SEO Health Check-Up | 5 Website Issues That Can Hurt Your Google SEO Rankings
SEO isn’t just about keywords and writing content.
Not by a LONG shot.
Today I want to talk about SEO health in particular (yep that’s a thing!).
By fixing some common SEO health problems you’re going to SERIOUSLY increase the chances of showing up on page 1 of Google.
The best thing?
You don’t need to be a coder or super technical to fix these problems!
By the end of this article you’re going to have a game plan on how to do an SEO health checkup and what to do to improve your site’s overall SEO.
What is SEO Health?
As amazing as it would be, if we ate chicken wings and cheese fries everyday we’d probably end up in the emergency room with a clogged artery…
Likewise, there are some mistakes you can be doing with your SEO that are the digital equivalent of loading up on buffalo wings and cheese fries everyday.
They might not be a huge deal once in a while, but if you’re not careful you’ll end up with a slow, bloated and poorly optimized website that Google relegates to page 10 of the results page.
And nobody is going to find you back there.
Good SEO health is making sure that you’re making it EASY for Google to crawl, index and rank your website with SEO best practices.
In fact, these issues are so critical to any website that fixing them is about much more than SEO.
Slow websites with a poor user experience will have people clicking out of your site IMMEDIATELY – so maintaining good SEO health is also going to increase your conversion rate.
But before I go into more detail on how to do this, I want to make sure we’re clear on the importance of SEO health.
Why is doing an SEO health check important?
If you’re building a house you wouldn’t start with the roof, right?
Similarly, there’s no point in spending hours updating your web design bc you don’t like your font or building backlinks to your site if you haven’t got a solid SEO foundation in place.
You need to make sure all your vitals are in good shape FIRST, before you can see any return on investment on your SEO strategy.
But the word on streets is that SEO is just about producing good content and keywords…
Because if your foundations are shaky then all your great content may get WASTED. So, by making sure your SEO health is in good shape, you’ll make sure your great content actually gets rewarded.
5 Issues that are hurting your SEO health
I’ve rounded up the five most common SEO health issues and how to FIX them (I don’t wanna leave you hanging).
Let’s take a deep dive at each one.
SEO Health Factor #1: Site Speed
You love fast sites, I love fast sites and everybody on the internet loves fast sites.
You know who also loves fast sites?
In fact, site speed and your core web vitals are going to be extra important as of May 2021 as Google is rolling out a new update.
The new “page experience” means Google will be placing MORE importance on how fast a site loads when deciding how it ranks.
Don’t get left behind with this new update and start improving your site right now.
Let’s break down how to improve your website speed.
How fast should your site be?
Simply put, as fast as possible.
I know that’s pretty vague, but not even Google has given us an exact metric. They basically categorize website speed into “really good and pretty bad.”
But if we take a look at average bounce rates on slow websites, we can get a pretty good idea of how fast our websites should be loading.
Side note: bounce rate means how long it takes people to click out of your website after arriving. Slow websites have a higher bounce rate because who has the time to stick around and wait for slow pages to load?
According to Akamai, 40% of consumers will wait no longer than 3 seconds for a website to load before abandoning ship.
And even just a 100-MILLISECOND delay in website load time can hurt conversion rates by 7%.
So, it’s pretty clear that website speed isn’t just a big deal for SEO, but also for conversions.
Free tools to find out how fast your site is loading
There are great FREE tools out there that can pinpoint what issues are slowing down your site.
I’ve written about them and how to use them to speed up your WordPress site or your Squarespace site.
Bonus tip! Don’t just check your homepage loading time – how fast are your other pages loading?
Speed up your site by optimizing your images
Images are a major culprit for slowing down your website. I’ve written a lot about optimizing your images for SEO if you want to read more about it. Right now though, I’ll give you the Cliff Notes version.
- Resize the images on your website
- Uploading images that are way bigger than the space they’re occupying makes browsers work 2x as hard to deliver the image, slowing down how fast your site loads. Find out what size the image needs to be and resize & reupload it to fit that space.
- Save your images for the Web
- If you use a program like Photoshop, you have an option to download your images into web-friendly formats. This helps reduce file size and makes images load faster.
- Run images through a compressor
- Image compressors strip an image of unnecessary information such as camera details, metadata, color profiles, embedded thumbnails, etc.
- You can use image compressors like Smush Image Compression, EWWW Image Optimizer or ImageOptim (for MAC).
Some other ways to speed up your site for better SEO
- Use a CDN
- A CDN (Content Delivery Network) helps speed up delivery of your website’s content to people in different countries. If someone is located in another part of the world to where your website is hosted, a CDN uses a nearby server to load your website’s content for them. This speeds up your site for those users. You can checkout Cloudfare CDN
- Choose a great hosting provider
- If you host your website on WordPress you need to make sure your web hosting service is fast and reliable. If it isn’t, your website will run slower and be down more for maintenance.
- Siteground and WP Engine are all reputable hosting services.
- Enable Caching
- Having a plugin like WP Fastest Cache enables “caching” so that people returning to your website don’t have to download all those files from scratch again. This can shave off around 2-3 seconds of your website’s load time.
Okay, now let’s look at what broken links are, how they affect your SEO and how we can fix them.
SEO Health Factor #2: Broken links
Imagine giving someone a map that’s out of date.
They jump in their car, follow your directions by the letter then end up in a cul-de-sac confused as hell.
That’s what happens to BOTH your site visitors and Google when you have broken links in your website: you’re sending them to a dead-end.
