SEO Checker Tool Review: SEO SiteCheckup (video)

An Easy Website Analyzer with a Short Trial Period

SEO SiteCheckup is an online SEO checker that is designed to promote a more complete, subscription based set of SEO tools called SEO Toolbox. Their SiteCheckup tool is free for your first use without inputting your email address, but to see the most complete results you do need to create a free account and start a trial period (no credit card is required however). The tool itself does pretty well for a free SEO analyzer, and in this video I’ll walk you through an overview and see how it stacks up on our SEO Audit checklist scoring system.

For skimmers and video-phobes (or people that just don’t want to see me talking into a camera), a transcript is provided below.

 

Audio Transcript

Hi, you probably know that we’ve been doing reviews of tool- a class of tool that we call ‘SEO checkers’ or ‘website checkers,’ and these are basically free tools online where you can plug in your website address and then we’ll come back and give you an analysis of the SEO factors that relate to your site. And some of these are pretty good and some of them, not so much.

We’re gonna take the next one that we have in our queue of tools to review. This one is a pretty full-featured tool for what it is, known as ‘SEOs Site CheckUp.’ And so let’s go ahead and see what it gives us and walk through some of the results.

So the site that we’ve been using for this is a project site, let me go over here and show it to you. It’s called ‘Artisans of Colorado.’ And this is basically a site that has not been optimized for search, and a matter of fact, I’ve thrown a couple things into this page here, that I would like to see a tool pick up on as being negative factors. Just a couple of little tests to put things through.

So let’s go over here and see what we get when we run it through SEO’s Site CheckUp. SEO Site CheckUp basically will give you one free review of a website and then if you log in and create a free account with them, for what they call their ‘trial period,’ then it’ll give you a total of 15 site reviews, according to the information that I’ve read online.

Now, when you do this one, like for example, here I did ‘artisansofcolorado.com,’ and it didn’t ask me for an email address to do that, so I liked that feature, I like that I don’t have to plug in an email address. And when I sign up for a free account it doesn’t at that point, ask for a credit card, so I also like that it’s not asking for a credit card.

screenshot 1 of SEO Site Checkup

If you’re just doing a one-time check on a site, this would give you some decent information. Now, in this case, I’ve done it without logging in and it will present some ads here because it’s ad supported, so you can see an ad here for a ‘WP engine,’ in the main body of the page, and one on the right.

It gives you an overall optimization score on the left, in this case 77 out of 100. And then they’ll do a number of different checks and it gives you which ones have failed, which ones have warnings, and which ones have passed. One of the good things about it, it does have a nice PDF download. So if you click it and do the PDF download, it pretty much gives you all of the metrics that we’re gonna be looking at here, as we walk through this page.

It starts out with the most common SEO issues, for example it says, “Meta title, meta description.” Here again, I will give one qualification, which I always do on these tools, and that is none of them really will help you do SEO on your site if you know absolutely nothing about SEO. Now if you’ve got some basic knowledge, they’re very helpful, if you have no knowledge whatsoever, you’re typically gonna have to do a little bit of research as you go. Some of the tools help you with that, some of them don’t. I’ll show you where this tool might help with that.

The ‘title tag’ is extremely important [ed: here’s a link to a free course on optimizing title tags] , it is basically just reflecting it back to me. I would imagine if I had no title tag, it would fail me on this check.

The one thing it didn’t pick up on, is we do have duplicate title tags on this page, which is a no-no, and it doesn’t show me that a duplicate exists, which I would prefer that it does.

It’ll also show me the ‘meta description.’ That doesn’t help you rank higher, but it does influence the way this looks, and that is the snippet that comes back on Google search results page.

screenshot of seo site checkup, SERP snippet preview

It’ll also give you some relevancy factors. In this case, relevance is okay. What are the primary keywords that exist on your site? Now in this case, this one is a little less robust than some of the others we’ve checked in, that it will only do single words in this analysis, and it won’t do two, three, or four letter phrases, as some of them will do that and I find that to be useful.

Then it does a quick and basic check whether the most used keywords appear in your title and meta description, which is useful. And it’ll give you a visual representation of kind of, what is this page going to be most relevant for, by showing you the words that occur the most on the page.

Now wherever it says, “Here get it now,” when you click on that it’s going to take you over to, basically a path where you can set up a free account, a trial account, and I’ll just- before we terminate this review, I’ll show you what it would look like if you do that.

It’ll also go down and give you a review of your ‘H1 headings,’ which is great. It says, “Your page contains H1 headings.” This is another area where I wish it would give me some guidance on the fact that there are two H1s and most SEOs, there’s a little controversy here, but, most SEOs would recommend that there only be one H1 on the page, and it does not alert me to that. Does show me what the H2s are.

It’ll give me whether there’s the presence of a robots.txt, and farther down it actually does a little further analysis on the robots.txt, which is good.

It also looks for the presence of sitemaps. Gives us an alert as to the sitemaps. And these are all technical SEO checks, basically.

It’ll look for broken links. Good thing there.

