Many small business owners have heard of search engine optimization, yet few know how to properly plan and execute one entirely through. SEO is the process of improving rankings of web content in search results for keywords that are of value. If completed correctly, SEO can help bring your website out of obscurity of being buried deep in search results and into the bright light of a page on search result.
One of the most common misconceptions is the belief that it is one time process. On the contrary, SEO is a continuous process that should always be reviewed, updated and enhanced. At Blue Fountain Media, we have worked on many successful ongoing SEO projects with our clients. In our experience, there are certain issues that keep coming up and there are (fortunately) some simple fixes for some of the biggest problems.
Here are four frequent problems and solutions someone might encounter frequently during their SEO efforts.
A link directs visitors to another webpage. The two types of links: internal and external. Internal links are links on your website that help navigate visitors and search robots throughout the website. External links are links from other websites linking to your site. Both are very important to helping your site rank and both can hurt your SEO if they ever break.
Here are some ways broken links are created:
- Someone links to a page that is not accessible anymore
- Someone changes the name of a page and did not update the internal links on the website
- The server that hosts the page is no longer working
Checking for broken internal and external links should be done frequently to give your site the ability to rank the best it can.
Tools to Use
Google Webmaster Tools is a free tool that everyone should be using. Besides being free, it has such features as setting up automatic email alerts. To sign up, all you need is a Gmail account, your site's URL, and your FTP username and password to verify that the site is yours. That's it. To find out whether you have any broken links, head to the Crawl Errors section under Diagnostics which can be found in your dashboard menu.
Another tool I recommend is Screaming Frog. It's also a free tool that you can install onto your desktop to audit your site for broken links, images, Meta tags, duplicate content, and much more. It's pretty simple. All you do is add a URL of page and let the software do all the work.
Spelling errors happen to everyone. We all have used "Your" when we meant to use "You're" or "There" instead of "Their". If you're smart, you asked someone to read over the blog post or your web page content before you published it and the mistake was caught just in time. If not, spelling errors can go unnoticed for a while negatively effecting the site's ranking and making your site look unprofessional and spammy. Also, spelling errors can cause your content not to even show up in search results.
Tool to Use
I use CheckDog to search for spelling errors on our website. My favorite feature is the automatic spell check which allows you to set up regularly scheduled checkups. The report you receive also comes with screenshots of the page that has the error/s.
As of April 9, 2010 Google added page speed, the time it takes for your site to load as a new factor to its algorithm for web search ranking. Google’s internal study found that internet users want faster websites and will spend less time on a site if loads slowly. In addition, a faster site improves users’ experience and conversion rates.
Tools to Use
Page Speed is an open source add on for Firefox/Firebug that examines the performance of web pages and gives recommendations of improvements. Two examples of how to improve page speed are:
- Cut down page time by reducing the number of cookies requested per upload of the site
- Place website stylesheets at the top of the document to speed up the translation in browsers
Meta Tags Errors
Meta tags contain data that provides search spiders with specific information about the content on that page. On site elements have a great impact on website's search engine rankings. It is important to continuously review these elements for errors and mistakes.
However, identifying every page on your site for missing title tags, alt attributes, pages that are blocked by robots.txt when they shouldn't, and finding 302 redirects instead of 301s is a long and tedious assignment for anyone, but it must be done. Here are few tools to the rescue.
Tools to Use
SEOMoz has many terrific tools that I use and one of them that I use frequently is Moz Crawl Test. To use this tool, you have to register with SEOMoz for one of their pro membership or try a free trial. The crawl report is very detailed and includes information about such elements like missing, title tags, client & server errors, long URLs, and other important on-site factors.
Search engines offer businesses a great way to be found by qualified customers. A high placement in search results can mean a significant boost to the bottom line. However, many businesses fail to take full advantage of the opportunities presented by SEO.