Digital PR

What is SEO Hygiene? – Quick Explanation

What is SEO Hygiene?

The words SEO and hygiene don’t usually stand next to each other.

But in this case, the term SEO hygiene plays a vital role in distinguishing the dos and don’ts of search engine optimization.

The next few paragraphs may help you make or break your online business. Find out how you too can leverage the pros of SEO!

What is SEO Hygiene?

What is SEO Hygiene?

SEO hygiene consists of the practices and tasks undertaken to keep a website’s SEO structure healthy.

It’s akin to personal hygiene; just as you’d regularly brush your teeth and shower to maintain personal health and cleanliness, SEO hygiene involves regularly checking and optimizing various aspects of your website to ensure it performs well in search engine rankings.

We were once at an SEO conference, where we represented AgilePR, and our main takeaway we learned that Google is blind and it cannot read! So how can it identify the good from the bad?

Based on these experiences and from the 6 years we’ve been doing digital PR, this is what we learned about SEO hygiene.

Why is SEO Hygiene Important?

Website growth

SEO hygiene is crucial because it helps maintain your site’s visibility and ranking over time. Search engines continually update their algorithms to provide the best user experience, meaning what worked yesterday might not be as effective tomorrow.

Regular maintenance ensures your site adapts to these changes and continues to meet search engine standards.

Moreover, it helps identify potential issues before they become significant problems, such as penalties for black-hat SEO tactics.

How to Maximize SEO Hygiene?

How to Maximize SEO Hygiene?

Here are five key points that all SEO experts or newbies need to keep an eye on to maximize their SEO hygiene and compel higher organic traffic to the right audience.

Regular Content Updates and Audits

Content on a website can become outdated quickly, especially in fast-changing industries. Regular updates keep your content fresh for both new and returning visitors. 

  • Updating Information: As new information and data become available, updating your content to reflect these changes is crucial. This could involve updating statistics, revising outdated information, or adding new developments in your field.
  • Enhancing Quality and Engagement: Adding new sections, more detailed analyses, updated images, or multimedia elements can make older posts more engaging and comprehensive. These changes in quality need to be visible to Google’s algorithm, therefore adding a few extra words or checking your grammar won’t cut it.
  • Improving Readability and Layout: Simplifying complex content, breaking down text with bullet points, and improving the overall layout can enhance user experience and accessibility. Google cannot read your article, but it does interpret code in your backend. This is why layout is so important, because it can understand what is a good structure for your content for the visitor.

Content Audits

AgilePR site audit

Conducting content audits involves a thorough analysis of all the content on your website. The goal is to identify what’s working well and what isn’t, allowing you to make informed decisions about future content strategies. 

  • Performance Review: Using analytics tools, you can track various performance indicators like page views, average time on page, bounce rates, and conversions. This helps identify high-performing content that engages users and underperforming content that may need a revamp or removal.
  • SEO Assessment: Assessing each piece of content for SEO effectiveness is vital. Check for SEO basics like meta descriptions, title tags, proper use of keywords, and URL structure. Identify gaps where SEO optimization can be improved to boost search rankings. These include errors, missing / tag signs in your URL, redirects or overcomplicated taxonomies.
  • Relevance Check: Determine if the content still meets the needs and interests of your target audience through keyword research and search intent. Content that no longer aligns with your audience’s interests or your business goals might need to be updated or replaced.
  • Consistency and Duplication: Ensure your content maintains a consistent tone and style that reflects your brand. Also, check for duplicate content that could harm your SEO efforts and address it accordingly. We thought at the start that if we were to duplicate some of the same text of our article and copy + paste it into another article on our own or on Medium, we’d get more coverage. Boy oh boy, we were wrong about that one!

This ongoing process of review and improvement is crucial for adapting to the changing landscape of the internet and maintaining a competitive edge in search engine rankings.

Technical SEO Checks

AgilePR technical SEO
AgilePR Health Score

Technical SEO is a critical component of SEO hygiene, focusing on the optimization of a website’s underlying structure and technology to ensure it is accessible, indexable, and performant for search engines. 

