Learning how to quality check your SEO
At Kick Media we feel it is important to provide our clients in Newcastle and across Australia with some basic education about the SEO process. There are many SEO agencies who can spin a sales pitch to sound impressive, but if you can do a little bit of reading it’s very easy to learn just enough so you can hold accountable any SEO agency in Newcastle or anywhere and ensure you know what you are paying for.
There are two main areas of SEO that we recommend learning how to audit or at least ask questions to your SEO agency to find out if these critical areas of SEO are being implemented.
First is ONSITE SEO and second is OFFSITE SEO
SEO is a big investment for any business and it also takes time to see the results. Imagine investing $1000 for 12 months to find out that your SEO agency was implementing out dated techniques or just wasn’t doing much at all. Unfortunately this is a very common tale. The good news is that SEO is 100% transparent and doesn’t require access to anything in order to know if your SEO agency is doing the right things.
Within 5 minutes I can tell with absolute certainty if an SEO agency is doing the right thing or anything at all. More good news is that anyone can do this without needing to be an expert. There are just a few simple short cuts needed to skip all the technical clutter and understand the basic concepts to check.
Onsite SEO is the first activity that should always be implemented in the first month. Although Onsite SEO alone may not achieve maximum results it is the foundations that still need to be in place for all other more advanced techniques to be effective.
Below is some education you can use to question and implement quality checks with your Onsite SEO investment. To quality check your Offsite SEO we will discuss this more on another page. Offsite SEO Quality Checks.
Onsite SEO Quality Check
When we refer to Onsite it means anything related to optimisation of your website and below are the key areas that simplify important optimisation tasks.
As mentioned in our recent blog “stop trying to use the homepage to rank everything” we need to have a separate page for each keyword or group of similar themed keywords. Now we will take this a step further and look a lot deeper into how we should build each page to give it every advantage to help rank.
The single most important on page factor is the URL that you choose for the page, most people ignore this step and leave this up to their site platform to create which often results in unoptimized pages that never appear in the search results. Let’s use a few examples to explain the best way to structure the URL.
Let’s say we have a carpet cleaning website with the following two services;
- Carpet cleaning
- Rug cleaning
We would first look at the geographical area in which they would like to rank.
The example company we will use is for a company operating only in Newcastle
Based on this information we would create the following url’s
If the company happened to be providing the service Australia wide we would remove the geographical reverence from url.
in this example for the company targeting Australia wide we would likely create separate pages to specifically target each major city but to keep the example simple we won’t cover this for the moment.
It’s also worth noting that there is no need to repeat the same keywords “Carpet Cleaning” if they are already present in the domain name as we don’t want to over stuff keywords. For example, if the company website was carpetcleaningco.com.au this would change the url’s to the following. We have removed the keyword from the inner URL to avoid over stuffing the keyword.
Meta data is also quite often overlooked which results in Google deciding for you what the title and description should be for your page. This may not seem like a big deal but this meta-data will control how your site appears to people searching and will dramatically affect your listings click through rate. Let’s look at a couple of examples of companies that have taken the time to optimise this data and compare it to one that hasn’t.
Not Optimised – Google choosing the metadata for you
Which of these organic listings above would you click on?
Most would answer the optimised version and with click through rate slowly becoming a more and more important ranking factor you need to give your page a chance.
We have up to 70 characters available in the meta title so for a major page I always like to get the biggest keyword as the first part of the page title similar to the first example “Carpet cleaning Brisbane”.
After the biggest keyword we can either use the brand of the site or a smaller keyword or both depending on how close we are to the character limits.
The meta description allows a lot more space generally up to 160 characters, so we have a little more flexibility. The best practice for this section is to try use as many of the company’s unique selling benefits and calls to action as you can as this is the opportunity to really sell the page to perspective clickers and getting this section right will really help boost your click through rate.
The next step in the process is to write some quality unique content for the page. For a main service page, I would recommend an absolute minimum of 300 words of content on the page. This should under no circumstances be copied from either another page on the site or another site on the web. It should be completely unique, and hand written.
One important point to keep in mind, if everything goes to plan this content will be read thousands of times by the people searching your target keyword. Taking this into consideration will really help you tailor the content to convert that audience. It will also help you avoid keyword stuffing as your audience doesn’t want to read the same keywords 20 times over and neither does google.
Although 300 words is the absolute minimum amount of content it’s far better to use your competitors to get a benchmark of what’s required. If you type your target keywords into google and see how much content the top 3 sites have this will give you a great idea of what google expects to see on your page.
Each and every page should have at least one image. Similar to your content for best results the image should be unique and relevant to the service your trying to rank for.
Optimising images depends heavily on the geographical area the page is targeting. So let’s use our carpet cleaning example to demonstrate.
An image targeting carpet cleaning Newcastle might be an image of a carpet being cleaned. Before we upload the image to the site there is a number of steps we need to take.
- We would resize the image to the size that best fits the where it will fit on the website which will also reduce the file size to help with load speed.
- We would name the image something relevant to the page “residential carpet cleaning Brisbane”
- We would use “Exif Data” to geo-target the businesses address in Brisbane. (this basically puts longitude and latitude in the files data which tells google exactly where the image is relevant to.
Then after we upload the image to the site we would create alt text to be a description of what’s happening in the image. In this example we would likely use something like “carpets being cleaned in Brisbane property”
If the page is not targeting a specific geographical area we would follow the same process except we wouldn’t use the word Brisbane in our examples and we wouldn’t change the exif data of the page with the coordinates.
Schema mark-up is a more advanced onsite SEO and is to be honest a very poorly understood part of the onsite SEO process. To give you simplified explanation it’s basically small snippets of code that help google understand content. For example, if a page mentions an address it can be quite difficult for google to tell the difference between normal words and an address. By adding a few extra lines of code around the address we can highlight what it is seeing is in fact an address.
Schema stretches well beyond addresses though and can highlight all kinds of data from product ratings to events. We recommend using as much shema as you can because the more Google understands your pages content the more it knows how to rank it.
Schema will require coding ability or the use of plugins, so we recommend you contact our team to help for this step, however it is a valuable question to ask your SEO agency if it is being done and show you examples.
SEO Onsite Tools
Lastly another very quick short-cut to know if Onsite SEO is being implemented is to use an SEO onsite analysis tool. Often these tools will crawl every page and provide you with a score and list of errors and warnings to consider fixing. Our preferred software, SEMrush also provides education on what each error and warning means so you can be a complete amateur and still understand the basics. Keep in mind that you may only want to crawl your most important pages you want to rank for first, especially if you have hundreds of pages. You want at least your home page optimised and high conversion keyword pages you want to rank for. Below is a screenshot of an SEMrush report clearly showing the issues that need fixing. We recommend before engaging an SEO agency to run this software before they start Onsite SEO so you can track the change progress as they go. You can even ask your SEO agency to run this for you and send you before and after reports. You should start to see the SEO score meter increase has they begin fixing all the Errors and Warnings and if nothing changes then you can know if they are really doing the work required.
If you get these 5 core onsite factors right, you give every page you create the best possible chance to rank and once you know the process you can replicate it across every relevant keyword you have to multiply your traffic considerably. If you would like help to make sure you’re on the right track, please don’t hesitate to give our team a call on (07) 3180 2383.