The Website SEO Audit

Digital Marketing integrations Critique
by Michael Lofton

Driving and Converting Traffic

With hundreds of factors for ranking high in organic Google search, let’s highlight the top basic leading indicators which continue to test as valid ranking factors for your website in the major search engines such as Google and BING.

Focusing on these initial SEO check-items will insure that you have a leg-up on your competition. Consider these essential check items as you go through your website pages.
Combine Organic Search Engine Results Pages with Google Properties for Best Results

Always start with building your complete keyword list

Create as many specific and related keywords and keyword phrases that you believe your customers are using to find you, your product/service, and your website.

Use a couple of keyword research tools to determine your best keyword phrases to include in your search engine optimization strategy…

Free and Paid Tools include:
Google Keyword Planner
Google Auto Complete (drop down menu) and Keyword Suggests (at bottom of SERPs)
Screaming Frog: https://www.screamingfrog.co.uk/
Neil Patel’s SEO Analyzer: https://neilpatel.com/seo-analyzer/
Also note: Neil’s Ubersuggest tool
LSI Keywords for also gathering question topics: https://answerthepublic.com/
Google My Business / Google Search Console / Google Analytics

Paid keyword and SEO tools include:
Long Tail Pro keyword tool, Niche Genetics, Keyword Research by Cleaver Gizmos, Niche Finder, Market Samurai, SEO Powersuite, Traffic Travis, SpyFu, Moz, Majestic, aHrefs, LSI Graph, Ispionage, SEMrush, Page Optimizer Pro, Pro Rank Tracker, et. al.

Primary Keyword and/or Brand word(s) in Domain Name

When the primary keyword is included in your domain name, the probability of getting placement in the search engines such as Google is substantially enhanced. Having keywords in the domain name helps search engine crawlers locate the pertinent pages that a potential customer may be searching for. In the past this technique worked very well, fast forward to today and it works much less but still a factor. One being the bold keywords that will appear in the domain name when that keyword is searched for by a potential customer.

Age of the Domain Name

When it comes to search engine optimization many SEO experts continue to notice that the age of a Domain Name helps in your ranking.

Pro Tip: The longer you register your domain the better benefit that Google will see, they will see it as a serious business and not a turn and burn type of website.

Compare You Top Competitors

By simply researching your existing top competitors in Google Search and Google Maps, you’ll discover some wonderful insights as to ‘why’ your competition is above you in search.

Detemine the Meta Structures (eg., tags and keywords) along with Content of your top 6 competitors to determine best practices for your site.

Optimizing Meta Tags… a Common and Basic SEO Activity

Targeted Keyword in the Title Tag

A title tag appears as the main header when your URL comes up on Google search results. It’s the first thing people see when they come across your site on (e.g.) Google.

The title forms a principle element of any piece of written content, and it is equally valuable when it comes to search engine optimization. The fundamental feature that Google regards as the signal for search engine result pages is the title tag.

Your primary keywords should be used accurately in your title for it to appear perfect and appropriate in the eyes of Google and search engine result pages. Use up to a max of 65 characters.

Meta Description

This is the short descriptions displayed under the title tags when the URL comes up in search results. Up to 160 characters, but in BING you can get away using up to 320 characters. Just preload the juicy content w/i the first 160 characters.

Now, it’s heard in circles that the Meta Description isn’t SEO applicable, but that’s not the point. It’s still considered the most valued real estate in SERPs and if used wisely will reap many clicks to your pages/posts.
The Meta Description needs to be a concise and attention-grabbing summary of the contents of the page it is linking to. Build curiousity or provide a powerful benifit for the visitor to click-through to your site.
Ideally, you’d want to have all of these different keywords or semantic keywords in the meta description as well. The more times you can mention the different semantic variations of these keywords in your Meta Description the more likely they’re going to show up in bold which is going to lead to improved click-through rate.

