Lot of freelance businesses and solo website owners always looking for the best links way too early.
Rather than spending thousands of dollars on authority links, they should invest that money into their website laying the link building foundation.
I’m not just talking about the design, although an attractive layout and visually stimulating design are important.
I’m talking specifically about having a website optimized to help you reach all of your conversion goals.
High keyword rankings and traffic volume are great, but it’s worthless if you aren’t converting your website visitors.
Most SEO agencies will rely only on ranking reports and Google Analytics data to convince the client they are worth paying each month.
But all of that money spent on SEO and links is being pissed away because the website they are ranking and sending traffic to isn’t designed properly from a conversion standpoint.
It doesn’t matter if you are a major e-commerce brand with 100s of consumer products, a freelance SEO servicing local landscaping business, or a specialty restaurant.
The goal of every website on the planet is to convert traffic.
This is either in the form of a lead, a direct sale, an email address capture, a social media follow or share, a phone call, an in-person location visit, getting directions, etc.
How to Lay Link Building Foundation
Here are the 4 core web vitals you have to put in place before Building links to your website
1. Set Conversion Goals
To lay a proper link building foundation, you need to first clearly identify all of your conversion goals and then make sure that your website is fully optimized to help you reach those goals.
The higher percentage of your traffic that converts, the more effective your SEO will be and the larger of an ROI it will be directly responsible for.
Spend time and break down every component of your website, from the copy to the offers. Look at your data and see what path your visitors take on your website.
This is the best way to identify potential roadblocks and problems.
Building links and sending traffic to a website that isn’t 100% optimized for conversions is like trying to build a new house in swampland without foundation.
It doesn’t matter how much effort, money, and resources you throw at it — it’s never going to be stable and work.
A website that converts at a high rate is the solid foundation you need before you start investing time and money in SEO, let alone expensive authority links like directory links.
I suggest split-testing as much as possible, using a heat map tool to see what is happening on your site, and then using paid traffic to help you optimize.
I’m not saying you need to go hire a web design agency and drop $20,000 on a new design. You can use templates and make minor changes.
The important thing is to ensure it converts for YOUR traffic.
Just because a theme or layout works for one business doesn’t mean it’s going to perform the same way for you.
Be sure to also set up conversion goals in Google Analytics as soon as possible.
The sooner you can start collecting that data, the sooner you will optimize your conversion rate between that industry standard of 2-3% and even higher if you learn how to identify behavioral signals and make necessary changes.
2. Optimized for Speed and Load Time
Another link building foundation you need to lay is the optimization of speed and load time.
This is another thing a large percentage of websites completely ignore, and that is the speed and load time of each page.
There are two major reasons why you need to make sure that your website speed is optimized, and when I say this, I mean every page and not just the homepage.
Since Google’s main goal is to provide its users with the best possible results, it should come as no surprise that speed is a ranking signal.
Not only do they want to return the best results from an informational standpoint but also a UX (user experience) one as well.
While many speculate that it might only contribute to 1% of the algorithm, it’s something that you can easily do. If not, laziness is to blame.
Google’s algorithm considers speed because users demand a website loads fast. They aren’t going to wait around for a site to load.
If there is a lag or they feel it’s slow, they will leave. It’s that simple. At the very least, your pages should fully render in less than two seconds.
Many clients will tell me that their website speed is perfect, and after a quick look, the homepage does indeed load quickly, but their blog pages and inner pages are slow as a pig, which has a negative impact on their rankings.
Most homepages are fairly light on content and resources.
We will often notice that the inner pages, and more specifically the blog pages, are using more resources, server calls, and scripts because of plugins.
Take the time to ensure that every single page is fast and optimized.
It may take some time to get this done if your website is large, but once you have it under control, it’s easy to maintain.
Simply ensure each new post or page on your site passes the major testing tools. There are four I suggest you use and here they are.
My 4 Best Major Testing Tools
WebPageTest is my favorite tool, as it gives a lot of insight as well as suggestions to fix the issues. Make slight changes and re-run the test and watch your speed improve. This speed tool gives you the most data to analyze.
PageSpeed Insights is a Google’s testing tool, so it’s important to ensure your website is, at the minimum, a 90+ (in the green) for both the desktop and mobile scores.
