I was going to look at “SEO Audits” this week, but wouldn’t you know it, an article immediately popped into my inbox which covered the topic really well. So for those of you who want to tackle the project yourself, I’m just going to point you to that.
First of all though, what is an SEO Audit? Essentially, it’s just analysing your website for SEO deficiencies, and making a plan of action to fix them. If you have the time and enthusiasm in-house, it’s quite possible that you could do it yourself. You do need to be prepared to invest in a few software tools, however. Don’t try to do it with free resources. You wouldn’t put up a shelf without a drill.
Once you’ve undertaken the audit, you’ll realise that taking the appropriate steps to make your site perform better in the search engine results isn’t a black art. Give it a go. The article I mentioned is here on Search Engine People.
Alternatively, if you don’t have the time or inclination, you can subcontract the job. But beware – there are some folks out there who don’t seem to know the subject as well as they claim, and others who do audits merely to create ongoing work for themselves. One service which comes highly recommended is the website review from Yoast in the Netherlands. The full review you want is $2,500, but you do get what you pay for.
Read “How To Do A Complete SEO Audit” on Search Engine People.
If I’ve come across as an “SEO skeptic” in recent months, I don’t mean to be: I’m just disappointed about how much money is wasted on “search engine optimisation” by companies like yours who really should know better. Even one of our more thoughtful clients told me recently that they were spending “a few hundred pounds a month” paying the web design agency who built and maintained their website for “SEO work”. There was no reporting on what was being done, and the contract continued through some sort of vague fear that if the payments stopped, all the Google traffic would dry up.
Well, let me tell you what the agency are doing for that money.
Nothing. At. All.
They’re just taking the money and laughing at you.
And how do I know this? Because if they were doing anything, they’d demonstrate it. Anyone who’s ever run a consultancy or outsourced services knows the first rule is that you keep showing the client everything you’re doing for them. If you’re actually working hard for your money, you never do it quietly and risk the client turning round and cancelling the service because they couldn’t see what you were doing. It’s only if you’re ripping off the client by doing nothing that you keep quiet about things. And with a job such as SEO, it’s easy to show what you’re doing, so why wouldn’t you?
Have a read of Easily Evaluate The Job Your Link Building Agency Is Doing on Search Engine People to see what professional SEO consultants will deliver as evidence of their work. And if you’re not getting any reporting on your “SEO investment”, put a stop to it immediately, and spend the money on something more sensible.
Last week I brought you a few stats about the response you might get from different positions on the Google results page, but since then I’ve found some more interesting data, and it’s recent stuff, from the UK too. It’s summarised in Organic vs Paid CTR and Who Gets The Clicks on the Search Engine People blog, which has one of those nice, easy-to-digest “infographic” illustrations which are all the rage.
The research suggests that more people (48%) click on the top Google result than the previous study, but a similar number (around 70%) click on one of the first three. This changes significantly when “branded” searches are separated out – here, some 80% of searchers plump for the first result, which suggests that Google has got it spot-on nowadays in terms of providing the right result at the top. Organic search results account for 94% of all clicks, with just 6% going to paid results (AdWords), but as I mentioned before, this is irrelevant to advertisers, who are only paying for the clicks. I’d also be interested to know how many searches are too obscure to have any adverts at all; I expect it’s a lot.
There are many great reasons for you to be looking at incorporating video on your website. I cannot conceive of a company website which wouldn’t be enhanced by video, from operational demonstrations bringing products alive to interviews with the MD putting a human face on the organisation. You can spend thousands on professional production, but I’ve seen some terrific videos shot on an iPhone (which someone in the office must have) and edited with the iMovie app (£2.99). Given that, there isn’t a single person reading this who couldn’t make a serviceable movie clip for their company website by lunchtime today. There’s no excuse. Just make sure you shoot the video in a well-lit area.
But what is the current thinking on how best to host and present your video? How can you make it work hard for your website? Video SEO in 4 Simple Steps on Search Engine People is a nice simple start; the article suggests that you host it yourself (put it on YouTube later), use a good thumbnail with alt-tag keywords, and add a video sitemap. None of these things should take too much effort to research and implement.
There’s a new addition to Google’s webmaster tools which will be of interest if your website is one of those which adds long strings of characters to the URL thanks to a content management system trying to track various aspects of the visitor’s experience on the site. This means you if your URLs aren’t just www.bluewidgetcompany.co.uk/large-widgets.html, but instead have massive strings of stuff after the .html (or .htm, or .asp) bit. The problem is that all this stuff is customised to each visit, even though the page is the same, and you can imagine how this confuses search engines, which see different URLs for the same page each time they come round.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to bore you with the intricacies here, as it’s already been done in Understanding the Updated URL Parameter Handling in Google’s Webmaster Tools on Search Engine People. If this doesn’t affect you (because your website has been designed nicely and when you click around, the URLs stay nice and simple), then just be grateful.