How to set up and measure your on-site SEO performance with Sam Dunning

Looking to drive more traffic to your website? Well, today we’ll discuss how to set up and measure on-site SEO performance with Sam Dunning.

You'll learn

  • What you should consider when building an SEO strategy
  • How to optimize your website for search
  • What SEO metrics you should include in your reports and how to analyze this data

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Anna Shutko:

You’re listening to The Marketing Analytics Show brought to you by Supermetrics. Hello and welcome to another episode of The Marketing Analytics Show. The podcast that helps you get better at marketing analytics. This podcast is brought to you by Supermetrics.

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I’m your host Anna Shutko and today our guest star is Sam Dunning, Sales Director, and Co-owner at Web Choice. Sam is also a host of the Business Growth Show podcast. In this episode, you’ll learn the key things you should consider when crafting an SEO strategy for your website, how to optimize your website for search, what SEO metrics you should include in your reports, and how to analyze all this data. I hope you’ll enjoy this episode.

Hello Sam and welcome to the show.

Sam Dunning:

Hi Anna. Awesome. Thanks very much for having me on.

Anna Shutko:

Yay. I’m very happy to have you here and let’s just get started straight away with the first question. So in your opinion, what are the key things marketers should consider when crafting an SEO strategy for their website?

Sam Dunning:

Yeah, sure. So I think the thing to consider straightaway is that SEO’s a long-term strategy. So it’s not necessarily something that’s going to give you quick instant results. However, it’s an absolute gold mine for the long term. So what I mean by that is if you need super fast results, as many marketers are already going to know, you’re probably going to go to channels like paid ads, some kind of paid media, some kind of sponsored post, or influencer marketing. Or something like that, that’s going to give you that quick hit. Whereas SEO, whilst it takes a bit of time, typically anywhere from a few months to a year, depending on the competitiveness and your sector and how difficult your keywords that you’re going for are to rank. Once you get those results, there are so many rewards.

So just to name a few of the rewards, it’s more traffic to your website, improve brand visibility, more leads, more sales, depending on what your website offers, as well as boosting up your credibility as a brand. And if you’re doing things like paid ads and paid media that really helps as well. So things that marketers should actually consider when they’re doing an SEO strategy

So I think it’s to consider really that like I was saying for SEOs are a long-term win, not a quick hit. And I quite often like to use the analogy that SEO is very similar to a So that’s an analogy I quite like to use to compare it. But things to consider are the fact that it’s going to take some time, the fact that it’s going to take resources.

So typically you need to deal with a strategy that we’ll get into in a minute, and the work on your site and off your website ongoing that we’ll get into. So you need to have either a team in-house. So you need to have a team that can do the technical side of SEO, need to have a team that can work on the content and a team that’s fluent in things like building up backlinks, building articles, and all that good stuff. Or you need to work with either a freelancer or a company that’s competent in doing all these things. So you need to have resources in-house or an external company or freelancer to be able to manage it for you. And then therefore you’ll need a budget if you don’t have the resources in-house. So it’s all that kind of stuff that you need to consider before you get jumping in but that’s a few of the basics Anna.

Anna Shutko:

All right. Awesome. And now let’s talk a bit more about the process like you mentioned earlier. So specifically for the website, how is the SEO optimization process structured and here maybe you could give us a few examples and then dive into tactics.

Sam Dunning:

Yeah. Sure. The first thing to do with an SEO strategy is pretty much one of the first things is you want to do your research stage and you want to nail down the keywords, all the important search terms that you want your website to appear on page one of Google organically for. So this is the foundation of the strategy and ultimately if you cock this up, if you mess this up then things aren’t going to go too well. Because if you’re ranking for search terms that aren’t actually going to get you revenue then they might give you traffic, but if it’s not the right kind of search terms it’s going to be ultimately a waste of time. So how do you find the right search terms to target first and foremost, you need to do a bit of research.

So one great exercise that we often do is get our clients who are businesses we work with to list out all the actual services or the products they offer, that they actually want to get inquiries or leads or sales for. So say, for example, you’re a software as a service company, maybe you offer CRM solutions. So basically all the searches around CRM that you want to actually get inquiries for. Then what else you can do when you’re doing this research is ask your existing customers because your existing customers are a goldmine of information, not just for this but you should really be talking to your existing customers for all types of marketing. Because they can literally give you the answers you need in a really quick time, and they’re always happy to have a conversation, especially if you speak to your favorite client. So you can ask them, “Look, what did you search for when you found us, or what type of keyword would you usually type in Google if you’re looking for our kind of product or service?”

They’re going to give you all the information you need, then you can look into your competitors. So especially if you’re in SaaS, in software as a service, there’s probably going to be a lot of competitors in your arena. So have a look at the search terms they’re targeting for their SEO to give you some ideas. When you’re doing your research, if you can see that a certain keyword, for example, let’s say the best CRM provider is absolutely hounded like there’s so much competition, it might even be worth dropping that search term and going for something a bit more longer tail which we’ll get onto. So what we mean is to actually do this, you need to use a keyword planning tool to do that… So something like Google Keyword Planner, and then you can type in the search terms you want to look at and you can get the data about. Or you can use something like SEMrush and you can actually get the data about how many searches the keywords get per month and all that good stuff.

