When looking at current digital marketing trends, so much of the advice and predictions center around content and social. Undoubtedly, both of these aspects of marketing play a critical role in any strategy today.
However, as we all head into 2016 with our goals for viral content and engaging social, we need to keep in mind the on-site foundation, which can not to be ignored in the process.
What is your foundation? Think of your digital strategy as a house. Creative pieces such as content marketing, social media and influencers are the furnishings and decoration. The behind-the-scenes, inner workings of your website, such as meta descriptions, HTML titles, header tags, image data, internal linking structure, etc., are the foundation.
You have to have a good foundation in place before you decorate the house.
In looking at the technical side of website SEO audits, there are many variables to review and optimize on a regular basis. It can be a little overwhelming to anyone who doesn’t fully understand these variables, but the components outlined below are a great starting point. Most of these aspects of a website are easier for website owners to access and optimize.
The Key Components to an Website SEO Audit
- URL Address – The URL of the page/post. This is the 1st thing Google sees when looking at a page.
- Status Code/Status – How the page is reading from the server. If a page has been deleted, it could come up as a “404” or “Page Not Found”
- HTML Title – This is the HTML title of the page. What you see in the actual tab or above address bar. This is the 2nd thing Google sees when looking at a page. It should be no longer than 75-80 characters, tops.
- Meta Description – This is the paragraph that shows up on a Google search results page. Google doesn’t actually count it as a ranking, but you want to make sure it sounds good, since it will be what entices the searcher to click on your link vs. a competitor. It should be no longer than 150 characters.
- H1 – This is the main Header on the page itself. This is the 3rd thing Google looks at. There isn’t really a restriction on length, but you don’t want any headers to be overwhelming for Google or your reader.
- H2 – Next level of sub headings on the page. Google looks at these as well. If you have multiple levels of headings, you want to make sure they are marked for H1, H2, H3, etc.
- Size – The file size of the page. You want to keep this fairly low, as it impact load time, which is a ranking factor with Google.
- Response Time – The amount of time it takes the page to load/respond from the server. This is a ranking factor for Google, so you want to make sure your load time is under 1 second.
On Page Keyword Focus
Before you can begin to optimize, it is critical to understand what you are optimizing for. Any site should be built using non-branded, industry-relevant keywords, which the target audience is searching on. This is the only way to ensure the site has improved discoverability in search.
In order to meet the algorithm demands of major search engines, each page of your website should have a specific topic it is optimized for. You will want to work the focus 2-3 keywords of the topic into the key components of the page, as well as into the content, in a natural and high quality way.
Run a Website SEO Audit Often
Contrary to popular belief, site audits are not a set-it and forget-it tactic. Many SEO services providers will conduct an SEO audit at the start of a contract, leaving the client to believe they are good going forward. While this is a great starting point and provides a clear picture to build the digital marketing strategy on, it needs to be revisited and reviewed on regularly, often using a quarterly timeframe.
Running a website SEO audit quarterly provides a marketer valuable insight into how their optimization strategy is working. It is also a good time to reflect on the previous choices in keywords being used to drive the strategy, to decide if they still represent the focus of the brand and the target audience.