On the ‘image alt tags,’ this is where you’re actually gonna get some guidance on what’s important about this metric and how to fix it. So if I click on this ‘how to fix,’ it’ll bring up some more text information, also give me a little tutorial video here and I didn’t look at all the tutorial videos they had, but that one, for example, I looked at, and it was a reasonably good video, about three minutes, telling you about the ‘alt’ attribute and why it’s important, what you can do about fixing it.

screen shot of image alt attribute with tutorial video

Same thing with the ‘inline CSS.’ It’ll give you an explanation of why you might wanna take a look at these, the fact that CSS is being used inline and that’s kind of a technical term, and that’s why if you don’t know much about web development, you’re gonna need the little video to figure that one out.

So scrolling down farther, I don’t wanna go through every single one of these here, or I’ll make this a 20 minute video, and I’d rather not. So we’ll go down and take a look at- then the next section, when we get to this point, you’ll notice they’ll give you kind of a little clue, visual clue up at the top, that now you’re in the section of the site that deals with speed and it will give me an alert as to whether the size is too large or not.

I’ll also take a look at a number of technical factors that influence how fast the page comes up on search. Now if you’re non-technical, this is where it’s- you’re really gonna get into the weeds pretty quickly, in terms of stuff that you won’t understand. So, but, really they have no choice here, because to know how to make your page load faster, you really have to get into some technical information.

So where this would be useful, is if you ran this check and you download the PDF, then it’s very useful to send it to whoever does your website maintenance or your development, and say, “Okay, I see a few alerts on things, like your warnings on particular types of speed optimization techniques.” And you can have your developer give you an explanation as to why these are not being made use of or to just go ahead and make your page faster by addressing these issues.

So I won’t linger all over- over all of these because I would imagine most people watching this video are not professional developers, so we’ll go down here and take a look at the server and security. And here’s your little pop-up for a 14-day free trial.

And it’ll check to see if you’re running over ‘https,’ in other words, a secure protocol.

this ‘URL canonicalization test’ is good, I don’t see this on a lot of the SEO checkers, and that’s something that should be checked, on your site, even by a free checker.

Then you’ll go down here, and this is another thing that’s a must have nowadays, and that is, take a look at- it takes a look at whether the site is mobile friendly. Now in this case, it is picking up on the fact that one of the key elements that indicates whether a site is mobile friendly, is missing. From this site, it gives me a preview window, which I like.

screenshot of mobile preview test

And then we go into an advanced SEO section here. And it shows a number of different technical SEO checks that you would take a look at if you were trying to get into a more advanced level of SEO.

One of the things that it does that a lot of sites don’t do, is it checks whether SPF records are set up. And this is very important if you’re doing a lot of, for example, email marketing. If your SPF isn’t set up correctly, probably more of your mail is gonna wind up in your recipient’s spam folders. It’s not really an SEO thing, per se, but I- it was kinda nice that they did a check on that.

And so, here we get to the bottom, and there again, it’ll give you a review of what your medium priority fixes are, what your high priority fixes are, and that’s these here. And on the social media check, it basically- we didn’t spend much time on that, but it shows whether you’re tied into social media accounts or not. And that can influence SEOs, so it’s gonna tell you you fail if you have no social media presence.

So any case, that’s what it looks like when you do the free check. Now if you have logged into their tool and set up a free account, then you get something else that’s very useful and that is ‘the total back links.’ And before, it didn’t really give you, on the free checker, it didn’t really address back links at all. And I think that would have been a deficiency except for the fact that if you create a free account then you can go into it and check on the back links. Looks like it’s actually telling me I’m not signed up, here. And I had created a free account. Let me sign in here real quick.

Okay, so I signed in with the test account that I put up. Now, one thing that I will tell you, is I did actually a dry-run on this video a couple of days ago. I created a test account, a trial account, here, and it expired after two days, even though the website tells that I should’ve had a 14 day free trial. I don’t know if that’s gonna be your experience or not, but, just be advised, you might wanna make use of it right away.

Now if we go down here, you’ll see- now it’s telling me what the SEO score was with the check. And when you set it up for a free trial account, it’ll ask you for a few keywords, it’ll allow you to select competitors and see where you stand- and right here it shows the competitors, where these companies stand in relationship to our site, when it comes to SEO factors. And so that is nice, that you can do that. Again, you’re not gonna be able to keep doing this unless you sign up for a paid account.

And here we’ll go- now we’ll try again, the ‘back links’ check and you can see what it will do, is it will give me the total number of back links, the referring domains. It’ll give me the domain score on this. Now, I couldn’t find out exactly where this domain score was coming and just by the nature of these I have not been checking with the companies, if someone from the companies can tell us that and put it in the comments, that would be great.

And then down here it’ll show me where the back link URL is, the target that it’s pointed to. So, a lot more stuff when you get into it, or at least some more stuff. Along with a ‘keyword position tracker,’ for the keywords you enter. I think you can enter up to five.

All in all, I would say for a- for free access at this level, it’s a pretty good quality tool. It checks a lot of the stuff you would expect a free SEO checker to do.

Let’s go over now, and take a look at how it ranks on our SEO audit essentials checklist. Now this is a free resource that we give you and it’s for a professional SEO audit, so, you’ll notice here our SEO audit check list has a total of 90 different items to check.

