All websites need to perform occasional SEO audits; however, if you’re new to internet marketing and have never done any search engine optimization before, it’s especially important to make sure you’re on the right track. Not only do you want to ensure that your site is getting the highest possible ranking in the search engines, but you also need to correct any bad practices before you get hit with a penalty. Fortunately, there are many simple ways to improve your onsite SEO. Let’s review some common things you should be looking for during an onsite SEO audit.
1. Keyword analysis:
Keywords play an integral role in your onsite SEO, so keyword research should be the first order of business during your SEO audit. Google’s keyword planner tool can help you see if you’re focusing on the right search queries. You’ll naturally want to place your focus on the search terms that are most relevant for your business. However, if you’re competing with industry behemoths for these keywords, your budget might not be able to handle the competition. Once you’ve identified your target keywords, you can customized your website copy to make the best use of them. You’ll want to include them in a natural, readable manner. Stuffing the keywords into the content and meta data can actually harm your ranking in the long run.
2. Duplicate content:
There are a couple different types of duplicate content that might turn up in an onsite SEO audit. The first variety is usually seen if you’re selling products and using the descriptions and information that comes from your supplier. This means your website is filled with the same content as thousands of other sites. How will you stand out in the search results unless your content is unique? It’s important to make the appropriate changes to ensure that you have no duplicate content on your site. The other scenario featuring duplicate content involves having different URLs with the same content on your site. Many website owners don’t even realize this is happening on their websites, since the duplicate content is being auto-filled by their web development platform. Regardless of how it occurs, search engines don’t look kindly on this practice: It’s usually viewed as an attempt to fool the algorithm by having multiple pages that target the identical keywords.
3. Broken links and redirects:
Broken links are bad for both SEO and the user experience on your website. These “dead ends” should either be deleted or handled with the appropriate 301 redirects. If you’re choosing to use 301 redirects, use them with good judgment. Not all pages should be redirected to the home page. In many cases, it may be best to use a simple 404 “not found” page if you can’t a suitable page as the destination for the redirect. Business owners who run an e-commerce website where inventory changes frequently and items can run out of stock need to pay extra attention to broken links and make changes where necessary.
4. Titles and Meta Data:
There’s plenty of room for improvement and optimization when it comes to meta tags. First, check your titles: They should be unique, they should contain targeted keywords, and they shouldn’t be longer than 70 characters. Any pages that might be lacking titles should be corrected immediately. The meta description tag also deserves some analysis. The content of your description tag should be no longer than 155 characters; any descriptions longer than this may not show up properly in search results. Additionally, it might be helpful to have your descriptions include calls to action. Having a call to action within a meta description tag can inspire users to click on your page from a search engine results page.
Many new internet marketers focus on optimizing their written content and forget about their images. In fact, images offer a wealth of SEO opportunities for the savvy website owner. Be sure that your images are being indexed in Google; use their Image Search feature to search for the names of a few images. If your images aren’t showing up, some optimization may be necessary. Your images should each live on a permanent URL that ideally contains a targeted keyword for that page. Images should also have file names that contain your targeted keywords, with relevant titles and “alt” tags.
6. Quality of Content:
In today’s SEO environment, it’s more important than ever that content be relevant, well written and original. The days of writing for robots instead of humans are over: fluff content artificially stuffed with keywords will not only be a turn-off to your website visitors, but can also get you penalized by the search engines. To make your content more engaging and readable for visitors, try to have at least 400 words per page. If a page is heavy on text, break it up with sub-headings, bullet points or numbered lists. It’s helpful to have at least one unique image on each page, and including video can also keep visitors on the page and lower the bounce rate. Last of all, remember to update your content frequently, so that search engines have new material to crawl.
7. Page Loading Speed:
Users are quick to abandon a page if it takes more than a few seconds to load. If Google notes that your pages have a high bounce rate back to their search engine results page, your ranking will suffer. It’s important to get those pages to load as quickly as possible, both for visitor retention and SEO purposes.
8. Social Sharing:
Everyone knows that it’s important for a business to have a social media presence, but many internet marketers overlook the fact that social media should be incorporated into their onsite SEO strategy. Social sharing buttons can make it easy for visitors to share your website content. This not only increases your visibility, but can also boost your ranking. Some recommended social sharing buttons to add include: the Facebook Share button, the Facebook Like button, the Pin It button, the Google +1 button, and the Tweet button.
9. Submission to Google Webmaster Central:
If you haven’t submitted your site to Google yet, there’s no time like the present. By doing so, you can ensure that Google indexes your whole site properly, and you’ll be able to see any errors that might exist on your site. You’ll also gain access to a host of useful tools and utilities, which you can explore in due time. For an initial SEO audit, just make sure you’ve submitted your site.
While the concepts described on this checklist might seem basic to seasoned SEO experts, they provide the ideal starting point for those who are new to making money through their websites. You’d be surprised how many marketers fail at their business ventures because they got these fundamental items wrong: Don’t let your Internet marketing business suffer due to poor onsite SEO. Auditing your website can let you know whether it’s optimized for maximum visibility and conversions, and can show you where you can make changes to improve performance.
By James Parsons