In order to understand whether your website is SEO friendly, first you need to know the different elements, at least at a basic level, that are involved. We have created this post that will help you understand these elements, and outline tools you can use to analyse your website, and improve your SEO whilst doing so. These tools can also help you improve user experience, while also making your site more accessible by search engines. In this article, we will focus on whether your website is SEO friendly, and not necessarily whether it is well optimised from a keyword and ranking perspective. You will learn how to improve your website from an indexation standpoint using Google Search Console, Screaming Frog SEO Spider, and Google’s Lighthouse Tool.
What is an SEO Friendly Website?
From a technical standpoint an SEO friendly website is one where all elements that are needed are in place, and the hierarchy is understandable to both users and search engines.
The first step you should take, is to make sure that your website is accessible by search engines. To do this, go to your robots.txt file by typing in the name of your domain followed by /robots.txt (e.g. https://exmaple.com/robots.txt). If you see “Allow: /” then search engines are allowed to crawl and index your site. If you see “Disallow: /” then, your site will not be crawled or indexed by search engines.
Then, you should check the head of your pages. To do so, press ctrl+u or right click and then click on “view page source”. Once the page source loads search for “noindex”, if you can’t find it, then the page can be crawled and indexed.
Aside from these technical points there are obviously other areas to ensure are optimised, including your meta title & descriptions, URLs, and more. To help you identify these areas you need to perform an audit of your website. Several tools on the market provide you with this capability including:
When you audit your website, you are looking at what pages there are on the site, how they look and if there is any cannibalisation or duplication. Think of this as the skeleton of your website. You want to ensure the structure of your site is set up correctly so that search engines are able to direct the right traffic to your site. However, when it comes to the best source of software and tools for SEO, it’s hard to beat Google or the resources of a digital marketing agency.
Google Search Console
One of the best places to go when working with SEO is, let’s face it, Google. According to Statista, Google had 89.1 percent of the market share of search engines in the UK in November 2018.
- Bing received only 6.76 percent
- Yahoo! had 2.25 percent
- MSN was 1.08 percent
- DuckDuckGo had only 0.54 percent
This means the majority of searches online come from Google, and you want to optimise your SEO to meet Google’s standards since most other search engines follow their example anyway.
About Google Search Console
Start with Google Search Console where you get free webmaster tools including index status information.
This is a powerful tool that can help you learn about your website’s traffic, performance, and problematic issues. This gives you the information you need to make proactive changes to your site. The ultimate goal is to optimise your visibility so you increase traffic among the web users who want and need your information. Here is an image of the Google Search Console dashboard upon setup (data can take up to 3 days to come through, or longer if it is a new domain/website):
You can see how many impressions and clicks your site has had over time as well as the click through rate (CTR) and average position of the queries that your site is ranking for (caveat: Google does by no means give you an extensive list of keywords here and you should track our focus terms in other, more effective ways so that you can take a more proactive approach). In addition, you are able to identify which of your web pages have errors that are hampering Google Search’s ability to crawl and catalog your content.
You can also check the indexation status and whether Google can crawl your page by entering the URL into the search bar. This is another way to check, aside from the two technical points I highlighted earlier.
Screaming Frog SEO Spider
The Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a program downloadable to your Mac or Windows PC. With this tool, you can crawl your, or any other website. Consider that Google uses website crawlers to categorise web content for search engine results. You want to be able to do that, too, and get actionable insights on what to fix, change, or improve.
You can also crawl the websites of your competitors which can give you the ability to pull key data including technical and onsite SEO from their sites as well as targeting.
Check out this screenshot of a YouTube video produced by Screaming Frog regarding the SEO Spider tool. You get a screenshot of the Spider Mode featuring the dashboard spreadsheet that customers gain access to when using the tool:
Find out data about content including in-links, meta keywords, page titles, and H1 headers for every website. It is all compiled in a tabbed spreadsheet making it simple to understand your SEO analysis results.
Quick actionable tasks you can takeaway from using this tool are:
- Redirects and redirect loops
- Error pages (4xx and 5xx)
- Duplicate title tags (meta titles)
- Duplicate meta descriptions
- Duplicate H1s
- Images without ALT tags
- Much, much more
Lighthouse for Google Developers
Google Lighthouse is an open source tool, meaning anyone can use it for free or alter it to fit their own specifications. Specifically, Lighthouse is a tool that gan give you insights to pass to your web developers and/or have them review the issues that they show here. Through automation, the program runs in the background and audits a website for site speed, user experience design or UX, as well as best practices from a development standpoint and SEO. You also receive an extensive report detailing the results of the web audits. Here is an example of a report of Lighthouse data following an audit:
Because site speed (performance in Lighthouse) becoming more and more important for SEO as we have moved into a mobile first world, this area should be addressed first.