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The Awesome List: WordPress SEO Plugins


The Awesome List: WordPress SEO Plugins was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

WordPress is a simple-to-use content management system that’s also free. It offers everyone from solo bloggers to the world’s leading brands a platform to create custom and powerful websites. No wonder almost a third of all websites run on WP!

Still, WordPress was made for users, not for Google or SEOs. That’s why SEO plugins exist — to plug in the holes with added functionality that helps your content be indexed by search engines and found by searchers.

As a marketer, content creator or analyst, how do you choose the best SEO plugin for your sites? Here, we’ll take a look at six plugins, their many features, and finally a price comparison chart so that you can compare them:

  1. Yoast SEO
  2. All-In-One SEO Pack
  3. SEO Ultimate
  4. SEO Squirrly
  5. SEOPressor Connect
  6. Bruce Clay SEO WP (our own)

Plugins often come in both free and premium versions; the premium versions unlock more functionality and service. I’ll address both versions where appropriate.

Plugin No. 6 is our soon-to-be-launched WP plugin, Bruce Clay SEO, which fills in the gaps left by other plugins on this list (see our list of what your SEO plugin is missing).

1. Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO is the most popular SEO plugin. It’s easy to use, driven by a simple user interface. The majority of people use the free version.

Here’s what the free version offers (from its plugin page):

  • XML sitemaps functionality at the push of a button
  • Full control over site breadcrumbs
  • Set canonical URLs to avoid duplicate content
  • Title and meta description templates
  • Content & SEO analysis to write SEO-friendly text
  • Snippet preview to show how your post or page will look in the search results (also on mobile)
  • Cornerstone content and internal linking features help optimize your site structure
  • Integrates with Google Search Console
  • Manage SEO roles to give people access to specific sections of the Yoast SEO plugin
  • Bulk editor to make large-scale edits to a site

Strengths: As a leading plugin, it’s driven by market awareness and brand presence. It’s easy to use. The free version is typically enough for most users.
Weaknesses: It’s built for everyone and no one industry in particular. As a result, some users feel the SEO recommendations are too generic. In addition, even though it’s fairly simple to use, the features may seem overwhelming to beginners.
Active installations: 5+ million
Rating on WordPress: 5 stars

Yoast offers a premium version for annual fees ranging from $89 for one site up to $756.50 for 15 sites. Additional offerings of the premium version include:

  • News SEO, video SEO, local SEO and WooCommerce SEO extensions
  • Premium users get one year free access to a support team
  • Insights tool shows you what your text is focusing on so you can keep your article in line with your keywords
  • Multiple focus keywords to optimize your article for synonyms and related keywords
  • Automatic internal linking suggestions of posts to link to
  • Social previews to help manage the way a page looks when shared on social networks like Facebook and Twitter
  • Redirect manager to address redirect errors from Google Search Console, deleted pages and changed URLs

2. All-In-One SEO Pack

All-In-One SEO Pack website logo

All-In-One SEO Pack offers entry-level features to assist with SEO for beginners. It also has advanced features and an API for developers.

Here’s what the free plugin offers (from its plugin page):

  • XML sitemap support
  • Image XML sitemap submitted to Google and Bing
  • Google AMP support
  • Google Analytics support
  • Support for SEO on custom post types
  • Advanced canonical URLs
  • Redirect attachment pages to parent post
  • Automatically notifies search engines about changes to your site
  • Built-in API so other plugins/themes can access and extend functionality
  • Provides SEO integration for e-commerce sites, including WooCommerce
  • Nonce Security built in
  • Automatically optimizes titlesfor search engines
  • Generatesmeta tags automatically
  • Avoids typical duplicate content found on WordPress blogs
  • For advanced users, fine-tune everything to optimize SEO
  • Override any title and set any meta description and keywords
  • Compatible with many other plugins
  • Translated into 57 languages
  • PHP 7 100 percent compatible

Strengths: As a leading plugin, it’s driven by market awareness and brand presence. Some users appreciate that you can turn off features you won’t need to use.
Weaknesses: This plugin is built for everyone and no one industry in particular. Some people comment that the user interface is not as friendly as they would like it to be, and say that for true beginners, it might be too complex to understand.
Active installations: 2+ million
Rating on WordPress: 4.5 stars

All In One SEO Pack offers a pro version for annual fees ranging from $97 for an individual to $699 for an agency. Additional offerings of the pro version include:

  • Advanced support for WooCommerce
  • SEO for categories, tags and custom taxonomies
  • Video SEO module
  • Access to video screencasts
  • Access to premium support forums
  • Access to knowledge center

3. SEO Ultimate

SEO Ultimate website logo

SEO Ultimate has the most robust feature set of the all-in-one-type WordPress SEO plugins. Check out its plugin page for more details on each of the following features.

Here’s what the free plugin offers (from its plugin page):

    • Title tag rewriter and meta description editor
    • Deeplink juggernaut
    • Open graph integrator
    • Rich snippet creator
    • Author highlighter
    • Link mask generator
    • Canonicalizer
    • 404 monitor
    • Permalink tweaker
    • Meta robot tags editor
    • SEO ultimate widgets
    • Plugin settings manager
    • SEO/SEM-enhancing custom HTML
    • .htaccess editor and the robots.txt editor
  • Textboxes to the end of your posts/pages that contain automatically generated link HTML
  • Meta keywords for posts, pages, categories, tags, terms and the homepage auto-generated and editable
  • “Read more” links include the posts‘ keyword-rich titles in the anchor text
  • Rel=”nofollow” settings when migrating from other SEO plugins
  • Dashboard of green/yellow/red indicators for SEO-friendliness
  • Buttons that make it easy for visitors to share content on social
  • Remove customizable “filler words” (like “the,” “with,” “and,” etc.) from post/page URLs
  • Access search engine webmaster tools

Strengths: This plugin has a nice set of robust SEO features. Also, the ability to import and export data from other sources, including other SEO plugins, is something users find handy.
Weaknesses: The free version is no longer being updated for WordPress. Because the tool is advanced, it requires training to get the most out of it.
Active installations: 100,000+
Rating on WordPress: 4 stars

SEO Ultimate+ costs from $49 for one site to $249 for 20 sites annually. $500 will get you unlimited sites. Additional offerings of SEO Ultimate+ include:

  • Structured data, schema and rich snippets
  • Global canonical manager
  • Alt attribute mass editor for images
  • Improved open graph options for social networks
  • The code inserter+ module
  • HTML and XML Sitemaps
  • Rel previous and next pagination optimization
  • SEO data transporter

4. SEO Squirrly

SEO Squirrly website logo

SEO Squirrly is an SEO plugin that aims to be an SEO advisor.

