The SEO audit that every website owner should conduct
Nowadays, in the highly competitive online world, everybody wants to have its website found. And you would be surprised to know that little things can make a big difference when it comes to online visibility. But maybe you don’t know where to start or what you did wrong. If you’re website has hit the web more than a few months ago and you still don’t register any visitors or traffic, it’s a clear sign that you have made some mistakes that hurt your online visibility.
Here’s an idea for you: set aside an hour of your time to conduct an audit of what you think are 5 of your most influential web pages. Then audit those pages with the following five steps to make sure you have all your SEO bases covered.
Step 1: Check your meta descriptions
Every page of your website should have a meta description. Meta descriptions are short summaries of what can be found on that page. For example, the meta description of this page is: ……………Meta descriptions show up in search results along with the link to your page.
When you audit your site’s most important pages, make sure you check your meta descriptions. Look for the following characteristics:
- Your meta description should not be too long: If your meta description is longer than 150 characters, some parts of it may get cut off by search engines. So make sure your description is brief and also loaded with good keywords. This will give both your human readers and the search engines alike a taste of what they’ll find on your page.
- Your meta description should be unique: The goal of the meta description is to set the searchers’ expectations about what can be found on that page. So having multiple pages with the same description doesn’t serve that purpose. Each page should have its very own unique description.
- Your meta description should not contain the page title: Using the page title as your meta description is a missed opportunity and it can also look strange to internet searchers. Remember to view the meta description as a wonderful, free opportunity to advertise your content. Don’t waste it!
Page titles are among the main cues a search engine gets about the content and quality of a particular web page. In the HTML code of your page, your title is found between the <title> and </title> tags. Sometimes people assume that the first headline on their page is the title, but if you want the search engines to register and index your title, it must be between the <title> tags on your page. If you’re not certain, go to the View menu of your browser, and select “View Source.” Then search for title tag. The titles of pages also show up when the page appears in search results as well as in the browser tab associated with it.
As you name your pages, keep in mind the following tips:
- The page title should be unique: It’s the same as with the meta descriptions – if you have multiple pages with the same name, it will highly dilute your SEO efforts and may confuse internet browsers and search engines alike.
- The page title should be brief: Most search engines only show about 70 characters of a title on their results pages. So try to keep your titles within that limit. Also, you should try to use the most important keywords toward the beginning of the title for the same reason.
- Your page title shouldn’t include the domain name: Including your domain name in a page title rarely adds any value, It only takes up the character space you should be using for more useful keywords. Furthermore, don’t forget that your domain name is already used in the link, so there’s no need to double that information. But if you really need to include your domain name in the title, make sure it is listed at the end.
Step 3: Optimize your H1 tags
On each and any of your articles, your most important headline should get an H1 tag. In some cases and for some hosting platforms, the headlines of your pages will automatically be given an H1 tag in the HTML. You should check if you benefit from this luxury. If you don’t, then don’t worry: just include the following line of code in the HTML version of your website: <h1>Headline Text</h1>.
Within that headline text you should use the keywords you want that page to rank for in searches.
Another thing that you need to know about using H1 tags to optimize your web pages is that you shouldn’t use too many of them. Too many H1 tags on a web page can get your page sidelined by Google and other search engines. Ideally, stick to one H1 tag and use <h2> or <h3> tags for all other headers.
Step 4: Make your images more SEO and user friendly with Alt Text
Whenever you write an article, you should always use images to back up your written text – studies have shown that people are more receptive towards visual information. You can add an image, a graphic or an infographic to break up a long article and make it easy to read. Images add to the quality of your web pages. But search engines often have difficulties when indexing images, so if you want to get the most out of your web pages, every image you use should include what’s called an “Alternative Attribution,” or “Alt Text.” Alt Text is a written description of the image. It serves two very important purposes: 1. It can be “read” and indexed by the search engines’ bots and 2. It displays up whenever the actual image isn’t able to load for one reason or another. You can also use your alt text to incorporate keywords, but you must not overdue it – do it in such a way that is understandable and useful for the readers.
Step 5: Optimize your anchor texts
We all know how important internal and inbound links are, both for ranking purposes and for helping people find your content in the crowded online world. As far as links go, the text that is hyperlinked, also known as the “Anchor Text,” is very important and, often times, neglected. But what many people don’t know is that search engines use those anchor texts to help determine what the content of that linked page is. This is true for external sites linking to your content and for your own internal links as well. Here are a couple of extremely useful tips to follow as you’re writing your pages’ anchor texts:
- Never-ever use “Click here”: Let’s assume that you have 100 links to one of your website pages. Knowing what you now know about how search engines use anchor texts, would you rather use all those links to tell the search engines that your page is about a particular, relevant, interesting topic? Or about “click here”? In other words, “click here” as an anchor text is just another missed opportunity for your page to rank for your keywords or for your topic. So next time you’re planning on linking out, take that extra 10 seconds and come up with an original, relevant anchor text. It will be well worth it!
- Make the first anchor text as relevant as possible: The pros over at SEOmoz conducted some experiments concerning anchor text and concluded that if you have two links that are targeting the same URL, only the first link’s anchor text will be used by Google. Therefore, if you link to the same page more than once, make sure the first anchor text you write for that link is well-written and optimized for your desired keywords.
I hope that you found this article helpful! What’s more, I really hope that you’ll take the time and conduct this on-page audit yourself.
Meanwhile, you can tell us: Is your website SEO-proof? Or do you still have some things to take care of? If you find yourself head-over-heals and in too deep, you can always contact a SEO outsourcing company that will take care of your on-page optimization and web design without charging you an arm and a leg.