All of us at Netvantage take turns doing on-site audits and our current intern, Jessica, recently completed her first one. When we take on a new project, the first step is usually completing an on-site audit. The on-site audit is where we go through a site and make edit suggestions for the page titles, meta descriptions, body copy, and more. During this process, we also suggest new pages, check the site’s speed and make any additional recommendations that will be beneficial for the site’s rankings.
Doing an on-site audit for the first time can be a little overwhelming so I wasn’t surprised when Jessica asked multiple questions before even getting started. Here are a few of the questions she asked that will help everyone understand the SEO basics.
How long should the page title and meta description be?
If Jessica would have asked me how long the page title should be two months ago, my answer would have been much different from the one I gave her. Up until recently, I would have said the maximum length should be 70 characters. A recent experiment by Authority Labs makes me think differently now. The experiment looked at how often Google changed a website’s page title and the average title length Google favors. According to the results of the experiment, the “sweet spot” is between 50 and 59 characters.
As far as the meta description goes, I told her 160 characters. That is what I’ve always gone by and will probably continue to go by until someone does an experiment that gives me a reason not to.
Why aren’t we doing meta keywords?
Google doesn’t use meta keywords to determine search results. They aren’t going to hurt your website to put them there, but they aren’t going to help you either so they are pretty much a moot point.
How many keywords should I assign to a page?
This was the hardest question to answer. Simply because there is no simple answer. The important thing to think about when assigning keywords to a page is to avoid keyword stuffing. Having body copy on a page with every other word being a keyword doesn’t look good to Google and site visitors won’t be a fan of it either.
How important are the image alt tags?
Image alt tags are one thing that Google is paying attention to so they are important. Are they as important as the page title, meta description, and body copy? No, but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. Image alt tags are a great way to get your keywords on the page one extra time without stuffing them into body copy, so I would recommend doing them. And if you have multiple images on a page, vary your keywords to avoid looking spammy to Google.