In this post I will discuss how to run a short SEO Audit for Zoopla, a property group online ecommerce site. I left out Google Analytics as I cannot access the site’s GA page and any tool that do not offer a free option. All the remaining steps that I will be describing here are totally free.

As SEO expert you are expected to be focusing on increasing the volume of qualified and relevant traffic to Zoopla Property Group from major search engines.

1. START CRAWLING

A spider software such as Screaming Frog is able to crawl a site in a similar manner to Googlebot and therefore is able to identify eventual site’s structure errors that might prevent the search engine from indexing the site. According to Screaming Frog results, there are 5 pages blocked by robots and 1 page with 302 error and 1 pages (found) with 301 status (moved permanently). This is a very good result as the 5 blocked pages are users’ account pages (/myaccount, /signin, /propertyclaim).

2. PAGE SOURCE ANALYSIS

Page source can provide a lot of information regarding on page SEO such as:

  • An optimized clickable title, which contains emotional and niche-related keywords
  • Presence of headers (H1 tags) and sub-headers (H2, H3 and H4)
  • Meta-tags such as title, description and keywords that provide SERPs and encourage clicks

Zoopla on-page SEO analysis will try to answer questions such as:

  1. How does Google Search Engine see Zoopla?
  2. Is the Homepage optimized for user experience?
    1. Does it show unique content?
    2. Is it easy to use?
  3. Is the website optimized with Meta-tags and tailored Keywords?
  4. Are Images described with ALT text?
  5. Are there JavaScript errors or broken links?
  6. Are Sitemaps and Robots.txt present?

THE SITE HOMEPAGE SOURCE

The meta-tags

The Meta-tags are still important SEO factors as they help crawlers and users to identify what a webpage is about and therefore a particular attention needs to be paid when choosing meta-tags as keywords in page titles help pages rank higher and title-tags are often used as the title of a search snippet link in search engine results pages. According to the “View Page Source“:

Zoopla-Meta-Tags
HTML Page Source for Zoopla Homepage
  • The Title Tag contains keywords that describe Zoopla identity
  •  The Description Tag contains keywords that provide information on Zoopla USP
  • The Keywords Tag has not been included. It might be worth adding one.

The page headlines

The Headline (H1) is still an important ranking factor and therefore a particular attention needs to be paid when choosing a title that helps to ranks well and attracts users.

Zoopla headline - H1
Zoopla Homepage Headline (H1)
  • The headline (H1) makes clear that the page is about “Finding a property in UK”
  • It clearly states the user’s advantage (“Find your next home”)

Sub-headers (H2, H3) might not help a site to rank higher, however they should be used in to help visitors navigate the site by breaking up page’s content in a logical manner and therefore they could provide a good opportunity to target secondary keywords/phrases. On Zoopla Homepage there are 5 H2 sub-headers which correspond to 5 different topics styled using CSS:

#ad-2016 h2 {
color: #fff;
font-size: 36px;
font-weight: normal;
font-family: ‘Droid Sans’, sans-serif;
}

#ad-2016 .box–s2 h2 {
color: #ffbe0a;
}

Zoopla Headlines - H2
Zoopla Homepage Headline (H2)

There are 3 H3 sub-headers which correspond to three well defined topics:

  • Newly listed properties in the UK
  • Property News
  • Property guides and tools
Zoopla Homepage H3 Headlines
Zoopla Homepage H3 Headlines

3. PRODUCT PAGE SOURCE

An internal page, such as “for-sales/details/40529388” shows:

  • A title-tag that corresponds to the page headlines (H1 and H2)
  • description-tag that corresponds to the page headlines (H1 and H2) plus the property price (amount + guide price) and the agency name
  • There is no keywords-tag which could eventually be added for better SEO
Zoopla Internal Page SEO
Zoopla Internal Page SEO
Zoopla Internal Page - Meta-tags
Zoopla Internal Page – Meta-tags

Finally, the internal page presents a H4 and one H5 headlines. H4 is used for the Zoopla disclaimer an H5 for the Transport  right-hand side-menu.

4. UNIQUE CONTENT

Google Search Test

In addition to meta-tags and headlines, another issue is often a poorly optimized page that contain thin or duplicated content; for instance the product page contains either a very short description or something that has been copied from the supplier. If we search for the above property in Google, Zoopla site is the first one to come up (above Rightmove, the first Zoopla competitor in the UK market). This is an amazing result as it shows a great SERP optimization for single property pages.

