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 site's basic SEO status.
In fact, there are quite a few major or minor 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 SEO baseline on your own. site, which should have a positive impact on the position of your site in the search results.
What should I pay attention to when studying the basic SEO status of the 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:
- what phrases in search results bring visitors to your site
- what links to your site look like
- how to improve your site to it was compatible with mobile devices
- what problematic situations (for example, 404 errors, blocked resources, poorly implemented structured data) occur on your site
Of course, this is only part features of 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 the WordPress CMS, 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 your site structure.
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 the appearance, this tiny file plays 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 contents of this file are correct. It is very easy to add commands to it, which, unfortunately, will block resources relevant to you, which will negatively affect the SEO status of your site.
4.Get Rid of 404 Links
I'm sure you'll sometimes encounter a message like "sorry, but the specified page could not be found" while browsing the web. This message appears because of the so-called 404 error.
They appear for two reasons: a user-side error and a server-side error.
The error caused by the user 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 on the site, for example, content reduction, which often involves deleting certain pages.
Don't forget to insert so-called 301 redirects after deleting unnecessary content, which will direct all recipients to new , correct addresses.
5. Optimize your meta titles and meta descriptions
While the role of meta tags in determining position is insignificant, they make a big difference 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 prompts the person viewing the search results to click on a link originating from your domain.
Enter site:yourraddress (for example, site:google.co.uk) into the search bar and you will see how 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 whether whether the search engine itself follows 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. Position the headings H1, H2, etc. in order
The basics of website SEO 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, which will contain the most important phrase
- adding several (for example, two or three ) H2 headlines, which should contain slightly less important, but still important phrases
As you can see, as the number in the headline 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. etc.
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 in the graph. And how are search engine robots supposed to know this?
Well, they "know" this 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 the given chart.
ALT attributes can be found directly in the code of the web page. 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 specify the content of the images in a somewhat descriptive way.
Review your site code for "blank" ALTs to fix this and fill them with the appropriate content.
8. Make links friendly to both users and search engine crawlers
Determining the baseline SEO status of a site is impossible without examining the links you have on your site.
Which one do you understand better? I assume the first one.
Therefore, there is no point in creating incomprehensible and complex structures. Keeping your link hierarchy simple is even recommended, as all audiences (both users and search engine bots) will appreciate a more natural look.
Therefore, if you can, keep your links simpler and more understandable.
What is useful to know about the basic state of a site's SEO?
With the help of a 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 fancy actions, is great for small sites.
Having your site's status "on a silver platter" will make it much easier make any changes.