The SEO landscape changes constantly. Sometimes dramatically, sometimes incrementally. What was best practice last year may not be so this year. As such, it is essential that even the best sites are regularly audited to ensure that they remain search engine friendly and, thus, at the top of the results.
The SEO perspective team works with clients to conduct annual or bi-annual SEO audits. Each client and site is different, but the following provides some idea as to the focus and scope of these exercises.
All too often regarded as “old hat”, on-page factors remain critical in retaining and growing organic search rankings. On-page adjustments have the added advantage in that they are quick to implement in contrast with off-page activities such as link building. With the major search engines’ ever increasing speed of indexing, ranking effects can be surprisingly fast. Key on-page factors include:-
• Title tags: inclusion of relevant keywords, of suitable length and style, appealing to visitors and search engines
• Meta description tags: length, relevance, keywords, correctly indexed as snippets
• Avoidance of keyword stuffing, invisible text and other “black hat” techniques
• Content: quality, freshness, frequency, relevance, uniqueness
• Header tags: appropriate keyword content and balance, use of H1/H2/H3
• Internal linking and navigation: appropriate link anchors, ease of navigation, relevance, indexable, avoidance of excessive in-line linking
• Imaging and multi-media: appropriate tags, titles, file names, storage location, format types, load times, relevance, quality, transcripts
• Site map: correctly formatted, up to date, indexable
Whilst the user experience may be excellent, there are a number of specific factors that may help or hinder the search engines’ indexing of your site. Poor indexability can, over time, compromise search rankings. Factors include:-
• Avoidance of broken links, whether internal or external. On larger sites this will require the use of an automated indexing technology which will check not only pages but all associated resources including images and multi-media to ensure all are accessible.
• Removal of duplicate and auto-generated pages: these can create a poor user experience and can compromise indexing, particularly following the recent Google Penguin and Panda updates which are specifically designed to eliminate spam and duplication.
• Page load times: excessively large pages, poorly optimised code or cheap web hosting can all compromise load times. This is bad news for users and search engines alike and can be easily remedied. Google has explicitly confirmed that page load time is now a ranking factor.
• Properly installed code and resources including the relevant Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
• Correct use of search engine tags including “noindex” or “nofollow”
• Correctly configured robots.txt file (if applicable)
• World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) compliance
Whilst relevant inbound links remain a vital element of any SEO strategy, Google’s on-going Penguin updates have been game changing. It is essential that link equity is regularly checked for relevance, quality, anchor text balance and adherence to the search engines’ terms of service.
The team at SEO perspective will check these factors and may use the Google “disavow” tool to disclaim any links that may have previously been acquired through other providers and which fall foul of quality guidelines. In some cases it may be necessary and appropriate to re-align your link profile with the careful introduction of relevant links from reputable sources.
Regular SEO audits will not only ensure that your site adheres to current best practice but will highlight areas of opportunity such as mobile SEO and video SEO, thereby keeping you ahead of the pack.