This article is a step-by-step guide for giving your website an SEO checkup.It explains how to perform an assessment of the indexability of your website, spot major problems with your site’s SEO, and how to fix any of the issues you discover. This article focuses on the importance of proper indexing, fixing penalties, and offering the tools necessary to ensure the well-being of your site’s SEO.
Just like how a routine physical exam is a good way to catch health problems in their infancy, a routine audit of your SEO can help you fix minor problems before they have the chance to grow into major ones. Although the intimate details of SEO maintenance can be moderately technical at times, with a little persistence and a handy step-by-step guide, just about anyone can help ensure the health of their site without the need for professional aid. Below we’ll look at a few ways you can identify major problems with your SEO, and how you can fix those issues in only a few minutes.
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The indexability of your site is a measure of how well search engines can crawl through your content and accurately identify what’s there. If your site has problems with its indexability, you’ll get punished in your search engine rankings and your content will be harder to find online, which can severely impair your SEO effort.
You can get a rough estimate of how many pages Google has indexed from your site by performing a search for “site:MySite.com”, and replace MySite with your own URL. If the total number of indexed pages is roughly equal to your site’s page total, you’re in good shape. If the index your search returns is substantially smaller than your actual number of pages, it’s an indication that search engines are having trouble indexing your site.
Accessibility can be improved in several ways. The first and most important step to take is to update your XML sitemap. This sitemap provides a blueprint of your site for search engines, ensuring that they won’t miss a page. Your sitemap needs to provide an up-to-date picture of your site. It should also follow sitemap protocol. If you’re unfamiliar with sitemap protocol, you should stick to using XML sitemap tools like Xml-SiteMaps.
On the other hand, if the index count provided by your Google search is greater than the total number of pages on your site, it means your site is offering duplicate content, or content that’s close enough to be countered as a duplicate. You can find out if your pages are being counted as duplicates by performing a “site:” command like the one above, and then adding “&start=990” to the end of the search URL. The result should look something like “google.com/#q=site:MySite.com&start=990”, and at the bottom of this query you’ll find if there are any duplicate content warnings.
Fixing Search Engine Penalties
Before trying to fix a penalty, you should be absolutely certain that you’re being penalized. More often than not, webmasters who believe they’re the victim of a penalty are actually suffering from simple indexing errors. Real penalties are almost always very obvious. Pages that are completely accessible but don’t appear in a SERP are typically penalized, and you’re nearly always given a message informing you about the penalty through Google Webmaster Tools. While changes to search engine algorithms aren’t technically penalties to your SEO, they should be treated as such.
After you’ve established certainty that you’re being penalized, you need to find the cause of the penalty. If you received a message from Google Webmaster Tools, you should already know the answer. However, if you were penalized from a recent algorithm update, you’ll have to do some research into any recent changes that have occurred in the SEO community. After you’ve identified the elements that you’re being penalized for and fixed them, you need to request that the search engines which penalized you to reconsider your content. Reconsideration requests for Google and Bing can be filed here:
Left unrepaired, indexability and search engine penalties can have a devastating impact on your SEO. Much like your own health, keeping your site in tip top shape is something you have to remain vigilant about. But with a little persistence and the occasional checkup, keeping your SEO in perfect health should be completely manageable.