Google Analytics: website performance metrics

Google Analytics Made Simple: your website’s health

Part 4. Tracking website performance metrics

This is Part 4 of a series on Google analytics for freelancers and bloggers. Previously, we created customised dashboards  to master the data, looked into traffic metrics with the Traffic Dashboard, and analysed the best performing content with the help of the Content Dashboard.

An important part of your SEO strategy is to know how your website is running. With the Performance Dashboard consisting of 8 widgets, you’ll see:

– How quickly your website loads
– Where your visitors are coming from
– If you should act because something isn’t working as it is meant to

Website Performance Dashboard: Google Analytics

Website speed has key importance for user engagement. If your website makes users wait, they will eventually get bored and leave. Page load time is also a factor in Google’s desktop search results rankings.

If you have a high page load time, it’s not always the content to blame. Since the number includes all steps, the time depends from redirects, server-side calls, the user’s location and network connection.

To see the speed of separate pages, go to Behavior > Site Speed > Page Timings. The report details each page along with the total average loading time (in seconds). Copy the URL and add it to the widget if you need a clickable widget title. Get an overview of website speed at Behavior > Site Speed > Overview.

Some other simple site speed tools:

  • WebPageTest: results are collected from real browsers running common operating systems.
  • Pingdom: a simple tool but method of testing is undocumented.
  • GTmetrix: gives actionable insights about the best way to optimize webpage speed.
Website speed overview - Monitoring website performance2. MOBILE PAGE LOAD TIME (SEC)

The last few years have all been about the mobile: after 2014 mobile usage is greater than desktop use. In July 2018, Google adds mobile page load times to the factors for mobile search result rankings.

According to Google, the average time it took in 2017 to fully load the average mobile landing page was 22 seconds. However, research also indicated that 53% of people would leave a mobile page if it took longer than 3 seconds to load.

There are insights available for speeding up your site for mobile devices. These can be found under Behavior > Site Speed > Speed Suggestions. The Hostgator’s blog offers more free Google tools to improve your mobile page load time.

Mobile page load time insights

Here you can compare the average page load time with the metric for your most popular posts.

If you want to speed up your most viewed pages to enhance their visibility further, consider optimising the images (you can use the image optimisation method offered by HubSpot). You can also hide certain elements on the sidebar that are not so necessary.

The full report available at Behavior > Page Timings shows the load time for popular pages compared to the site’s average.

Popular pages loading time: Google Analytics

The average amount of time that it takes for the site’s server to respond to what a user is doing such as clicking through pages. A well built web page will still be displayed slow if the server response time is slow. Google recommends to reduce the server response time under 200ms.

To improve server response time look into caching plugins and content delivery networks like Cloudfare. It’s also important to compress your assets using a method such as Gzip or Brotliminify your CSS, JS, and HTML files, and optimise your images.

To add a direct link to the widget’s title, go to Behavior > Site Speed > Overview.

Google recommends to reduce the server response time under 200ms.


Here you can see if certain countries are slower to load your website’s pages. To get the full report, go to Behavior > Site Speed > Page Timings and switch to the Map Overlay tab.

If country-specific performance is important for your strategy, you might consider using a server based in that country (with the help of your hosting provider) or use a content delivery network.

Server response time by country


Defined simply as the total number of pages viewed divided by the total number of visits to the site, Average Pages Viewed per Visit is a key indicator of your content’s attractiveness.

You want people to visit multiple pages on your site (over 3 to 4) because it means that readers come to your blog and want to stick around.

If you think there’s still room for optimisation, ask yourself:
1. Is it possible to update high-bouncing pages with news facts or research?
2. Could the formatting be better?
3. Could any images or videos be added?
4. Do the pages really match the keyword phrase ranking for in Google?
5. Could you improve the title tags and meta descriptions?

Go to Audience > Behaviour > Engagement to see the number of pages viewed by different users. The highest number for me this week is 19.

To make a clickable widget title, navigate to Audience > Overview. You can copy and add the link to the widget in the Performance Dashboard.

Number of pages veiwed per visit


Average session duration (time spent on your website) is a simple number fundamental for content sites like blogs. More time means better connection with the content.

Watch for dramatic changes in the average time the visitors are spending on your website as they indicate a significant change in your audience. Remember, though, that the results can be misleading because the visitor could have left the browser window open and was not actually viewing your page.

Additionally, it is an average of metrics which are themselves averages of other metrics which are themselves averages, and so on. To get a better insight, consider the average session duration for each individual traffic source (Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels).

The direct link for a clickable title is the same as for the previous widget: Audience > Overview.

Average time on website: average session duration in Google Analytics


Do your visitors only come once and never return? Or do some visit your website three times a week or even more?

The widget shows the number of days between the latest visit and the visit before that. 0 days since last visit means that the user have been to your website once.

The full report available at Audience > Behavior > Frequency and Recency shows both days since last session and the count of sessions with pageviews to understand how loyal your visitors are.

To make better use of the Recency report, click Add Segment and choose Returning visitors.

Days since Last Visit - New and Returning Users

Next month comes the forth dashboard, the Social Dashboard. And after that we’ll see what metrics should be monitored weekly, monthly, and yearly.

How to Localise Keywords: tips and tricks for effective keyword localisation

How to Localise Keywords: 3 Basic Steps

Tips for effective keyword localisation

To localise keywords effectively, follow three basic stages: translation, adaptation, supplementing and testing. If you have a list of well-performing keywords, you need to complete four main tasks to make your list work in other languages:

  1. Translate keywords correctly.
  2. Localise keywords: adapt them to a new region (taking language, cultural and other differences into account)
  3. Search and add new keywords relevant to the local market like trends, events, etc.
  4. Test the new keywords in search engines and add them to the localised texts.

In its online training on digital marketing, Google underlines that you need a proper translation—and localisation—to overcome language barriers and communicate your ideas and offers. To make local feel like ‘you speak their language’, Google strongly advises in favour of using professional services.

Automated translation is rarely 100% fluent and accurate. Free tool might be tempting but Google penalises websites which use Google Translate for their multilingual pages. The reason is simple: they are considered to be low quality content not meeting user needs.

Google’s recommendations can be fully applied to localise keywords. As the cornerstone for both organic traffic and paid online advertising, keywords have two main functions:

  • to ensure correct content indexing by search engines;
  • to encourage user actions with search results.

The closer is a keyword variation to a user’s search query, the higher are the chances that the search engine sees the content as relevant and puts in the first page of search results. Obviously, this means a user is more likely to click your link.

It’s impossible to achieve highly relevant search results if keywords are simply translated. Yes, they will still be relevant and meaningful for a user reading the content. But search engines have different criteria for relevancy.

1. Correct translation

Context is translators’ favourite word. And context is even more important for localising keywords as you should specify the exact word meaning.

How would you translate ‘slicer’, ‘imaging’ or ‘support’? And if I told you these were 3D related terms? When translating keywords, it is vital to explain what they mean in a given context, give links to the pages with the keywords or at least explain what the pages are about.

The translator should understand the tasks that have been set when creating a keyword list. In this case, they might be able to add other variants based on typical local search queries.

2. Keyword adaptation

Ideally, localised keywords should match actual search terms and queries. Depending on a country, region or target audience, these search queries can differ significantly from terms which have been translated directly.

After adaptation, you may get two synonyms in the target language instead of one source word or a long-tail keyword (phrase) if it correlates to terms online users enter when searching.

Next, the list of translated keywords is analysed for search engine relevance. Search term frequency and related variants are the main things to pay attention to. Based on analysis results, you then correct and amend the list.

Tools for keyword analysis:

Google Keyword Planner is the easiest option (requires a Google AdWords account).

Yandex’s Keyword Statistics and Serpstat are Russian online services targeted at the Russian-speaking segment of the web.

