Search engine optimization is constantly changing. Google is always tweaking its algorithm in an attempt to bring the most relevant content to its users. This means that you need to be on the lookout for things you can do to boost your website's performance and relevancy.
Running a website for your business isn't a "set it and forget it" deal. On the other hand, it's not a process that has to take up all of your waking hours. By understanding a few key concepts and learning the best methods for tracking your SEO gains, you'll achieve great results.
Let's look at the tools and strategies that will help you check your website for quick SEO gains. Go through them step-by-step to ensure that your website outperforms your competition.
While Google doesn't tell you exactly what's under the hood of its algorithm, you can get a peak. One of the free tools that Google makes available to its users is Google Lighthouse.
Google Lighthouse is a tool that generates reports concerning your website. In effect, it allows you to look at some of the factors the search engine deems valuable. Lighthouse gives you insights regarding the user experience of your website and a host of other factors.
Rather than just offer up a bunch of information that is up to interpretation, Google Lighthouse does something better. The tool exports straightforward, actionable suggestions.
Lighthouse is a tool that runs as a Chrome extension. This means that it is able to collect data in conjunction with Google's flagship web browser. Lighthouse offers information on five important categories that affect your website.
These categories are performance, accessibility, SEO, best practices, and progressive web apps; a category that concerns mobile users.
Google Lighthouse judges your effectiveness in these areas using a 1-100 scale. You get actionable advice that can quickly improve how your page ranks in the search engines.
One of the major performance indicators that Lighthouse evaluates is how fast your pages load. It's important to get a third-party view on page load speed as what happens on your computer isn't indicative of what occurs throughout the web.
With people from around the world accessing your site from different devices and pathways, you need an objective view of how your page loads. Taking actions to improve your website's performance in this area requires having a behind-the-scenes look.
This is where Lighthouse comes in handy. Google takes the least common denominator by accessing your pages through less than optimal connections. The reason is that if your site can perform well for this type of connection, you're doing things right.
Google's objective is to provide its audience with the best user experience. If your website can serve people with all types of internet access equally well, Google will reward you for it in the rankings.
The term Developer Tools may catch the average user off guard but there's no need to worry. The tool is easy to use and you won't need to acquire any developer skills. What you need is the ability to take what Lighthouse gives you and apply it to your website.
To run Google Lighthouse through the Chrome browser, or find the extension in the Chrome web store. Simply add the extension and then click the puzzle piece icon in the top right of the browser.
Select the Lighthouse icon and click "Generate Report." The tool will open a new tab with your report for the page.
There is a second way of using Lighthouse for those accustomed to using Developer Tools. Open the page you wish to analyze in your Google Chrome browser.
Click Shift+Cmnd+I on a Mac or Ctrl+Shift+J for Windows. This will open the Developer Tools audit panel. Select the two arrows from the tabs at the top in order to expand the menu.
You will have the option of selecting mobile or desktop performance. After choosing one of these options, click "Generate Report" to get your analysis.
This free service provides a detailed report that centers around five categories. The audit gives you a grade between A to F for on-page SEO, links, usability, performance and social.
The report gives you an overall grade that is a reflection of how well your site performs. It also gives a list of improvements it recommends for optimizing your web presence.
We look at your website's title tag, meta description, body content, indexing and other factors. Everything from XML sitemaps to your use of Schema.org structured data is a part of your grade.
Backlinks reflect how other websites view your pages. We work with MOZ to provide data on your backlink profile. The report lists your top backlinks and offers insight into the flow of authority through your site.
Usability is a metric that has to do with your site's user experience. Mobile responsiveness is a key part of this and the Free SEO Audit gives you a clear analysis of your website's performance.
The service checks for use of Flash and iFrames which can burden use on most devices. You also get a check for the presence of a favicon, legible font sizes, e-mail privacy, as well as tap target sizing.
The performance part of the audit concerns page speed and responsiveness. Factors like server response, page size and scripts come together to offer a picture as to how users interact with your website.
Social signals are an increasingly important part of SEO. Activity on social platforms is important for customer feedback and brand awareness. To receive a good grade in this part of the report, your social media accounts need to be linked from your site.
Website crawlers are internet bots that systematically browse websites. Used mainly by search engines, the purpose of these crawlers is to offer a continuous view of the web. New pages are added, others are removed, and search
engines need to index content accordingly.
Web crawlers can be useful in your SEO efforts. Screaming Frog and Sitebulb are two options for the task. These tools can be used to find keywords for your internal links, identify tags to use on your site as well as other functions.
Think of website crawlers as an insurance policy against any sort of malfunction that could make your site invisible to search engines. By crawling your website with the appropriate tool, you can make sure Google can scan your content.
Screaming Frog gives you the ability to crawl any site. It gives you on-site data that you can use to improve your SEO strategy. Specifically, Screaming Frog searches for broken links, conducts metadata analysis, checks for duplicate content, evaluates your XML sitemap and robots.txt, as well as running an analysis of your website's architecture.
Screaming Frog requires installation of the software tool onto your computer. You choose between Mac, Windows and Linux. It is a flexible website crawler. It gives you the ability to search, filter, and even customize your crawls. Besides website and link audits, you can conduct content audits on your posts, export XML Sitemaps and so much more.
