Search

The Marathon of SEO: A Real-Life Example with DeuBetter Branding & Media

SEO process information

Hey there, business owner!

One of the things I often mention is that SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time to build up domain authority and SERP presence, because it takes time for Google to take notice of your website, or in other words, for Google to crawl and index your website’s pages. If you’re new to this, the first step after launching a new website should be to submit your sitemap in Google Search Console (GSC).

In the name of total transparency, I must confess, I delayed submitting my sitemap until my website was a month old. That’s not ideal! I would never launch a client’s website without ensuring their sitemap is submitted immediately, but something-something, the baker never bakes their own bread, etc. – I did myself a disservice by not submitting my sitemap right away.

It’s April, which thanks to the power of alliteration, I’m thinking of audits, and so naturally, I wanted to write about web audits. Instead of writing about what your website’s metrics could look like in their infancy on the internet, I’ll show you by making an example of my own website’s metrics. This will give you an authentic look into what your own SEO progress might look like, especially if you were to hire me to create your website and its content (if you didn’t know, I build websites).

So, get cozy, and welcome to the start of DeuBetter’s SEO saga.

Setting the Pace with Sitemaps

As mentioned, the first step after your website goes live is submitting your sitemap to Google. Since I did this in late December 2023 (note to self: practice what you preach!), Google has been getting to know my website bit by bit.

Finding your sitemap depends on your website’s platform. For example, Shopify store owners can find theirs at mycoolstore.com/sitemap.xml. Once you’ve located your sitemap, head over to GSC, set up your account, verify domain ownership, and submit your sitemap under “Add a new sitemap”.

Impressions and Clicks: Who Visits your Site and Why

Imagine you’re heading over to your favorite restaurant and you pass a billboard for Ty’s Ties. That’s a real-world impression. Now, imagine you are in need of a tie, and so you call Ty’s, or go to their store to shop around on your way to the restaurant. That’s a real-world click!

Translating that example to SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), an impression is when your website appears in a search, and a click is when the user clicks on said impression.

My Performance overview indicates budding potential. The impressions graph (purple) is on an upward trend. This metric, along with the average position (gold), suggests that my pages are starting to rank, averaging near the top of the second page of Google’s organic results. Impressions are good, but clicks are better! The click-through rate (CTR) graph (blue) shows an encouraging trend, and at 7.1%, it’s well above average according to a recent analysis by Backlinko.

Some things I might do with this information are evaluate my content and keyword plan to see if I can work more keywords into my content (while still making sure my content is helpful) and make sure my metadata is optimized for conversions (in this case, clicks on my links). Overall, I’m on my way to scaling those SERPs!

Search Queries: Why your Website Shows Up

In the world of web search, a search query, or search term as it’s more commonly referred to as, is the word or phrase that users type into search engines to find answers to their questions. Some examples could be “best tacos near me” (Google Maps says Maya’s but I have to disagree – Charra’s tacos are top tier) or “why is my dog running around the house so fast” (it’s the zoomies), or even something wacky as “do grasshoppers dream” (interestingly enough, I couldn’t find an answer on the first page of Google for this one).  

Understanding what keywords or search queries Google is associating with your web pages is extremely helpful for two main reasons: it tells you what’s working and what might need improvement. If I have a dog grooming business website and I am ranking for queries relating to dog boarding or dog walking, I might want to review my content and remove keywords relating to boarding and walking so that I am only ranking for keywords relating to dog walking.

This may be hard to read, but I’ll break it down: my top query right now is “branding company”, followed by “bespoke brand strategies”, “better branding”, and “branding”. Good! Honestly, if DeuBetter Branding & Media wasn’t ranking for “branding” at all, I would deeply reconsider my skills in SEO. 

My SERP position for most of these search terms isn’t super low, but also not very high. I’m not seeing any clicks for my top queries either. Again, I might want to audit my content for keyword placement and make sure my metadata invites users to my website to bring these numbers up.

Indexed Pages and User Journey

Remember how I mentioned that submitting your sitemap is the first step to getting seen on Google? The second step is getting indexed. In the realest terms, indexing happens when Google looks at a page and decides “yeah, this is useful for search users, let’s put it on the SERPs.”

It’s a good idea to regularly check in here and look at which pages aren’t indexed yet and why. Sometimes there are things you can do to assist! Let’s peek at mine: 

Well, that’s not so bad. I’ve got some 404 pages that need to be redirected, I have 11 pages that Google will crawl in their own sweet time, and I have one page that’s been crawled, but not indexed yet. Lastly, the pages with redirects aren’t being indexed; that’s a good thing! I don’t want Google serving pages that I don’t actually want users to see anyways.

Let’s look at the crawled page:

Oh, hey! It’s one of my articles. Most likey, there’s nothing wrong with the content on this page, but it might be wise of me to take a look and see if I can make any adjustments to the content to better align with my keyword plan or target audience. I like that back in February I had three pages that were crawled but not indexed, and now I only have one. That’s progress! 

