When was the last time your audited your web site? Most of us look to add content or update the user experience, but I bet it's been a while since you've taken a look at the items that will improve SEO results. Unless you're a web superpower and have the resources to dedicate to it daily it's hard to think about it beyond the basics. If it's been a while since you've looked at some of the underpinnings of your site it's probably time to pop the hood and see what's going on.
Google rules the roost in search (as we all know) and their algorithm is the black box we are all trying to crack. Google's impact is so vast that in some measure how we write content and design sites is predicated on how Google sees your site. The days of having the nav anywhere but the top are gone and we all write copy with keywords in mind more than style and tone. Regardless of your opinion on the matter, it's imperative that you have your site tuned in to the search engines if you want that holy grail of organic traffic.
There are a lot of great tools that can guide your SEO efforts, which is great for those of us that are not overly technical. In my experience there is not one tool that will do it all great but if you can focus on a few tools and triangulate results you should get what you need. To get you a running start here's some obvious (and not so obvious) items to take a look at when auditing your site from a SEO perspective:
- Content - do you have pages that have too little content or duplicate content across your site? Google will hit you for that. Also, check your H1 tags to make sure they are there and reflective of what the pages have on them.
- Crawling - how often is Google crawling your site and is it finding any errors, especially those nasty 404 errors where no page is found.
- Sitemaps - are your sitemaps submitted to Google and other key search engines? It's not a bad idea to check your robots.txt file too since that will inform the infamous web robot which areas of the website should not be processed or scanned.
- Architecture - are your directories set up properly and is everything organized in a structured way? Broken links or a lack of structure can hurt a search engine's ability to crawl your site effectively.
- Inbound Links - are they the ones you want and are they pointing to the places on your site you want them to in order to draw traffic? Looking for overly optimized and repetitive anchor text is a good thing to do as well.
- Images - most people miss out on the opportunity to add some stickiness to the site by adding alt text to their images. Also make sure your images aren't too big since that will impact site performance
- Titles - do all your pages have titles that are the right length and descriptive of the pages you have, especially your landing pages?
- Metadata - a real key part of your site's presence for search engines. Are your meta descriptions accurate to their pages and are they the right length?
- Site Speed - Google will definitely pop you if you site takes too long to load and if it underperforms on navigation. Use a couple of different tools to test your site's performance and figure out any issues.
There's a lot more to SEO and it truly has become a science of its own, but this should give you some good questions to ask your web development team and move you down the road to better SEO.