Here’s what the free plugin offers (from its plugin page – check it out for more in-depth information on each feature):

  • Keyword research
  • SEO Live Assistant
  • Audit Suite
  • Briefcase, keyword strategy assistant
  • Twitter Cards
  • Facebook Open Graph support for both images and video
  • LinkedIn titles, images and description for better sharing
  • Rich Pins for Pinterest
  • Snippet preview
  • Customize meta title and description
  • Sitemap
  • Blog feeds
  • SEO settings
  • Performance analytics
  • Works with multisites
  • Blogging assistant to help keep readers on the page longer

Strengths: Robust features. Works well with the WooCommerce e-commerce plugin.
Weaknesses: The plugin is free if you do less than five posts per month on one site; otherwise, you need to upgrade to the paid version. Some features that used to be included free are now separate paid products, such as search engine rank tracking.
Active Installations: 30,000+
Rating on WordPress: 4.5 stars

SEO Squirrly offers a premium version for monthly fees of $29.99 for pro and $71.99 for business. Additional offerings of the premium version include:

  • Up to seven sites
  • Full access to SEO Live Assistant
  • Unlimited optimized articles
  • Research on hundreds of keywords
  • Free images; find/insert tweets; find/insert wikis; find/insert news; find/insert blog articles
  • Advanced site analytics
  • Weekly audits on hundreds of pages

5. SEOPressor Connect

SEOPressor Connect website logo

SEOPressor Connect is the most advanced of these SEO plugins, in my opinion.

This is a paid plugin ($9 per month), and just some of the things it offers include:

  • Multiple keywords analysis
  • XML Sitemap generator
  • SEOpressor over-optimization check
  • Canonical link
  • Progressive LSI keywords engine
  • 301 URL redirect
  • SemantiQ density tells you if the content is related to keywords
  • On-page robot rules
  • Schema and Dublin Core markup support
  • SEOpressor site audit
  • SEOpressor local SEO
  • SEO trends
  • Google Knowledge Graph help
  • SEOpressor score manager for optimization
  • Optimize the homepage
  • SEOpressor smart link manager
  • On-page meta settings
  • Sitewide link policy
  • Facebook Open Graph customization
  • Automatic smart linking
  • Twitter Card customization
  • SEOpressor role settings

Strengths: Can be used on multiple domains and works well with other SEO plugins. Many people find it easy to use with a strong user interface.
Weaknesses: Computes its own scores and tracks them over time, but lacks a connection to performance analytics data or search results. This means that the trends could be misleading since they don’t reflect how your content is actually performing in the search engines.
Active installs & ratings: The plugin does not appear in WordPress’s plugin directory, so this data is not available.

6. Bruce Clay SEO for WordPress (now in beta)

While many of the above plugins compete with each other, our approach is different. Bruce Clay SEO WP™ is meant to supplement and extend the free versions with powerful needed features.

We gathered input from industry practitioners on what they wanted to see in an SEO plugin. Then we designed our plugin not to replace the plugins you may be using, but to provide much more data than is available today.

Of course, our plugin provides capabilities similar to others as well, but that is just in case you’re not using any other SEO plugins.

What makes this plugin unique: It enriches your publishing workspace with SEO insights based on real-time search results and analytics. In other words, you can see beyond the page you’re working on, without leaving WordPress. It’s the integration with our SEOToolSet™ and Google Search Console/Analytics that makes this possible.

The Bruce Clay SEO plugin works like software as a service (SaaS). Rather than a static one-size-fits-all checklist approach to optimizing a page or post, our plugin uses a live connection with the SEOToolSet software to analyze your keywords and competition in real time.

As a result, the optimization recommendations you see are customized. So your page can better compete in its specific ranking environment.

There’s no free version, but it’s priced affordably at $24.95/month per domain. (Try it! The first week is free — then you can decide if you want to keep it.)

As a bonus, plugin subscribers can also use the SEOToolSet itself. Data is shared between the plugin in WordPress and the user’s SEOToolSet account. Those who want to can run domain ranking reports and take advantage of many other external tools.

Bruce Clay SEO features are powered by patent-pending technology. WordPress users can:

  • Optimize a page or post for more than one keyword.
  • See clearly where keywords appear in the content through color coding.
  • Know which pages and posts are your top performers.
  • Identify problems with mobile usability and performance.
  • Check the site for duplicate content.
  • Evaluate top-ranked pages for your keywords in real-time.
  • Get recommendations for keyword usage in tags and content (even word count) based upon competitors.
  • Find out how much content has been written on your site per keyword.
  • See how each of your pages or posts is performing, using integrated Google Analytics data.
  • View top-performing posts or pages per author/contributor to the website as measured by visitors over a selectable period of time.
  • Find out when there is a possibility of duplicate content, like meta information or the content on a page.
  • Discover the page or post’s readability and compare it to keyword competitors.
  • Use along with Yoast, if desired. Compatibility is built in.

Want to be one of the first to get the Bruce Clay SEO plugin? We ship soon. You can watch our preview video and pre-register here!

Comparing Your Options

Now that you have a sense of what these 6 awesome WordPress SEO plugins do, here is a quick price comparison chart:

Plugin Free Version? Y/N Paid Version Cost SaaS? Y/N Domains Allowed
Yoast SEO Y $89-$756.50 annually N 1 to 15
All-In-One SEO Pack Y $97 to $699 annually N 1 to unlimited
SEO Ultimate Y $49-$500 annually N 1 to unlimited
SEO Squirrly Y $29.99-$71.99 monthly Y 1 to 7
SEOPressor Connect N $9 monthly N 1 to unlimited
Bruce Clay SEO WP N (first 7 days free) $24.95 monthly per domain Y 1 to unlimited

I want to know: Have you used any of the plugins in this list? Where do you think they have strengths and weaknesses?

Source:: bruceclay.com

7 SEO Fails Seen in the Wild (And How You Can Avoid Them)

business woman realizes SEO blunder

7 SEO Fails Seen in the Wild (And How You Can Avoid Them) was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

We often get questions from people wondering why their site isn’t ranking, or why it isn’t indexed by the search engines.

Recently, I’ve come across several sites with major errors that could be easily fixed, if only the owners knew to look. While some SEO mistakes are quite complex, here are a few of the often overlooked “head slamming” errors.

So check out these SEO blunders — and how you can avoid making them yourself.

