A 4-Part Framework for Diagnosing & Solving SEO Problems


What was your response the final time you noticed a dropoff or upwards spike in natural visitors to your web site?

A frequent response amongst entrepreneurs is to rapidly soar to the conclusion that Google’s algorithm is at fault.

By leaping to this conclusion too rapidly, you’ll find yourself not with the ability to replicate successes or worse, you’ll find yourself repeating your errors.

A systematic framework for figuring out SEO points will make it easier to pinpoint which of the 4 forces of SEO are affecting your natural efficiency and make it easier to extra rapidly establish and resolve key points.

The 4 Forces of SEO

These forces characterize the primary pressures that impression SEO visitors.

For every SEO drive under, we’ll talk about the definition, causes, instruments for diagnosing, and strategies for fixing core points.

SEO forces

1. Algorithmic

Definition: Changes in search algorithms are affecting my natural efficiency.

Examples embrace:

  • Large or small-scale updates to Google algorithms.
  • Increases in featured snippets that impression the kinds of outcomes that present up on a search engine outcomes web page (SERP).
  • Increases within the proportion of adverts on a SERP for given subjects.

Diagnosing an Algorithmic Issue

1. Identify the date of the rise or lower in visitors. Does the timeline align with an algorithmic replace?

Here are just a few timeline examples from Moz and SEMrush:

SEO TimelineSEMrush Timeline

2. If no alignment, discover guide motion in Google Search Console.

no manual action penalty

3. If no guide motion, does the shift in visitors happen concurrently with adjustments in SERP options?

SERP Feature timeline

Solving an Algorithmic Issue

1. Establish the timeline of sudden rating or natural visitors drops/positive aspects.

2. Correlate the date with algorithm adjustments. If a correlation exists, establish the size, specifics, and severity of the problem.

Gather documentation from Google Webmaster YouTube channel, trade publications, or your pleasant neighborhood SEO to establish one of the best resolution.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a silver bullet for addressing algorithmic updates. Your greatest place to begin is to know if the replace goes to weigh off-page or on-page components roughly.

3. If no correlation exists, test Google Search Console for guide motion penalties or the MozForged for SERP characteristic actions

2. Technical

Definition: Changes on my web site are affecting my natural efficiency.

Examples embrace:

  • You added a brand new part of content material.
  • You merged two web sites into one area.
  • You moved from non-secure to safe internet hosting.

Diagnosing a Technical Issue

Establish a timeline for technical (front-end or back-end) adjustments to the location. Annotations in Google Analytics or changelogs inside your CMS might help you analyze this.

At a minimal, it is best to repeatedly monitor:

  • Redesigns
  • Domain consolidations
  • Large-scale content material additions or deletions
  • CMS transitions
  • Hosting transitions
  • Large advertising and marketing campaigns

Google Analytics Annotations

What correlations are you able to draw from the time when massive scale adjustments have been carried out to once you noticed a sudden change in efficiency?

Solving a Technical situation

Technical points spawn from a broad vary of outputs. A technical SEO audit is your greatest resolution in pinpointing the precise trigger.

To get began, run a full crawl of your web site with Screaming Frog or your favourite crawling instrument.

Keep in thoughts, not all SEO instruments can run a whole crawl of your web site. Some instruments will put in a cap in place across the quantity or kinds of URLs they may crawl.

Screaming Frog Crawl Report

After exporting your crawl, observe this guidelines as you undergo every URL in your web site:

  1. Audit for damaged hyperlinks (404s). 404 errors happen naturally over time, but when massive sections of your web site are “broken.” then take the time to handle these.
  2. Identify non permanent 302-redirects or prolonged redirect chains.
  3. Identify plenty of your web site which are low high quality or skinny. Redirect or consolidate these pages in your web site in the event that they aren’t offering any rankings, visitors, or conversions.
  4. Identify duplicate content material and replace with rel=canonical or no=index so that every web page is exclusive. This is frequent for companies with a number of areas that use related or duplicate content material throughout every retailer entrance web page.
  5. Ensure you aren’t blocking crawlers from visiting vital pages in your web site through your robots.txt file.
  6. Audit the pages which have the next crawl depth. Crawl depth is the calculation of what number of clicks away a particular web page is from the homepage. Pages which are greater than 4-5 clicks away out of your homepage aren’t possible crawled as typically. If these pages are vital for your enterprise, then your data structure might must be redesigned.

Again that is simply a place to begin for a technical SEO audit, which goes to be extra expansive. For 70-80% of technical SEO points, you’ll be able to spot obvious points with a full web site crawl.

