Despite the murky water that surrounds it, the kind of work we do is still often called SEO. The trouble with this moniker is its history and association with scam artists, out-of-their-league designers and fast-talking but clueless “SEOs” who all promise the world (and charge accordingly) but fail to deliver solid results. Making this more frustrating for the consumer is the inability to compare apples to apples in the industry, often a combination of dubious or secretive business practices and their own limited understanding of the complexity of the Internet and its ever-changing nature.
Of course, getting business owners past this technological hurdle is the goal of this blog, so in today’s episode, I’d like to illustrate a few things you can look for to determine if your site has been optimized or not. If you’ve never had someone do SEO work before, it also might help you understand why your website isn’t coming up for the terms you want it to!
- Are keywords in the Title of the webpage? Go to your site and look to that blue bar at the top of your web browser window — what does it say? If it reads something like “John’s Electric” rather than “Sometown, Indiana Electrician, Electrical Service” then your site is missing out on probably the most important (and easiest) area to gain search rankings. Your business name is rarely the best phrase to use in the title.
- Are your keywords elsewhere in your content? Of course, if you use the keywords in the above example, and then write an article about roller coasters, you’re unlikely to get rankings for either. A good rule of thumb is that your keywords should appear at the beginning, middle, and ends of your content, and appear in different variations throughout.
- Is your site navigation plain text, not graphic or flash-based? Google doesn’t have eyes, and any site that relies on graphics or Adobe Flash (as cool as it is) for site navigation is doomed in search. This may be a little more difficult to spot unless you have a basic understanding of HTML, but if you ever have to wait to see your navigation load before your page appears, it’s a good chance it’s built from graphics.
- Do you have enough content on your pages? If your pages are too short, you leave both search engines and users wondering what your website is about. If there’s one rule to follow, it’s that your site needs good quality, original content to stand out on today’s web. We know most businesses don’t have an on-staff professional writer, but unless one works on your website, you’re likely to face challenges other than just getting ranked in search engines. Good SEO writers can also thread your keywords in the content as it’s written, leading to more organic, readable content that also happens to be loved by search engines.
- Do you link? In the content of each page, is there a link to the next place you should go… For example, does your products page lead to your support or training page, and vice-versa? Does your index page have links (other than the navigation) to the most important areas of your site, with links that read “Blue Widgets” vs. “Click here”? Google learns a lot about you by how you link, and improving the navigation experience should be one of the major tasks of a competent SEO.
Hopefully running through this list will give you an idea in what ways your site could be improved, and if it ostensibly has been, it will give you an idea of what to tell whoever took your money! And if you’d like a more thorough professional analysis of your page paired with some web strategy suggestions, try our free site analysis.