SEO Site CheckUp actually is a tool that you could’ve used to clear 20 of these and when it comes to technical factors, we have 30 items on our list, SEO Site CheckUp would’ve cleared, or helped you to clear, nine. And as we go down here, you can see, and I’m not gonna tell you, every one of these again, in interest of time, but a lot of the items on our checklist could’ve been helped by using this particular tool.

screenshot of seo site checkup and our seo audit checklist

Now this 20 is actually not a bad score, you know, it’s a small minimum, but that just illustrates the fact that there’s a lot more to doing an SEO audit than simply running an SEO checker tool over your site.

Just as a reminder, the SEO Audit CheckList is a free download that we offer, a resource that you can use to go through and have a look at the factors that affect your ranking. SEO Site CheckUp is a good starting point for getting into that audit checklist.

Graphic indicating the free download for the SEO audit checklistSo, in any case, I hope that this review has been of some use to you, and, the SEO Audit CheckList that we offer, is a resource that will be of even more use to you.

And if you want to see other reviews and how-to videos and so forth, that we put out in the interest of helping to train business people to do their own SEO, please subscribe to the channel, with the big red button underneath the video, and also, follow the links in the description for this video, in order to get those free resources.

Bringing SEO In-House, Avoid these 7 Mistakes Companies Make

Companies often have bad experiences with SEO (search engine optimization) agencies and decide the solution is to bring SEO in-house. That can be a good choice, or a very bad one, depending on whether the company avoids the most common mistakes of bringing SEO in-house. In this video we explain the most common 7 mistakes that companies make (audio transcript follows the video).

Audio Transcript

Ross: Hi, I’m Ross Barefoot with Horizon Web Marketing and the Horizon Web Marketing Academy. This is going to be a bite-size SEO video. I’ll try to keep it painlessly short.

I’m going to talk real quickly about in-house corporate SEO. A lot of companies are bringing SEP in-house or they already have SEO employees or departments that are dealing with SEO. That often can work really well or sometimes it can turn into a nightmare.

What I put together here is seven don’t do its, that’s in-house corporate SEO types of mistakes that can torpedo an SEO program. Let’s move through them really quickly.

Number one: delegate to the busy person. I know there’s a saying that, “If you want something done, give it to a busy person”. No, not so much. If you take a person who’s already got a full work load and you tell them, “Hey, by the way, do some SEO here,” it’s not going to happen. Your effort’s going to fail.

That leads us, also, to number two, what I call “Foolish optimism” and it’s sort of in this same vein. It’s sort of, also, this type of attitude that, “Well, we can get SEO done with a few minutes here and a few minutes there.” Unfortunately, SEO now is a time-intensive practice. It’s also pretty broad. There’s a lot of different components to it. For a larger company, let’s say if you have 10, 20, 30 million dollars more in revenue well inept the boards, it’s really the type of the project that is going to need even more than one person. You’re going to need a team if you’re going to bring it in-house because it’s going to take a team to get everything done. So being optimistic is great but being foolishly optimistic about how much you can get done with hardly any time investment, is a huge mistake.

Now let’s talk about number three: no authority, no respect. This is the Rodney Dangerfield point. Namely, if you set up an SEO department or you put in place an SEO staff member and they don’t have authority or respect from the other departments, particularly from the web developers, they’re not going to make much progress because here’s how it goes. They go to the web guys and they say, “Hey, we need to make this change because od x, y, z.” The web developers will say, “Oh yeah, right, that’s just SEO. We’re not going to worry about that until when we get to it” and “when we get to it” means “never.” If you have a situation where your SEOs are not getting the respect that they need, the effort’s going to fail, as well.

Next item, number four and this kind of is all part of a culture, the executive team not on board, isn’t really invested, or doesn’t really believe int he success or even in the mission of the SEO team or the SEO person. If that’s the case, if the executive team is only giving grudging permission for this to move forward and they don’t really understand the value it brings to the organization, you need to work on changing that before you start hiring SEO people or start training SEO people in-house.

Now let’s go on to number five, ignorant manager. I’m not saying this as an insult. Maybe you’re one of those, all right? Ignorance is nothing wrong with that, just means you haven’t learned about something, right? Well, a manager who, let’s say, is a financial person, human resources person, maybe hard-core marketer and who is expected to then supervise and manage an SEO team or an SEO individual is going to have a very hard time because, for one thing, they won’t really know if the person is qualified, doing the right job. It is fairly detailed and there are a lot of things you can be doing that are wrong. So the person who’s managing them doesn’t need to be an expert but they do need to know something about SEO. That’s another reason in-house SEO efforts often fail.

Let’s take it down to number six, unrealistic or nonexistent goals. So if an SEO team is just told to make things better, what’s going to happen? Like in any other business department, nothing really much is going to happen or the wrong thing is going to happen. But what about those goals being realistic? First of all, there need to be existing goals. They need to be specific. They need to be realistic and they need to match the business mission as well as what SEOs can accomplish. That leads back into point number five. If you’re the manager and you don’t know anything about SEO, it’s going to be really hard doing a good job with number six.

