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Performing an SEO audit: Part 1

December 17, 2019

Search Engine Optimisation, more often referred to as SEO is typically seen as complex, confusing and dark magic, but in our new series of articles, we’re going to help you understand what it is and how you can start improving your website with actionable steps and information.

When most people talk about SEO, they will 90% of the time refer to Google SEO, mostly because Google has the largest market share of “search”. So it makes sense to optimise for it. But, there are over 200 different ranking factors that affect your positioning in organic listings, not only that, but the weighting of these factors varies per industry. That means that websites that sell windows will have to optimise different things compared to websites that offer plumbing services. However, we’re going to focus on the main things that will impact organic rankings across the board.

Here at Checkatrade, we take SEO seriously and we invest in helping your Checkatrade profile to be found by the major search engines. If you have a trade profile you can ensure it is optimised by following this helpful video.

How to audit your website

First up, we’re going to help you audit your website using free tools to help you get an understanding of your website’s performance. Copy your websites URL, we’re going to use https://www.checkatrade.com, and we’re going to paste it into this website: https://www.seoptimer.com

seo audit tool

Then, press the ‘audit’ button. The tool will then run that page and provide information on the following areas;

  • SEO
  • Usability
  • Performance
  • Social
  • Security

It will grade each section and give you a score. It will then provide useful information that you can act on.

The first couple of items the tool will rate are the title and description of the page. The red box is the title, and the green box is the description. There are limits on how long these can be to show up on Google.
Title: Between 10 & 70 characters.
Description: Up to 165 characters.

page title and meta description

How to write a Google title & description

For the homepage title; you should put your brand first, followed by your core service or tag line. For a window company based in Portsmouth it might be as follows;
“Window Experts: Window Fitting Company Portsmouth” – this is how Google prefers the homepage title to look and will typically rewrite your title automatically to display in this way. It is also good practice to capitalise the first letter of every word within the title.

The description should describe the page the user will see once they click the link, describe your product/service and is also an excellent place to put your keyword. It is usually a good idea to include a call-to-action as well. Here’s a good example:
“Window Experts are a window fitting company based in Portsmouth, Hampshire. We fit double & triple glazing at wholesale prices. Call for a free quote today.”

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Here’s how it will look in Google:
google example results
Notice how the phrase ‘window fitting company’ is bold, as is ‘window’? That’s because the keyword I searched for on Google was ‘window fitting company’ – this is why it’s important to include your main keyword for the page within the title & description as it will draw the users attention to your website and hopefully attract them to click it! Capitalisation is less critical within the description, but it is up to you if you’d like to capitalise your keywords to give it that extra oomph.

So how do you change these? It entirely depends on your website; if it is a simple HTML website, you can open the homepage .html file and look for the following:

seo html example

Change the text between <title> and </title> and the text within the quotation marks next to content= – or if you have a WordPress site with an SEO plugin like Yoast, edit the page and scroll to the SEO plugin section for the page.

yoast tool for WordPress

Press the ‘Edit Snippet’ button and the above should appear. Yoast gives you handy coloured bars for each section to let you know if it’s a bad, average or good length, they’re coloured, red, amber and green respectively. Once you’re happy, publish the page, and your changes will go live.

Now you can wait for your website to be crawled by Google naturally, or you can force Google to recrawl the page if you have Google Search Console (we’ll revisit this in a future article!.

Heading Tags – what are they and why are they important?

The next section you’ll come across is heading tags. These usually stand out from the standard text and are just used to split a webpage into sections. There are six types of heading tags, and each one has a purpose.
The Heading 1 (H1) is used to describe what the page is about, and as such there should normally only be one of these on the page.

Here’s Checkatrade’s H1 – I’m sure you can guess which bit of text it is! It describes what our website’s purpose is and what the homepage does. “Helping you find the right trade or service.”

Checkatrade search box

You can use the heading tags put your keywords in, this is a signal to Search Engines on what your page is about, and naturally, your page is going to be about specific keywords. For our example, Window Experts website their main keyword is ‘Window Fitting Company’ so let’s take a look at their website and see if their H1 is good or not.

HeadingPurpose
H1Describe what the page is about
H2Describe what a section of content is about
H3Used to describe sub paragraphs of H2
H4Used to describe sub paragraphs of H3
H5Used to describe sub paragraphs of H4
H6Used to describe sub paragraphs of H5

In the next part of the series, we’re going to look at the rest of the on-page content and how you can improve your SEO with content.

We’ll go through more technical and off-page later in the series. Let us know if you liked this blog and want more by giving it a thumbs up!

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