The Only DIY SEO Audit Your Startup Will Ever Need
A lot of bigger tech companies hire SEO specialist to conduct SEO Audit on their sites daily. These individuals are high paying and talented people. The biggest problem with startups in the SEO field is that most startups tend to hire a terrible SEO contractor. Startups will go on a website like Elance or Odesk, maybe even Fiverr, and hire someone outside of US for 100 dollars to perform a SEO audit. More often than not, these contractors end up messing up your website even more forcing Google to remove your startup’s page. We can avoid that and save money at the same time by performing a SEO audit ourselves.
It isn’t necessary to perform an audit daily like the bigger companies do. When you’re starting small, it’s crucial to just focus on understanding what’s happening in the SEO process of your website and what isn’t working correctly. The whole goal of an audit is to be able to determine if your website is being listed on Google property and whether or not potential customers/users can actually find you on search engines. SEO is what makes your website stand out and beat your competitors in the search engines.
Google updated it’s crawling platform a year ago and have since removed a lot of spammy sites. Before Google’s update, anyone could reach the top of the search engine page by simply spamming keywords in their articles and meeting the minimum word requirements. Now, Google is much more about quality over quantity. Content is more important than keywords if you want to get indexed by Google and Bing.
Let’s talk about the most important and foremost thing you should look into in a SEO audit.
Indexing should be the first thing you look into when performing a SEO audit. Indexing is basically whether or not your website is appearing on Google’s search engine. Now if your startup just launched a brand new site, chances are that it won’t be indexed right away. Google’s process usually takes a week to crawl your site. There are ways to speed it up in which I will discuss later in this article, but for now just understand that indexing is whether or not Google added your startup’s site to their search.
Of course, the easiest way to determine whether or not Google has your site indexed is by simply typing your website’s full url into search bar. If your startup has a unique name (most do), then chances are you will be on the top of the first page. This is ok for startups that target a specific audience and startups that do not plan on picking up a lot of customers from the search engine.
Now say we have a more unique name. For example you have a fashion blog that covers fashion releases. If your site is still pretty new, then chances are that you won’t be on the front page. This is why it is important to find out whether or not Google actually indexed your site’s articles. You can find out how many of your articles or pages are index by Google by typing site:yoursitename.com into the search engine. Right after the results appear, you should see a number count of how many results Google returned for you.
This will tell you how many articles are index from your website onto Google’s search engine. The number that it returns is extremely important. For example if your brand new startup’s blog only have 50 articles, but Google returned 6000 results, then there could be a problem and that’s something you want to look into. If you have 200 articles and it only returned 40, then that could mean that some of your links are broken or there’s something on your site that is stopping Google from crawling. Pay attention to the number.
The second most important thing to do when performing a SEO audit is checking for broken links or 404 pages. A lot of times you will not notice any links that are broken on your website until someone notifies you that it is broken. This happen to me before. I was apart of a blogging team and we accidentally changed the settings on the URL links. For a few days our traffic dropped like crazy and all the links were removed from Google. We then realize that the setting killed the pages in search engine because the URL name ended up being different.
Another thing is that broken links will not only hurt your Google results, but it will also hurt all your social media results. For instance, you wrote a killer article explaining your startup’s product. All your friends loved it, and all your customer and readers loved it. They all retweeted it, shared on Facebook and other social media platform. If you changed your page’s URL or if your page is dead, then nobody will be able to access to your article from the sharing links. This can kill any incoming traffic or potential customers. When doing a SEO audit, make sure you know exactly the amount of results that Google is returning you when doing the index search.
Everyone talks about keywords when it comes to SEO. Yes, keywords were extremely important and you could get any site on the front page by spamming and focusing on a single keyword. This doesn’t work anymore. Google has become a lot smarter and actually tanks any site that spams keywords.
Here’s an example of what can happen if you spam keywords. For example for your fashion blog site, you create a ton of article using the fashion blog keyword. After a few days, you decide to perform a SEO audit. You follow the indexing site: step and see that Google have index all of your articles. Sweet, now you type fashion blog in the search engine and you don’t see your site anywhere. You keep navigating through the pages and still do not see your website until maybe the 15 or 16th google search page.
That is no good and that is what happens when you spam a keyword. Google emphasizes on content over keywords. It’s not that keywords don’t work anymore, it’s how well you use them.