3. Seasonality

Definition: Changes in time are affecting my natural efficiency.

Examples embrace:

  • Beginning of the fiscal yr
  • Holidays
  • Literal season adjustments
  • Economic cycles (which may span for months or years)

Diagnosing a Seasonal Issue

Google Trends shall be your greatest good friend in figuring out seasonal search traits for your focused subjects. Pull the final 5 years price of search traits (in your focused geography) for your core services or products.

Then establish correlations between trade search demand and your natural visitors motion.

This instance reveals us yearly search patterns for key phrases associated to “patio furniture.”

Patio Furniture Search Seasonality

Solving a Seasonal Issue

Map out topical seasonality together with your inside advertising and marketing calendar and holidays.

If you undergo from main, predictable swings in visitors through the yr, establish subjects that your purchaser personas are looking for which are tangentially associated to your enterprise through the gradual months.

seo seasonality calendar

In this instance, a patio furnishings retailer that generates most enterprise within the heat months must be growing content material aligned with subjects for each season.

The timing by which your buyer purchases your product could also be cyclical however you’ll be able to nonetheless discover angles to attach together with your purchaser.

For instance, folks don’t cease barbecuing and socializing outdoors through the cooler months.

Align your topical areas together with your purchaser’s seasonal pursuits year-round.

4. Competitive

Definition: Competitive pressures are affecting my natural efficiency.

Examples embrace:

  • A new competitor coming into the market, a merger, or an acquisition.
  • Non-competing websites competing for your key phrases.
  • Increases in paid media cannibalizing a bigger share of clicks for goal key phrases.

Diagnosing a Competitive Issue

The key to understanding you probably have a aggressive SEO situation is gaining a larger data of macro traits affecting your enterprise, complementary and substitute merchandise, and your purchaser persona’s buying habits.

Two frequent indicators {that a} aggressive situation is affecting your natural search progress are:

  • Multi-month/yr Google Trends knowledge.
  • Your personal analytics.

This instance reveals the expansion in recognition of “meal kits” over the past 5 years. Consistent progress additional time for a subject is indicative that extra gamers are coming into the house.

Meal Kits SEO seasonality

Furthermore, if Google Trends knowledge aligns together with your general natural search visitors knowledge, this will validate this speculation.

Competitive organic search trends

Lastly, paid search efforts by you and your rivals can play a task in cannibalizing natural search visitors. Identify if the aggressive situation you might be going through is because of will increase in paid media funding in your trade or simply extra rivals investing in SEO.

Solving a Competitive Issue

1. Conduct a aggressive topical evaluation.

By inspecting rivals’ topical strengths and weaknesses, you’ll be able to then drill into particular person on-page components.

The greatest cause your rivals will outrank you, from an on-page perspective, is as a result of they’ve extra and/or higher, well-organized content material on their web site.

This is an instance of conduct this topical evaluation. By first categorizing your whole rankings key phrases after which placing them right into a pivot desk, you’ll be able to see these topical strengths and weaknesses.

This instance reveals an export of our company’s ‘buyers journey’ associated key phrases vs. different Martech options.

Competitive Topic analysis

When you’ve gotten your whole key phrases tagged or categorized, then you’ll be able to pivot these lists to get an concept of quantity of key phrases you rank for on the first web page, 2nd-Third web page or buried a lot farther down inside the SERPs.

This instance report reveals topical strengths for ‘blogging’ associated key phrases which we will collect from a easy pivot desk of the info above.

Share of voice analysis

Beyond content material high quality, data structure is a vital think about outranking your competitors.

Screaming Frog’s Force Directed Crawl Diagram Report might help you visualize the data structure of your web site to verify your content material is organized by subject and consumer intent and is well accessible in your web site.

Screaming Frog information architecture

2. Conduct a aggressive backlink evaluation.

After taking a look at content material and data structure components, it’s essential to examine your backlink profile together with your rivals.

This will can help you perceive the amount and high quality of linking root domains it’s essential to acquire with the intention to higher compete within the SERPs.

competitive backlink analysis

To Sum Up

Algorithmic, technical, seasonal, and aggressive components are the driving forces behind natural visitors motion.

By utilizing this systematic method to diagnosing SEO points, you’ll have the ability to extra rapidly assist your group pinpoint SEO points and prioritize your advertising and marketing efforts.

More Resources:


Image Credits

Featured Image: Created by creator, March 2020
In-Post Image #1: Created by creator, March 2020
In-Post Image #2: Moz
In-Post Image #3: SEMrush
All different screenshots taken by creator, March 2020



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