Even for the seasoned pro, search engine optimization (SEO) is not without challenges. One way to minimize the risks involved in the process is ensuring that the website is SEO-ready. What does SEO-readiness mean? For us, at Optimind, it simply means making the website as search engine-friendly as possible.
Performing an SEO-readiness assessment of the site allows you to dig deeper into areas that need improvement. The evaluation outcome includes actionable insights to make your website perform better on search engine result pages (SERPs). The evaluation also comes with deep insights into making your website fresh, relevant, and up-to-date, helping you become abreast of trends and stay ahead of your competitors.
Before going into the actual process of making your website as search engine-friendly as possible, let’s describe what an SEO-readiness assessment is.
What is an SEO-readiness assessment?
This assessment involves website audit and analysis against a checklist, including on-page, off-page, and technical factors, to discover what needs fixing. The process tells the current health of the website, whether it is fully optimized or not.
Additionally, an SEO-readiness assessment results in a list of actions that must be taken to make the website better optimized. The evaluation aims to improve the SEO campaign and strategy by identifying missing optimizations to improve the site’s ranking and traffic.
Why is an SEO-readiness assessment important?
Doing a regular SEO readiness check cannot be emphasized enough. This is more so because the industry evolves too quickly.
The assessment ensures that you are putting out an optimal SEO campaign that search engines, in particular, Google, cannot ignore. In this way, you can also maximize the campaign results and how it contributes to the overall SEO strategy. Without an SEO-readiness assessment, it would be difficult to know if the campaign is generating the expected results or not.
Remember that you are not just investing money on an SEO campaign, but also time, effort, and commitment. You’d want to create and manage the strategy that drives the best results for your website and, thus, your company. So, there is no reason not to ensure that the website performs well, at the very least.
By performing the assessment, the business will be able to make strategic decisions. This applies not just in improving the SEO campaign in terms of increasing traffic and conversions but also in business operations. For instance, it may push further the landing pages that bring in traffic, links, prospects, conversions, leads, sales, and, ultimately, profits.
SEO-readiness contributes to the overall UX.
UX is represented as the person’s exclusive experience while exploring your website or any of your digital assets. It is usually determined by the following factors: accessibility, utility, aesthetics and design, usability, performance, ergonomics, and overall human interaction.
If your website has user-friendly navigation, the UX would have a positive response. UX is the overall effectiveness of the site’s navigation and design towards the viewer. So it is essential because it’s a feedback mechanism to improve the business.
User experience (UX) may not be a ranking factor, but it is considered a factor in deciding the websites’ ranking today. Poor UX leads to lower rankings and, thus, conversions.
So it is imperative that whether you, the website owner, are doing the SEO-readiness assessment or an SEO team to ensure that the readers or users get what they want. Synchronization between the SEO processes and the UX methods would result in a better chance of remaining one of the top-ranking websites.
Indeed, SEO and UX can work together in harmony.
How to conduct an SEO-readiness assessment
Here are some basic ways on how to perform an SEO-readiness test.
Step 1 – Check site visibility on Google.
Every SEO analysis starts with checking the website visibility on Google—to know whether the site appears on the SERPs or not and which pages are ranking, and what positions.
The simplest way to do this is by doing a site search: site:http://yourwebsite.com/ in Google. The results will display the number of pages that Google ranks at present.
Additionally, check whether your website appears when you search for the target keywords. If the page targets a keyword and yet, does not appear when that keyword is searched for, the landing page is not fully optimized.
Step 2 – Check the mobile-friendliness of the site.
The year 2020 is almost over, while 2021 is fast approaching. Undoubtedly, your target consumers are viewing your website on their mobile devices.
As such, you must ensure that the site performs on both desktop and mobile. For one, there should be condensed menus and clickable or tappable buttons and icons. These aspects also contribute to the overall UX.
Step 3 – Check the target keywords.
Speaking of keywords, an important step is to have a list of keywords and phrases that the site targets.
The rule of thumb is to target one keyword per page. Otherwise, keyword cannibalization—or when two pages compete for the same keyword—would happen. There should be a right mix of branded and generic keywords.
Step 4 – Analyze the content.
As they say, content is king making content a crucial element of any website that contributes the biggest to SEO. This is true for both the textual and visual aspects. For textual content, it must be 100% original, informative, and relevant. They should be of high quality and free from any errors.
Furthermore, it pays to prioritize the length of the content and its freshness. The content must be in a human-readable format.
Google is strict about duplicate content—it may lead to a manual penalty and, worse, deindexation. Deindexation refers to the removal of the content of either the page or the entire website.
Step 5 – Analyze the URLs
The URLs of each page must be descriptive, consisting of four to five words at most. If the URLs are not optimized, it would be difficult for the crawlers to determine what the page is about and whether to show it for the right query or not.
Relevance is vital to Google, and so is contextuality.
Also, the shorter the URL, the better. But don’t forget to integrate the target keyword in the URL as naturally as possible.
Step 5 – Analyze the titles and headings.
The titles and headings of a page must contain the keywords (exact or partial match). The titles must be descriptive, relevant, and concise enough so the users would click on them. All pages must have a clear page title.
Check the keywords targeted by all pages and whether they appear in the title and h1 or h2 headings.
While at it, check the competitiveness of the keywords you’re targeting. It is best to frame a dedicated SEO campaign for high search volume keywords because they often have high competition. Essentially, it requires more work to rank for these keywords.
Step 6 – Check the meta descriptions.
Meta descriptions must be optimized, which means it must contain the target keyword and within Google’s character requirement.
Every relevant page must have a corresponding meta description. Meta descriptions, like titles, contribute to higher click-through rates.
