In the world of online presence, the effectiveness of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) cannot be overstated. It's the driving force behind a website's visibility and success in search engine rankings.
In this article, we delve into a data-driven journey through the SEO performance of the top 100 most popular websites in the United States.
By comparing the years 2021 and 2022, we uncover trends, improvements, and shifts that shed light on the ever-changing landscape of SEO.
Here are a few key insights that can be extracted from this data. You can use these insights to shape or redefine your own SEO strategy:
Here is the complete data in case you’re interested.
|#||SEO Test||2021 (%)||2022 (%)|
|1||Meta Title Test||100||100|
|2||Meta Description Test||97||97|
|3||Social Media Meta Tags Test||83||94|
|4||Keywords Usage Test||81||44|
|5||Heading Tags Test||51||57|
|8||SEO Friendly URL Test||40||29|
|9||Image Alt Test||22||76|
|10||Responsive Image Test||38||31|
|11||Image Aspect Ratio Test||72||68|
|12||Inline CSS Test||2||10|
|13||Deprecated HTML Tags Test||99||92|
|14||Google Analytics Test||69||73|
|17||JS Error Test||74||58|
|18||Console Errors Test||33||32|
|19||Charset Declaration Test||95||98|
|20||Social Media Test||80||64|
|21||HTML Page Size Test||34||17|
|22||DOM Size Test||17||56|
|23||HTML Compression/GZIP Test||96||97|
|24||Site Loading Speed Test||68||68|
|25||JS Execution Time Test||54||78|
|26||Page Cache Test (Server Side Caching)||100||100|
|28||CDN Usage Test||51||96|
|29||Modern Image Format Test||32||26|
|30||Image Metadata Test||NA||69|
|31||Image Caching Test||97||98|
|33||CSS Caching Test||98||98|
|35||CSS Minification Test||97||100|
|36||Render Blocking Resources Test||29||14|
|40||URL Redirects Test||14||97|
|41||Time To First Byte Test||NA||98|
|42||First Contentful Paint Test||NA||97|
|43||Largest Contentful Paint Test||NA||92|
|44||Cumulative Layout Shift Test||NA||94|
|45||URL Canonicalization Test||92||96|
|46||SSL Checker and HTTPS Test||95||100|
|47||Mixed Content Test (HTTP over HTTPS)||100||98|
|50||Safe Browsing Test||100||100|
|51||Server Signature Test||88||98|
|52||Directory Browsing Test||100||100|
|54||Unsafe Cross-Origin Links Test||59||48|
|55||Meta Viewport Test||94||90|
|56||Media Query Responsive Test||99||100|
|57||Structured Data Test||59||66|
|58||Custom 404 Error Page Test||75||78|
|59||Noindex Tag Test||99||100|
|60||Canonical Tag Test||95||96|
|61||Meta Refresh Test||95||96|
|62||SPF Records Test||94||97|
|63||Ads.txt Validation Test||80||66|
If some of these tests’ names seem unfamiliar or complicated to you, don’t fret.
Here is a quick description of each of the tests mentioned above, what they mean, and how to pass them.
Description: This test evaluates the effectiveness of your meta title tags. Meta titles are essential for providing search engines and users with a concise, relevant description of your page's content.
How to Pass: Ensure each page has a unique, descriptive, and relevant meta title. Use primary keywords toward the beginning of the title and keep it within recommended character limits (usually 50-60 characters).
Description: Meta descriptions are brief summaries of your page's content displayed in search results. This test checks the quality and relevance of your meta descriptions.
How to Pass: Write compelling and unique meta descriptions for each page, including relevant keywords. Keep the description within recommended character limits (typically 150-160 characters).
Description: This test examines your usage of social media meta tags (e.g., Open Graph and Twitter Cards) to optimize how your content appears when shared on social platforms.
How to Pass: Implement social meta tags with relevant images, titles, and descriptions to enhance your content's appearance when shared on social media. Ensure proper tag placement in your HTML.
Description: This test assesses how well you've integrated keywords into your content. Keywords are vital for search engine optimization.
How to Pass: Use relevant keywords naturally in your content, meta tags, headings, and image alt text. Avoid over-optimization (keyword stuffing) and focus on providing valuable, informative content.
Description: This test analyzes your use of HTML heading tags (H1, H2, etc.) to ensure proper structure and hierarchy.
