SEO Checklist: Free Ways Google Helps You Improve Your SEO
Let’s face it. SEO is not a “once and done” task. You must commit to ongoing work, testing, and optimizations if you want your website to improve its performance in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). And while building a top-ranking site is never quick or easy, there are many things you can do to your website to help it rank higher for your selected keywords.
One of the easiest and least expensive ways to boost your site’s SEO is by becoming more familiar with the wide range of free tools from Google. Did you know that Google not only ranks your site, it also has tons of 100 percent free tools to help you test, evaluate, and refine your SEO? It’s true. Here our list of top Google tools (all free, free, free!) that can help you make sure your site is search engine optimized.
1. Make Sure Your Site is Connected to Google Analytics
Even if you choose to analyze your site traffic and performance in other ways, connecting your site to Google Analytics is an easy way to access a wide array of analytical tools for your site, including an analysis of page indexing and reports on pages that have been crawled. It’s all free and pretty easy to use, even for beginners. If you haven’t connected your website to Google Analytics yet, set aside 15 minutes to get it done ASAP. Click here to learn how.
2. Check if all Pages Have Been Indexed
Once you’ve got your site connected to Google Analytics, go to Google, and type in site:yourdomain.com. For example, for our site, we would type in site:cupocontent.com. At the top of the search results, you’ll see how many pages have been indexed.
If there’s a discrepancy between Google’s number and the number of pages on your site, you have some work to do. Too few pages mean some pages have not been indexed. Too many pages mean you have duplicate pages on your site.
3. Test Your Site’s Download Speed
Google knows that more than half of all people access websites via smartphones or mobile devices. For this reason, Google ranks sites with slow mobile downloads lower. Still, some web developers continue to create websites that work best on desktops. If you want to find out if your site is mobile-friendly and compliant with Google’s standards for download times, you can check in out on this free Google mobile site speed test.
If your site speed is slow, keep scrolling down on the same page. You’ll see an option from Google to get a free report with recommendations on how to improve your site’s speed.
You can also use Google Analytics to check the speed of your site page by page. Here’s how:
Navigate to your website’s Google Analytics page.
Click on “Behaviors” in the lefthand column.
Click on the “Site Speed” in the dropdown menu.
Now you’ll see that you can analyze the speed of your site and pages in many ways.
Click on the numbers in the “Page Speed Suggestions” column to see detailed recommendations for improving that page’s load speed
4. Check for Duplicate Content
Google doesn’t like sites that duplicate content in order to load up on keywords, so it penalizes sites for duplicated content, on and off the site. However, Google does recognize that some types of sites need a limited amount of duplicate content and that there are reasons to duplicate content on other sites. According to Google, exceptions may include:
Discussion forums that can generate both regular and stripped-down pages targeted at mobile devices
Store items shown or linked via multiple distinct URLs
Printer-only versions of web pages
If your site’s duplicate content falls into these categories use canonicalization to indicate your preferred URL to Google. Read more about that here.
If you have duplicate content outside of those examples, it’s smart to get rid of it if you can. It’s not enough to tell Google not to index it (that can also result in a ranking demerit.) Instead, see if it qualifies for canonicalization.
Syndication materials (content from your site that is published elsewhere) is not necessarily a problem for Google if you follow their best practices,
Syndicate carefully: If you syndicate your content on other sites, Google will always show the version we think is most appropriate for users in each given search, which may or may not be the version you'd prefer. However, it is helpful to ensure that each site on which your content is syndicated includes a link back to your original article. You can also ask those who use your syndicated material to use the noindex meta tag to prevent search engines from indexing their version of the content.
5. Watch out for Boilerplate Repetition.
Instead of including lengthy legal text or copyright disclaimers on the bottom of multiple pages.
6. Fix Broken Links
Google doesn’t like sites that are not working at full capacity since they don’t provide a good user experience. That’s why Google will ding your site (ranking it lower) if they discover broken links on your website. Fixing broken links is one way to boost your SEO.
Not sure if your website page links are all working? Using Google Chrome, search for “Broken Link Checker.” It’s free to download, and it can scan a single page or an entire website site. The app provides a broken links report within a few minutes.
7. Create or Update Your Google Business Listing
According to Google, using Google My Business does improve your Google ranking. If you have not set up your business, do it now. It is free to use and easy to set up. In addition to claiming your business, you can also look for (and eliminate) duplicate or incorrect listings of your business. All you need is a valid business address. Note that you can’t get a verified Google Business listing if you operate using a P.O. Box or a rental apartment as your business address.
Once you fill out the information requested in the online form, Google will verify your location by sending a letter to your business address and asking you to use the information in that letter to verify your listing online.
Because mailed verification is needed to activate the account, it may take several days before you are able to complete the process and get your Google Business listing published.
8. Get Google Reviews
Once you have a free Google My Business listing, you can ask your customers to submit reviews for your business. Positive reviews are signals to Google that your business is well-run, trustworthy, and valuable to customers. Google also tends to rank businesses with lots of Google reviews higher than businesses with fewer numbers of Google reviews.
Although all kinds of online reviews are valuable for your business, experts agree that Google reviews are most helpful if you want to increase your search ranking.
Want to Learn More?
Google offers an enormous amount of free information about SEO and optimizing your site for search. But if you don’t have that kind of time, contact us and we’ll walk you through it, or do it all for you. Your choice.
Want to learn more about SEO? Check out these articles.