Now let’s talk about the last one and that is whether you delegate SEO to a person or a team in-house or you bring on new people, the lack of skills and training is one of the biggest mistakes that companies make. Here’s how this normally works out. You’ve got, I don’t know, Barbara in marketing and she just finished a project and Barbara maybe has a pretty empty schedule so somebody has the bright idea, “Let’s have Barbara do SEO for us.” You call in Barbara, “Hey, Barbara. Do you know about SEO?” “Well, I’ve heard of it before.” “Why don’t you educate yourself on SEO a little bit and then you can do SEO for us.” What happens, well, YouTube videos, You to me courses, blog posts, in other words, just a hodge-podge of bits and pieces of information that aren’t really coherent. It’s going to lead to a poor effort at best. Sometimes it can lead to doing outright damage.

So, if SEO is going to be important which it is for most companies, the training needs to be in place. And when you come to hire a person, sometimes it’s hard to evaluate their skills, especially if we go back up here to the ignorant manager point. Sometimes it’s best to hire or delegate based on character and train for skills. There is a way to get in-house corporate training and one of those ways is to hire us to do it. You knew this was leading up to some sort of a pitch but I won’t make it a hard pitch, just a soft pitch. That is, if you’d like to contact us, we do private in-house corporate training, minimum of three employees or more. We also do workshops that you can send your employees to to get them trained. So keep that in mind, look for the links below and I’ll see you next time. Oh wait, also, subscribe, right? Hit the subscribe button. It’s something you could say. All right. Talk to you next time.

How to Use Google PageSpeed Insights to Judge Your Website Speed (Video)

Google is Increasingly Pushing Website Speed

Now those speedy people at Google have even made website speed a ranking factor. In other words, how fast your website loads could affect where you rank in search results.

Additionally, speed is a factor in how much people like (or don’t like) your website, so even if we leave Google out of the equation, speed is important.

To help website developers to this end, Google offers a free tool called PageSpeed Insights (here’s a link to it) to help you test how fast your site is. Recently Google has enhanced this tool with a new feature to make its results more realistic.

This video will

  • Walk you through using the tool
  • Explain the new feature it offers
  • Tell you some of the limitations and how best to interpret the data it gives you
  • Link you up with some other complementary link tools

Below the video we’ve also provided a transcript for you skimmers.

Audio Transcript

I hope you’re ready for a Google speed test, that’s what we’re going to be doing today and so stick around, I’ll be back in a minute.

Hi, I’m Ross Barefoot with Horizon Web Marketing and the Horizon Web Marketing Academy. Now you’ve probably noticed if you’ve been paying attention that Google is a pusher. You know you could say they push many things but I’m talking about how they push speed. Not the drug speed. They’re pushing website load time speed. In other words, they want your webpage to go faster and the way they’re trying to encourage you to do this is by saying that speed is a ranking factor. Let me tell you what a ranking factor is. A ranking factor is simply something that might affect how high or low you show on Google’s search results page. So if you’ve got a website, if you’re in business, if you depend on the internet, you want to show up in search results, you have to take into account anything that’s called a ranking factor and we have to take into account speed.

Take a look at this quote from Google’s latest Webmaster Central blog post. Now this just came out day before yesterday. It says, “Using page speed in mobile search ranking.” And you’ll notice this quote just in the first paragraph, they say that they’ve been using speed in ranking for some time but the signal was focused on desktop searches. Well, now they’re saying that they’re making that a more important factor not just on desktop searches but on mobile searches as well. Now Google recognizes that it’s kind of hard for somebody who owns a website to know exactly how fast their website is for everybody and so they’ve made available some tools to help you out.

One of those tools is something called PageSpeed Insights and that’s the tool we’ll be digging into just a little bit today. Now this is really relevant to us particularly since we’ve recently released a resource called our SEO audit checklist. One of the first items that we have for you to check is site speed and then we break that down into both desktop and mobile site speed. This is kind of gets into a touchy area and so I thought it was helpful or would be helpful if we had a video that explained site speed just a little bit more.

The way I’m doing this and the way I’ve framed this particular video is I started with a search using a pretty competitive, pretty commercial search phrase called best hotel sheets and this is probably top of mind for me because in our consulting business we do have a client who operates within this space and so we’re always looking at their competitors. Let’s take a look at how our client fares when we subject them to Google’s PageSpeed Insights tools.

This is how it lays out. You type in a website address, you can do it for the homepage of your domain or any of your internal pages. And then they’ll give you some results and they’ll be broken down into mobile and desktop results and it’s a tab interface so I’ve got mobile right here, I can click on desktop and I can go back and forth and compare these. The part that’s new, as a matter of fact just within the last month, they’ve introduced a new metric here called speed. In the past we’ve always had this metric that I’m pointing to on the right which I optimization. Now optimization, I’m going to cover that first because it’s a relative scale. It’s from one to a 100 where one would be the worst and 100 would be the best. And so naturally everybody wants to chase a 100 on that scale ’cause that means they’re the best.

