Search Engine Optimization or better known as SEO is a vital and essential step for any website if you intend to rank high in search engines, not just Google, but any available search engine out there.
The task of optimizing one's site is daunting and strikes fear to many website owners. Many people don't even know where to begin. Question such as what keywords do I optimize for, are meta tags still important, how do I know my ranking and many more come to mind when SEO is mentioned.
As with any craft, you need proper tools in order to build something, a chef needs his cooking utensils to slice, dice and finally cook up a great meal, a plumber can't fix your leaky pipes without his trusty toolbox, and of course a Search Engine Optimizer/Webmaster/Digital Marketer or whatever you call us can't optimize your website without the proper digital tools.
Today we will be looking at two SEO audit reports generated by two noteworthy SAAS SEO Tools. The contenders are SERanking and SEO Tester Online (STO), both are great tools with their fair share of strengths and weaknesses.
The intention of this comparison is not to put one down while raising the other, it is merely to provide you with the knowledge to make a choice if you are considering either tool. We also hope that this comparison serves to inform the founders of both tools and hopefully the feedback given here will be taken positively and improvements be made to their existing tool.
Now without going-on and on for too long, let's dive into the first SEO audit report by SERanking. We'll start with the cover page:
SERanking gets started straightaway on the get-go by providing an overview of the number of Important Fixes, Semi-Important Fixes, number of Crawled Pages, and number of Passed Checks. Date of creation of the report is also visible on the front page.
The bottom of the page shows you some ranking information for your domain such as the MOZ DA (Domain Authority), Alexa Ranking, number of Backlinks. There's also information on the number of pages indexed by the top three search engines - Google, Bing and Yahoo!. Finally there's some information on your domain expiration date, Web Archive Age and Server Location.
Also note that the report is white labeled to show the name of your agency/company, making this report branded. This is important for Digital Marketing Agencies as they can offer their clients the reports in their own brand.
Moving on we have a website Health Check. The areas checked in this area are as below:
Redirects HTTP Traffic to HTTPS
Common Homepage Variations
WWW Redirect checks whether your website runs with www or without www in order to avoid duplicate content. There's also some instructions on how you can fix this issue.
URL Rewrite makes sure your website URLs are rewritten to be SEO friendly which is clean and descriptive of the contents on the page.
HTTPS is important for Google rankings now and as such it is important to check if your site Redirects HTTP traffic to HTTPS or not. If you get a green tick then there's nothing more you need to do.
Robots.txt is a file in the root of your website that gives instructions to search engine robots, directing them to index or not index specified pages or preventing certain pages from getting indexed. It also contains links to the XML sitemap file that will help search engine crawlers to discover and index the maximum number of the website's pages.
XML Sitemaps are important for getting your web pages indexed on search engines. It helps search engines crawl your site easily and intelligently. It is highly recommended that you submit your sitemaps to major search engines as soon as possible to quickly get your pages indexed.
The next section of the report is on Page Analysis. Every page of your website will be scanned and you will get to know about pages with too long URLs, blocked robots.txt, oversized text size , Noindex meta tags, rel="canonical", rel="alternate", meta refresh redirect etc.
What we like about this report is that it lists out every single page that has an issue. This makes it easy to identify the pages that need fixing.
Next up with have Meta Analysis. Meta tags may not be as important as they used to be but they are still essential and play a role in ranking your web pages high in search engines.
Here you'll get to know whether your titles, descriptions are too long, too short, or whether they're outright missing. Meta titles should be between 10 - 70 characters while Meta Descriptions should be between 50 - 320 characters. Be sure to add in important keywords in both the title and description. You should also avoid using the same title and description for multiple pages or you will get a warning here.
Moving on we have Content Analysis. Content is King and we should make sure our King has all the important keywords, heading tags and most important of all that it is not duplicate content.
In this section you will see which pages with a low word count of below 250 words, pages without H1 tag, duplicate H1 tag, duplicate H2 tag, empty H2 tag or are any of the H1 and H2 tags too long.
The issues here should be fairly easy to fix without additional instructions.
Link Analysis is up next. Here you will learn of issues about your internal and external links. Some issues such as having more than 100 outgoing links, excessive number of redirects, internal and external links with missing anchor text, number of links with 'nofollow', 'dofollow' and more.
The next section of the report talks about Image Analysis. Here you can find out which pages have images which are missing ALT Text. Image ALT Text is important to describe the image in no more than 7 words and also raise SEO rankings.
Usability and Technologies
The last section of the report talks about Usability and Technologies and lists items such as Favicon, Custom 404 Page, W3C Validation, Safe Browsing as well as Website Speed. There are some explanations for each item and links to external resources related to each item, but again there are no instructions on how to say achieve a good website speed or how to add a Favicon.
Next we will take a look at the generated report by SEO Tester Online, another great SEO Tool with an Italian background.
SEO Tester Online SEO Audit Report
The SEO Audit Report generated by STO at first glance looks more professional with a nicely designed cover page listing the URL of the website the report is for as well as the date of the report. As of this writing there is no Whitelabel option yet, but word is you will be able to customize the generated reports and include your own company name and logo in June 2019. We are certainly looking forward to that feature.
We start off with a summary page with an overall SEO score and the types of tests or Exams as is used in this report that are Optimized, To Improve and Check Again. One look and you know how many issues are there which you need to work on. The issues are further broken down into five main areas, namely Base, Structure, Content, Duplicated and Social. This let's you know the major area which your website is lacking in.
The first area of the report is the Base, and it covers mainly the meta tags, meta descriptions with the addition of Google Snippets thrown in the mix. Clear tips and what you need to do to solve the issue is given in the What to Solve section of the page. This is a plus for the STO report, however the downside is that it doesn't list out the pages which are having said issues.