SEO Fail #1: Robots.txt Problems

The robots.txt file has a lot of power. It instructs search engine bots what to exclude from their indexes.

In the past, I’ve seen sites forget to remove one single line of code from that file after a site redesign, and sink their entire site in the search results.

So when a flower site highlighted a problem, I started with one of the first checks I always do on a site — look at the robots.txt file.

I wanted to know whether the site’s robots.txt was blocking the search engines from indexing their content. But instead of the expected text file, I saw a page offering to deliver flowers to Robots.Txt.
SEO fail on a flower site
The site had no robots.txt, which is the first thing a bot looks for when crawling a site. That was their first mistake. But to take that file as a destination … really?

SEO Fail #2: Autogeneration Gone Wild

Secondly, the site was automatically generating nonsense content. It would probably deliver to Santa Claus or whatever text I put in the URL.

I ran a Check Server Page tool to see what status the autogenerated page was showing. If it was a 404 (not found), then bots would ignore the page as they should. However, the page’s server header gave a 200 (OK) status. As a result, the fake pages were giving the search engines a green light to be indexed.

Search engines want to see unique and meaningful content per page. So indexing these non-pages could hurt their SEO.

SEO Fail #3: Canonical Errors

Next, I checked to see what the search engines thought of this site. Could they crawl and index the pages?

Looking at the source code of various pages, I noticed another major error.

Every single page had a canonical link element pointing back to the homepage:

In other words, search engines were being told that every page was actually a copy of the homepage. Based on this tag, the bots should ignore the rest of the pages on that domain.

Fortunately, Google is smart enough to figure out when these tags are likely used in error. So it was still indexing some of the site’s pages. But that universal canonical request was not helping the site’s SEO.

How to Avoid These SEO Fails
For the flower site’s multiple mistakes, here are the fixes:

  • Have a valid robots.txt file to tell search engines how to crawl and index the site. Even if it’s a blank file, it should exist at the root of your domain.
  • Generate a proper canonical link element for each page. And don’t point away from a page you want indexed.
  • Display a custom 404 page when a page URL doesn’t exist. Make sure it returns a 404 server code to give the search engines a clear message.
  • Be careful with autogenerated pages. Avoid producing nonsense or duplicate pages for search engines and users.

Even if you’re not experiencing a site problem, these are good points to review periodically, just to be on the safe side.

Oh, and never put a canonical tag on your 404 page, especially pointing to your homepage … just don’t.

SEO Fail #4: Overnight Rankings Freefall

Sometimes a simple change can be a costly mistake. This story comes from an experience with one of our SEO clients.

When the .org extension of their domain name became available, they scooped it up. So far, so good. But their next move led to disaster.

They immediately set up a 301 redirect pointing the newly acquired .org to their main .com website. Their reasoning made sense — to capture wayward visitors who might type in the wrong extension.

But the next day, they called us, frantic. Their site traffic was nonexistent. They had no idea why.

A few quick checks revealed that their search rankings had disappeared from Google overnight. It didn’t take too much Q&A to figure out what had happened.

They put the redirect in place without considering the risk. We did some digging and discovered that the .org had a sordid past.

The previous owner of the .org site had used it for spam. With the redirect, Google was assigning all of that poison to the company’s main site! It took us only two days to restore the site’s standing in Google.

How to Avoid This SEO Fail
Always research the link profile and history of any domain name you register.

A qualified SEO consultant can do this. There are also tools you can run to see what skeletons may be lying in the site’s closet.

Whenever I pick up a new domain, I like to let it lie dormant for six months to a year at least before trying to make anything of it. I want the search engines to clearly differentiate my site’s new incarnation from its past life. It’s an extra precaution to protect your investment.

SEO Fail #5: Pages That Won’t Go Away

Sometimes sites can have a different problem — too many pages in the search index.

Search engines sometimes retain pages that are no longer valid. If people land on error pages when they come from the search results, it’s a bad user experience.

Some site owners, out of frustration, list the individual URLs in the robots.txt file. They’re hoping that Google will take the hint and stop indexing them.

But this approach fails! If Google respects the robots.txt, it won’t crawl those pages. So Google will never see the 404 status and won’t find out that the pages are invalid.

How to Avoid This SEO Mistake
The first part of the fix is to not disallow these URLs in robots.txt. You WANT the bots to crawl around and know what URLs should be dropped from the search index.

After that, set up a 301 redirect on the old URL. Send the visitor (and search engines) to the closest replacement page on the site. This takes care of your visitors whether they come from search or from a direct link.

SEO Fail #6: Missed Link Equity

I followed a link from a university website and was greeted with a 404 (not found) error.

This is not uncommon, except that the link was to /home.html — the site’s former homepage URL.

At some point, they must have changed their website architecture and deleted the old-style /home.html, losing the redirect in the shuffle.

Ironically, their 404 page says you can start over from the homepage, which is what I was trying to reach in the first place.
404 error message example
It’s a pretty safe bet that this site would love to have a nice link from a respected university going to their homepage. And accomplishing this is entirely within their control. They don’t even have to contact the linking site.

How to Fix This Fail
To fix this link, they just need to put a 301 redirect pointing /home.html to the current homepage. (See our article on how to set up a 301 redirect for instructions.)

For extra credit, go to Google Search Console and review the Index Coverage Status Report. Look at all of the pages that are reported as returning a 404 error, and work on fixing as many errors here as possible.

SEO Fail #7: The Copy/Paste Fail

The site redesign launches, the canonical tags are in place, and the new Google Tag Manager is installed. Yet there are still ranking problems. In fact, one new landing page isn’t showing any visitors in Google Analytics.

The development team responds that they’ve done everything by the book and have followed the examples to the letter.

They are exactly right. They followed the examples — including leaving in the example code! After copying and pasting, the developers forgot to enter their own target site information.

Here are three examples our analysts have run across in website code:

  1. ‘analyticsAccountNumber‘: ‘UA-123456-1′
  2. _gaq.push([‘_setAccount‘, ‘UA-000000-1′]);

How to Avoid This SEO Fail
When things don’t work right, look beyond just “is this element in the source code?” It may be that the proper validation codes, account numbers and URLs were never specified in your HTML code.

Mistakes happen. People are only human. I hope that these examples will help you avoid similar SEO blunders of your own.

But some SEO issues are more complex than you think. If you have indexing problems, then we are here to help. Call us or fill out our request form and we’ll get in touch.

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Source:: bruceclay.com

Here to help: Enjoy the Perks of the Adobe Stock Contributor Portal

Since Fotolia became a part of the Adobe family and Adobe Stock was introduced as the reinvention of the stock marketplace, Adobe has been working on ways of making contributors‘ lives easier. Providing a single, powerful platform for bringing your stock content to market is an important step along the way.

