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Web Design and Digital Marketing

Beware the automated SEO report

When it comes to all things digital marketing we see a lot of things done the wrong way, but there’s nothing as frustrating as seeing automated website evaluation reports that say something is fine when it isn’t and vice-versa.

We have clients and prospective clients come to us regularly with these reports, the ones where you enter your website URL in and it spits back out all the things it thinks are wrong with the site. And it gives a list of the things that are done right as well. But what if the information it spits back to you is wrong?

Just one misleading example from an automated evaluation we saw last week was that the Home Page of the website did indeed have a <h1> tag. For those not in the know the H1 (heading 1) is the most important piece of text on the page.

But guess what the phrase within the H1 tag was? “Home”. The automated report gave this a green tick simply because there was one in existence. The automated report isn’t able to analyse the quality of the text and make recommendations. The reality of the situation is that THE most important H1 tag on THE most important page of the site was completely useless for SEO. But it’s been given a green tick.

Another example was that the title tag from the metadata (the wording that appears in the top of your browser) was the correct length (yes it’s important). Another green tick, but again, the words within that tag were totally useless – in fact in this case it would actually do more harm than good.

Even more confusing is that many of these reports don’t give any sort of advice on what to tackle first. Take image Alt tags for example – in most automated reports it will highlight every missing Alt tag – that would lead you to believe they are hugely important right? Nope.

The Alt tags are slightly (read almost nil) helpful if done right, but they rarely are. Even if you did know how to do them you would be far better off enriching the existing copy or adding new content than putting effort into the Alt tags. The text on the page is far, far more important and unless you are sure your web copy is word perfect then concentrate on that first.

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