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Video Review: Google Lighthouse SEO Audit Tool

Did you know that Google has its own SEO Audit tool? It’s part of their “Lighthouse” suite of webmaster tools, which now is itself incorporated into the developer tools that are built into the Google Chrome browser. (Lighthouse is also available as an extension for Google Chrome, which makes it conveniently accessible from the browser toolbar)

In this video review review I take a look at the SEO audit portion of Google Lighthouse. It certainly sounds promising, and after all, if it’s from Google isn’t it from the horse’s mouth? Spoiler alert: it’s not a replacement for a real SEO audit. Have you used Google Lighthouse? Do you like it? Hate it? Are you mystified by it? Watch the video and add your own comments and questions below.

Google Lighthouse Review: Video Transcript

Hi. This is Ross, with Horizon Web Marketing and it’s time for another SEO checker review. I’ll be right back.

As you probably know, I’ve been working through these free SEO checkers that are online tools that purport to give you an overview of the SEO potential of your website. In most cases, you go to a website, put in the homepage or any page, sometimes, of your website, and you click a button and they’ll give you a report.

SEO Checkers in General

Those tools are often referred to as SEO checkers, SEO checkup tools, free SEO analyzers. There’s a whole bunch of them out there, and if you look down below in our list, in the playlist that we have on this YouTube channel, you’ll be able to see that I’ve done quite a few reviews so far.

Now usually, what you do is you go to a website and you plug in the address for your website, and click a button, and it’ll go, and it’ll do its thing and it’ll check a whole bunch of different stuff, and it’ll give you a report onscreen.

The tool that we’re going to look at today is a little bit different for a couple of reasons. One is, it’s not a website. The second is, that it’s actually produced by a company you may have heard of called Google. Let’s take a look at Google Lighthouse, which is Google’s own tool for conducting what they call an SEO audit on your website, so let’s see how this works.

All right. I’ve been using this particular website, Artisans of Colorado. It’s sort of a demo site, and I’ve been using it in some of my other SEO checker reviews. We’re going to run this website through Google Lighthouse. Google Lighthouse has been getting quite a bit of ink lately. It’s actually been around for a couple of years. It’s a, basically a tool that Google makes available for free to webmasters to get a handle on all sorts of good stuff that has to do with your website.

An SEO Audit is Part of Google’s Developer Tools

Most recently, Google Lighthouse has been getting more publicity because the speed test results from Google Lighthouse are now being incorporated into Google’s own PageSpeed test tool which is … Let’s go here and just take a look just for chuckles here. I’m actually going to Google it. Google’s PageSpeed test, which is this one here, PageSpeed Insight. You can see PageSpeed Insights, and it will give you an overview of the speed of your website, and it’s tied into now another tool that Google had made available called Google Lighthouse.

There’s a couple of different ways that you can run Google Lighthouse. One way is by going and getting it as a free extension for Chrome. Now, I’ve done videos before about how you get extensions for Chrome and the way you do that is you click on the three dots up here at the top right of a Google Chrome browser and then you go to settings. Once you get to settings here, you can over and click on the hamburger menu at the top left.

Using Google Lighthouse as an Extension

Then go down and click on “extensions.” Now, the extensions is going to show you the extensions that are currently installed on your browser. If you click on the hamburger menu yet again, and go all the way to the bottom, you’ll see that you can open the Chrome web store. Go to the chrome web store and just go ahead and type in “Google Lighthouse.” If you want to, you can tick the little extensions filter here but, typically, it’s going to come up at the top anyway.

Here it is, and it says “rate it” on mine because I’ve already installed it. Usually, it will have a little button that says “add to Chrome” and you click, and then it asks you for permission to do it. You add that extension to Chrome, and then it’ll show up, this tiny little icon up here at the top right. See how I have that installed, and that means it’s as an extension on my site.

Now, if I go back to the site I want to check, so all I have to is click on that Lighthouse extension, and then notice it’s got a variety of options that we can set, so we’ll click on that. You’ll notice, it’s got a bunch of different categories it says to include. Performance, it’ll test the, whether your site is built according to standards as a progressive web app. This is nothing that I pay attention to right now. I probably should, but I don’t.

Accessibility, best practices and then finally, SEO. This is, I don’t know when they included the SEO audit, I think it’s been within the last year. I’m doing this in January of 2019. I could be wrong on that, but in any case, now we’ve got this nice little tool here, SEO.

What I’m going to do is I’m going to un-tick “progressive web app,” and I’m going to un-tick the “accessibility” one just to keep the set manageable. I’ll go ahead and click on “okay” for options. Now I’m going to click on “generate report.” Let’s see what we get. Normally, what Lighthouse will do is you’ll see it going through its paces, it’s checking various configurations of the site. Then it’s going to come up and open a new browser window, and it gives me a report.

