So you’re thinking of hiring an SEO company to get more traffic to your website. Maybe you already hired one, and you’re starting to think things don’t look right, but have no way of proving it.
While there are thousands of great SEO companies, there are no certifications for SEO so it’s very tempting for companies that specialize in adjacent areas, like web development or communications, to add SEO to their offerings. Sometimes they partner with an experienced SEO company, but often they’re just winging it. Since it can take a few months to measure SEO results, you can lose a lot of time and money if you put your trust in the wrong hands.
Here’s a simple 5-step audit you can do to gauge the quality of your SEO.
5-Step DIY SEO Audit
1. Check the Title Tags
While there are hundreds of elements that impact how well you rank in the search engine results, the title tag is one of the most important and the easiest to audit. It should signal to search engines exactly what your page is about. When creating title tags, you should focus on one phrase (a title tag is not a “dumping ground”), and while there are debates as to whether it should be shorter than 70 characters, it shouldn’t be much longer. It’s OK if you see characters like dashes or pipes separating phrases.
Look at the title tag on your home page and one other page. The easiest way to see it is to roll your mouse over the browser tab. Keep it there and you’ll see title tag pop up.
As an example, take a look at this sample title tag for a hair salon called Sisters Style in Temple Terrace, FL.
Sisters Style | Women’s Hair Salon in Temple Terrace, FL
This title tag help Sisters Style appear in the search engine results when people use search phrases such as “hair salon in Temple Terrace,” “women’s hair salon near me,” etc.
Here’s a few examples that aren’t great, and why.
Sisters Style – Welcome!
This is the opportunity to tell search engines where they are, and what services are offered. You should never have words like Home or Welcome in the title tag. No one will find you by searching these words!
Sisters Style Men’s, Women’s, Children’s Hair Cuts and Color, Bridal Hair and More in Temple Terrace, FL
This is too long. You should strive to optimize each page for one product or service. A page about your bridal hair services would be a better place to optimize for that keyword phrase. If most of your business is done with men, women, or children, it’s fine to add that, but adding all three dilutes your ability to rank for any phase that includes these modifiers.
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2. Is the site secure?
Do you see a little lock in the address bar? This means that SSL is installed, and your site is secure. If you don’t, it hurts your SEO, so it’s something an SEO consultant should mention and address early in the engagement.
3. Do you have a mobile friendly version?
At this point, you probably have a mobile responsive website, but if you don’t and your SEO didn’t insist you update your site, they definitely should have nagged you to update your site before taking your money. Google indexes the mobile version of your site first, so it’s a major negative ranking factor not to have a mobile friendly website. If you’re not sure, just take a look at your website on a phone. If you can’t read or navigate the site that easily, your website needs a mobile version.
4. Do your pages have text that richly describe your offering?
In order to improve your search engine rankings, you need to tell the search engines what your business is about. People will find you using hundreds of variations of keywords. Continuing with the hair salon example above, it’s important to describe all of the services you do, as well as include towns that are nearby. If your SEO didn’t ask you to make any changes to the text on your pages or give you suggestions to enhance them, you have a problem. And if you have an SEO package that includes a fixed number of keywords, run. While it’s expected for SEO consultants to bound the number of keywords they report on, if they rely exclusively on 10 or 25 total keywords, they’re not thinking about helping you rank more broadly.
5. Does your site load quickly?
SEO involves more than putting some keywords on a page. SEO is also supposed to provide your users, and Google, with an excellent technical experience. The easiest way to see if your SEO consultant has worked on technical optimization is to test site speed.
Test your home page at Pingdom.
If your site load time is over 3 second, it’s likely you are losing business. P.S. – don’t worry about your performance grade. A poor score doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t get great search engine results.
There are many other factors that go into SEO, but these are some of the things you can test yourself to see if your site’s SEO needs work. Looking for more SEO help? Try our Jess SEO tool. You’ll get step-by-step instructions that show you exactly how to optimize your small business website yourself, analytics tracking to measure your results, and access to office hours to get tips from SEO experts. Sign up for a 14 day free trial today!