Running an online marketing agency lets me see a lot of clients' websites. As part of our research when we take on a new client, we always look at their website, not just to find out what the client does, how it looks and supports the brand, but also to see how well their site is put together 'below the surface'.
I'm often amazed (but sadly not surprised) that an awful lot of websites don't have even the most basic SEO. It's one of the most important aspects of a website but because SEO is so encompassing and all elements and relationships can't be seen by just looking at the displayed site it's not as easy for the regular business person to check.
What I mean by 'missing basic SEO' is when the website pages don't have any meta titles or meta descriptions, they are all the same, or are wrong i.e. they keep a standard set of words in the page template which are relevant to the designer, web agency or software used to produce the website, or worse just say 'default - enter your personal information here'! All of the meta information is very easy to put in when the website is built, and should be just as easy to put in afterwards. To leave them completely empty, wrong or all the same is just a no-no.
How Google works out what your website is about
Why is this so important? When Google (and other search engines) is crawling the web, it has to decide what your website is actually about. It reads the text on your web pages, but it also takes a great deal of notice of your hidden meta tags, eg Meta Title, Meta Description. These are your way of telling Google "When people search for the terms in my meta tags, I want you to put my website in the search engine results page" (SERPs). If there's nothing in the meta tags, Google won't know what your site is about and is less likely to bring it up in the SERPs, or will rank it lower.
The meta description is also important, because although it is not used for SEO, it is the text that Google displays in the SERPs when it returns your page in a search and so it should contain marketing text that persuades people to click on YOUR website and not those of your competitors. You should have a different meta description for each page. Amazingly, an awful lot of websites have exactly the same meta description for each page. So how are people going to be persuaded to read your page and how will they know which page to read in the search results if they are all the same? Many websites don't have a meta description at all, in which case Google will just display the first title text it sees on the page - which may not be the text that you want people to read.
Action you can take on your SEO right now
Don't despair! There are actions you can take on your SEO right now. Check your website now and do something to put it right. You can check if you have meta tags by displaying your website, click "View Source" and search the code for "meta". Then look at the text next to the "title" tag and the "description" tag. If it doesn't look right, talk to your web agency about adding in some basic SEO, or if you can edit your own website, go into the CMS (Content Managed System for websites) and add in different titles and descriptions for each page. Do it now, it's important! If you don't know what to do, drop us a line and we can help.