When you hire an online marketing or SEO agency, the agency will “audit” your site and look for errors and opportunities to increase your rankings. But how do you know whether or not you need an agency? Pick a few pages from your website and perform your own mini-audit with this checklist:
Headers & Titles
Every page on your site should include a title, a strategically-written meta description, and an H1 header. You could view the source code for the page and search for each of these elements, or you could use a free, convenient tool that does it for you. Here’s how:
- Drag this [SEO] bookmarklet to your toolbar.
- Navigate to the desired page on your website and click on the “SEO” bookmark that’s now in your toolbar.
- You’ll get a pop-up like this:
This was pulled from a post about using keywords. The title is relevant and the description makes sense. There’s also only one H1. Yay!
First, look to see that the title and description are relevant to the content on your page. Next, confirm that there is only one H1 present. Without an H1, you’re missing a big opportunity to give information to search engines and readers. With too many H1s, you can create confusion.
Image Alt Text
Alt text is a behind-the-scenes opportunity for you to provide information about your images and your website to the search engine crawler.
How does it work? Even though your website shows something like this:
The search engine robots see something like this:
<img src=”new-york-skyline.gif” alt=”New York Skyline”>
If you name your files well and use descriptive alt text, your pictures might start to appear in search results, which could, in turn, drive traffic to your website.
How can you tell if your images have alt text?
- Easy: Hover your mouse over the image. If there’s alt text, it will appear.
- Intermediate: Use that same search bookmarklet to check whether any images on your page have alt text.
a. Press Ctrl+U to view the source code for the page you’re on
b. Press Ctrl+F to open the search dialogue
c. Search for .jpg, .gif, or .png to locate images. Then look for a nearby alt=”some phrase” to see if there is alt text present. You can also look to see whether the filename is descriptive, because a good file name never hurts.
How Shareable is Your Site?
There are two parts to shareability. First, do you have buttons on your website that make it easy for your visitors to tweet about you, post your site to Facebook, or even pin one of your images to Pinterest? If not, you could be missing out on great social sharing opportunities.
Second, figure out if each page is worth sharing. Would customers find it useful? Do you provide relevant information? Not every page needs to be a content-rich resource, but all of your pages should meet a customer need and be worthy of being passed along.
How Does Your Website Look to Other People?
Open your website in other browsers. Resize the window. Visit your site from an iPad or Android device. Check to make sure that your website looks good on every platform that your customers are using. If your website adjusts to different sizes and forms, then you’re in great shape. If it doesn’t, you might want to consider a more responsive design.
Analyze your Competitors
How does your web traffic compare to your competitors? One easy way to figure out is to use a browser toolbar built for SEO. SEOBook’s is free and easy to install. There is a ton of data available on the toolbar, and it can get overwhelming. I recommend just paying attention to the Compete Uniques and SEMrush Traffic Value numbers (the blue/green circle and the red sun.) There are no hard and fast rules here; everything is relative. If your numbers are similar to your competitors’, then you’re probably on par with your industry in terms of web traffic. If your numbers are lower, you can assume that you have room to grow your web presence
Here’s a traffic comparison of two of Boston’s major newspaper sites
If your site falls short in any of these areas, it might be time to get help from the experts. Remember, this was just a mini-audit. Professional site audits check every page of your site and include a number of other vital SEO factors.
Written by Stephanie Beadell, Master of Science in Mass Communications major at Boston University Dec 2012.