S-E-O. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. Search engine optimization—the process that helps your website rank in search engines. It seems simple. Add a keyword here. Add an internal link there. Bam. Done. Not so fast. You’re forgetting about a billion other steps. Well, maybe not a billion, but there are definitely corners that you’re cutting that could prevent your website from ever being seen. Terrifying– is it not?
When I’m meeting a new client, the first thing I do is investigate their website. And not just a once over—I’m talking a thorough examination. From the homepage to the source code, I look at it all. And over the years, I have compiled a list of the top signs your site is in need of an extreme SEO makeover.
10. You haven’t confirmed your local listings.
Local listings are a crucial component to SEO. You, or your SEO specialist, should have confirmed all listings and have access to edit the content within each listing. If you haven’t received a lot of postcards or phone calls providing you with a verification code. Your listings are not confirmed.
9. You have 7 pages on your website.
Brevity may be great for Twitter, but it doesn’t help you much with SEO. Search engines like content—lots of content. Your web marketing specialist should be regularly discussing search trends and new opportunities to build out pages.
8. You are unfamiliar with Google Panda & Penguin.
You may be wondering why I’m talking about cute zoo animals at a time like this. Well, the Panda and Penguin I’m talking about are anything but cute—they are cruel, vindictive monsters, otherwise known as algorithm updates. Actually. They serve a great purpose, but if you’re not informed about search algorithm updates, they can dramatically reduce traffic to your site. Duplicate content and improper link building techniques will cause a visit from the big bad Panda and Penguin, but keep in mind that new algorithm updates are generated constantly.
7. You don’t have any social media accounts.
Not a tweeter? I hate to break it to you, but social media isn’t a fad. Get onboard. Your brand should be utilizing social platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Foursquare, Instagram, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, and—well you get the point. Why? Let me turn that around on you. Why wouldn’t you want to be engaging with your target market? And plus, the Google gods love referral traffic from social networking sites—especially Google+.
6. You don’t have Analytics.
SEO without Analytics is like going on a diet and never stepping on a scale. Data is necessary. What keywords are generating traffic? What pages are the most popular? What websites are referring the most traffic? This is all critical information that can be used to enhance your marketing and advertising campaigns.
5. There is no redirect between WWW and Non-WWW.
Think of it this way: the search engines don’t know that the WWW and non-WWW versions of your site are the same, so you need to tell them. BEWARE- if both URLs display your website, but it doesn’t look like one is redirecting to the other, then you may have a duplicate version—and that will lead you to a penalty—in the form of decreased search impressions. Be sure to have an SEO expert examine your site for this and similar errors.
4. You have a bunch of broken URLs, or 404 errors.
Have you ever clicked on a link and received an error message? Of course you have. We all have. For a potential customer who is navigating your site, about to make a purchase or fill out a form, broken URLs, or 404 errors, can influence their impression of your brand. Furthermore, search engines don’t like ranking websites that have errors. Make sure you are signing into Webmaster Tools, identifying the broken URLs and implementing the appropriate 301-redirects.
3. You don’t have a complete XML sitemap.
XML sitemaps are one of the important webpages that your audience will never see. They provide search engines with data, like what pages exist on the website, how often they are updated, when they were last updated, and the importance of each page. There are online XML sitemap generators and even plugins on certain platforms, like WordPress. It’s important to make sure this sitemap is updated and resubmitted to the search engines regularly.
2. Your meta data is a mess.
Meta data tells search engines what each page is about. There are title tags, meta keywords, meta descriptions, and alt tags. Your keywords should tell the search engines exactly what the page is about, so if someone searches for “dogs”, they are not presented with a bunch of websites about “cats”. Don’t assume you know the search phrases your market uses. Successful keyword selection is done through keyword research, comparing search volume and competition. And beware of keyword stuffing and cannibalization –no more than 5 unique keywords to each page. Keywords are then used to create search engine-friendly title tags and meta descriptions. And the often forgotten alt tags are necessary for the page’s images to rank.
1. You’re not ranking!
And is that not what it’s all about? The top organic positions are by far the most profitable. The latest study shows that 36% of searchers are clicking on that #1 organic result. Is it easy? No. Will it happen tomorrow? No. And beware of claims it will. A price tag cannot be put on a strong organic presence. It will increase brand recognition, and, most importantly, be a strong revenue-generating tool.
How did you score? Ready to launch a dynamite SEO campaign? Never want to hear the letters S-E- or O again? It can be daunting, but it’s also extremely rewarding.
Don’t want to mess with it? Contact Sparxoo today to learn about SEO services.