If you have been running a business for a few years and you still are not generating any significant business through your website, it’s probably time to have a thorough SEO health check carried out. A good SEO health check will not only highlight any current problems that might be hindering your digital marketing efforts, but it will also provide some level of future proofing for the years to come.
Over the last five years we have seen a huge number of Google updates that have altered the way on-site content is used to rank web pages. From the Panda algorithm (which is coming up for its 6th birthday) to the latest mobile first algorithm changes, it seems that Google is forever placing new obstacles in our way. So, if your website is more than a few years old, it is very likely that some aspects of its code, design, navigation or content will be causing a problem. If you want to carry out your own health check, the following notes will help you get started. Pinpointing a problem is complex task though, but our technical SEO team are up the challenge, should you need some assistance.
Technical SEO Audit
As websites grow older they tend to become more complex and your SEO efforts can be harmed. For instance, rather than having a simple and logical navigation that both readers and web crawlers can understand, we often find orphaned pages and navigation funnels that lead to dead pages, which can seriously harm your site.
As well as the navigation, older sites may carry out-of-date code or have a design that is not mobile friendly. Older sites tend to also suffer from more duplicate content problems, especially when canonical tags are missing. We can also check that your crawl budget is not being stretched.
The two best tools for improving your site structure are Google Search Console and Screaming Frog. Search Console will report issues such as broken links and duplicate titles, and Screaming Frog, after crawling your website, will report broken links, missing images, missing alt tags and other HTML issues.
Although content is king, links come a very close second when it comes to SEO. There was a time when you only had to worry about the links coming in to your website, but now you need to ensure that your own internal links, and the links leaving your site, are also in good health.
All links should be of good quality, and this means that they should be relevant to your business, link to or from respected websites and have natural anchor text. Over the last few years Google has aggressively targeted websites that rank based on using links with anchor text that matches keyword searches, so an audit needs to carefully look at your entire link profile. Linking out to other sites that are considered part of a “bad neighbourhood” can also land you in trouble, so audit all outbound links also.
We keep saying that content is king, but what does this mean? Today, your content must provide relevant and interesting information for readers. Google’s advanced machine learning algorithms can now differentiate good content from bad, so poorly written pages that are created purely to attract more search traffic will be penalised.
As mentioned already, content duplication is a big problem, so a content audit should also examine page titles, headers and main copy to ensure that the same phrases and sentences are not being duplicated across a website. Also, it is important to avoid keyword stuffing – our SEO tests have shown that sometimes, increasing the number of times an important keyword is mentioned on a page will result in a reduction in rankings. Gone are the days that you would rank better just by placing your main keywords in the titles, headers and in every paragraph of content.
Mobile is huge and still growing. Only this week we learned that AMP is now dominant in Google News. We predict that by the end of 2017, AMP will be dominant in most areas of search. Websites that fail to provide a super-fast mobile version will lag behind. Our web developer has set up AMP, so if you need advice, call today.
Clean Up User Generated Content
Google recently spoke about user generated content in their webmaster blog. While the blog merely provided some advice to webmasters on how to identify and reduce low quality user generated content, it hinted that this may be the next area that Google plans to tackle. Many websites find that they are victims of web spam that is directly placed on their pages without them even realising. A thorough review of comment policy and past comments
Websites are a lot like cars – without a regular health check, small niggling problems that were ignored years ago can grow to become serious problems. If left unchecked, you may well find that the only solution is a new website. Call FSE Digital today to find out if your website can be saved.