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When Google ranks your website in its results pages it uses a complex system - called an algorithm - to crawl and index your site. During this process, web page quality and relevance is assessed to determine the position your site should appear.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the practice of improving your site for search engines (and users), to increase the potential of achieving a higher rank. But how do we do SEO analysis like Google does?

With over 200 ranking factors, no one fully understands how Google’s algorithm works so it can’t be said with absolute certainty that a site can be analyzed in the exact way that Google does. However, thanks to many dedicated geniuses within the SEO sphere that have lovingly dedicated time to researching, assessing, and trying what works and what doesn’t, we do now know what Google considers to be the most important ranking signals.

So, although we can’t necessary audit our sites like Google can, we can look at how to do an SEO analysis of some of the most important ranking factors with tips on how to improve them. These will also have the biggest impact on your site’s performance.

  1. Content

A recent report from Search Engine Journal claims that since the introduction of the semantic search, the Google update known as Hummingbird favors relevant and quality as a ranking signal. In the past this has meant that site owners could prove ‘relevance’ by stuffing content with keywords to get ahead. However, because semantic searches aim to fulfil search intent this means that content relevance is now measured on the content itself.

Content should therefore:

  • Be well researched and informative

  • Be more than 2000 words

  • Directly answer questions and give clear instructions

  • Include relevant information that relates to the query

How to Analyse Content

Use an SEO analysis tool to look for issues with

  • Thin content: Content is too short

  • Missing content: No content appears on the page

  • Title tags: Check that these are the optimal length of 50- 60 characters and are unique to every page

  • Meta descriptions: Although these aren’t a ranking signal, persuasive meta descriptions that contain the search term have a greater click-through-rate.

Use Google Search Console and go to Search appearance>HTML improvements to see where improvements can be made

Google Search Console

Alternatively, if you have a premium WooRank account then use the Site Crawl feature to explore on-page issues.

WooRank on-page issues

Here you can discover:

  • Duplicate title tags

  • Meta descriptions that are too long, too short, missing, or duplicated

  • Pages that have missing H1 tags or have multiple H1 tags

  • Body content issues that may be too thin, missing, or duplicated.

Search Engine Journal also suggests

  • Explore fewer topics in greater detail on each page

  • Improve your Topical Authority in your niche.

2. Backlinks

Because Google regards backlinks (external links pointing to your site) as referrals to your site, they remain one of the most significant ranking factors. Backlinks should be monitored for their quality, which is typically measured by the referring domain and page authority.

How to Analyse Backlinks

In GSC go to Search traffic>Links to your site to see which domains are linking to your site. If you want to check quality, use a tool like Monitor Backlinks or WooRank for free.

Not only can WooRank be used to look at the referring domain, target, anchor text, and quality of the backlink, it will also detail how much traffic is being generated from backlinks so that you can assess which are working the hardest for you.

Traffic from backlinks from WooRank's audit

If you discover links from poor quality sites, it’s worth using a tool like Monitor Backlinks to disavow these links which you can do directly from the platform.

Monitor backlinks to disavow

One of the best ways to generate more backlinks is through the creation of great content that is likely to get shared. Content also needs to be promoted and distributed across social networking sites to increase exposure. There are many ways to approach backlinking, which mainly consists of creating and sharing content but there are also some great ways to generate backlinks without creating content.

3. Technical SEO elements

If you truly want to do an SEO analysis like Google, then you’ll need to spend time investigating the technical elements of your site. Technical SEO ensures that your site setup correctly and is friendly for both search engines and users.

*HTTPS: *For a while now Google has been giving a boost to sites with HTTPS encryption. Historically, it was only e-commerce sites that had to incorporate this but because HTTPS transmits web information securely, Google recognized that it helped to build trust and credibility. In 2014 Google announced that HTTPS became a ranking signal.

HTTPS as a Ranking Signal Tweet from Matt Cutts

How to Analyze

Analyzing whether your site has HTTPS is pretty straightforward - if it appears at the start of your domain, then great. If it doesn’t, you can purchase an SSL certificate and implement this, but you should follow the correct protocol for changing your domain name, making sure you direct traffic to the new domain name with 301 redirects.