3. Testing and diagnostics

The first round of keyword testing takes place during the adaptation. For each keyword, all the above-mentioned tools offer an approximate number of search queries. Please note that does not mean you should neglect testing the final keywords variants in main search systems. This covers keywords both for content creation and social media posting.

Use the SEMrush Keyword Difficulty tool to check competition for the most important keywords. The index (from 1% to 100%) shows you how difficult it is to outperform your competitors for the planned keywords and keyphrases. A low-frequency long tail keyword has more chances of getting to the first search page when it matches the search term.

In search engines, the quality rating for each keyword depends not only on competitors. The relevance and quality of a corresponding landing page is another component. That means localised keywords should be highly relevant to the content of the landing page.

Anywhere else to use keywords?

Meta descriptions

The text summarising a page’s content in search results. Web surfers are more likely to click an offered link if they notice the keywords from their search queries (or closely related terms).

Note: Recently, Google announced that their search engine now supports meta descriptions up to 320 symbols long. Still, many prefer the good old fashioned 160-symbol metas, just to be on the safe side.


The first thing you notice when you examine search results is a page title or a heading. If a heading matches a keyword or a keyphrase, the search engine sees the content as relevant and shows it higher in search results. If a heading fails to describe the content accurately, the search engine gives fewer points to the page.

Note: A good heading is accurate, engaging and a bit provoking. It communicates the idea behind the target page in a clear and concise way.

URL address

Sometimes, page URLs are localised, too. For Russian language, it means transliteration. If you add a long-tail keyword to your URL, be careful not to make it too long (3 to 5 words max).

Note: According to Google, keywords in URLs do not have a strong impact on your SEO.

Alt tags

Search systems cannot ‘see’ images. Instead, they look for image descriptions in <alt> tags. During localisation, it is better to translate image descriptions and add keywords to them as it makes the page content more relevant to search terms containing matching and related keywords.

Note: An average image description should be not less than 3 to 4 words (250 symbols or more), with only one of them being the keyword.

“If you’re growing into an area that primarily speaks another language you’ll need to translate your site. And it’s probably best to have it done by a native speaker – rather than an automated translation service.

But simply translating content might not be enough. Words and phrases that work in an Italian market may not resonate with a French audience. Localisation is the process that makes locals feel like you “speak their language”.

It seems like a fair bit to think about…but there are many companies and freelancers out there who specialise in exactly this type of work.”

Google Digital Garage

More questions on keyword localisation? Feel free to send them to info @

analyzing traffic for bloggers

Google Analytics made simple: Know your visitors

Part 2. Analyzing traffic for bloggers with the Traffic Dashboard

Now that we have our Google Analytics dashboards ready, we’ll go into specific areas of Google Analytics for a more refined approach.

This is the post on traffic analytics for bloggers. Next comes the Content Dashboard.

Traffic metrics are the best stats for analyzing how your website and blog are growing. See which channels are working and what needs revision. Evaluate all you marketing channels driving traffic to your website. Ideally, your aim is to come up with new concepts for attracting more targeted visitors.

Check the incoming traffic to know:

– How visitors are finding your website
– What your most popular pages and posts are
– Who your referrals are

Our Traffic Dashboard has 8 widgets. We’ll have a look at every widget, slightly improve it and see how to analyze the metrics.

My customised dashboard for traffic

1. How did people find you?

The widget shows us the main sources of our traffic. Here, search engines are likely to be on top positions. Pay attention to the percent of new sessions: which channels are brining you new visitors and which are for user retention?

The term ‘direct’ refers to the visits in which users took the following actions:

  • Typed the domain name directing into the URL bar
  • Clicked on a bookmark
  • Clicked on a link in an email that isn’t tagged using tracking parameters
  • Clicked on a link in a mobile messaging app

In our default All Traffic report, we see only sources but not the pages they are referring to. Let’s fix that by adding one more dimension.

Go to the Source tab. Click Secondary dimension. Type in Landing Page. Now you see your traffic sources AND the landing pages which attracted visitors. (You can delete your secondary dimension anytime if you do not need it any longer.)

We can add a direct link to the detailed report making the widget’s headline clickable. Go Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium. Copy the address in the URL field. Open the Widget Settings window and paste in link in Link to report or URL field. Now we have a clickable widget name in case we need to drill down our data.

2. Visitors by Channel

The chart shows the main channels bringing us traffic. What is the difference between the source and the channel?

Source is the URL where your traffic originated: a search engine like Google or a domain ( Medium is the format: organic search (organic), cost-per-click paid search (cpc), web referral (referral) or none (direct traffic has a medium of ‘none’). Channel in Google Analytics is a group of traffic sources with the same medium. Organic Search is a channel consisting of Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Aol traffic sources with the same medium called ‘organic’.

Be aware that not all social traffic goes into the Social category. Sometimes you’ll see it in your Referral section.

To add a link to the main report, go Acquisition > All Traffic > Channel. Copy and paste the link. From the same Channel overview page, you can click on the channel of your choice (e.g. Organic Search) and set your Primary Dimension to Landing Page.

3. How many readers are reading my posts?

Obviously, our aim is to get the figure up every month or so. Note that for each set of metrics you should consider both short-term and long-term values.

Try at least 30 days to study your most recent publications. To analyze larger trends, extend the graph for 3–6 months.

Beginning from 2016, the default time range for Google Analytics switched to seven days. But the system allows you to set the default date range to the last 7, 14, 28, or 30 days. You can access this setting from the User Settings in the Overflow Menu (three vertical dots).

Go to Audience > Overview and copy the link in the URL field. Now open your widget for editing and add the link.

Try choosing various time periods to look at how much traffic you’re getting. Do you receive more traffic on a particular day of the week? Does it come in the afternoon or in the evening?

4. What posts are the most popular?

Any old post appearing here is your potential gold mine as it is already ranking high in organic search. If you see that the traffic brought by these pages is important for you, create more content like this.

Spend some time looking for old posts which get pageviews all the time or at the same time each year. Such posts are called evergreens.

Revisit your evergreen posts regularly to make sure links work, the images aren’t broken, and the info is still accurate. You can even refresh an evergreen post by re-sharing it.

To learn more about user behavior, let’s add and use the report link: Behavior > Site Content > Content Drilldown. Pay attention to the percent of exits. If it is close to 100%, chances are high that the post header and the description are not relevant to the content or do not match user expectations.

5. Referral Websites

Top ten websites bringing us traffic (excluding major search systems and social networks as we have the Social Dashboard for analyzing them).

To see the full list, go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals (and add the link to the dashboard if you wish).

To find out how your links got onto other websites, add one more dimension: click Secondary dimension and type in Landing Page. Check the engagement of this traffic to see how long visitors are staying at the website and how many pages they see.

If you are happy with the results, consider ways to further build traffic from these domains. Let people know you appreciated the reference. You will be far more likely to generate more referrals from the same people in the future.

6. Where do your readers live?

Visitors are accessing your website from various countries across the globe. The darker shades represent more traffic and more visitors from specific location.

To add a link to the report: Audience > Geo > Location. Pay attention to dimensions: you can switch to cities, continents and sub continents.

If you publish translated content on your site, you can study geo trends to see how many visitors are using translated pages compared to the originals.

8. Keywords

Most of your visitors are likely to come from search engines. Here you’ll find the (known) keywords that brought them to your website. And what can you do about them?

You can take the keywords you are happy with and provide more niche content targeting at long-tail keywords (phrases consisting of three or more words). Long-tail keywords return fewer results but bring you more targeted traffic. And it is much easier to rank high with them!