Performance = Speed Performance

Now, notice it’s given me a 23 on performance. Now, this is how fast the site loads. We’re not really focused on load speed here, but we can use this in order to try to determine whether our site is below par or not. This is the same results or similar results that you would get if you go to Google’s PageSpeed Insights, that has best practices, and then finally, notice, my SEO audit. I’m getting 100% on my SEO audit, so that seems pretty encouraging at face value.

Let’s scroll down here and see what various categories that we have. Now, there is … I was actually pleasantly or, I guess, unpleasantly surprised to see that the best practices show, pointed me in the direction of something I was not aware of and that is that I have a security vulnerability on this website. You’ll notice it here, it says “one vulnerability detected.” You can typically always drop down the little dropdown button. If you’ve got a down triangle, then you click on it and it’ll show you more information.

This is telling me that, basically, the version I have of jQuery has a vulnerability, and so we would need to update jQuery to be able to patch that vulnerability. I’ll admit straight out, I did not realize we had this problem on this particular site. It’s basically a demo site, so it’s not a big deal but I intend now to go and check my other sites as well.

Checklist of Best Practices – Lucky 13

Now, it says that I’ve passed a total of 13 audits. I can see where I’m doing well, and you can see one of them uses https. In other words, our site is running securely. You can see its checked all sorts of different things, whether the page has doctype, it will talk about avoiding deprecated APIs. Some of this is pretty technical stuff. It displays images with correct aspect ratio. These are all useful tests. Really, although they are not under the SEO section of this audit, I would normally audit these things as part of an SEO audit, so you could say that it’s sort of an extension of their SEO audit.

Let’s go down to the actual SEO section right here. Now, it’ll tell me that there are two areas that I need to check manually. Notice, it tells me that the page is mobile-friendly and we do have some structured data going. If you’re not familiar with that, then this isn’t the place to learn, but structured data is looked for by Google and those other search engines that are still trying to be competitive.

Don’t Forget that Manual Check

Structured data is valid, but Google is going to tell me that I should still be checking these things manually as well. In my experience, this is wise advice. Often, automated tools will tell you that your website is mobile-friendly, and then you’ll go and look at it on a phone and you’ll see the automated tool didn’t really show you that it’s not mobile-friendly at all.

The one thing I don’t like about this, if you drop it down, it basically will just give you an opportunity to learn more, and then you’ll have links to more learning resources at Google, some of which are useful and some of which are pretty general. It points you in the direction of Google’s mobile-friendly test tool that you can use to explore your site a little bit more. Structured data. It’ll tell you more about what structured data is, about the testing tool and so forth, so it does give you resources to be able to follow up.

These past audits in SEO, now we’ll take a look, and those are then further subdivided into other categories. Mobile-friendly. Notice here that the mobile-friendly check is very, very sparse, in my opinion. Basically, it just checks this particular tag, which is a viewport tag, and normally that’s used if you have a responsive designed website.

You can’t be mobile-friendly without having that tag, but on the other hand, there’s a whole lot more to actually being mobile-friendly than simply having that tag. When it comes to explanations, Google’s explanation is pretty lean as well. Same way with the legible font sizes. Tells you that the legible text, notice, is greater than 12 pixels.

It still doesn’t tell you a lot of things like whether the fonts are too close together or whether particular elements are overlaying your site. I guess what I’m trying to say is this is a real cursory check. I would not consider this to be a full-blown SEO audit or even close to one. A lot of the tools we’ve checked that are website-based are more complete than this.

SEO Content Checks: Way Too Shallow to be Useful

Let’s go ahead and look at the other sections they have. Content, best practices. Here’s where I have more criticisms of this particular tool. For example, it says, “the document has a title element.” Okay, fine. Most webpages have a title element, but SEO would involve making sure that that title element was the appropriate length, that it described the content on the page, that it was tied into keyword research that you’ve done, that it would appear correctly on a search engine results page.

There’s a lot that goes into SEO beyond simply having a title tag, and so this is almost useless. As a matter of fact, if you looked at this and said, “Oh, hey, my title is fine,” then it’s actually done you a disservice. The same can be said for the meta description tag, is all it does is check to see if you have one. It doesn’t tell you anything about how well it’s been optimized.

The same criticism applies to “links have descriptive text.” Well, okay, descriptive, but descriptive of what? It says, “hreflang.” This is basically a tag that’s used to make sure that you’re compliant with best practices for multi-language, which is usually not an issue. “Document has a valid rel=canonical,” that’s good to know, but it’s still pretty minimal.

Then finally, “the document avoids plug-ins.” They have also crawling and indexing. “Page has success http status code.” Okay, that’s extremely basic. “Page isn’t blocked from indexing,” also basically what it means is like it’s checking your front door to your store during business hours and making sure it’s not locked. “Robots.txt is valid.”