Other Meta tags include:
Keywords in H1, H2, H3 & H4 Tags
(you can also go deeper with h5 – h8)

Besides the fact that content and domain name identity are paramount, their importance cannot do without H tags. Including keywords in the H1 thru H4 tags will help the authenticity to the content and the domain name and help boost the chances of better ratings.

Note: We’ve determined through independent research that header tags H1 – H4 tags are the most important for SEO development. The balance of the header tags, eg., H5 – H8 tend to not be so.

You can use a book as an example in building your <h> tags… eg., Title of book = Title, Sub title of book = <h1>, Table of Contents = <h2>, Chapter Headings = <h3> and sub chapter titles = <h4> (similar silo structures for each Page/Post). You could even make your footnotes an <h5>

Image Alt Title and Alt Description Tags

Utilizing your best keywords as they relate to your images and the content of the pages they’re placed on, in both, Alt Image Titles and Alt Image Description, will be an important part of your SEO strategy. (images further noted below)

Other On-Page Elements

Internal Linking Within Your Website
In simpler terms it means to link from one or more of your pages/posts to other pages/posts within your website.

Inner page linking should be structured to link pertinent keyword phrases with similar inner pages and posts… In some instances you can loop back the link, but in most cases generally keep your page linking tactics in one direction.

Length of the Content

Some of the research suggests that the greater the word count of a written website article you have the greater the chances of getting high rankings for the website in the SERPs (search engine results page). But this is not an absolute.

An article that is 2000 words long might rank better that an article that is 500 words long. However testing has proven that when compared to your top ranking competitors, it’s best to not out word them with more than 10 – 15% more content. Apparently the Google algorithm for the time being (as of 2020) incorporate competitive comparisons for like-kind genres in determining content length.

Keyword Density in Content

Keyword density refers to the concentration of keywords in an article. Typically, the maximum recommended density should be around 3%, but in case the keywords are used accurately in an article and maintained I believe a maximum of 2% is enough.

The possibilities for getting favorable rankings in the SERPs are even further enhanced. Try to ensure that you always check the density of keywords in your article to avoid keyword stuffing, which is an old Black Hat SEO technique that does not conform to Google’s guidelines.
Another way to strengthen your content is to also utilize keyword, synonyms and LSI phrases.

LSI Keywords in Content

Google uses a system known as LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing), this is how they figure out what a page is about and also what to show a searcher on a search engine. Think of it as a learning mechanism, if you are searching for ‘computer repair’ an LSI would be like, LCD Screen Replacement, PC Repair, Laptop Repair, Hard Drive Repair, etc.
Google is smart enough to figure out that what your page is about by using these type of phrases related to your main keyword.

Up-to-date Content and Content Layout

With the onset of the “dynamic era”, you need to update content on your website whenever something new in your field of happens. Try to create a habit of frequently updating the content on your site. Google crawls all websites for the freshness of content which plays an important ranking factor scoring each page according to the type of search query. While a Blog may need fresh content a product may not.

Secure your page/post ‘silo’ structures to be consistent with you keyword genre. Using best practices to design your ‘category’ and ‘tabs’ accordingly.

Other content layout considerations is to include (along with your Schema) a ‘FAQ’ section near the top of your page/post that answers the question directly like an encyclopedia entry. This will have you be a contender for those worshiped ‘snippet’ position at the top of Google SERP.
Write convincing content copy in order to convert your visitors into action.

External Linking

The process of building links to High Quality Websites
External linking building is very similar to internal linking. Use your keywords and implement them into the rich anchor text. Make sure they make sense with the content and that they are relevant links.
Keep a moderate linking count within your pages. The difference with internal linking and external linking is internal is within your own website and external is linking to another source out on the internet.

External link to good quality reference sites, including. .gov types.