How to Pass: Use H1 tags for page titles and H2-H6 tags for subheadings, following a logical hierarchy. Ensure headings are descriptive and relevant to the content beneath them.
Description: The Robots.txt file instructs search engine bots which parts of your site to crawl and index. This test checks if your website is using a robots.txt file.
How to Pass: Create a Robots.txt file to specify what search engines can and cannot crawl. Ensure it's correctly placed in your website's root directory.
Description: A sitemap is a file that provides search engines with a structured list of your website's pages. This test checks for the presence and correctness of your sitemap.
How to Pass: Generate a sitemap in XML format and submit it to search engines using Google Search Console or other webmaster tools. Ensure it's regularly updated to include all important pages.
Description: This test assesses the structure and readability of your website's URLs, which should be user-friendly and contain relevant keywords.
How to Pass: Use short, descriptive URLs that include keywords related to the page's content. Avoid using complex characters or ID numbers in your URLs. Here is a quick guide to creating SEO-friendly URL structures.
Description: Image alt attributes provide text descriptions for images on your website, helping search engines understand the content.
How to Pass: Add meaningful alt text to every image, describing the image's content or function. Use keywords where appropriate, but ensure the alt text accurately represents the image. Learn how to fix alt text for images.
Description: This test checks if your images are responsive and adapt well to different screen sizes and devices.
How to Pass: Use responsive design techniques, such as CSS media queries, to ensure images scale and display correctly on various devices.
Description: This test evaluates whether your images maintain a consistent aspect ratio, preventing distortion.
How to Pass: When adding images, maintain their original aspect ratio to prevent stretching or squishing. Use CSS to control the display size if needed.
Description: This test checks for inline CSS styles within your HTML, which can affect page load times and SEO performance.
How to Pass: Minimize the use of inline CSS. Instead, use external CSS files to separate styles from content for better maintainability and performance.
Description: Deprecated HTML tags are outdated and may not be recognized by modern web browsers or search engines. This test identifies their usage.
How to Pass: Replace deprecated HTML tags with their modern equivalents. HTML5 provides updated elements for most purposes.
Description: This test verifies if the Google Analytics tracking code is correctly implemented on your website, allowing you to monitor visitor data.
How to Pass: Set up a Google Analytics account, generate the tracking code, and place it on all pages you want to track. Use Google Analytics to gain insights into your site's performance. Learn about Google Analytics.
Description: A favicon is a small icon displayed in a web browser's address bar or tab. This test checks for the presence and correctness of your site's favicon.
How to Pass: Create a favicon image (usually 16x16 or 32x32 pixels), save it as a .ico file, and add a link tag in your HTML to reference it.
Description: This test examines the quantity and quality of backlinks (links from other websites to yours), which are important for SEO.
How to Pass: Focus on creating high-quality content that naturally attracts backlinks. Build relationships with other websites in your niche for potential link opportunities. Learn more about backlinks in this post. Moreover, here is a guide to creating powerful backlinks to your site.
Description: Similar to the JS Error Test, this test identifies any Chrome DevTools Console warnings and errors.
How to Pass: Continuously monitor your website's console for errors and address them promptly during development and maintenance.
Description: This test checks if your website specifies a character encoding in its HTML, ensuring proper text rendering.
How to Pass: Include a character encoding declaration (e.g., <meta charset="UTF-8">) in your HTML document's head section.
Description: This test evaluates your webpage’s integration with social media platforms, such as sharing buttons and profile links.
How to Pass: Add social sharing buttons to your content and ensure your social media profiles are linked to your website.
Description: This test measures the size of your HTML pages, which can affect load times.
Description: This test examines the size and complexity of your website's Document Object Model (DOM), which can impact page load times.
Description: GZIP compression reduces the size of HTML files during transmission, improving load times. This test checks if your website is using HTML compression.
How to Pass: Enable GZIP compression on your web server to automatically compress HTML files before sending them to the browser.
Description: This test assesses your website's overall loading speed, which is a crucial factor for user experience and SEO.
How to Pass: Optimize images, use browser caching, reduce server response times, and consider content delivery networks (CDNs) to improve loading speed. Learn how to speed up your website in this blog post.
Description: Caching stores copies of your website's pages to reduce server load and improve load times for returning visitors.
How to Pass: Implement server-side caching mechanisms like browser cache and Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) to improve page load times.