And this is a technical measurement. In other words, Google can take any page and just look at the code and say, “Is this page theoretically built for speed or not?” Now in this case, our client scores kind of middle of the road, medium, 77 out of a 100. And the reason Google has added this speed metric on the left is because they realize that there are theoretical measurements and then there are real world measurements. Speed is tied to something called the Chrome User Experience report and this is basically where Google has their analytical stuff installed in their Chrome browser and millions of users either wittingly or unwittingly are sending information back to Google about their browsing experience including how fast webpages load for them. Google is basing this number here, the speed number, on data they’re getting back from people who are actually visiting this site and you can see these numbers line up pretty well. Speed is average, optimization is medium.

screenshot of pagespeed insights using sah

If I take a look at the desktop version I do have an optimization number which is still in the medium range but the speed is unavailable. Well why is that? It’s simply because not enough people have visited this particular website, this particular webpage for Google to be able to get any sort of a realistic measurement. At times, particularly if you’re looking at a lightly traveled website, you’ll see this unavailable showing up. Now I don’t really know whether these numbers will become more robust as Google gathers more data but for right now there’s a number of pages out there and yours might be one of them where those numbers are unavailable.

But what to do they mean? Okay, it says optimization medium. If I go back to this, speed average. Well how’s that really affecting me? Let’s first of all start by taking look at a few of our competitors to see some of the limitations that I run into doing SEO for clients when it comes to Google’s PageSpeed Insights. Here’s another one of their primary competitors for that search term that I showed you a moment ago and in this case it’s a publisher, nymag.com. They’re showing numbers that are pretty good particularly on the mobile they show an optimization of 81 out of a 100, now that’s just about four points above our client. Their speed is showing very fast. Let’s take a look at the desktop version and here you see where we’re starting to get a little bit of a discrepancy because notice their optimization on the desktop is showing as 66 out of a 100, now that’s even below our client’s website but Google does have some data show here and they’re showing that their speed is very, very fast.

screen capture of travelandleisure.com in pagespeed insightsLet’s take another one, this is Travel and Leisure, a major, major website. Here, they show that they really have some developers working on their website that are very focused on speed because in the optimization category on the right, and remember this is kind of a technical assessment of how the site is built. On paper, this site looks really good, 84 out of a 100 is pretty high number. But the speed is only average. Let’s take a look at the desktop version of this. Now we get something that’s really starting to look a little goofy. The optimization for their desktop version of their site is 43 out of a 100, now that’s really low. So in other words, their desktop website was not really built for speed. It was more like built like a delivery truck lumbering down the road. But at the same time, take a look at the speed, it’s showing as fast. So obviously right here we’re seeing that real world data does not always line up with theoretical data.

screen capture of macys.com in pagespeed insights

I’m going to take a look at one more and this is a really big website because the discrepancy here is really great. This is macys.com, not exactly an unknown site, not exactly a small budget operation. But notice their optimization is good, 83. I mean, again, that’s one of the highest numbers out there but take a look at the speed. 3.1 seconds. Now that FCP stands for first content full paint and that’s pretty much geek speak but it means it takes a long time for the visual experience of the customer who is looking at the site. Now Google has said that page speed is a factor, ranking factor in search but I know from looking at Macy’s they are very, very strong in search. So there’s other stuff going on here not just page speed when it comes to search. Going to take a quick look, their desktop we don’t see that kind of discrepancy.

All right, so now if we go back to the real world implementation of this best hotel sheets, I’m not going to scan down here and show you all the results but I will tell you this, if you go back to our customer’s website, we were getting average numbers remember, so middle of the road. Not horrible, not great but we rank number one for most searches on that page whereas a lot of these much faster sites are ranking further down the page. Why is that? Part of this is going back to Google’s blog post if I can find it here. If I go back to that Webmaster Central blog post, let’s take a look at what they say also in this page.

Notice down here in paragraph two, the last sentence. It says, “The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal.” What do they mean by that? The intent of the search query. What they mean is what the person wants is still the important thing to them. What that person is looking for. So a slow page may still rank highly if it has “great relevant content.”

quote highlight from Google Webmaster Central blog post

Now I don’t have some magical window into Google but I can tell you what this tells me and from what I see in working with other clients as well, I would never tell you don’t worry about speed. Speed is a factor. It’s important to build your website to load as quickly as possible, it’s important for good user experience, right? But it is obviously not something you should slave over.

For example, we would not advise our client if we go back to our numbers here, we wouldn’t advise our client that thousands of dollars be poured into trying to get this medium number up to a 90 or a 100. But I see that some people do. I see comments online and I’ll see guys that are basically have devoted dozens of hours if not hundreds of hours to trying to move this number up and I’m going to tell you my suggestion would be, don’t worry about it. Now if you on the other hand, go to this tool, and by the way, a link to anything I’m talking about to a lot of this stuff and a few other resources I’m going to show you are all going to be in the show notes down here in the description. That’s just a digression there to let you know about that.

