As part of your website maintenance package or through other engagements with Cornershop, we may run a series of scans to monitor the SEO performance of your website. This includes monitoring the Google Search Console for errors, SEO analysis of the site, and general performance monitoring. We will send you the results of these scans and any recommendations as a part of a report.
Since the reports contain so much important technical information, we have created this guide to explain more about the tools we use to monitor your website and what should be done with the information provided.
The first section of the report, SEO Analysis, shows the results of a website crawl performed using Moz. Moz offers a wealth of SEO tools and is considered an industry leader in SEO.
The tool we use for the scan is called On-Demand Crawl. Once initiated, the crawler goes through each page of your website and examines 25 different types of SEO issues such as technical SEO blockers, content issues, status code errors, and a number of other issues. We send you the results of this scan as part of your report, along with recommendations of how to fix these issues.
What to Look For
In the SEO Analysis section of your report, we will list the issues that were identified for your website. This consists of:
The specific issue
How many instances of the issue were found
A description of the issue
Recommendations for fixing the issue
A link to the spreadsheet showing the URLs of the pages affected by the issue.
Why does it matter?
Google search algorithms are increasingly focused on promoting websites with a fantastic overall user experience. The way they see it, content issues and technical errors are blockers to website enjoyment and the sharing of information. Over time, if issues like the ones identified in your report are not addressed, you run the risk of falling in rankings and being “buried” in the search results. Most search engines, and Google especially, have shown a trend of “rewarding” websites that perform regular maintenance and site health updates since it shows that the owner cares about maintaining a great website experience for their audience.
What You Need to Know About Google PageSpeed
Google Pagespeed Insights score is a measurement of the performance of your website and the three core web vitals that are measured in that score do have an impact on your website’s SEO.
Your overall SEO ranking is improved when you create good, useful content that your audience finds relevant.
It is highly improbable (if not impossible!) that your website will get a score of 100/100. Unless your website is text only and has no dynamic elements such as images, videos, and animations, certain features on your site will decrease your score. Even Google’s own products, such as Google Analytics, can decrease a score. You will need to decide whether it’s more important to have a high score or if it’s more important to have a website with a more engaging design and functionality.
Google PageSpeed Insights is meant to be used as a diagnostic tool so that you can assess and apply targeted fixes to the specific areas that the test highlights. Improving these areas as much as you can (within reason) will improve your audience’s experience with your site.
You have no control over third-party scripts that load on your website. If you load a YouTube video for example, the code needed to load that video will impact the score. Even loading Google Analytics will have an impact on your score!
How does it work?
Google PageSpeed Insights is a tool built by Google to measure and to help you improve your site’s performance on mobile and desktop devices. After entering a URL, Google will analyze your site’s performance and provide recommendations on how to improve the site speed and performance.
The tool provides metrics for the three "Core Web Vitals" measured by the tool, including:
Largest Contentful Paint measures how much time it takes to load the largest content area on your site.
First Input Delay measures how much time is needed before someone can interact with your site.
Cumulative Layout Shift measures how much time it takes for your content to completely finish loading.
These three Core Web Vitals focus on user experience and how users interact with your site.
Why is it important?
Your results from Google PageSpeed Insights matter. Though your overall Google PageSpeed score on its own isnot a ranking factor for SEO, your website's SEO ranking is impacted by mobile speed and user experience, two areas that are measured by your Google Pagespeed Insights scores.
This means the score can be a helpful indication of how well your site performs and can help you identify ways to improve your overall site performance.
How should you use it?
While your site loading speed is an indication of your site's performance and is a factor in SEO, the more valuable aspects of the Google Pagespeed Insights results are the specific recommendations.
The Google PageSpeed Insights tool is meant to be used as a diagnostic tool so that you can assess and apply targeted fixes to specific pain points. Not every recommended fix can be used for every website! Your website may have features that will completely stop working if you fix every one of the “issues” that the tool highlights.
Here are some examples of improvements that we’ve made for sites thanks to Google PageSpeed scores. We took:
Dr. Kate White’s site from a 40 to 76
Fred Ebb Foundation’s site from a 76 to 85
Team4Tech’s site from 33 to 87
FoodFinders’s site from 23 to 96
All of these sites achieved these increases by doing the following:
Manually resizing images
Serving images in optimized formats (WebP and AVIF over PNG or JPEG)
Cleaning up unused themes and plugins
Preloading larger images and fonts (so that they are there when the site wants to load them)
Implementing lazy loading (Instead of loading the entire web page in one go, only loading certain sections and delaying the remaining until needed) either through custom code or plugin
Installing and configuring optimization plugins such as WP Rocket, WP Rocket No Cache, Autoptimizer and Imagify
The key is balancing optimizing your site to strive for a higher PageSpeed Score with the user experience of content. For these examples, even though some changes would have given us a higher score, we chosenot to change:
Large hero images used for their visual appeal
Micro-interactions and animations designed to engage the user
Video and photo galleries where specific files were important for video and image quality
In summary, Google Pagespeed results are best used as a guide to help you improve your site's usability and performance.
Google Lighthouse is an open source auditing tool that uses predefined audit criteria to assess website performance. In our scans, we use the SEO audit set to do a fine scan of three pages from your website (typically your homepage, a popular interior page and your most popular post type, like a blog or news post) to assess any SEO issues that Google sees.
Why It Matters
Google has shared that their main goal is to ensure a great user experience across the web. The issues identified for each page in the Google Lighthouse scans are flagged by Google as things that are likely to influence search result rankings.
It should be noted, however, that results from Google Lighthouse should not be seen as an endorsement or condemnation of your website. It is merely an analytical tool that can offer ideas for improving or optimizing your website in the way that Google wants to see it. The issues identified in this scan should be examined, and corrected if possible.
How You Should Use It
This section of the report often provides the best “quick-fix” refinements you can make to improve your website over time. The issues usually involve things like adding alt text to images, adding meta descriptions to pages, and other content items that could have a big impact on your site visitors’ user experience. . The best part is, fixing these small things will really add up over time, improving your website overall, and search result rankings.
Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a tool that offers a snapshot into how Google views your website. It tracks any issues that the Google bots record while crawling and indexing your website, and reports those issues on an indexing dashboard so that you can refine your website and provide a better user experience.
The dashboard shows a number for the issues encountered, along with a number showing how many errors were found related to the issues. For example, 404 errors on 5 pages will be shown in the dashboard as 1 issue, and the number of errors will be 5.
Your SEO Report contains a snapshot of the indexing dashboard, a list of any issues and errors shown, and recommendations on how to fix each one.
How You Should Use It
The issues reported in this section are directly related to your website index, meaning that if an issue is showing, then Google had trouble adding certain content from your website to its listing. Pages that can’t be indexed cannot be shown in search results, so these issues should be fixed right away.
What should I do with the report?
Each section of the report contains recommendations and instructions for resolving the issues found in the scans we performed. Depending on the skill-set of your team, you may be able to fix many of these SEO issues in-house.
If your team isn’t able to fix the issues, or just doesn’t have time, we’ve got you covered! Cornershop offers several services and packages that are specifically focused on SEO. Let us know if you are interested in learning more about technical or content optimization, or if you are interested in starting an SEO Retainer (which covers it all).