How to Tell If a Page Has Been Optimised For SEO
For those who are familiar with SEO and have experience in ranking websites in search engines, a poorly optimised page stands out like a saw thumb. There are certain tell-tale signs every page has that hasn’t been optimised and sometimes fixing these mistakes takes less than 5 minutes.
In this blog post, we will discuss exactly how to tell if a page is missing specific on-site search engine optimisation elements and ways to easily find out.
What is on-site SEO?
Before we jump in, let’s look at the term on-site SEO. On-site SEO is everything that happens on the page itself, for example, if we are adding content to a web page we would classify that as on-site SEO because we are working on the page.
What isn’t on-site SEO? Methods such as link-building (getting other websites to reference yours through links) social media and local SEO. Simply put, anything that happens off the website is classified as off-site SEO.
How to tell if a page hasn’t been optimised
One of the first things I look at when analysing a given page is the URL structure. The URL tells us a lot, probably more than what you would think.
The only way to know if the URL structure is incorrect, is if you know how a URL should be structured. For example, when creating new pages in your website a new URL will be created for that page. The URL should always A) Describe what the page is about and B) Use dashes to separate words.
When creating URL you want to try and avoid dynamic characters such as #$%+=. Search engines have a hard time reading these characters and so do people.
For example, if you are creating a new page on black leather jackets for your online clothing store, your URL should like this:
Again, always use dashes to separate keywords because this allows search engines to easily read your URL. It is also easy for us humans to read.
From the URL, I will analyse the metadata to see how (or if) it has been populated with information. Metadata is comprised of three sections: the title, description, and keywords tag. To date, the keywords tag has ineffective and has lost its importance.
The title should contain keywords and/or words relating to the page. For example, an ‘About’ page could simply be titled ‘About – Your Brand’. However, a landing page that is targeting a specific term, such as black leather jackets, should include the keyword in the title tag.
The title tag should look something like ‘Black Leather Jackets – Your Brand’
A poorly optimised page may not even have a title, or it may simply have the pages URL or ‘Home’. If this is the case, it’s almost a dead giveaway that this page hasn’t been optimised. An overly optimised title will usually include a high number of keywords, known as keyword stuffing. This is something you want to avoid because it is associated with spam. A title should ideally contain one or two keywords and the brand name, all within 76 characters or less.
Like the title tag, the description tag is visible within the search results. If a web page doesn’t’ have a description it doesn’t necessarily seen it hasn’t been optimised. I have seen websites ranking in the top search results for their keyword and they don’t have a description at all.
What does this tell us? That descriptions aren’t a ranking factor. Does this mean we don’t need to write one? No.
If you ever have the chance to add information to a webpage, do it. The more information the better. If a website does have a description, I will look to see if it’s within the 320-character mark, if keywords have been mentioned, and if there is a call-to-action included. Why do I look for these things? Because click-through-rate is a ranking factor.
Click through rate is the number of people who see your website in the search results compared to the umber of people that click on int. If you have a low CTR, you may want too to re-write your description to make it more engaging to increase clicks. This is the primary reason why you need a description for your website.
DA & PA
You probably thinking what could that mean?
DA: Domain Authority
PA: Page Authority
DA & PA both represent scores out of 100. Every website has a score and it’s dependent on factors developed by Moz. These factors look at the domain and page and grade how authoritative this domain or page is.
Why do I look for this information? It’s helpful to know from the beginning how strong, or how weak, a domain or page is. This gives us an idea of where the website is and how quickly it can get up to speed if it were to be optimised. How do I find this information? the MozBar.
All you need to do is create an account and add the Moz Bar chrome extension. This will give you both the scores straight away, as seen below:
One of the most important aspects of a web page is its content. Whenever I am looking at a web page, I am reviewing the content on the page for a few things; does it make sense? Have keywords been used? Are links included within the content? Are their headings and subheadings? Is there at least 300 words? Are there variations of keywords? Have CTA’s been included?
All these factors play a significant role when analysing content. When search engines crawl a page, that rate whether the information is valuable or not based on the content. Think of it this way, if Google crawls your page and detects poor content, do you think it’s going to rank your website for users to see that? Of course not. Google is in the business of providing helpful information and if it sees for one second that your content is not optimised (or it has been copied from elsewhere) it is not going to favour your website.
Images are interesting because they are not absolutely needed. But they are helpful, especially when breaking up text and allowing users to read and understand information quicker.
How do I see If the images have been optimised for SEO? I check the Alt Tag. The Alt Tag refers to Alternative Text and it is used to assign written text to images. Because search engines can’t read images, we must assign text to images so that they can be read. This is done by providing an Alt Tag.
If images have been used on a page, I will check to see if the resolution is clear, and what the Alt Tag. To do this, I use the Alt Tester extension which lets you know what the Alt Tag of the image is by hovering over it.
Here, we get into off-site SEO. This becomes tricky because a poorly optimised website can still have links pointing to it for one reason or another. Or, a website can have inbound links due to previous link-building strategies.
Inbound links, also known as backlinks, is when other websites link to yours. Backlinks are important because it gives search engines an idea of how much your website is trusted on the internet. If you have several strong backlinks, Google will see that as votes pointing to your website.
How do I find this information? I personally use two ways. The first way is through SEMrush, which is an online tool used to track a websites performance (plus much more). SEMrush reports on how many inbound links a website has, what the anchor texts are, and of course, where the links are coming from.
Another method I use is through the Open Site Explorer provided by Moz. Similarly, to SEMrush, all you need to do is paste the URL in the open field box and click submit. It will them tell you where these backlinks are reportedly coming from.
These are the general things I look out for when analysing a web page. This is only to get an idea of how the web page is doing, for an extensive analysis it generally requires more time looking into the areas mentioned in this post. If you ever come across a page and you are unsure if it has been optimised or not, or perhaps it’s even your own page, look at the elements mentioned in this post and assess the page accordingly.