“I’ll just google it…”
It’s a way of life these days. In 2020, search engines are the gateway to finding information and products online. As convenient as this may be, this reality poses serious marketing challenges for businesses struggling to rank on Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
The “gold standard” of search engines is Google, and as long as your site fulfills Google’s standards, chances are very good that they’ll fulfill the standards of Yahoo, Bing, and the others.
But what are the criteria? Well, Google won’t say. It’s a mystery that has spawned an entire industry.
Here’s what we do know: Google’s goal is to provide the best search “experience” to its customers. Note that term – Google, in many ways, is micromanaging its search engine and arbitrarily decides site rankings to meet its definition of the best search “experience.”
To deliver this “experience,” it’s estimated Google makes several hundred minor changes to its algorithm each year. Every few years also comes major change, each with a cute name like Panda or Penguin. The results of these changes can have dramatic effects on the rankings of business webpages. MOZ has assembled a pretty complete list of the changes Google has made to its algorithm that have significantly impacted search results.
So where does a Website Audit come in?
At SITESTR, when we audit a website, we check for a number of criteria. First, we check to see whether your website is compliant with the known standards of Google and other search engines. We also check to see whether your site is integrated with Google Search Console. This gives us insight into whether Google’s index of your site is successful at the meta-level. We also check to see whether your site is functioning properly. Items such as page speed and mobile responsiveness, for example, are things we tend to examine closely.
Second, we take a peek under the hood and check into the adequacy of your hosting solution. All too often, we deal with instances where cheap hosting gets bundled with a domain name registration at the time of purchase. Sure, $9.99 a month for site hosting sounds great, but what about security, backups, CDN redundancy, SSL, and support? With so many big-name hosts focused on account growth over all else, these necessary features are often ignored.
When you consider the costs associated with a site hack, the resulting downtime – or worse, deletion – that $9.99/month won’t be so attractive anymore. Fixing a critical break-in site security costs thousands to remedy, even for small business websites. Furthermore, outdated WordPress software and customer data do not mix well.
Third, we put our business hats on and investigate whether your site is meeting your business goals. We check into whether your digital advertising platforms are talking to your CRM and analytics provider. We grade whether you are tracking conversions, and, if you are, whether your implementation is set up properly.
Software updates and changes regularly, and it can take only a few months for once correctly installed pixel and cookie tracking code to fall out of date. Just as we mentioned this from a security perspective before, when the software fallls out of date, it tends to do strange things. Many WordPress users find this out via the famed “White Screen Of Death.” Others just see PHP code on the home page. Either way, software updates are a good thing to look into.
Fourth, we look into whether your user experience supports your customer’s needs. Is your messaging conveying the right value prop? Is it clear to your site visitors? Is your navigation and click funnel functional? Sure this sounds simple, but design and messaging is hard. There is always room for improvement. Luckily, there is software for this!
It’s important to note this type of audit offering is different and more extensive than the free site analyzer programs found online. We’re not knocking those – we believe, for some, good insights can be gained from using them.
At SITESTR, our approach involves both automated site scans and human intuition. We’ve been doing this for a long time, and we’ve come to know what separates successful websites from the unsuccessful ones. This is the information we are happy to share with our clients.
Algorithms Change – So Must Sites
Having a site audit performed shouldn’t be a one-time thing. Just as search engine algorithms change periodically, so must your site. If your business is seasonal, the audit should be performed within a few months of your “best season” to ensure you can make any changes needed well beforehand.
It’s not just Google that likes refreshed quality content, your website visitors do, too. That relationship must be managed, and we argue continuous oversite of your site’s performance is key to long-term growth.
Algorithms Change – So Must Your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Strategy.
All skilled SEO providers keep track of what is happening in the world of search – how Google, Yahoo, Bing, and others are tweaking their user experience – and then modifying the way they provide SEO accordingly.
Over the years, we have found attempts at cheating Google is simply wasted effort. Regardless of your industry, budget, or goals, the best SEO strategy is one that focuses on quality content that is unique, fresh, and appreciated by your site’s visitors. Gone are the days of stuffing 20 keywords into a landing page to game a search result.
There are literally thousands of SEO strategists out there each professing their own mechanism to game Google. We’re not here to pass judgment on them or their strategies. However, we are quite certain that all would agree no SEO strategy can be successful without quality, well-written content. Yes, the content remains King.
The “health” of your website can change with every major or minor Google algorithm change. For that reason, we recommend you have an independent expert audit your website each year.
If you are interested in speaking to an expert at SITESTR about auditing your website, please use the form below to contact us. We’re pretty friendly, and we like to help out.
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