What will an SEO audit be like in 10 years?

A couple of months ago, I went thru an SEO audit. I wanted to write a blog post to reflect on what I learned. This is my feeble attempt to collect my thoughts and jot down some notes. Where available, I’ve tried to list my source links.

bagger statt strasse

What is an SEO audit? In an audit, your website is analyzed and checked (often by an external SEO specialist) to be sure that it complies with SEO best practises.

football crazy

12 items to consider:

  1. GWT is your best friend.
    I spent a lot of time working my way thru Google Webmaster Tools, cleaning duplicate title and meta description tags. Duplicate title tags are a negative quality feature for Google. Sources of duplicate title tags are

    • non-translated title tags,
    • content management software settings, e.g. showing the same mono-lingual Drupal view in several website languages.

    GWT is the place to find these. Same for missing title tags. Or meta descriptions that are too short. Or the index status, which shows you how many pages are indexed.

  2. Follow a holistic approach. If you think you’re all set ‘cos you have had your new web design and navigation tested for usability by a user experience expert… Think again. You need to involve SEO early on in your design project. Ask for SEO guidance once you’ve gone thru the card sorting/information architecture steps. Check your designs from an SEO perspective. Write content in close collaboration with your SEO analyst.
  3. Question the SEO impact of new website features.
    Ask your web developers about the SEO side-effects of adding new features and changes. I learnt that website changes to make a website responsive and mobile-friendly may add unintended SEO problems, e.g. ‘cos the changes added a second hidden navigation which Google cannot identify yet.
  4. Ignore SEO noise.
    A lot of the SEO advice that you read on the web is blabla. Avoid link-bait. Hearsay. Look for reputable sources and SEO specialists that really know their field.
  5. Use the hreflang tag on multilingual websites.
    Add rel="alternate" hreflang=x on all web pages.
  6. Check the correct usage of heading tags.
    Use only one h1 per page. Keep the order h2, h3, or h4. Don’t jump to an h3 after using an h1.
    Check thru the design elements (e.g. navigation, footer, search button, contact form heading, teaser text blocks, or similar for hidden h1s or h2s).
  7. Improve h1 content.
    A heading 1 should provide a good summary of what to expect on the web page. Include keywords.
  8. Internal linking.
    Add relevant internal links. Add an on-page sitemap. Use footer links for important landing pages, not to repeat the navigation. Never use any hidden sub-page menus. Make sure you use dropdown menus that can be parsed by Google.
  9. Clean up any 302 redirects that may have been added by the content management system.
  10. Repair or replace all internal broken links. Tool tip: I used Integrity for Mac.
  11. Page speed matters.
    Check Google Page Speed Insight to improve the loading time of your site.
  12. Check the XML sitemap.
    The XML sitemap should only include pages with status code 200. Use the real, final URL in the XML sitemap, not the CMS page ID.

10 years plugin

What will an SEO audit look like in 10 years? That is an intriguing question. I have no idea which way SEO will go. My guess is as good as yours. I do know that SEO is getting quite complex. And may even be replaced by *something* entirely new. If you are a website manager, my advice is to dig in and ask lots of questions.

Look at all aspects. Take a holistic approach. Try to form a cross-functional team (designer, ux researcher, web developer, SEO expert, content writer).

ready mix for mandasi

If you do search on Google, remember the search engine result on page 1 is not necessarily the best content, but the best optimized content. Use Google search operators to get you off the beaten track. And there are alternatives like DuckDuckGo and Wolfram Alpha, which we should support more to avoid monopoly and manipulation.

Related links

GWT resources:
http://www.lunametrics.com/blog/2014/05/21/how-to-use-google-webmaster-tools-for-seo/

On-page factors:
https://moz.com/learn/seo/on-page-factors

Duplicate content:
http://www.hobo-web.co.uk/duplicate-content-problems/
https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/66359?hl=en

How to carry out a content audit:
https://moz.com/blog/content-audit-tutorial

Technical Site Audit Checklist: 2015 Edition:
https://moz.com/blog/technical-site-audit-for-2015

Disclaimer:
All mistakes are my own. Please let me know if I got something really wrong. I’m here to learn. These notes help me to reflect and learn.

Drupal 7: Wrapper for an HTML file

I was looking for a wrapper for an HTML file, like Joomla offers.

I found a way to load an existing HTML file into my Drupal 7 site using a module called insertFrame.

insertFrame

In /admin/config/content/formats/full_html select the box Include iFrame with auto-height feature.

Then add
[[[http://www.myurl.com/myapp.html]]]
to a page or post.

I still have a weird error message to fix:
Notice: Undefined offset: 1 in _insertFrame_getHTML() (line 118 of /myurl.com/sites/all/modules/insertFrame/insertFrame.module

Blogging for Content Developers

At an undisclosed location in the very near future, the editor of this beautiful blog will be holding a talk on a high-flying topic yet to be prepared.

Blogging for Content Developers

I’ve decided to give this whole project a jump-start by writing down the outline in my blog… because getting started is always the hard part. The audience will be technical writers and communicators, but I don’t know how many of them are into blogging. I think, I’ll start with some questions like:

  • Who’s got a blog?
  • Who is taking care of a work blog (either internally or externally)?
  • Who is planning to set up a blog?
  • Who started a blog but gave up after some time?

2nd Section: Why blog?
Basically this section will include a little bit about my first blog at an ASP-like blog provider and the subsequent move to WordPress. My initial idea when I set out was to help cross the digital divide and point to content about my home country, Malawi.