To add a link to the report: Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels. Then switch to Primary Dimension > Other > Type and select Keyword.



customised dashboards for bloggers.jpg

Google Analytics made simple: mastering your data

Part 1. Creating dashboards to know what happens

Suppose you are doing all the things you’re supposed to do for improving your SEO and online image: writing great content, maintaining your site, being active on social media, and so on. But it takes another level to measure and analyse your results.

Have you installed Google Analytics?

When was the last time you looked at it?

Do you feel overwhelmed because you are not sure what to look at?

Two main services I tried to use for my website and blog were Google Analytics and Google Search Console. But they offered me so MUCH data that I preferred to ignore them completely.

Things had to change. So I’ve passed the Google Analytics exam and now I am going to dive into analytics weekly and monthly as one of my steps to getting more valuable leads.

If you are interested in managing your website’s data, follow me with 5 not very simple steps to find everything you need each time you log into Google Analytics without navigating through numerous reports.

We’ll learn how to create customized dashboards for bloggers and freelancers to find meaningful data more easily. In the next posts, I’ll analyse ways to use each of these dashboards.

If you are new to Google Analytics, follow the instructions here to create Google Analytics account. After registration, you are provided with some code to install on your website. If everything is correct, you get your first statistics within 24 hours.

Note: If you are unfamiliar with Google services and relevant terminology, you could start with some basic course like Digital Garage by Google.


If you want to take a quick look at how things are going, the default report (the page you see when you log in) is the only page you need.

Basic things to learn from the report:

  • Pageviews: how many times your web pages have been viewed
  • Users: number of unique people who visited your website
  • Sessions and session duration: the time when someone visits your site and leaves it (or stays inactive for 30 minutes) is one session
  • Pages per session: important as it shows potential interest and relevance
  • Bounce rate: the percentage of visitors who viewed only one page
  • New and returning visitors

Google Analytics Home

Frankly speaking, I do not like this AT ALL. Neither do you? Click Customization (left upper corner), then Dashboards. We are going to create our own reports.


To make things more meaningful, I chose my own widgets for analysing statistics.

My first dashboard is for looking at the incoming traffic to know:

– How visitors are finding my website
– What my most popular pages and posts are
– Who my referrals are

1. To start, log into Google Analytics

Click Dashboards (on the top side of the left navigation) > Create. Name your new dashboard. It’s time to see how widgets work.

  • Click Add Widget.
  • Name your widget How people found you.
  • Click the blue outlined box that says Add Metric.
  • Type Source in the search box and then click the Source item that appears.
  • Now click the green outlined box that says Add dimension.
  • Do you see the next column of our How people found you table? Yes, type Users and click the option when it appears below.
  • Now click another green box that says Add dimension and type in… yes, New Sessions. Scroll down and save.

Bingo! You have added your first widget. Go on.

2. Widget: Visitors by Channel

Why: This widget provides a look at the sources of your traffic with a percentage breakdown of the traffic source, i.e., organic, direct, referral, social. You know where your visitors are coming from.

How to create it: Click Add Widget > Pie. Title you report Visitors by Channel. Under Create a pie chart showing: select Users. (Type Users in the search box and then click the Source item that appears.) Under Group by: select Default Channel Grouping.

3. Widget: How many people are reading your posts?

Next widgets are mostly self-explanatory. I’ll add only their basic parameters. Use the same scheme with the Add widget command.

Widget type: Metric. Metric: Users.

4. Widget: Which posts are the most popular?

Widget type: Table. Dimension: Country. Metrics: Users, % Exit.

5. Widget: Referral Websites

Note that we are excluding major search and social engines as we’ll have a separate dashboard for them.

Widget type: Table. Dimension: Full Referrer. Metric: Users. And we need a lot of filters here to exclude major websites (see the screenshot below).

Referral filters for Google Analytics6. Widget: Where do your readers live?

Widget type: Table. Dimension: Country. Metrics: Users, Pages/Session.

7. Widget: Traffic by Device

Widget type: Table. Dimension: Device Category. Metrics: Users, Sessions.

8. Widget: Keywords

To know how people find you in Google search if applicable.

Widget type: Table. Dimension: Keywords. Metrics: Pageviews, Pages/Session.

And again a couple of filters here.

Filter this data: Don’t show > Exactly matching > (not set)

Filter this data: Don’t show > Exactly matching > (not provided)

You did it! Your final dashboard should look similar to mine:

My customised dashboard for traffic


Now that you know where you are heading, let’s dive into the content analysis to learn:

– How your content works
– How long visitors are staying
– Where visitors come from
– How many pages they view and where they exit

Create and name your new dashboard.

Note: By default, Google Analytics will display results from the past 30 days. Don’t forget to look at longer periods like 6 to 12 months or even further to determine pages that bring you the majority of search engine traffic, page views, and daily visits by users. Use the filter in the top right corner.

1. Widget: Pageviews by Page Title

Widget type: Table. Dimension: Page Title. Metrics: Pageviews, Unique Pageviews.

2. Widget: Visits and % New Visits by Landing Page

Note: Landing page here is the first page your visitor sees when entering the website.

Widget type: Table. Dimension: Landing Page. Metrics: Sessions, New Sessions.

3. Widget: Avg. Time on Page and Bounce Rate

Widget type: Table. Dimension: Page Title. Metrics: Avg. Time on Page, Bounce Rate.

4. Widget: Exits and Pageviews By Page

Widget type: Table. Dimension: Page. Metrics: Exits, Pageviews.

5. Widget: Pageviews by Country / Territory

Widget type: Pie. Create a pie chart showing: Pageviews. Grouped by: Country.

For now, your final dashboard will look like this (you can drag and drop widgets making the layout easier to read):

Content Analysis Dashboard for Bloggers


Social media is an important source of traffic. Use this board to know:
– How many visitors are coming from social media
– What they prefer to read
– What social networks work best for you

And now comes my favourite trick. You can find a lot of free cute dashboards to import for your own use!

This one was imported from the Buffer blog. I only changed a couple of widgets to make data more meaningful for me. Just click the link provided in the article and add the view to your website for further customisation. The original dashboard includes the following widgets:

1. Real-time visitors to your website from social channels
2. Which social networks are sending you the most traffic overall
3. Your top landing pages for social traffic
4. How your social traffic fits with traffic from search, direct, and referral
5. Your most shared pages on Twitter and Facebook
6. Your social media campaign results

The widgets I’ve added:

1. Widget: Overall Site Visits

Basic context for the social data: total visits to the site to see if social is a large or small percentage.

Widget type: Metric. Metric: Sessions. Link to reports: Audience / Overview

2. Widget: New Visitor Acquisition from Social

Are you trying to attract a new audience from social media? Then it’s important.

Widget type: Metric. Metric: % New Sessions. Filter this data: Only show > Social Source Referral > Exactly matching > Yes

3. Widget: Social Traffic and Bounce Rate

The bounce rate in this widget shows the quality of social traffic. Do people read some other posts or take off quickly?

Widget type: Timeline. Graph the following metric over time: Sessions. Compare with (optional): Bounce Rate. Filter this data: Only show > Social Source Referral > Exactly matching > Yes. Link to Report: Acquisition / Social / Network Referrals

Social Media Dashboard for Blogging


An important part of your SEO strategy is to know how your website is running. With this dashboard, you’ll see:

• How quickly your website loads
• Where your visitors are coming from
• If you should act because something isn’t working as it should

1. Widget: Average Page Load Time

Widget type: Metric. Metric: Avg. Page Load Time (sec).

2. Widget: Average Server Response Time

Widget type: Metric. Metric: Avg. Server Response Time (sec).

3. Widget: Mobile Page Load Time (sec)

Widget type: Metric. Metric: Avg. Page Load Time (sec).

4. Widget: Average Page Views per Visit

Widget type: Metric. Metric: Pages/Session.

