Whether you are building your website with WebMatrix, or optimizing a website that you maintain elsewhere, the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Report in WebMatrix can provide you with valuable insights for optimizing your web pages for better search engine rankings.
More and more people are turning to the web to find information about products and services. For businesses, ranking highly in the Bing and Google results is becoming more important every day, and represents a compelling source of new customers. But how do you get your website to show up among the thousands of other results when potential customers search for your products or services?
SEO With WebMatrix
WebMatrix can help simplify the process of analyzing your website and provide search engine friendly recommendations that improve the relevance of your website in the search results. In this tutorial we'll walk through how to use WebMatrix to analyze your web page and understand the suggestions it provides for optimizing your web pages.
WebMatrix is a free, easy way to customize and build Web sites from popular open source apps like WordPress, Drupal and Joomla as well as a powerful tool to build sites from the ground up using ASP.NET, PHP, HTML and a number of other leading technologies.
The Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Report in WebMatrix is a great tool for optimizing your website to improve your search rankings in Bing and Google.
To download and set up WebMatrix visit the WebMatrix download and setup instructions.
Watch the How-To Video
Step 1. Getting Started with SEO and WebMatrix
Having a well structured web page is essential if you want it to rank well in the search engines. When crawling your web page, search engines look at the structure of the page to try and understand what it is about.
They detect keywords that are used in various areas of the page. Among the structural elements they pay attention to are the Title & Meta Description, Headers (H1, H2, H3) , Image Name (ALT tag) and the Body content.
One of the keys to on-page optimization is ensuring your web page has a valid structure, with the appropriate keywords in the correct places on the page. This helps the search engine crawlers understand what the page is about.
Manually taking an audit of each page on your website can be tedious. WebMatrix automates and simplifies the process for you.
By entering the url of any website, WebMatrix will generate an SEO Report that provides recommendations on how to improve the web page based on a set of rules that it knows the search engines care about.
Step 2. Create an SEO report for any web page using WebMatrix
If you don't have a site created in WebMatrix yet, you'll need to create one in order to run an SEO Report.
You'll see that WebMatrix provides a number of templates to choose from. In this case, we want to run an SEO Report on another site, so just choose the Empty Site Template and give it a name in the Site Nameentry field.
- This will take you to the dashboard; from here click Run a Report.
Step 3. Analyze the Report
Let's take a closer look at a few of the violations identified in the SEO Report.
Keywords in your Title Tag & Meta Description:
The very first place the search engine crawlers look at on your web page is the HTML title tag andmeta description. These are HTML elements in the code of your web page. It's very important these sections are completed and contain the keywords you want to rank for with this page.In addition to being important from an SEO perspective, the HTML title tag and meta description are displayed in the search results. You'll want to make sure that they clearly describe your page and why they should click the search result to visit your page.
Let's take a look at the “The title is too long.” violation. When we click on this item in the report, it opens up a box on the right hand side that gives us more details on the violation and recommendations on how to fix it.
In this example, the length of our Title is too long. Ideally, the title tag should not exceed 65 characters; everything else will be omitted in the search results. Depending on the keywords you care about, a better example of a title tag might be:
Santa Cruz Hotel | Vacation Rental Santa Cruz | Contoso Hotel
Tip: Place your most important keywords in the beginning of the title (notice how the name of the company is at the end) .
When we click The description is empty, WebMatrix alerts us that we have left this important area empty and recommends that we add human readable, actionable and keyword rich content that is no longer than 150 characters in the meta description area.
The meta description for Contoso Hotel might be:
Looking for a Santa Cruz vacation rental in a warm, sunny & fun beach town? Call Contoso Hotel 222-333-4444. Receive a FREE breakfast w/ your stay.
Tip: Add a call to action and a reason for searchers to visit your website in the meta description. This is your chance to convince searchers to click on your link instead of the other results on the page.
Keywords in your headers (H1, H2, H3):
Another area the search engine crawlers look is at is the HTML Headers on your web page. These header tags are HTML elements that help define the structure of your page. Many people make the mistake of using bold text or font size to indicate headers instead of using the actual header tags.
By doing this the search engines will not be able to properly understand the structure of your document, and your page could suffer in the search rankings as a result.
In this report WebMatrix is telling us that we are missing the H1 tag (Header 1) and this is a major component to determining page relevancy for your keywords.
You'll want to make sure your headers exist, are human readable, contain your primary keywords for the page, and that you appropriately label your headers as Header 1 (H1) , Header 2 (H2), Header 3 (H3), to indicate the structure of your content.
Here is an example of what the H1 header might be for the Vacation Rental page on the Contoso Hotel website.
<H1> Santa Cruz Hotel & Vacation Rental</H1>
Keywords in the ALT tags of your images:
A key component that many people miss in optimizing their web page is properly labeling each of the the images on the page with the image ALT attribute tag.
This WebMatrix report is telling us that our image does not have an ALT attribute defined.
Search engines can't view images like human eye can, but they can read what the image is about if labeled correctly. The Alt attribute within an image tag is simple to define and is another key area you want to make sure you have placed your keywords in.
This attribute is also valuable for the accessibility of your web page; some people rely on screen reader software to read the web page to them and if you don't have the ALT attribute defined for an image they will miss out on what the image was trying to convey.
<img src="images3/contoso-hotel.jpg" alt="Santa Cruz Hotel & Vacation Rental">
Keywords in the body of your text:
The search engines like to see keywords and phrases within the first 100 words of the body of your text. Be sure to make the content compelling for your readers; write naturally and make sure your primary keyword phrases are included in the body text.
Be careful though - do not try and stuff your content with keywords. Always aim for human readability first, with considerations for the search engine crawlers second. Your page will be penalized if the crawler determines that you have "stuffed" the page with too many keywords.
The WebMatrix SEO Report provides a Word Analysis report to help you analyze the content on your web page. To bring up this dialog click on View More Details link at the bottom of your recommendations. Then click on the Word Analysis tab in the dialog that comes up.
Webmatrix will give you a report of how many times a certain word or phrase is used on that web page. You can use this to see what words are represented most on the page, and fine tune your text accordingly.
There are many other ways you optimize your web pages. The WebMatrix SEO Report helps you identify many of them, and provides recommendations and guidance wherever possible. In the next tutorial we'll look at some of the more advanced items in the WebMatrix SEO report such as server status codes, inbound and outbound links, and more.
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