You can use the information you obtain from Screaming Frog to optimize your website design. Depending on how your users interact with your website, you may need to make adjustments to improve UX.
Sitebulb is a top-rated website crawler that provides intuitive audits for professional-level clients. You will find that the graphical nature of the reported data will save you time in drawing SEO conclusions about your site.
Sitebulb crawls links, analyzes site speed, finds script errors and provides helpful reviews of all resources for a domain. While Screaming Frog and Sitebulb are both effective crawlers for your needs, the latter is preferable for large websites. Sitebulb doesn't require quite as much of the computer's memory to perform the task at hand.
If you've gotten this far, you will notice that some of the steps have a degree of redundancy in the tasks they perform. For example, page load speed is a factor that you will examine with several of the tools listed. This is perfectly fine as you are getting a different perspective that can lead you to synergies that will benefit your efforts.
With AHREFS & SEMRush, this is no different. These services pick your website apart and pinpoint the areas where you need to make adjustments to rank better.
AHREFS has come a long way since its days as a backlink analysis tool. Since the service got its start in 2010, it has grown to include a multitude of other functionalities.
AHREFS is a paid service. However, it has a free version of its popular backlink checker. Enter your domain into the search field to get a backlink profile that includes the number of backlinks to your site as well as the number of referring domains.
You also get a list of the top backlinks ranked by Domain Rating and URL Rating. These metrics help you understand how your backlinks influence your SEO. Using your backlink profile, or a competitors, you can formulate a strategy to attract higher-quality links.
AHREFS offers keyword research, search engine position tracking and technical SEO analysis as a part of its paid service. Having a history of high-quality backlink analysis, you should prefer AHREFS if this is the area you want to focus on.
The SEMRush toolkit is a complete suite that evaluates the SEO readiness of your website and provides suggestions for maximizing effectiveness. While SEMRush has a backlinks tool like AHREFS, it is better known for its other features.
The Site Audit Tool gives website owners the ability to conduct a complete audit of SEO health. It offers insights into the on-site issues that affect your ranking. With over 130 checks, SEMRush scans through everything from meta descriptions and images to sitemaps and source code.
To activate a site audit, you create a new project and select the "Set up" option. After entering the details the interface asks for, click on "Start Site Audit" and the report is created.
An overall health score along with notifications and warnings give you the general picture of your website's health. You can delve deeper into each issue to find specific suggestions to follow.
Position tracking has become more complicated ever since Google started adapting its results for different circumstances. For example, two people searching the same keyword in a different part of the world will get a different set of results.
This is why SEMRush is a valuable tool for tracking your SEO progress. When setting up a project on the service, SEMRush asks you for your location, device type, a list of keywords and your competitors' domains.
The position report gives you the best performing keywords on your website as well as the estimated traffic, visibility and position for each keyword. You can track your position over time so that you have control over how your SEO progresses.
If you start to falter for a few keywords, you can take all the necessary actions to catch up to and surpass your competition.
Besides Lighthouse, Google offers another essential tool for making quick SEO gains. The search engine juggernaut makes the Search Console available to website owners. Google Search Console is a free service that allows website owners to improve their SEO. The console informs you of your website's total clicks, impressions, average click-through rate and average position. You also get a list of keywords and how they are performing over the time you specify.
To begin taking advantage of the service, log into the Google Search Console area and click "Add property." After entering your domain, you will need to verify your ownership of the site.
To carry out verification, you can choose one of three options. You can upload an HTML file to your website, you can add a special TXT record or CNAME to your domain settings or you can upload a small code snippet to your website's code.
Google then asks you for information regarding language, geographic location and server location. The more answers you provide, the better the data you will get.
The advantage that Google Search Console offers over all other tools is that the data comes directly from the search engine giant. Following the suggestions and error correction notifications of the console is a surefire way to ensure that your website performs well.
Every tool discussed so far relies on data and the mechanics of your website. However, in recent years, Google is starting to place a greater emphasis on content. Introduced in October of 2019, the BERT update to Google's algorithm introduced a new variable to the SEO equation.
Bert is a machine learning paradigm shift in how Google ranks content. With this update, Google has the ability to judge the semantic quality of your posts. At the same time, it tracks how Google users interact with content and learns what people prefer.
The fundamental shift that this brings involves the departure from keyword-centered content. While including niche keywords in your text is important, the way you convey your message is of greater importance.
This means that a manual website review requires you to look at aspects beyond the total clicks and average page time. How your visitors consume your content plays an ever-increasing role in how your website ranks.
Even with manual website reviews, some tools can help you do the job better. If you use WordPress as your content management system, you can use plugins to guide your efforts.
Rank Math SEO is one such plugin. Its interface is very intuitive and integrates with the post editor. You get a detailed analysis that pinpoints the parts of your content that need tweaking. Some of the things the plugin will point out are lengthy sentences, excessive passive language and keyword density.
Whether you use a plugin or not, focusing on your writing has the potential to propel your website past the competition. Keeping your posts on point and answering the specific issue stated in your title is vital. Do not use fluff to make your text as long as possible.