So you can actually research whether that’s something worth targeting. And typically if we’re doing an SEO campaign, say if we’re looking at maybe 20 different search terms we want to rank for. We might do a mixture of what we call generic search terms, which takes it back to SaaS might be the best CRM provider, which might have really high competition and that might take a long time, maybe 12 months or so to rank for. But then we might look at something longer tail in the search terms, so you might look at something like the best CRM provider available in the UK. So it’s got more words in it, but it means it’s a long tail search term. It’s probably got higher intent because if someone’s taking the time to type all that, they’re probably really going to need the product. So whilst it may have a lot fewer searches per month, the chances it’s higher intent, people are more likely to click it and do business with you or at least request a demo for whatever you actually want to take.

So we normally suggest doing a mix of real competitive search terms than lesser ones to get the high intent there. And then once you’ve done the analysis, once you’ve agreed with yourself, with your own team or your agency that you’re working with for SEO, the ones you want to target then comes the work. So then there’s quite a lot of things that make up an SEO strategy Anna. So feel free to jump in at any stage if you’ve got any points you want to dive deeper on, as I’ll try and keep it as precise as possible. So once you’ve got your search terms, you then need to move with those, so there are two main elements to SEO.

You’ve got onsite SEO, so everything you do on your website and then you’ve got offsite. So if we start with the onsite side of things, once we’ve got those search terms we need to make sure our website aligns with the search terms we’re doing. So typically we would then do an audit. So you’d normally do an audit of your website, like a technical audit to make sure that all the page titles, the page headings, header tags, the metadata, so the meta titles, the meta descriptions that show up in Google are all aligned. So it’s making sure that they’re aligned with the search terms you’re targeting and also assigning landing pages to those key search terms. For example, if someone’s searching let’s say CRM, the best CRM provider. You want to have a page dedicated to that so if someone hits on Google, the relevancy is spot on.

So you’ve actually got pages that’s all about why you’re the best CRM provider, maybe it’s got content, maybe it’s got a video, maybe it’s got an infographic. So someone can get the exact information they’re looking for. Google is all about relevance, high-quality content that gives the user exactly what they need when they search for it. If you don’t, then chances are someone will bounce straight off your page and will go to a competitor that does give their answer. And as a result of that Google is going to downrank your website because you’ve not given the best user experience. It’s also worth noting that your website needs to have good page speed. So that comes as a part of the on-page stuff. Google as of 2021, it’s very, very big on user experience so that’s things like Google Core Web Vitals, so making sure your website is nice and fast, ideally about one second or less to load making sure it’s now with a mobile-first view.

So this is all the technical side of things and just making sure it gives a user a great user experience. So making sure your menu navigation is clear and concise, making sure it’s easy for people to find them exactly what they want in as minimal clicks possible. So the technical side of things is about doing that, it’s also about making sure the content of your pages is relevant to the search terms you’re targeting. So once you’ve done the things like the metadata, the titles, et cetera, and it’s technically sound in terms of speed and the website code, then you need to look at the content structure. So making sure you’ve got landing pages that can link to the main keywords, making sure those pages are relevant, informative, give the user exactly what they need when they’re searching for. And once you’ve done all that good stuff then you can start the monthly work. So have you got any questions around that, Anna? Or do you want me to go into offsite or should we keep it onsite for now?

Anna Shutko:

I just wanted to ask a little bit more about the onsite optimization and reporting, so if we could move to that topic that would be amazing. So you mentioned at the research stage, which I definitely do agree with. I think every single marketer should do very thorough research to come up with enough long-tail keywords and descriptive meta. And you mentioned a couple of optimization options. So now if you could talk more about the reporting side of it. So obviously because there is a lot of research optimization, there is a lot of data and you would have to build reports. So in this case, what are the typical metrics website SEO performance reports should include, or maybe in case you, for example, have a research report. If you’re pulling together a report for the research phase then, how would these reports look like and what kind of metrics, dimensions, what kind of data they would include? And then maybe you could say a couple of things about the analysis. So after marketers have built these reports, then how would they analyze the data?

Sam Dunning:

Yeah, it’s a great question. And one thing to note is that you can only get so far with just optimizing your own website for SEO. So even if it’s technically sound, if the content on there and the technical side of things all align with your search terms, and everything’s great in terms of the user experience, the page speed, and all that good stuff that Google likes, you still need an offsite strategy. Which I’m happy to talk about, but it might be for another show to actually get those all importance rankings, get that traffic, and ultimately get those leads and sales and the revenue that you’re after with your website.

But in terms of reporting, very good point. So as a baseline, you need some kind of analytics tool installed on your website, whether that’s Google Analytics or whether you’ve got another preference for a system that you want to link up to your website, you want to track all the main conversions on your site that you’re after.