We’ve gone through here a total of 11 checks that Google has done as part of their SEO audit. Now, here is a comparison, the SEO audit that we normally do on a website is 91 different checks, so this is indeed a pretty basic tool.

Bottom Line: D+ to C- as an SEO Audit Tool (Please don’t hurt me Google; I gotta say it like I see it!)

Before I conclude this review, and I’d give this tool a really low grade overall. No offense to Google. It’s great that they’re moving in a direction of giving us more information, but in terms of believing that you’ve done an SEO audit when you’ve run this, you haven’t.

I’m going to show you an alternate way to run Google Lighthouse, and like I said, it is useful, particularly when it comes to page speed, some of these other best practices, checking for security vulnerabilities. Here’s the other way to do it. When you’re looking at your page, you hit the F12 key on your keyboard. What the F12 key will normally bring up is your developer tools. These will show up as a panel. Most developers who do programming are very familiar with these. Usually, they’ll come up on this panel.

Now, you may have caught, when I first brought it up, it showed Lighthouse because developer tools now includes a hook into Lighthouse through the, when you click on the double arrow, depending on how much screen real estate you have, you often will have a “more,” a little double arrow, that indicates more choices. You click on that and you can go down to “audit.” Click on that, and notice, we can access, we can basically access the same Google Lighthouse tools here, and we didn’t have to get a plug-in to do it.

The plug-in is a little bit redundant now. In a certain respect, I want to show the plug-in availability because it does pull up the results in a separate browser window, which makes it a little easier to use.

All right, so there you go. That’s Google Lighthouse. The bottom line, if I had to give this a grade, I’d give it a C or a D as an SEO audit tool. Good to see Google giving us some SEO information, but we’d really like to see something that’s much more in-depth that what we have here. As far as other SEO checkers that are out there, most of the ones that we’ve tested are far more complete than this one that we just checked from Google.

Now, we’ll be doing more SEO checkers as we go along, and I hope this has proved useful to you. I’m going to ask you now for a favor, and that is, if you’ve made it this far, please go ahead and subscribe to our channel. When you subscribe to the channel, it basically is showing Google that, hey, you were interested in the video. Then Google will know to show the video to more people.

Go ahead and subscribe. Hit the “thumbs up” if you like the video and please also, when you do subscribe, click on that little alarm button next to the subscribe button. That means you’ll get a notification when we have new video content that will help you do the digital marketing that will help your website succeed on the Internet.

Thanks again for watching. My name is Ross Barefoot, and I hope to see you on the next video. Bye for now.

Hubspot Website Grader – Review (Video with Transcript)

One of the Most Well-Known SEO Checkers

By virtue of its position as one of the major players in digital marketing, Hubspot’s SEO checkup tool, the Website Grader, has been used to do an SEO check on literally millions of websites. In this review I take you through the results of a check I did as part of our ongoing series of reviews of free website analyzers. How does Hubspot’s Website Grader stack up? Watch the video here and find out.

[Note: Check out the other SEO Checker reviews we’ve posted on our blog or on our YouTube channel]

And, in case you’d prefer to to read, we’ve included a full audio transcript with screen captures below the video.

Audio Transcript

Hi there. Do deep pockets make for a great SEO check up tool? We’re going to find out in just a minute.

Hi, I’m Ross Barefoot, with Horizon Web Marketing and the Horizon Web Marketing Academy. We’ve been working through a series of free online tools that’ll help you do an SEO check up on your website. Now these SEO checkers are pretty common, there’s a lot of them out there, and many of them are made by small teams of developers, laboring away, sometimes more of a labor of love than anything else, and we’ve reviewed a number of good tools. This time we’re going to turn our attention to a tool developed by one of the big companies out there, a company named Hubspot, that you may or may not have heard of.

Hubspot is a major player in digital marketing. They’ve got a great platform for marketing your business. I can’t really review the platform here, but they also have a lead magnet tool, that is a tool designed to generate interest in their business, called the Website Grader. So we’re going to take a look at that tool and see, okay, this was developed by a company with deep pockets, does it show up in their free SEO checker? So let’s have a look.

When you arrive at the website, you know that you’re dealing with a heavy hitter here because their domain is “grader.com.” That’s a pretty high end type of domain for a company to have, and they’ve got “website” as the sub domain, so it reads website.grader.com. You can see it’s powered by Hubspot at the top, very simple interface. It asks, “how strong is your website?” It asks you to put in the website and they also want your email. Hubspot is great for being out there and trying to build their email list. And I’d first like to point out that Hubspot offers lots of great content online. And so I certainly, nothing in this review should detract from the fact that they’ve really made some positive contributions in the world of digital marketing.

