So the summer is here and business is a little quieter than normal – in other words it is the perfect time for an SEO Health Check. Rather than kick back and enjoy the sunshine use a little bit of your free time to ensure the SEO on your website is up to date, you will thank yourself later down the line when you have no spare time at all.
When giving your site an SEO health check it is important to make sure that you run through things in a specific order to ensure that nothing is missed out. To save you the trouble I have compiled a quick checklist so that you can ensure that all your bases are covered.
SEO Health Check
1. Make sure your Title Tags are looking good. Your Title Tags are the best way to ensure that the search engines understand what your site is about and it is essential to include the keywords that are most relevant to the page – and make sure your Title Tag is around 6o characters long. It is a good idea to avoid using stop words (like a, the, is, at) and using some form of punctuation the ‘pipe’ (the symbol that separates text | it looks like this |) is a favourite over here at Hallam!
Never use Title Tags that mention ‘Home Page’ or ‘Welcome’ as they will mean absolutely nothing to a search engine. Never duplicate Title Tags across a site – make sure each one is unique.
Not sure about your Title Tags? Then read our Title Tags Factsheet.
2. Check your Meta Descriptions. Although Meta Descriptions have no bearing on how well you rank within Google and the other search engines (at the moment!) they are crucial for usability reasons. The Meta Description is the two lines of black text that appears below the Title Tag in the search engine results. This gives you a golden opportunity to target more of your essential keywords in order to entice people to click through to your website.
3. Check your headings (h1, h2 and so on). Although recent investigation has shown that the headings tags do not carry as much weight as previously thought it is still important to include them for a usability point of view – it isn’t going to harm your ranking efforts either. Make sure they are keyword rich and relevant to the copy on the page. If you do not have the possibility of adding heading tags through your current CMS then don’t panic, some bold text on your keywords and featured at the top of the page will do.
4. Review the content of your site. Have a good look round the content of your site and ask yourself if it is useful. The content should be relevant to your business, be keyword rich and useful to visitors to your site. Put yourself in the position of the visitors to help you consider this. When reviewing your content you should also ask yourself if you have been adding enough new, fresh content – Google loves new and unique content more than ever. If you haven’t got one already you may want to consider setting up a blog on your site in order to add this fresh content (that is topical to your business niche) on a regular basis. Make sure your keywords are used in the body of the text but don’t worry too much over keyword density (there is no known perfect keyword density!)
5. Consider your keyword research. When did you do your keyword research? Is it still valid or are people searching using different terms now. There are a bunch of ways to carry out your keyword research and Katie wrote a great post on keyword research tools that you may want to have a look at. My personal favourite is the Google Wonder Wheel which is great for brainstorming new keywords. And don’t forget the trusty old Adwords Keyword Tool – which recently had a face-lift.
6. Check your Alt Tags. Recent research has shown that the Alt Tag carries more weight in the ranking process than we previously though. If you are unaware of the Alt Tag it is the text that accompanies a picture to help describe it if it is not able to be displayed, or to enable or enhance the user experience for people with disabilities. So with the Alt Tag carrying more weight than we once thought you may want to use your summer SEO period to make sure all the pictures on your site have relevant Alt Tags – just make sure they are descriptive and helpful and then try and squeeze a keyword in.
7. Check your internal linking. Make sure that all your important page are linked to from other pages on your site using keyword rich anchor text (anchor text is the text that is used for the link).
8. Check your inbound linking strategy. As you probably know link building is the bread and butter of any SEO campaign and every site should have an ongoing link building campaign. With your SEO health check it is important that you are using techniques that are up to date and do not break any of Google’s guidelines. Consider using guest blogging as a way of getting inbound links and spreading the word about your company and the services or products you offer. Never (ever) buy links!
9. If you have videos, photos and other media – optimise for Universal Search. If it has been a while since your last SEO Health Check then you may be missing the boat on this one. Make sure all your media is properly optimised in order to help your site get good rankings through other channels. Check out this post on Optimising for Universal Search for all the information you will need.
Whilst I don’t claim this SEO Health Check list is exhaustive it should prove to be the launching pad for continued success on the Internet, after all it is important to keep up to date if you want to keep the rankings you work so hard for.