Just the same, the meta descriptions must be descriptive and relevant to the content of the page and enticing enough to encourage clicks. It should also include the keyword as organically as possible. It is best to put it at the beginning because too long descriptions get truncated.
While at it, a well-written meta description complements the URL, boosts click-through rate, and drives users to the website.
Step 7 – Check the internal links.
Internal linking is one of the SEO best practices that even Google encouraged implementing since it improves the site’s search engine rankings. Additionally, this helps the user find the information that they are looking for by finding the right pages on your site.
Keywords are used as anchor texts pointing to the landing page that targets those keywords in the first place. This also means double-checking the anchors you are using, wherein they should be relevant to the linked pages.
Step 8 – Audit the images.
Images not only make your site look more visually appealing and easier to consume. These also make your website more searchable.
If your site is image-heavy and the images do not have a descriptive filename and alt texts, this can work against your searchability. They are not optimized, so the bots cannot crawl the images—these crawlers cannot read your images but the texts that come with each image. The alt texts must include the keywords to guide the bots better about the image’s content.
All the images must be compressed as well. Reducing the image sizes contributes to faster page loading speed.
Step 9 – Analyze page speed.
Page speed is a ranking factor, so you might check the page speed score and implement recommendations to improve the score.
A slow-loading website also affects the overall UX. If the page is slow, UX will suffer, and you risk higher bounce rates and lower dwell time. Google emphasizes the need to improve the site with the users in mind, especially that a user will not wait for a page to load forever when there are plenty of choices.
You may use Google PageSpeed Insights to check the page speed score of your website.
Step 10 – Analyze incoming links.
If your website is being optimized or implementing a campaign for the first time, then there are no limited number of backlinks. The backlink profile is a clean slate. Nonetheless, being SEO-ready also means acquiring the top links of your competitors. This also provides an idea of the needed work to rank on Google.
If you are updating an existing SEO campaign, it is imperative to look at the backlink profile. Backlinks are a ranking factor, which means if you have spammy sites linking to your website, chances are, your website will receive a low ranking score for this factor. Remember, it’s all about the quality of the links, not their quantity.
A lot of things have changed about SEO, in general. Readiness is also about proofing your website with algorithm changes.
SEO specialists would emphasize that the two most important and interrelated factors in optimizing a website are: ranking and traffic. They still are. The strategies and, subsequently, the tactics are what’s changing. In 2021, and probably, the years to come, SEO’s value would still be the same.
- Optimize your site for Google RankBrain
RankBrain is a machine learning-based algorithm. Now the search engine luminary is processing search queries based on artificial intelligence (AI). This is important now more than ever, and SEOs all over the world are taking heed.
Perhaps, you’ve read the words ‘contextual’ and ‘conceptual’ thrown around a lot lately. It’s because of this update, turning keywords into concepts. So yes, the results displayed on the results pages are conceptual results.
Relevance should be your top priority. Hence, optimizing the website for organic click-through rates (CTR) is what you need to do. When publishing landing pages and blog posts based on your campaign goals, this year, think about what title tag and meta description you must put to increase organic clicks.
Here are some quick tips:
- Put a number in the title tag and meta description
- Write compelling introductions
- Publish quality content to increase dwell time
- Minimize bounce rate
- Split test to maximize clicks
- Focus on traffic-targeted content creation
Going back to content, publishing high-quality content cannot be emphasized enough. It’s because the content is the fabric that connects all SEO activities. Not to mention, it is one of the top three ranking factors (RankBrain and links are the other two).
Creating content that compels the users to action is paramount. You will need Google Search Console too for this undertaking. Under Performance, sort the list by Impressions. The tool will display the keywords you had the highest impressions.
Now, check the clicks. Suppose your landing page for that specific keyword appears on SERPs more than a thousand times, but people are not clicking on it. In that case, that’s an opportunity to tweak the content to 1) increase organic traffic, 2) increase organic click-through rates, and 3) minimize bounce rates. Three goals were accomplished with a few content and metadata changes.
- Improve technical SEO for better UX
As already mentioned, Google is big on UX. All updates are intended to make it much better than each pre-update. Three of the most critical technical SEO factors to prioritize in 2019 are speed, mobile-friendliness, and security.
Users abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load, especially on mobile devices. They will also not transact with sites that are yet to migrate to HTTPS, a security protocol.
If you want to keep the users and do what they have to do (click, like, share, comment, read, buy, etc.), these aspects must be well taken care of.
- Send link juice to low-performing pages
Link juice refers to the SEO value of a hyperlink. This can be passed on to other pages through internal linking. The processes involved are real quick and easy. You will need Google Search Console and Ahrefs, two essential tools to determine how the SEO campaign performs.
Determine the pages that need a boost first. These are your landing pages on pages 2 and 3 of search engine results pages (SERPs). Check your Console to find those pages. Under Performance report, click Average position. Then, sort the list by position. Focus on positions 11 to 30.
If you are getting high impressions and high clicks and yet not ranking on page 1, push these pages. Now, go to Ahrefs. Enter your URL then, click the search icon. On the left sidebar, under Pages, click Best by links. These are your authoritative pages, which means they rank high on SERPs. Export to take the URLs.
Open the low-performing pages. Add the internal links as you deem relevant.
SEO is getting harder by the day, so you must be ready at all times. More problematic, yes, but completely doable. You have to know which ones will work and will not. These four SEO strategies are the most important right now. If you implement all of them, you shall see positive results in the coming months.
SEO is one of our expertise. We can help you determine the SEO-readiness of your website. Contact us so we can start!