Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a minefield with so many elements comprising the Google (and other Search Engines) algorithm in how they rank and order websites in 2020.
We have compiled the top 10 fundamental checks you can perform on your website today.
For those that are non-technical (or don’t have access to the source code of your website), you can still perform these checks on your website.
Go to your website using Google Chrome Browser and right-hand click “view source” or Ctrl and U on Windows or Cmd + option + U on Mac.
Do you know your target keywords/search queries?
Before going through the checks on your website below, you need to understand what you looking to achieve with your website.
Have you really understood what your customers are searching for when they come to realise they need your products or services?
If not, then we highly recommend brainstorming ideas, prioritise the typical questions or queries they would type in Google and structure your website around them.
Title, H1 and Meta Description Tags
When looking at what keywords or user query you want to rank for, you need to ensure that your Title and H1 HTML tags exist and contain relevant keywords that you want to appear for in Google.
To find out what you currently have in your website search for:
< title> < h1> < meta name="description"
All of these should be present on each of your webpages and should be relevant to each other, as well as to the search queries you want users to type in to find these pages.
They should also be conversational and be in natural prose.
The length of each of these properties is also key.
Too short and you are losing valuable real-estate to convince users to click on your webpage and too long, Google will cut short your text and thus users won’t be able to read properly what your webpage is about.
The SEO recommendations for the character count is as follows:
- < title>: 50-60 characters
- < h1>: 20 -70 characters
- Meta Description: 150 – 160 characters.
Here is one of our customer's search results in Google:
Duplicate page titles or content?
Duplication of anything in Google is classed as a critical error for SEO.
Ensuring that you all of your title, h1, meta descriptions are unique is key to getting a high ranking.
So is the actual content on your webpages. An old trick performed many years ago was to ‘keyword stuff’ where a webmaster used to try and chuck in as many of the keywords as possible onto a website with the hope the Search Engines would think it was relevant.
Fortunately, Search Engines got wise to that and become much more clever in how they identify if your website is relevant to the user or not.
Make sure the content you have on your webpages is unique, conversational and purposeful.
If you get this right, more people will spend time reading your content, sharing your content with friends, family and colleagues and other companies/websites may also reference your material to their audience too.
Google loves this type of content and will reward you in droves with higher rankings if you can get this right!
Ensure each page has over 200 words of (good quality, relevant) text
Google is passionate about helping users answer questions and providing the most relevant information to its users.
If the webpage that you are trying to score highly for lacks original, engaging and informative content to the search query the user has asked, then sadly you won’t be featuring in the top ranks.
This only needs to be for the pages that you want to capture attention for.
If you have a ‘request a quote’ or ‘contact us’ page then you probably aren’t needing the search engines to feature this page highly as you would expect to have to give some information or encourage the users in a way before they need to contact you.
Are all of your images visible?
The images you use are vital to keeping a user engaged in your blog article or content but they have to be visible at all times!
If you have any images which for some reason have been removed from your server and have the ‘broken image’ icon where they should be, Google will know this and penalise your rankings accordingly.
Either remove these from your webpages or restore the images back on your server to get your rankings back on track.
Do all of your images have the alt attribute?
An important ranking factor is how accessible your website is to users who have disabilities.
The descriptions you give to your images for those who are unable to see them are key.
These users will typically have a screen reader which will read-aloud the content on your page.
A relevant, detailed description is important for these users to understand the context of the image and Google will reward you or penalise you accordingly.
This is how to find out if your webpages have these written correctly:
When in page source search for alt= - If there is no description next to the = in “ “ then you do not have a suitable description for your images. If it appears to be not relevant to the image or is a placeholder then you will need to fix this immediately.
Broken links externally or internally
Every now and again we add, modify or delete parts of our website as we need to ensure that the information we give is up-to-date.
If however, we do not check the internal links (links to pages within our website) or the external links (links to websites outside of our own) then we may find these particular pages have expired.
Google ‘crawls’ through each of these links to see if these pages exist and ensure that the pages are of good content.
If they are broken (or poorly created websites) then Google penalises you accordingly.
Be thorough with this check and ensure that whoever you decide link has the right to earn it!
Is your page mobile friendly?
This is probably the single most important part of SEO for your website.
However, if you realise your website is not mobile-friendly, usually this isn’t a quick fix.
Hence why this is towards the bottom on our list. Google judges your website based on what it looks like from a mobile device.
It used to look at both mobile and desktop version, however (due to the popularity of mobile devices) this no longer the case and purely focuses on mobile.
As a result, if you find that users have to ‘pinch and zoom’ at elements of your website or the layout isn’t conducive to mobile devices, then your website will probably not even feature on the top 50 of pages on Google Search.
Do you have a Sitemap?
Does your website have a sitemap?
Typically, this relies on your website administrator to keep up-to-date and maintain.
However, you can check to see if you have a sitemap. Usually, the address is www.yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml (you can view our sitemap here: ( https://www.rjm.digital/sitemap.xml)
Sitemaps tell Google how your website is structured and informs of the hierarchy of the different pages.
It's critical that search engines have access to this document to ensure that it’s not missing out on any content that you want users to be able to search for.
If you can’t see one or you realise that none of the webpages you want users/Google are listed on your sitemap then you will need to create/update it. You can create a free sitemap using this tool: https://www.xml-sitemaps.com/.
Once this is created you can then ask your website administrator to upload this file to your website.
Secure Website (SSL Certificate)
The last check you need to perform is whether or not your website has an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate.
It ensures there is encryption between the webpage on the user's browser and on your server that the website is hosted on.
If you don’t have a certificate enabled then Google Chrome will show the above message to your visitors.
This is obviously a bad look to your visitors as it strikes fear and doubt into the eyes as it will be the first thing they see about your business!
This is a quick fix. However, it does involve working with your hosting company (some charge a fee too) to put this onto your site.
It's also critical for SEO too as Google will penalise all websites for not having this certificate in place.
This all sounds very manual, is there anything out there that we can do to help me?
We here at RJM provide a detailed free SEO audit to all of our customers and to businesses yet to work with us.
We will provide you with a detailed report using the market-leading SEO tools available.
Its completely free and we always enjoy discussing how you can get your website to rank higher on Google!