Google Keywords Test

If “buy property in UK” is typed in Google search engine, Zoopla ranks at position 3 below Rightmove. The same happens if “rent property in UK” is typed in a search engine. Therefore, this result indicates that Zoopla can still be optimized to rank higher. Some tests need to be run:

  • Site Health Audit to identify potential ares for on-page SEO optimizations
  • Competitor analysis to identify what the competitor is doing differently
  • Social media and off-page optimization analysis

Google Brand Test

When searching for the brand name in Google Chrome, Zoopla homepage is the first result, as expected from a site that has not been penalized. In addition, the second result is the Twitter account, the third the Wikipedia page and the fourth the Zoopla Android app. However, the Facebook and the Pinterest accounts do not appear on the first and that might suggest that social media presence could be optimized. In addition, social media share buttons could be added to the property pages to encourage shares.

Google Site Operator Test

Searching for site:www.zoopla.co.uk on Google Chrome, Google returns 20M results. This result needs to be compared with the effective number of pages on the site to identity eventual issues in the indexing.

First, have a look at Google Webmaster Tool under Crawl > Crawl Errors to determine if Google is reporting any issues with crawling the site. If Google is reporting 404 (not found) or 403 (access denied) errors, these need to be addressed. According to our previous Screaming Frog analysis, there are 2 301 and only one 302 redirects. Despite the fact that the analysis is limited to 500 pages only, this is a very good indication of an optimal site crawlability. However, it should also been taken into account that by providing multiple ways to browse the product catalog, all of which are indexable by default could give rise to duplication in the indexation. It’s definitely something to consider when conduction a deeper audit.

HTML Improvements

Google Webmaster Tools will provide suggestions of what needs to be optimized in terms of HTML by simply visiting Search Appearance > HTML Improvements. However, as I cannot visit GWT for Zoopla I will rely on Screaming Frog. In this case Screaming Frog is reporting:

Zoopla - Page Titles
Screaming Frog Analysis for Zoopla Page Titles
  • 24 duplication
  • 44 over 65 characters
  • 9 below 30 characters
  • 55 over 482 pixels
  • 7 below 200 pixels
  • There are no missing or duplicated titles
Zoopla Screaming Frog Meta Descriptions
Screaming Frog Analysis for Zoopla Meta Description
  • 10 missing
  • 28 duplicated
  • 37 over 65 characters
  • 2 below 70 characters
  • 34 over 928 pixels
  • 2 below 400 pixels
Zoopla H1 Analysis
Screaming Frog Analysis for Zoopla H1 Headlines
  • 6 missing
  • 22 duplicated
  • 1 over 70 characters
  • 3 multiple

In addition, the Screaming Frog analysis shows:

  • Images are all optimized as they all have an Alt Text description below 100 characters and a size no bigger than 100 Kb.
  • There are no JavaScript errors
  • There are no broken links

An SEO Analysis using an automatic SEO tool such as Varvy, shows:

4. Backlinks Audit

A site’s quality is largely determined by the quality of the incoming links and this is why it is important to keep an eye on the backlink profile of any site in order to disavow bad links and at the same time identify opportunities for improvement. A quick, manual audit on the site’s link profile can be performed using an automatic tool such as Moz, Majestic or Ahrefs to look for any obvious issues. To start with enter the URL into Site Explorer and click ‘Search’. Zoopla’s Moz analysis shows:

Zoopla Backlinks Analysis
Moz backlinks analysis for Zoopla
  • There are 3,601 unique root domains linking to Zoopla vs 885 K of total links
  • The site has a Domain Authority of 77/100
  • The Page Authority is 81/100

Anchor Text Analysis

The anchor text is clickable text in a hyperlink. The words contained in the anchor text can help defying the ranking that the page will receive by search engines. According to Remove’em, the anchor text distribution appear fine as most of the anchors have a low density (below 10%). Anchor text that appear having a density higher than 10%, are brand-name anchors, such as Zoopla and zoopla.co.uk. Brand anchors can have a high density on a single page and do not negatively affect SEO, but rather provide to establish brand authority.