5. Widget: Average Time on Site

Widget type: Metric. Metric: Average Session Duration.

6. Widget: Load Time for Popular Pages

Widget type: Table. Dimension: Page Title. Metrics: Pageviews, Avg. Page Load Time (sec).

7. Widget: Server Response Time by Country

Widget type: Table. Dimension: Country. Metrics: Pageviews, Avg. Server Response Time (sec).

8. Widget: Visits by Day Since last Visit

Widget type: Table. Dimension: Days Since Last Session. Metric: Sessions.

You will find the Performance dashboard here, ready for further customisation.

Performance Dashboards for Bloggers

Congratulations! Your dashboards are ready.

These are basic configurations. I am planning to use them for three months and then go on with the customisation adding some new metrics and deleting those I do not need. There are plenty of resources to find Google Analytics dashboards and widgets if you know what data type is meaningful to you.

It may seem overwhelming at first. But the more you use the tool, the easier it becomes. Spend a few minutes a day logged into Google Analytics and get used to the system

In my next posts I am planning to give the best ways to use Google Analytics and the updated dashboards for blogging and self-promotion.


SEO for freelancers

Searched and found online: 5 tips for your online image

Part 4. Make your personality count

This is the forth post on online marketing strategies for SMBs. The first part covers tools for improving your search ranking. Then come your content strategy and content promotion using social media.

And what about personal branding? For me, the concept is too artificial. Too vague. Too misleadingly promising.

Branding was created to add human characteristics to products and companies to make them more appealing to humans. By offering functional and emotional benefits associated with a brand, you are creating a relationship with your audience.

But people are building their professional reputation and not a brand. You already have your functional and emotional benefits (or personal branding is useless for you anyway). It’s high time to make your benefits visible.

You all know that stuff: Create your personal brand. Become a conference speaker. Get the media attention. Write an e-book. Position yourself as an expert in your field and build your tribe. But how could possibly every professional be a well-known expert or every company be innovative?

I don’t say it’s the wrong path. Follow it if you feel inclined. You’ll find tons of ‘expert advice’ on the topic. But I speak of making your offer visible out there.

In the era of online communications and search engines, your personality matters. For a small online business without brick-and-mortar or an office open to the public, the name becomes your store window and your legacy.

References are bread and butter for freelancers. But chances are high that a potential customer will google your name if they are interested in a service partner. Solid reputation attracts better clients for freelancers. Defining your personal and business benefits also facilitates SEO.

To take your reputation and career from obscurity to visibility, you need a carefully planned strategy with a strong focus on content marketing, a fuel for your online presence.

Freelancers online image

1. Shaping your story

Brands can teach us invaluable marketing lessons. For instance, you need to be clear and direct when you present what you do. What are you great at doing anyway?

Think of what is important to you, what you do and do not stand for. Imagine an internal compass that determines your choices and actions. Make it three sentences or even less. Or use phrases, words or bullet points if that suits you.

Craft a narrative if you feel comfortable with it. How did you get started? Why do you specialise in certain areas? Why does your business exist? Who have you worked with and what did you do for them? What have you learnt along the way?

Whenever there is a chance for deeper engagement, be ready to present your skill-set and knowledge that set you apart in a sea of your competitors. Keep in mind your listeners and readers have a short attention span. That’s why a story crafted thoughtfully and structured carefully is a must. Fill out your profiles on the About Me area of your website, blog and/or social media.

While your profile will vary for different media, generally you’ll have:

• Your name (as people would search for it).
• Social accounts associated with you.
• Your profile picture (preferably the same for every account).
• Relevant keywords describing what you do.
• A tone that reflects your personality.
• A strategic link or call to action.

crafting your online story

2. Crafting your style and tone

This step isn’t absolutely required, but it can help you stand out.

If you feel you are reasonably confident about your design skills, there are many free online resources and tools can help you—from articles on branding to colour palette generators and design tools like Canva.

But style is not all about fonts and colours. What’s your tone of voice when communicating with your audience? For your image to be authentic, it should be consistent with your values and personality.

Below you will find ideas from brand creators (The source.)

Describe your online personality

Try to make a list of keywords thinking about how you plan to be perceived by your target audience and how you want to make them feel. Be yourself or create a persona if that seems more suitable for you. The picture below shows the process of linking keywords to archetypes when defining a personality for a brand but you can use it, too.

Defining Brand Personality

Having an angle will give a unique perspective that will mark each piece of content you develop as yours. Why write a cover letter when you can send a video version?

3. Choosing your channels

Next, it’s time to add your online persona to your professional assets.

Online channels are very diverse and may include a website, blog, online portfolio, social media profiles, directories and third-party sites. All of them need to be consistent with your message and style.

Don’t forget that SEO is one of the key tools connecting you to the people who are potentially interested in your knowledge and services. If you want Google to index your information in a really good way, you need a uniform and consistent vanity URL for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Not sure if a preferred URL is available? Check your name at

Start writing about what you know and share your personal point of view. Don’t worry about gaining thousands of follows and views. The point is to offer the right people access to your insights and get a glimpse of your professional value when they need it.

Your online persona is not a costume or a disguise. It means your real reputation and the authentic you with the unique talents you possess. Whatever channels you choose, stay true to the real you and maintain consistency.

(That does not mean publicly sharing the after-party photos and discussing your personal relationships or lack thereof. Your digital shadow is much longer than you possibly presume.)

Social media digital shadow

4. Planning the content

Keeping your online presence consistent and updating your spaces with quality content on a regular basis will help you gain exposure.

Every expert should be blogging, they say. Yes, a blog can be your essential tool for SEO but not everyone is ready for regular blogging. Let’s consider other options. What else can you create?

Visual content for social media: images with captions, quotes, headlines. These are readily shared, easy to make and you are free to experiment.

Videos published on YouTube, Vimeo are becoming the dominant force in content marketing. They drive high engagement but can be demanding to create. Don’t forget transcripts (at least partial) for SEO.

Case studies: stories of your clients’ successes. These are a great boost for your credibility. You do not need a website or a blog to use them. Why not share a case study on your LinkedIn profile? Include specific information and conduct interviews to get quotes.

Insights covering professional activity: updates on your professional development and certificates, book and tool reviews, pictures of your projects and processes, etc.

Look for more content strategy tips and ideas in Part 2 of this series.

Shaping your content

5. Providing social proof

When prospective customers encounter your brand, they want to be sure you are trustworthy. Moreover, people want to know what is behind your products and services in a way that shows them that you care and that you are dedicated to solving their problems.

If you have great recommendations on LinkedIn, consider sharing a hyperlinked excerpt that will direct the reader to your LinkedIn page. You can use them in a similar way in a cover letter or on your personal site. When making decisions people rely heavily on the opinions of others.

Other things you can use to convince people that you really know your stuff include:

  • Academic degrees
  • Certifications
  • Awards
  • Publications
  • Presentations
  • Important projects
  • Associations
  • Affiliations
  • Speaking videos

Let your reputation, however you choose to present it, speak for itself. Don’t sell people what you do—share the results to become recognizable. Your achievements are much more tangible than a list of your skills.

Craft your story and convey it to the marketplace in a strategic, consistent manner. Without it, many people will miss your products and services. Add a personal touch to everything you do because people buy from people they know and like.

Your online image

Social media for small business

Searched and found online: 3 top social networks

Tips and tricks to improve your Google ranking by 2018

This is the third post on online marketing strategies for SMB. The first part covers tools for improving your search ranking. And the second is about building your content strategy.

Next comes content promotion. Here, social  media for small business can be a powerful way to amplify and reinforce your carefully created content.

Nearly every online research begins with search engines. More than a half of potential customers research businesses using social media before making a purchasing decision.

Social media is free and it lets you talk to customers anywhere. So how can you use social media to its advantage?