The report continues with the other meta tags, on this page it tells you whether your meta title tag is missing and how you can add it, as well as best practices for writing a meta title for your page.
Next we have more information on whether the meta titles are too long and truncated (>70 characters), are the meta descriptions too long and truncated (>300 characters). It tells us the number of pages with said issues, and would be even better if the pages affected were listed out as well.
Moving on the report continues with more meta tag checks. On this page it tells you if your meta descriptions are too short (<70 characters) and also checks for the Hreflang tag. Hreflang tag is important for multi-language sites where it serves translated content to targeted users in certain regions, if your site is primarily in English then it would be of little consequence.
The next meta tag on the report is X-Default, which is used to signal search engines that the specified page doesn't target any specific language or locale and is the default page when no other page is better suited.
Next up with Canonical, which was also present in the SERanking report above. Now the fact that this attribute is mentioned in both reports means that it is an important attribute you should take note of.
Now what this tag does is to tell search engines that your content is the original and that you'd prefer your page URL to be displayed in search results. Of course this only applies if there are duplicate publications of your content, in which case you would get the ranking, leads and traffic instead of the copycat.
We move on to the next section of the report, the Structure section. The first item in this section is Compression, if you have compression enabled on your website you're all good. If you're on WordPress you can turn on compressions using caching plugins such as WP Fastest Cache.
Alternatively, gzip compression can be enabled on your webserver as mentioned in the report under recommendations.
The next item is Robots.txt, which is also present in the SERanking SEO audit report above. A robots.txt file is a text file in the root of your site which instructs search engine crawler bots on what to do when they reach your website. You can instruct them to index the whole site, exclude certain pages, or just index specific pages.
We move on to the next item in this section - Sitemaps. A sitemap file is a file that lists all the web pages in a structured manner and guides search engine's crawlers to index your site content in a more intelligent way.
Coming up with have Text/Code Ratio, which is kind of new to us. Basically what it's checking is the amount of text content you have on your page relative to the amount of code.
Seeing that content is King, it is advised that you have more long form content to allow search engines to index your pages as it deems it interesting compared to a page full of just code and little content.
The next item on this page is HTTPS migration. Following the recent Google update, HTTPS has been made an essential requirement to get your site indexed and listed on it's results pages. As Google looks to serve websites that are secure to their users, if you do not have an SSL certificate to secure your site today, you could be losing out on those rankings.
You can easily get free SSL certificates from majority of webhosts today, so this shouldn't be a cause for concern.
Next we look at Image Optimization, well basically in this report it's checking to see if you have alt tags for all your images. An alt tag is an attribute used to describe the contents of an image, a short description of what your image depicts.
If for any reason your image does not load on your site, the text in your alt attribute will be displayed on the page instead, giving context to your content.
The following page continues with the at attribute, checking to see if it's too long (>100 characters).
The next item is 404 errors or pages which are not found, possibly cause you deleted them or totally revamped your website.
Moving on to the next section, the Content section, where the report talks all about your content as did the SERAnking SEO audit report above.
First up is Content Level, which again looks at the length of content of each of your pages. Content below 400 words are considered too short, so you'd be wise to add-on to those pages with short content.
The report also looks at H1 and H2 tags, whether they are too long or oversized (>70 characters), are they missing, and are there multiple H1 tags. Take note that there should ever only be ONE H1 tag on each page. You can have multiple H2 tags, but there can only be one H1 tag.
Next up is the Duplicated section. We start off with Duplicated Pages, which checks to see if you have duplicated content across your site. Unless you're the type who copies and pastes your own content across multiple pages, you should pass this test easily.
Since it is the Duplicated section of the report, the rest of the items are checking for Duplicated Titles, Meta Descriptions, H1, H2. Again if you write original content for each page, these checks should be a breeze to pass.
The final section of the report is the most interesting, the Social section. We've all shared links to our blog posts on social media before, now sometimes the preview image pulled into the post is fine, but other times it's just not what we wanted to use for our post. Ever wondered how that works and whether you could control it?
The answer is yes, and you need to ensure your Open Graph protocol is enabled. Open Graph is used on Facebook, and what it does is it makes any web page into a rich object in a social graph. Basically you get to determine what preview image shows up, what text appears, you have full control over your post in other words.
There are various attributes in the Open Graph and each test will check if you have it all covered. Go back in to fix it if there's something missing.
Twitter uses it's own protocol called the Twittercard, but it functions the same, allowing you to attach rich photos, videos, and media experiences to Tweets. Now every time you tweet a link back to your blog, the Twitter Card will show a nice preview of your content, driving more engagement and traffic back to your site.
Just as the Open Graph, Twitter Cards have various attributes you need to fill up. So get that done and you'll get a perfect score.
This brings us to the end of this SEO Audit Report comparison. I would say both reports were informative and had it's strengths and weaknesses.
The SERanking SEO Audit Report shined in the area where it specifically lists out each problematic page, making it easy for SEOs to quickly identify which pages they need to work on. However it did not have the level of tips and explanations that the SEO Tester Online SEO Audit Report provided.
On the flip side, the STO report could have done better if it included a list of the problematic pages, in which case it would have made the report perfect to work with. Perhaps in a future version, this could be added.
If you'd like to checkout each of the SEO tools mentioned above then follow the links below:
On a side note, there's a Life Time Deal for SEO Tester Online running on Pitchground at the moment. Grab it if you intend to do SEO on your own, if not you could contact us and we'd be happy to get on a call with you.
Do contact us directly if you have any questions about SEO, we would be happy to help out.
We hope you found this article useful, and we'll see you in the next one.
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