I am sure I am going to make a lot of friends in the industry with this one! At times it seems we are the only ethical website and SEO company out there…
I was raised properly and took the values my parents instilled in me and operate my business with those in mind at all times. Unfortunately, as I check out what my ‘competition’ is doing online, it physically makes me a little sick to my stomach.
Not to mention how frustrating it is trying to help new clients who have been burned in the past and now have extreme hesitation and pessimism before we even have a conversation. And don’t even get me started on when a client wants to compare our quote line item by line item to one of these shady web company quotes. That is the absolute worst.
Am I saying we are the only ‘good’ website and SEO company out there? No. 100%, no.
That is not what I am saying. What I have found over the past couple years is that a lot of web companies simply have no qualms exploiting the general public’s lack of knowledge when it comes to websites and SEO.
It is very possible you are paying $250, $500, $750, or more per month for little to nothing. Pretty scary right? This would obviously be damning to most small businesses.
How can you tell if your website/SEO service is ripping you off?
Before I tell you how to do it yourself, I did want to mention I am happy to perform an audit of your current website and SEO free of charge. All you need to do is ask.
The first thing you need to do is download a free Chrome Extension called SEOquake. SEOquake allows you to view a decent amount of SEO line items with a single click of your mouse. The awesome part, besides being free, is that you can use this tool on any website, even ones you do not own.
To check your website, navigate to your website using Chrome as your browser. Chrome is the most robust browser available and we highly recommend you use Chrome to surf the web at all times. The part of SEOquake to reference is found by clicking the ‘diagnosis’ tab after clicking the SEOquake icon while on your website. You can run this tool on each page of your website, but to get a quick idea of how things really are, run it on your website’s homepage.
If any line item on this page has a red exclamation point to the left of it, this is a very bad sign! There is simply no reason a company offering website design or SEO services should ever hand a website off to their client without all of these line items showing a green check mark, or blue warning. The blue warning is not necessarily anything to worry about, although they could be. This article is aimed at beginners so I am not going to go into a whole lot of details here, but will offer a couple key things to check.
Check Your SEO Companies Work
Here are several quick and easy elements regarding proper website construction and SEO elements almost anyone can check on their own.
If you URL is not displaying with the prefix of https:// and shows http:// only, this means your website does not have an SSL certificate and it is insecure.
A savvy web user would not submit a form on your website for example, as they know even a novice hacker could easily grab all of the data submitted. In fact, the developers on my staff could quite literally take over your website. You don’t have to worry about my developers, but if any hacker wanted to gain control of your site, they could do it within minutes without much trouble. Pretty scary!
If your website designer/developer and/or SEO company has not setup canonical URLs, every page on your website essentially has 3 plagiarized copies. Search engines despise plagiarism. The reason for this is every web page has 4 versions and without the canonical URLs set, the other 3 are considered plagiarized by search engines.
These are the headlines that appear in the line about your website address in the search results. If you are using the tool on your homepage and see for example, Your Company – Home, as the page title, no one has touched this pretty significant SEO item. Ironically page titles don’t hold much SEO value directly, but indirectly if you optimize your titles for clicks, they certainly will help your SEO a lot.
Like page titles, meta descriptions don’t hold much SEO value either directly, but the same applies with the indirect value. When using the SEOquake tool, if your meta description is missing, this means no one has touched them. Google doesn’t allow for this and will pull text from your web page to display in the search results. The meta description is the 1, 2, or 3 lines of text under your website address in the search results. When Google pulls this data for you, there is a slim chance it is going to encourage someone to click on your listing over any of the others!
If you see meta keywords using the SEOquake tool, this is a dead giveaway your website person or SEO company is clueless. They are obsolete and have been for years. There is no reason to populate meta keywords.
H tags is a pretty major one in my opinion, although the consensus among SEOs (People that perform search engine optimization services as their profession.) is they are almost useless…at least that is the feeling I get. H tags are header tags. Think of them as headlines in newspapers. Every web page should have 1 H1 tag. Not 0, and not 2 or more! Your H1 tag should contain your main keywords and be very relevant to the content on that web page.
H2-H6 tags are different than H1 tags. You can have 1, several, or 0 of these on any given page as appropriate for the content on that page. H1 is most important, naturally your H2 tags are next and so on. Like H1 tags they should contain keywords and be relevant to the content on that page and specifically to the content directly following them on the page.
Alt tags actually have a real purpose, and it is not keyword stuffing! Alt tags are snippets of code that search engines and screen readers utilize to determine what an image represents on a web page. Their real purpose is to describe the image to people with disabilities who may be using a screen reader to navigate your website. You can get SEO benefit by including keywords naturally, but stuffing keywords will only have a negative effect.
Just because SEOquake has a green check mark, does not mean the alt tags were done properly. You can check your alt tags by navigating to the web page you want to check, clicking ‘ctrl + u’, then click ‘ctrl + f’, and search for ‘alt=’ and use the down arrow to scan through them to see their values.
Does your about have a page like services or service area? If it does, and also includes pages like ‘service 1,’ ‘service 2,’ and ‘service 3,’ or the same for cities, check your URL structure.
