Consumers and search engines alike have high expectations for websites, so unchecked problems and errors can have a big impact on SEO and content performance. Columnist Jim Yu discusses how to find and address these issues.

Step 1: Identify errors and spot anomalies

The first stage will be to run a complete site audit to look for any problematic pages or page anomalies that could be hindering the success of your site. This audit should include checking site speed, finding page errors, looking for incorrect page redirects and faulty links, and anything else that might sabotage a positive user experience.
Matt Cutts, formerly of Google, remarked in past that a top error among marketers is failing to make a page fully crawlable. However, this should be the first priority of any site audit. He also said that people often do not consider keyword phrases and how people search.
For example, if your customers often ask questions such as, “How do I make a pizza?,” then including that exact phrase in your content will provide you with more of a boost than just starting an article listing the ingredients. This attention to wording and phrasing that match consumer intent should also carry over to the descriptions and titles, particularly on the most prominent and important pages.
Step 2: Prioritize by severity

Not all issues and errors will have the same level of impact on site performance and users. It is important to first fix the errors that will make the most difference.

  • Focus first on any errors that directly impact the visibility or navigation of your site. For example, if a page has been accidentally blocked from Google, that should be the first item on the list. Also look at redirects, error pages and broken links.

  • Next, move on to content issues, including page titles and meta descriptions. Ensure that appropriate keyword phrases are used, that there is no duplicate content and that thin material is either rewritten or removed.

At the end, you will be looking more at schema markups, missing alt tags on images and similar issues that may have arisen.
Step 3: Fix the errors throughout your site

  1. Set up 301 redirects to ensure people arrive at the page they intended to. If you have removed a piece of content, then remove the link or redirect people to the content’s new home rather than allowing them to go to an error page. Check all robots.txt on your site to ensure Google can find what it should. After running your initial audit, make sure those managing the website understand best practices for redirecting users to minimize these errors moving forward.
  2. Include a content audit to check for duplicate or thin content. Remove any content that is duplicated, and rewrite any material that is thin and offers little to no value to the reader. Focus on including information that customers want to read rather than just producing material to fill space.
  3. Communicate SEO best practices to your site contributors. Make sure they understand the value of using various SEO elements, including meta descriptions, identifying keywords and topics and structuring text in a reader-friendly manner, which includes headings and short paragraphs.
  4. Check your page load speed with the Google Developer Tool, and use suggestions to improve the efficiency of your site.
  5. Mark up all pages with structured data (where appropriate) to help Google recognize their place and value. This is particularly true for local marketing pages and pages that can receive Google’s rich displays, such as Quick Answers.
  6. Comb through pages to find missing alt text, tags and related markup errors to help boost performance.

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