In just 15 minutes – even without paid tools – you can get an SEO overview and uncover important starting points for further analysis and search engine optimization on the website. I’ll show you how to do it.
“It just doesn’t work!” “Our competitors are blackhat on us!” “Google doesn’t understand us!” – Website operators have many guesses as to why their performance in search engines is not satisfactory. However, these theories are often wrong. An objective SEO overview helps you to identify basic problems honestly – and you can often get that in a quarter of an hour.
1. Preparation and tools
Ready for a quick SEO overview? Then I’ll tell you now what you need in the next 15 minutes:
- Laptop, smartphone and Google search
- Being able to view the website with objective eyes: You should hide what you know about the website and the company and put yourself in the shoes of a new website visitor.
- Basic understanding of SEO and UX
- Google Search Console access for the page (you don’t have it or have only existed for a short time? Then alternatively: SEMrush or Metrics Tools and Screaming Frog SEO Spider )
- Paper and pen or a document so that you can write down and evaluate findings. For the evaluation, I suggest: green or 🙂 for “everything is okay,,” orange or ~ for “important starting point” and red or 🙁 for “performance brake.”
And here we go!
1. Take a critical look at user-friendliness and content.
You read that correctly: To get a quick SEO overview, I don’t start with backlinks, keywords, or technology and don’t throw a page in the tool, but just look at it for content and user-friendliness.
Why usability and page viewing come first
First of all, Google also focuses on the user: almost all updates in recent years point in this direction. Another reason: You can deduce a lot from the first impression!
- If, for example, a website is confusing in terms of structure and navigation, then there are likely to be problems with clearly assigning keywords to individual pages and delimiting them from one another. In this case, there is too much, too old, or too similar content that hinders a good ranking.
- If the content seems careless and uninteresting, then the site probably has hardly any high-quality backlinks.
- If a page feels buggy to use, is strangely designed, or loads jerkily, then the technology in other SEO-relevant areas may not be up to date. This means that the reading and assignment of content by search engines work poorly or that wrong pages can be crawled and indexed.
Furthermore, SEO is not an end in itself: SEO traffic is useless if a website scares off users; they don’t want to enter their data and quickly leave the page and never come back.
Test with smartphone and desktop PC
When a new SEO client approaches me, I almost always proceed in the same way: First, I surf the site for a few minutes – both with my smartphone and on my laptop.
I look at different landing page types, such as a product page, a contact page, a category page, and a blog or advice article, and of course, the home page.
As an SEO consultant, I can look at the site objectively, which is an advantage. You should try that too, even if you have been working in your company for many years and now want to determine the SEO status. Hide everything you know about the site: why things were solved in a certain way, where to click to find something, where the internal company structure is reflected in the navigation, and so on.
Imagine: You are a person from the target group of the website currently on the page for the first time and is looking for something. The target group and their wishes should be derived from the product or service that is involved. Example: A shop with high-quality and sustainable outdoor clothing probably focuses on nature-loving people who also spend a little more money on environmentally friendly clothing, but want to be fully informed about the quality.
Hold on to impressions.
Now it is important that you record all your positive and negative impressions from this person’s point of view:
- Do you understand immediately what the page is about? Why is that the case, or why not?
- Is the core topic presented in an understandable way? Do the landing pages clearly focus on one topic?
- Do you feel like reading the texts on the landing pages and in the blog, looking at the pictures, click on the videos – or not?
- Do you get there easily? This can be: informing, arranging a consultation, buying products, inquiring about services, or booking directly.
- Is the page (navigation, content, design) structured, personable, and intuitive? Or is it confusing, unsorted, and dubious in some places?
Now you can make an initial assessment of the user-friendliness and content of the website and, for example, highlight it in red, orange, or green according to the above example.
2. Competition check
How well or badly a page ranks on a search term depends on how well or badly it meets the intention of a search query, and whether other pages manage it better or worse. That’s why you should check the competition!
Here you should not only orientate yourself to competitors but also to keyword competitors. These are web results of any kind that are displayed for a search query. The best thing to do is switch to the anonymous mode in your browser and delete cookies and history to carry out a Google search that is as free as possible.
Google is now the most important terms that have emerged as relevant from looking at the site. The site operator considers the most important keywords: Which keyword competitor ranks ahead?
- If your page is on top of search results, page 1: Great!
- If your site does not rank well, click on the best results: To what extent are these competing sites structured differently and provide better answers to the search query’s search intent? This is about the structure and the thematic focus, about formats that are more suitable, such as videos or picture instructions, but also the type of pages (e.g., guide article or product page). Example: if one side sells black sweaters with a skull, but is optimized for “sweaters,” it probably does not rank for “black sweaters with skull” or “sweaters.” If you google the two terms, on the other hand, you can see which results are relevant for these search queries and can draw conclusions for optimization.