If you want to rank, and Google is going to tell you exactly what they think of your website’s speed, don’t you think you should listen and react accordingly? Of course, you should!
Pingdom is middle of the road and doesn’t really do anything different, but I always like to check several. You will find that some are better at detecting issues than others.
My theory is that if you can score highly on all of the tools, you are good to go.
GTmetrix is another great tool I specifically like when it comes to image optimization.
This does a good job of showing you exactly what images are causing any issues and lag, especially when it comes to server-scaled images.
It will tell you what size to change it to as well as the savings it will provide.
Some sites can also benefit from using a CDN (content delivery network). With these, you get what you pay for.
In my experience, the free ones are more trouble than they are worth. If you have a large website that is generating revenue, invest in a quality CDN and watch your speed improve.
Also, if you are a blog, consider using Google’s AMP. Some plugins can automatically handle the conversion for you. The load time improvement is incredible.
3. Tracking and Analytics to Measure, Analyze and Optimize Results
Another link building foundation you have to lay is tracking and analytics.
Building links and going all-in on SEO without a plan to measure, analyze, and optimize results is like going to a gunfight with a knife.
You might make a little progress at first and even stay alive for a bit, but you will eventually get squashed, and fairly quickly.
Here are some things to implement on your website from the very beginning. Having this set up before building links including internal links and working on rankings will help you achieve your desired results easier.
This is standard, and there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t have this installed.
The most important part of setting up Google Analytics is to set up your conversion goals properly and always assign a dollar value to each goal.
It will help you to see the kind of ROI search engine optimization can deliver.
If you are an e-commerce store, you know what each sale is worth to you in terms of a concrete amount.
But if you are creating a goal for an email newsletter opt-in, you need to consider what that is worth to you.
- Is it worth $1? $5?
- What about a quote request form?
- How much is each lead worth?
Be realistic with these numbers.
Having accurate information and data is what allows you to make intelligent decisions that lead to growth.
Heat Map Tracking
The more information you have about your visitors, the better.
When you can break down each CTA click to the traffic source, you can quickly find the best sources and scale them while also identifying traffic sources that produce tire kickers and time wasters.
From Facebook to all other social media networks and display ad networks, install their pixels ASAP and allow them to gather data.
Suppose you can start building audiences on each right away, even if you aren’t going to spend money on paid campaigns for a while.
When it comes time to scale your content marketing effort, you can push your blog content out to audiences that are already familiar with your business.
This is the easiest way to attract social shares and links because you are placing it in front of people that have a high interest in the content.
Google Search Console
This is a big one. There is so much data available for free that many miss out on because they don’t want to connect their website. This is 2005-ish thinking.
Those that have been in SEO for a while will remember fearing using Gmail, Analytics, or any other Google product or service, out of fear that they were “spying” on link-building and SEO activities.
Search Console is a massive source of valuable information, which I’m going to touch on in more detail next.
4. Google Search Console Performance and Indexing Audit
The last and final link building foundation you have to lay is setting up Google search console performance an indexing audit.
Before you go wide open with link building and SEO, you should do an on-site audit of every page and then run all of them through Google Search Console.
Let me explain.
First, use freely available tools, like Yoast, if you are running on WordPress or Moz’s on-page SEO grader.
Make sure that each page targets one main keyword that you want to rank for. If the content is thin, beef it up.
You can use Ubersuggest to see what pages are ranking for your target keywords and then create better content.
Once you have all of your pages and content optimized, you will want to run each URL through the inspection tool.
Once it’s returned, even if it says the URL is on Google and indexed, click the “REQUEST INDEXING” button. This will get Google to crawl the page and its content again.
If you make changes to optimize it for better search performance, this will help you rank higher.
Any time you make significant changes to any page on your website, you will want to do this.
This is just being proactive, as you don’t want to wait for Google to randomly decide to crawl the particular page again.
You might be waiting a long time if you don’t take this into your own hands.
You should also ensure there aren’t any site health issues that could prevent you from maximum SEO gain.
The “Coverage” section will show you all known and reported errors, such as 404 broken links, etc.
It’s a good idea to fix these quickly, as performance is something Google’s algorithm takes into consideration.
Doing these things doesn’t cost you a dime.
Spend the time to make sure your website is a solid foundation you can build on. If not, you can see all of your hard work, time, and money wasted.
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