Target Website Audience: Location Matters

Peeking at my audience demographics shows most impressions are coming from the US, with a sprinkle from countries afar like Australia and the UK. This global handshake is fantastic, but I serve businesses in the United States – these numbers are fine for now, but if the data starts showing more visitors from outside the US, I might want to make some changes to my content or metadata. 

Device Responsiveness: Staying Agile

One of the questions I always ask when working on a client’s website is “is your target audience accessing your website on desktop or mobile?” A lot of website designers use a “mobile-first” approach when building a website, and for good reason – according to this study from 2024, 45.59% of North America’s internet users access websites on mobile devices.

At the same time, I’ve found that mobile-first designs can sometimes be difficult to see or use on a computer, so I like to know what I should prioritize. Additionally, if my client’s existing traffic data shows that very few people access their site on one type of device or the other, I know that I don’t need to spend the extra time optimizing for both, which can lower the cost of the project for my client. 

My website has been more desktop-heavy, with 148 impressions, while mobile is sort of picking up pace. Since I know my target audience is likely to be searching for me on their desktop, I won’t be spending time making any optimization changes unless these numbers start getting closer together. 

Building Connections: The Power of Backlinks

Ah, backlinks. They can help or hurt a website in one of two main ways; If they’re quality links from a domain with high authority, that’s wonderful – if they’re spammy and from websites with low authority or manual actions, they can make a website look bad too.

I’ve briefly covered backlink strategy before, so if you need any tips I recommend giving that article a read.

Let’s look at my backlink profile:

My backlinks, at present, are a mix of service provider search websites and websites that I manage/have worked on. On the whole, my backlink profile is a ghost town, and I should definitely start looking for guest blogging opportunities or other digital connections to earn some link juice.

I also want to touch briefly on internal linking. When you own a website with a blog, you should have a content strategy. Most of the time, in a high-level explanation, this is going to be either a topic cluster or content silo, with a pillar page that serves as the core.

Why does it matter? Well, the way I like to explain it is, it’s like Red Lobster vs Golden Corral. Red lobster serves seafood (the pillar of the menu), and their menu is organized into types of seafood. Shrimp, Lobster, Seafood Pasta… you get it. From there, it’s Fried Shrimp, Grilled Shrimp – or Full Lobster, Lobster Tail… see where I’m going?

Each section of the menu is like one content silo, or one topic cluster, with each variety as an offshoot or related term from the silo or cluster. In contrast, Golden Corral is a haphazard buffet of all kinds of foods, sort of organized, but not really, and it’s harder to navigate to find the food you want.

Let’s put a content silo into practice. If I were creating a website for an animal sanctuary, I might build out a content silo that looks like this:

I loved the example that fire&spark made so much that I made my own version – this article of theirs covers internal linking more in depth and is worth a read!

Now, let me embarrass myself for a moment and show you my internal links:

Wow, so ugly! Seriously though, my internal linking needs WORK. However, I can’t beat myself up too much – I have a handful of blog articles at the moment, and so there’s not a lot of linking to do right now. However, check back in with me in 6 months and you’ll see a different picture. I promise!

No Manual Actions: Running a Clean Race

Have you ever heard of a channel getting strikes on YouTube for violating the rules? Manual actions on GSC are almost the same thing. If you violate Google’s spam policies, Google gives you a manual action. The difference between a YouTube strike and a Google Manual Action is that there are things you can do to restore your domain’s good standing with Google. 

I’m proud to say I’ve kept my nose clean with Google’s best practices—no penalties, no warnings, just good, honest SEO. Honestly though, what kind of SEO would I be if my own website had manual actions?

Conclusion: Stay the Course!

In just a few short months, my baby steps have set the stage for a stride into the future. This journey through my GSC data is more than a look back—it’s a map for the road ahead. The best thing to do for your own website is to keep your content fresh, and do everything you can to be sure your keyword plan is sharper than your competition’s. The race is long, and in the marathon of SEO, every step counts.
Remember, your website’s story is unfolding with each indexed page and every query typed into that search bar. Stay the course, keep the pace, and let’s win this marathon together.

This article is a great introduction to SEO, but the truth is not everyone has the brain or the time for this stuff. Lucky for you, I do! If you’re looking for help with your website’s design or optimization, check out my offerings and fill out the contact form to get started.

Liked what you read? Tell a friend!

Questions? Comments?

Leave a Reply

About DeuBetter

DeuBetter Branding & Media specializes in empowering small businesses with the digital marketing tools and knowledge they need to thrive. We’re your friendly guide through the world of marketing online, committed to making your business better.

Recent Posts

Follow for free marketing tips, promotions, and local business recommendations

Subscribe for more small business tips

Monthly emails full of small business tips and resources – unsubscribe at any time.