Search Engine Optimization is a common concern/priority when building a new website. However, it sometimes receives little attention after the site has been up and running for a while. For website owners and bloggers alike, it can be worthwhile to do a routine check-up on the SEO health of your site periodically.
1. Find and Fix Dead Links
Finding dead links on a website can be time-consuming and annoying if you try to do it manually. Dead-Links.com is a free online tool that will crawl your website and search for dead links. Once you know where the dead links are, you can easily correct them.
2. Check for Web Crawl Errors in Google Webmaster Tools
Another way to identify broken links is to login to Google Webmaster Tools and check the crawl errors that are listed. You will see a list of URLs that the Googlebot was not able to find on your site.
3. Check for Missing Title Tags
The title tag of a page is of course one of the most important on-page factors for search engine rankings. Every page on your site should have a unique and descriptive title. If you have a relatively small website, you can easily check for this manually. SEO Book had a free tool available that did this manually, but it has been blocked by Google. Google Webmaster Tools will provide you with this information under “Diagnostics” and “Content Analysis.” WordPress users can install the All-In-One SEO Pack plugin to control page titles throughout the website or blog and ensure that each page/post has a proper title.
4. Find Your Most Productive Search Phrases
Google Webmaster Tools provides some valuable information about your site’s rankings and what phrases searchers are using to find you. Under “Statistics” click on “search queries” and you will see the top 20 search queries in which your site is appearing. This information may help you to find a few phrases for which you didn’t even realize you were ranking well. In this case, you may be able to increase those rankings even more by optimizing your site or a specific page to specifically target that search phrase.
On the right side of the screen you will also see the top 20 queries that were used to actually reach your site. This shows what people are clicking as opposed to simply where you are ranking. On both of these lists, when you see specific queries you may know exactly which page on your site it is referencing. It’s not a bad idea to go to those pages and double check the meta descriptions to be sure that they do an effective job of telling potential visitors what the page is about and enticing them to click through from the SERPs.
5. Add “nofollow” Tags As Needed
Any time you link out to another website that you don’t want to be followed by search engines you can use a nofollow tag on the link. While there is no need to use nofollow on most links from your website or blog, they can be used for links to sites that don’t need your link juice, such as Google, Yahoo, etc. Most bloggers use NoFollow on links to FeedBurner for RSS and email subscriptions.
Additionally, you can also use nofollow tags on internal links to somewhatcontrol how PageRank is passed throughout your site . For example, you will see a lot of website owners and bloggers that use nofollow tags on links to a contact page, since there is no need for the contact page to rank well. For more information about using nofollow on internal links, see Using NoFollow to Control PageRank Flow from SearchNewz.
From time-to-time it’s helpful to go through your site and see where it might be helpful to add nofollow tags. An easy way to do this is by using the NoDoFollow add-on for Firefox (there are several similar add-ons as well) which will show all nofollow links in pink/red as you are surfing.
6. Look for Opportunities to Add Internal Links
Internal links within your website can help to tell search engines which pages are most important. It can potentially help your rankings to add internal links to those pages that you would like to rank higher. If your website continually has new content added (such as with blogs) there will always be opportunities to improve internal linking. Older pages/posts may be well-suited to link to a page that hadn’t yet been created at the time when it was published.
7. Check Your Search Traffic Trends
If your website is suffering from falling search traffic it is obviously helpful to know some information about the trends. Most of us check daily/weekly stats on a regular basis, but longer-term trends aren’t always examined. Using Google Analytics, or a similar program, analyze your search traffic over a span of several months. What are the general trends? Which pages have increased search traffic? Which pages have decreased search traffic? You may be able to identify some problems that need to be addressed or some opportunities that can be taken advantage of by knowing a little bit more about the trends.
8. Check Your Keyword Density
What words and phrases are you targeting with your website? Do they appear on you page more than other words? The keyword density tool from TrafficZap will allow you to enter a URL and it will produce a report of the words and phrases with the most density on the page.
9. Test Your Page from a Spider’s Point-of-View
A spider simulator can help you to quickly see how a search engines sees your page. Summit Media has a nice, free spider simulator that will check several factors and provide you with a brief report. The report may help you to identify some simple improvements that can be made.
10. Check Your Rankings
One of the obvious things that you’ll want to check is your search engine rankings for your targeted keywords or phrases. Mike’s Marketing Tools has a nice rankings checker that will allow you to enter a URL and a search phrase and it will show you where you rank in the leading search engines.