Fortunately for the layman, Microsoft has invented a tool called WebMatrix, which takes a lot of the guess work out of the equation. It lets web developers do what they do best – develop websites – without having to worry too much about the art of search engine optimization.
I also encourage you to visit the tutorial Get Started with SEO Using WebMatrix, which includes a step-by-step guide and video.
To learn about some of the more advanced features the WebMatrix SEO Report offers, visit the article Improve Your Website Using The WebMatrix SEO Report.
Broken down into its core pieces, WebMatrix consists of four “Workspaces,” each dealing with a separate aspect of web development: Site, Files, Databases, and Reports. For the purposes of this article, we will be focusing on just one of these elements: Reports.No matter which method you use to create your site, the SEO Reports will scan your site’s overall structure, seeking out any issues you may have with regards to search engine optimization. If it finds any errors or areas where you could improve, it provides recommendations for optimizing them.
This functionality works whether you are building your site from a directory on your desktop or have already published the site to the web. Once WebMatrix displays its suggestions, you can even click on a button and be taken to the exact spot in your code (or the file on your desktop) where the optimization needs to be applied – truly one of the strongest features of the application in my book.
In addition to scanning the overall structure of your website, the SEO Reports Tool also examines key elements in your code and checks to see if they were created properly. While we all agree that content is king, structure is the throne it sits upon – and you don’t want to have your king sitting on a wobbly chair!
A few of the elements that the WebMatrix SEO Report looks at are:
Title tags are pieces of text that describe web pages on the Internet. You can see their effect at the top left-hand corner of your browser:
Aside from describing your page’s content and relevancy in a user’s browser, they also appear on the search engine result pages. A well-written title is not only more likely to get a user to click on your link, but can also position it higher in the search engine results (SERPs).
Title tags are arguably the most important on-page piece of SEO that you can add to your site, and because of this, the WebMatrix SEO Report takes special care when analyzing this vital element in your website.
It does so by checking things like the overall length of characters in your title (ideally, it should be no more than 70 characters in total), placement of keywords within the title tag, and so forth.
If it finds an error, it provides a suggestion with information on why it is not optimized properly and what steps to take to ensure it gets fixed.
While Google no longer considers Meta descriptions in its ranking algorithms, they are still an important part of your site’s search engine optimization. When a user searches for a keyword on one of the major engines, the search results displayed show the page’s title tag, followed by a description of what the page or site is about. This description comes from – you guessed it – the Meta description.
If this is missing, or not well thought out, chances are users will bypass your result, looking for a page that is more relevant to their needs.
Heading Tags (H1, H2, H3)
Headers are a pivotal part of a website’s structure and act as a visual aid to the users, allowing them to better understand the structure of your document. Headers do the same for search engine crawlers, helping them to make more semantic sense of your pages.
Ideally, header tags should follow a certain pattern and should always contain keywords relevant to your topic. WebMatrix’s SEO Tool helps to ensure that they do.
Image Descriptions (Alt tags)
Another important aspect of SEO – and an often overlooked one – is image descriptions. Just as a good caption helps readers understand a picture, image descriptions help provide clarity to search engines about what your picture contains. Remember, search engines cannot see your image, so the only way they know what your image is about is if you tell them.
As tools like Google and Bing Image Search become more and more popular, making sure your images are properly optimized becomes increasingly important.
When you run the SEO Report on your website, it will identify these issues and other opportunities for improving your website’s optimization, and provide recommendations for improving them, too. The examples above are but a few of the factors that the WebMatrix SEO Report Tool considers when it reviews your site; we’ve literally just touched the tip of the iceberg in this article. Some other things the program allows you to do are:
- Check your inbound and outbound links.
- Get an accurate count of keywords on your page.
- Locate page violations and resolve them, as shown below:
If you want to learn more about how to get started with WebMatrix and the SEO Report, I encourage you to visit the tutorial Get Started with SEO Using WebMatrix, which includes a step-by-step guide and video.
To learn about some of the more advanced features the WebMatrix SEO Report offers, visit the article – Improve Your Website Using The WebMatrix SEO Report.