Get your SEO basics correct to start ranking. Use these 4 tools to quickly discover any issues with your website SEO for a ranking boost.
This is part 4 of a 6-part series on website marketing by increasing traffic to your website by ensuring search engines know what your website is about.
In this website marketing series we’ve been looking at various factors that help rank a website and many of these factors happen outside of your website and can be quite tricky to resolve. However, I want to focus on 2 SEO basics that are easy to solve and can give you a massive search engine boost!
These SEO basics are easy to solve because they occur on your own website and it’s easy to fix them.
SEO Basics Harmful Factor #1 – Broken Links
While it seems like your site is working nicely over time things break. a page changes here, another one there, an image is removed, and over time, they often leave broken links.
You’ll remember that in our ‘25 Point Usability Checklist‘ we talk about having a custom 404 error page (the page a user sees when they reach a broken link), but for search engines they don’t like broken links.
One of the best ways to identify SEO-related problems with your website is to crawl its pages and look for issues.
These issues can be markup-related (e.g. duplicate titles), or they can be link-related (e.g., broken links).
Let’s start with these 2 free tools that can show you a wealth of information about your website and get your website seo basics correct!
The Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a small desktop program you can install locally on your PC, Mac or Linux machine which spiders websites’ links, images, CSS, script and apps from an SEO perspective. It fetches key onsite elements for SEO, presents them in tabs by type and allows you to filter for common SEO issues, or slice and dice the data how you see fit by exporting into Excel. You can view, analyse and filter the crawl data as it’s gathered and updated continuously in the program’s user interface.
The Screaming Frog SEO Spider allows you to quickly crawl, analyse and audit a site from an onsite SEO perspective. It’s particularly good for analysing medium to large sites, where manually checking every page would be extremely labour intensive (or impossible!) and where you can easily miss a redirect, meta refresh or duplicate page issue.
The SEO Spider allows you to export key onsite SEO elements (url, page title, meta description, headings etc) to Excel so it can easily be used as a base to make SEO recommendations from.
Xenu’s is a powerful, free, link-checking tool. Merely give it a base URL and let it go–it will return a long, long, list of links, broken or not, in the target site. It can also find things you might not think of as “links”–such as references to graphics embedded in Web pages, one of the banes of any Web developer. After all, what says “Shoddy 1990s-era site” better than a page full of broken graphic links?
Xenu’s Link Sleuth produces an easy-to-read report showing the status of each and every link, and you can double-click any entry to launch that link in your browser. You can also bring up a “properties” dialog to get more information on a link, including which other pages on the site link back to it.
Have you ever wondered how is your website performing? It’s easy to find out – use this 20 Point Google Analytics Custom Report Checklist.
Link Sleuth can be hard on your Web server, as it will send requests for pages fast and furious. This can cause some links to be flagged as broken for timeout errors when, in fact, they are not. It is possible to tweak Xenu’s to use longer values for timeout or to send fewer simultaneous requests for pages. The developer keeps a fairly extensive FAQ, which addresses some other common issues and concerns.
For the most basic and common use of Xenu in my opinion, simply point the program at the homepage of your site, check ‘skip external’ to avoid it crawling the entire web, and set it going!
Your Next Step
To get your website SEO basics correct, run your site through these two tools and notice any broken links. Then get your web developer to fix these asap!
If you think about it from Google’s point of view, they want to give users the best web experience possible and
If your site is buggy and has lots of broken links, then that’s not a great user experience.
Google may punish you a little for it.
It’s easy to fix and get your SEO basics correct, so just do it!
If you would like to get more business from your website from FREE traffic, and would like us to help you get your website SEO basics correct which will help you rank your website, please setup an appointment to discuss your options (Make sure you select Website Ranking/SEO Services).
SEO Basics Harmful Factor #2 – Duplicate Content
I’ve said it so many times before but ‘Content Is King’ but I need to revise that statement to,
Unique Content Is King. That’s what you should strive for.
At least that’s what Google likes.
Google is not a fan of copycats. So don’t do it!
So while you might like to just copy content from another persons website and stick it on your own, Google is all knowing and will think of you as a copycat.
Which is not good for you!
So although you’ve paid a writer a fortune to write you engaging, compelling content with a strong call to action, did you actually check that what they wrote was unique and not just lifted from another website?
What Is Duplicate Content?
