten to it yet, maybe say, what is your blog going to be about when it does come out? Anything to kind get some unique content on the page to help Google start understanding what is this content eventually going to be about, if it’s not there yet.
Yeah. So, that’s just one of those default things that kind of leaks through and kind of flies under the radar sometimes.
Bob Brennan: And again, I’d say, as far as that’s something we can identify, and then what does that mean, right? If, again, you’re a business owner listening, like, “Okay, so what? I got a blog post that says “hello world.”
For us, that means that you have a lot of defaults set up still in your installation, right? If nobody’s gone through and clean that out, there’s a lot of other settings, maybe for your site maps, what’s being indexed, a lot of other areas that you want to optimize that are left still in that default mode. Right?
And like we say a lot on here, SEO is by nature very granular. It’s not painting with a wide brush. So, if we see that things are left as default, that means nobody’s gone on and pushed those little buttons or pulled those little levers. And there’s a lot more to optimize if you’re seeing “hello world” in your blog post, right, in addition to it just not being good or-
Jesse Dolan: You can make an argument, too, you’re wasting your crawl budget with Google if it’s looking at these default posts that have no value or content, and maybe they didn’t get over to that new service page that you created that you really wanted Google to check out and index. Right? So, a lot of reasons why you want to clean that up. But yeah, there’s a real easy thing that we know they need some help, if we’re seeing a “hello world” in the blog post, though.
Sue Ginsburg: What do you guys think about this? I was talking to a listener this morning who told me that he’s been told that one of the high priorities of Google’s algorithms is blog posts, so you have to have a blog post.
Well, I hadn’t heard that before. And my answer to him was, it all depends on what keywords you want to include there, and what’s included in the content. But TJ, what do you think about that?
TJ Elder: Yeah, I think that there’s some truth to that, but I would say that doesn’t always apply. One of the main things you can do to check if that’s true is just Google the keyword you’re trying to target, and see if blog posts come up in the search results.
Sue Ginsburg: Great idea.
TJ Elder: If they do, then Google is looking to have an article show up for that query. But there’s some other instances where if somebody’s looking for the services of a local business, they don’t want to see a blog post about it, they want to see who can provide that service to them. So, it depends on what’s being searched.
Yeah. If you’re looking for a recipe to make brownies, then you’re probably going to see blog posts with recipes for brownies in there. But if you’re looking for an electrician, they’re probably going to give you a few different businesses that provide that service, right? Or something like Yelp, where there’s 10 different electricians showing there. So, I would say it’s not always the case.
Jesse Dolan: I think you’re hitting on a good lesson for everybody, too. We talked about maybe looking at your competitors, what images they use and how do you stand out, things like that, a little bit earlier.
What you’re saying right there does also reinforce one of our other kind of core parts for SEO is, make sure you’re doing your competitor research for your own market for certain keywords. What is showing up? Google hides it in plain sight what it favors. To your point here, TJ, off of Sue’s question, are they favoring blog posts or just pages on your website? Or maybe it’s a lot of videos? Who knows?
Definitely a space where blogs can dominate various topics, but for your content in general, make sure you’re doing searches. Just a reminder. Right? Make sure you’re doing searches to see what’s showing up for your keywords in your market. And that’s the kind of content Google’s going to want to see you put out, too-
Sue Ginsburg: Great point.
Jesse Dolan: … from media standpoint. So, yeah. So, we’ve got default homepage, we’ve got default blog posts, sort of default or low effort page titles, images, things like that. What are some easy, quick checks, TJ, that you come across?
TJ Elder: Yeah, I think just kind of continuing on the defaults, one thing that shows up namely in WordPress, is if you create a new page in WordPress, and maybe you just give it a temporary name, a lot of times, depending on the theme you’re using, that page title that you named it in the back end is going to show up on the front end. So, that could be added on to your page as the H1 on the page when you really weren’t thinking of it in that context. You were just trying to get a page up and running.
So, I think that’s something to be aware of. A lot of times there’s an option where you can check a little box and make it so that page title, however you named it in WordPress, doesn’t show up on the page itself. And then, that just gives you the opportunity to put a little more thought into what’s going to be in the H1 on the page.
Jesse Dolan: I think that can trip a lot of people up too, right, if you’re… as you speak. And if you’re in WordPress in the back end editing this page, and you’re looking for this phrase, that when you’re looking at your website live on the front end, it says “Jesse’s Auto Repair” at the top, but I’m editing the page, I don’t see this phrase anywhere. What the heck? How do I get rid of it? You may not even know that it’s taking the actual title of that page and popping it in to show everybody.
