Website Audit: Search Engine Optimization

The last article of our website audit tips series – let’s take a brief look at search engine optimization of your website.

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For the last week of the website audit challenge, we’re going to talk about the elephant in the room – Search Engine Optimization, or SEO.

Defining SEO

Why is it important?

Search Engine Optimization – otherwise known as – how to get found on Google.

SEO is about getting you in Google’s list – as close to the top as possible – for the right searches.

Because getting you at the top of the list on the search page is only the beginning, but it IS the beginning.

Then you have to get people to click on your listing, go to your site, and serve them well while they are on your site.

But the first step is getting on the list and as close to the top as possible. Done right, you get organic traffic to your site – which means more customers and a larger audience.

How do you do that?

We’ll talk about some of the finer points later this week. But the answer is – write great content, for humans, using the language and words (yes, keywords) that THEY use to talk about the topic you are writing about.

When you serve your audience well, and they spend time on your website, Google will send more people to your site.

It’s a cycle that starts with being good to your people, and I’m starting to sound like a broken record.

It’s a process – and a long game. It works best when you have a long-term strategy and keep track of how you’re doing over time.

Alt text for images

Alt text is short, descriptive text added to photos or graphics on your website. Screen readers can use it for visually impaired or challenged users.

sunset photo

But it also helps your SEO in two ways.

One, your website is more accessible, which means it is helpful to more people, and the search engines like that. Humans like that too.

Two, those short text descriptions help search engines know what your photos are about. They add information about your content that helps search engines correctly understand and classify your site and its pages.

The better (and more accurately) the search engines understand and classify your site, the more accurately they can show it to people who want to see your website.

Most website platforms allow you to add alt text to the images on your site.

In general, alt text should describe your image for someone who can’t see it. So it’s best to keep it short, simple, and easy to read.

And in making your website more accessible, you make it easier for Google to use more of your content to send people to your site.

This one is an easy win-win

Page Titles

Also known as title tags, page titles usually appear in search engine listings, so they’re pretty important. An excellent page title (paired with a great page description, which we’ll talk about in the next section) can get people to click on it.

Remember the last time you searched for something using a search engine? And you skimmed down the listings looking at the pages that popped up? Which one did you click on? Why?

Search engines want to send people to the right place. So making sure your page title is accurate, concise, and written for humans – are all great ways to make sure the right people end up clicking on your site.

Attracting the right people – and then serving them well – that’s the right combination that grows your audience and improves your search engine rankings.

Google’s recommendations also include

  • updating the page title if the information is time-sensitive and has been updated
  • using unique page titles for each page
  • not stuffing page titles with keywords

Most website platforms allow you to set page titles for your website pages. Google doesn’t always use them in search listings, but why not give search engines the best information about your pages that you can?

It’s worth doing some testing, collecting some data, and seeing what works best for you and your audience.

Page descriptions

Page descriptions are also known as meta descriptions, and most platforms allow you to add them for each page of your website.

Search engines can use these page descriptions for the snippet below the page title in search results. Of course, they don’t always use them, but it’s better to have them available.

Google tells us how to write these descriptions:

  • write for humans
  • be specific about the page content
  • give details that help users find what they are looking for

You have just a sentence or so to tell people what that page offers them and why they should visit.

What kind of information about the page content can you give the user to help them know it is the right page for them?

Sometimes a summary about the page content is all that’s necessary.

If it is a blog post, you might include the author and publish date.

For a product page, you could add information about the product, such as dimensions, color, or other descriptions – things that help your audience understand the experience of having that product.

Like the page titles, it’s best to experiment, see what happens, and keep improving over time!

Website Policies

I know that seems odd as an SEO topic, but it’s critical for your site.

Privacy laws are increasingly strict, and more changes are coming in various parts of the world and the US.

Websites that collect information from visitors can require the appropriate policies.

For example, if you use Google Analytics, it’s required that you display a privacy policy on your website – that’s in their terms of service.

Some policies are required by law, and some are recommended to protect your business.

What kinds of policies might be needed on your site?

  • Privacy policies
  • Terms and conditions
  • Disclosures

It depends on what you offer on your site and in your business.

Please, make sure you have the policies in place that are appropriate for your business and your website.

And if you have had your policies in place for a while, it might be a good idea to have them reviewed to make sure they still comply with the latest regulations.

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