Ensure There Are No Broken Links or Errors Like 404 Pages

  • Broken Links: These are links that no longer lead to their intended destination. They can occur both internally (linking to another page within the same website) and externally (linking to a page on a different website). Broken links can negatively affect user experience and SEO, as they disrupt the flow of navigation and can lead to a drop in page authority.
  • 404 Errors: These occur when a webpage cannot be found on the server. Persistent 404 errors can hurt your website’s credibility and user experience. Regularly scanning your site to detect and fix these errors ensures that users and search engine crawlers can successfully navigate your site without encountering dead ends.

Check for and Fix Duplicate Content Issues

  • Duplicate Content: This refers to blocks of content that are either completely identical or very similar across different web pages. Duplicate content can confuse search engines as they try to determine which version of the content is more relevant to a search query. This can lead to issues such as the wrong page being indexed or a dilution in page authority. Using canonical tags can help indicate your preferred version of a page to search engines, mitigating potential SEO issues.

Improve Site Speed and Mobile Responsiveness

AgilePR site speed

  • Site Speed: The speed at which your website loads is crucial for user experience and SEO. Faster websites tend to have higher conversion rates and perform better in search engine rankings. Optimizing images, leveraging browser caching, and minimizing the use of heavy scripts can help improve loading times.
  • Mobile Responsiveness: With the increasing use of mobile devices to access the internet, having a mobile-friendly website is essential. A responsive design adjusts content layout based on the device’s screen size, enhancing user experience and supporting SEO efforts. Google uses mobile-first indexing, meaning it predominantly uses the mobile version of content for indexing and ranking.

Ensure Proper Use and Setup of SSL for Website Security

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer): SSL is a standard security protocol essential for establishing encrypted links between a web server and a browser. This security measure is vital to protect user data and enhance trust. Websites with SSL display “HTTPS” in their URLs. Google considers HTTPS as a ranking factor, so implementing SSL not only secures your website but also supports your SEO efforts.

This not only helps in driving more traffic but also improves the overall security and user experience of your site.

On-Page Optimization

On-page optimization is a crucial aspect of SEO that deals directly with the content and elements found on a website’s pages.

It involves various techniques to make the webpage more attractive to search engines and users alike.

Here’s an expanded look at some key on-page optimization techniques:

Regularly Update Meta Titles and Descriptions

AgilePR meta description

These are HTML elements that provide concise explanations of the contents of web pages. They are displayed in search engine results pages (SERPs) and are among the first things a user sees before deciding whether to visit your site.

Regularly updating these elements ensures that they remain effective, catchy, and relevant, reflecting the latest content on each page.

A well-crafted meta title and description can improve the click-through rate (CTR) from the search results, directly influencing SEO performance.

Use Appropriate and Updated Keywords Throughout Your Content

Keywords are terms or phrases that users enter into search engines and are central to search queries. Integrating relevant and updated keywords throughout your content, including titles, headings, and body text, helps search engines understand your page’s context and relevance to certain queries.

It’s important to conduct ongoing keyword research to keep up with trends and changes in user behavior, ensuring that your content aligns with current search demands and practices.

However, it’s critical to use keywords naturally and avoid keyword stuffing, as excessive use can lead to penalties from search engines.

Optimize Images with Alt Tags and Compressed File Sizes

  • Image Optimization: Images enrich content, making it more engaging and comprehensible to users. However, they also need to be optimized for both search engines and performance:
  • Alt Tags: These are short text descriptions assigned to images. They provide context to search engines about the image content and are also crucial for web accessibility, aiding users who rely on screen readers. Descriptive alt tags can help improve the image search rankings of your website.
  • Compressed File Sizes: Large image files can significantly slow down page load times, negatively impacting user experience and SEO. Compressing images reduces their file size without noticeably affecting quality, thus enhancing page speed. Tools like Adobe Photoshop, TinyPNG, or ImageOptim can be used for effective image compression.

Backlink Analysis

Backlink analysis is a critical aspect of SEO hygiene, focusing on evaluating the quality and impact of the external links that point to your website. These links, also known as inbound or backlinks, play a significant role in determining your website’s authority and ranking in search engine results. If you don’t have time or resources, you can always find ways to outsource link-building efforts.

Here’s how to conduct a thorough backlink analysis and ensure the health and effectiveness of your website’s backlink profile.

Ahrefs backlink check
Penalized site by Google

Monitor the quality of incoming links and disavow harmful or spammy links. Build and maintain healthy backlinks through ethical practices.

