Self-auditing is one of those tasks which always gets over looked when it comes to SMEs. Unlike other types of audits web sites often get over looked when it comes to internal audits. In the same way you would audit stock, computers, stationary etc… It’s imperative that you audit a web site at least twice a year.
When it comes to SMEs it’s understandable that this isn’t likely to happen unless someone schedules it in, or buys in external help from an SEO company. What’s amazing is the number of larger companies or institutions which never even think of it. Even if you site is doing well there is no reason why it couldn’t do better! Even if the company has their own SEO team sometimes a fresh pair of eyes is worth the investment.
Here is my list of the top five onsite items to audit
1. Update your Google Analytics tracking code
Let’s face it most companies use this as it’s free. If you’re using other Analytics software like Omniture then this doesn’t concern you obviously. BUT if you are using Google Analytics then make sure that you are using the newest version which tracks some Social Media Metrics.
Social Metrics are very important for modern SEO, ensuring it’s tracked is your first step to increasing your social profile.
New Google Analytics code.
Below is the minimum code needed for single domain tracking, you may want to add other features such as; multiple domains etc…
var _gaq = _gaq || ;
ga.src = (‘https:’ == document.location.protocol ? ‘https://ssl’ : ‘http://www’) + ‘.google-analytics.com/ga.js’;
var s = document.getElementsByTagName(‘script’); s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s);
2. Landing Pages
This may seem obvious but if you don’t have the page you aren’t going to rank for it very well! (unless you’re a Mega brand) Not every phrase needs a Landing Page! Some similar keywords / can be used on a parent page, common sense prevails here. Here’s a quick break down of how I personally optimise Landing Pages;
Firstly do your Keyword research! There may be new keywords in your industry, trending topics or things you’ve missed. Google Adwords is the number one tool for the industry, but I like to use a mixture of software, such as Wordtracker. Lastly double check these words are suitable, there is no point wasting money on things unlikely to convert!
This should be your landing page for your primary one or two keywords / phrases, (usually the most competitive keywords). Don’t try making landing pages for the sake of it. This is usually pretty easy if you’re optimising for quality traffic, as it will be closely linked to what the business actually does. Then make sure you get the keywords in the title, H1 and within the page content.
Once you’ve done this make sure you have some backlinks pointing to the homepage or you’re unlikely to do very well! Quality content will attract these over time, but get out there and do some marketing to kick things off. Make the most of your contacts, but avoid those horrible reciprocal linking pages.
Create landing pages for your secondary keywords / phrases. These should be in a logical hierarchy in terms of the navigation and directories. Remember; keep the most important pages at the top of the hierarchy, this is good for both users and search engines.
3. Internal linking
If your landing page is all about widgets, then use widgets in the link anchor text / title text to link to that page from the menu. This is again helpful to both humans and search engines. Don’t use words which are irrelevant! Every day at Blueclaw we see all manner of strange ways to describe pages in anchor text.
4. Social Media
You may have heard it’s all about Social Media these days? Well it is to some degree. Social Media is one of the modern ways to link build and Google listens strongly to social noise from all over the web. It’s so powerful that you can take someone from page 3 to top of page one in 48hours (crazy eh?) sadly this is short lived and social noise requires constant maintenance. I personally think this is a great improvement, but it does tend to put big brands (with the larger budgets) up there at the top. There are always ways around this, but in the end it’s a balance between quality content and SEO automation processes.
If you’re wondering why your 5 page site built 1997 doesn’t rank very well, it’s probably because it’s a 5 page site built in 1997. Have you ever tried adding content?
Design – This has a massive impact on SEO. Whilst bounce rates has never been proved to have an effect on rankings it’s certainly one of common sense. If you site looks like trash, searchers will probably treat it as one, thus a high bounce rate.
Topic – Make sure the content you add to the site is around the subject you want to rank for. Gone are the days when whoever has the most backlinks wins in the SEO war. In order to be a success now you need links from sites within your niche / sector. Again quality content will solve this problem; if it’s of interest to your peers they’ll link to it. Typically this will come from a newspaper or blog!
Security – If you going to allow web 2.0 make sure it’s not being abused. There is nothing like large amounts of dirty spam links pointing to porn sites, Viagra pills and gambling affiliates to really flag the ‘DON’T TRUST THIS SITE’ spam trigger over at Google HQ.
This isn’t the most comprehensive of lists and it’s really just to motivate you to schedule on site audits. If you don’t have the time, seek out some SEO experts, after all your website is a real asset when needs auditing just like the others.