January 21, 2016
Nell's Roundtable: Managing a Healthy Website

Nell at her Round Table at Alt Winter 2016

We're back at Alt Summit this week and are so excited to be here. It's a little different this time around - I'm presenting a roundtable - and it feels so good to be able to give back to an event that has helped HLO grow in so many significant ways. 

I am hosting a roundtable, Managing a Healthy Website. This is an adaptation on the presentation I did for The Coterie a few months ago. One of the learnings I took away from giving that presentation, was that I needed to trim down the content. Big time. The value I can add to the wealth of technical information readily available online is sharing what I believe to be the most important tidbits to act on. It's not about sharing everything I know. So here is a trimmed down effort of actionable list that can be (and should be!) put into practice now and moving forward. 

First, there are a few things that should be included in every page or post on your digital presence. Build these checks into your routine and make sure you are doing it with every single post, page and image. 

Heathy Post Checklist: 

1. Smart URL Structure:
Include key words and category or site organization information if possible. This is often generated automatically from your title, but is editable in most CMS systems.
I.E. Example: www.hilittleone.com/blog/post/making-personalized-kids-clothes.
2. Smart Post Titles: 
Click-worthy with keywords. A great place to brainstorm for ideas is in the Google search tool. What kind of search do you want your post or page to appear for? Include those words.
3. Meta Titles: 
The page title in Google search and what appears in the browser tab. These should follow a formula, be informative and straightforward. 50-60 characters. 
I.E. {Site name} | {Page Title} >>> Hi Little One | About Us
4. Meta Descriptions: 
This is what appears below your title in Google search. These are not used in Google page rank, so no need to keyword stuff! This is your opportunity to tell the person searching what your page is about and get them to click. 150-160 characters. 
I.E. Pick your colors, state and sport to create the perfect tote for every sports fan. *Hint: this also makes a great gift for helping tote gear to and from home.
Hi Little One Alt Presentation Meta Data Example
5. Make Images Work Double-time: 
Images names are search-able, so include keywords when you save them and always include alt text (what appears while the image is loading) and description text (helps Google understand what the image is). Set up a system so you don’t have to think about it every time. 
I.E. Image_2345.jpg >>> 2016-01-18_Hi-little-One_personalized-onesie.jpg  
Using the date allows you to reuse the same keywords without duplicating file names. {Plus it helps organize your image library!}

Make the Most Google Analytics (Without Getting Overwhelmed): 

Google Analytics shows you what people see and do on your site. It's an incredibly powerful too (especially considering it's 100% free) but you can also get lost in the weeds pretty easily.  I check a few high level metrics each week, but then only really dive into the data if I'm looking for something specific. 

1. Landing Pages:

Landing pages are the pages users actually enter your site from. Very often, this is not your homepage! Your top landing pages are great places to start when optimizing 
Find it: BEHAVIOR > SITE CONTENT > ALL PAGES > LANDING PAGES

2. Acquisition Channels:
This gives you a breakdown of how people are finding your site. You can click deeper into each source to learn more
Find it: ACQUISITION > ALL TRAFFIC > CHANNELS
    3. Organic Search:
    Shows you searches that have brought people to your site, and what terms brought the highest quality visitors. Note, this does not show you searches that didn’t bring people to your site.
    Find it: ACQUISITION > ALL TRAFFIC > CHANNELS > ORGANIC SEARCH

      Using Google Search Console

      The Google Search Console shows you what Google sees and does on your site. This tool used to be called Webmaster Tools, which honestly sounds intimidating to me, someone who i supposed considers herself a wemastah! The new name is more indicative of what the tool does and I'm in full support. 

      The point of this tool is to help you improve the technical health of your site for Google's algorithm.  Even if you're not concerned about search traffic to your site, the Search Console can help show you issues you might have onsite that affect user experience well beyond the search page. 

      1. Submit Your Site Map!

      Your sitemap is a technical map to help Google understand the kind of information you have on your site, how often it’s updated, and how it’s organized. You just need to submit your sitemap (usually www.yoursite.com/sitemap.xml) once, then Google will continue to check it from there!
      Find it: CRAWL > SITEMAPS > ADD/TEST SITEMAP

      2. Check Your Crawl Errors:  

      This shows you when Google follows a link on or to your site that results in an error. This is often due to a broken link, or a page that has been taken down. The best way to handle these are to fix the link – or - set up a 301 redirect. 
      Find it: CRAWL > CRAWL ERRORS
                            
      Nell Lindquist