To effectively cross-promote your content, you can’t simply post the same message on each social network; you need to tailor it to fit each platform and audience.

When promoting a blog post or a campaign, you may need to address your Facebook fans in a different way than your LinkedIn audience. On Twitter, you have to keep your message short and simple.

Here’s a look at three top social networks with some marketing tips and tricks.


Your Page establishes your business’ presence on Facebook, so people can find out about you and connect with you. Commit to your personality: share your knowledge, talk about your experiences, and interact.

10 Facebook tips for your Business Page


The cover photo is an area for some promotion of your business, your contest or giveaway. The cover page loads fastest as an sRGB JPG file 851 x 315 pixels and less than 100 kilobytes.

Facebook posts can be up to 10,000 characters but be sure to put the main message into the first 480 characters as only they show up in the feed.


Update the Page template to best suit your business (Settings > Edit Page > Edit Template). You can choose Business, Services, Shopping, Venues, Politicians, Restaurants and Cafés, or the Standard template.

Complete your About section as it often the first place your visitors scan after a Google search. It’s your landing page for Facebook. Your short description, the one line pitch, is your value proposition or unique selling point. Add your social links and contacts.


Add relevant keywords to your About section for better SEO. Only the first 75 characters will appear on your wall, and they are most valuable for search engines. Include a link to your website in those first 75 characters.

Add relevant keywords to your posts and to captions of your Facebook images.


Be responsive to messages and comments but note that you can set you Response Time marker automatically OR manually (Settings > Messaging). To receive private messages in addition to comments, enable the messages feature in Settings > General.

Enable Response Assistant to respond automatically with a customised message (Settings > Messaging).


Take advantage of call-to-action buttons available for a Page (the bottom right-hand corner of the cover photo). The buttons make it easier to get in touch with the business.

Add Button to Facebook page

Customise your tabs of the left side bar (Settings > Edit Page > Tabs). Drag and drop tabs to change the order and complete all the information.


Make good use of custom Facebook tabs. You create a custom landing page right on your page for almost any purpose.

Here are some ideas:

  • Get more subscribers to your business blog.
  • Promote registration for your upcoming event.
  • Create a library of downloadable offers to generate leads
  • Feature customer testimonials or case studies

Facebook has made this setup process somewhat trickier over the years, but you can use third-party services:


Easy Tab Creator

Easy Tab Creator
Facebook Timeline Contests

facebook timeline contests

shortstack facebook7

Experiment with different post styles and types. Your posts are meant to be marketing tools! Facebook Stories are in-the-moment content clips that appeared only in 2017. Give sneak peeks into industry events, product launches, and behind the scenes content with Facebook Live.

Facebook post formats

If possible, embed your Facebook content into blog posts or other online publications. Click in the upper right-hand corner of your post, copy, and paste.


Don’t forget your past successes. Recycle or repost past successful content to save you needed time and energy. Some of your readers did miss the posts that performed well in the past.

To find most popular posts on your Page click on the Insights tab at the top of your Page, and then go to the Posts section on the left hand side. To see which posts were reaching the most users, click Reach in the top menu of the table. To see which posts were getting the most engagement, click Engagement in the top menu of the table. You can sort engagement even further by Post Clicks, Reactions, or Comments & Shares.


Have fun and be social. Facebook was created to connect individuals around the world.

Your Facebook insights will tell you when the majority of your fans are online, so you can adjust to the time periods they prefer.


Need more ideas?

52 Facebook Marketing Ideas

12 Easy Ways to Find Engaging Facebook Content


A professional business network, LinkedIn can be used to share content about your business or industry sector. It’s also useful for networking and establishing closer contacts.

LinkedIn has 3x higher visitor-to-lead conversion rate then Twitter and Facebook. It’s sure a place to increase your marketing presence, build new relationships with customers and form your professional network.

10 LinkedIn tips for your profile and business page


The cover photo is one more way to brand yourself. You can connect it to your profession, tell a visual story or share your best contact info but be sure that the image represents you as a person and a professional. The new recommended size is 1584 wide by 396 high (4:1).

On the new user interface only a small piece of your summary is displayed. Concentrate on the first sentence to grab the attention of your visitor. Try “view as” mode for your profile to check the result.


Beware of buzzwords when filling out your profile or a business page. Every year, LinkedIn releases a ranking of the 10 buzzwords on profiles which are used so often they become almost meaningless. This year’s adjectives are: specialised, leadership, focused, strategic, experienced, passionate, expert, creative, innovative and certified.

Instead of using buzzwords, add keywords to various sections of your profile including your headline, your summary, or your work experience.

LinkedIn Buzzwords3

LinkedIn is one of the top sites that Google indexes regularly so your SEO is relevant for headline, summary, job titles. Use keywords that people use when they’re searching for the services in your niche. Think in terms of 3-5 words to avoid overstuffing.

Rename images on your profile adding keywords: include a name that will get you discovered online to gain more exposure. Make use of backlinks: add a link to your blog page and consider linking back to your profile page for a higher profile ranking.


You can post on your profile, on company page, and in groups. Republish your blog posts on LinkedIn Pulse. (Better wait a couple of weeks after the original publication and think of a new headline though.)

You can also turn your post or presentation into a document on SlideShare as LinkedIn has bought the platform and integrated SlideShare into accounts. Feel free to share your blog content in appropriate groups as well, but use different text and post on different days and times.


Share your blog posts in LinkedIn with an image and a link. Keep the description copy to 70 characters and feature a call to action. Everything after 100 characters will be truncated and likely have a negative effect on engagement rates.

If you choose to report key industry news and trends, try to add value and provide key insights and takeaways. Make your text personal and engaging. Your audience consists of individuals, not institutions and entities.


Showcase pages on LinkedIn are extensions of a Company Page. They can be used to promote a product or business initiative. In fact, such niche page for targeted segments can serve as a specialised landing page connecting to your website.

You can offer different products or services on the separate pages linking them to your main page. It’s a great way to address various target audiences while continuing your work on brand building.

LinkedIn Showpages7

LinkedIn was created for networking. Get into the habit of following up meetings and conversations with LinkedIn connection requests – it’s a great way of keeping your network up to date and relevant.

The blueprint for writing an undeniable LinkedIn connection requests comes down to four rules. Your request must be: polite, personalized, professional, and (yes, right) praiseful. Some useful tips on writing LinkedIn requests were published by HubSpot and the Muse.


Make use of search functions when looking for new customers. Instead of the Advanced Search function, the new version offers a multi-layered search with the support of AND, OR, NOT Boolean phrases.

You can further refine the global search with the filters on the right-hand side of the page and save the search and get regular updates. Here is your LinkedIn search guide.


After searching for your ideal clients or partners take advantage of your ability to send up to 15 free messages per month to people that share a LinkedIn Group in common with you.

Your 15 messages are collectively for all of your groups each month. Unsent messages don’t carry over to the next period. The limit includes messages sent directly from groups including messages to your 1st degree connections.


If you post articles to LinkedIn Publisher, you can see people who liked or commented on your posts. These people had a positive interaction with your content and have some idea of who you are, so they may be your potential prospects and connections.


In recent years, Twitter has been in a slow decline as its original appeal isn’t as exciting as 11 years ago. Despite that it is still a valid communication tool for reaching almost any type of audience.

Being one of the top social media sites in the world, Twitter is meant for building a dialogue with its real-time, quick-to-read updates. It allows you to listen to people and join in with their conversations.

10 Twitter tips for better promotion


In September, Twitter started testing 280 character limit to give posts more space. Nevertheless, it remains at its core a short message service. Avoid aggressive selling, excessive self-promotions and retweets cluttering fan feeds.