Now we’ve been running a website that we’ve been using as kind of a test website, called Artisans of Colorado, and as you can see, it’s pretty plain. This is what it looks like. And it has not been optimized for search, as a matter of fact, we’ve thrown some errors in there just to see if some of these tools will pick up on the errors. So here’s the report that I get when I run artisansofcolorado.com through Hubspot. It tells me that my site is good. That really makes me feel great. It registers it as an 80.

screen capture of results of website grader evaluationThe thing is as someone who’s done SEO for well, going on forever now, since 2002, I can tell you there is no way artisansofcolorado.com deserves an 80 on any scale in terms of search engine optimization. Let’s take a look at what they’ve talked about here. Says that my performance gets a 20 out 30, my mobile readiness gets 30 out of 30, the SEO gets a 20 out of 30, and security 10 out of 10. Then it gives me a screen capture and then we start to get into some of its results.

Now one thing that probably some of you might like, I personally get tired of and that is, they really indulge in a lot of cute descriptions here, so some copywriter went to town on the informal side of things. But I find this tool to be probably the least useful of any tool that I’ve tested so far. It gives me very little data. I’ll give you one example here, it’s showing me my page speed is slow, it’s just giving me an overall number rather than breaking down into the things that Google looks at like when does the page first start to render, when do people first start to see it as opposed to when it completely loads.

Screen capture of speed results from the website grader test

Very basic metrics. Not enough detail to really tell you whether your site is truly slow, and if it is, what to do about it.

The other thing is they tell me that I might try speeding things up a bit. If I click on any of those links to read more, I’m expecting to see some details associated with that, like what specifically I could improve, and instead it just takes me to a very general blog post, and that’s the case with all of this stuff, like page request, page size and so forth. When I drop down here it’ll tell me that I need compression. It’ll tell me that I’ve got some render blocking going on. So it gives me some information, but not really enough. I’m going to have to find another tool to really tell me what to work on with this site.

It will show me that the site is responsive, and this is what I mean by cute, they say, “now that’s a good looking viewport.” You know after a while I probably would rather just have the information than have it expressed in that particular manner. When I drop down here to SEO, they’ll just take a look at like the very most basic of things, does it have page titles, they’ll give me a yes without showing me what the page title on this page is. Same with meta description.

And one of the things I was a little disappointed at, because Hubspot is really great at producing content, like when I clicked on read more for the meta description tag it takes me to this that’s showing me a capture of a search engine results page from like five years ago. You see the little picture here of Ramesh Ranjan up in the left, that type of search snippet hasn’t been seen in a long time, so this is a pretty old page and with something like a meta description tag as they’re talking about here, Google has just in the last six months changed their specifications on that title two different times, so it’s really important to have more current information. When I drop down I see on security, it just basically tells me that I have a secure site, so that’s good. When it says what should I do next, it’s a pretty short list, four different items. And then they’re basically of course offering me a trial of their software.

Screen capture of how website grader does on the seo audit checklist

By the numbers: Website Grader comes up very low. Not many audit items can be checked off with this free tool.

Now, we have been comparing these tools to our SEO audit checklist and one of the things that we do at Horizon Web Marketing and the consulting side of our business is we will do SEO audits on sites and they’re typically pretty thorough, so we’ve taken each of these tools and we’d say, okay, if I’m using this tool, will it help me to clear a particular item on our SEO audit checklist? So the SEO audit checklist here has a total of 91 different items, and the Hubspot website grader is showing here as having been able to help me clear two out of 91 of those items. That’s about the lowest score that I’ve seen, well it’s definitely the lowest score that I’ve seen.

I’m just going to scroll down here through some of the items on our checklist. It was able to tell me that it’s using HTTPS or a secure protocol. It was able to tell me that the site is mobile friendly. But as far as everything else on our audit checklist, it was not able to help me out at all.

So in terms of using the website grader to actually do an SEO check on your website, I’d say choose one of the other tools that we’ve been looking at. That’s not to say anything disparaging about Hubspot’s platform or any of the other things they offer, and as I’ve said before, I really appreciate all their great content, but this particular tool really is not going to be very useful whether you’re experienced or inexperienced in terms of SEO and digital marketing.

Graphic indicating the free download for the SEO audit checklist

Get your own free copy of our SEO Audit Essentials Checklist.

Now that SEO audit checklist that I showed you online, we do offer as a free resource, and I’m going to put a link down in the description of this video where you can click through and get a copy of that checklist for yourself and start working through it. The checklist also has links to videos and other instructional materials to help you to be able to do some of the checks that we have on our SEO audit checklist.

Also, please subscribe to show your support for our video production and the fact that we’re trying to create content that’s useful for business people out there who are trying to do SEO on their own. So just go ahead and click that subscribe link if you enjoy content like this. Also, please let us know if you have any consulting or SEO training needs. We’d be glad to help you out. Again, my name is Ross Barefoot with Horizon Web Marketing and the Horizon Web Marketing Academy, and I’ll see you next time.

