An SEO Report is a wealth of information, but it’s only valuable if you know how to use it! This tutorial will take you step-by-step through gathering the information – and fixing any issues!
Bloggers new to WordPress should start with the pre-requisites section. And when you’re ready come back and go through the rest of the steps.
Our intermediate or advanced friends can save themselves the cost of hiring someone and create this report in minutes. Or send your VA over to this post and delegate, delegate, delegate!
Prerequisites to the SEO report
SEO for WordPress plugin by Yoast
Add the SEO for WordPress by Yoast plugin through your dashboard. Then go through each tab and each sub-navigation across the top completing everything that you can. The important areas are:
- Dashboard > Features > Advanced Setting Pages (on)
- Dashboard > Company Info (complete all of this)
- Titles & Metas > Archives (for one-author blogs remove the date-based OR the author-based archives)
- Social> All of this!
- Social > Twitter > use “Summary with large image”
- XML Sitemaps (on)
- Search Console > Settings > Authenticate (log into Google first)
Set up Google Analytics
After logging in to Google Analytics, you will be prompted to add your “property”. Create two properties – one with www and one without www. Then in site settings, select the preferred link – it should be the same one that you have in your WordPress General Settings.
Under Admin > Property > Tracking Info > Tracking Code you will find the tracking code you need. To add this to your site, just copy it, then open your dashboard. Go to Genesis > Settings > Header scripts and paste it in there. Save.
Set up Google Search Console
After logging in, click the red button to add a property. Add both the www and the non-www versions of your site and select the preferred link. As above it should be the one you use everywhere.
Note: during set up, go to Crawl > Sitemaps > Test/Submit New
Add your sitemap like this: sitemap_index.xml Click submit. It will process in a few hours and be ready to go!
Full tutorial for setting up your search console is here.
DIY SEO Report, Step by Step
This guide will begin with the most important things to monitor & measure down to the least. Every SEO Report always has the following:
- On-Page Factors:
- Content & Keyword Review
- Crawl Audit
- Image Audit
- Off-page Factors:
- Link Audit
- Social Review
- Technical Review
- HTML Improvements
- Popularity & Authority
- Competitor Analysis (we’re not doing this today)
Content & Keyword Review
Would you like to know what people search to get to your site? You can see it right here:
- Google Analytics
- Organic Search
That list of words is what someone typed into Google to get to your site.
Not Found: Google keeps these as secret! Isn’t that awful!?
- To get higher in Google and to create more content people search for, expand on these topics.
- Add opt-in upgrades to these posts to boost your email list.
- Add related content and further reading to your popular posts.
Rarely do I think that the average blogger needs to focus on SEO but when it comes to broken links or adding accessibility elements, they absolutely do. Crawl errors are anything that stops the search engines from being able to ‘crawl’ your site. If they can’t find the pages, then they can’t index them!
To find errors in your site:
- Open your dashboard
- Click on SEO tab
- Search Console
- View desktop & smartphone separately
If your main screen under Google Search Console doesn’t look like the one below, you likely haven’t configured it yet. Head to the settings tab and click “Authenticate”. See the Prerequisites section above.
Not Found: These are ‘broken’ or 404 errors. View the sources in Google Search Tools and take care of them as far as you can. This can get tricky so just start with what you do know and move onto the next thing.
Soft 404: The spider found a page but it doesn’t think its the right one. In other words its a forward from a broken link to your home page (or similar).
Other: These are usually 500 type of errors. 500 errors means that the spider couldn’t even get onto your site because it was stopped before hand by either a DNS error or a host error. These require further investigation.
To fix these errors: Install Broken Link Checker plugin. Run the scan when your site is not busy. This is a huge resource hog and can slow your site down. Fix the errors that you can in one sitting. Then deactivate it. Delete it until next time you need it.
Images are a big part of your user’s experience so it makes sense they are important to search engines. Your images must be relevant, coded properly and load quickly. Relevant you can do. “Coded properly” simply means that you name the photo an actual name. Do not name it dsc_12345.jpg. No one has any idea what that is, least of all a search engine!
And for those who are using simple browsers and voice browsers, use an ‘alt’ tag. It is the alternative to the image. So instead of a visible screenshot (below), if you were on a voice browser, the reader would read aloud, “Screen shot of a bulk editor”.
To find and fix images without alt tags or titles, (there’s debate about whether or not titles are still used, but it doesn’t hurt), you’ll need to install Bulk Editor for Image Alts and Titles ($20).
It’s a super easy interface. Once installed, you navigate to the dashboard > Images Title & Alt tab. Click through to your posts, and all images within a post will show up with fields for editing on the spot.
