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5 effective ways to review your website

Got a website but not sure how it’s working for you? If you aren’t tracking your incoming calls or contact form inquiries, it can sometimes be difficult to know how your website is working for you.

If you have a Trendzer website, or know your way around Google Analytics, you can find some facts and figures that may give you some reassurance. But you can also take your destiny in your own hands by conducting your own review of your website and online presence.

So, let’s take a few minutes to look into how you can get a better understanding of what pages are working for you, and where you could gain some quick wins...

1. Get an overview of organic

First order of the day is to find out where your website is currently doing in Search Engine Result Pages, or SERPs. There are a few ways you can achieve this, but there are a couple of go-to checks that anyone can do with a little bit of effort:

  1. Check site performance against current page keywords
  2. Check site performance against desired search terms

For the first, all you need to do is determine what search terms are currently being targeted on your web pages. You can do this manually, or by using a tool such as Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider, which we gave props to earlier in the year.

The manual option involves going to each of your landing pages for products or services and jotting down the page title that can be found in your website tab, or by right-clicking on your page and viewing the page source, as below.

Finding Page Titles Manually

Once you’ve noted all of your landing page titles - we recommend adding them to a spreadsheet, but you can use a pen and paper if you’re particularly committed to making life difficult for yourself - then you can start finding out how you are performing against those terms.

There are a couple of ways that you can do this - one is to use a browser tool such as FatRank to generate a report of how your site performs in search. Simply go to your site, activate FatRank, enter the titles alongside your geographical location (e.g., for the above example this page would be “online bakery edinburgh”), and note what rank is returned. “1” means first organic result, while “20” would be bottom of page two on a default Google SERP display.

Importance of First Page.

Below, one of our SEOs has recorded how a website for a carpentry company is performing in searches such as “carpenter manchester”, “joinery manchester”, and “wooden staircase manchester”.

Ranking Tracker

If you aren’t ranking for a particular search term that you would like to, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does my website have a dedicated page for that product /service?
  • Is the search term/keyword present in page titles, headers, and page content?
  • Is there 250 words or more on the page?
  • Is there a lot of competition for that term?

Top tip - you have a better chance of ranking for a product or service search term if you have a dedicated page with unique content - so start thinking about adding pages to your site!

2. Look at your local results

Even if you aren’t getting first page rankings in organic search, you can still gain a foothold by appearing in local search. For new readers and the clinically forgetful, local search is the cluster of map-based results that muscle in just above the organic (“normal”) search results, as in this picture:

Types of Search Results

The first thing to do would be do a few Google searches to determine how many search terms related to your business have a map display. So, work your way back through your list of website keywords and see which ones return local results.

For example, using the same keywords from our sample report earlier, we discover that Googling “carpenter manchester” and “joinery manchester” both result in a map after the paid ads…

Carpenter Manchester Search

...while “wooden staircase manchester” goes from paid ads straight into organic results...

Wooden Staircase Manchester Search

That’s because search engines are very good at distinguishing between service providers and products, so they return results based on what will suit their customers best. So, make sure to check that your search term is worth pursuing in local search before your continue!

Now, as industry SEO stalwarts Moz have revealed earlier this year, there are dozens of factors that affect your rankings in local search. Feel free to swot up on them. But if you want things summarised and simplified (and who doesn’t, right?), then focus on these three areas:

  • Finding quality links (see part 3 for details)
  • Submitting to relevant, reputable directories
  • Requesting customer feedback

You’ll find more info on directories and reviews in our guide to local search changes in 2015, but for links you need to stay tuned for the next section. By applying the logic of all three areas above, you can hopefully make some gains in local search for your chosen keywords.

Top tip - during your local search checks, keep an eye out for directories and review websites such as Yell, Yelp, or TripAdvisor in the organic results, e.g., the presence in the above “wooden staircases manchester” screenshot. If you spot one of these sites, make sure that your business gets a listing on the relevant category, as it could help to boost your inquiries and business profile.

3. Look at your link profile

As noted a minute ago, quality links are important for online success. “How so?” we hear you cry. Well, the major search engines decide which sites to display in search results by a complex series of algorithms. But basically, what they are looking for is “authority”. For example, websites like Wikipedia or Oxford Dictionaries have very high authority.