Latest SEO Checker Review: Dareboost (Video)

In our latest series on SEO checkers (aka Website Analyzers, aka SEO check up tools), we take a look at Dareboost. This may not be the best choice for someone who has no technical knowledge of website development, however if you have even a basic level of understanding you will find a lot of value here.

[Note: Check out the other SEO Checker reviews we’ve posted on our blog or on our YouTube channel]

I will take you on a quick tour of the program in the video. For those of you who’d rather read than watch, well, first, more power to you, but secondly, look below the video for our audio transcript.

Audio Transcript

Dare I say it? It’s time for another SEO checker check up. I’ll be right back, in a moment.

Hi, I’m Ross with Horizon Web Marketing and as you probably know, we’ve been working through a number of different, free, SEO check up tools, that are available online, that purport to help you be able to take your webpage and plug it in and see how it can be improved from an SEO perspective.

Now we’ve done a number of these tools, the next one on my list is a tool called ‘Dareboost.’ So, let’s see if Dareboost can get the job done.
Here we see Dareboost when you arrive at the website, actually I’ve been here before, as you can see down here, it knows that I’ve already done a check. Now when we do these, we’re using a demo site, basically, called ‘Artisans of Colorado.’ And we’ve been using the same site throughout so we’d have something to compare.

So I went ahead and plugged Artisans of Colorado into Dareboost and it comes back with, a very familiar interface here, it’s got a numeric grade, it tells me it’s 68%, they’ll tell me it has 11 issues, 15 suggestions for improvement, 63 areas where it has passed the test.

Dareboost is a Fairly Technical SEO Tool that Gets a Lot of Things Right

It does a lot of things right, it is able to spot a lot of issues, but often at a level where you’re gonna have to have some technical knowledge to be able to even understand the issue, much less to be able to correct it.

So let’s just scroll down here and see what it looks like. It puts a lot of weight on the speed test, putting it at the top and center of the report screen here. And it gives me a lot of very good information when it comes to the speed of the website.

It’ll give me details such as the first bite, start render, fully loaded, so in other words, it doesn’t just give you a number, “Oh, your page took X amount of time to load,” and that’s a good thing, because Google is evaluating your page based on things like ‘when does a user first have an experience with your page.’ So in this case, it’s giving me a lot of metrics and then as I drop down below, it’ll give me the tips and best practices.

screen capture of SEO speed metrics

Website speed metrics are granular and front and center.

Now, one of the things I like about this, is that it has a really good filtering mechanism. So that I can switch from all categories for its observations to just a few. Before when I came down here, I had it set to ‘cash policy,’ but you can see immediately, when you start looking at this, that it’s really designed for somebody with technical knowledge. When it allows you to sort your categories by things like ‘browser rendering’ and ‘number of requests’ and ‘cache policy.’

These are things, that if you’re new to SEO, even if you’re experienced with the SEO but you don’t know much about website development, you’re gonna have a hard time wrestling with some of these issues. But if you do have some knowledge of these areas, it gives you a lot of granularity and a lot of detail that’s very, very useful.

So, I’m just going to pick out a few things here, as I go down, and one thing I would like to point out is the interface does allow you to hide or reveal, the information. Like for example, it’s talking here about a critical dependency that’s detected, I was able to drop this down, it tells me about what … It’s referred to as a ‘front end single point of failure.’ Here again, we get into some of the text speak that is very common to Dareboost, when it does one of these checks.

Often Includes Good Supporting Information

Now, I’ve brought up here, this is a different blog post, but one of the things that I also like about Dareboost, is they do give you links, not just to kind of a ‘hover over’ tip on what a particular metric or particular diagnosis is about. But they’ll actually do a pretty good blog post, giving you a lot of information.

screen capture of a technical SEO blogpost on the dareboost site

So if you’ve got patience and if you are able to engage with their information, they’ve done a really good job on a lot of these subjects, of being able to educate you and I’d say that has a lot of value, right there.

As I drop down, I can see … it’ll show me quite a few items here, that require attention.

One of the things that I like, just from an SEO perspective, is they do a thing like, it will check that there’s duplicate title tags on this page. We’ve thrown a duplicate title tag into this page, just to see whether tools would pick up on it, and most tools don’t pick up on the fact that there’s a duplicate title tag. It also gives you a nice preview here of the ‘Cert snippet.’ By snippet, I mean how you’re listing is gonna appear and how your title tag might affect that particular display, in a Google search result.

So let me just kinda scroll down here, you can see there’s a whole lot of speed and optimization issues. And the tool is pretty, I wouldn’t say it’s exclusively focused, but it’s got a heavy emphasis on performance issues. And if you’re a programmer out there, you can see they’ll call you out on things like here that other tools, typically, will not, using the exclamation important declaration, used 578 times, that’s basically something that you put into your CSS code.

