Have you ever wondered what your website looks like to search engines? Auditing helps you realize what you can do to improve your ranking on search engines so that consumers can find your website with more ease. Instead of paying for auditing, learning how to audit your website yourself may help you save money. In these few simple steps, I will teach you how to find where the problems lie within your site. A chart like the one below will help keep track of what your website is doing well on and what needs to be improved.
1. See How Your Target Audience View Search Results (Google AdWords Preview Tool)
This tool can be helpful for a company who is trying to sell their products or services overseas and to see how their ad or result link looks like on Google in a specific country. This step is not necessary unless you are selling to a country outside of yours. All you have to do is change the country option in Google AdWords Preview Tool and you can see how results appear on Google for those users.
2. Mobile Friendly
Steps 2-5 and 9 can be found using the developer tool in your browser or by right-clicking anywhere on the page by clicking “Inspect.” The second step is to determine if your website is compatible with mobile devices. The first page shows that YouTube is mobile friendly. If the page does not reformat itself automatically after pressing the option, the webpage is not properly view-able on smaller electronic devices. Also, you can use Google’s mobile friendly test to see if it is compatible.
3. Title Tag
Third, it is important to have a title tag on your website and pages. The title tag should contain keywords that are relevant to the webpage. This tells search engines what the website or page is about and helps it index your site according to keywords. Make sure that you use a keyword research tool to find keywords that are both relevant to your site and are searched often.
4. Meta Description
In 2009, Matt Cutts, Google’s former head of Webspam, announced neither meta descriptions nor meta keywords factor into Google’s ranking algorithms for web search. Even though the meta description does not count in the rankings anymore, it is still important to put a meta description because Google still uses that description as a preview (under the URL) in the search results.
5. Image Tag Alt Attribute
Why are image alt attribute important? The alt text describes what the image is or what is in the image. Every image should have a description in their alt attribute. Furthermore, it is important to have these attributes for people who use screen readers which are special browsers made for the blind and visually impaired. Screen readers read the alt text aloud for the user.
6. Robots.txt File
Robots.txt files tell search engines web crawlers what pages to include in their index and what not. For example, if you do not want a certain page or image being crawled by a bot, then you can restrict that bot from having access. You can check to see if you have that file by typing in your URL/robots.txt and it should bring a page back similar to the one below.
You can create a robots.txt from scratch or use a tool to help you make one. Google Search Console helps you create one with step-by-step instructions including testing your file and submitting or updating it. If you do not have the time to make one, Advanced Robots TXT Generator can help you create a file for free.
Having a sitemap makes it easier for search engines to find and rank your webpages. Sitemaps let search engines know when changes have been made. It doesn’t hurt to have a sitemap and it also improves your SEO. It helps by having pages updated faster than when there is no sitemap on the website. To see if you have the file, type in your URL/sitemap.xml and it should bring a page back similar to the one below.
If you do not want to take the time to create a sitemap from scratch using Google Search Consoles instructions, there are many free and paid generators that help you make a sitemap file. Below are just a few tools to help you get started.
Having Google Analytics can be very beneficial to your website. This tool helps keep track of where your traffic is coming from, the bounce rate, new or returning users, which pages the consumer is looking at and other types of data. In addition, GA takes all of the data collected from your website and makes meaningful decisions out of it. There are various tools like SEOquake to determine if steps 8 and 10-13 are on a website. Setting up Google Analytics is simple and Google gives you step-by-step instructions on how to set up your account.
9. Canonical Link Tags
A canonical link tag specifies the official URL that search engines should know. https://twinword.com and https://www.twinword.com both lead to the same page. Make sure search engines like Google know this. The canonical link tag is used to combat duplicate pages so they do not affect your pages ranking. Having duplicates could be negative for your page because search engines may think duplicate pages are spammy and penalize you.
10. Schema Markup
Schema Markup is invisible code that you can add to your HTML. If you properly indicate what your site is according to Schema.org and other details, you can improve the way your page is shown on search engines. For example, the following screenshot below shows that the first result does not have ratings and reviews but the second result does. These are just a few of the markups you can add to your HTML.
11. Open Graph
Open Graph tag help third-party social media sites like Facebook grab information when their users share a link to your page. Knowing how to use these tags can help you promote your website or product more efficiently. Have you ever tried to post a link on any social media and the thumbnail is missing or it’s a different image? If you know how to use “og” tags correctly, you can easily fix this problem.Learn how to create og tags for free with Facebook developer tools.
12. Twitter Card
Adding code for a Twitter card could be beneficial to your website in where promotion for products would be more noticeable through social media. There are different types of cards but they all allow you to go over the 140-character limit and attach media screenshots when you share a post. In addition, you can see how your Twitter card looks by searching up your URL on the card validator tool.
Having Flash embedded in your webpage is useful but too much of it can be a bad thing. Say your page is made up mostly of flash, the page will run slower than normal and it will take time to load posts. It also decreases the usability of most websites because some websites run mostly on flash and cannot be accessible on mobile. Furthermore, Google might not be able to crawl the text in side your Flash application.
14. Alexa Ranking
This step is optional but if you want to know where your website lies with your competitors you can check with Alexa Ranking. Most of all, it helps show your domain power by seeing if you are in the higher or lower ranks of your field based on web traffic. According to Alexa Ranking, the lower your rank is, the better. This ranking helps advertisers see the true potential of a website and will make them want to advertise on your site.
After completing the audit, you can decide to improve your website yourself or get a professional to do it for you. Don’t waste money on hiring someone if a few changes or plugins can improve your on-page SEO.
You can refer to these steps the next time you update your site. If you have any suggestions, questions or recommendations, feel free to leave a comment down below.
Check out other chapters in our series on technical SEO