Regularly Monitor Backlink Profile

  • Routine Monitoring: Regular monitoring of your backlink profile helps identify any new links, lost links, or changes in the quality of existing links. This ongoing review helps you understand how your link-building efforts are performing and how they influence your SEO. Tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, or Moz can provide comprehensive insights into your backlink profile, showing you where your links are coming from and the quality of these links.

Assess the Quality of Incoming Links

  • Quality over Quantity: Not all backlinks are beneficial for your SEO; the quality of the linking site is far more important than the number of links. High-quality backlinks come from reputable, relevant sites and are contextually placed within the content. Look at the referring domains, and the keywords they rank for. Is there growth in traffic or a decrease? Does the website have informative rich keywords or lots of commercial keywords such as: “buy” “get” and “purchase?” 
  • Identify and Disavow Toxic Links: Part of maintaining a healthy backlink profile is identifying harmful or spammy backlinks that could negatively impact your SEO. These can include links from low-quality directories, irrelevant sites, or sites known for spamming. Using Google’s Disavow Tool allows you to ask Google to ignore these links when assessing your site. Toxic backlinks can be best identified by their referring domains. Check their IP address in Ahrefs and see if they all come from the same place. Also, check the number of referring domains and backlinks ratio. If there are 100 referring domains and 1 million backlinks, its probably a linkbot farm.

Analyze Competitor Backlinks

  • Competitor Analysis: By examining the backlink profiles of your competitors, especially those who rank well in your niche, you can gain insights into their link-building strategies and potentially identify opportunities for your site. Look for patterns or sources of backlinks that your competitors are using effectively and consider similar strategies for your website.

Focus on Building Healthy Backlinks

Engage in strategic link-building efforts aimed at acquiring more high-quality backlinks. This can involve content marketing, guest blogging on reputable sites in your industry, and partnerships or collaborations. Always aim for backlinks that add value to users and come from authoritative and relevant sources.

Track and Adapt

It’s essential to track how changes in your backlink profile affect your website’s search engine ranking and overall performance. Over time, you can adapt your strategies based on what types of links and linking domains provide the most benefit to your SEO efforts.

Backlink analysis is a foundational component of SEO hygiene that helps safeguard the integrity and effectiveness of your website’s SEO strategy. By regularly auditing and optimizing your backlink profile, you can enhance your site’s authority and improve its visibility and ranking in search engine results, ultimately driving more organic traffic to your site.

User Experience (UX) Optimization

User Experience (UX) Optimization

User Experience (UX) Optimization is a fundamental aspect of modern SEO that focuses on enhancing how users interact with your website.

Improving UX can significantly impact your site’s performance in search engine rankings by making it more user-friendly and engaging.

Here are some specific ways you can optimize UX.

Enhance Navigational Structure for Better User Engagement

  • Clear Navigation: A well-structured, intuitive navigation system allows users to find what they need quickly and effortlessly. This involves organizing the site’s content logically and predictably. Menus should be easy to understand and use, with a hierarchical structure that guides visitors through your website, enhancing user satisfaction and engagement.
  • Internal Linking: By effectively using internal links, you can help users easily access related content and smoothly navigate through different sections of your site. This not only improves the user experience but also helps distribute page authority throughout your site and increases the overall crawlability for search engines.

Improve Page Layouts to Reduce Bounce Rates and Increase Dwell Time

  • Attractive and Functional Design: Page layouts should be designed to be both aesthetically pleasing and functional. Ensure that the most important content is prominently placed and easy to scan. Using well-thought-out layouts that guide visitors naturally through the content can significantly improve user engagement.
  • Optimization for Readability: Use clear headers, short paragraphs, and bullet points to make content easy to read. Including engaging elements like images or videos can also break up text and add visual interest, which may encourage visitors to spend more time exploring your site.
  • Responsive Design: Ensure that your page layouts perform well across all devices, particularly on mobile. A responsive design adapts to different screen sizes, providing a seamless experience whether a user accesses your site from a desktop, tablet, or smartphone.

Conclusion

Maintaining good SEO hygiene is essential for any website looking to rank well and attract organic traffic consistently. It involves content management, technical optimization, and user experience enhancement.

By regularly practicing good SEO hygiene, websites can improve their health and performance, ensuring they remain competitive and relevant in the ever-changing landscape of search engine algorithms.

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