What do we mean when we say optimisation issues?
Ultimately it is anything that is holding your site back from reaching those coveted positions on page one of search engine results. Yes, we still talk about rankings because they matter to our clients. They are of course one metric to measure. Let’s explore the tools you will need to check SEO on your site and then which issues you need to prioritise.
What do you need in your SEO Tool Box?
- MozBar – You can use it to check URL structure, page title, meta description, H1, alt tags and Rel=“canonical”. Create a free account and you can also check page authority and domain authority along with spam score for each page.
- GT Metrix – Check your site speed and get a full list of the issues preventing it from loading faster.
- Xenu’s Link Sleuth – Do a crawl for the whole website and check it for broken links.
- Siteliner – Explore your site for duplicate content, broken links and lots more.
- Search Console – Every website should be integrated with Search Console & Google Analytics
Okay, you have the toolkit to get you started and start looking for those issues to begin to fix them. Free tools provide you with an excellent starting point and provide you with a good foundation.
What are the optimisation issues that need resolving?
Now you have your tools it is time to address the issues. Follow our handy guide and they will be sorted in no time!
1. Broken Links
Using Xenu’s Link Sleuth perform a crawl on your website. This will highlight all the broken links you have. You can investigate them from there one by one or you can flip over to Search Console, go to Crawls, then Crawl Errors and get a little more detail on those broken links. Search console will show you which are soft 404s, which may be related to server issues and how many are on a desktop, as well as a smartphone.
Solution: You can remedy broken links with redirects, leaving products live with an out of stock message and a link to related or replacement products, create a quirky 404 page so people want to stay on your website anyway.
2. No Meta
This one applies to those who have poor meta or no meta at all. How can you check? Use the Mozbar to go to each page and see what it records your page title, description and H1 as. If you are going to write meta on your site to resolve this issue and make your website stand out more when it pops up in searches then you need to do keyword research. For those key landing pages you can use a free account with SEM Rush (offers limited searches) or if you do Adwords use the Google Keywords Planner tool. What to avoid:
- Stuffing meta with keywords
- Using the meta keywords tab at all – this is just a spam box these days – leave it empty
- Repeating the same title on multiple pages or using the same keyword(s) on more than one page
- Letting your website platform pull meta automatically. This style of meta lacks a call to action and does not present your pages strongly
Solution: Write user-friendly meta data that has the term and phrase in the title, description and H1 as well as the copy on the page. That is proper optimisation and it takes time but it gives your site the best chance of appearing in search results and standing out to shoppers!
3. Poor site speed
You get just seconds to satisfy shoppers because they are more impatient than ever. This is a world of apps, next day delivery and instant streaming – people are just not prepared to wait for anything anymore. You can quickly check your website’s speed using GT Metrix. The tool will also provide a detailed report that gives you all you need to remedy a slow site. This is what the online report looks like:
Solution: This is the tricky part because some of the issues outlined in the report will require a competent web developer. There are some that plugins can handle such as caching and image optimisation. Changing your server (if you are on shared hosting) can help significantly. Make sure any changes that are beyond your understanding you entrust to someone who knows exactly what they are doing.
4. Duplicate Copy
The first thing we look at from a content perspective is whether there is any duplicate copy. That does not necessarily mean that content has been copied on multiple pages but it can occur and in this instance strongly we urge you to put original copy on every page. Think of each page is an island that must have a distinct personality of its own. The branding will be the same and the ethos that shines through but it is important you make sure the subject matter is original. Do not repeatedly use the same keywords over and over.
What we more commonly see are multiple versions of a website live and that basically means you are competing with these mirror images of your main site. That could be because the non-www is not redirecting to the www version or that you have moved to https and the http version is not redirecting to the new domain.
Solution: Put your site through Siteliner which may incur a cost to make sure that every page gets scanned. They are pounds well spent. You will find every instance of duplicate copy on the site and be able to download reports and rectify every problem one by one. Not an easy process but an essential one! You can also check Search Console by going to Search Appearance and then HTML Improvements. Here you will see exactly what Google sees and where it is picking up on duplicate copy – page titles are a big giveaway.
5. Spammy Backlinks
It is a more manual process to check your backlinks without a costly, but powerful tool. As an agency, we pull our data from multiple tools to create a clear backlink profile and then decide if there are any unnatural or suspect backlinks. We know Google penalises sites with an unnatural or spammy backlink profile so this is a crucial area to address.
The manual approach to this issue is just as reliable but it takes time and if you have thousands of links we would not recommend it! Go to Search Console and Search Traffic, then click on “Links To Your Site”. You will find a clear list here of links to your website. Next is the time-consuming element. You have to scroll through each link and check the quality of them in turn. Look for these things:
- Is the site relevant to your industry/sector
- Does it have a high Domain Authority
- Does it have a high spam score
- Is it British if you are after British traffic
- Does it look professional or amateur
You can use your free Moz account and MozBar to check Domain Authority (DA) and Spam Score.
Solution: So what do you do if you find some spammy links? The manual process is recommended first. This involves contacting the webmasters and asking for those links to be removed. You will get limited success with this approach but you must document evidence of doing it. That evidence can then be shared with Google when you request a Disavow. For more information on Disavows go to https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/2648487?hl=en. Google will consider the disavow file but does not have to action anything. At this point, you will have done everything you can do.
Following the five steps in this blog you should find yourself in a much stronger position to check SEO, but also you should find that you are more knowledgeable about the areas of your site that are underperforming. If you want to delve deeper into the problems that your site may currently be experiencing then we recommend that you follow the link and download our FREE DIY Audit Checklist. It addresses the most common issues and you can audit your site in your own time. Simply, download and print the checklist and you are set to go and you can even tick them off as you complete them.
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