It may have been a while since you last explored the Adobe Stock contributor portal, so let’s get you reacquainted with the service and the benefits that you will unlock as soon as you sync your contributor account.

First things first: You won’t miss a thing

This one is simple. Adobe Stock offers all the features and benefits of Fotolia and many more, so you won’t miss out in any way.

More visibility for your content

Adobe Stock is the only stock service that’s natively integrated into Adobe Creative Cloud. This means that creatives all over the world can test out your watermarked content in their projects and purchase it quickly and seamlessly — all without leaving their favorite apps.

In addition, the Adobe Stock contributor portal gives you the following tools to help you grab the attention of potential customers:

  1. Custom Adobe Stock galleries: To attract more eyeballs and reinforce your brand, you can create a custom header image for your contributor page. You can also merchandize your content by creating custom collections that appear at the top of your portfolio to help buyers find your latest and greatest assets.
  2. External portfolio options: Elevate your online presence to drive more people to your contributor page. As an Adobe Stock contributor, you have free access to Adobe Portfolio, so you can build a personalized website to showcase your work and create a secondary marketplace for your stock content.


The Adobe Stock contributor portal offers a number of features that shave time off your submissions, so you can spend more of your time creating. Here are the key features that help you get your content in front of customers faster:

  1. Creative Cloud integration: No need to spend precious time exporting assets from your creative apps and then uploading them to the contributor portal. Simply upload images directly from Lightroom Classic CC, Bridge CC, or Photoshop Mix, and upload videos directly from Premiere Pro CC.
  2. Non-zip vector uploads: Gone are the days of having to upload vector assets by zipping the AI or EPS files along with JPG thumbnails. Now you can just upload the original file, and the Adobe Stock contributor portal generates the JPG preview for you.
  3. Auto-tagging and auto-categorization: When you upload an image or video to the portal, our Artificial Intelligence service Adobe Sensei will automatically generate keywords and categories for you. The AI technology analyzes your files, compares them to our database to find similar images, and then applies the top keywords and categories. Not only does this save you time, but it also gives you guidance for cases where you want to tag things manually.
  4. Integrated model and property releases: Send and receive releases directly through the Adobe Stock contributor portal thanks to Adobe Sign integration. No need to manage printed releases or dig through your email to track down signed documents.

Start today – it’s just one click

It’s easy to get started: it only takes one click to sync your Fotolia assets, history, and sales dashboard to Adobe Stock. Your data remains intact and accessible on the Fotolia site.

A special reward for our top contributors

Need one more reason? If you’ve had 300+ stock assets approved or have earned US $500 on Fotolia or Adobe Stock this year, you’re eligible to receive a one-year Adobe Creative Cloud plan. Learn more.

Get started! Sync your account to Adobe Stock now.

Source:: blog.fotolia.com

SEO Audits and Tools: The Good, The Better and The Best

SEO audits & tools: good, better & best

SEO Audits and Tools: The Good, The Better and The Best was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

“SEO audits” can mean different things to different people.

In general, an SEO website audit identifies issues that hinder a site’s ability to be found in search results and recommends changes to fix those issues.

The end goal of a technical SEO audit? To help you improve the site’s search visibility and bring in more organic traffic.

But the approach to SEO audits varies across practitioners and agencies. Which approach fits you best depends on many factors.

TL;DR: Three levels of SEO audits exist. They all aim to uncover ways to improve a website’s visibility in search. From free tools to an expert’s analysis, all audit types have their place. This article lists five auditing tools, explains the different approaches, and clarifies what you can expect to pay and to get from each level of SEO audit.

The 3 Levels of SEO Audits

Three levels of technical SEO audits exist today:

  • The “Good” SEO Audit: A software tool uncovers superficial SEO issues (many of which may be useful). The tool produces a one-size-fits-all generic report. Appropriate for when you don’t have an auditing budget, or you want to check some basics yourself before starting with an agency. Never a waste, but not a deep dive.
  • The “Better” SEO Audit: An SEO vendor or practitioner offers additional SEO insights but without many solutions. They can identify problems that data analytics alone can’t uncover. Without in-depth solutions, this only points to possible trouble areas, but sometimes that is all you need.
  • The “Best” SEO Audit: An SEO agency performs an in-depth technical audit. It requires the labor and expertise of a seasoned SEO analyst(s) who specializes in technical website analysis and SEO business strategy. This is a manual review supported by tools, and it takes many hours.

Of course, you may have different names for each of these levels of audits. Each serves a purpose.

However, when all three levels come together in one powerful and “best” SEO audit, you gain a solid understanding of where your website is today, where it can be tomorrow, and what needs to be done to get it there.

Let’s look at these three levels in detail, starting with the “good.”

The “Good” SEO Audit

Let’s start with the most basic SEO audit.

Mostly automated, this type of SEO audit uses a software tool. The software examines your website against a set of SEO factors and generates a list of things to fix.

Most often, businesses themselves use these tools to do simple self-audits. But this type of audit tends to be superficial.

What’s lacking here is the knowledge behind the recommendations. You might receive a brief explanation, but understanding the “why” behind the suggestion can be unclear.

Add to that the fact that every business and website is unique. The tool may say “X” is a problem — but is it really a problem for your site’s situation? And how much priority should you give to it?

The “best” SEO audit’s power lies in its expert analysis and strategic recommendations.
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For example, if you’re seeing a traffic loss, a tool-generated report offers no understanding of why. Is there a search engine penalty involved? Could projects that your team is running, like a redesign, be affecting rankings?

The self-audit tool doesn’t take into consideration any number of important things that could be impacting your SEO.

Still, it does serve the purpose of a quick-and-dirty website review. And you can send the recommendations to your developer team to make quick fixes.

Software tools generally contribute to any SEO audit procedure, though the more comprehensive audits give much more insight.

SEO Audit Tools I Recommend

Below I’ve listed five software products I like for SEO audit work. They have both free and paid versions, so the price can range from $0 to several hundred dollars per month for a tool subscription.

1. Nibbler (My Favorite)
Nibbler is my preferred auditing tool. It looks at everything from on-page factors to back-end considerations, breadth of content, mobile factors, freshness and more.

Nibbler audit tool screenshot

1. Nibbler report example

Nibbler’s free version limits you to three reports for five webpages per test. But it offers a paid version that opens up the report to 100-plus pages. This more comprehensive reporting comes in between $50 and $120 per month.

