SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a term that is used describe any efforts made to encourage and convince search engines (primarily Google) to show a particular website high up in search results for given search terms.
In other words, SEO is a collection of best practices that get your website on the first page of Google for the search terms people are using to find the services and products they’re looking for online.
The thing is, if you ask one hundred business owners, rarely would any one of them actually know what that collection of best SEO practices consists of. And they most certainly won’t know how to check to make sure those best practices are actually being implemented by the company they hired to do their SEO.
In this article, I will begin by laying out what the most basic SEO best practices are, and then I will explain in detail how to check to see if the SEO company you’re using is actually doing their job.
What Are Some Basic SEO Best Practices?
In order to provide a frame of reference, I want to talk briefly about a few SEO best practices. This is by no means an exhaustive list of things an SEO company should be doing, but they are so basic that if your SEO company is not doing them, it’s a really strong indication that you are paying for something that has little to no value. This list may seem foreign when you first read through it, but keep reading because I will explain everything.
- Descriptive page titles
- At least 300 words on the homepage and important pages of the website
- Mobile friendly (responsive website)
- Proper headers on each page (h1, h2, etc.)
- Alt text for images
Descriptive Page Titles
Page titles are super important—not only for SEO purposes, but for user experience. Watch this video to learn what page titles are and three of the most important places people on the internet see them:
At Least 300 Words on the Homepage
Google is really, really smart, but their search algorithm isn’t human yet. Therefore, the only way Google can actually know what a particular webpage is about is by reading the words on that page. If that page doesn’t have any text content, it’s going to be really difficult for Google to determine what the subject matter of the page consists of. When we say there should be at least 300 words on a given page that you are trying to have show up in Google Search, we mean it as a bare minimum. Ideally you’d have many more than 300 words on the page.
In addition to Google needing to have something to read in order to determine what a particular page is about, it’s important to think about what Google is in the business of doing as a way to gain insight into what Google is looking for from an SEO standpoint. Google is in the business of answering people’s questions. Every search query is essentially a question, and the search results Google provides are their picks in terms of what they think will best answer the search query. So, when it comes to the number of words on a page, it’s pretty clear: More words indicate that a question may be answered more fully. For instance, if someone types in ‘cell phone repair baltimore,’ they are asking Google to show them the cell phone repair stores in Baltimore that they think can best help them. Watch this video to see how effective good SEO can be, particularly in terms of making sure there’s enough helpful content on the important pages, when it comes to visibility in Google Search:
Mobile Friendly, Responsive Website
Responsive web design is becoming more and more important each and every day. That’s because more and more people are using their mobile devices to search the internet. What is a responsive website and how can you determine if you have one? Watch this video to find out:
Proper Headers on Each Page (h1, h2, etc.)
When Google crawls a website, it looks for organizational structure in order to determine what the subject matter is. Think about it… When you look at a web page, how do you know what the page is about?
Typically, you’ll look for a main heading on the page. That heading should be the most general explanation of the page’s content. It’s usually the largest in size, and it’s usually the first heading on the page. In the code of the website, it has what is called an h1 tag associated with it.
Then, there may be sub headings, which are usually smaller in size. The sub heading that comes after an h1 tag is, you guessed it, and h2 tag.
And so on and so forth if other heading tags exist. But the bottom line is this: Each page should have at least an h1 tag (a main heading). Otherwise, Google won’t know with as much certainty what the page is about.
Watch this video for clarity and to learn how to figure out what kind of header tags are on your website:
Alt Text for Images
When Google crawls a web page, it sees many things. Headers, regular text, italic text, bold text, etc. All of those things it can read and therefore understand. But what happens then Google sees an image? Can it tell what the image is showing? Short answer: No. Which is why you have to tell Google what it’s looking at, and that is why applying an alt text attribute to each and every image on your website is so important. One of the best ways to know if the company you hired to do your SEO is actually doing SEO is to see if they’ve added and optimized the alt attributes, and it’s really easy. Here’s a video showing you how to do it yourself:
Summary: How to Audit the Work Your SEO Company Should be Doing
If you skipped to the end of the post, here’s a quick list of what to do. Videos explaining each are linked below, but you can also find the videos embedded in this post.
- Check to see if your website has descriptive page titles
- Make sure there are at least 300 words on the important pages of your website
- Check to see if your website is a responsive website and therefore mobile friendly
- See if your pages have exactly 1 h1 header and that it explains what the page is about
- Check to see if the images on your website have alt text attributed to them in the code of the website