SEO is complicated. That’s why unfortunately, a lot of business clients that pay for SEO don’t even know if their hired SEO agency knows what they’re doing or is doing anything at all.
We’ve prepared this list of easy ways to check whether your SEO agency is competent and whether they are completing some of the most essential functions of an SEO campaign.
1) SSL certificate and HTTP redirects
Having an SSL certificate (the green lock icon that you see in the browser by the URL address) is an important factor, having benefits both directly on your site’s SEO rankings, as well as improving the perception of trust & security the site gives to users.
When a site has an SSL certificate, you’re able to access it through https:// (the S is for secure) in a browser. A lot of times, SSL certificates are even included in hosting plans.
However, when you have an SSL certificate, there’s one thing, that if not done right, can be significantly harming your site’s search rankings.
It can be tested with one easy test:
Go to your web browser and open up two tabs.
Now compare what you see in these two tabs with the charts below.
If both the HTTPS and HTTP URLs show the site just fine, there is a major issue.
You see, if you can access your website and are able to see both versions, with HTTP:// and HTTPS:// preceding the URL, that means that 2 separate versions of your website exist and are accessible. This means that the search engine algorithm sees it as duplicate site content, and may penalize your rankings accordingly.
So, more than just adding an SSL certificate, the SEO technician must make sure that proper URL redirects are in place, so that the two separate versions of the site can’t be accessed. If you are able to view both versions of the site, your SEO tech is making a significant error for not addressing this fix, harming your SEO rankings as a consequence.
2) 404 errors
404 errors occur when a page on your site links to another page that doesn’t exist (either it was removed, URL was changed, or there was a typo)
Fixing 404 errors is one of the first items you cross off the list and should be done immediately.
There is a super easy way to check if any 404 errors exist on your site:
Log into the Google Search Console account associated with your site.
– If you don’t know what this is, ask your SEO company for a login
– If they say that they haven’t set up search console or don’t use it, you have a bigger problem on your hands.
Google Search console is the most essential way to diagnose the status of your site and its organic indexing on Google. If the company hasn’t set up Search Console – then this is a major red flag, and you should explore further if they really do know what they’re doing.
- In Search Console, on the left sidebar, go on ‘Coverage’
- above the chart, press “error”
- see below for all errors that exist
Not all URL errors are necessarily problematic. However, one type that should be addressed is “Submitted URL Not Found (404)”. If you have this error, push your SEO company to explain why they haven’t addressed and fixed this.
3) Sitemap has been added
Sitemaps give a “roadmap” to search engine crawlers of all of your site’s pages.
Checking if you have a sitemap is very easy..
Simply go on your site URL followed by /sitemap.xml OR /sitemap_index.xml
If you see something that looks like this, then you do have a sitemap.
Pro tip: Sitemaps should also be submitted to google in search console. Simply go on Google Search Console -> Sitemaps.
You should see a screen like this. If you see a sitemap listed in the table with a status of “success” then your sitemap has been submitted properly.
If this hasn’t been done, this is a huge red flag, as sitemap submission is one of the most fundamental items to complete for SEO.
In summary, SEO can be vague and complex, thus business clients who are busy focused on their business’s bottom line may not have the time or the know-how to properly assess whether SEO work is being done properly.
Hopefully, these 3 simple ways to check can quickly and easily give you an idea of whether your SEO company has completed some of the most essential aspects that should be part of every SEO campaign.