SEO Self-Audit in 15 Minutes

How well are you doing with SEO? A quick self-audit using free and inexpensive tools can offer a lot of insight.

Assess Page Structure

  • Does the title of each page include a relevant keyword?
  • In addition to the title, is the keyword used in subheads, link text, general text and image labels?

Spot Check Meta Tags

The meta title and description tags are used by search engines. Are yours populated with text that’s optimum length and uses keywords?

Do Some Searches

  • Search for your brand name, products and services. Use the official names as well as common iterations. Does your site content come up on the first results page?
  • Do the same for keywords that you are targeting. How do you rank?

Check Google Tools

Look at Google Search Console to see if there are any issues noted. Google will offer tips for fixing any of these. There are also several tools that you can run to get more insight.

Google Analytics will give you more helpful data. Where is your site traffic coming from? How much traffic are key pages getting? What words are people using to search at your site?

Search and View Your Site on Mobile

Do searches from mobile devices to see how you rank. Also surf your site on a mobile device. Pages that don’t show well on mobile get SEO penalties.

 

Digital Marketing: Master or Disaster

Digital marketing opportunities change all the time. Efforts that were gold even a year a ago can go bust by now. Opportunities that didn’t exist six months ago can be your strongest assets today.

Here are seven trends that could help you be a digital marketing master, not a disaster.

  1. Personalized content. Show visitors content based on content they have visited. Make purchase suggestions based on what’s in their cart. On social media, react to their posts and comments directly. These are all examples of personalized content. All increase engagement and sales.
  2. Visuals. No matter the age group or topic, visuals rule. Images and video will always capture more attention than words alone.
  3. Peer input. People are influenced by their tribe. We use recommendations to pick a good place to eat, a great contractor to use, or a book to read. We are all influenced by the recommendations of people we know for just about everything. Great marketers leverage recommendations and testimonials to help their offerings rise above the clutter.
  4. Email marketing. Email still gets better engagement than every other online channel. Winning marketers have an email marketing strategy.
  5. Voice and mobile search. Rising to the top of search rankings for desktop computer uses just about doesn’t matter any more. People are searching on their phones and using voice devices to ask questions (aka: search). Knowing how you fare there really matters.
  6. Social shopping. An increasing number of consumers are finding products and services on social media. They are forming their opinion before they ever reach your website.
  7. Short attention spans. All generations, not just those kids, have attention spans of gnats. Keep your messages short and sweet, whether they are delivered by video or text.

Ditch Old SEO Ideas and Focus on What Matters

Webmasters and content providers have been optimizing websites for search engines for more than 20 years.

For many, this means their sites have a lot of search engine optimization (SEO) techniques that are not effective any more. There’s also the potential that many sites are missing some critical components of modern SEO.

SEO is easy when you remember to focus on providing a website that is usable and addresses the needs of your target audience. Search engine rules change to meet user expectations. If your site does the same, you will succeed.

SEO Concepts to Ditch 

Some SEO concepts that were important are not so critical now. Here are several ideas that you can let go:

  • You need a lot of pages. The quality of your content is more important than the number of pages. Search algorithms no longer assume that page volume is an indicator of a site’s authority on a topic. Quality of content is far more important than page count.
  • User experience is secondary to SEO tactics. No SEO tricks are more important than a great user experience. Pay attention to your analytics for indicators of user happiness at the site. Factors like page load time, bounce rate, time on page, and page views per visit indicate a good user experience AND help your search ranking.
  • Images aren’t important. Images are important to the user experience and to SEO. Search engines can’t see images on websites so it is important to give each an alt tag that lets the search crawler detect what it is about. Descriptive titles and captions are a bonus. Further, using keywords in the image file name can help with your site rank.
  • Q&A doesn’t help. Question and answer and numbered steps have risen in importance with the Google snippet feature. A featured snippet is shown on some search result pages when a question-based query is used. Since these types of searches are becoming more common, this is a great opportunity to get attention.

Search Engine Tactics that Work 

Words Matter 

To rank well in search, you need to offer content that people are looking for and use, the words and phrases they use when they search. The concept of keyword optimization has evolved to the larger understanding that website content needs to match the words and phrases used by the target audience.

Today’s search engine user submits queries that reflect plain language, conversational style. Studies show that 64% of searches are four words or more. This is becoming even more prevalent as voice searches (“Siri, find me a…”) become more common.

To land on the right content, you need a healthy understanding of who your target audience is and what they want. Then research the words and phrases those people use. There are several places to find the words people use:

  • Conversations
  • Emails and other written correspondence
  • Facebook posts and comments

You can refine your list using one or more keyword tools. To get the best results, you need to start with knowledge of how your target audience thinks and talks about you and what you do.

To state the obvious, your content must actually use the words and phrases that you want to rank for. I recently had a client who gave me a list of 30 important keywords. None were used at the website! The reason for their poor search ranking became pretty clear.

Structure Your Content

Search engines crawl websites with bots, not eyeballs. They are programmed to process content in certain ways. The closer you match the expectations, the better your rank.

To rank well in search, start with the broad topics you want to rank for. Make sure all content related to each topic is interconnected. One approach is to create a main page to serve as the hub for each topic. These are generally longer, keyword rich pages that are informational as well as a gateway to additional relevant pages and resources.

While the exact search rank formulas are guarded secrets, these basics help search bots and site visitors to understand your content.

  • The page headline or title needs to reflect the main message of the page.
  • Structure the page with subheads using head tags (H1, H2, etc).
  • Subheads need to provide meaningful information. The key content of the page should be summarized in the headline and subheads.
  • Image alt tags need to have meaningful content.
  • Total page content must be at least 300 words.
  • Populate the meta title and description fields.
  • All links work and are meaningful to the page content. Avoid links to home pages in favor of links to highly relevant content.

Use Google Webmaster Tools

Some factors in search ranking are hard to detect. Google webmaster tools provides a dashboard to get alerts, run diagnostics, and provide guidance on fixes. This is often the first place where changes in SEO factors become apparent.

SEO Factors Beyond the Website 

Search engines have evolved to consider more than websites. Just about any search will include results from Facebook pages and posts and other social media, directory listings from places like Yelp, Google business listings, and more. Often, the “top” website result doesn’t even show on the first page.

The overall digital presence is very important to how well a business ranks in search. What you say is only one factor. What everyone is saying about you online matters, too.

An otherwise excellent website will be downgraded if reviews on Yelp, Google, and other sites are poor. A business that is not included in a key directory for an industry will likewise be downgraded.

Use your insights into what matters to your target audience to be in the right places online. Make sure every profile is optimized with the same words and phrases used at your website. Provide clear, accurate information everywhere you are online and the search engines will love you!