2. SEO-Detective
SEO-Detective is a free tool that analyzes a site one webpage at a time against more than 20 factors, including Alexa rank, server information, keywords and more.

SEO-detective tool screen shot

2. SEO-detective sample report

3. SEOptimer
SEOptimer audit data is available in multiple languages and covers everything from on-page SEO factors to usability and accessibility. It prides itself on speed (being able to analyze a site in 30 seconds or less), and allows users to customize and white label reports.

SEOptimer sample result

3. SEOptimer tool screenshot

Paid plans for SEOptimer run from $29 to $59 per month, and you can run a report for free and download the data when you sign up for a 14-day free trial.

4. UpCity
UpCity offers an SEO “report card” that covers things like ranking and on-site analysis including links, trust metrics and accessibility.

UpCity sample report

4. UpCity’s sample report

The report card is a free feature. It’s wrapped into their paid SEO software aimed at agencies at $150 to $800 per month.

5. WebPageTest.org
WebPageTest is a free tool that is useful for verifying or identifying speed issues.

WebPageTest.org audit tool screen shot

5. WebPageTest.org screen shot

As you can see, these five SEO auditing tools cover many best-practice SEO tactics. After accessing the data, you should make recommended changes where it makes sense for your website.

The downside is that these tools do not listen to your business and website problems, nor do they dive deeper into the data. That is the next level of auditing that I will cover.

In an SEO audit, the human insights piece makes a great difference if you want to understand major SEO issues impacting the site.
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The “Better” SEO Audit

Level 2 SEO audits are better because they typically involve an SEO vendor or SEO practitioner.

The vendor or practitioner will likely use a software tool such as those I outlined in the previous section. In addition, they can:

  • Listen to you and learn about your business situation, goals, and past SEO decisions that may be impacting your website.
  • Analyze your Google Analytics and Google Search Console data for more insights.
  • Manually identify SEO issues that are below the surface and not easily recognizable by a tool.

This deeper dive can often result in problem identification, sometimes very quickly. You’ll receive important explanations of what’s behind the data uncovered in analytics and auditing tools.

What to Expect from a Level 2 Audit

Some of the things an audit like this may discover are:

Your content is not good enough. Software can only do so much to analyze content (for example, word count or reading score). A human can compare your website content to your competitors‘ pages that are ranking in the search results. Such an evaluation can pinpoint where you have room for improvement.

Your website design is bad. A software tool won’t be able to tell you that you have an ugly, hard-to-navigate website. It won’t notice that you have a bunch of junk code that’s preventing search engine spiders from doing their job. Having expert eyes on the overall development and design to identify SEO problems is key.

Your inbound link profile is poisoned. There are many reasons why a link profile can go bad. A website that has been around for a while has probably had multiple webmasters. During that time, the rules of SEO may have changed, or those responsible may not have understood Google guidelines. Whatever the reason, it’s the SEO auditor’s job to interpret potential spam issues hurting the site.

Your server is way too slow. Google cares about how long it takes to get information from your webpage, and says it should display in 200 milliseconds or less. An older study found a correlation between an increased “time to first byte” and decreased search rankings.

To clarify, a tool can certainly check page load time. But is the reported load time normal among your competitors? And have you lost traffic due to delays? An audit tool cannot tell you the answers. But they’re crucial to deciding how to prioritize your slowness issues.

In a Level 2 SEO audit, the human insights piece makes a great difference if you want to understand major SEO issues impacting the site.

If you engage with an SEO vendor, know that the price varies greatly depending upon the issue prompting the audit, site complexity, and the size of the agency’s SEO checklist.

Here’s the rub: Most audits at this level are little more than a problem list without solutions. Those fixes are yours to research.

Normally, a reasonable “better” audit by a professional as described here ranges from $3,000 to $12,000 (USD). This covers a one-time review; afterwards, the engagement is typically over. You can compare this against the cost and the need to employ an SEO analyst in-house.

At the end of the day, all three levels of SEO audits can be useful. Something is better than nothing.
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The “Best” SEO Audit

Each level of audit has its place based on a business’s needs and budget. Luckily, you have options.

At the “best” auditing level, you engage with an SEO vendor that has explicit knowledge of how to perform a thorough technical and strategic SEO website audit. You want to choose an agency that makes audits a core business specialty and has enough hours available to do it (up to 100 hours or more).

Commonly, a Level 3 audit takes advantage of the kinds of tools I’ve mentioned for the other levels. Tools improve the process. But the “best” SEO audit’s power lies in its expert analysis and strategic recommendations.

What to Expect from the Best SEO Audit

A technical SEO audit at this level uncovers everything in the first two levels of auditing, plus it delivers the following:

  • Expert knowledge. The most comprehensive audit means you’re working with a senior SEO analyst with many years of experience versus a junior analyst doing a more “by-the-book” review. The senior analyst will be apprised of any algorithm changes (known or suspected) as well that may be impacting the site.
  • Competitive research. The auditor makes a comprehensive review of not only your website, but also competitor websites. This will help create a strategic roadmap of how to compete in the search results based on those that are ranking already.
  • New opportunities. The audit will include in-depth keyword analysis that will expose new opportunities for search visibility based on a business’s goals. This can be paired with a new SEO-friendly site architecture that works to improve a website’s authority through the structure of its content.
  • Prioritization & guidance. The auditor will not only identify the problem and describe exactly why it’s important based on Google’s guidelines, but also explain how to resolve it. You should receive in-depth instructions on how to implement solutions, complete with a priority list of what to tackle first.

You can expect an SEO vendor at this level to spend a lot of time researching and analyzing – sometimes over 100 hours depending on the website – in order be as thorough as necessary.

At that level of labor, these audits often start at $20,000 and can exceed $50,000 for very large ecommerce sites. (Side note: You can learn more about the cost of SEO and what goes into the price tags.)


Our search marketing agency mostly does the “best” audits; we also run many auditing tools and tasks internally over the course of every project. Let us know if we can help your business.

At the end of the day, all three levels of SEO audits can be useful. In other words, something is better than nothing.

If you’re deciding which type will work best for you, consider these factors:

  • The age and complexity of your website
  • Problems you’re experiencing, such as severe traffic loss
  • Your budget
  • Projects on the horizon (for example, a site redesign), and more.

In all cases, expect to make improvements to your site following an SEO audit.

Bottom line: Making the right changes uncovered in a technical SEO audit WILL help you compete in the search results.

I want to know: Have you ever had a “best” level of SEO audit, and what were your results? Tell me in the comments below.

