Is there anything worse than knowing what your website or digital marketing needs, but at the same time having no idea where to start? Most of the time this lack of knowledge leads you down a rabbit hole of outsourcing, external audits and costly solutions, and time consuming online guides – which promise the world and deliver very little.
We know how frustrating the world of online marketing and the internet can be – because we’ve been there, and we’ve seen it all. No matter how great your content is, or how much value you are practically giving away for free, if you don’t do exactly what search engines like Google want you to do, they can hide you away and ensure that no one visits your site. Not only is this disheartening, but it’s mighty bad for business.
So, you call in auditors. They tell you where you’re going wrong, and then start throwing anagrams at you – namely SEO and PPC.
Well, this article looks at what’s holding you back before you even get to the content itself and considers the steps to take to resolve your issues. Consider this your DIY guide to auditing your own online presence and understanding the steps to achieve the ideal solution – all in-house, and without a single Youtube video or expensive guide in sight.
What does a DIY SEO audit look like?
When we talk about SEO, we are essentially referring to the quality of your content through the eyes of Google. Crucially, this doesn’t mean assessing the quality of the writing or the validity of your offers, but rather how well you have presented it according to what Google deems as high quality.
If Google likes what it sees, it will start to present your site as a search result when consumers search for terms relating to your business, what you do, and what industry you operate in. If Google doesn’t approve, you might as well delete your site altogether (except don’t, because that would be extremely counterintuitive…)
What IS Google Index?
If you thought this was going to be a basic exploration of keywords, think again. Because none of that matters if your site isn’t registered correctly in order for Google to find it. The very best and most effective websites – and thus the most successful businesses – start from scratch with Google Indexing, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do now.
To find out where you’re starting from, head to Google and, in the search box, enter this:
site:[YOUR DOMAIN NAME].com
For example, site:BBC.com
When you hit enter, what will appear is a list of all the pages that have been indexed as “searchable” by Google on your website. For a global site like NotOnTheHighstreet, the numbers are in the millions as every creator’s page is indexed to work alongside search results. For your site, the numbers will almost always be much lower – but if it’s not presenting all of your pages, including your Blog and your Services or Products page, then you immediately know your site is not performing as well as it could – or should.
What to do if hitting Enter throws up a big 0
Google doesn’t blacklist your site for no good reason. If there are 0 search results, ask yourself if your site is doing anything which could cause Google to ban or block your content. It may also be that you have accidentally done something in the backend of your website which blocks Google and other search engines from discovering you – likely something you will want to reverse, in which case have a chat to your web developer about isolating the issue and resolving it as soon as possible.
You can also do a quick check yourself by entering
[YOUR DOMAIN NAME].com/robots.txt
Any restrictions placed on search engine indexing will show here and can be easily changed.
Is everything you want to showcase on display?
If the number of indexed pages for your site was much lower than expected, it’s time to investigate and dig deeper to see what’s going on.
Most of the time, you will find that during development of your site, access to search engines was restricted and accidentally left behind when the site was made live. You may also find that full website folders and menu drop downs are missing – something you can check in the same way using the Robots.txt link.
Another reason why Google may be hiding content or particular webpages is if they contain duplicate content – either from another page on your own site, or through plagiarism from another site entirely. There are tools out there which can help bring your attention to any unintentionally duplicated content, or else you can perform your own review and refresh of your website copy and content.
Is there such a thing as TOO much on display?
Yes! If the number of pages on your Google Index is unexpectedly high, this can also be hinting at some underlying problems – especially when those pages are not providing any value at all. Not only will they damage your website’s viability on Google, but they will prevent consumers from finding the pages that actually mean something and can lead to customers and conversions.
This can often be caused by plugins which replicate pages or generate new pages to coincide with event links or calendar dates as advertised by your website. Another common cause is hacking, whereby hackers can put their own spam links onto the end of your domain so that the spam pages appear whenever a consumer searches for something linked to your website. This can be hugely damaging for your reputation and reliability as a business.
Plus, Google will penalise you – and that is arguably the biggest obstacle to overcome.
The importance of SEO when it comes to growing online – and offline
SEO is what gives you a leg up against the competition and enables you to reach out and provide valuable solutions to consumers who know you, who have heard of you, and those who don’t yet know anything about you.
Yes, content and keywords are important, but until you get the fundamentals right with a high level Google Indexing audit, all those words will never be read by anyone except you.