So, it can be confusing, number one. And number two, to your point, and again, back to the defaults, you haven’t optimized that if it’s just using your page title. We want to see something a little more granular and afford some customization. So, that’s a real good one. And usually, if that’s the case, TJ, is that a global setting to just turn that off on all your pages, or is that a page by page?
TJ Elder: Yeah. I was going to say-
Bob Brennan: This one’s kind of a-
TJ Elder: It depends on the theme. A lot of times I see it on just the regular edit page in WordPress if you scroll down. It’ll be on a page by page basis.
Jesse Dolan: All right, TJ, I think we got time for one more good thing to look for if I’m checking on my website and I want to know if I should probably take a deeper dive into SEO. Give us one more nugget toward that.
TJ Elder: Yeah, sure. We were talking about “hello world” just a little bit ago, and it got me thinking about whenever there’s a “work in progress” page, or “new site coming soon,” “new page coming soon,” that’s not going to add a lot of value for SEO to have that on your website.
So, just like with the blog page and “hello world,” giving a little preview of what is the blog going to be about? What do you plan to write about there? What’s this new page? Or what’s this new site coming soon going to be about? And you may even want to optimize an H1 and a title tag, just to give a little bit of a hint to Google what the content’s going to be about when it eventually is there in full.
Jesse Dolan: Because if it’s live, even if you got a graphic, “coming soon,” or “under construction,” and all this on a page… You’re not even talking your home page, right? If I just click up your main services-
TJ Elder: Right.
Jesse Dolan: … and your third one down is coming soon, under development. If that’s live on your website, and I, as a human being, can see it, Google can see it and index it, right? And, to your point, a page with “under construction” and things like that not only has no value to a user, but to Google, there’s nothing they’re going to add to their index.
Or, if they do, they index that page, maybe they miss what you update it with a week later about that actual topic, and it takes two months before they realize that page was about a service. So, yeah. You might as well. If you’re going to take the time to throw the page up, again, be intentional.
That’s kind of an underlying thing with all these defaults is you have spots to be intentional to optimize your website, right? For keywords, for intent, and all this. Take advantage of it. Don’t use the defaults. Don’t leave it as default.
And same thing here. If you’re going to take the time to create a page, put it up there as a placeholder, even, take another literal two, three, four, five minutes, write a sentence or two including a keyword or two. Still can add the tone of under construction, coming soon, but instead of just the dude with a shovel under construction, say, “We’re getting our final service ready, tightening the screws and putting the latch down. We’re happy to serve you soon. This page is under construction.”
So, that’s pretty good. And we do see that on sites. Not broadly, but again, a certain page or certain section, right, under development. So, that’s good.
All right. I think that’s plenty for everybody to really digest. Again, if you’ve been listening along, taking notes, check out your website. Or if you’ve paused this multiple times, go back, check them out again. Whatever it is, definitely check out your website for these things that we’re talking about. If you’re seeing any of them, like I said, on the front side, that’s a yes to you. You probably have some deeper issues going on. If you have not ever used our free SEO audit tool, and you’re saying yes to some of these, this is a great time. Go on out to localSEOtactics.com, click on the yellow button that says free SEO audit.
You plug in your page, right? Whatever page we’re talking about that you found one of these things on, plug it into our tool with that page, put in the keyword you’re intending to optimize that page for, click the button. You have to enter in your email, but click the button. That’s going to send you a PDF grading that page against that keyword, and hopefully highlight some more of these advanced areas that we’re talking as well. Right?
If you’re seeing this one symptom, let’s take a look at the rest of it, and hopefully we can turn up some stuff for you. Check it out on localSEOtactics.com. Look for the button that says free audit. Bob and Sue, do you have anything to add or expand on for anything TJ was talking about?
Sue Ginsburg: I just want to say thank you, TJ. You made me understand things a lot better, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
TJ Elder: Happy to help.
Bob Brennan: Someday, I will get out. We’ll do some skiing together, TJ.
TJ Elder: I’d love that.
Bob Brennan: I’ll try to keep up. I’ll try to keep up.
TJ Elder: Well, I can do a couple cruisers. I don’t mind.
Bob Brennan: All right, good. You’re on.
Jesse Dolan: All right, TJ, thanks for jumping on. Everybody listening, hope you got a lot of value. We’re going to have TJ on for some more regular stuff and answering some questions, diving into some deeper FCO stuff as well. But hopefully, the stuff that we shared here today is going to help you out. Until the next episode, take care, everybody. Gotcha.