Example of the power of blogging: During the last General Elections in Malawi, Alex at the Polytechnic helped to keep us informed by posting regular information and allowing Malawians to comment. In general, blogging has increased the amount of direct infos available on Malawi in the Internet.

Top reasons for content developers to start blogging:

  • Provide a continuous online sample of your writing skills, one of your top skills.
  • Learn about new technologies and keep up with development. Let’s face it: the world of publishing has changed/is changing. Blogging helps you to understand the ways and means, as well as the way online communities evolve and behave.
  • Use your blog to become a subject matter expert in your domain.
  • Expand your network (private and business). Get to know new people and explore new opportunities.

3rd Section: Why WordPress?
This section will kind of list my reasons to go for WordPress, but could easily be taken as a list of criteria to watch out for if you’re evaluating other CMS tools:

  • Open source and free.
  • Huge community and good support.
  • Lots of new features and bug releases per year.
  • Good separation between design and content.
  • Stable.
  • Good documentation (Thank you, Lorelle).
  • Lots of plugins and design templates to choose from.

Server requirements: MySQL and PHP or above

Knowledge requirement: some knowledge of CSS and HTML to tweak and customize a design template.

Section 4: Beyond the Current Blog Hype
Currently we’re going thru a hype phase. Everybody’s starting a blog.

Splogs, spam comments and cyber bullying/threatening are a huge problem.

akismet

Nevertheless, blogs are here to stay. Esp. mainstream media is feeling the heat. A kind of independent blog journalism is establishing itself and many companies are using blogs to reach out to their customers. See Krusenstern for an excellent entry on old, established media vs. blog journalism.

Millions of blogs are started and abandoned within 3 months. It’s not easy to write and communicate effectively. This is where I see lots of opportunities for tech. communicators (e.g. as Chief Blogging Officer).

Section 5: Your Benefit as a Tech. Communicator

If you’re a consultant/ext. contractor, use current CMS technology to enhance your work website. Blogging is a good way to make your business website less static. Example: I remember a conf where one of the participants was distributing tonnes of business cards. I had a look at the website afterwards and was utterly disappointed.

Use your blog to:

  • Point to interesting industry developments.
  • Voice own opinion on a topic.
  • Publish short howto’s, code snippets, tutorials, extensions, examples.
  • Link to relevant industry developments and use “Trackback” to respond to other blogs, which you find during your daily Internet watch.
  • Personal impression of conferences / shows.
  • Keep online notes of interesting website or talks you’ve attended.

If you offer focussed content on a special topic the chances of attracting readers are somewhat higher than with a personal blog. Frequency is important. To set up a readership you need to post at regular intervals. On the upside, entries do not have to be very long and you can post entries to WordPress via email.

Don’t move into blogging if you don’t enjoy writing OR if you’re looking for fast money. It needs some time to establish your blog and people lurk around a long time before they start commenting (approx. 200 visits for every commenter). But if you write about a niche topic and provide good content, people will find you.

Avoid the typical marketing glib and press release speak in your blog.

Section 6: Demo of a WordPress Blog
Show tags, permalinks, trackbacks, and RSS feeds (if there’s interest).

My Very Personal Benefit:

Thru my hobby, I know more about today’s publishing opportunities and learnt lots about CSS, which I can use in my day job.

I’ve got a new hobby and all the flickery goodness that comes with it.

I’ve found new friends and keep in contact with old ones.

I’ve got my own online reference (e.g. re-setting my ADSL router) and online bookmark site.

Section 7: Resources and Discussion
One very good introductory resource on business blogging is:

IMG_1794

The End

I’m tired and I’ll add more resource links later. In the meantime, feel free to offer suggestions or challenge my outline.

evaluating eZ publish

I tried out eZ publish yesterday… i’m still looking for a CMS for end-users that don’t know any html. It’s pretty impressive! Offers a lot of stuff out-of-the-box. Easy step-by-step install.

Next step is to try and find out how to customize and adapt the included templates.

I also tried out phpwcms as somebody recommended it in my blog comments…. i don’t like it. Not straightforward enough for the intended audience.

Still on my list of evals: phpwebsite

Do you have any further ideas or recommendations?

evaluating Drupal 4.6.3

I’ve finally downloaded and installed Drupal to get an idea if this would be a possible CMS for a small web project I’m planning to start.

Installing the basic modules and setting up the MySQL database was straightforward. No problems here.

What I’m finding more daunting is the CMS interface itself. There are a lot of modules and settings. And it takes some time to grasp the concept and terminology.

For example, it took me a while to figure out how to create a simple menu. I found this posting that suggested using the so-called Menu on-the-fly module. I guess, I would have expected this to be part of the basic install. Or maybe there’s another simple way that I’m missing.

I haven’t had a look at how to change the design of a theme or how to build my own theme.

Drupal offers a lot of options and additional modules. But at this point I’m worried that the CMS interface is too complex for the end users I’m planning for. And probably too much effort to customize for a small web project.

Java vs. PHP CMS/Portals

there’s a long but interesting discussion going on about content management systems at The Server Side. See:

Ask TSS: Do any Java CMS/Portals match the PHP ones?

There’s a lot of references to useful tools (both PHP and Java). Cos of the sheer number of different tools it’s all the more important to have a complete list of requirements.

As usual, these kind of exchanges tend to turn somewhat “religious” whenever developers are around.

Couple of commenters seem to feel that Java is better for large sites:

Use java-solutions @work where longlasting and big software is an issue and use php-solutions @home or in shorttime and smaller projects.

What is your opinion?
What tools offer the best usability for the content guys?