If you are eager to try lengthier messages right now, here are some suggestions on using Twitter new 280-character format.


You have 160 characters for you bio field on Twitter. Do keep it brief and include links to other websites and pages instead.

Make sure you use http:// at the beginning of your links for these links to be clickable.


It was the first social network to introduce hashtags and @ handles for better search and networking. Hashtags make your tweet more searchable and @ handles are used to give credit to or message other Twitter accounts.

Use tags (but not abuse). If you add three or more hashtags in your tweets, they look like spam and are a lot harder to read. Write shorter updates and leave room to include via @YourUsername if someone wants to share your content.


The lifespan of a tweet is about less than 20 minutes. If you share your blog posts, do it more than once on different days and at different times. Post your evergreen content every couple of months mixing them with curated content and retweets.

It’s fine to repeat Tweets more than once over a day if they are relevant and timely. Twitter internal data shows B2B audiences are much more likely to engage on Twitter after seeing business’s message for several times.


To get more retweets, be sure to include images and links. Avoid posting news without relevant links. You can upload up to four images to any tweet excluding animated GIFs when posting from an event or destination. Just tap on the Camera button and select up to four images.

Twitter even allows you to search for GIF’s while composing a new tweet to enhance your post with visual content. You can also use images to get past character limit if you attach a screenshot with some text or notes.

GIFs on Twitter6

You can now retweet your old tweets if they are relevant again or you feel they have gone unnoticed. Please note that each tweet can be retweeted only once to reduce the clutter in users’ newsfeeds.

Do not forget to promote your best tweets through a Pinned Tweet and stick the compelling content at the top of your page. Rotate the slot every few weeks to keep it relevant.


Use lists actively to organize and curate content. Main stream of latest tweets contains too much information. Even basic tools like Tweet Deck can be of great help here.

Some ideas for your lists: influencers, customers, leads/prospects. Feel free to make some of your lists private. Note that anybody can view a public list and users receive notifications when you add them.

Tweet Deck8

Try to maintain consistent communication and include similar keywords you use on your website, if it goes with what you’re tweeting about. Remember that hashtags play the role of keywords for Twitter. Analyze which hashtags bring you the most engagement and optimize your profile by focusing on the more effective ones.

Note that you can tag up to 10 people in a tweet image. This means you can add up to 10 @ handles without affecting your character limit in the original message.


Short links are popular on Twitter as they make your message easier to read. Here are some popular sites you can use:


Don’t miss a chance to embed tweets into websites as an embedded tweet is intuitive. Anyone logged into Twitter can reply it, retweet, add to favourites.

To embed a tweet tap on the More (…) button below the tweet, select the Embed Tweet option, then copy and paste the embed code into any HTML document.


Keep your name and @ handle consistent across all of your social channels to make you more searchable. Avoid using numbers in your username because it might seem spammy to Google.

Keep your pages regularly updated if you have them. Inactive social media accounts and unanswered queries could seriously harm your business. It just looks as if you don’t care.

If you’re a business with visual products, having a presence on Pinterest and Instagram is crucial. But you should focus your marketing efforts only on 1 to 3 platforms.

The number of followers and likes you have is going to mean less and less. It’s time to look at engagement. Find out what your audience wants to read, teach how to do something, inspire as people want to be inspired.

Good luck!

content strategy for SMB

Searched and found online: follow the content

Part 2. Building a purposeful strategy: tips and checklists

This is the second post on online marketing strategies for SMB. The first part covers tools for improving your search ranking.

You did your SEO homework but still not happy with traffic and conversions?

It’s time to look at the next four steps that help attract and nurture website visitors who found you online.

Compelling content is one of the best free online promotion tools at your disposal. Constant organic traffic is your quest. It means trust and authority among your ideal customers. But developing the right content takes time and effort.

Content serves you in many ways:

  • Improves your search rankings
  • Drives traffic to your website
  • Helps communicate with existing leads

In a nutshell, content is the message your marketing strategy delivers. Good content makes people read, share, and come back for more.

Specify why you create content and what you’re trying to achieve with it. Possible variants include:

Sales support
Marketing and PR
Community creation
Customer Support
Thought Leadership

Determine the goals and use them to build a purposeful content strategy. Give your content focus and clarity.

step 1. Plan: Know your audience

Before you create your content strategy, you need to understand exactly what constitutes high-quality content. An outline prepared by Google lists all necessary indicators.

  • Would you trust the information presented in this article?
  • Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it shallow?
  • Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
  • Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
  • Does this article contain insightful analysis or information that is beyond obvious?
  • Is this the sort of page one would bookmark, share, or recommend?

Google receives millions of search queries per minute. There are many people looking for answers. But capturing their attention can be difficult.


best content strategy for SMB

Source: Qmee

You are fighting for attention. Instead of attempting to guess what might be preferable for search engines, consider your audience and their genuine interests. This is the first stage of content planning and strategy.

Study your ideal customers and prospects. Explore the ways to reach them and try to find out what they prefer. Identify common buyers for your products and services, the problems they are trying to solve, the information they are searching for.

If your content is a bad fit for your audience, you’ll attract wrong visitors.

step 2. Create: Prepare to convert visitors into leads

To promote your products and services, you should understand the value of your business for your potential customers. Your unique offer is your sweet spot.

Record your editorial plans for the next three months. Add dates and tasks: publish new posts, update social networks, etc. Keep your marketing goals in mind and note SEO best practices.

1. Consider best storytelling practices

Simon Sinek says, “people don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it.”

Business storytelling is about creating a link between your business and your prospects and customers.
Why are you doing what you’re doing? How are you doing it to get a unique proposition? And only then comes WHAT you are offering. The answers will help you to set the tone for all your content and tell your story in a way that appeals to your audience.
I liked the way the Content Marketing course by Hubspot explained storytelling practices. To illustrate three essential story elements — characters, conflict, and resolution — they use a rhyme about a little teapot.

I’m a little teapot short and stout here is my handle, here is my spout. (the character)
When I get all steamed up I just shout. (conflict)
Tip me over and pour me out. (resolution)

Best content practices

Source: HubSpot

The storytelling framework applied to a business:

TOMS is a slip on shoe company that focuses on spreading social good; with every product you purchase, TOMS will donate a pair of shoes to a child in need. They’ve made this a part of their brand identity, by creating a slogan that reinforces who they are and what they’re about, “The One for One Company”.

The company sold over 60 million pairs of shoes.

Use content to create emotional appeal, be consistent, and keep the story clear and concise.

2. Define preferred content types

Content is able to increase visibility.

To optimize content for discovery and conversion, identify types of content and channels you’ll use.

Curation: Listing useful tools or stats adding value and creating useful, ever-green resource
Lists: Not everyone likes them, but lists do work very well. Easy to scan, they also appeal to curiosity
Niche: Detailed posts tend to deliver the right kind of traffic over time
How-to guides: Popular as they provide practical tips for users

Different content types help progress web visitors through every stage of customer relations. Choose content type depending on the stage of the buying cycle.

AWARENESS STAGE: a problem or opportunity is still unidentified

Analyst reports, e-books, blog posts, expert content, whitepapers, educational content

RESEARCH AND EDUCATION STAGE: a problem identified; looking for various solutions

Guidelines, live interactions (webinars), podcasts, videos, comparisons

DECISION AND PURCHASE STAGE: finally, more direct action

Vendor comparison; product comparison; case studies; trial offers; product literature; live demos

The best content is not products-based but solutions-based. It’s all about the customer, not about your business or products. By publishing such content you get:

  • Enhanced potential for onsite activity
  • Better positions in organic search
  • Social signals resulting in links to your content
Types of content by Hubspot

Source: HubSpot

3. Write with a purpose in mind

Figuring out a topic is one of the most important (and hardest) parts of content creation. See which terms attract visitors to your website. You will identify the evergreen content that is already working and get ideas for new content.