Source:: bruceclay.com

The Always Up-to-Date SEO Checklist


The Always Up-to-Date SEO Checklist was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is an evolving discipline that’s rooted in both best practices and trending strategies. So we have to keep updating this SEO checklist — and occasionally rewrite it entirely, as I’ve done today.

One checklist can’t uncover everything an individual business should do when it comes to SEO and its website. But it’s very helpful to use alongside your SEO tools to ensure you’re covering the basics of a tactical SEO roadmap.

I hope you’ll find it to be a helpful reminder of the many items to check during your SEO projects.

I’ve divided the SEO checklist into sections, so jump around as needed:

Content Optimization

Many of us already knew by the time Google confirmed it: Content is one of the top three ranking signals (out of hundreds). If you do nothing else, your content strategy is an essential part of your online success.

1. Target Audience Research
This is a biggie: Know your target audience, the questions they have, and their pain points. Knowing what questions they ask and what types of queries they might ask Google helps inform your keyword research.

This, in turn, will help you create content that answers those questions and solves their pain points. (You’ll use keywords you select as a basis for this content — one main keyword topic per webpage — but more on that shortly.)

Understanding searcher intent is an important step in crafting content. Answering typical questions your target audience might have also helps your page be found for voice search queries.

2. Keyword Strategy and Research
Keyword research needs to be an ongoing process. It starts by identifying a focus phrase or two for the topic you want to write about (using your preferred tools — there are dozens of good ones out there).

When you have a keyword phrase in mind for a page or a section of your site, check it in Google search. View the top results, the “People also ask” questions, and the rest of the search engine results page. This SERP provides your best clues to what is actually the searcher intent for this query. Make sure your content fulfills what searchers want when looking for this keyword, or look for a more appropriate keyword phrase.

I could write volumes about this topic; just know that keyword research is part of any solid SEO checklist. Our SEO Tutorial will get you started and includes a free version of the SEOToolSet Keyword Suggestion Tool.

3. Word Count
The amount of content you need on a webpage varies by topic, keyword, competition and the intent of the query (read about the three types of search queries to the right).

How many words is enough? There’s no black and white rule. To determine an approximate minimum page length, look at the top-ranked URLs for a keyword you’re targeting. How long are those pages? (Note: A tool like our SEOToolSet Multi Page Analyzer comes in handy for this kind of analysis.)

Averaging the top competitors gives you a ballpark for what a search engine probably considers the normal word count for that topic. It’s safe to say that informational webpages almost always warrant more text, at least 450 words.

Quality content is key. Google’s Panda algorithm detects low-quality content and demotes its rankings. So avoid thin content and focus on robust coverage of your website topics that proves your subject matter expertise.

3 Main Types of Search Queries

1. Transactional

These queries happen when a user intends to buy something now. Searching for the exact brand and model of a product, for instance, suggest the intention to buy.

2. Informational

These are research-oriented queries. Sometimes research is done in advance of a future transaction. For example, a search for “best electric toothbrushes” indicates that the searcher will probably purchase one in the near future.

3. Navigational

Navigational queries help a searcher get somewhere, whether online or in the physical world. Searching for the name of a restaurant, for example, will get the user to that restaurant’s website, phone number, or physical address.

4. Call to Action (CTA)
For each of your pages, ask yourself what the user would need/want to do from here. Then make it easy to do!

Your key pages should make it clear what primary action a visitor can take next. On a product page, the CTA to “add to cart” or “start a free trial” should be prominent. On a service page, the CTA might be “call” or “get a quote.” Make the CTA clear and easy to select. On the homepage, help the visitor to take the next step in your conversion funnel.

The actual language of a CTA should be active (usually an imperative verb). The placement and design of the CTA should draw the visitor’s attention. But test variations to see what works best for you.

A page doesn’t have to be transactional in nature to warrant a call to action. If an informational page is a top-performing traffic driver, such as a blog post that answers a common question or an FAQ page, the call to action might encourage the visitor to “find out more” or enter the conversion funnel.

5. Content Freshness
Make sure to periodically review your content (webpages and blog posts) to make sure that the information is up to date.

For example, this very checklist is regularly refreshed. SEO best practices have to evolve as search engine guidelines and technology do. If your industry also moves quickly, your content needs to keep up.

From Google’s Search Quality Raters Guidelines (PDF):

“… unmaintained/abandoned ‘old‘ websites or unmaintained and inaccurate/misleading content is a reason for a low E-A-T [expertise, authority and trustworthiness] rating.”

What’s on your site that needs a refresh? Update it!

6. Static Content on Homepage
Your homepage acts as a central hub to pass authority to top pages on your site through internal links. It’s probably also where people land most often when they search for your brand or main products/services.

It’s important to have static text that talks about your brand and top theme(s) on the homepage.
If you have a homepage with content that constantly changes, such as nothing but headlines, it can dilute the theme of your site. This results in poor rankings for key terms. So try to maintain sections of consistent text on the homepage.

7. Duplicate Content
Do a search to see if your content exists elsewhere on the web. You may want to check out CopyScape.com and use it regularly. If your site appears to have copied content from another source, that’s a low-quality signal to search engines and may cause your site to rank lower. Similarly, if other sites have copied your content, it could be a problem from an SEO standpoint.

If you have duplicate content within your site, such as three URLs with the same content, a search engine will filter out the dupes. Only one will display in results for relevant queries — and the page that Google chooses might not be the page that you want to rank.

On-Page Optimization

Review each important page, from the homepage to a high-priority product page, with an eye to the following issues.

8. Title Tag
In general, title tags should be about 9 words (+/– 3). You want to make sure that each page’s title tag is unique and describes the most important information about your page. Include the top keyword so that it appears before the cutoff in the SERP, which for Google is approximately 70 characters including spaces.

Remember, the title tag often becomes the title that searchers see in search results. Both the title and description text can influence click-throughs to your site. So craft compelling tags. You don’t want to waste your prime real estate in the SERP with boring copy.

9. Description Tag
The meta description tag should also include the most important information and keywords near the beginning. If the search engine chooses to display your description text, it will include approximately 24 words or 160 characters with spaces.

Keep in mind that Google reserves the right to replace your meta description text with a search snippet generated from Google, which is usually pulled from the page’s body content. A search snippet appears instead of the meta description whenever Google deems the snippet of text more relevant for a given search.

10. Keywords Tag
The meta keywords tag is not a ranking consideration for Google, but we still advocate putting the page’s main keywords in this tag. It’s also a good location for misspellings of your key terms.