Let me go back to Macy’s for example. If I had these numbers, I have to tell you, I’d be taking a look at why my mobile site was loading so slowly. I wouldn’t be ignoring that. But if your numbers are middle of the road, here’s what I suggest you do. First of all, check for the search queries where you want to rank or where you are ranking and take a look at your competitors. You can plug anybody’s webpage into PageSpeed Insights. Take a look at how they’re doing. If you’re more or less in a reasonable range, move onto something else. That’s why going back to our audit tool here, you notice how we phrase the question, “Site speed acceptable?” We don’t say, “Site speed a 100. Site speed really terrific. Site speed better than every other competitor.” That’s not what we’re going for here. Site speed acceptable. Now if you see some numbers that really give you some concern, then I’d also double check those numbers. Google doesn’t make perfect tools any more or less than anybody else out there.

Here’s one that we use all the time. It’s called Pingdom. They have a website speed test and they rank Macy’s pretty good on their speed test. Then I go to, if you’re really have somebody who likes to geek this stuff out, I love this tool, it’s called webpagetest.org is the address. And it has page after page, after page of highly let’s say, extremely geek content. This is the page if you’ve got a developer that wants to dig into this stuff, by all means, send them to webpagetest.org and say, “Have at it. Go through it.” You can often get really good suggestions for improving page performance.

Well that pretty much all I wanted to cover for now. Bottom line, the takeaway from this is pay attention to site speed but once you have it in an acceptable range for your industry and compared to the people that you’re competing with, move onto to something else. It would be much better if you put your time into creating great content and convincing other people to link to your site.

Again, my name is Ross Barefoot here at the Horizon Web Marketing Academy. We like to publish videos that will help business people understand SEO and make the most for their website. So definitely if you’re interested in that, if you want to do better, as good as you can in search, hit that red subscribe button down below. If you’d like to see us cover stuff that we haven’t on our channel, leave us a comment. Give us a suggestion. Offer your own experience. It is a discussion. So that’s it for now and I hope to see you back here next time around.

Video thumbnail How to Set the Preferred Domain in Google Search Console

How to Set the Preferred Domain in Google Search Console

SEO How-to Video: Make Sure to Set the Right Version of Your Website in Search Console

There are at least two versions of your website, and it’s important you tell Google which version of your site is the “preferred” one. In this video I will walk you through the “why it’s important” and also “how to get it right.”

(If you prefer reading to watching, the text version of the video is below)

Audio Transcript

Did you know that Google sees different versions of your website? That’s the case even if you never intended to create different versions of your website. Did you also know that it’s extremely important to know which version of your website you’re looking at or working with when you’re using Google’s search console.

Well, that’s the subject of our video today in business basic SEO, so stick with us and I’ll be right back.

Hi, I’m Ross Barefoot with Horizon Web Marketing and the Horizon Web Marketing Academy where we help business people understand SEO. Now today we’re going to be talking more about the search console, this is a free tool that Google offers to web masters, business owners, anyone who’s working in digital marketing or SEO and who wants to do better with Google.

Now, search consoles are a very valuable tool as a matter of fact in our consulting business, we work with it all the time. In our training academy we teach about using it all the time. Let me explain a little bit what I’m talking about when I say that there are different versions of your website. I’m going to jump over to a website that’s sort of an under developed website. It’s very plain looking, but it will serve the purpose for us.

Now, this website is called artisansofcolorado.com, and you’ll notice up in the address bar, up here for search. Notice the details of how that’s represented, h-t-t-p-s www.artisansofcolorado.com. Now that website also could be reached if I typed in, for example just artisansofcolorado.com. If I type that in it’s actually going to go to the same website, but Google actually views those as two different variations of the same website. As a matter of fact, it’s technically possible for you to have completely different content on the www version of your website, than you have on the non www version of your website.

It goes beyond that, this particular website is running over what we call a secure protocol, and Google has been pushing most site owners to run over a secure protocol. That’s always shown with http and then an S, after the http. So, in essence for any website that’s running securely, there are four different ways to reach that website. Http://artisansofcolorado.com, http://www.artisansofcolorado.com. Https://artisansofcolorado, and https://www

Screen capture of the various versions of artisansofcolorado.com that can appear in Google Search Console

Now, the interesting thing about this is when you’re working with your website, and Google search console each of those variations really should be setup as if you had four different websites. We’re going to switch over now to Google search console, and I’m going to just show you a little bit about how you do this, and how you indicate to Google which one is what we call your preferred domain when it comes to working with Google search console.

Now first of all, adding a website to Google search console and getting setup with Google search console is a little bit more involved and we do have a video that walks you through that process. So, if you have never added your site to Google search console before, I’m going to put a link on screen. I’m also going to put a link down in the notes for this particular video and you’ll be able to link over to that. I’d recommend you stop at this point, go over, learn how you add and verify a website in Google search console. Then come back and conclude with this.

So, what I’m going to do right now is I’m going to use this red button up in the top right, add a property and I’m going to use https//artisansofcolorado.com, and what Google will do is it will add this, it will ask me to verify it.

screenshot of Add a Property button in Search Console

Now, because I don’t want to bog down this video, I’m going to go ahead and complete these steps and then I’ll come back into the video when I’m done, and then we’ll move forward from there. So, here we are back at the search console and I’ve taken a moment and added and verified four different websites, but you and I both know this is really one website.

