How do you know if you have basic SEO?
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the foundation of search engine marketing (SEM). So, before you go paying for advertising, you have to get SEO right. And before SEO on a web page can work, the web page has to be visible to search engine robots.
As a technologist who has built websites since 2010, I remember one of the most common questions people ask me is,
Why aren’t some of my web pages showing up on Google, yet all other people’s are?
When I dig into their problem, most of the time what I found is that these business people are thoroughly dedicated. They had and have been putting in a lot of hours into curating relevant content and researching keywords with Google Keyword Tool. To top it off, some of them even paid for advertising.
So, what went wrong?
There are many techniques in SEO, but some may not work at all if not done in the right order. Much like baking a cake, you can’t jumble up the instructions and expect a tasty dessert.
No matter how great your content or keywords are, your web pages would not even show up in search engines if it is not visible to search engine robots.
How do I know if my web pages are visible to search engine robots?
First, pop up your browser and search your domain name in Google. For example, type pickedthis.com.au on Google Search.
If your website is quite new, like a week old, it may take a couple of weeks to show up in Google. Normally, your web design company would have already submitted your website to search engines the moment your website goes up.
If your website still does not show up in Google Search after a long time, the search engine robot may have encountered an error when it was trying to read your website’s robots.txt. Check to see if yours is working. As a reference, try accessing our robots.txt.
Next, click on the small arrow next to the web address and click on “Cached”.
If a reCapcha box shows up, just play with it until you get the “Cached” page.
This “Cached” page is Google’s copy of your web page. If you look at the top panel, you can see three links, “Full Version”, “Text-only version” and “View Source”.
Click on the “Text-only version”, this is roughly what Google saw in your web page, which is used to understand the content on your website and determine how relevant your web page is to a search made on Google. It is most important to get this home or landing page right or else your other web pages may never get visited by search engine robots.
Keep this “Text-only version” of your web page on a separate tab and follow the instructions below to do a basic diagnostic of how well your web page is doing.
Basic SEO Troubleshooting
Here are three common bad cases that could happen to your “Text-only version” of your web page.
It shows up as a blank page
Unless your web page is intentionally left blank, you pretty much have no SEO. The search engine sees your web page as empty so there is no content, no context to match, and nothing to do. Although you may have title, description and keywords in your meta tags, websites with meta tags and content will always rank higher than yours.
It’s even more serious if this happened to your home page and you have more pages in your website as the other pages in your website may not even show up in search engine at all.
It has content, but no links when there are supposed to be clickable links.
Similar to the last case, if this happened to your home page and you have more pages in your website, the other pages in your website may never show up in search engines.
It has some links, but the content is ambiguous, garbled or missing.
If your web page has some links as very generic words such as “Home”, “About”, and “Contact” which are intermixed with ambiguous, jumbled up or missing content like “1.jpg” and “Banner-1.png”, there is no way for a human to make sense out of these bunch of random words that is supposed to be the content on your website, let alone a search engine robot.
There are a few common problems that are the reasons why the above three bad cases happened, most of them have a lot to do with how the website is built in the first place.
- Your web page has only images and these images are missing text description.
- Your web page is too slow to load, the search engine robot ran out of time to do its job and left.
Fixing the first problem is easy, simply make your images accessible to search engine robots by adding alt text.
However, the second and third problems have a lot to do with the web technologies or systems your website is built on. Unless you want to go down the path of a technologist to solve it yourself, the simplest solution is to change to a website is built on leaner and faster web technologies or systems.
For the case of garbled up content, this may also be caused by how the web page is structured in HTML. Sometimes the attempt to achieve a beautiful web design resulted in horrible HTML. The easiest solution is to get properly coded HTML and CSS that can give you beautiful web design without damaging your SEO.
So what does it look like if it’s got basic SEO?
Actually, it could look messy and ugly, but everything is there in text or links. All your links and written text are there in the right order. Every image, video or object are also in the right order and has a corresponding text description.
If you read through the “Text-only version” of your web page and you can kinda get what the web page is about even without seeing the images or videos, then chances are your content is understandable by search engine robots.
This is the basic SEO we offer you at Pickedthis, which the foundation you need before you go all out in advanced SEO, or even SEM, where paid advertising is involved. Although you still need to put in effort into keyword search and content curation, we made sure that your efforts are well rewarded by maximising the visibility of these information to search engines.