SEO is like a huge iceberg. Alongside with well-known standard practices, there are lots of unseen elements, all working in concert to deliver collective impact on website rankings. The more seamlessly the whole system works, the more productive an SEO campaign is.
Hence, the major priority of any website promoter is to ensure that they do not overlook any important SEO aspects and consider both popular SEO techniques and little-know SEO tweaks when planning their campaigns.
This practical guide will teach you how to:
- find undetected issues that may hold back site's ranking progress;
- enhance popular SEO practices with some little-known tweaks;
- use site ranking potential to the fullest extent.
So, let's roll up our sleeves and get down to work.
Onsite SEO Analysis
Some website promoters complain that despite properly optimized content and high quality backlinks, their sites don’t rank as high as they are supposed to.
Most likely, the cause of this issue is poor organization of website structure and improper interaction of its inner mechanisms. That’s why assessing a website through the procedure of SEO audit is an essentially important procedure that should be carried out at least once or twice a year.
Collecting Data for SEO Site Audit
First, you should collect data for comprehensive onsite analysis. To collect this data, launch Website Auditor and choose 'File' – 'New Project' option.
Make sure that at step one you check 'Enable expert options’' box.
Follow the software wizards to configure scan depth limits and filtering conditions.
When the process of collecting data gets finished, you will get the list of your site pages supplied with important rankings factors.
Collecting website traffic stats
To build a complete picture of website SEO performance, you also need to collect site traffic stats. To let the software access data in your Google Analytics account, go to 'Preferences' – 'Google Analytics account' and follow the software instructions. When done, select all pages in the workspace and click 'Update'. In the window that opens, check 'Page Visits' box and hit 'OK'. Then click 'Next' to make the software pull your site traffic stats.
Now, when we have the website tree, ranking factors and traffic stats for each website page, we can get down to data analysis.
Running Onsite SEO Analysis
Before starting analysis, let's conveniently organize the collected data in the Website Auditor working area.
Go to 'Preferences' – 'Manage Workspaces', select the 'Website Tab' option and uncheck 'Group by’' box. Click 'OK' to apply the changes. When done, click on the header of the 'Visits' column – thus you will sort all pages by their traffic.
Click 'OK' to apply the changes. That is what you workspace should look like.
Done? Good! Let’s start our analysis with the most traffic productive pages.
Onsite SEO analysis checklist
- Spotting irrelevant website pages
First, check the URLs you get in the 'Page' column. Make sure that you are aware of all the pages you see on the list. Thing is, quite often some content management systems automatically generate duplicate pages (e.g. by assigning a page different session IDs or other URL parameters). That may result in slow site indexation and trigger duplicate content issues. Check this article to learn about the ways to deal with such pages.
- Checking website crawlability
Next, check what you have got in the 'Robots Instructions’' column. Make sure that you 'allow' search engines crawl and index all your important pages. But keep in mind that it would be more SEO-wise to restrict some pages from indexation. This article will provide you with the detailed instructions on how to set indexation rules for search engines crawlers the right way.
- Analyzing title and meta description
Next step is analyzing your pages' titles and meta descriptions. Jump to the corresponding columns and check if the titles and descriptions contain your keywords. Also, make sure they don’t duplicate each other. The more diverse you keep them, the better. The detailed instructions on how to optimize these page elements can be found here.
- Finding and fixing broken links
Now it’s time to spot and fix your site's broken links. Look at the ‘Broken links’ column. In the column you will see the number of broken links that were detected on each of your site pages. Mouse over that number and you will see a three-dot button.
Click on this button and you will get a list of broken list for each page. The only thing left to do is to access the source code of your site pages and fix those broken links.
- Checking page load speed
When broken links are fixed, let’s check how 'weighty' your pages are. Note that the more disc space a webpage occupies, the more time it requires to load (regardless of visitor’s connection speed). That causes bad user experience and negatively affects site rankings performance. Sort out all bulky pages by clicking on the header of the 'HTML code size' column. When done, see if you can somehow reduce page load time, e.g. get rid of some flash, optimize images, etc..
- Analyzing website inner links
And finally, let's brush up website inner link pattern. Jump to the 'Total links' column. How many links have you got there? Remember that the more links a webpage contains (no matter whether they have follow or nofollow tags), the less link juice it passes to the other important site pages.
That's why you should check if it's reasonable to have links on your site pages with Google Analytics Content -> In-page analytics module. This module will show you how many visitors actually follow links on a page, which suggests if you really need some of them for better user experience. If you don't, and it's a link from an important page to an unimportant one, get rid of it.
Also, keep in mind that the more important a page is, the more inner links should point to it. And avoid having pages that are not linked to any other page of a site (unless it's necessary).
Now let's discuss some external causes that may potentially hamper your pages rankings.
Collecting and Analyzing Offsite Rankings Factors
After you have found and fixed all site internal issues, you need to check whether there are some external factors that may hamper your site SEO performance. The main external factor that can negatively affect site rankings is links.
So let's scan your site backlink profile and weed out all lousy links.
1. Get your site backlink profile.
Launch SEO SpyGlass and go to 'File' – 'New Project' menu.
To maximize the number of links found, select all regional and local search engines, WebBeUp Backlink Tool and SEO SpyGlass Backlink Explorer.
You may also let the software fetch backlink data from your Google Analytics account – to do that, specify your account credentials under 'Preferences' – 'Google Analytics account'.
2. Analyze your links from Webmaster Tools
Additionally, the software lets you import links from Google Webmaster Tools. To import these links, go to 'File' – 'Import' – and select the option 'Import Google Analytics Backlinks'.
3. Updating backlink rankings factors
When your site backlinks are collected, you can update their rankings factors.
Note, if a website has a great number of backlinks, it’s better to collect their rankings factors in batches. Thus, you will make sure you will not overlook any bad backlinks. Select a batch of 1K-1,5K links, right-click on the selection and choose the 'Update links' option in the context menu that opens. At step one, select the factors you need to update and make sure you check the 'Page Info' box. By enabling this option you will check if all your links are in place.
4. Validating site backlinks
When the process is complete, you can sort all links by their status. To do that, click on the headers of the 'Backlink status' and 'Links Back' columns. The 'Backlink status' column will tell you whether your backlink shows up in search engine backlink lists, and the 'Links Back' will show whether your links actually present on your partners sites. If a link of yours disappears, see if you can do anything to have it back.
5. Managing backlink anchors
Also, don't forget to check anchor text of your links. This is one of the decisive factors in the context of the latest Google update. Here you can find the detailed instructions on how to manage your backlink anchors the right way.
Finally, with SEO SpyGlass you can check how many links point to a particular page of your site, calculate the amount of referral traffic and the total number of links (these processes will be described in the second part of the post). Needless to say that the more links point to a particular page, the higher its authority is.
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Now you know how to locate SEO-underperforming pages, run their comprehensive analysis and eliminate all possible issues that may trigger bad SEO performance of your site.
Each SEO activity (be it SEO site audit, link building, etc.) holds lots of hidden challenges that require extra attention and employing additional less-known practices. Consider implementing the little-known SEO tweaks described in the post and you will see that they will make great contribution into your website ranking success.
P.S. If you practice SEO on a large scale and deal with large amounts of data, stay tuned for the second part of the article – it will tell you how to effectively run analysis for big websites, find their weak spots and fix problematic areas.
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