At our recent Virtual Tech Surgery, we were asked to produce the 'Top 5 Monthly Checks' to manage the SEO for your website....so here goes!
1. Make sure your website is indexable
One of the most essential aspects of SEO, which is often overlooked. Search engines can’t rank your content if they don’t know about it. Indexing your website tells the web crawlers what pages are available on your site, and also which pages the crawlers shouldn’t bother with (for instance, the 'empty' shopping cart page). Equally, if during the course of the month you have experimented with a new page, removed a page, added a plugin or blog, then this is worth checking.
You can take a look at what pages Google is indexing, in the Google Search Console. If you’re not already signed up for this - you should. It has a wealth of information and you can tie it together with Google Analytics. Once you’re signed, click on Coverage in the sidebar (under the Index heading). This will show all the pages with errors, warnings, valid pages and excluded pages. You might be surprised how many pages your site has – and which ones your CMS has decided are crawlable or not! Most CMS’s allow you to turn the visibility of a page on or off, and also give you the option of whether the page is crawlable. It’s easy to make a mistake when you’re setting the page up and click the wrong option.
So, review your site on the Search Console and if you notice an issue, check with your CMS how to toggle the setting. Or give us a shout and we can guide you in the right direction.
Geek Corner - The crawlers use a combination of the robots.txt file (this file is at the root of your domain, so for example https://your-awesome-site.com/robots.txt) and the sitemap.xml (https://your-awesome-site.com/sitemap.xml). If you have created your site using a CMS (WordPress, Wix, SquareSpace, etc) then this will most probably have been created for you – but if you are feeling geeky and want to see what Google reads, replace ‘your-awesomesite.com’ with your website name.
2. Fix errors and review crawl reports
This fits in with the point above - Google marks you down if it finds errors on your site. The Search Console (or maybe you are paying for an alternate service) is your friend here. Watch out for dead pages (404 not founds), pages that load with errors or pages that just refuse to load at all. No matter how good the content is on the rest of the site, Google doesn’t like broken pages – so make sure you check your site at least once a month.
3. Optimise your existing content
Instead of starting a page from scratch, work on improving the content you have already spent time on. Take a look at your competitors who are ranking higher than you, then compare your coverage and structure to theirs. Done correctly, optimising content can take less time than producing new content and you can generate traffic faster. Review your pages at the end of each month, if you have the time - and enrich the content where possible, for example seasonal topics.
4. Remove dead wood
A low quality page - a page that doesn’t generate a lot of traffic or engagement, makes it harder for your other pages to rank. Over the lifetime of your website, you have probably generated hundreds of pages - blogs, ecommerce and experimental pages all add up over time. Don’t just leave those pages lying about. You have two realistic options here, remove the page completely from your site (remember point 1 about indexing, this page no longer needs to appear in your sitemap, so make sure it’s gone) or set up a redirect from the low quality page to a better one. There are a couple of “gotcha’s” on the redirecting option, so have a read up about this or give us a call.
5. Keep an eye on your rankings
You probably want to do this more than once a month, it’s more of a weekly task. In the previous points, we spoke a about optimising your existing content and removing dead wood - both of which affect your rankings and traffic over time. Not every tweak you make is going to be perfect, so use your rankings, traffic numbers and other indicators to keep your site relevant. Both Google Analytics and the Search Console can be put to good use here. Use them to measure your own key indicators - and also those of your competitors. Their content may include topics that are trending at the moment, driving their ranking above yours.
Any questions or confusion, drop us an email. We can help with specific questions and can also provide a full SEO and website health check for your site, starting from £99+VAT for Milknbizz members.