Search engine optimization is one of the best digital marketing efforts to provide online businesses with high quality and profitable traffic when targeted correctly. Although it can be a tough task to do correctly for any business, the payoffs are huge. This is particularly true for an issue-based non-profit organization, who can effectively monopolize key terms in their vertical if they can do on-site technical SEO, brand building and link building, and content creation right.
This month’s SEO Audit Challenge is the second in a row for non-profit websites and is our first audit of a .gov website, Stopbullying.gov. The website aims to provide information from various government agencies on what bullying is, what cyberbullying is, who is at risk, and how individuals can prevent and respond to bullying. The site and it’s cause have been prominently endorsed by a number of celebrities over the years, including Michelle Obama. The site represents a great cause and is particularly needed in a modern era of bullying which now spans beyond school yards and on to the internet.
We aim to keep our “1 Hour SEO Audit” series consistent, so we’ve based our grades on the following categories across all of our audits.
- Site Speed
- Meta Tag Issues
- Title Tag Issues
- Screaming Frog
- Majestic SEO
- Open Site Explorer
- Microsoft IIS
Content marketing has been around for some time now, and with good reason. Creating fantastic content that is unique, entertaining, and educational can act as a springboard for companies that are looking to generate more brand awareness and sales online. While competition in the content marketing landscape is greater than it has been in the past, websites that create top quality content are still able to boost SEO rankings for relevant long-tail keywords in a way that can get new and existing audiences to come to their websites in bulk while also helping to build visibility on social media and amassing relevant and authoritative links to help flush out a website’s overall backlink profile.
Stopbullying.gov clearly understands the importance of content marketing – both for SEO and to keep users engaged with their brand. They have three different content-focused sections – including a blog, a video resource section, and an image section that features photos with inspirational anti-bullying quotes. Their blog features some very impressive writers that are thought leaders within the fields of mental health and child development, and articles are all well-written. The only real issue with the blog is that the posts themselves tend to be on the shorter side – and more noticeably, the imagery they use is extremely generic stock photography.
The video section features lots of great content as well – the production values of each video are quite high, and you can tell that the team at stopbullying has taken the time to make sure that their videos are of the highest quality. The only real issue here is that videos are all hosted on YouTube. While it isn’t a massive issue, a video hosting platform like Wistia would probably make more sense – particularly for videos like the one that highlights the KnowBullying App – as it would be a lot easier to include a call-to-action to get people to the download page as opposed to including a link to the app in the description text.
It’s a recurring theme in our audits – most websites are missing schema markup. The process for doing this isn’t particularly complicated, but many businesses still see the process as an unnecessary luxury for their SEO initiatives and don’t take the time to do it as a result, even though Google can better understand your content when schema markup is included and add extra information to pages in the SERP as a result. Stopbullying.gov is not an exception, and does not take advantage of standard schema markup on their site.
As we’ve mentioned before, there are other ways for businesses to get extra real estate in search engine results - the most obvious being for companies to take advantage of a Google Business page in order to help their branded search result. Having this in place helps a company provide more information about the business – such as logo, location, hours of operation, images of the offices, and the type of work the business does. Unfortunately for Stopbullying.gov, they are missing this as well for every conceivable combination of their brand name, and really need to address this issue as soon as possible.
Any business that takes search engine optimization seriously knows that in order to succeed, their website needs to feature an all-encompassing backlink profile that is filled with naturally occurring equity-passing links as well as a number of non-equity nofollowed links. Links should come from a variety of different websites that are relevant in some way to each business and should be from well-respected authoritative websites. Ideally, each link should feature different anchor text and provide a good mix of targeted keywords, brand name, and other natural words and phrases. The perfect backlink profile should feature some PR and thought-leadership initiatives like employee columns and insights, but the bulk of backlinks should be naturally occurring.
Seeing as stopbullying.gov is our first .gov website, it is not particularly surprising that it features an extremely high domain authority of 85. This is because .gov and .edu websites have to go through an approval process to get their domains – and Google rewards this with a higher domain authority as a result. Last month’s audit of Doctors without Borders had the same domain authority of 85, and it is interesting to note that stopbullying matches that domain authority with 130,000 fewer links – suggesting that links are coming from more authoritative and relevant sources and that the .gov domain is giving their authority a significant boost as well.
Stopbullying.gov has one of the best mixes of anchor text we’ve seen in this series so far. They have a decent amount of branded anchor text that shows that the bulk of their backlink profile is naturally occurring, but also feature a variety of keyword-centric anchor texts like “cyberbullying”, “bullying”, “stop bullying now”, and “what bullying is”. Compared to last week’s Doctors Without Borders audit, Stopbullying.gov shows that they are attracting links that are a bit more diverse than just branded links mentioning the initiative. This is likely largely due to their content marketing and PR efforts to bring awareness not only to their brand but to the individual causes that make up bullying and why they need to be stopped.
In order for users to have a good experience with your website things need to load quickly so that users can navigate efficiently from page to page. Google recognizes this need, and as a result site speed plays a minor role in SEO ranking – simply adding to the myriad of reasons why businesses need to pay attention to their website’s load speed and do everything they can to optimize their site to be as fast as possible. This is particularly true when it comes to mobile devices, even if Google’s new mobile algorithm update known as “mobilegeddon” wasn’t the massive change to the SEO landscape that a lot of digital marketers were expecting.
Stopbullying.gov does slightly better than last month’s Doctors Without Borders speed audit – receiving a slightly improved 75% for Page Speed (a “C”) and a 69% YSlow grade (a “D”). While this isn’t horrendous compared to a lot of the other sites we’ve seen throughout this series, there is definitely a lot of room for improvement when it comes to the site’s speed.
Meta Tag Issues
Properly optimizing meta descriptions is a key step for any online business that wants to make sure search engines and users can tell what their pages are about. A proper meta description sets the expectation for users that the page they are about to click on in the search engine results is about what they are looking for by including a strong CTA or keyword rich description text that search engines highlight so users can be sure that what they are looking for is actively being discussed on the page.
Stopbullying.gov does an okay job with their meta descriptions but definitely has a significant amount of space to improve. This is particularly true with the length of their meta descriptions – with more than 60% either above the recommended 156 character limit or below the minimum 70 character threshold. In order to make sure the meta description shows up as they have defined them in the search engine results, steps should be taken to make sure that each meta description is the right length. Obviously 38% of pages that feature duplicate meta descriptions and the 32% of pages that are missing them altogether should also be addressed immediately.
In most of the audits we’ve done to date there hasn’t been a need to discuss meta keywords as most sites are aware of the fact that Google has said in the past that they recommend websites don’t use them. Unfortunately, Stopbullying.gov uses a considerable amount – on more than half of their pages. This needs to be addressed immediately and is as easy as just removing the meta keyword parameter from each page that it is currently featured on.
Title Tag Issues
Even with Google algorithms like Panda and Penguin released over the years, title tags have largely remained unchanged in their importance – remaining one of the most important parts of good SEO. Having a title tag that is properly optimized for valuable keywords that will drive qualified traffic to generate sales is often the difference between a website that generates traffic and sales for a business and a website that is largely unseen by a target audience.
Stopbullying.gov has the best title tags that we’ve done on this series in some time. Not a single page is missing a title tag, and only about 30% of title tags are either too long or too short when held to a character limit of between 30 and 65 characters. The only real issue is how many title tags are duplicates – almost 60%. This should be addressed as soon as possible in order to make sure each page is targeting a specific set of keywords, whether they are long tail or more specific keyword phrases.
Overall Grade: B