If one website links to another, it is often taken as a “vote of confidence”. For example, in this blog, we’ve written an article about SEO and linked to Screaming Frog and Open Site Explorer. This is a strong indicator that both these sites are experts in the area of SEO, which supports their (already large) authority.

Now, the above description is very simplified, but the main point that can be taken away is that “good links to your site are good”. So, with a free tool such as Open Site Explorer (or OSE), you can tell quite quickly if you have any (or many) valuable links to your site.

This popular and free solution was voted one of our best free SEO tools earlier this year. It will show you the top links to any URL you submit, and each reference will give you two scores - Page Authority (PA) and Domain Authority (DA). For simplicity’s sake, we’ll focus on DA for this article, and provide Moz’s own definition here.

Most small businesses can expect their DA to be anywhere from 0 up to the mid-10s, with some (particularly the SEO-aware) weighing in around the 20s and 30s. For your business, this probably means that if you don’t have any “Inbound Links” (or links to your website) that have DA in the 25+ region, you should consider trying to gain some.

How do you gain valuable links? Well, it isn’t necessarily a simple task, but here are some suggestions:

  1. Write a blog article on a controversial topic within your industry or sector, and then invite comments and counter-arguments on social media
  2. Conduct an interview with an influential person and share a video or a transcript of the occasion
  3. Create a “Best Of…” resource guide for your industry (either your choice or customer submissions)
  4. Make a downloadable resource that provides genuine user value and then encourage people to share it with their contacts

Not all links from high authority sites will lend you any authority. Links from social media and directory listings tend to be “nofollow” which basically means no authority is transmitted to the destination site. But being on a high profile website still has non-SEO benefits in terms of improved visibility.

Top tip - complementary businesses and local networking events can be a great source of links if you do some hob-nobbing with the right people. Just make sure any links provide genuine value to customers, as this is precisely what Google wants. Exchanging meaningless reciprocal links is frowned upon - see Google’s guidelines for more information.

4. Take a NAP...

Sadly, we don’t mean you can take a fly snooze in the middle of your review, though we’re sure that there’s little chance of that anyway. All this exciting talk of keywords and Domain Authority no doubt has you wide awake!

Awwwww Cute Pup

Shameless pic of cuteness - awwww!

Image from sean ratke

No, NAP is short for “Name Address Phone” and is a good way for you to find out how you’re being represented online. Simply pop your business name, business address, and telephone number into a Google search and then see what pops up.

Chances are, you’ll see your website and a social media profile or two appearing first. If you have social media profiles that don’t appear, it may indicate that these pages are missing vital information, aka your address!

What you should do now is copy the web addresses of the main results into a spreadsheet. Then, you can work your way through them later, checking in on each one to identify opportunities. As well as social media profiles, you can also expect to find a few other “NAP references”, including:

  • Directory listings - whether you created them, or they were automatically generated
  • Review sites - may also be set up by you, auto-populated or submitted by customers
  • Blogs or forums - if someone has recommended or reviewed your business in a post

So, what can you do with this information? Well, in the case of directory listings and review sites, you can try to make sure that your profile contains all the information that you want to display. This can be anything from product or service keywords to your business logo or company slogan.

You can also check in on review feedback, respond (politely, of course) to customer complaints, and say thank you to positive comments. Really, it’s all about finding and owning all online references to your business.

Top tip - any sites that appear in the first 5-10 results could well have good authority - use Open Search Explorer or Moz Bar to investigate. We recommend that you try to secure a link to your website from these sources, as they may increase general online visibility.

5. Compare with your competitors

We’ll keep this one short and sweet. It’s all well and good being set up correctly, but if your business rivals are doing more and better, you may still struggle. That’s why our fifth and final tip is to review your site in relation to your competitors. So you should compare:

  • Landing pages and content
  • NAP results including online reviews
  • Backlink profile
  • Social media posts

Spending a little time on checking out the competition can help you to imitate and innovate. And that should give you enough ideas to go toe-to-toe with most of the businesses that are vying for the same customer base.

Top tip - competitor backlink profiles may well contain industry-specific links such as industry authorities, niche directories, local directories, or blog posts related to your line of work. Check each one to see if you can gain helpful links as well.

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