Domain Authority Linking

Nowadays, Domain Authority (DA) is extremely important when it comes to SEO top ranking factors. Long gone are the days when you would depend on page ranking alone. You should create one-way links with other websites that have a higher domain authority than yours. Ideally, you should try to ensure that your DA rank is above 40 to 50. Simply put an authoritative domain will outrank a domain with lower authority.

Back Linking

Back links shouldn’t always go to your Homepage… always direct back links to pertinent content/subject matter that relates to the keyword structures.

The best trick is to get existing related clients and related supporting companies you work with to provide you with a reference back link (having them if possible secured with a ‘do-follow’ tag). Any genre related organizations for directory listings is a plus.

The back links you’ll want to be cautious of include… Paid links (paying for posts in disguised private blog networks… PBNs). You probably have already heard the buzz term, Private Blog Networks, and they come in many different flavors and are being scrutinized a lot lately… Caution must be given prior to PBN back link buys.

Ultimately, though, the most important factor for link building (link backs/back linking) is how much SEO value a link will bring to your site. If there’s no value then it could actually hurt your exposure.

Penguin Safe and Relevant Back-links

One of the most commonly used algorithms by Google for catching spammed back-links is Penguin. You need to be cautious especially when creating backlinks from websites considered by Google as being spam. Ensure that you always create penguin safe and secure backlinks that are relevant.
Repair any 401 or bad linked pages/posts

Directory Citations

Another good way to establish some back linking structures is to secure some ‘directory citation’ listings.
Verify that your directory citation listings are in both National and Local directories.

When you speak at (or even just attend) an industry event, sponsor such an event, or make a donation, you usually earn some acknowledgment from the organizer and participants… make sure your company gets digital marketing credits in their publications regarding back links.

Also receive citations (and when available ‘link-backs’) from local sources and press releases.
A small example of general directory citations include: FourSquare City, Data Manta, Chiefmall, MyLocally, BizCommunity, SaleSpider, Mastermoz, Tupalo, MyHunkleberry, MerchantCircle, Yelp, SuperPages, Kudzu Cylex-USA, HotFrog…

Along with the big 4 aggregators; Axciom, Factual, Infogroup & Neustar Localeze.

Photos & Videos (Multimedia)

Multimedia such as images, videos and Podcasts can help in the content quality signal used by Google. Back in the days, websites used to be ranked on Google exclusively on the basis of written content. However, that has now changed and you need to include other types of content like videos and photos in your website in order to gain a constant position in Google and other search engines.

Take care not to include too many photos and videos that have embedded copy/text that isn’t easily scrapped by search engine bots for SEO strategy. Strike the right balance between written content and media.

Pro Tip: YouTube videos are given special treatment in the SERPs simply because Google owns it (wink,. wink,..).

Image Optimization is Another Common SEO Technique

As mentioned firstly above your Image filename and Alt Text are very similar to Meta Tags, you should customize the text by including your keywords into the filename and use the Alt Text with a different set of keywords to describe what the photo is about.

Before you upload your images be sure to use keywords in the filename that bests describes it.

Website Page Load Time

If a website is slow to respond (page loading speed article here), then don’t expect it to rank highly on Google. Additionally, Both Google and Bing use page-load-speed as a ranking factor. Search engine crawlers can approximate your site speed fairly accurately based on a page’s file size and code.

Also note a very important loading element known as, time to first byte (TTFB). It’s the process of getting a fast response ‘ping’ from the point (time) that someones looks (clicks) for your site and the time your server takes to initially respond back (its ‘first byte’).

Example of a WordPress Plugin to assist with speed is, WP Rocket.

Mobile Optimized

Your website must have the ability to support mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Enhancing the speed of your website and optimizing the site for mobile devices helps to improve rankings on search engines like Google and ensures that your site can be accessed from multiple devices. More than half of searches on the search engines are from mobile devices. If you are not mobile optimized then you may miss out on all the searches performed on such devices.

Test the speed of your site here -> https://gtmetrix.com

Increase Your Search Engine Visibility Using Google Properties…

Google My Business
Google Maps (snack pack)
YouTube
Google Docs
Google News
Google Search Console
Google Analytics
et. al.