A good rule of thumb is to write for your users, not for the search engine. Keyword stuffing will only get your website penalized and pushed down the rankings. Avoid wordy sentences and big words. A 12-grade reading level is ideal for most types of content.
Besides making sure your website has value-rich content, there are many technical matters you can tend to manually. Whether you choose not to pay for some of the subscription-based tools mentioned or whether you just want to learn the mechanics of SEO first hand, manual SEO is the way to go.
Even in the case that you use all of the aforementioned services, a manual audit will only strengthen your presence in the rankings. Always think from your audience's viewpoint and cater to their needs.
Your content should have titles that attract users with a specific pain point. Using direct, unambiguous language is essential to inform people about what your posts are about. Go through every page and post and make sure your titles are eye-grabbing.
Furthermore, meta descriptions play an important role in informing search engine users about your content. When someone conducts a query on Google, the results contain a brief description. The title and description of the search results will qualify your page for the user. They will end up choosing between your page and those of your competitors, so making these two tags inspire click through, is a top priority.
Backlinks aren't the only links that play a role in SEO. Internal links, or links from one page on your site to another, are weighed by Google's algorithm. The Google bot crawls your website in its attempt to find out what it's about.
You should optimize your internal links in a way that compels users to click on them. The more pages on your site visitors browse through, the higher your average page per visit metric.
To optimize your internal links, start with the anchor text. Avoid making phrases like "click here" or "read more" your link anchor text. Instead, use keywords that reflect the destination the link is pointing to. Additionally, try not to use the same anchor text multiple times. Instead, choose a different keyword each time.
Keep in mind that you don't need to flood your posts with internal backlinks. A couple of internal links are fine and certainly no more than six or seven per page for an average post. If you have lengthy, detailed posts consisting of 5,000 words or more, you can add internal links as necessary.
There is no hard and fast rule for determining the number of internal links you should use. Experience tends to point to the numbers suggested above. To find out what works for your website, you can run a series of tests.
Create two posts similar in length and subject matter. Place two internal links on one and 10 or more on the other. Track the performance of both posts. The data will lead you to a formula that works for you.
Images are an important part of content that most automated tools do not deal with. Making sure your images aren't overly space-intensive is important for guaranteeing optimal site loading speed.
Beyond the size of the images, there are a few elements that you should add so that you get maximum results. Start by optimizing the file name of your image. The name of the photo should contain a keyword that is directly related to the content it accompanies.
For example, if you run a tennis website and are creating a post on rackets, the image may contain a player holding one. The image title "tennis racket" is preferable to something like "DSC096351980987."
Although search engine spiders are getting more sophisticated, they still do not completely "read" images. Alt tags help the bot index your content based on what you tell it your image is showing.
An underrated bit of advice is to use unique images as much as possible. Stock images make it easy for website owners to rely on ready-made visual content. The downside to this is that Google ends up penalizing websites that use images that are available elsewhere.
Showing Google that your website is an authority on a subject is usually enough to skyrocket your page through the rankings. A large part of authority status begins with sharing information about what makes you a competent niche member.
A detailed About page that informs users that there is a real expert behind the computer screen is appreciated by Google. There is no need to embellish your about page excessively. If you make sure you inform users about what makes you an authority in the subject, Google will reward you accordingly.
There are different kinds of website owners. Some have all the time in the world to devote to their site's SEO. Others prefer to spend more of their efforts on their core business operation. While still, many are simply in Cabo. The available tools allow the first category of site owners to devote varying degrees of their time.
If you want to do a lot of the work yourself but need help on some aspects of SEO, you may choose to employ some or all of the tools mentioned earlier. On the other hand, if you need your website to start ranking but cannot devote the time to overcoming the learning curve, there are options for you as well.
Working with an SEO expert can elevate your presence in the search engine results without having to do the grunt work involved with getting there. However, finding the right SEO consultant can be the difference between dominating your market and endless frustration.
A knowledgeable and experienced SEO expert can conduct a detailed audit of your website and determine a course of action moving forward. They should be willing to sit down and discuss your goals for both your website and your business.
A competent SEO expert will also not shy away from informing you about when you have a slanted view of reality. Oftentimes, website owners want to achieve results yesterday. SEO consultants that want to close contracts will promise the world. This plays on your desire for results but neglects that Google operates on its own set of rules.
Furthermore, a good SEO consultant will provide previous successful project from their portfolio. They will also give you a general timeline with landmarks as to when they expect results. Keep in mind that SEO is a complicated process that depends on many variables. It also depends on the actions your competitors are taking parallel to your efforts.
Hiring an SEO expert will ensure that you make quick SEO gains and that someone is there to monitor progress.
SEO may seem like an intimidating endeavor for most website owners. There are so many simultaneous moving parts that determine the success or failure of a website in the rankings. Luckily, there are many tools you can use for complementing your manual actions.
Take the time to learn about the tricks of the trade or find an expert that can leverage your content to drive your business metrics. Set key performance indicators that are important to your business model and make sure your SEO keeps them at its core.