Pete Codella conducts a popular
PR Daily webinar series on social media tools for PR professionals. He features one social media tool every week on
For all the talk about social media, we shouldn’t ignore the importance of optimizing websites.
What does that mean?
Optimizing your website refers to where it appears in a Google or Bing search—you (probably) want your site or blog to appear high on a Google search—and to its popularity on social media sites.
Often, websites are missing key ingredients that hinder its performance in search engines and social sites. The good news for you (and your Web team) is that two extremely useful tools will help you identify what’s missing on your site.
From a site optimization perspective, these free tools may help you more than consulting with your IT team or Web development shop, where search optimization knowledge may be limited in its breadth and depth, or, out of a desire to preserve their jobs, they wouldn’t bring these things to your attention.
Tool No. 1: Website Grader
This HubSpot-sponsored tool gives you a score from 0 to 100. Its analysis is based on content, optimization, promotion, conversion, and comparison with other sites.
If your site scores in the 90s, you’re doing well. Unless you receive a perfect 100, the report provides useful items to share with your Web development team to further optimize your website.
The areas for improvement that I typically see:
Tool No. 2: WooRank
- Social media links. The links to your blog, RSS feed, and Twitter account should be visible on your site.
- Heading tags (H1, H2, H3). You’ll need to possess at least an elementary understanding of HTML to grasp this concept. You’re Web or IT department, on the other hand, should know all about it. Bottom line: Make sure they’re on your site. Search engines give more weight to heading tags (H1 through H6) than body copy.
- Alternative text for images. Make sure images have associated alternative text that describes the picture. Alternative text (or ALT Text) refers to the words you see when your cursor scrolls over an image on a website. You should have a description for the image—for instance, “photo of Pete Codella of Codella Marketing”—instead of a numerical file number.
- 301 redirect. This one is (even) more technical than the others, but whoever manages your domain registration ought to ensure that whether someone types in www.YourDomain or simply YourDomain, it’s treated as the same final destination. This is important for search results and for site analytics to keep statistics together and not divided.
- Conversion form. This feature is often left off websites. Visitors should have a way to sign up to receive an e-newsletter or some other kind of content. A conversion form enables site owners to capture email addresses and/or names from site visitors. In my experience, the fewer contact details you request, the more likely it is that visitors will share their information. Typically, I ask only for an email address
This tool was developed in 2010 and is provided thanks to an international consortium of programmer brainiacs. Like Website Grader, it provides a score based on a 100-point scale.
WooRank breaks down your site by:
- Onsite SEO
- Offsite SEO
- Website information
Within these categories, WooRank identifies your site’s traffic by combining stats from Alexa and Compete. It tells you about your site content, including how many characters each piece of onsite SEO includes: URL, title, meta description and keywords, headings.
WooRank also reviews your images and determines whether they have alternative text; it deducts points if your site includes Flash or has frames; and it gives you a percentage for text-to-HTML ratio, for example:
“Your website’s ratio of text to HTML code is below 15 percent, which means that your website probably needs more text content. Improve your SEO by adding more relevant text to your pages and increasing your keyword density.”
WooRank even provides a website coding compliance checklist. Although this is technical, it at least gives you talking points to address with your programmer. If he or she doesn’t know how to address the deficiencies, it might be time to find another programmer.
I recommend capturing Website Grader and WooRank reports for each site you manage. Return to it later, and generate a new report to track your progress. Some people use these scores to show return on investment, if their primary goal is to optimize the site and secure higher search placement.
Both Website Grader and WooRank are useful in setting a benchmark for your sites. They help you identify what you and your programmers can work on to improve your site’s optimization.
These tools aren’t the be-all and end-all, because what’s most important is that you’re meeting the objectives for your website. But they sure help give you a concrete idea of ways to further optimize your site.