WooRank's URL with HTTPS

If you’ve already migrated your site to HTTPS you will want to check for any issues caused as a result. Use the WooRank Site Crawl to check for indexing issues, duplicate data and HTTP/HTTPS conflict issues - looking for HTTP assets that exist on HTTPS URLs.

H1 & H2 titles: You’re probably already aware that H1 tags play an important role in helping users and search engines identify page content. These should only be once (unless using HMTL5) and on every page. They should contain the page’s keyword and be unique. Other Hx title are also important. Because they offer further assistance to search engines in understanding page content they are generally a strong ranking factor. Make sure you utilize title tags throughout your content.

How to Analyze Title Tags

Use WooRank to analyze titles used on any page of your site.

Title Tag analysis on WooRank

It will show you how many times a page uses a specific Hx title tag and will flag up if a page uses an H1 tag more than once. This can also be checked via Site Crawl in the Onpage section. If there are pages with multiple H1 tags they will be flagged up here under H1 tags.

H1 Tags in WooRanks advanced review

Crawling and Indexing: Search Engines need to be able to crawl and index your pages. If they can’t you’re site will struggle to appear in SERPs.

Sitemaps

These are text files that essentially list every URL on your site and are used by search engines to make crawling easier. It’s not a ranking signal but it will help your pages and content be found and understood more easily.

Robots.txt files

These are plain text files that help crawlers navigate your site. It tells crawlers what they can and cannot crawl.

How to Analyse Site and Robots.txt files

If your site’s already registered and verified in GSC, under the Crawl section you will be able to see whether these files have been submitted. Use the Sitemap and Robots.txt tester to test, submit, and identify any problems with these files.

What is an XML Sitemap?

Check out these tools for sitemap creation with our FREE SEO Guide

Remember to:

  • Submit your XML sitemap to other search engines like Bing through its webmaster tool

  • Ensure your robots.txt file isn’t blocking search engines from crawling your site. To allow all search engines to crawl your entire site, your robots.txt file should look this:

User-agent:
Disallow:

4. Mobile Optimization

In 2016 Google announced mobile first indexing which meant that Google began ranking its search listings based on the mobile version of content, even for listings that were shown to desktop users. It’s not hard to see why they did this. Mobile search has, for a long while, surpassed desktop, local searches made on a mobile have a higher conversion rate, and mobile searches are 160 times more likely to convert. So, with this in mind, you will want to audit and optimize your mobile site.

How to Analyse Mobile Version

One of the most important considerations for mobile sites is to ensure that responsive designs render to the device being used. Use device emulators or operating system simulators to test the mobile rendering of your site.

You can also use GSC to check any issues with your mobile site. Including issues with content that is too wide, or clickable content that may appear too close together. Simply go to Mobile usability under Search traffic from the GSC dashboard.

For an extensive guide to Mobile SEO analysis check out our previous blog which also explains how to optimise to enhance the user experience.

WooRank also provides a detailed SEO analysis of mobile sites investigating key areas including:

  1. Mobile stats: Provides an overview of the number of people visiting your site from a mobile device.

  2. Mobile friendliness: Examines how easy it is for users to accomplish objectives and access information from your site.

  3. Mobile rendering: Shows how your site renders across different platforms.

Mobile rendering

  1. Touch screen readiness: Assesses whether the most important aspects, such as buttons and links are large enough to be tapped easily.

  2. Mobile compatibility: Detects whether there is any embedded content such as CSS, Flash, or JavaScript which can be incompatible with some devices.

  3. Font size: Can the text be easily read on the screen.

  4. Mobile viewpoint: Whether the content fits within the specified viewpoint

  5. Mobile speed: Examines a number of different criteria that can impact on speed, including;

  6. Minifying code

  7. Optimisation of images

  8. Leveraging browser caching

  9. Prioritisation of visible content.

Do your SEO analysis

Although it’s virtually impossible to fully understand how Google’s complex algorithm work, we do know what Google considers to be the most important ranking factors that will have a significant impact on site performance.

By analyzing these ranking signals and optimizing your site accordingly you should see improvements to rank position and performance in due course.

Tools like WooRank are a great resource for SEO analysis and are regularly developed to respond to changes and updates made by Google. So, give it and try and let us know how you get on.