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Searchdrop this week explores two articles on the subject of reducing digital spend and the impacts of ‘stopping’ your digital efforts, as well as some simple but effective tips on how to audit your XML sitemap, which is an integral piece of the puzzle when it comes to Google ability to find and crawl your site.

What happens when you stop doing SEO?

It’s tough to stop the momentum of a site that’s moving in the wrong direction – whether you’ve stopped everything or just paused creating new content, there will always be more short and long term negatives than the initial commercial argument of “saving money”.

  • If you stop creating and refreshing content – this could mean you’ll miss out on fresh content that not only attracts new users and opens up new optimisation opportunities on site but also improves the overall usefulness of your site. You’ll also miss out on the potential of earned backlinks to increase site authority.
  • If you fail to monitor your site health – regular issues like 404’s or internal 301’s start to mount up. This mounting of issues will start to impact user experience and Google’s ability to crawl your site. The commercial argument falls apart somewhat at this point as well as these issues will eventually need fixing and the cost of lost traffic will skyrocket. Not monitoring your backlinks can also lead to some poor or unwanted backlinks building up in your backlink profile.

SEO is not only important for organic performance. It impacts every other channel as it’s responsible for site health and ‘usefulness’, so by stopping your SEO you’re effectively impacting all your channels.

See more reasons why you might not want to stop your SEO here.

Reducing digital marketing due to COVID-19? Consider this first...

In times of crisis (like right now) some businesses are looking to pull back on spending across the board, with a view to sure themselves up until these tough times pass. One area many think of pulling spending from is marketing. On the face of it this can seem like an easy win, but before making any decisions it’s important to consider a few things:

  • Is your analytics data skewed? If your team are working from home, it’s worth keeping in mind that their internal traffic won’t be filtered out of Google Analytics data as it likely is when they work from the office. Annotations in your analytics can support in highlighting the date range this may have impacted the site and IP filters may work for smaller teams.
  • How are you spending on paid (PPC)? Paid search is an odd place to be right now. Some industries are seeing search interest drop, whilst others are witnessing a boom. The situation you find your business in should determine what you do with your spend: some industries (like finance) are seeing a drop in cost per click, meaning there’s not been a better time to spend more. Adversely to that, non-essentials are seeing a loss of user activity and therefore should consider lowering spending.
  • and social?  Social is busy at the moment. With more people at home for longer, there’s an opportunity to increase reach in your audiences, but it may require some daily tweaking of campaigns and associated budgets.
  • Are you using email? With less variables in play, email is a cheaper and (in some ways) easier way of continuing marketing. Customer communications like “we’re still open” or “you can buy online” are all important in times like this, but remember to communicate in a sensitive way.

Read more of reducing spending during the COVID-19 crisis here.

Top tips for your XML sitemap!

Your XML sitemap is an integral part of how Google reads your site, finds and crawls your content. Without a sitemap, search engines need to crawl your site by finding individual pages and building a picture of the structure of your site as it goes. With this there’s no guarantee that Googlebot will find everything you need it to – certainly not as quick as it could with an XML sitemap.

Therefore, good hygiene and practice in your XML sitemap is important.

  • Ensure all pages are in there – Checking you have all pages in your XML sitemap is important as missed pages will be slow to index or won’t be indexed at all.
  • Remove pages that don’t give a 200 status code – XML sitemaps need to only contain ‘working’ pages. Anything that gives a 200 status code shouldn’t be in there.
  • Check no pages are giving conflicting signals – this is usually in the form of a noindex tag. If you have a noindex tag on a page you have in your XML sitemap, you’re essentially telling Google to both index and not index your page.
  • Monitor your HREF lang – if you’ve implemented HREF lang via your sitemap then it’s good to ensure your pages are all targeting the correct language and country. You can find more on HREF lang here.
  • Consider other types of XML sitemap – If your site is particularly heavy on media such as images or video, then video and image XML sitemaps are recommended. Working in a very similar way, video XML sitemaps and image XML sitemaps map out all your images and videos for Google to find and index accordingly
  • Check Google has indexed your pages – This can be done using search parameters in Google (site:domain.com in Google search) or within your search console account under coverage.

Learn more about your XML sitemap here and see Googles guidelines on XML sitemaps here.