When evaluating most sites for search, and how they show up in Google, most people focus on trying to stuff keywords into content or a headline. But that is a great way not to show up in search or, worse yet, get dropped from search results. If you haven’t heard about Google’s new search algorithm release code named ‘Panda’ then you don’t know that Google is very focused on lowering sites with poor content that lacks depth in favor of sites offering solid content from quality brands that answer the searchers’ needs.
So, how do you know what Google thinks about your site? Google guards its algorithm mightily, but many best practices have been identified for maximizing your search score. Here at Meister Media, we have developed a site audit tool with more than 50 actionable items and a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ranking document that includes 100+ factors. And that is just to evaluate a site.
So what do we look for? Here are examples of items you should be making sure your site has in place:
- Title Tag Uniqueness — Search engines place a large amount of weight on the title tag and to better assist them and your visitors, each page should be uniquely titled, similar to the way books are titled to clearly indicate their contents.
- Meta Description uniqueness — The best-performing snippets are those sourced from unique meta descriptions that correctly summarize the content of the page.
- Alt tags on images — Images are one of the most common elements on a page; however, without good surrounding text and a proper alt attribute assigned to the IMG tag, the search engines will struggle to know what an image is.
- URL Construction — Properly encoding URLs can solve many issues, but often overlooked are the use of underscores instead of hyphens to separate words in a URL. Uppercase and camel-case URL are a prime source of duplicate content and should be forced to lowercase.
- Canonical pages — You should have only one page with unique content. Technically you may have just one page, however if you can remove the www or a backslash or file extension and the same page shows you have what looks like duplicate pages to Google.
- XML Sitemap — XML sitemaps are the best way to tell a search engine what pages you want to be indexed. If you have crawl or navigation issues preventing search engines from finding your content easily, an XML sitemap can assist with those pages being found; however, they have no impact on improving ranking. It just makes sure you get those pages seen by the search engine.
These are just six of the hundred or more SEO factors (both technical and nontechnical) that can impact your site. To learn more about how Meister Media can help you through a site audit, please contact your Meister Media sales rep or contact Bob West, Director of Interactive Sales, at 440-602-9129 or firstname.lastname@example.org.