The keywords tag is valid HTML code that gets indexed with the page. We’ve tested this repeatedly and found that, in cases where a specific query string does not exist elsewhere on the web, Google will search its index and find the page containing that string in its meta keywords tag.

11. Heading Tags
Headings allow a reader to see the main sections and points of a page. They give visual cues for how body content is organized. They also signal to search engines and readers what topics are covered on a page.

As a technical point, make sure the first heading tag within the body of a page is an

. The following heading tags can be



, etc., and should be used like a page’s table of contents.

Navigation elements and other global text should be styled with CSS and not heading tags (watch our Ask Us Anything video for more about this).

12. Image Optimization
Images greatly enhance your pages. Content needs visual elements to break up the text and keep a reader interested.

Images also provide additional ranking opportunities through image searches and blended web search results.

Images can slow down a page’s loading time. To reduce file size and to increase speed as much as possible, resize the files to their display size rather than uploading the original file and making the browser shrink it. Also, include width and height attributes in image tags.

File names should describe the image and include a keyword. You can also optimize the caption and the text surrounding an image to reinforce what the image is about.

13. Alt Attributes
Make sure to include an alt attribute with each image. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) says that a website should always describe the image on a page for the vision impaired.

Accessibility is important to Google, and having alt attributes is a primary indicator that your site is accessible.

As an SEO checklist item, ensure that your images have accurate alt text that, if appropriate, includes a keyword for the page. Alt attributes are also required of validated HTML code (per W3C standards).

14. Video Optimization
Videos are powerful engagement objects that add multimedia interest to keep visitors on your page longer. Highly consumable content, videos give you additional SEO benefits and social sharing opportunities.

Optimize your videos to be found in search. Video content provides ranking opportunities both in regular searches and in video-only search engines where they’re uploaded, especially YouTube.

Like images, embedded videos can slow down the load of a page. There’s a slew of optimization best practices for YouTube, Vimeo and other video hosting sites. Read our guide on 10 video SEO tips to improve SERP rank.

15. Structured Data Markup
Structured data clarifies for the search engine what content on your page is about. Specifically, it helps the search engines understand what type of information you’re presenting.

For example, you could use structured data markup to indicate an upcoming event your business is hosting, specifying its date, time, location, and other details. If Google is clear about what’s what on your site, then additional bits of information have the potential to show up in your search results.

Google search result showing event data

Example Google search result showing structured data for events

Google’s guidelines outline the three supported formats:

  • JSON-LD (recommended)
  • Microdata
  • RDFa

Google requires your markup to include all of the required properties for an object to be eligible for enhancements in your SERP listing. To make sure you’ve done it right, check your page or code snippet using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. For more on how to implement structured data on your site, check out How to Use Schema Markup to Improve Your Website Visibility in Search.

16. More Structured Data
Besides the schema markup we just mentioned, there are other ways you can structure data to make it more digestible for search engines.

  • HTML tables
  • Bulleted lists
  • Ordered lists
  • Table of contents at the top
  • Headings that contain a key term or question, followed by the answer in body text
  • TL;DR (“too long, didn’t read”) summary near the top of your article

All of these structural formats can help people read your content more easily. They also encourage Google to use your content in featured snippets. Google gives more information about structured data in the search results here.

17. Social Meta Tags
Social markup, or social meta tags, refers to the code used to enhance content on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Pinterest. Content in these tags dictates what image and text will show up when someone posts a link to your content on a social network.

By specifying social markup in your HTML, you can ensure you look your best on social media. Facebook Open Graph tags, Twitter Card markup and Pinterest Rich Pins are the major social markup tags. Click through if you want more details on each platform’s options:

18. URL Optimization
Use dashes rather than underscores in page URLs. Underscores are alpha characters and do not separate words. Dashes (or rather, hyphens) are word separators, but should not appear too many times or it could look spammy. For more on this topic, check out this post by Google’s Matt Cutts (an oldie but a goodie).

You also want URLs to be descriptive and contain keywords, without being spammy. And shorter URLs are preferable to long URLs.

19. Fully Qualified Links
If you make your internal links fully qualified, there’s no question by search engine spiders, browsers, etc., as to where the file is located and what it’s about. If your link looks something like “../../pagename” (a relative link), then it may cause crawl issues for some search engines.

Rather than relative URLs, use fully qualified links (beginning with http:// or https://). Note that your sitemap should always have fully qualified URLs.

20. Make JavaScript and CSS External
You want to be sure the most important code is the first thing the search engine bots crawl. Work to remove unnecessary lines of code above the body text by externalizing JavaScript and CSS code that gets in the way of keyword-rich content.

Externalizing these files also can speed up your page load time, which plays a role in Google’s ranking algorithm.

Local Optimization

Businesses with a local brick-and-mortar presence or local service areas have a special set of SEO factors to pay attention to. Here are a couple important steps.

21. Claim Google My Business Listing
A Google My Business listing is free and is a critical first step for local brick-and-mortars and businesses with service areas. A Google My Business listing can enable your site to show up in Google Maps, the local pack of Google Search results, and Knowledge Graph panels for your business.

Knowledge Graph box for Bruce Clay, Inc.

A Knowledge Graph panel shows information from your Google My Business listing.

There’s a lot more involved in local SEO, but claiming your listing in Google My Business and in Bing Places gets you started.

22. Local Schema Markup
Local businesses can benefit from on-page schema markup related to their business. (You can browse the available codes at schema.org. Especially important for all businesses is the NAP + W code, which designates the business’s name, address, phone number and website.

Check out my list of other local search ranking factors.

Mobile Optimization

We’re truly living in a mobile-first world. Businesses need to ensure that their websites cater to the mobile browsing experience. This is made more important with the rollout of Google’s mobile-first index. Now, Google prioritizes the mobile version of your content when it comes to indexing and ranking.

As an SEO checklist to-do, make sure you’re using a mobile-first strategy. I’ve listed a few specifics below.

23. Mobile Usability
Search engines are invested in providing users a great mobile experience. See how your site is performing on mobile devices with the Mobile Usability Report, located within Google Search Console.

Google's Mobile Usability Report

This report lets you know if your touch elements are too close, if your content is sized to the viewport, your Flash usage, font size and more.

You can also use Fetch as Google within the Crawl section of Google Search Console (old version) to render your site the way Google sees it on different mobile devices.

Fetch as Google report

Lastly, you can run important URLs through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test for developers. Similarly, Bing offers a Mobile Friendliness Test Tool.

Page load speed is also a ranking factor, especially for mobile. Skip to Site Speed & Performance in this SEO checklist for the tools to check page speed.