To Google however they’re going to treat it as four. I have the http version of artisans of Colorado without the www, and I have it with the www, and then I have the same thing for the https version. Both different variants of the site. Google does recognize that these sites are probably supposed to be tied together, but they still recommend that you set which one of these in the settings of search console is your preferred domain. Which one should be dominant? So, how do we determine which of those is which? I’m going to suggest that the easiest way to do it particularly if you’re non technical is to let the internet make the decision for you.

So, go to a browser, and then notice how I’ve typed in just the domain name, now the domain name is whatever word is to the left, followed by whatever is to the right of the period. So, in this case it’s just straight out artisansofcolorado.com and I don’t add in www. I don’t put in http, I just put in the domain name and I hit enter. Notice how the address bar in the top has changed, https and www have been added. So, this indicates to me that this website is setup in such a way that it should default to that particular variant. Let’s return to search console and here’s how we tell Google that, that should be our preferred domain.

screenshot of the settings gear icon in Search ConsoleWe’ll click on this one here, the www version, and then we’ll click on the gear at the top right, and we’ll select site settings. Often when you first set this up, Google will choose one of those as the default. In this case, if it comes up set as don’t set a preferred domain, you’re going to now change that setting and we will here. We’re going to select the radio button. Remember we want to be with the www, we’ll click save. Now, I’m going to show you something interesting about this. Google of course tells us that it views these as four different websites in effect, but once I’ve made this change if I go to any of these other variants. Let me take this one here, and I click on settings.

screenshot of the site settings in GSCNo, it’s changed it for this one as well. So, in other words this does indicate that Google recognizes, as I said earlier that these are supposed to be part of a matched group. Basically we have done what we need to do. Now, the last thing that I need to tell you is, when you come back to search console as data has started to accumulate here, you will not see the same data in each of these various websites. So, the account that you go to for your most consistent, most complete information is going to be the one that you set here and proceeded by your default protocol in the http versus https. That defines what we call protocol.

So, typically when we come back and we want to manage this site, submit site maps to Google search console or see things like for example crawl errors and so forth. We want to focus on that particular property. Now, there is a way where we can further tie all of these websites together and it’s something called the set, but I’m going to leave that for another video. So, for now I’m going to just let you go and set your preferred domain if you haven’t already done so. Of course if you haven’t added your websites to Google search console, then go and look at the other video that I’ve referenced in the description. Then go and add those sites to Google search console. That’s one of the first steps that you do when you’re optimizing a site for search.

I hope this bit of business basic SEO has been helpful to you. If you like tips like this, and they are useful to you, make sure that you subscribe to our YouTube channel down below. Also, go ahead and leave us a comment if you’d like to see videos that we don’t have within our channel. In the mean time, thanks for tuning in and we’ll see you next time.

How to Check if Your Website is Mobile Friendly – A Non-Techy Approach (C-Suite SEO Tip #3)

You Don’t Need a Web Developer to Tell if Your Website Is NOT Mobile Friendly

This video is targeted at business managers and owners to give you a couple of easy methods to check out your company website to see if it’s mobile friendly. I’ve also done a video and blog post describing more why this is a big deal, too big a deal to simply delegate it away. (If you’re more of a “written word” type, an audio transcript follows.)

Audio Transcript

Is your website crucial to your business success? Well, then it has to look right on mobile, and you really need to check it out for yourself. If you haven’t done so, I’m going to show you three quick, easy, non-technical, and free ways to check out your website on mobile, coming right up.

Hi, I’m Ross Barefoot with Horizon Web Marketing and the Horizon Web Marketing Academy. In our consulting work at Horizon Web Marketing we find that for most of our customers the website traffic they’re getting, often much more than half is coming from mobile devices. We can see this trend around us just culturally can’t we? Go into a restaurant or a coffee shop you see people sitting at a table, and they may be sitting with other people, but their eyes are always on their phones.

This is driving a lot of website traffic now, so what that means is if your website is not easy to use on mobile, doesn’t look right on mobile, you can pretty much write off half of your visitors, and I don’t think any of us wants to just throw away half of our visitors. Here’s the thing, if you’re a manager, if you’re a business owner, if you’re a C-Suite executive you may have delegated this to somebody else. Maybe they’ve come back and said to you, “Oh yeah, sure, our website is mobile friendly.” But really, you owe it to yourself to check out your website for yourself, and ask, “Is it really okay on mobile for people on their phones?”

Then, sometimes there’s a little bit of a barrier. How do you do that, especially if you’re non-technical yet you’re really interested and invested in the success of your website? I’m going to give you three methods, like I said at the outset.

Method Number One: Check it Out on Your Phone

Here’s method number one. This is the easiest method, and that is, take out your phone and go and check it out. Now, I hate this method personally and that’s because I’m pretty old school. When I can have a choice between visiting a website on my computer — my real computer, and not my phone — I’ll always go to my computer. So, if I have to do much in the way of browsing I won’t be doing it on my phone.

What that means is, if I check out my own website on my phone I’m going to be overly harsh on my website. The reason for that is, because I’m not very skilled browsing websites on my phone (I’m not my 13-year-old daughter), it may be my website is good enough for people who are spending all their time on phones but it’s not really good enough for me because I’m phone phobic. So, that’s not my preferred method but it is a real quick way, and unless you’re one of those few people (like my brother, who doesn’t even own a cellphone), then it works pretty well.

