Even if you know — deep down in your heart of hearts — how important SEO is, it’s hard to prioritize when you have less than 3 hours a month to devote to it. But there’s still a way to include the bare minimum, even if you run on a tight schedule. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand covers a minimum viable SEO strategy to give those with limited time a plan going forward.
Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week, Minimum Viable SEO. So if you only have a few minutes in a month, in a week to do some SEO, and I know many of you are professional SEOs, but you work with lots of folks, like content creators, clients, web developers, who have very, very limited time, what I want to try and do is provide a path for you of “do this if you have no other time in the week to do your SEO.”
So let’s say here’s my calendar. It’s February, so 28 days. Start of the month, you have an hour to give me, sometime in the first week of the month. It doesn’t have to be, but that’s a great way to go. At the start of each week, I’m going to ask for 10 minutes just to do a little bit of planning, and then each time you publish content, a very, very small amount of time, just 5 minutes.
I know it sounds hard to believe, but you can get a fair amount of solid SEO work. Especially if you’re in an industry that is not hyper-competitive or if you’re going after the right kinds of keywords, that aren’t super competitive, you can really make a difference. If you’re building up a lot of content over months and years, just following this simple protocol can really take your SEO to the next level.
Start of the month: 2 hour
So, all right, let’s say we’re at the start of our month. We have our hour. I want you to do one of two things, and this is going to be based on if you’re technical SEO, meaning if your website is using WordPress and it’s pretty much nicely crawlable, maybe you’ve signed up for Google Search Console, you don’t see a lot of errors, there’s not a lot of issues, you haven’t created a bunch of technical data on your website in the past, great, fine, then you’re going to be focused on keywords and content. A keyword to content map, which is something we’ve discussed here on Whiteboard Friday — I’d urge you to check that video out if you haven’t yet — but I’m going to make an MVP version, a very, very small version that can help a little bit.
Keyword → content map MVP
Create a spreadsheet with valuable keywords…
That spreadsheet, I just want a spreadsheet with a few things in it, three things really. The most valuable keywords, so just the most valuable keywords that you know you’re targeting or that you care about right now for your business. You think that people are searching for these keywords. Maybe you’ve done a little bit of keyword research. It could be for free, through Google’s AdWords tool, or you could pay for something like Keyword Explorer for Moz, but, really, just 50 to 100 keywords in there.
…current rank and SERP features…
I want the current rank and whatever SERP features appear. You could even trim this down to just your current ranking and the top search SERP feature, so if it has a featured snippet, or if it has videos, or if it shows maps or news, whatever that is, tweets.
…and the URL targeting it (or a note to create content).
Then I want the URL that’s targeting it. Or if you have no URL targeting it yet, you haven’t yet created a piece of content that targets this keyword, put a little, “Okay, that’s a ‘needs to be created.’ I need this before I can start targeting this keyword and trying to rank for it.”
You’re going to update this weekly. You can do that totally manually. Fifty keywords, you can look them up in an hour. You can check the rankings. You can see where you’re going. That’s fine. It’s a little bit of a pain in the butt, but it can totally be done. Or you could use a tool, Moz Pro, Ahrefs, SEMRush, Searchmetrics. There are all sorts of tools out there that’ll track rankings and show you which features appear and whether your URLs are in there or not.
Okay, this is our keyword to content map. If you have that hour, but you know you have technical issues on the site, I’m going to urge you, before you focus on keywords and content, to make sure your technical SEO, your crawl is set. That means, step one, just a basic, simple crawl analysis. So for free, you can use Google Search Console. It will show you, most of the time with relative accuracy, big important errors like 404s and 500s and things that Google thought we’re duplicate content and that kind of stuff.
If you want to pay, you can get a little bit more advanced features and some better filters and sorting and more frequency and those kinds of things. Moz Pro is fine for that. Screaming Frog is good, OnPage.org. All of these are popular in the SEO field.
Crawl/technical SEO review
Step two, you don’t need to worry about every single crawl issue. I just want you to worry about the most severe, most important ones with your one hour. Those are things like 404s and 500s, which can really cause a lot of problems, duplicate content, where you potentially need to use a rel=canonical or a 301 redirect, broken links, where you just go in and fix the broken link to something that’s not broken, missing or bad titles, title elements that are particularly long or include misspellings or that just don’t exist, bad, very bad to have a page on the web with no title, and thin content or no crawlable content. Those are really the worst of the bunch. There’s a number more that you could take care of. But if you only have that limited time, take care of this. If you’ve already done this, then we can move on here.
Every time you publish a piece of content: 5 minutes
Finally, last thing, but not the least, every time you publish a piece of content, I’m going to ask for just three minutes of your time, and that is going to be around this minimum viable pre-publish checklist.
The minimum viable pre-publish checklist
So does the content have a keyword target? Yes, no, maybe? If it doesn’t, you’re going to need to go and refer over to your keyword content list and make sure that it does. So if you’re publishing something, I’m assuming you’re not publishing a tremendous amount of content, but a little bit. Make sure everyone has a keyword target. Make sure, if you can, that it’s targeting two to three additional keywords, related keywords. So let’s say I’m going after something like Faberge eggs. I probably also want to target Carl Faberge, or I want to target Faberge eggs museums, or I want to target Faberge eggs replicas, so these other terms and phrases that people are likely searching for that could have the same or similar keyword intent, that could live on the same page, that kind of thing.
Is that keyword in the title, the main one you’re targeting? Do you have a compelling meta description? Is your content doing a good job of truly answering the searchers’ queries? So if they’ve searched for this thing, are you serving up the content they need?
Then, have you used related topics? You can get those from places like the MozBar or MarketMuse or SEO Zone or Moz Pro. Related topics are essentially the words and phrases that you should also be using in addition to your keyword to indicate to the search engines, “Hey, this is really about this topic.” We’ve seen some nice bumps from that.
You’re doing this every time you publish content. It only takes three minutes.
Start of the week: 20 minutes
And the last thing, at the start of the week, I’m also asking you for these 10 minutes to do one or two actions. I just want you to plan one or two actions at the start of the week to bump your SEO. It could include some publication stuff. But let’s assume you’re just doing these three minutes every time you do that.
Take a few actions to boost your SEO
Link outreach and targeting keywords with content
At the start of the week, the last thing you’re doing is just choosing one of these, maybe two. I don’t need more. I want you to do something like link outreach. Reach out to a couple of high-potential targets. Maybe you use like a LinkedIn or SecTool to figure out people who are linking to two of your competitors. Or reach out to partners, to friends, do some content contributions, just a little thing to get one or two links. Or maybe create some content that’s targeting a missed keyword. When you do that, of course, you go through your pre-publish checklist.
Upgrade ranking content
Maybe you are upgrading some content that’s already ranking, like number 5 through 20. That’s where there’s a lot of opportunity for a high-value keyword to get bumped up. You could just do little things, like make sure that it’s serving all of these items, try and get it a featured snippet, identify content that might be old, that needs a refresh, that’s not serving the searcher intent as well because the information in there is old.