- If unexpected results such as Duden entries or news boxes rank, but neither your site nor a reasonable competitor, then the chosen keyword probably does not match your site after all.
After this step, you already have an idea of whether the page you are viewing focuses on the right keywords (or requires keyword research and map ) and whether the page offers the right content and formats for the desired keywords. With the Google Search Console in the next step, you can confirm the suspicion.
Tip: You can also use tools such as SEMrush or Ahref Tools for this step. You can enter the domain for a keyword overview and search for individual keywords and check exactly who is ranking for it. However, as part of a quick check, I am less concerned with precision than with a general impression and starting points. I use the tools later for detailed analysis.
3. Google Search Console: Ranking check
Open the Google Search Console to get an overview of rankings and clicks. To do this, switch to the search queries under “Performance” and look at 12 months to exclude short-term and seasonal effects. Then filter out searches using the brand name.
Now you can see whether the website is ranking well for important non-brand search queries and is getting clicks, which keywords get the most clicks, and whether those are the ones that are relevant to the page topic. If there are hardly any meaningful clicks, revising the content is a very important starting point.
Tip: Also use the site: [DOMAIN] query in the browser address line, for example, site: www.digitalgarg.com, to get a quick overview of all pages in the index and to rate the snippets briefly: are they too short or too long, and are cut off by google? Are they meaningful? Do you invite to click? You can also click once on one of the rear results pages when querying the domain to find out whether unexpected or pointless pages are indexed.
4. Google Search Console: Website technology
In this step, you finally get an overview of the state of the website’s art in the Google Search Console. To do this, click on Coverage and select everything that is not “valid”:
So now, you see all the pages that Google knows but not indexed (without problems). The list of reasons why Google diagnoses errors or warnings or does not index pages is exciting. With very large pages, a high ratio between excluded and valid pages can indicate problems in crawling and indexing management, so that crawlers visit the important pages too seldom.
The following list can be overwhelming. Therefore, first, focus on the points with a high number of affected pages or a rising trend. There you should check briefly which URL types are affected (a specific directory, only PDFs, URLs with parameters …), whether there are relevant URLs or you discover URLs that you did not know existed.
Typical Google reports and my rating
- Pages excluded by noindex-tag or robots-txt are often intentional. Internal redirects are ugly and should be permanently removed, but mostly on purpose.
- I find crawling peculiarities alarming since crawling is the basis for indexing. In the case of crawling anomalies, crawling was not possible. Such server timeouts with the status code 5xx indicate a faulty configuration of the website technology or problems in terms of loading time.
- Under the message “ Pages crawled but not indexed ” you can often see a type of page, for example, URLs in a certain directory. For example, in online shops, this suggests thin content, superfluous content from a search engine point of view, or pages undesired by the webmaster (system configuration!).
- (Soft) 404 errors are also disadvantageous – here, there are presumably internal links to pages that no longer exist, which sends a negative quality signal to search engines and users.
- Duplicates are also important. There are probably problems with content management; very similar or very thin content can be accessed in different directories or under different URLs, for example, or there are problems with the international orientation and hreflang so that Google recognizes copies.
Tip: You can also crawl the page with a crawler such as the Screaming Frog SEO Spider to get more detailed insights, for example, into the sources of 404 errors.
A look at the Core Web Vitals rounds off the technical consideration. Are many URLs marked in red, and are the number of these pages increasing, as in the following example? Then you should see more detailed information under “Open report.”
You can also enter one or two very slow pages, i.e., pages marked red by Google, in Page Speed Insights. Here you will discover, for example, that the server and hosting are very slow, images are integrated too large, or the code is poorly maintained.
Now you have certainly found many aspects of the website you are looking at that are not optimal. The most important thing now is their prioritization.
The effects play a major role here:
- Fundamental technical problems prevent the most beautiful content from ranking well. A clean technical page base is an often-underestimated foundation for further SEO efforts.
- On the other hand, a clean technology does not help if there is hardly any meaningful content and texts on the page, and search engines, therefore, cannot understand what it is about. Even if the page focuses on inappropriate or too general keywords, you cannot achieve good rankings.
- A confusing or dubious-looking page, on the other hand, discourages users – this not only prevents the page from generating meaningful leads and conversions but also worsens the rankings in the long term via negative user signals.
Of course, experience also plays a major role in the evaluation and prioritization. If you need the support of a well-known SEO agency in Jaipur, please get in touch!