5 Tools for Evaluating Your Website
Evaluating your website is common practice for every search engine optimiser, but where should you start? Can too much information be over powering and is it really important to evaluate your website regularly?
When you first take a look at your website you’re faced with a number of different questions – how can I gain more traffic? I want more enquiries, where will they come from? What do I need to do to achieve page one on Google for my chosen search terms? These are important web marketing questions.
The answers to achieving your search engine goals is in the finer detail, predominantely obtained through evaluation.
It’s important to create a strategy on how you’ll achieve success through your website, even before you start to change your on-site SEO or build relationships with other websites.
Evaluate your competitors
Speaking to clients on a frequent basis, they’ll say, “SEO is a dark art, it’s all cloak and mirrors”, when in reality it’s not. It’s a scientific process. It starts and ends with evaluation, with every tweak, change and amendment made to enhance the website’s likelihood of reaching page one on Google for specific phrases.
While naturally being listed on Google’s page one isn’t a guarantee for your search terms, the techniques to achieve success are all proven to work, so you’re effectively replicating a process.
Evaluating a website, whether it’s your own or a competitor’s, helps you to understand what needs attention and build a strategy with the goal of improving a website’s search engine traffic. For example, competitors on page one for your search term, how many links do they have coming into their website compared to your own? Are there backlinks broken on your website? Are you gaining the traffic to your website but it’s not converting into enquiries? Are there on-site errors which stop search engines giving you the credit you feel your website deserves?
Evaluation Tools & Techniques for Websites
There are five key evaluation tools we use on a regular basis to improve our understanding of the websites we manage. The five tools are:
1. MOZ (moz.com/researchtools/ose/): My favourite website application is Moz.com and their Open Site Explorer (OSE) tool. This application delivers insight into your own and competitor websites. It shows page and domain authority of a website and the links coming into the site. It highlights the most powerful pages, the anchor text in links, spam analysis and you can compare variables across multiple websites, which is useful for competitor analysis.
The OSE system is ideal to understand where competitors are obtaining links.
2. SERPLAB (www.serplab.co.uk): We’ve used a number of different keyword ranking tools over the years but we’re impressed by SERPLAB. This tool helps you to evaluate where your website ranks on specific search engines for your chosen phrases. It provides search volumes and the page where your website was found. The data is stored and can be exported to evaluate the changes over time.
This tool is free to use and you only need to upgrade if you begin to use they system more frequently or require an additional level of support. For one website, checking the keywords every 24 hours and with less than 30 key phrases, SERPLAB is a great place to start. We use it for all of our clients and it saves our team manually checking where our websites rank on Google.
3. Google Analytics (analytics.google.com): Tried, tested and trusted, Google Analytics can provide a wealth of information about your website. Key information is how people are reaching your website, how long they stay, whether they complete one of your goals (e.g. complete the enquiry form) and how many pages they visit.
Google Analytics is essential for every website and it’s free!
4. Dead Link Checker (www.deadlinkchecker.com): The dead link checker is great for evaluating your website on a regular basis. It’s easy to insert a link to your website and get it wrong, which then creates an error message, such as “Page cannot be reached”! The Dead Link Checker helps identify these links so you can correct or remove the link in question. We run the Dead Link Checker frequently because pages that were once live can be moved are changed. Dead links certainly don’t help your website or the user experience, so it’s important to fix these.
5. Screaming Frog (www.screamingfrog.co.uk): I’d recommend downloading Screaming Frog as a tool to evaluate your website. This software reviews your entire website and compares everything from your Alt tags in images to your duplicate page titles. There’s a free version which reviews up to 500 pages, or for larger websites you can pay for a professional licence.
Free Evaluation of Websites
Every tool we use can be utilised for free if you’re an individual looking to manage your own SEO. By understanding what you’re website does well and what needs improved, you’re creating a strategy to improve your website’s ranking. Making positive amendments to your website will enhance your website’s search engine position, but they are not instant fixes. You should allow time for search engines to trust your website after the changes have been made.
This is not an exhaustive list of evaluation tools and techniques for search engine optimisation and certainly, too much information can be difficult to assess. However, find a balance and regularly (weekly or monthly) review how your website is performing alongside the changes your making.