And again, unless you’re a developer, you won’t really know what that refers to, but if you are, it kinda shows you how you’re relying on something here, that you probably shouldn’t be relying on so heavily.

So, again, there’s a lot of subtle things this tool will pick up on and I thought that was extremely good. I just don’t think that the tool is really appropriate for someone who’s just getting in to SEO, unless they’re doing it, going through it with their developer or with an SEO professional.

That having been said, once you’re a little bit farther down the path, this could be a very good resource. I’m certainly going to keep Dareboost bookmarked for the future.

Let’s run the numbers on this, as you know we publish an SEO audit check list, at Horizon Web Marketing, and we offer it as a free resource. In the description for this video, I’ll give you a link to be able to download this audit check list. And we modify and update it on a regular basis.

We have a total of 91 items on our SEO audit check list. Of those, 31 are technical factors and these tools tend to be more focused on the technical factors. So we ran a score on Dareboost, basically what we do, is we say, “Okay, on these various items, that our SEO audit would include, would Dareboost give me the information I need to be able to either clear it or fix it or know that there’s a problem.”

Graphic indicating the free download for the SEO audit checklistNow, the numbers here are pretty low, for Dareboost, I don’t think that should be a judgment on the tool, because, again, this check list is more relayed with a lot of items that have to do with things like, “Is the content relevant to your end user,” and so forth. And Dareboost doesn’t claim to be able to do that.

So, the fact that it had got, it hit 11 out of 90 of our points, 6 out of 30 on the technical, would tend to indicate a pretty low score. And here I’ll scroll down, just kinda give you an idea of what these are. But I don’t think that that’s a really- a valid score in terms of judging this tool. I think the tool, overall, is a really neat tool. I like it quite a bit, so, definitely keep it in mind as one of the tools in your toolbox, and make use of it as you have the knowledge and experience to be able to do that.

Now, if you want to get other reviews that we offer on free SEO tools, please subscribe. It’s also great if you subscribe, because it just shows YouTube that you support the channel. So go ahead and hit that subscribe button down below and if you’d like to actually receive notifications of our … of new videos that we publish, when you click on ‘subscribe,’ there’s gonna be a little bell icon next to that button. Just click on that as well, so you can actually get notifications now.

We offer SEO consulting and SEO training at Horizon Web Marketing. Training is through the Horizon Web Marketing Academy. So definitely keep us in mind for any needs that you might have for SEO services or for SEO training, as you pursue your own Search Engine Optimization knowledge.

And I will look forward to seeing you on our next video. Again, my name is Ross Barefoot with Horizon Web Marketing. I’ll see you next time.

Secure Protocol 101: How to Check the HTTPS Implementation of Your Website (video)

Another SEO Audit How-To Video

Google wants your website to be secure! That’s why they are favoring websites that use “https” instead of “http”

Image of a website running https

Above is an image of how a website will show in a browser if it is running https

 

Image of a website showing a not secure warning

Above is an image of a site that has not implemented https, or has done it incorrectly

This is another video in our series of SEO Audit Essentials how-to’s. In this video I discuss one of the items we always check when we’re doing an audit on a website, namely whether it’s running on secure protocol (in other words, using “https” instead of “http”), and then, if it is, whether that https protocol has been implemented correctly (often it has not).

Since Google is valuing https in their ranking we always want to make sure that Google doesn’t think the https implementation on a website is broken. It might negatively impact the trustworthiness of the site.

(This video is designed to complement our SEO Audit Essentials free checklist. To get a copy of that checklist for your SEO work, click here)

An audio transcript appears below the video.

Audio Transcript

Hi, everybody. This is Ross Barefoot with Horizon Web Marketing. I’m here with another tip for how to use our SEO audit checklist. As you may already know, and may already have a copy, we offer as a free download a checklist similar to the one we use in house for performing an SEO audit on your website. So, we’re just going to drill down into one small aspect of that, and show you how you can do a check on your site. And in this case, it’s for the security protocol that your site is operating under.

Let’s take a look at the checklist. You can see it here. It’s set up in a spreadsheet format.

image of seo audit essentials checklist

If we scroll down a little bit, you’ll see it there’s a setting that says security issues. And the first question is, is the site using HTTPS? Of course, as you probably know, Google is pushing everyone to use a secure protocol and here I’ve got a project site to take a look at. You’ll see up at the top left that the site is using HTTPS, as opposed to just HTTP. Whenever you visit a website, typically, if it’s running this secure protocol, if you’re using Chrome browser, it’s going to show secure, other browsers will show something similar.