Links are still one of the biggest forms of SEO currency there is. And it makes sense. If we love a place and find it useful, we link to it. They are signals to search engines of a page’s value. Note: It is very easy to get penalized by Google if you link to sites that compensate you.
Compensation is any form of benefit you receive whether in the form of cash, credit, product or reciprocal link.
Of course linking to your ad companies, and to sites you recommend is an important part of user experience. Google encourages you to link to your heart’s content – but if you’re being reimbursed in any way you must use ‘rel=”nofollow”‘ in your links. This tells the search engine, “don’t follow this link for it’s value“.
To add this bit of code to your outgoing links automatically we recommend this plugin, “No Follow External Links“.
Think of the big tutorials, lists and resources that you link to. Create something even better for your audience. Earn those links!
We all love to follow the crowd! And Google is no exception! If everyone is going to your site, then it must be good! Find out which platforms are serving you and which to focus your time on.
To find the number of visitors from each social media platform:
- Log into Google Analytics
- Click Acquisition
- All Traffic
From there you will see a view of each platform that sent you traffic, and how many visitors it sent. Keep in mind that just because they visited doesn’t mean that they’re converting!
The more social proof you have, the better you’ll do in SEO.
To improve your results, sign-up for each major platform and link to your site. You don’t have to use them regularly but having a presence and reserving your name is worth the few minutes it takes.
Three of the most reliable tools for speed testing are:
To see your speed over time, head to Google Analytics > Behavior > Site speed > Speed Suggestions.
Fixing speed issues is a bit of geeky art. To be honest, this is one that I learn every day and on every site. The most common issues are images that are too big, and too many plugins / ads / scripts preventing the page download.
To fix these speed issues, we recommend a few plugins. Before any of this is attempted, back up your site! And in this case read the documentation thoroughly. If possible, play around with the setting on a clone of your site – not the live one.
- W3 Total Cache or WP Rocket
- ShortPixel Image Optimization
- Speed Booster Pack
Security & Spam
Of course security is kind of a big deal! No one wants to get hacked! But we also don’t want to visit spammy sites. Google is usually pretty good at sending us to real sites when we search for something. The reason is that they actually do have real people on the flagged sites to review the content. If you’ve been “flagged” you may notice a decline in indexed pages as well as organic search traffic. To see any manual actions against you, visit Google Search Console.
Navigate to Search Traffic > Manual Actions. You should see a message:
No manual webspam actions found.
If you see a message about some manual action. You’ll need to investigate, fix the problem and then resubmit your site to Search Console for reconsideration.
THE most important piece to security is NOT a plugin. It’s not your hosting. It’s not even your password! The most important piece and the reason 99% of hacked sites were hacked is out of date software. Keep these best practices in mind:
- updated plugins, themes & WP
- no outside scripts or copy/paste stuff (unless you know what you’re doing)
- difficult password
- good hosting
- regular scanning
If you do the previous 5 items you will not have to worry about security. You will not even need a security plugin. To scan your site for any security issues, I recommend Sucuri. To have me do this for you each day, check out our WordPress help page!
If you do find a security issue, contact us for quick flat-rate remediation.
HTML, Meta Descriptions & Duplicates
HTML Improvements look pretty impressive on an SEO Report but in reality they are from one page in your Google Search Console.
Navigate to Search Appearance > HTML Improvements and ta da!
Click on the blue link to view each page that needs the improvement. The improvements are pretty self-explanatory.
Meta Descriptions: These are the snippets that searchers will see in Google beneath your article title and link. It’s a great idea to create a custom description to entice readers to click. Create custom excerpts in the SEO for WordPress plugin box on your posts/page edit screen.
Title Tag: In this context, we are talking about the H1, H2, H3, etc tags that are in your post editor. (H1 is always your post title)
Popularity & Trustworthiness According to Moz
Moz gives each site a score on Domain Authority and Page Authority. These scores are considered generally accurate in the SEO World and they are free to find.
Simply navigate to Website Authority Checker. And enter your domain name. You will get a score out of 100 for each: Domain Authority and Page Authority. These numbers don’t really mean much on their own. To give them some context, find the DA & PA of your friends in the same niche. And aim big and find the metrics for an influencer in your niche – those are the numbers to beat!
To get a higher number, your site needs to be higher in Google’s ranking for your keywords. Work on your SEO diligently – both optimizing your on-page posts as well as off-page elements.
This should get you a lot of data, some things that may require further reading, and some easy to fix items too. If you have questions on where to find further information, just let us know in the comments. We can help point the way!