I posted a few days back in our Facebook group, offering to do an SEO review on 10 websites belonging to businesses in the scalp micropigmentation industry. In response to requests that followed, this SEO review is for Julianna Milin of www.browdesign.com.
During this review, I examined the following:
- On-page SEO elements of a typical page on each website
- The overall structure of each website
- Social proof and reviews
- Internal linking
- Inbound links and spam score
- Speed and security
I won’t explain each of these in detail because I’m hoping their explanations will become clear during the assessment. So here we go!
on page seo elements of a typical page
This is an interesting case study because the website ranks very well nationally, but ranks poorly for local terms. For example this page ranks #4 on Google for ‘microblading training’, a big achievement, but the website fails to rank anywhere meaningful for local microblading services in Houston or New York, which are Julianna’s primary markets.
The first thing I look for are pages specifically targeting keywords for the primary services offered. Your home page is not the place for this. Google wants your home page to act as a gateway to the information pages on your site, and it’s actually quite hard to rank a home page for a big search term.
Julianna’s primary service is microblading, so she needs a page that screams relevancy for this keyword. Julianna does have a microblading page (visit page) but it’s bland and uninspiring, and the SEO signals are weak. Unsurprisingly, Google isn’t ranking this page at all, and the pages that are ranking for searches relating to Houston and New York are barely related to the search, a sure sign that Google is confused about the website content.
I feel in SEO terms at least, a lot of effort and attention has been poured into the training side of the business, but not so much the treatment side, and this is reflected in the rankings.
Anyway, as the training page is ranking beautifully, I’ll focus on the treatment pages, specifically this one, and make the following recommendations:
- The title tag is ‘Eyebrow Microblading’, which bearing in mind this appears in Google search results, isn’t going to inspire a click.
- The H1 headline, a critical element of on-page SEO, is just ‘eyebrows’, and has two more headlines underneath that don’t look like they belong there. The way headlines are used on this and other service pages needs a rethink.
- Customers are not going to be inspired to read this content. It’s hard to digest, isn’t broken up into parts, and just isn’t well organized. This causes visitors to hit the back button and try another website, which has a direct impact on search rankings.
- This page appears broken as it doesn’t follow the layout of the rest of the site.
- It’s hard to make specific recommendations here. All treatment pages need some attention and love. My recommendation is to take all the treatment pages down and recreate them with a new direction, and a focus on the aesthetics and usability of the pages.
overall website structure
This website adopts a flat hierarchical structure, but for the purpose of what this website is trying to do, this is not the optimal structure. There is a lot of content but its poorly organized and should be restructured into clear silos, both for SEO and to aid the user experience.
I would create a main treatment page (/treatments/) and a main training page (/training/) then organize the rest of the content as child pages of these parents, for example /treatments/lips/ and /training/microblading/.
Any change to the structure and URL’s should be properly managed to preserve existing rankings for training.
Some thought is also needed around the Houston and NYC issue. I am aware Julianna is contemplating her locations at the moment, and whatever is decided needs to be properly reflected in the website content as the site is not ranking at all at the moment in her local markets.
social proof and reviews
There are no links from the website to any social channels, or crucially, to the Google Business profile. There is also no evidence of reviews on the site from Facebook, Google or any other platform. This will be hurting not only SEO, but conversions too.
There was an Instagram gallery at one point, but the token is broken so the gallery no longer functions.
The website makes very little use of internal linking. These are very important for SEO as they increase relevance signals and help Google to understand what the website is all about. For a good example of internal linking, check out our Sacramento page.
inbound links and spam score
Aside from your website content, inbound links, sometimes called ‘backlinks’, are by far the most important part of your SEO strategy. An inbound link is where another website links to your website, and Google views this as a vote of confidence. Generally speaking, websites do not link to spammy or illegitimate websites, so if someone is linking to you, it reinforces the message that your website is the real deal.
All inbound links are not created equal, in fact, too many poor quality links can actually hurt your site. You should be aiming for links from authoritative websites (local news websites, big blog sites, local business associations etc), or from websites that are highly relevant to our industry (like Team Micro, What Clinic etc). The best links are both authoritative and relevant.
We use Moz to measure your inbound link power. They produce a metric called Domain Authority (DA) which is a score from 1-100. Higher scores are granted to websites with a good number of authoritative links, and a low number of poor quality links from spammy websites.
