When the team at IDdigital is working to improve a site’s SEO, one of the first things we do is give the website a check-up—making sure everything in all the nooks and crannies is coded and tagged properly so you can achieve high rankings on Google.
Here’s a glimpse into our process when performing an SEO health check on your site:
Pre-Check: XML Sitemap and robots.txt File
Google is going to use your XML sitemap as a rough blueprint for indexing the pages of your site. So, we want to give that file a spot check to make sure it’s there and doesn’t have any glaring errors that might throw off Google’s robots. Similarly, your site is likely to have a robots.txt file that gives instructions to bots about how to crawl the pages of your site. We’ll check that file too, to make sure the rules make sense.
Submit Your Files to Google Search Console
If your site is new or has undergone a major overhaul, we don’t want to wait around for Google to find it. Afterall, the internet is a pretty big place. Once we’ve looked over your sitemap and robots.txt file, we submit those files to Google Search Console so Google can start indexing your pages, ensuring those pages will be returned in searches.
! TIP: Want to see all the pages of your site that Google has indexed? In a Google search, type “site:yourdomain.com” (using your own domain name), and you’ll be given a list of all of those indexed pages.
Crawl Your Site
Next, we are going to use a web crawler to search through your entire site looking for errors. We’ll do this a couple of times to be thorough: once, respecting the instructions of the robots.txt file, and another time, ignoring those instructions to flush out any hidden problems. Here are some of the common areas we review:
- Sitewide Titles: Make sure that every page of your site contains the name of your company, the title of the page, and meta tags to give a brief description of the page’s content. Don’t make the robots think. They aren’t good at that. (Yet.)
- Copy & Spelling Errors: For your users, these kinds of errors can be embarrassing, but for the bots, these errors could mean the difference between your page being found in a search and not. We are especially thorough about verifying your NAP data (name, address, phone number) since that’s how your clients find you!
- Image Alt Tags: Robots aren’t very good at interpreting images, so we want to make sure your images contain alt text to provide the bot a description of what the image is showing.
- HTTP Error Codes: We investigate any error codes we might run into (like 403 or 404 errors) to make sure your pages are in good working order.
- 301 Redirects: If you renamed a page, got rid of an old page, or have a lot of aliases floating around in cyberspace, you probably set up 301 redirects to direct your web traffic to the right place. We check those redirects to make sure they don’t dead end or trap your users in a loop.
- Noindex Meta Tags and Nofollow links: Similar to your robots.txt file, these meta tags tell bots what to do (or not do) with these pages. A noindex tag is used to tell bots not to index that page. This might be used for thank you pages, landing pages, or gated pages that you don’t want to be returned in search results. A nofollow link is used to tell the bots not to give SEO “credit” to links on that page. (A whole blog could be written just about link equity… but we’ll save that for another day.) In either case, we want to make sure those tags are doing the right thing on your site.
Google Analytics and other Tracking
There are a number of ways we can track activity and performance on your sites, and we want to make sure all of those are set up correctly. First, we want to make sure Google Analytics is installed on your site, so you are getting important data about your site’s visitors. We may also inspect any Event Tracking you have on your site, to make sure you are properly capturing button clicks, form submissions, etc. You may have Conversion Tracking tags to track when people have made a purchase or performed other important actions, and we’ll make sure those are working correctly too.
While the key content of your site is incredibly important in ensuring a successful web presence with humans, don’t underestimate the importance of the behind-the-scenes content that gives you a strong web presence with the robots. IDdigital is ready to give your website a much-needed SEO health check.