What does that mean? If you have what I like to call a ‘master services page’ which would typically be shown as website.com/services, then your individual service page’s URL should be website.com/services/NAME-OF-EACH-SERVICE. If it is only website.com/NAME-OF-EACH-SERVICE (missing the /services between…) then it was done wrong and Google doesn’t understand your website nearly as much as it should.
You may not know what schema markup is and that is not a problem. You are not a website designer/developer or SEO. If your web service doesn’t, it is a major problem. At the very least they should have setup site wide SEO for your local business or organization. Be sure to check your schema by clicking the link to Google’s tool even if SEOquake is showing organization or local business schema on the page. I often see a shell of what should be included in this data when checking other SEO companies work!
I cringe when I see the red flag next to this one. There is a very good chance search engines will have a hard time crawling your site if your robots.txt is not configured properly.
Another cringe worthy line item…really all of the line items in the bottom portion of the diagnosis tab should be green if a professional is working on your website. If they are not, you probably didn’t hire a professional! Submitting your sitemap to Google and Bing should be a must do/must check item for any professional SEO.
Specifically if you are working with an SEO company, Google Analytics should be connected. There is simply no reason not to do it. It takes all of 5 minutes and is free, plus extremely insightful.
Audit Your SEO Service Conclusion
Remember, SEOquake is a 3rd party tool, so there is a chance if may have failed to pull in all data correctly. With that said, I have ran this tool on thousands of websites and it is rarely wrong.
That is honestly the bulk of it right there. Again, this blog is for beginners, specifically small business owners attempting to handle their business’ online presence themselves or wanting to know if they are getting ripped off by their SEO or web service. I don’t want to really get into advanced SEO topics here…just know there is much, much more to SEO than stated above.
I do want to include a handful of other things you should check though.
Difference Between a Website Designer, Web Developer, and SEO
Quickly, let me explain the difference between a website designer, web developer, and an SEO.
What is a Website Designer?
A website designer is a person who designs websites. This quite literally means they design the way each page looks in regards to what elements will go on each page and where/how they will appear.
What is a Web Developer?
A web developer is a person that takes a website design and turns it into a functioning website that is live on the web.
What is an SEO?
An SEO is a person that optimizes a website to rank high in the search results when someone is typing a relevant query into a search engine.
It is arguable as to if a website designer or developer should include/incorporate ‘SEO’ during the design and development stages of the website’s creation. It is our opinion at Optimized that they should. Our reasoning is that is takes just as long to do it wrong as it does to do it right.
Google My Business
Google My Business is a major part of SEO. This is why I explained the difference between website designers, developers, and SEOs because maybe a designer or developer doesn’t ‘have’ to help setup your Google My Business as part of their scope of work. But, an SEO 100% should.
If you are working with an SEO and you do not have a fully optimized Google My Business, please do yourself a favor and fire them immediately, no questions asked. Seriously, it is that big of a deal. They have no excuse for possibly looking over this!
Google Webmaster Tools and Google Search Console
Along with Google My Business, we already mentioned Google Analytics, there is a 3rd free Google tool your SEO should have set up for you, it is Google Search Console. Your sitemap and robots.txt are or should be found or be able to be checked from with Google Analytics. Google Search Console is where all of your canonical URLs go.
At Optimized, we are still in shock Google requires all 4 versions of your website to still be submitted. The four versions are https://, https://www, http://, and http://www. And, amazingly in mid 2019 they now want a 5th to be submitted using simply ‘yourdomain.com.’ They should also have connected your Google Analytics and Google Search Console so the data in each is shared with the other.
Bing Places and Bing Webmaster Tools
Bing also has 2 properties for website owners and these are Bing Places and Bing Webmaster Tools. Bing Places is Bing’s version of Google My Business. It is almost exactly the same with the major difference being Bing utilizes Yelp’s reviews of your business to display ratings in the their search results.
Bing is the 2nd largest search engine so you should take the half hour to set both of these up…hopefully your web person already has.
Bing Webmaster Tools is like Google Search Console mixed with Google Analytics. Here is where you submit your sitemap to Bing. Within Bing Webmaster Tools, you can also submit each page of your website. We highly recommend you do this or check to see if your SEO has.
Responsive Website Design
The last item I want to touch on in the blog is how important it is that your website displays properly and is fully functional on all device types. These include computers, laptops, tablets, and phones. And yes, on Chrome, Safari, Firefox, iOS, and Android. It really does become a lot real quick. The bottom line is 50-60% of searches occur on mobile devices at the time of this writing and it is a safe bet the percentage of searches occurring on mobile devices will only continue to grow in the future.
So, Is Your SEO Service Ripping You Off
I truly hope you found value in this blog if you do handle your own online presence. And, if you are currently using an SEO service or had a ‘professional’ build your website, now you can at least do a spot check on the basics to see if they are really doing their job or not.
As always, myself and my team are here to offer honest help and would love to play a small part in your business’ success. I personally love to check all of the items noted above and more free of charge. All you need to do is ask. You can contact me here. LINK
Ready for more? Check out our next blog post on why 91.4% of small business websites suck! No offense!
Reviews Are Very Important For SEO
Is it your SEO’s job to fetch your company reviews online?
Well, it can be. You can always try asking your clients, but nicejob has review fetching down to a science.
The best part is that their software does all of they heavy lifting…AKA, you’re still going to have time to focus on running your business.