How to Give Your Website a Checkup

Welcome to the depths of winter, iCopyInsiders. We hope everyone is staying healthy with flu season raging (don’t forget to wash your hands, folks). And of course, America’s own version of seasonal affective disorder is swiftly approaching with the end of football in two weeks.

As the weather gets dreary and frigid temperatures set in this week, it’s as good a time as any to stay indoors, heat up some soup and give your business website a checkup, as well.

And when we say checkup, we mean checking in on some of the key indicators of a healthy, vibrant website – one that potential customers will actually find on Google and other search engines.

Now, as we’ve written in the past, a successful content strategy takes a dedicated investment of patience, commitment and resources to see serious return on investment. But you don’t need to hire an expensive firm to get a basic idea of whether your site is doing well or poorly. There a number of free search engine optimization diagnostic tools that can give you a broad idea of how to improve your site’s SEO efforts.

Here are some of our favorite free diagnostic tools.

Google and Bing Webmaster Tools

Both Google and Bing offer a ridiculously useful set of free tools for diagnosing the health of your website. Both of these should be a starting point for any site checkup, because they can be used to quickly see how the two search engines view your site, including the search terms customers are using to find it. They can also be used to figure out malware and website glitches such as crawl errors.

Copyscape

Google punishes duplicate content in its search rankings. And it’s no secret that plagiarism, whether you are aware that your content producers were committing it or not, is a guaranteed fast way to tank a reputation. That makes Copyscape – which scans the web for duplicate content – one of our go-to tools here at iCopywriter. We run everything that our writers produce through the service, but even if you’re an iCopy client, it’s worth checking out if you’re posting material on your own or from other bloggers.

Google Page Speed

Website load speed is an underrated factor in your search rankings. You don’t want to waste users’ time with a clunky, hard-to-load website. Also, they’re more likely to click away from a site that doesn’t load quickly. Luckily, Google has a set of Page Speed Tools that can be used to assess how quickly your website loads.

Site Grading Tools

There are a number of sites that can give you a quick, letter grade assessment of how your website is performing. We like HubSpot’s Marketing Grader. It’s a great resource for figuring out a few jumping off points for improving your website.

Social Mention

One of the big trends for 2013 will be social media’s increasing importance in search rankings. Bing is incorporating more Facebook chatter into its search results and Google Authorship is going to give more weight to socially influential content creators. Use search engines like Social Mention to get a quick feel for how and where your brand is registering on social media.

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Photo Credit: FindYourSearch

Black Hat Vs. White Hat

Guest Post by: Long-time iCopywriter Blogger, Jessica Towne

Search Engine Optimization (SEO), can be a powerful tool when it comes to getting attention on the web. This is because Google, Yahoo and other search tools use your keywords to determine where in the list of search results your particular site will land.

Using the right keywords for your site is the most imperative when it comes to online business marketing. This is because the more relevant phrases you plug in, the better the chance that search engines, and thus, consumers will find you.

Knowing which magic words to use – and how often, in combination with rich, pertinent content – is the key to creating effective copy. This is a balance I’m always striving to achieve for iCopywriter clients.

Understanding “Black Hat” and “White Hat” SEO practices is also helpful. If you’ve never heard of these terms, here’s a little primer to get you in the know.

Black Hat SEO

  • Black Hat SEO is basically trying to fool search engines into ranking your site high on results page by using practices that searching sites frown upon.
  • Typically this involves irrelevant content that doesn’t really help information seekers. It can be found in the form of one or two keywords being used excessively, or posting lots of links meant to redirect users.
  • It can also take the form of repetitive tags, or “hidden” text (characters the same color as the background, which make them fade from view).

Why should you care? It’s possible to be banned from certain search bars as a result of using Black Hat practices.

White Hat SEO

  • White Hat tactics direct attention to your site in an ethical, organic way. They involve taking the time to research and write content applicable to one theme and using related keywords to naturally direct readers/consumers to that content.
  • You can use synonyms to make multiple tags, headlines and titles that are associated with your topic, and include links to other useful information on the same idea.
  • This is an ongoing process, because it involves coming up with fresh news/stories all the time and properly using HTML code to link all of your work together.

Why should you care? With practice, time and a willingness to learn, White Hat SEO tactics can really work. Keeping this information in the back of your mind when you set out to create a winning webpage is key to making something that search engines – and customers – will trust and flock to.

For more information, check out this helpful (and user-friendly) site:

http://www.webhostingtalk.com/wiki/White_hat,_black_hat,_and_gray_hat_SEO

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Photo Credit: V&A Steamworks