Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an ever-changing process whose rules are never set in stone. While keeping up with its best practices can make you feel like you’re always one step behind the curve, there are fundamental on-page diagnostics you can perform on a given site that will give you a very basic idea of how effectively you’re being indexed by major search engines. If you have an existing website that you suspect might not be getting enough natural exposure on Google, check out these three potential issues that could be holding you back:
Clean Page Structure
The simpler and cleaner a page layout your website has, the more seamlessly it can be accessed and indexed by search crawlers. Stick to short URLs where possible and avoid separating words within them with underscores (“_”) in favour of hyphens (“-”) or no formatting at all (Google will still be able to detect the individual words). Every single page should have some form of link back to the homepage, and should also link to as many other pages within the site as possible where it makes sense per the content (but don’t force it). Put simply, the more robust your internal link structure, the easier it is for search crawlers to get around and make a judgement as to the subject matter of your website.
Individual Product/Service Pages
If your website features a moderate to large number of products and/or services being offered, it’s ideal to have individual, fully-descriptive pages for each one of them. Though this can be a time-consuming task both writing and development-wise, it pays dividends in terms of Google exposure because it means that every page is optimized for at least one keyword associated with the product/service in question. As an example, let’s say you’re a real estate agent who advertises homes for sale on your website: If you feature all of the available properties in one scrolling page without offering an option to click through on each one of them to “find out more”, Google will lump all of them (and their associated keywords) together and make your website less likely to be found for a broader number of important terms.
Plugin issues fall more on the development side of SEO diagnostics, but they’re prevalent enough to warrant checking for them if you use plugins on your site. Old plugins, whether aesthetic, functional or otherwise, feature outdated lines of code that can confuse search engines and cause ranking penalizations if you don’t update them frequently. Additionally, you’re running the risk of giving hackers a figurative “unlocked door” into your site since most plugins don’t automatically update themselves.