Edwards Inspire

Blue and grey Edwards Inspire company logo with a beautiful blue butterfly representing digital transformation

Understanding your SEO audit report (in plain English), so you know what you can actually do to improve and go up the Google rankings

Yes, there are other search engine tools out there, but really, who uses them now? Unless, you’re talking about AI search tools like ChatGPT or syndication AI like Figma, then “ops” sorry, we don’t know how those works of art work, yet. But, according to ChatGPT (thanks) Google  has over 90% of the search traffic as of 2021 and increased to 92.05% in 2022, so Google is still a safe bet.

SEO can cover many areas and assuming you’re not starting from scratch, you’ll need to know how you’re currently doing, to identify what to change, but also a strategy for creating new content going forward to assure you continue to go up the search rankings. Now, this is essentially a lot to cover in just one article, so instead, we are going to cover it in over several.

Starting with going through an audit report, so you’ll understand what all the different elements mean, either to update them yourself, or to help guide your web content writer or developer on what to update. These reports are handy in identifying your current state of play, e.g. how good are you doing now with your content and getting it seen by Google?

Then in a subsequent article, or articles, depending on everyone’s interest (feel free to let us know what you want us to cover in contact us).

We are going to talk about how you can identify and use keywords that maximize your chances of being found. Considering what you offer,  how your customers may look for this information, as people have many ways of saying the same thing, and how you can present this content to drive reach and engagement. Helping you to capture what you need to do going forward to assure you stay up there on the Google rankings.

So onto our first article in this SEO series to help you with your holistic SEO change

Starting with our SEO report - what is it and more importantly, what is it telling me, in plain English, to do to improve my current situation?

Slick computer monitor and mobile screens with different colours and sections representing an SEO report

In essence, it tells you how well you are doing in terms of the tech changes and content you can put in place to give you the best chance for getting up the list on Google search. 

However, and this is an important point, it still doesn’t guarantee you will get on to that first page of the search results, which is really what we are aiming for, because, let’s face it, how many people go to page 2 these days? Hell, I don’t check past the first 3 entries. That’s where your choice of keywords and connecting to them to your content plays and good news is, we cover that in subsequent a article(s).  But for now, let’s get back onto the SEO audit report….

 

There are many different FREE audit report tools out there, just Google “free SEO audit report” and several will come up. And they all seem to cover the key elements (even though they may say it slightly differently), associated with tech & content (at a high-level) improvements you could make. 

For the examples within this article we’re going to use SEOptimer (thanks SEO Optimer). Note, we don’t get a pay out from them, we just like the ease of the tool and layout of the report, well at the moment we do, I say this, as there are new tools emerging all the time.

 

Let's step through the SEO report

If you haven’t guessed already, the big input box is where you would put your website’s URL. 

screenshot of Seoptimer main page with an input box where you would enter your websites URL

Then, as quick as you can say “Bob’s your uncle” you will have an audit report generated and it starts with this overall grading, from A to C, and as you can probably guess, A+ is the best grade.

Ops, naughty us, we have some improvements to make. But, don’t worry, luckily we know what we need to do and how, as SEO is a journey you craft over time, rather than a race to the finish line, especially as that finish line can quickly change with every new search engine update. The key, is to know where you are in the journey and have a content strategy in place to help mitigate search updates, or keyword competitors.

Have you ever heard the saying “content is king”, well that is a very true phrase for SEO and for us, we need some more time creating our content and getting it out there, over time (all at once is not a good strategy for SEO, as you risk Google starting to think it’s out of date when new competing content emerges). We need to release content that resonates with our audience, at the right time, think, “pull” type marketing, rather than “push”. You want the content there, when the customer desires it. But, don’t worry, you can help create this pull with things like social media posts, in fact, it’s important to think of the different media types to help create that desire (your customer reach and awareness), which we will cover in more depth in our next article,

Screenshot of the overall SEO rating, which is a big B- letter in a blue circle. Next to the visual of the Edwards inspire website, the audit was conducted on


The Tech and Content sections of the report - what are they?