Other ways to identify valid topics are:

  • Keyword research
  • Internet forums
  • Popular industry news
  • Potential customer’s goals and challenges.

Topical content related to industry developments helps your savvy audiences make a better marketing or purchasing decision. It’s great for immediate success. Evergreen posts like “how-to” guides enjoy better ranking in search engines for longer periods.

Social media can drive traffic to your blog while specific blog posts could drive traffic to landing pages. All content can drive an action, such as enrollment to get the extra information. Content can drive sales with each piece of content creating interest in one of your products.

If you are not sure what topics to choose, try online tools like Buzzsumo to discover popular and well-liked content and Feedly to track trendy topics and content ideas.

Buzzsumo content ideas
4. Structure content appropriately

Writing for the web differs from academic writing. Your most important points always come first. Before your readers invest their time into your piece of content, they’ll want to know why it’s worth it.

Asking people to think doesn’t work here because web visitors don’t have time to think. Keep your web copy as readable as possible.

The readability of the text depends on how you arrange it. Web surfers don’t read texts but scan them in an F-shaped pattern looking for something to catch their attention. Can you write for scanning web users? Your checklist:

  • Communicate the purpose of your content in the headline
  • Add lists to reduce wordiness and clutter
  • Use short paragraphs (6-8 lines max)
  • Stick to short sentences (12 words on average)
  • Skip unnecessary words (try Hemingway App to get an idea)
  • Beware of jargon and use plain English
  • Avoid the passive tense
  • Resist needless repetition
  • Address your web visitors using the word ‘you’
  • Shorten the text

Is your content neat and conversational? Beware of errors, poor formatting, and weird text.

Best practices: text in sections with descriptive subheadings; visuals for better comprehension; being straight to the point; generous spacing and larger fonts to increase readability.


Web content best practices


5. Repurpose your content
Good content requires time and effort. You can recycle some of the materials to reach new audiences and reappear in search engine results. Remember the rule of seven: A prospect needs to see you message at least seven times before they take action.
There are two basic ways to re-purpose content: republish it on other websites with credit to the original author or recycle it into a new form.
Republishing best practices according to HubSpot:

– Strive to choose reputable sites for a greater positive effect
– Republish only top performing content
– Wait at least two weeks before republishing
– Update the headline of each republished piece of content
– Add internal links to your post
– Include call-to-action within the post

When recycling your content, be ready to adjust, combine related or unrelated content, and expand to dig deeper into the topic.

You can turn whitepapers into blog posts. And you can recycle a series of blog posts into Instagram posts, videos, a guide and a checklist, a slide deck, an infographic, a webinar or even a podcast.

Think like a publisher.

step 4. Analyse: Assess key metrics and plan next steps

Always track your content and its performance.
1. You will know if your marketing efforts are driving sales
2. You will understand where to head next.
3. You will have progress insights for future cases.
Don’t waste time and money on channels that don’t drive towards one of your goals. Focus on the main areas to derive actionable insights from your data:

Website metrics. What are the best sources of traffic for your business? Make sure visits arriving from organic search are steadily growing over time.
Engagement: shares, likes, comments, retweets. These are your main feedback signals. What content is working best?
Inbound links. Are they adding to brand awareness? Referral traffic may be indicative of your audience’s awareness of you as a trusted partner.
Lead generation. What activities lead to someone becoming a lead? What is the ratio of leads to customers?

To increase visits to your website, select ten website pages that are driving leads and update their content to be more comprehensive and thorough. Compare the number of visits, the search ranks, and the time-on-page to see if content changes affected these. Use the data to update your goals for the next month, quarter, or year.


Make a content plan and stick with it for six months. A plan backed up by consistent approach gives you the best chance to see positive results of your content efforts. You can use the document to keep track of your long-term marketing initiatives and test your decisions.

Know your audience. Broad content brings you more visitors, but they are less likely to become customers. Keep content educational, not promotional.

Web copy is scanned. Or glanced at. Not read. Your web visitors are hunting for information or products. Will they find it easily at your website? Less is more: they as busy as you are.

Monitor marketing trends and take them into account when creating a content plan. 8 key marketing trends in 2017 according to HubSpot:

  1. Higher importance of testimonials
  2. More focus on user groups
  3. Interactive newsletters
  4. Advocate marketing
  5. Online customer community interaction
  6. Customer satisfaction systems
  7. Cross-sell/upsell campaigns
  8. Referral programs

Your marketing is only as good as your results.

Make your business found online

Searched and found online: 4 crucial SEO steps

Part 1. Google rankings for SMB: tools and checklists

My last year’s CPD included quite a few of courses and certifications in online and content marketing.

To make better use of how-tos learned, I decided to proceed with a series of online marketing and promotion guides. Are you seeking ideas to optimise your website and content for discovery and conversion? Follow the blog for actionable tips! To ensure they work, I will use them while updating and optimising my own sites. (Keen to see the results!) More links may be added later if I discover more useful tools.

The planned topics:
Content-related best practices
Social media tips and tricks
– Branding strategies
– Latest marketing trends to know about
– And this one, SEO as the core element to make your business readily found online

Websites and online content should help us get customers. But first, potential customers must become aware that we exist.

By SEO we mean all the methods you can use for better visibility of websites and content on search engine results pages.

The following steps will help you to position your website and/or brand better in organic (non-paid) results, draw in new clients, and get a chance to increase conversions.


For several years, Google has been focusing on understanding ‘natural’ queries brought by the increase of mobile and voice searches. The search engine has now improved significantly in conversational language processing.

The traditional view of ‘keywords’ has changed as the search became semantic. It now works with non-specific natural search terms in use and attempts to find the core concept they belong to.

That enables Google to understand the intent behind queries and provide more relevant search results to the user. To become a part of relevant search results, your website and SEO should fulfil the following basic tasks:

  1. Explain to Google and searchers what your company does
  2. Offer easy navigation to help visitors find what they need
  3. Answer visitors’ questions through rich content and social proof

At present, more than 200 Google factors influence your search positions. But the three top ranking factors are links, content & RankBrain, the algorithm for indexing online content.

The methods to achieve higher rankings include on-page optimisation (working with your content); off-page approaches (link-building, social media marketing), and—as usual—analytics and feedback.

Successful SEO practices are always tied to business goals and client-oriented. You need to analyse what your message is and whom it’s for. Get to know your potential customers, their needs and pressing issues. In that case even a lower traffic volume will be invaluable, especially for niche and technical products and services.


Always start with inner optimisation to create a solid foundation for future activities. Pay special attention to the following points:

1. Loading speed

The load speed of your webpage is increasingly becoming a differentiator for search engines.

Start with free Google Page Speed Checker. Your aim is a green check mark.

For better results,  implement the recommendations offered by the service. A spoiler: you may well need a programmer to get a flawless version but some tips are easy and actionable. My results after some light optimisation are quite good. (92 for mobile and 96 for desktop instead of 33 and 38.)

  • Always optimise your images. Use services like or Photoshop > Save for Web
  • Get rid of plugins for WordPress if they are not a must. The less, the better
  • W3 Total Cache plugin is highly recommended (Not sure of settings? Try this resource or google another one)

My Site Optimised


More free speed test tools are available online.

2. 404 errors and identical content

For link checking, try free Xenu’s Link Sleuth or use Google Search Console.

The console is a part of Google Toolkit for Webmasters and a must have for everyone interested in search rankings.

business found online_google console_en

If Google finds two identical pieces of content, whether on your own site or on another you’re do not even know of, it indexes only one of the pages. Be aware of sites stealing and republishing your content.

Copycats can outrank you even with the stolen content. If you have identified an offending website, take the appropriate action. Contact the website owner or use Google’s content removal form.

