Basic SEO status of the site - what to check?
With the help of the tips given in this article, you will learn what constitutes the basic SEO status of a site. You can independently check, for example, the correctness of links, meta tags or the importance of image optimization. Make your site's subpages friendly to both users and search engine crawlers.
A good site should meet the needs of users - we know that. However, it is also important to remember that it must be "liked" by search engine robots in order to compete for the highest positions in the search results for the relevant keywords.
Therefore, it is a good idea to take care of the basic SEO status of the site.
There are actually quite a few big or small typical technical issues that can make a huge difference to the reception of your site.
Check out the list below to help you improve your site's SEO baseline, which should have a positive impact on your site's position in search results.
What should I pay attention to when studying the basic SEO status of a site?
1. Link your site to Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a basic service that will tell you a lot about your own site. It will tell you:
- which phrases in the search results bring visitors to your site
- what links to your site look like
- how to improve your site to be compatible with mobile devices
- what are the problematic situations (for example, 404 errors, blocked resources, poorly implemented structured data) appear on your site
Of course, this is only a part of the Google Search Console, but for basic needs, this tool is almost a must for you.
2. Generate and submit a sitemap
A sitemap creates a sort of structure of the subpages that make up your site. This is useful for both users and search engine robots.
If your site is based on CMS WordPress, you have a very simple task. All you have to do is use the Yoast SEO plugin, which will automatically generate your sitemap. Moreover, the plugin will update the sitemap every time you make changes to the structure of your site.
Just don't forget to submit your sitemap to the Google Search Console service mentioned earlier. Examine the site structure first to make sure there are no "unwanted" URLs (which is unfortunately easy to do with WordPress as it sometimes generates unnecessary internal links).
3. Check if the robots.txt file is blocking the relevant URLs
Jakub Ozorowski once wrote on our blog about the importance of the robots.txt file.
Despite appearances, this tiny file plays a huge role. Its task is to communicate with indexing robots. Thanks to it, you can, for example, deny access to an important folder that you do not want to show in the search results.
Therefore, make sure that the content of this file is correct. It is very easy to add commands to it, which, unfortunately, will block resources that are relevant to you, which will negatively affect the SEO status of your site.
4.Get rid of links with status 404
Surely, while browsing the Internet, you sometimes come across a message like "sorry, but the specified page was not found." This message appears due to the so-called 404 error.
They appear for two reasons: a user-side error and a server-side error.
The user generated error is caused by a simple typo. We simply enter a non-existent URL into the address bar. It happens.
It's even worse when a 404 error occurs because of a link that doesn't lead anywhere. Perhaps this situation exists somewhere on your site. If so, you need to remove URLs that lead nowhere. They can occur mainly after "major" changes to the site, such as content reduction, which often involves deleting certain pages.
Do not forget to insert the so-called 301 redirects after removing unnecessary content, which will direct all recipients to new, correct addresses.
5. Optimize your meta titles and meta descriptions
Although the role of meta tags for determining the position is insignificant, they are of great importance in terms of CTR. What are they about?
Showing your pages in search results can be a decision gate for the user. Choosing the right words encourages the person viewing the search results to click on a link originating from your domain.
Type site:yourraddress (eg site:google.co.uk) into the search bar and you will see the subpages that make up your site appear among the search results.
Be sure to include keywords that are relevant to you. However, don't make them too artificial, as these texts are primarily intended to serve users.
Also keep in mind that while we have control over how to determine the meaning of these tags in the page code, we don't know if the search engine itself will follow our "recommendations". Often the displayed titles and descriptions differ from those that we set ourselves. Compliance with this requirement depends on the search engines themselves.
6. Arrange headings H1, H2, etc. in order
Website SEO basics also include learning about headings, which are special HTML code tags designed to tell search engine crawlers which phrases are relevant on certain pages.
Good practice dictates:
- having one (and only one) H1 heading on each subpage that will contain the most important phrase
- adding several (for example, two or three) H2 headings, in which slightly less important ones should be placed, but still important phrases
As you can see, as the number in the title increases, its relevance also decreases. It also increases the "tolerance" for more headings of the same type to appear on the same subpage. Such a structure can be compared, for example, to a pyramid, where one H1 occupies the top, then two H2s go, and so on. and so on.
You can learn much more about this in Jakub Ozorowski's text on on-page SEO.
7. Inserting values for ALT attributes in images
Everyone can see what is shown on the graph. And how are search engine robots supposed to know this?
Well, they "know" it from the context surrounding the image and from the value of the so-called ALT attribute. Its function is to briefly describe what is in a given chart.
ALT attributes can be found directly in the web page code. They must indicate content based on "iPhone X Black Case", "Mercedes 2018 GLC 300 4MATIC Coupe" or "White Nike Men's Running Shoes". They just need to state the content of the images in a somewhat descriptive way.
Review your website code for "empty" ALTs to fix this and fill them with relevant content.
8. Make links friendly to both users and search engine robots
Determining the SEO baseline of a site is impossible without examining the links you have on your site.
Which one do you understand better? I'm guessing the first one.
Therefore, it makes no sense to create incomprehensible and complex structures. Simplicity in link hierarchies is even recommended, as all audiences (both users and search engine crawlers) will appreciate the more natural look.
Therefore, if you have the opportunity, make links simpler and more understandable.
What is useful to know about the basic state of a site's SEO?
With the help of CMS, you can solve the vast majority of the above problems. If your site is based on WordPress, then the aforementioned Yoast SEO plugin will be your best ally.
On the other hand, a tool called Screaming Frog will help you get a glimpse of the state of your site. You can use its free version, which, although it only allows you to crawl 500 URLs and doesn't allow many custom actions, is great for smaller sites.
Having the status of your site "on a silver platter" will make it much easier to make any changes.