I’ve previously written about how SEO will affect the success of your website and why it’s important. There are a few key areas when it comes to SEO. Whenever I get involved in either a new or existing site for a client, I go through a 10 point check to make sure nothing is missed. While the list below is a good starting point, it should lead to a full SEO strategy, it is not an end unto itself.
Google analytics allows you access to a wealth of data and allows you to find out the who, what, why and when of the visits to your site. At a deeper level it allows you to see what visitors did on your site and why they were there in the first place.
This all important free software from Google means you can tailor content so it gets the right visitors to the right place to achieve your aims. Its power does mean it’s a complex beast that takes time to understand and conquer. It also needs some technical code installed onto your site before it starts to collect data, so it might be worth talking to a developer or site admin to help get to grips with it.
Google Search Console
Like it’s analytics cousin above, this offering from Google is free. It allows you to get granular details on how your site is performing in Google search. If you are already setup on analytics the process is even easier.
As well as showing how your site is ranking you can see how the Google robots are getting on with your site. Errors and warnings may mean your site is not ranking as well as it should be.
Some of the key features are listed on this helpful article.
Check Page Speed
Google sees your page speed as a key indicator. Modern CMS’s can quickly get bogged down with plugins and add-ons. There are lots of reasons your site may be slow to load and lots of tools to help you track down the causes.
If changes are required then you may need to make them at a code level; getting your developer on board at this stage will save you headaches later. Use the same tool again to look at how changes you’ve made have improved things.
Much like people finding their way round a city, your website needs a map to allow search engines to get around effectively (typically, humans won’t look at it). This sitemap, in the XML format, allows you to show off the layout of your website and ensure nothing is missed. It also shows other information like update times and how important each page is.
It’s easy to create as it is done automatically and needs little intervention once setup correctly.
These allow you to tell search engines what your page is about. Typically meta descriptions are the 160 characters or so that Google displays after your site (or one of it’s pages) is shown in the results. Not only is this a chance to engage with potential visitors, it’s an important SEO element as well.
You can test how your pages show in Google search by putting site:https://www.yourdomain.com in the browser search.
Alt Tag on Images
Part of good content is getting the right image. As well as placing the image on the page, you also need to specify the “Alt Tag”. The Alt Tag is a text description of what’s contained in the image. One of the most common missing elements I see is a lack of Alt Tags. They allow you to improve the SEO of your site and make sure your images show up in Google Image search.
Check formation of HTML and site structure
This is one of the main reasons that SEO planning is important before you even start putting your site together. A well thought out site structure makes it easier for the web developer, the content creators, the marketing department and, most importantly, visitors (including those friendly search engine robots) to navigate your site. Getting it right means more visitors to the site and better SEO scores.
Getting it wrong means confused visitors and lost sales, as well as poorer SEO.
Canonical domains and URLS
One of the odd technical foibles of the web is that sites can use either http://www.yoursite.com addresses or just plain http://yoursite.com.
There is no technical benefit to one over the other (but with “www” is much more common) but you should not be using both. Using both means search engines think you have two sets of identical content (a big no-no) and may drop you down the rankings.
Google cover the issue here in an article about canonical URLS and content being accessed via multiple URL structures.
Good news! A quick and easy-to-implement change is to get your site using https. Your site will be more secure, your users will have more confidence, and Google will give you a little ranking boost.
SEO Friendly URL’s
It’s a good habit to think of your page URL’s as part of the Meta data for the page. It’s a chance for you to tell potential visitors, and search engines, what they can expect from the page.
Take a look at two examples :
It’s pretty easy to see which is more appealing!