Before we go through the remaining sections of the audit report, let’s cover what we mean by Tech & Content, note, we’re not giving the scientific, or Tech expert answer, but instead, a more simplistic, but still reliable way of seeing it

 

so….

 

Tech

Is items like how long it takes your webpage to appear on the screen (aka the page speed load time) and all the different items associated with this that can impact it, whether a “robot” (aka spider, or crawler) can search your website, you have a handy XML site map to make their search easier, or if you have your security certificate (SSL) in place.

 

Content

Is the common keywords you currently use on your pages and in your titles (aka headers), the word count you have on a page (e.g. is it just enough, i.e. not to little and not to much for Google to like you), how you describe your images (e.g. your alt tags), your social connections, other websites linking to your website, as well as if your website looks good on mobile or not (aka device rendering)

 

Let's cover the tech sections first

This isn’t really a tech article and our focus is trying to be non techy and explaining things in plain English, especially as there are enough tech explanations out there. So we’re giving more a high-level overview of this area, just so you know what you or your SEO guru might be talking about….

 

Page load speed (performance)

Several gages, like an old style speedometer in a car. From green to red, indicating the time different elements of a web page take to load

This is how long it takes for your website page, in this case, home page to load. There are different elements that make up a webpage and they measure them separately as you can treat them separately and the report will give you some areas to consider with this grading system, but things to consider are;

The time it takes your hosting environment to respond, this is your server response time. A low cost, shared hosting space, might take longer to load your site, then say a dedicate, more costly service. What’s the saying; you get what you pay for. But watch out, you don’t always need the best and most expensive option, it all depends on how complex your website is. Complex potentially being an ecom site, whilst simple could be a 5 page website with basic images and text. And sometimes it can be as easy as needing to simply optmize your images (i.e. make them smaller with something like TinyJPG or TinyPNG).

Page script, this is different pieces of code and files each page runs before it displays anything, this is an area a tech bod would be best looking at, should you get a bad rating in this area. Sometimes something like CSS (cascading style styles) are used here, which are like your global branding for your website, which is a good thing, and you want to avoid something good “inline” styles where possible as this means it overrides the global branding.

And, “why” is this all important, well Google likes your page to load fast, as well as your customers.

 

Can your website be found easily (i.e. the Robots and XML index)?

a picture of two cute looking AI robots. one in pale blue, the other more silver

An XML site map will help with this, a lot of these can be auto generated when you’ve created your website in a web content management system like WordPress, or you could ask for someone else to do it for you. But in essence, it helps search engines to easily look through all the pages of your website, which is pretty handy if someone searches for something like;  “Edwards Inspire, contact details¨, because I’ve got my XML site map in place, the search engine knows that I’ve got a “contact us” page.

Then you have another techy setting to enable, robots, crawlers (sometimes called spiders and I’m sure many other names we’ve forgotten). You simply enable them to search or not, a bit like an on, or off switch. And again, a lot of content management systems like WordPress enable you to easily enable this within the setting session, like a simple on and off switch.

Google says “it’s safe”, now with a SSL certificate (aka secure socket layer)?

a man in a suit, looking like he is giving a talk and kind of saying no, in front of a background that looks like google

These never used to be compulsory, but were excellent practice and wanted from a customer perspective should you ever enter your own personal details (i.e. your email address, name, etc.) on a contact form, or to download a Whitepaper, or maybe for full online shopping.

But, because Google is such a big player in the search game, they essentially have made them compulsory. Have you noticed “Warning this page is unsafe” type pages when you’ve tried to go to a website? That’s google telling you this website doesn’t have this SSL certificate, you can still continue to the website, but don’t enter any of your details.

You can get them for free now (you used to have to pay for them and some you still do) and most hosting providers will give you one for free. But mind out, the free ones typically need to be renewed. 

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it’s the main areas of tech elements that will help with your SEO ranking with Google.

Now onto the more content sections of the audit report

Every heard the terms H1, H2, or your meta description and wondered what the hell people are talking about? Well, I’m sure you’re not the only one and luckily, we’re here to explain…

 

We like to think of these as, a bit like an ebook

google search results for edwards inspire
an open book with text explaining the comparison of the chapter title and H1, H2 same at the title and H3 sub headers

Your website title, in this case “Edwards Inpsire” as your book title. This very much has to do with your brand identity, a bit like how popular a book is and if it’s well known.