So if you are a website that’s trying to generate leads. So if you are a SaaS provider and you probably want people to book a demo or book a consultation or a quote, then you want to make sure that all the main calls to action attract. So whether that’s someone filling out your demo request form, and that links through as a conversion in your Google Analytics tool, whether that’s someone clicking your phone number to call you, whether that’s someone clicking the email direct, or whatever conversion you take you want them all linked up.

So for example, in our monthly SEO reports, we send to clients we typically list out all the work we’ve done for the month in terms of the onsite work we’ve just gone through. And then also maybe the off-page work whether that’s link building, content creation, building out infographics, articles, submissions, etc.

So a list of all the work that we’ve done. And then in terms of tracking things, so you want to nail down the… You want to be able to measure the results, the increases in the actual Google rankings. So it might be that if you first start a campaign some of the search terms are unranked, and then in month two they might go from unranked to position 100. Then month three, they might go to position 50 and so on, and you can use tools like SEMrush to really get the data nice and quickly. And then most importantly, we want to track the traffic that’s come to the website and we want to track the sources.

So we want to be able to attribute the SEO works, so whether this traffic’s come from organic SEO or perhaps you’re running paid ads, or perhaps you’re running sponsored ads and all that stuff.

So you can attribute which traffic is actually coming from our SEO work we’re doing. And then most importantly, you want to see the conversions. So we want to see if we’re trying to generate leads, how many inquiry form fields we’ve had, how many phone click to calls we’ve had, how many people clicking the email, how many of you were using the live chat, and an attribute that all relate to the organic SEO as the traffic source.

So that all need to be nice and clearly laid out along with the rankings, along with the work done and the end of month report or end of week report, depending on how frequently you or your team’s measuring it. So you can essentially understand how the SEO’s flowing if that makes sense.

Anna Shutko:

Yeah, definitely. I really like the summary of all these different kinds of reports you mentioned. Now if we talk a little bit more about the mistakes, I would be curious to know. So when it comes to SEO reporting analysis and maybe also touching a bit more on optimization, what are the common mistakes marketers make when it comes to, well, first of all, doing SEO optimization and then building all these different kinds of reports?

Sam Dunning:

Yeah. There are endless mistakes that I think we’ve probably been guilty of in the past in our earlier years. And then I’m sure lots of marketers have gone through themselves. Like I said, keyword research is so crucial to actually get search terms that not only can it be a realistic that you can hit. So things aren’t flooded by market leaders that have perhaps got hundreds of thousands of pounds a month to spend on marketing or SEO or even millions. So making sure you’re not wasting your time on search terms that you may never get rankings for, making sure you’re doing a mix of those high intent search terms which are longer tails with more words in the search. And also looking at those more competitive ones as a more long term strategy.

But like I was saying earlier, ask your customers, ask actually what they had searched to try and find you. Ask existing clients, talk to them, understand their process for how they’d go about finding a business like yours because they’ve really got so much useful information, that you can put into your campaigns to make sure that you look at your competition properly. And don’t skip the onsite work, so you might think, “Ah, we’ve had a look at our website page speed…” So you can use tools like Google PageSpeed Insights.

That’s a really good tool for understanding how quick your website is on mobile and PC. And it also gives you actionable tips. So for example, a common issue with websites is they have images that take too long to load, or they’ve got too many videos. So you can do things like lazy-loading and all this good stuff too quickly… There are some quick hacks, quick tips that you can do to get your website quicker.

Don’t think, “Ah, my website is three seconds. That’s good enough.” Because ultimately if someone searches for the product you offer, you’re on Google. If they click on your website, it gives a bad experience i.e. it’s too slow to load, they can’t find what they need really quickly, it doesn’t give them the answers they want when they land on your page, you’re going to get penalized. Either Google is going to downrank you or the user’s going to jump off. So bearing in mind all these things, don’t skip the process, make sure you follow this step-by-step. Although it may take a bit longer, it’s going to help you in the long run.

Anna Shutko:

Great. Awesome. Yeah, I really, really like these tips. And now if the audience wants to learn more about you and your podcast, where can they find you?

Sam Dunning:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, sure thing. So in terms of myself, please do connect with me on LinkedIn. It’s Dunning. My surname is D-U, double N, I-N-G. I run a podcast called Business Growth Show where we interview business leaders two of them every week to provide actionable tips to grow your business and sales. But if you’re frustrated that your website’s not generating a consistent flow of inbound leads or sales, or perhaps you just need a little bit of help to get more business, get more activity on your website. I’d love to chat with you. Our website is That’s And just mention you heard Sam on the podcast. Thanks, Anna.

Anna Shutko:

Great. Thank you so much for coming on the show.

Sam Dunning:

Really appreciate it. Cheers.

Anna Shutko:

And that’s the end of today’s episode. Thanks for tuning in. Before you go make sure to hit the subscribe button and leave us a review or rating on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you’re listening. If you’d like to kickstart your marketing analytics, check out the 14-day free trial at See you in the next episode of The Marketing Analytics Show.

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