Your first step is, if you’re going to check out your site is try typing in the address, just like I’ve done it here without any protocol [ed: without http or https] and hit Enter, and then see what it defaults to. In this case, it defaults to HTTPS. So, so far, so good. I’d click around to a few pages on a few links, see if it’s running HTTPS. Okay, so at this real basic level, it looks to be running HTTPS. But I’m going to check one other thing, and that is what about if somebody has a link out there with just the standard old-fashioned HTTP? So, I’m going to put that in for this site and I’m going to hit enter. Now notice that it redirects again to HTTPS.

So, some sites do not force it to check. Part of what you’re going to do is you’re going to check by taking out that S, and running it through and seeing if it redirects back to the secure protocol. But typically, you’re not done there.

Using the Insecure Content Report in Screaming Frog

Now tool that we use quite a bit, and I’ve talked about on some of my other videos is Screaming Frog [ed: for a link to any tools mentioned in this video, see the description of the video on YouTube]. It’s free for up to about 500 URLs. It’s a free download. Otherwise, if you have to buy it, it’s a good tool to have. I’ll do other videos on what we use it for, a whole bunch of different stuff. I’ve done a crawl here on a somewhat abandoned site called rockymountainsearchacademy.com. Once I do a crawl using Screaming Frog, they have a report that is called insecure content. When you click on that, it’ll prompt you to download a spreadsheet.

image of the dashboard of Screaming Frog

What the spreadsheet looks like is right here. You’ll notice that it will show me every page that has a link on it that points to an insecure destination. In this case, on my page, How To SEO Courses, you’ll see here under the column destination, notice how the protocol over here is HTTP. That’s not really the best case. Now in our situation, we do have what are called redirects in place. So, if someone clicks on that link, they are forced to a secure version of this page. But that puts an unnecessary step in the process. So, this would be an area that I would need to give some attention to, to change these links here to HTTPS.

Using JitBit to Double Check for Page Resources Called Insecurely

Now there’s one other free tool that I’m going to show you how to use. We’ll go back here, and we’ll check this tab. This is a cool little site called JitBit. You can go there and do an SSL check. Now, this will only go up to about 200 pages. But it gives you a good idea whether you might have a problem or not. Notice you have to tweet to gain access? That’s a small price to pay. So, I go ahead and tweet, and I’m going to show you what the result is when I did a check on Rocky Mountain search engine Academy. And you can see in the screen capture here, that it finds just one insecure item. Now, this is because it’s looking for actually where the website is calling some sort of a resource that is using something to build the page that is insecure. Now, this is something that Screaming Frog did not pick up on. And so, in essence, you really have to do a variety of different checks.

At this point, if you find that you do have a problem, and you’re not really technical, here’s where you call in your developer or an outside developer if you feel that your developer, or the person you’re working with, can’t handle this. And you say, “Well, here’s what I find:” In the case of Rocky Mountain search Academy, I have a bunch of insecure links that need to be swapped out. That can be done with a one-step database replacement operation. I would also show them the JitBit document, because it shows where an external script is being called insecurely. Both of those are red flags to Google. And so, they would need to be dealt with. Once you deal with them, you can mark this off your list.

Again, my name is Ross Barefoot with Horizon Web Marketing and Horizon Web Marketing Academy. I hope this has been useful to you. Please subscribe for more tips like this, and also click on the bell icon next to the subscribe button. That way, you’ll actually get a notification when we have new videos come out that will help you work through these tough SEO questions. Bye for now.

Website Tool Review: SEO Analyzer from SEO Centro

Don’t be Fooled by its Old School Appearance

In a lot of ways I really like the SEO Analyzer from SEO Centro, especially its lack of pretension.  After all, an analytical SEO Checker is there to provide a function, not an artistic user interface.  Still, it’s easy to ignore this free tool when you arrive at their home page, mainly because of the blizzard of ads, one of which tried to drive me away with flashing neon.

[Note: Check out the other SEO Checker reviews we’ve posted on our blog or on our YouTube channel]

I guess that’s a downside to a particular virtue of this tool, which is that it doesn’t demand your email address to use it (not to mention your money), but of course you do pay for it in a way; I counted 7 ads in the screenshot below. At least the advertising doesn’t bedevil you with pop-ups or pop-unders.

Picture of home page for SEO analyzer

SEO Nuts and Bolts

Once you get past the ads the approach is simple: input your web page URL (address) and the simplistic, anti-spam “access code” (i.e., the CAPTCHA) and wait a bit for it to do its magic.  Once it has processed your page you’ll have a tabbed interface divided into the following 8 sections:

  • SEO
  • Content
  • Keywords
  • Social Media
  • Usability
  • Reputation
  • Speed
  • Server

Image of the tabs on SEO Centro analyzer

Let’s just cover a few of these in turn.

