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SEO Self-Assessment Series: On-Site Elements

Video 1: On-Site Elements

Today we're talking about analyzing the on-site elements of your website as part of our eight-part, SEO self-assessment series. You can watch any of the videos in any order you want and go at your own pace.

We do recommend following along so we can show you the tools and resources that we use at Workshop Digital when we're assessing websites and finding opportunities to increase organic search rankings and traffic from search engines.


In this video, we're going to break down how we analyze large-scale websites and small-scale websites to understand how the elements on the site in the content and in the code follow or don't follow Webmaster Guidelines published by Google and Yahoo and Bing. One of the challenges is that if you have a website that's even just a few dozen pages or a couple hundred pages, it can be really daunting to get in there and understand what's going on on each individual page. I'm going to share a couple of tools that we use so you can break that down and do that very quickly at scale—without having to manually click and point and copy and paste every single page in your website into a spreadsheet or another tool.

The first thing you're going to notice is we want to look at all the elements that a visitor is going to see and follow them on their journey—starting with the search result. This is a very common thing for all of us: we're used to looking at Google search results. One of the things that you'll notice is the page title of the page that is ranking. So, in this case, our title tag is pulling into Google's search results, along with what's called the meta description tag—that's what allows you to build some relevance and explain to the potential visitor what they should expect to see on your site. And what you want him or her to do when you get there. It creates some relevance and also creates a call to action and gives them an opportunity to understand what they're getting into.

When they click through to a website they're going to see the same title tag up in the browser tab—and it's also here in the HTML code which most visitors aren't going to see—but it does appear here and this is the type of thing that you're going to want to go in and analyze to figure out if you're conforming to search engine guidelines. These are essentially best practices that help search engines understand your site structure and the content, and whether or not the on-site elements that are important to visitors are also being displayed properly for search engines. If you can understand how your site's basic on page factors meet these standards and cater to your users, you're going to do a better job of getting more of your content or rank well in search results.

We're going to break down things like the robots. txt file. We're going to dig into XML sitemaps later in this video series—and some of the tools that we can use right away that are free or easily available to you. The first thing I wanted to share with you is Google Search Console. It's a free tool published by Google that once you verify and validate ownership of your website, it's going to give you access to a lot of the metrics that it sees when it's crawling your website. So in essence, you're seeing what Google sees. It's going to show you if there are any errors or issues on your web pages that you need to know about and then some solutions to fix them. It's also going to show you valid pages—pages that conform to its webmaster guidelines—where you really shouldn't have any issues but you can still look and make sure that you're dotting all your I's and crossing your T's.

Within Search Console, you're going to get a lot of different reports about the links pointing to your website, mobile usability site speed and any potential issues that are holding you back from ranking well in Google. And this is great, but Google doesn't always give you all the information you need. To cover that extra ground, we use a tool called Screaming Frog, which is essentially a spider or crawler that acts just like Google's Googlebot does. It allows you to crawl your own website or any competitor website and break down all the different metrics— both on site, and in the code, and in the content—that a search engines looking at so you can quickly analyze a website that’s several hundred pages, or several thousand, or even hundreds of thousands of pages—and do that a lot faster and more efficiently than you could if you were analyzing it by hand.

In the Screaming Frog interface—and we're not going to go through all of it—but you can see I've run a crawl on our own website. And it's going to give you essentially a spreadsheet view of every page that it's found on our site and then a lot of detailed information. You already know you're supposed to be looking at page titles and meta descriptions and your header tags (which are your h1 and h2). Your robots.txt and your XML sitemaps. All of that's going to be captured by Screaming Frog and you can quickly identify pages where you might be missing some of those elements or have duplicates, or have issues that are going to make them unusable essentially to Google. For each page in Screaming Frog’s report, you're going to get a very detailed view of the response codes, whether it's a page that is available to search engines, or if there are any 404 error pages. [You’re going to get] a lot of detail information about the page size and the load times. You can even hook in an external API to grab inbound link metrics, Google Analytics data, and Google Search Console data all in one easy report, so you can figure out what's working for you and what's not.

So, Screaming Frog, we highly recommend it. There is a free version that limits how many pages you can crawl, but it's a great introduction to crawling your website at scale. It's also a very cost-effective tool, so if you're considering using it to analyze your own website, you can purchase a license [because] it's relatively cheap. And if you're looking for some extra help, obviously, Workshop Digital is used to looking at this kind of information. We'd love to take a look at it for you and figure out how to help you analyze your own website with that objective, unbiased process.

Thanks for watching the first video in our eight-part series. For more information on how to analyze your SEO strategy on your own, check out the remaining videos below.

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1. On-Site Elements

(You are here.)

Watch the video

On-site elements are important for visitors as well as search engines. Learn if your site’s basic on-page factors meet these standards and cater to your end users.

2. Website Content

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Do you have a discernible content strategy that aids in copy and design decisions? Learn why visitors and search engines should understand your content.

3. Link Profile

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Search engines place more value on pages and sites with high quality inbound links. Learn more about your link profile.

4. Desktop Site Speed

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Search engines favor fast load times because they provide a better user experience. Learn more about your link profile.

5. Mobile User Experience

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Is your website accessible and easy to navigate on mobile devices? This video discusses your mobile user experience.

6. Website Analytics

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Learn why visitor and conversion data is essential to understanding how well your site is performing and identifying areas to improve.

7. Local Search Visibility

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Search engines place more value on pages and sites with high quality inbound links. Learn more about your link profile.

8. Historical Keyword Rankings

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Monitoring your digital footprint is essential for prioritizing opportunities and identifying competitors. This video reviews the importance of keyword rankings.