Since the online world is pretty much ruled by Google, using their social media channels in conjunction with your website is a handy must.

Google My Business – GMB (an absolute must for any local biz)

Simply go to Google My Business Fill out the short form to claim your business. Once done they will send you a card in the mail with your pin #, use that pin to verify your page. Now you can start uploading all your info about your business.

Use the categories and also upload at least 5 photo’s preferably of you and your business, and if you can GEO tag them. Always put a link back to your website.

Once all info is uploaded you now can start posting to it like any other social media channel. There is a lot of buzz about this being a ghost town but trust me it has a lot of SEO value for your website.

On a routine basis provide for a new GMB ‘Posts’ and update your ‘Services’ regularly.

Pro Tip: Complete GMB ‘website’ builder and ‘publish it’.

Note: Just because you published your GMB Website doesn’t mean it will be used as your main website on GMB, as you can select the exact website you wish to use. However note: some businesses use only Google’s GMB Website as their main site and it works fine.

Pro Tip: Consider cross-linking Google properties (e.g., old school called: Google Stacking). eg., Link a Youtube vid to a GMB post and/or GMB Service listing, or, vice vrs.

Grid Mapping

This is a specialized technique of creating ip address locations surrounding your local biz in order to gain better Google Maps ‘snack pack’ returns in all quadrants of your city.

Improve Your Website’s Domain Authority

W3 Validation

Your web pages JavaScript and CSS/HTML codes should be valid and in line with W3 consortium. Make an effort to ensure that your web site’s codes are clearly verified. The top ranking sites on Google often have clearly defined and valid codes. If the crawlers find it hard to clearly evaluate the code on your website then it may consider it a poor quality site and drop it in ranks.

Sitemap

Another important factor for top rankings on Google is the website’s sitemap. A search engine’s crawler often browses through the entire sitemap of a web site to find greater applicable pages for indexing in its databases.

The presence of a sitemap helps indexing your pages thoroughly in turn improving visibility.

XML Sitemap are Used to help search bots Crawl your Website with Ease

Google Search Console is where you can submit your XML sitemap to help Google crawl your site faster. And many SEO plugins and dedicated plugins can handle this project.

Avoid Duplicate Content

You must try to completely avoid duplicating content from other websites. Every web page should be specific and contain unique and relevant content. You should also try to make the content at least 500 words of unique content, Google will reward you for it. Also thin content will also not get you results from Google or your readers.

Social Media

Nowadays, social media is a powerful tool for search engine optimization, and linking your SEO efforts with social media can result in decent results in terms of boosting your site’s rankings with social media.
With the increasing popularity of social media, you can use social media to send a strong signals to Google to help with boosting your rankings in a surprisingly short time.

Try linking your site’s content with social shares and likes to social media to pull people back to your website which in turn will help improve rankings in the search engines.

Structured Data – Schema Mark-Up Code

The purpose of Schema has many differences in opinion from top SEO experts of what it actually does.
Well here is my explanation; Search engines and other platforms that use this encoded data, use this to boost their users search experience. Webmasters usually create what is called ?mark-up” which helps search engines highlighting key points within the data.

Along with other content layout FAQ considerations previously mentioned, it is advisable to include ‘FAQ Schema’ on your page/post that answers the question directly. This will have you be a contender for those worshiped ‘snippet’ position at the top of Google SERP.

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) – https secured green padlock

As of 2018 Google Chrome now display a ‘Not Secure Warning’ image on search engine browser for websites that are not https compliant. If your website says not SSL/https secured, you will lose customers to your competition.

This is a list of some of the basic essentials for your SEO application… Many more tactics apply.

 

If you’d like all of this done for you, or at least some assistance on how to do this yourself…

Michael can be reached @
970-335-9580
michael@customercounts.com

Notes:

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