3. Responsive design

The share of mobile traffic continues to increase (see below). Moreover, Google has stated that responsive design is its preferred method of mobile optimisation. Non-responsive websites won’t rank high.

You can check adaptability using Google mobile friendly service or pull up your website on a smartphone. Are the fonts adapted? Does the content fit the screen? Is there space enough between text, graphics, and links?

If you plan to enjoy tonnes of mobile traffic, consider investigating Google AMP project. Early adopters report a serious increase in returning mobile search users.


4. Website structure

For providing the best possible user experience, you need an easily navigable, searchable site with relevant internal linking and related content.

SEO experts agree that to get the most traffic you should have dedicated pages for every service you offer, industries and sectors you work with, portfolio and/or blog. Other pages are business-dependent. For example, translators/interpreters could add a page for each of their working languages.

Internal linking helps Google crawl and index your site, provides your audience with further reading options and adds to online business visibility for specific keywords.

SEO optimised website structure

5. Content

No more on-purpose mistakes, strange phrases for strict matching or atrocious keyword stuffing. Luckily for us, Google search algorithms became more mature in recent years.

You’ll find signals for content quality in the Google Search Quality Ratings Guidelines. They pay special attention to the level of expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. A satisfying amount of high-quality main content matters, too.

Stylistically correct and aimed at user needs

Search engines try to provide the most appropriate results to queries, so they look for relevancy.

Google’s Webmaster Academy course tells you how to “create valuable content.” Avoid broken links, wrong information, grammar or spelling mistakes, excessive ads.

Your SEO friends:
– Subheadings
– Bulleted lists
– Shorter sentences (14–16 words max)
– Shorter paragraphs to grasp the idea
– Structured content
– Thematic completeness
– Relevant keywords/phrases co-occurrence
– Graphics with keywords in ALT tags.

Leveraging ‘psychology tricks’

Optimise content titles for more clicks AND better search rating. Note: Your content should still be relevant to the headline or you risk a high bounce rate.

The biggest winners are striking headlines which include numbers and superlative words like “amazing” or “inspiring.”

Your SEO friends:
– Optimized headlines (emotions + promise + keyword)
– Calls for action where possible and/or necessary.

Adapted and unique

When localising content, look for cultural and/or social differences. Get rid of the content irrelevant to the local audience. Pay attention to local Latent Semantic Index (LSI) keywords instead: phrases similar to your main keywords. Google loves them. (See below.)

Your SEO friends:
– Natural word order
– Locally relevant content
– Content checking services
( for Russian texts; Hemingway editor for English content).


Accurate and relevant keywords within headlines and anchor text along with proper tagging are still among SEO best practices. 93% of online experiences begin with a search, and a search begins with words.

Research target keywords

Create a short list of keywords relevant to your area of expertise and use them often across your site and social media profiles.

In case you localise your website or social media content, consider researching keywords in your target languages as keyword translation does not suit your needs.

Google’s Keyword Planner is the easiest way to search for keywords. Tip: to access it you need an account in Google AdWords. (If that’s not an option you will find some other tools below.)

If you need to localise your keywords for the Russian-speaking audience, you may also try Yandex’s Keyword Statistics or Serpstat to find targeted keywords.

Expand to long-tail keywords and natural language

These are your cornerstones to fit the requirement of current search algorithms and user behaviour. Latest Google searching algorithms use latent semantic indexing (long tail keywords) to understand user search habits and give best content for their search queries.

Long tail keywords are keywords that contain 3 or more words. Why do we need them?

– Specific queries are easier to rank
– Long-tail keywords bring relevant visitors to the website
– They mean lower competition
– LSI offers low cost-per-click and increased conversion

Google’s Keyword Planner is pretty much useless for key phrase research be it blogging, SEO or content marketing. Free but powerful tools can offer synonyms which are searched more frequently or search prompts for phrases useful for you, or show keywords working for your competitors.

Ubersuggest. It adds every letter in the alphabet after the keyword to generated hundreds of long tail keyword suggestions.
AnswerThePublic. A one pager that can be used to understand what truly matters to your clients (remember to pick up a country). 750+ keyword suggestions for free. Considered one of best tool for long tail keywords.
LSI Graph. LSI keyword generator.

Feel free to use Google tools extensively. Use the search bar to type in a keyword and see what Google Auto Suggest gives you. Use Google Trends to search for popular phrases and figure out which variation of a keyword is best. Google Correlate shows search patterns which correspond with real-world trends.

Understand the user intent behind target keywords

Natural language is taking over search queries. Where users would once type words they are now asking questions. Those questions essentially become long-tail keywords for your SEO strategy.

Plug your core keywords into Google and study the results for user intent. Use them strategically as you plan and craft content. Match your website and your content to the kinds of information that users need. If a brand wants to rank well for the term (aka keyword), they need to provide high-quality content defining the term and explaining their industry.

Aim for topical completeness as too generic texts have a much higher bounce rate with a negative effect on search engine positions. Longer (more than 1000 words) ‘how to’ guides, case studies, niche insights, expert comments, life hacks both attract and add value in the sales funnel. Having a FAQ page with all user intent questions could be a good thought.

The SEMrush Keyword Difficulty tool assesses which keywords are worth targeting or are too difficult to rank for. The tool provides a keyword difficulty index from 1-100 percent to show you how difficult it’ll be to beat your competitors with the specified search terms and phrases.

Optimise your content with keywords

Basic keyword optimisation principles:

– A keyword in the Title tag
– A keyword or a synonym in H1 tag
– H2 subheadings should be present
– Several long-tail keywords with synonyms
– Graphics is a must (photo, infographic)
– Internal links to similar content (with keywords) to improve user experience
– External links to authoritative high ranking sites

Searchers get results not only based on the exact word they typed but by what the search engine deems to be meaningfully related. Now a smaller site gains benefits that can make a huge difference to your SEO. Target keywords that the competitors are unwilling or unable to compete on.


Authority has always been a component of Google’s search. To determine if your answer is any better Google looks at the number, and quality, of other websites that have placed links to your site – especially in the same industry or niche.

A free extension for Chrome web browser, the Moz Bar gives instant insights on different kinds of links and helps determine if a link is beneficial for your website or not. Track your backlinks and disallow the unwanted links to protect your site from Google Penalty.

Apparently, link building is the key to your off-site optimisation. Good content brings you natural backlinks adding to your search engine page position. Another obvious way to raise your site’s visibility through off-site SEO is social media marketing (SMM).

Be present on all relevant social channels (follow the white rabbit target audience). Note that faceless broadcasting does not add to your SEO. Make SMM a customer service channel and interact with people to generate interest and attract visitors to your website.

Relying on finding and verifying local data, Google My Business is a great tool for local SEO. A keyword in your business name means that you will rank higher.

Various tools are out there to find non-linked mentions of your brand. Analyse them and turn the most relevant mentions into backlinks.

Your SEO friends:

– Catalogues
– Local resources
– Online media
– Info partners
– Commenting
– Online social profiles.


Keyword optimised headings, helpful navigation, and value-added content appeal both to search engines and human visitors. Show how your service solves user’s problems and be clear with the next action to take.

  1. Write down your expertise and target customers
  2. Make sure there are no technical issues left (items 1-3 of website checklist)
  3. Create an optimised website structure based on keywords
  4. Develop your content policy (style, headlines, adaptation where needed)
  5. Create relevant and useful content
  6. Popularise your content and build links for authoritativeness and trustworthiness (off-page optimisation)
  7. Analyse KPIs (visitors, number of leads/conversions/closed sales, goals achievement, competitors, etc.)
  8. Do not stop: correct, improve, and fine-tune

Good luck! Next come content-related best practices.