You evaluate a website and fix SEO mistakes by asking the right questions.
However, more often than not, many business owners and SEO professionals forget to ask these important questions. As a result, those seemingly small issues and mistakes turn out to be huge blunders.
Almost every website has some flaws. The important thing is to identify those flaws — those SEO mistakes that you have made unintentionally — and fix them as soon as possible.
In this blog post, we are going to list 15 questions that you must ask yourself. These questions will help you evaluate the state of your website and enable you to fix any potential SEO problem that could hamper your website’s progress later down the road.
1. Does any web page have multiple H1 tags?
As a general rule, there should not be multiple H1 tags on a web page. There could be multiple H2 tags, but never multiple H1 tags.
The concept behind is that the H1 tag represents the topic of the page. Since each page has one topic, there can’t be multiple H1 tags.
A bad navigation structure could lead to a bad user experience — which, in turns, result in poor rankings in the SERPs.
3. Is there uniformity in URLs?
Some beginner website owners and even SEOs neglect this, but there must be some uniformity in URLs.
Ideally, everything should be lower case. Otherwise, URLs in multiple cases can cause duplicate content issues. It is because search engine crawlers may see all these different instances of URLs at once.
4. How is your website structured?
Are all your pages dumped in the root directory?
Flat structure — like this example — does not create topical organization. If you have an active blog with lots of categories and articles, this is not a good idea.
Similarly, in case of an e-commerce store, you will require hierarchies and topical organization for the best user experience.
Instead of a flat structure, use a siloed architecture so that you can organize web pages by topics, categories, and themes.
It will not only make it easier for search engine crawlers to crawl your website, but a siloed architecture also makes it easier for human visitors to navigate your website and find the content they’re looking for.
5. Are you still relying on thin content?
Do you have quality content?
The opposite of quality content is generally known as ‘thin’ content, which search engines don’t like at all.
It is important to remember that ‘thin’ content cannot be judged by its word count. Instead, it is measured by quality, uniqueness, trust, authority, and other similar factors.
Thin content triggers Google Panda, which can ultimately lead to a search engine penalty.
6. Are you reusing copy-pasted code?
Avoid copy-pasted code as much as possible.
Reused codes by developers often lead to tons of problems in almost every line of code. Bad code leads to a slow website, which ultimately negatively affects user experience and search engine rankings.
You can use the W3C validator to check the quality of code and potential errors.
7. Do you have an XML sitemap?
Although most websites now have an XML sitemap, it is still a good idea to double-check it again. It’s extremely important because an XML sitemap can dramatically improve the crawlability of your website.
8. Is your website responsive?
Nowadays, you do not need a separate subdomain for a mobile version of your website, e.g., m.yourwebsite.com.
Things are much simpler now because of responsive design technologies.
The new way is to utilize CSS3 and HTML5 to create a responsive website design that can work equally well for all screen sizes (desktop, tablets, mobile, etc.).
Having a responsive website is extremely crucial. As more and more people start using mobile devices to surf the internet and shop online, the importance of responsive websites is increasing significantly.
Moreover, Google has announced a mobile-first index, which only increases the value of a responsive and mobile-friendly website.
It is a small thing but must be double-checked.
Robots.txt should not block CSS or JS resources. Make sure it isn’t.
10. Are you repeating a certain anchor text?
It is quite common to make this mistake.
You may have a few keywords in mind that you want to rank for. So, in an attempt to rank for those primary keywords, you start repeating them as anchor texts when creating links.
However, overly optimizing links for a certain anchor text can appear spammy and unnatural to Google. As a result, it can lead to a search engine penalty.
Here is a good template to follow when creating anchor texts for links:
- Branded anchors = 20-30 percent
- Exact match = 20-30 percent
- Topical match = 20-30 percent
- Naked URLs = 20-30 percent
Find a good balance, and you should be fine.
11. Are you using canonical tags?
Canonicalization can be important — especially if you are creating a lot of valuable content and are involved in content syndication and republishing.
If you don’t know, canonicalization sets preferences for Google. A small snippet of canonicalization code can let Google know which content source is the original one.
For example, if you publish a post on your blog, then syndicate it on other websites, and republish on them on other content platforms, such as LinkedIn and Medium, you should use canonicalization tags on your website to show Google the preferred source of content.
12. Are images slowing down your website?
Sometimes, we tend to go overboard and use too many images. Unless they are too big in size, you should be fine.
However, if you are using large-sized images — for example, a 3MB image — it will slow down your web page. That’s not good for your website and its search engine rankings.
If you are using images, make sure they are properly optimized for the web.
Website loading speed is becoming an important search engine ranking factor. You have to make sure that your web page loads within a second or two. If it takes longer than that, then you have to take steps to resolve that problem.
Use our SEO Site Checkup Toolbox to check how fast your website is loading. Our free tool also gives you valuable insights and actionable tips on how to resolve any issues.
13. Are you missing any meta tags?
Meta tags and meta descriptions are small things that are sometimes neglected by website owners. However, they can create a noticeable impact.
Make sure that no page is missing any meta tag.
Further reading: the beginner’s guide to writing meta title tags and meta descriptions.
14. Are you targeting important keyword phrases?
Despite the latest algorithm updates, keyword targeting and optimization still holds significant value.
Beware of over-optimization, though. Keyword targeting should appear natural.
Well-optimized pieces of content read well and don’t prevent readers from extracting the information they want to get out of their reading experience.
In short, don’t over-optimize, but do include important keywords and keyword phrases that you want to rank for.
15. Is your website secure?
Search engines like Google are putting a lot of focus on safe and secure websites (HTTPS). In the next few months, Google Chrome will start showing warnings if someone visits an insecure website.
Therefore, make sure that you have successfully migrated from HTTP to HTTPS and that your website is 100% safe to visit.
So these were 15 questions that you need to answer when evaluating your website for SEO success. A website is never done, and there will always be things that you can improve.
These 15 questions, however, give you the right direction to start your journey of fixing your SEO mistakes and SEO problems.