Anyone with a website wants to be on the first page of Google search engine rankings. And while that’s an amazing goal, most of us know that it’s easier said than done. It takes a great deal of keyword research, regular publishing of quality, original content, and more than a bit of inbound marketing strategy. If you really want to optimize your site for the web, know that you’re going to need to do some regular maintenance. Any site requires a bit of upkeep to ensure it’s totally optimized at all times, so if you’ve been looking for a checklist you can look at every once in a while to make sure your site is firing on all cylinders, then this is the blog for you. Here’s a short checklist you can use to complete an easy, regular SEO site checkup every month or so:
We’ve done a few posts on metadata, but a basic definition of it would be: the data that tells search engines what your site, and your website pages are about. If you’re looking for a quality page ranking, it’s worth it to make sure each and every one of your pages has three important pieces of metadata:
This piece of metadata is responsible for the page titles that show up in the very top of a browser window, which work to remind users what content is on each tab they have open. It’s also one of Google’s first steps to ranking your page, as it tells search bots what the content on the page is going to be about. When you do your SEO site checkup, make sure each of your pages has a title tag that reflects the keyword for each page, so both search engine users and bots know what they’re getting when they click on a link to your page.
Those little explanations that show up below the page title on Google search results pages are more important than you’d think. Most search engine users read them to see what they’re going to get when they click a link to your page, and they’re another great place to make sure your keyword shows up. In completing your SEO site checkup, you’ll want to double check that you’ve got custom meta descriptions for each page. What’s more, make sure those descriptions are under 160 characters, so Google doesn’t cut them off.
The last of the important metadata components, it’s a good idea to make sure each and every one of your pages has a designated keyword. If you use an SEO tool like the Yoast plugin, it’s easy to set a keyword for each page, and determine whether it’s strong enough to get the quality ranking you’re looking for. It’s also easy to tell which pages have not had a keyword designated when you’re going through your SEO checkup.
While it’s best to develop a habit of including this metadata every time you add a new page or blog post to your website, it’s easy to get busy and forget every once in awhile. That’s why a regular SEO site checkup can help ensure your website is always on track for a high ranking.
Check alt tags
Alt tags on images are a great way to boost your SEO ranking. Not only do they give you another spot to include your keyword (if it’s relevant to the image) but they also help tell search engine bots more about what’s on your page. Since bots can’t “see” pictures, they need words and descriptions to give them an idea of what’s going on in the image. That’s where the alt tags come in. When you do your SEO site checkup, be sure to go through and make sure each image has relevant alt tags, and include keywords where you can for better rankings on searches that are relevant to you.
Check for broken links and redirects
One of the easiest ways to lose site viewers and get bumped down in search engine rankings is to have a bunch of broken links and redirects. That’s why it’s good to make sure you check to make sure all your links and redirects are working at least once a month, if not every week. If a site viewer clicks a link to your page, only to be met with a 404 error, they’re less likely to return. If search engine crawlers spot broken links, that’ll also have a negative effect on your rankings.
The best way to check your site’s redirects is to use a free tool like Check My Links, which saves you the time of checking every single page and link to make sure they’re working. If and when you find a broken link or redirect, it’s in your best interest to fix it ASAP. One great way to do that, which can work for most situations, is to use a 301 redirect. 301 redirects helps maintain the ranking power from the original page, ensuring your viewers get to where they need to go, without losing any of your keywords or metadata.
Have you looked at recent Google updates?
An SEO site checkup doesn’t have to be limited to small, backend updates. If you want to ensure your checkup is thorough, you need to make sure your site is in compliance with all of Google’s indexing trends. Google makes regular updates to their indexing algorithm to ensure their results pages are offering the best possible options for users, and some of these updates can have a serious effect on your ranking if you’re not paying attention.
If you’ve missed some of those new algorithm updates, and haven’t made changes accordingly, your site could be penalized for something like a large pop-up ad on the mobile version of your site, or the lack of mobile responsiveness. Here are a few good ways to avoid Google penalties, but it’s a great best practice to visit Google’s website to check for updates every so often, to make sure your site is always in compliance.
Track your progress—for free
Finally, the best way to make sure you’re doing everything you can to boost your SEO ranking is to track your progress. It’s good to know that you don’t need to buy a whole bunch of fancy technology to do that effectively, either. There are a whole host of free SEO tools out there, each one offering unique capabilities that can show you where your site is lacking, and could use a bit more work. The easiest place to start is Google Analytics, since it offers pretty much all the basic information you need to know to boost your ranking, from how much traffic your site is getting to how well your paid ads are converting, but know that’s not your only option. Here are 15 other free SEO Audit tools we love, which will help show you where you can improve when it comes to SEO.
An SEO site checkup doesn’t have to be a big, daunting thing you need to put off continuously. In fact, the more often you do it, the easier your checkups will become. By simply remembering the most basic components of SEO: setting a keyword, including relevant metadata, and ensuring your site doesn’t have any broken links, your site will do relatively well for any low-competition keywords you’re looking to target. That said, we know SEO isn’t always the easiest thing to get the hang of. So, if you have questions about how you can improve your site’s general search engine optimization, or if you’re just not quite sure how to implement SEO best practices, feel free to get in touch. HA Digital Marketing has a team full of SEO experts, and we’d be happy to help you work to get your site the rankings you’re looking for.