The SEO Tab

What you’ll find on this tab

  • The page title, whether it is present, how long it is (although the length recommendation is out of date as of this writing), and whether it is “relevant” (it does this by comparing whether the words in the title are found elsewhere on the page).
  • The meta “description” tag (often referred to as simply the description of the page).  Like the title it will see if the description tag is present, and if it is it will give similar output on length and relevancy.
  • Also checks for the presence of robots.txt and robots element in html, as well as the presence of a sitemap.  It doesn’t seem to offer any insight as to the quality of those elements.
  • Under this tab you’ll see a “snippet preview” for desktop, showing you approximately how the page might look if it showed up in search results.
  • Headings are important for SEO, of course, and the SEO Analyzer offers a nice clear table of H usage with contents of each H tag, so you can review on your own.  Of course you need some knowledge of the principle of relevancy to be able to put this table to good use.

What the SEO tab is missing

  • It doesn’t give much guidance on <H> tags, for example I placed 2 <H1>s on page (which is a practice normally frowned up on in SEO) and it didn’t alert me to this.
  • It does not check whether the “www” variant of the website, or something similar called ip canonicalization, is set up correctly.  This is a fine technical point but an important one.
  • I would like to see it check for correct implementation of canonical tags on pages.
  • Also there is no analysis of the SEO properties of the body content that I could see.

The Content Tab

Highlights of what you’ll find on this tab

  • This section cherry picks a couple of technical issues, such as whether your page has a doctype set and whether it is using a technical construct called “frames” that can make the page less Search Engine Friendly (SEF).
  • Gives you a word count, which can alert you to pages that don’t have enough textual content.
  • It offers a recommendation to keep the load size of your page below 250mb, but I find in this age of rich content experiences (often expected by visitors) and widespread adoption of broadband (offered to most consumers of Internet content) a 250mb limit is a bit unrealistic nowadays.
  • This tab also shows a list of links on page and whether they are dofollow or nofollow, which can be moderately useful if you spot a pattern and know what to do about it.
  • It does check to see if the alt attribute of images is being made use of, which is a lower priority relevancy factor in SEO
  • In an effort to help you diagnose page size issues (which will be common if anything over 250mb is viewed as an error, it gives a list of all resources associated with the page that make up that big size, primarily JavaScript (js) and Cascading Style Sheet (css) but as no further explanation is offered you would need a developer’s knowledge for that to help you much.

What the Content tab is missing

  • I would like to see it show the content of those alt image attributes, so I can determine whether they are actually helping the relevancy of the page.
  • For anyone who is not a hard-core SEO, I think there needs to be much more explanation of what to do about many of the results that are reported.  There are indeed summaries on most of these, but they are so brief as to be not helpful to novice SEOs, business or marketing people.

The Keywords Tab

Highlights of what you’ll find on this tab, which is one of the more useful tabs this tool offers.

  • It has a decent keyword cloud, giving a visual representation of the importance of words it finds on the page.
  • You’ll find a number of tables that illustrate how keywords and keyword phrases are used on the page, both single keywords and multi-keyword groupings.
  • The “Top Keywords” section does a fairly decent job of picking out the most relevant phrases.
  • For each of the keywords and phrases it will indicate whether it is used in Title, Description, or any of the H tags on the page.
  • It will also show the keywords used in the anchor text (the clickable part of a link on the page).

What the keywords tab is missing

  • It would be nice to see more data on the keywords being used, such as search volume.

The Social Media Tab

  • Whether structured data is used (primarily Facebook’s Open Graph) to facilitate sharing on social networks.
  • Share data for a limited number of social media networks.

What the Social Media Tab is Missing

  • A check for the existence of Facebook Page, Twitter account, Instagram account.  The only check is for Google+ which is now a footnote to social media

The Usability Tab

  • This tab has a number of useful bits of information, including whether a language declaration is used (which is mainly useful if you serve a mutli lingual audience.
  • More importantly it checks for a couple of settings relevant to mobile usability, such as the presence of a viewport and media queries.

What the Usability Tab is missing

  • The most important missing feature on this page is a preview of the page on mobile vs. desktop screens.

The Speed Tab

  • Information on a lot of specifics related to technical aspects that affect speed.
  • Lots of very brief tips on how to implement the tips that are given.

What the Speed Tab is missing

  • Any non technical information to guide you in using the data that is presented.  The tips that are presented are mainly useful if you already know how to develop websites.

Summary

SEO Analyzer by SEO Centro is a pretty bare-bones tool.  Despite the aging look of the interface and the ad-supported nature of the tool, there’s some handy stuff in here, especially in the keywords tab.  However, I would definitely recommend this tool to someone who already has intermediate or advanced knowledge of SEO, not to the typical SEO beginner.

Do you use the SEO Analyzer by SEO Centro? Do you see important things this post overlooks? Do you have a similar tool you’d like to recommend for future reviews?  Feel free to post a comment below. And subscribe to this post to be automatically notified of other reviews soon to come in our SEO Checkers review series.