Zoopla Anchor Text Analysis
Remove’em Analysis Result: Zoopla Anchor Text

Backlinks and Anchor Text

Majestic Backlinks analysis showed that 1/4 of total links. This rate respects Google’s guidelines as the the vast majority of your site’s backlinks are expected to be followed.

The backlinks appear to be topically relevant as they come from industry related sites (PrimeLocation, HouseSimple etc.), newspapers (The Guardian) and social sites (Facebook). Backlinks coming from niche-related high quality sites help to establish your site as an authoritative source of information in your industry. For instance, PrimeLocation, a site dedicated to buying and selling houses, has a page authority of 70 and a domain authority of 64, while HouseSimple, an estate agent site, of 44 and 33 respectively. Any backlinks coming from a national newspaper is by definition a huge bonus in ranking. It is important to check if too many of Zoopla backlinks are from low quality sites, otherwise the site could be negatively affected.

Zoopla Backlinks Audit
Majestic Site Explorer Result for Zoopla

5. Page Speed

Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool is a good starting point for identifying issues which may be affecting the site’s loading speed. The Zoopla URL is first entered into the search bar; then, after hitting  ‘Analyse’ Google returns a speed ‘score’ for the Zoopla site (out of 100) on both mobile and desktop. In green is a good score, a yellow score needs improvement and a red score requires attention.

In Zoopla case, the desktop loading speed needs a little attention (78/100), while mobile experience could definitely be improved as it scores pretty low (63/100). The best solution is to start by implementing the suggestions indicated by Google.

Zoopla Desktop Speed
PageSpeed Insight: Zoopla Desktop Speed
Zoopla Mobile Speed
PageSpeed Insights: Zoopla Mobile Speed

6. Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO focuses on optimizing the online presence of Zoopla on other sites, such as niche-related websites, social media platforms, directories and search engines.

Social Media

Zoopla has an overall very good social media presence: it is present on multiple platforms, it is currently updated regularly and each social media page presents several thousands of followers and likes:

  1. Facebook (544.072 Likes)
  2. Twitter (69.2K followers)
  3. Google + (65.436 followers)
  4. Pinterest (2,1K followers)

However, the content is duplicated among each social platforms which means Zoopla does not take advantage of the power of every social platforms.The same formula is repeated among each social media page: Short Sentence + Image + Link.

A better approach would take advantage of each social media:

  1. Facebook: Longer posts to create a better connections with users
  2. Twitter: Short entries to promote offers and share the latest news
  3. Google+: Encourage shares among communities
  4. Pinterest: Encourage Pins by showing your best/latest properties

Facebook

  1. Create longer posts to encourage connections with your followers
  2. Periodically update cover photo to promote the latest hot properties
  3. Add links to valuable sites (for instance, how to take care of a big garden, what questions to ask when buying a Victorian property, most profitable areas where investing etc.) to prove your site is more than an estate agency
  4. Re-share important posts of niche-related posts
  5. Encourage click-to-action (Click here to know more about [Topic])
  6. Use #hashtags to reach a bigger audience and encourage new followers
  7. Share updates about the human side of your business (your team doing something fun) or why Zoopla is a great place to work with etc…
  8. Ask people to post images on your business page (you could run a contest, such as #greenestgarden)

Twitter

  1. Add Text to Images to make your tweet more compelling
  2. Deliver news about your latest properties, offers and investments
  3. RT about information that your audience could find helpful:
    1. House Market Updates
    2. Gardening and housing websites
    3. Tweet tips on how to…(examples)
      • Make your house more homely
      • Make your property market-ready
    4. Encourage people to share photos of renovated properties bought on Zoopla (before and after)

Google+

  1. Posts on Google+ are immediately indexed by Google Engine (It helps ranking!)
  2. Engage with relevant Circles to create a wider audience
  3. Add Geographic tags when posting about properties (It helps showcase a property to potential customers)
  4. Add a GIF when posting about a properties (It could help CTR)

Pinterest

  1. Improve Image Description:
    1. Write down 2-3 sentences to describe the image
    2. Include keywords and hashtags in your image description
    3. Avoid using random text (“Image 15”) or only hashtags (#kitchen, #grey) or keywords (country kitchen, barn style)
  2. Follow Trends (Click on Popular) and add Pins accordingly
  3. Connect with well-established brands in your niche (Elle Décor, House & Garden etc.)
  4. Add Guest Pinners from followers and industry-related brands

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