Updated: Sep 13
How does SEO work? Part four - URLs and more.
As we make our way through "What to look for in an SEO audit report," we have come to the last seventeen items. If you missed the first three blog posts, there are links at the bottom of this blog.
Let's get started on URLs in an audit report!
Pages with multiple canonical URLs, when seen in your SEO audit report
Canonical URLs are what a webmaster might use when dealing with duplicate content to mark a preferred page. If this should pop up in your SEO audit report, it is best to talk to your web developer to go over. Also, double-check to make you need both of the pages with the same content. Canonical URLs are in your SEO audit report to make you aware of them. You may not need to do anything about them. They will not take away from your ranking score.
Be careful when using SEO plugins because they can insert a rel= "canonical" link by default. rel= "canonical" links can create a duplicate content issue and inadvertently affect your Google ranking score. Make sure you check your SEO report to see if any error codes pop-up to avoid duplication.
Dynamic URLs, when seen it in your SEO audit report
A. Example of a Static URL is https://www.wendydanko.com/on-page-seo
B. Example of a Dynamic URL is https://www.wendydanko.com/post/urls-and-seo-audits
Sample A is the Static URL. This type of URL, from an SEO point of view, is best to use because it "saves" more room for the page title. In this case, the page title is "on-page-optimization."
Sample B is a Dynamic URL.
A Dynamic URL has a "string" of information to follow. In this case, it follows "post" then the article page title "urls-and-seo-audits." As you can see with the Dynamic URL, it does list more information about the route it took to get to the page but it also leaves less space for the title which should include the keywords. Dynamic URLs are less SEO friendly.
Please keep in mind any URLs with characters or special characters like "?" or "_" or long strings of letters or numbers; these are not SEO friendly or user-friendly. Keep your URLs clean, simple, and straightforward, using words and keywords relevant to the web page they represent. User-friendly URLs this article explains in more depth.
Too long URLs, when seen it in your SEO audit report
Keeping your URLs no longer than 115 characters is best for the user-friendly experience. Any longer and they are harder to remember and use, and they get truncated on the search results page.
Mobile-friendly, when seen it in your SEO audit report
Websites need to be mobile-friendly to keep search engines happy. A few years ago, Google was telling anyone who was listening that they were going to change their algorithm to detect mobile-friendliness. Google is now checking for the mobile-friendliness first and desktop second. If your website is not mobile-friendly by now, your website is being left behind, meaning your ranking score is suffering.
To make a website user-friendly make sure fonts appear large enough, making it readable. Make the tap buttons large enough, so fingertips hit only one at a time.
Pages with frames, when seen it in your SEO audit report
When frames are used to show two or more HTML documents in the browser window on the same web page, the text and hyperlinks can appear to be missing. Using frames can diminish the strength of your SEO. Best SEO practice is not to use frames.
Dofollow external links, when seen it in your SEO audit report
It is a good SEO practice to check your "dofollow" external links. They should be to relevant and high-quality content. Remove any links that are to pages with less than a stellar reputation.
Another way to handle these low-quality links is to use rel="nofollow". Add this to the <a href> tag or contact your webmaster to do this for you.
<a rel="nofollow" href="example.com">Example</a>
Broken images, when seen it in your SEO audit report
Broken image links create a bad user experience. When the broken image error shows up in your SEO report fix immediately. Check for the HTML code to find the correct URL for the specific image. Next check the image is on the server. If neither of these two work, replace the image with something different.
Make sure all your images have been optimized and compressed.
Empty alt text, when seen it in your SEO audit report
All of your images should have alt text that describes the image it represents. The alt text helps search engines understand the image. When left empty, your SEO efforts are diminished.
An SEO report should let you know if any images are missing alt text. Use keywords in the alt text. Make sure the alt text is relevant to the content of the page. Doing this can boost your SEO and help your search engine rankings.
Too big pages, when seen it in your SEO audit report
Page size affects the time it takes to load a web page. Small page size means a good user-experience by not keeping anyone waiting for a page to load. A best practice is the page size should be under 3MB. Sometimes it might be hard to keep page size under 3MB but keep it as low as possible.
Images are usually the problem. Make sure you're compressing all your images before you upload them.
Broken links, when seen it in your SEO audit report
Broken links within your web pages can create a lousy user-experience and efforts your SEO ranking score. Monitoring for broken links is part of the SEO process. Fix broken link quickly.
Pages with an excessive number of links, when seen it in your SEO audit report
It is a good SEO practice to have no more than 100 outgoing links per page. Any more than 100 outgoing links per page you may be confusing your user, creating a bad user experience. Too many links on a page can also affect your ranking score.
Empty title tags, when seen it in your SEO audit report
Make sure all your web pages have a title tag that is relevant to the content of the page. A title tag looks like <title>Goes Here</title>
Search engines decide between your title tag and your SERP snippet. Make sure you have filled out both areas. Sorry to say we have no control over which one the search engines choose.
Duplicate titles, when see it in your SEO audit report
When a duplicate title shows up in your SEO report, it is a good idea to fix this problem immediately. There should be one unique description for each web page that includes at least one keyword from the content of the page it represents. When there are duplicate titles, user experience is not good, and your ranking score could be reduced.
Too long titles, when seen it in your SEO audit report
The title should be no more than 70 characters or less. Any longer and they may be cut-off or truncated on the search page (SERP) making them hard to understand. A long title may negatively affect clicks to your page for the SERP.
Empty meta description, when seen it in your SEO audit report
Meta descriptions are the page descriptions that show up on the SERP. These descriptions will not affect the website ranking score, but they should be relevant to the page. The meta description is an excellent place to expand on the idea in the title above it. You want to use the description to encourage the searcher to click on the link to your site.
Search engines will decide for you if the meta description is left empty. Why leave it up to chance when you can control it. Make sure you fill the information with what you want.
Duplicate meta descriptions, when seen it in your SEO audit report
Just like the title tags, meta descriptions should be unique for each webpage. Any duplicate descriptions are a waste of space when you could be writing one to your pages' advantage.
Too long meta description, when seen it in your SEO audit report
The length should be no longer than 160 characters. Some search engines allow 300 characters but be careful any longer than 160 characters and it may be cut-off or truncated leaving the search wandering what happened.
As you have been reading through these descriptions for each item, have you notice the phrase "user-friendly?"
Search engines are in the business of sending a searcher to sites that have the best information to answer the questions asked in the query. Search engines want your website to be the best quality possible, to be a trusted source of information, and be easy to navigate. Making an excellent user experience is one of the most important things you can do to attract search engines to your site, in turn, getting more of the right visitor to your website. The keyword here is "right." The right visitor is the one that is interested in what you have to say about the problem they are trying to solve. Make sure you know who your customers are and answer to their problems.
The statement below is an essential concept to understand for website owners.
A website that lists only products is NOT a solution to or an answer to the problem the customer is asking. Don't make a website with only a list of products that talks about how great the company and products are.
Your potential clients have questions, write the answers.
The list of products comes later in the process when the customers have already conducted their research. Once this concept is understood, a profitable website is created with the right information to attract the right customer, then your return on investment goes up!
The next blog post will be coming soon.
Setting Your Website Up For Success!
About the Author
Wendy Danko is an SEO Consultant and Web Designer at WenKo LLC. A design background has its perks, especially regarding SEO and website design. Wendy is determined to help all her clients understand and improve their SEO and website design. As a result, her clients have uncovered new leads to grow their client base with website improvements.