If you do realize that this is a problem, the best way is to fix your keywords. For example you don’t want to randomly add your keyword in your article for no reason just to have more keyword. If you are blogging with a CMS like WordPress, Yoast’s SEO plugin will tell you if the density of your keyword is too high or over-saturated. Fix it and you will rank a lot higher.
Another key factor that comes into play when Google is crawling your website is the speed optimization. The loading speed of your website is important to Google because Google wants to bring the highest quality sites to the web. The best way to figure this out is by simply going to your startup’s website and notice how fast do the articles load when you’re navigating around.
Another good way to determine this is by looking at your Google analytic or adsense account. There is a section in Google’s Analytic that will tell you the health and loading speed of your site. If you have a high rating, then your set, but if it’s poor, then you should look into fixing it. This can be fixed by using cache plugins or switching to a better host.
As I mentioned above, content is more important to Google than anything else now. Here is a quick checklist for great content when doing a SEO audit.
- Does the page have enough words for good content? (It use to be that 300 words is the minimum requirement, but it is better to have 500-800 words per article, remember don’t be spammy)
- Is the article content unique? Google doesn’t like people who copy, so make sure the articles are original.
- Is the article easy to read? Google doesn’t like articles that are hard to read.
- Does the keyword appear in the title and first paragraph/heading? Make sure your targeted keyword is in the title and heading.
There are a lot more things that you need to consider when reviewing your content in a SEO audit, but when performing a simple audit those are the things that you need to look into.
The meta description itself will not effect the SEO ranking from Google, however you should never have a blank meta description or in other words you should never let Google figure out what your meta description is. The meta description should include your keyword at least once or two times for the best. The meta description should be able to catch your reader’s attention when they see your result on Google. Do not over spam keywords in this meta description.
Alt Text for pictures
Google love articles with pictures and so do viewers. When performing a SEO audit, it is crucial to find out whether or not the pictures in your article’s have a correct name and alt text. Alt text is what searches up when someone search for your product on Google images. Users can click through the images on Google image and land directly to your site.
For example if you have a bunch of demo photos of your product up in your blog post, but you did not name them correctly, then there is no way someone will be able to find you on Google images. The name should directly relate to your product and the alt text should also include a focus keyword that you have been using for your article. If you’re using a CMS like wordpress, just make sure that you remember to fit in the alt-text field when uploading a photo.
Outbound And InBound Links
Does your article have links linking to other sites? Does your article have links linking to your own site? This is important because Google wants to know what your product is about or what information is your article trying to bring to the audience. It is always good to create outbound links by linking to a similar website. The most important factor when it comes to outbound links is how healthy the outbound link actually is. You do not want to link to any random site that Google hates. You want to link to valuable resources that Google already like.
Inbound Link is an important factor to pay attention to when doing a SEO audit. Does your article link back to another article on your site? This can help you keep readers on your site and it will reduce your bounce rate. Usually this can be done by adding a related article section to your the bottom of your post or on the sidebar of your site. The best way is to link to a related article within your post.
Most people think that backlinks aren’t important anymore, but it actually still is and Google still emphasizes on the need of backlinks. The biggest problem with startups hiring a random SEO consultant is that the SEO consultant will randomly help you generate 100 backlinks. This doesn’t help your SEO at all, matter of fact Google can punish you for this because it thinks that your backlinks are spammy.
You want healthy backlinks that actually matters. The best backlinks are backlinks from other bloggers or other known and healthy websites. Never go out and look for random backlinks because this will kill your site. This could be one of the reasons why Google has so many results when you’re doing the index search. Backlinks should also come from different healthy websites. You might not want 100 backlinks from the same website.
This wasn’t as important before, but as soon as Google introduced the author thumbnail and links, author links became an important factor in SEO rankings. When you are searching for an article on Google, you might notice that some articles have a thumbnail picture of the author. Those are usually the ones that get the most clicks. Why? Because it is more attracting to the viewer and looks better than the other links. In addition, Google actually ranks these articles higher than the regular articles without an author link. Typically you can set up author links by adding yourself as a contributor to your Google + profile.
Lastly, you want to ensure that your website has a XML sitemap. A XML sitemap is a layout in a readable code for Google’s crawlers to understand. A simple plugin on wordpress such as Google XML sitemaps will help you generate a sitemap for the search engine to read. It is an entire layout of all the articles and pages on the site.
This concludes it for a simple and straight forward SEO audit that you can perform yourself without hiring or using your startup’s budget. Keep in mind that when your startup is able to raise more money, you should look into bringing in a marketing executive that have in depth knowledge of SEO and how to perform frequent SEO audits.
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