Broken links negatively affect your SEO site health because when Google crawls your pages it follows the links in those pages to find new content to crawl and potentially index (which is how you’ll show up on the search engine results page).
But if Google stumbles upon a broken link that goes NOWHERE, you’ve lost an opportunity to get more of your website crawled.
Not only this, but too many broken links in your site sends bad signals to Google that your website isn’t providing a great user experience, so it can negatively affect your rankings.
So broken links? Bad SEO mojo.
But, how do you find and fix these broken links on your site? Thankfully, it doesn’t involve you combing through your entire website and checking each link manually.
If you want the full low-down check out this post on easily finding and fixing your broken links.
Or, you can watch a YouTube video I did on this:
Now, what about SEO titles and meta descriptions, they’re important, right?
SEO Health Factor #3: Not customizing SEO titles & Meta Descriptions
When you search for something on Google and you’re taken to the search engine results page, what you’re reading are SEO titles and meta descriptions of the content that Google has found.
They’re like little trailers for what information you’ll find by clicking on the page.
But even more than that, they are like mini ads that should be enticing readers to take action and click.
Take this example;
Beef Stew recipes – BBC Food is the SEO title and the part underneath is the meta description that gives us info about what we can expect once we click through.
Your SEO titles are a major signal for Google about what your content is actually about. That means you want to make sure that they’re not only optimized for your chosen keywords, but that you’re actually writing one in the first place!
While meta descriptions aren’t a direct ranking factor, they do help users understand what your content is about and what benefit they’ll get by clicking through, so they’re important.
But where do you add these SEO titles and meta descriptions?
It depends on what content management system you’re using (WordPress, Squarespace, etc). Here, I’ll tackle WordPress & Squarespace.
How to add your SEO Title & Meta Description on WordPress
- The title of your page/post will be above the main section where you write your content. This is more easily left out if you use a front-end builder like DIVI, Elementor or Beaver Builder so remember to jump into the “back-end” and add your title.
- Your “excerpt” box will be where you write your meta description
- If you’re using an SEO plugin like Yoast, you can also add your titles and meta descriptions using their fields.
Are you a Squarespace user?
Check out this video I did on how to update Squarespace SEO titles & meta descriptions
Just know that Google will sometimes ignore your meta description and pull out info from the page to use in the meta description. But by making your meta description as RELEVANT as possible you can cut the chances of that happening.
Important! Don’t optimize multiple titles & meta descriptions for the SAME keyword. This is known as keyword cannibalization and it will actually HURT your SEO.
Want a full step-by-step guide on how to craft successful SEO titles & meta descriptions? Of course you do 😉
SEO Health Factor #4: Low word count
A low word count on some pages is expected, like on your contact page, but generally speaking, higher word counts give Google more context and info about what your content is actually about.
That’s why you see so many “Ultimate Guides” and similar pieces of content because the writers want to show Google that they are covering a topic in-depth.
Writing more in-depth content also helps you rank for more relevant keywords.
Lemme give you an example.
This post I wrote about how to set up Yoast isn’t just ranking for the main keyword “how to set up Yoast settings.”
It’s ranking for over 42 keywords (and it’s really not that long!)
So try and make blog posts around AT LEAST 1,200 words and you’ll be in a pretty good position, but don’t feel pressured to make every piece of content a thesis either.
For pages, try and hit at least 300 words.
FUN FACT: Most of the pages on the first page on Google have 2,500+ words.
Now, let’s move on to your H1 tags and why getting them right is important for your SEO.
SEO Health Factor #5: More than 1 H1 Heading
Here’s the golden rule when it comes to H1 headings: one H1 to rule them all.
In other words, only use ONE H1 heading for each post/page of your website.
Pretty simple, right?
But what is an H1 heading and how do you know if you’ve used more than one?
The text in your website is contained within different HTML tags. The main ones are:
- <p> this ‘paragraph’ tag is for your regular body text
- <h1> is the main heading for your page
- <h2>, <h3>, <h4>, <h5> are all subheadings
The reason we only want one H1 heading is that it’s a strong signal to Google about what your content is about.
Having more than one will confuse Google, they won’t know what the most important topic of your post is.
It’s not just confusing for Google though, it’s confusing for readers.
Dividing your content into proper headings and sections helps guide your reader through your content and creates a smooth reading experience. Not to mention it can also help visually impaired people who use a screen reader to understand and navigate your content.
How can you quickly check if you’ve used too many H1 headings on your pages?
You can use a free SEO Site Health checker, paste your URL into it and see if it flags multiple H1s.
Your SEO Site Health Cheat sheet
I know that was a lot of information to take in, so here is your cheat sheet.
How to Improve your Site’s SEO Health
- Speed up your site
Sign up for a CDN, get great hosting and make sure your images are all properly optimized
- Fix any broken links
Find your broken links and use redirects for content that isn’t there anymore
- Customize your SEO titles & meta descriptions
Do your own keyword research and then use your keywords in both your SEO titles and meta descriptions
- Boost your word count
Try and not have lots of text-light pages. Add more context and information to your pages and posts to improve your ranking
- Only use 1 H1 heading per page & post
Too many H1s confuses Google as they don’t know what’s most important about your post
What else can help your SEO?
I created the FREE SEO Roadmap so you can start getting on Google’s good side.
If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by SEO and want someone to take you through the process of improving your site’s SEO step-by-step, then grab your free SEO roadmap below.
Let’s do this!