Roll up your sleeves! It’s time to get started with the first lesson. Let’s begin by reviewing your website for proper usage of the two most important website ranking tools: URLs and title tags. Your objective in this chapter is to learn how to gather URLs and title tags and assess them so they are optimized for both search engines and visitors. (We will help you re-write them in a future lesson).
Gathering URLs and Titles
There are 3 primary ways to do this:
- Manually Open Each Page
- Download a Tool (We recommend Screaming Frog)
- Use a Web App (We recommend the one listed below from Webmaster World)
Option A: Manually Open Pages
Step 1: Open each page individually.
Step 2: Right click on the page. Click “View Source” or “View Page Source.” This will show you the source code of the website.
Step 3: Use the “Find” function (Ctrl + F on PC or Cmd + F on Mac) and type “title.” Look for a line that starts with “<title>” and ends with “</title>”. Copy the text and add that to the spreadsheet next to the URL.
In the example above the full title would be:
"Orange Fox - SEO for Marketing Professionals & Businesses"
Option B: Download a Tool
Step 1: Download a tool like Screaming Frog (use the free version if your website is less than 500 pages). Simply go to the website, download the tool, and install it.
Step 2: Enter your website in the box near the top that says “Enter url to spider:” and click “Start.”
Step 3: The program will scan your website. (You can follow the progress to the right of the start button.) Once the scan finishes, you will see a list of every page on your website. The easiest way to work with this data is to highlight all the rows and hit copy (Ctrl + C on PC or Cmd + C on Mac) and paste it onto a spreadsheet.
Option C: Use a Web App
Step 1: Go to Webmaster World. Enter your website.
Step 2: Choose the number of pages your website contains.
Step 3: Click “Check” and the process will begin.
When it is complete, it will say “Done.”
Step 4: Click “Download in xls.”
Assessing Your URLs and Title Tags
Now that you have all your data in one place, you can quickly look through it and decide which ones need to be altered to better optimize your website in search engines.
Here are some actions you should take before you begin:
- Make a copy of the file.
- Delete pages that have redirects, archives, categories and tags. (The fastest way to do this is by sorting the spreadsheet by “Status” or “Status Code,” and deleting anything that is a 301 or 404).
- Sort the URL column alphabetically. Anything that has “category” or “tag” in the URL can be deleted.
- Remove the date archive pages. (These URLs typically look like this: http://www.orangefox.com/2015/01/29/).
After completing these tasks, what remains should be the main pages of your website.
When you look at the URLs of your website, there are two important questions to ask yourself:
Is the URL relevant to the actual content of the page?
If perspective clients were only able to see the URL, would they understand what the page is about?
If you answer “no” to those questions, mark the cell in red so you remember to update it at a later time.
Next, check to see if the URL has keywords in it. (“About Us” or “Contact Us” pages do not need to have keywords.) Pages that target specific keywords should have those keywords in the URL (i.e. if you are a plumbing service, you should have a page with “plumber” in the URL). Don’t stuff unnecessary words in the URLs or put the same keyword on every page. Again, mark each URL that may have an issue in red so that you remember to update it later.
Assessing Title Tags
Look through each of the title tags and make sure they make sense. Does each one clearly describe the content of the page? Verify the titles are not stuffed full of keywords. The titles should be readable and flow, like a sentence, not a bunch of jumbled words. Finally, make sure there are keywords in the title where they make sense. Remember to mark any of the titles that do not meet these criteria to be fixed at a later time.
Once you’ve completed these steps, make sure to save your spreadsheet in a safe location. In a future chapter we will review each of these fields and make the necessary changes to improve your site.
Congratulations! You have completed the first lesson and met your first objective of gathering URLs and title tags and assessing them so they are optimized for both search engines and visitors. It’s time to continue onto the next step to fully optimizing your site!