Method Number Tool: Use the Google Mobile Friendly Web Page Test

[click here to use Google’s Mobile Friendly Test]

Now, if you want to do it the official Google way, this is way number two, and this is also free, and it’s also easy for you to at least check out your site in a non-technical manner. Let’s take a look at my screen. If you just go and “google” mobile friendly website test Google will actually give you a way to start the check right here within the search results, and when you click on that it goes to this page here that says enter a URL to test. Now, it doesn’t have to be your home page, it can be any page within your site, and as a matter of fact you need to test more than just your home page to make sure your site is mobile friendly.

I just went and randomly chose a website, I just did a search on a town near where I live in Western Colorado called Montrose, and I just looked for the best restaurant and chose their website. It was the first one I chose, it’s this one here, real nice restaurant south of me, it’s called The Stone House. It’s a little bit too nice, I’ve never been to it. Anyway, here’s their home page. It’s not bad, this is a small business, looks okay. What I did is I took the URL, so I just copied the URL and I pasted into Google’s mobile friendly test.

Screenshot of Google mobile friendly check showing a page is not mobile friendly

Now, here’s the negative for using Google’s mobile friendly test. You didn’t see it here cause I already had it loaded in a tab, but it takes a while to process. So, every page you check you’ve got to put it in, wait for Google to process. Now, Google comes back and it tells me the page is not mobile friendly. The text is too small to read, clickable elements too close together, view port not set, if you’re non technical this won’t mean anything to you. But I’ve seen enough, I see that the page is not mobile friendly. So again, what I pointed out beforehand is really the downside to this, and that is, that this is very time consuming. Every page you want to check out, you plug it in, you sit there, you wait for Google to do its full analysis.

My Favorite Method: Use Google Chrome Developer Tools

So, I’m going to give you my favorite quick, easy, free, non technical way to do it. Let’s go to that website in a different tab. Here we are. Now this particular test I’m going to show you, what I’m going to show you here is going to work if you’re using Google’s Chrome browser. With Google’s Chrome browser they have built into it a set of what they call developer tools. Now, these tools are really geeky. Typically, you’re not going to be using them, usually it’s going to be a web developer, but there’s something really easy to use that’s built into these developer tools.

Here’s what I want you to do, look at the website you want to test and then hit the F12 key on your keyboard. Now, when I hit F12 notice how a panel has opened up on the right. These are Google developer tools and they’re very, very technical. You really don’t want to do anything with them, okay. As a matter of fact if it opens up you can resize it like this, and like that. What I do is I just resize it as narrow as I can get, and the only part I want you to pay attention to here is right up at the top. You see this little icon, and then it gives you a tool tip that says toggle device toolbar, all I want to do is click on that, and what it will do is it will show me the mobile version of this website.

screenshot of page with Chrome developer tools

Now, when I go over here notice how my cursor turns into a round circle, well this is to simulate the typical persons finger rather than a mouse. I can see just without having had to go into Google’s mobile friendly test, I can see just looking at it that the font is way too small. But here’s something else I can do that I could not do either looking on my phone or looking at Google’s mobile friendly test, and that is I can switch between a variety of popular phones. For example, this one here is Galaxy S5. Let’s take a look at this on iPhone X. I did the iPhone X. Now, notice up here it’s got a zoom, 67%, that changed, if you noticed it from last time if I go back to Galaxy S5 you see it’s 85%, well that’s because Google is trying to cram the whole thing.

It’ll shrink it down to show you if you were looking at the phone itself this is how much you could see. Let me go back to the iPhone X, you see it’s got a form factor that’s taller and thinner, and you can also see if somebody is trying to navigate around this it’s going to be really tough on a mobile device. I just tried it there, I clicked on about us, I’m going to click on the lunch menu, here’s the lunch menu. I can scroll up and down, see none of this I can really do with the other two methods, at least not easily. I can go back and forth, I can switch between different ones. If I want to see what the screen would look like at 100% it won’t fit within the browser window but I can still switch to 100%. If I actually had physically the phone it would be a little bit better but still it’s just obvious to me that it’s unacceptable.

And so, I can even, up here at the top I can rotate it. See what it would look like if I rotated the phone, rotate it back. This is extremely handy, very fast, totally free, and it’s all you need to know, is, F12, click on the icon, jump around, and then if you find that your website is not mobile friendly, well, you need to take action. Get somebody who knows what they’re doing, and get them to start making some changes because you really don’t want to leave half of your audience out of your website experience.

I hope this has been useful. At Horizon Web Marketing and Horizon Web Marketing Academy we’re all about helping businesses be able to succeed and make more money online, whether it’s through training at our academy or consulting. Subscribe for more video tips. There’s a big red button down there. It’s also going to be a way for you to get a free SEO checklist for an SEO audit as soon as I stop talking, and so I’m going to stop talking right now.

Again, my name is Ross Barefoot and I’m with the Horizon Web Marketing Academy, until next time.