Duplicate content is content that appears on the Internet in more than one place (URL).
When there are multiple pieces of identical content on the Internet, it is difficult for search engines to decide which version is more relevant to a given search query.
To provide the best search experience, search engines will rarely show multiple duplicate pieces of content and thus, are forced to choose which version is most likely to be the original—or best.
Three Big Issues With Duplicate Content
- Search engines don’t know which version(s) to include/exclude from their indices
- Search engines don’t know whether to direct the link metrics (trust, authority, anchor text, link juice, etc.) to one page, or keep it separated between multiple versions
- Search engines don’t know which version(s) to rank for query results
When duplicate content is present, site owners suffer rankings and traffic losses.
and search engines provide less relevant results.
The Tool To Check Your Content Uniqueness
Let me introduce you to Copyscape. This is NOT a Google tool, but it’s still extremely useful! If this tool finds that your website has duplicate or copied content, then Google will also know this!
Copyscape is an online duplicate content detection tool that uses a freemium model. You simply enter a page’s URL, and the tool returns a list of pages that are duplicating the URL’s content.
With a free account, the tool only displays the first ten results, and the tool only allows a certain number of monthly requests for any given site (this limit is irrespective of the IP submitting the request).
Your Own Website Structure Is Important
So not only is it important to know if your website contains content found elsewhere on the web, it’s important that it doesn’t have the same content multiple times as search engines will not know which content is the most important.
They might even penalize you for this!
Your Next Step
Review the content on your website and check the following:
- Is your content a copy of what is already on the web?
- Is someone else copying your content and claiming it as their own?
- Is your content duplicated on your own website?
If any of the above occur you need to take action!
Content theft on the web is massive, and to stop people copying our clients website content have a look at our ‘Content Guard‘ app (for Lab41 SitePRO powered websites only).
So we’ve looked at 2 tools to help identify the most common issues but often there are a few other issues you can solve. See the next section for more info!
Have You Got Your Secret Insights From The Search Engines Yet?
2 Tools To Help You With Your SEO Basics
The search engine algorithm is a multi billion dollar secret and it’s very tricky to get anything that might give away part of this closely guarded secret.
In the 80’s the worlds smartest academics were cherry picked by the big space agencies.
and dedicated their time and energy to exploring space.
Today, they’ve been hand picked by Google and Bing (search engines) and they spend their days working on advertising and the search algorithm.
So, we feel that when optimizing your website for the search engines, it’s a good idea to consult them whenever possible.
Search engines don’t give you much information but when they do, take note!
The following free SEO tools will help you seek guidance from the search engines.
Google Webmaster Tools
Google is the most popular search engine in the world, and as a result, Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) is one of the most useful free SEO tools available because it gives you direct access to some of Google’s information about your site.
GWT Presents Information In 5 Categories
- Configuration (allows you to configure your GWT account)
- Health (displays crawling errors or malware found on your site)
- Traffic (shows search queries, backlinks, and +1s for your site)
- Optimization (helps you improve your site’s content and indexing)
- Labs (experimental features)
For more information, visit Google’s Webmaster Tools Help.
For us it’s important to ensure that we’re using webmaster tools as it allows us to see the site how Google is seeing the site and resolve any errors that Google is finding.
Bing isn’t as popular as Google, but Bing Webmaster Tools (BWT) is still an extremely valuable tool because it allows you to view your site through the eyes of yet another search engine.
BWT Displays Information In 5 Main Sections:
- Dashboard (shows traffic, index, and crawl summaries)
- Crawl (displays crawled pages and errors)
- Index (presents indexed pages and backlinks)
- Traffic (identifies traffic sources and CTRs)
- Keywords (Bing’s keyword research tool)
For more information, visit Bing’s Webmaster Tools Help
Although Bing is not as popular as Google they still send a lot of traffic.
It’s important to make sure that you’ve resolved any errors they have found with your website.
Make sure that you’ve signed up for Google and Bing Webmaster tools and have reviewed and solved ALL errors that they’ve reported for your website. That’s the first step in getting your website SEO basics correct.
You want to rank well, so just do it! Make sure you SEO basics are sound on your website.
You’ve just finished part 4, please click on the link below to view the next article in the website marketing series!
We’re running a special on the ‘Lab41 Website SEO Audit‘. Let our marketing ninjas take a look at your website and give you some actionable insights.