With your metadata (the description part), a bit like a book’s synopsis and you use this to decide if it worth reading or not, or at least have a quick flick through.

Then we have the actual structure of the content, think each web page, is like a chapter of a book (feel free to save the handy visual reference)….

Chapter Title = H1 (header  1) which you should have on each web page

Title’s with the chapter = your H2 (header 2) which are the key sections of a web page, it’s good to have a couple on a page

And Sub titles = your H3s (header 3), which you use to further segment the content, so it really depends how much content you have on a page

 

 

The audit report tells you how well you are doing with all of these and what you can do to improve, for example, your metadata (the book synopsis) will have an ideal word count, but probably a bit more useful and where you can make the most SEO improvement through content updates, is on your headers, the chapter and title’s of the book. And a lot of audit reports will identify if these are present or not (google likes them), plus, what words you currently use within this headers……..these really should contain your keywords (the words customers use to search for you) where possible, as you’re telling google “hey, we really are an authority on this subject, so much so, they are in our  page titles”.

The title section of a web page article, with 2 words, "company change" underlined with a blue line

The audit report tells you how well you are doing with all of these and what you can do to improve, for example, your metadata (the book synopsis) will have an ideal word count, but probably a bit more useful and where you can make the most SEO improvement through content updates, is on your headers, the chapter and title’s of the book. And a lot of audit reports will identify if these are present or not (Google likes them), plus, what words you currently use within this headers……..these really should contain your keywords (the words customers use to search for you) where possible, as you’re telling Google “hey, we really are an authority on this subject, so much so, they are in our  page titles”.

But, no “keyword stuffing” that is bad SEO practice (and Google tells you off), you need to assure the keywords you have used within your page title (H1, H2 onwards) make sense in terms of what you are saying within the article. We’ve taken a screenshot of one of our posts and the underlined words “company change” is a keyword phrase we want to try and win on (note, you will need a mix of keywords, you don’t just bet on one or two, but we will cover than in future articles).

Google also helps to assure that you are an authority on what you talk about, by not only considering the keywords used within it (e.g. the words you want to win on), in viable sentences, but, also in how much content you actually write. And your SEO audit will pick up on if you page copy is too low, now this can actually change with a Google update and there are different answers, which really makes sense, as you get different types of content. But, as a rule of thumb, we aim for at least 800 words on a blog post, maybe up to 2000 words. And on light copy pages, around 250 words.

There is lots more we could cover, but we’re slightly worried about SEO information overload, so we’re going to briefly cover 2 more key areas that you should look out for in your audit report, as these will make a big change to your Google ranking, should they need improvement and that is;

Is your website optimized for mobiles and template devices? Most web content management systems will do this automatically for you, but older websites might need updating. This greatly affects your website usability (i.e. how easy it is for a customer to browse through it) and Google doesn’t like it if a customer can’t easily navigate your website, especially as the majority of searches are started on mobile.

Quizzical look on Mr brown face, whilst he's trying to answer another student's question. Still, he's rocking the checked shirt

 

ALT tags, which stands for Alternative Text and this will display should the image not displaying correctly, BUT, it’s now more used and rewarded by Google when you add descriptive information of the image for the visually impaired who might use website readers to read the content of a website page. So when you are creating them, which you can do easily within web content management tools, think more rich and emotive descriptions to help the copy be more engaging, whilst still relating to your content to give a richer message, for example;

Quizzical look on Mr brown face, whilst he’s trying to answer another student’s question. Still, he’s rocking the checked shirt

Finally , we got there, we could carry on and cover a lot more, even just on the SEO audit report, as SEO is such a bit topic. But, these are the key areas we advise organizations to focus on. So we hope it’s helped and stay turned for a series of articles on this subject, and don’t forget, you can always message us on content us if there is something you are interested to know about and we can see what we can do.

Good luck with your updates and speak to you all soon.