24. Mobile and Voice-Related Keywords
When was the last time you tried a voice search for your keywords? Try to find your business and competitors as your customer would with a voice search. Consider:

  • Are you coming up for relevant voice search terms like “[keyword] near me”?
  • Are you accounting for searches formed as questions or full sentences? (These are more and more common with the advance of voice queries.)

Check out our articles on voice search optimization and mobile SEO for guidance.

25. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
Accelerated Mobile Pages, known as AMP for short, is an open source project that enables webpages to load instantly for mobile users.

Since its inception, AMP has added more features to support a variety of websites including e-commerce, publishers and advertisers. Because of the visibility of Google’s AMP carousel, AMP pages may get more visibility in the mobile search results.

Check out our high-level overview of AMP to investigate whether AMP might benefit your site.

Sitewide Optimization

Google’s Quality Rating Guidelines (here’s a PDF of the most recent version) introduced the terminology E-A-T to the SEO community. A shorthand way of referring to expertise, authority and trustworthiness as the top indicators of page quality, E-A-T is now a pillar of search engine optimization.

A website as a whole should signal expertise, authority and trust while conveying subject relevance and optimizing for search engine accessibility. While your basic content strategy is a big piece of this (see the Content Optimization section, above), the following items help support E-A-T.

26. Contact Information
An explicit E-A-T signal, a site’s contact information, such as a phone number and address, should be clearly visible on the site. The search engines expect that a trustworthy site will provide this.

27. Testimonials
Another E-A-T signal, testimonials located on your site support your authority as a business and your value to your customer base. Testimonials are great for signaling your value to your human visitors, too!

28. Privacy Statement
Having a privacy statement on your site is considered a trust signal for the search engines. A privacy statement lets site visitors know what you’re doing with any data you collect about them.

In addition to bolstering your trust with Google and Bing, offering a privacy statement is a best practice. Privacy laws such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (aka GDPR) require many sites to clarify their privacy policies, have visitors opt in to allow data collection, and more. If you have not yet researched GDPR, which went into effect in spring 2018, you should.

29. Text Navigation
Verify that there is text navigation within your site. You want text links, which are more SEO-friendly than, say, using images for menu items. Make sure you have text navigation at least on the bottom of the page if there aren’t any crawlable navigation links in the top menu. This is a search engine accessibility issue.

30. Sitemaps
Your site should have an HTML sitemap (see Google’s sitemap info). Every page should link to that sitemap, probably in the footer.

You should also have an XML sitemap that you submit to search engines. If you already have sitemaps, check and update them regularly to make sure they contain the pages that are currently active on your site.

You can learn how to create a sitemap for users and search engines to easily access all areas of your site in our SEO Tutorial.

31. Robots.txt File
The robots.txt file tells the search engine spiders what not to index. It’s important that this file exists, even if it’s empty. Also make sure the file doesn’t accidentally exclude important files, directories, or the entire site. (This has been known to happen!)

32. Linking Strategy
This section warrants way more than just a few sentences, but it should be noted as part of the SEO checklist. Your internal linking structure typically stems from your siloing strategy, which is vitally important to establishing relevance for SEO.

In addition, your inbound/outbound links should be part of an organic, natural strategy in compliance with search engine guidelines. As part of site maintenance, monitor your link profile regularly.

33. Server Configuration
Regularly check your server looking for 404 errors, improper 301 redirects and other errors. You can use the Check Server Page Tool to monitor your web server for errors (free tool, no sign-in required).

34. Static URLs
Complex, dynamic URLs can be a problem. If your site has any of the following, consider converting your URLS to static URLs:

  • More than two query string parameters
  • Dynamic pages that aren’t getting indexed
  • A lot of duplicate content getting indexed

You can also use mod_rewrite or ISAPI_rewrite as appropriate to simplify URLs. Rewritten URLs will appear to be static URLs. This tends to be a lot of work, but is a surefire way to address this issue. You can also use the canonical tag to tell search engines which page is intended to be indexed as the canonical version.

35. No Spam Tactics
Make sure your SEO strategy is following Google Webmaster Guidelines and Bing Webmaster Guidelines. If ever in doubt about any of your tactics, you can also refer to what Google recommends for SEO.

Webmaster Tools

What’s an SEO without their tools to surface data that leads to analysis? Just remember, there’s a difference between data and wisdom. SEO tools can help you discover what’s going on with your site, but plotting an action plan requires an understanding of SEO.

Bruce Clay’s SEO team can help you strategize effectively. If you want expert assistance, ask us for a free quote!

36. Web Analytics
No question — analytics data is important for SEO. Ensure your analytics are properly set up and monitor them regularly to find out if the keywords generating traffic are in your keyword list, and if your site is optimized for them. A ranking monitor (such as the one in our SEOToolSet) is also useful to track SEO changes across search engines.

Our SEO Tutorial unpacks the role of analytics in the step How to Monitor Your SEO Progress.

37. Webmaster Tools Accounts
Webmaster tools accounts for Google and Bing give site owners insight into how search engines view their sites. These free tools collect data and provide essential reports on issues like what search queries bring traffic to your site, crawl errors you need to fix, and penalty notifications.

38. Manual Penalty Review
If a manual penalty has been levied against you, Google will report it to you within Google Search Console. Check the Manual Actions Report and the Search Console message center. Read more about dealing with manual penalty actions.

You can also find out if you’ve suffered a penalty from Bing. Review the Index Summary chart with the dashboard of Bing Webmaster Tools. If the number of pages for a given site is set at zero, you have been hit with a penalty.

39. Algorithm Updates
If your site is running Google Analytics, use the Panguin Tool to check your traffic levels against known algorithmic updates. If you see any drops or rises in search referrer traffic at a time that coincide with Penguin, Panda and other known algorithm updates, you may be affected by a penalty. Read more about penalty assessment and recovery.

Google is changing its algorithm all the time. Recently, RankBrain and machine learning — powered by artificial intelligence technology — is changing the search results. While optimization for AI is not as straightforward as checking for traffic drops, familiarize yourself with the real impact of RankBrain and my recent post on preparing for the near future of SEO.

40. Site Speed and Performance
Check PageSpeed Insights in Google Search Console or use tools like GTmetrix.com to analyze and improve a website’s performance on desktop and mobile devices.

Google PageSpeed Insights tool
For more on improving page speed, read our Page Speed Issues Overview for SEO.

Want more SEO tips? Our online SEO Tutorial teaches you search engine optimization step-by-step, and it’s free!

Source:: bruceclay.com