It is important to note that the scale is not linear…. getting from DA1 to DA10 is relatively easy, but jumping to DA20 is MUCH harder. Most sites never make it past DA15. Team Micro is a DA32 website, but its taken years of diligent SEO to get there.
Your spam score represents the % of websites with similar inbound link profiles that have been penalized or banned by Google. For obvious reasons, you want to keep this low, like less than 2%.
BrowDesign.com has a DA31 score and a spam rating of 1% which is excellent, and there are some very high quality links from news websites and others, however I noticed a lot of the inbound links were coming in from fairly spammy and irrelevant domains. Therefore, despite the Moz spam score of 1%, I believe the website is at risk of a Google penalty although its hard to know how significant the risk is.
You need a paid Moz subscription to see all the data, but you can see the top line stats here, and I’ve included screenshots taken from our Moz account below.
moz overview for browdesign.com
moz spam score for browdesign.com
speed and security
Your website speed is a huge ranking factor now, as Google now uses mobile-first indexing. This is understandable, especially in the SMP and PMU industry where around 80% of your website visitors are using mobile devices to access your content.
Security is also important, and directly influences rankings. Your website should be on https:// not http:// and this is mandatory if you are processing customer data online.
We use GT Metrix, the industry standard, to measure speed. Julianna’s website is getting a speed rating of 0% and takes 4.8 seconds to load, (verify here).
This is unusual because the load time is slow at 4.8 seconds, but not slow enough to justify a speed rating of 0% which suggests GT Metrix is struggling to read something on the website. I ran this test multiple times but got the same results. For this reason I also used Google Pagespeed Insights. GPI gave a pagespeed of 7/100, confirming there is definitely an issue with the speed of the site.
These scores are low enough to have a significant impact on Julianna’s rankings. Although the website is ranking well for training terms, I strongly believe the website is at risk of a Google penalty, or at least a significant drop in rankings.
Google changes its algorithm all the time, and although most of these updates shouldn’t trouble us most of the time, the site needs to be resilient enough to ride the changes. One major update to Google’s link or speed requirements, and the strong training rankings enjoyed by this website could be lost.
Julianna’s website is fully https:// secure with no security-based warnings.
The following actions should be undertaken as soon as possible to strengthen the SEO of this website:
- The website content needs a wholesale rethink. Pages are poorly organized or poorly optimized, the navigation is not intuitive and Google is clearly confused about the purpose of some of the pages.
- Proper use of H1 and H2 headlines needs to be implemented sitewide.
- The flat structure should be reorganized into a proper silo structure for better SEO and user experience.
- Stronger signals specific to Houston and NYC need to be implemented.
- The website should be connected to Julianna’s social media accounts and Google Business listing.
- Reviews need to be fed through to the site to aid conversions.
- The most spammy inbound links should be disavowed so Google doesn’t take them into account. Good quality directory links and citations should be added to address the geographic SEO issues.
- The speed of this website is a real problem. The photos on the site need to be optimized and a suitable caching system should be implemented to prevent the website from loading from scratch every time the site is requested by a visitors device.
We see situations like this all the time. I believe the website is due a rebuild to address most or all of these issues. The website feels disjointed at the moment with bits and pieces added but no cohesion. This needs to be done carefully to preserve existing rankings, but also to maximize on rankings that could be obtained, given the strong metrics, but are not being achieved at this time.
These are additional steps that every website owner should take. We didn’t verify these, or were unable to, for this specific website, but make sure you have these covered:
- Register and verify your website in Google Search Console.
- Create an XML sitemap and register it with GSC (above).
- If you have a .com domain, register your target country with GSC (above).
- Make sure you have at least 10 citations. These are mentions of your business online including name, address and phone number data (NAP), and may or may not include a link to your website. Good sources are Yelp, Yellow Pages, local business directories etc.
- Disavow any spammy links coming into your website using the Google Disavow Tool.
- Make sure you have at least a few reviews on the most important review sites – Google Business, Facebook and Yelp.
- Ensure your website links to all your social media accounts including (if you have them) Facebook, Instagram, Google Business, Pinterest, YouTube etc.
- You need dedicated pages for each of your key services.
- Your address and contact information needs to be included in full on your contact page, matching the format shown on your Google Business listing.