Description: This test identifies the use of Adobe Flash, which is deprecated and not supported on many devices and browsers.
How to Pass: Avoid using Flash for website elements and transition to modern HTML5 and CSS3 for animations and interactivity.
Description: Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) accelerate content delivery by serving files from multiple geographically distributed servers. This test checks for their usage.
Description: This test checks if you're using modern image formats like WebP, which offer better compression and quality.
How to Pass: Convert images to modern formats like WebP and use the "picture" element to serve appropriate formats based on browser support.
Description: This test ensures that your images have proper metadata, including alt text, title attributes, and dimensions.
How to Pass: Add alt text, title attributes, and dimensions to all images to provide context and improve accessibility.
Description: Image caching stores images locally in a user's browser to speed up subsequent visits. This test checks if your site leverages this.
How to Pass: Set appropriate caching headers for images to encourage browsers to cache them for faster load times.
Description: This test assesses how CSS files are cached to optimize rendering speed.
How to Pass: Set cache headers for CSS files, ensuring they are cached for an appropriate duration.
How to Pass: Minify your CSS files to reduce their size and improve website performance.
How to Pass: Eliminate or defer render-blocking resources that are not essential for initial page rendering.
Description: Nested HTML tables can complicate page structure and slow down rendering. This test checks for their usage.
How to Pass: Avoid using nested tables whenever possible. Use CSS for layout and positioning instead.
Description: Framesets, an outdated HTML feature, can create issues for search engines and accessibility. This test detects their presence.
How to Pass: Avoid using framesets. Instead, use modern HTML and CSS for layout and structure.
Description: This test ensures your HTML documents have a proper Document Type Declaration (DOCTYPE) for rendering consistency.
How to Pass: Include the correct DOCTYPE declaration at the beginning of your HTML documents.
Description: This test checks the usage of URL redirects (e.g., 301 and 302 redirects) and evaluates their correctness.
How to Pass: Use redirects sparingly and ensure they are set up correctly to redirect users and search engines to the appropriate pages.
Description: Time to First Byte (TTFB) measures the server's response time. A slow TTFB can negatively impact user experience.
How to Pass: Optimize your server's performance, minimize server-side processing time, and use caching to improve TTFB.
Description: First Contentful Paint (FCP) measures when a user sees the first content on your page. A fast FCP improves user experience.
How to Pass: Optimize your website's critical rendering path to deliver content quickly, prioritize above-the-fold content, and minimize render-blocking resources.
Description: Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) measures when the largest element in the viewport becomes visible. A fast LCP enhances user experience.
How to Pass: Optimize your website's loading performance, compress images, and use efficient loading techniques to achieve a fast LCP.
Description: Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) measures unexpected layout shifts that can disrupt the user experience. A low CLS score is desirable.
How to Pass: Carefully plan and test the layout of your pages to avoid sudden shifts in content, particularly during loading.
Description: This test checks for proper URL canonicalization, ensuring that search engines recognize the preferred version of a URL.
How to Pass: Implement canonical tags (rel="canonical") to indicate the preferred version of a URL when multiple versions exist.
Description: This test verifies your website's use of SSL encryption (HTTPS), which is crucial for security and search engine rankings.
How to Pass: Install an SSL certificate, configure your server to use HTTPS, and ensure all internal links and resources use HTTPS.
Description: Mixed content occurs when both secure (HTTPS) and non-secure (HTTP) resources are loaded on a site. This test identifies mixed content issues.
How to Pass: Update all references to external resources to use HTTPS, including scripts, stylesheets, and images.
Description: HTTP/2 is a more efficient protocol for serving web content. This test checks if your server supports it.
How to Pass: Configure your server to support HTTP/2, and ensure your website is compatible with this protocol.
Description: HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) enforces the use of HTTPS on your website. This test checks for HSTS implementation.
How to Pass: Add HSTS headers to your server configuration to enforce HTTPS and improve security.
Description: Safe Browsing checks for potential security threats on your website, such as malware or phishing attempts.
How to Pass: Regularly scan your website for security vulnerabilities and malware, and take immediate action to address any issues.
Description: Server signature information can reveal server details, which may pose a security risk. This test checks for server signature exposure.
How to Pass: Configure your server to hide server signature information from HTTP responses.
Description: Directory browsing allows users to view the contents of directories on your server. This test checks if it's enabled.
How to Pass: Disable directory browsing to prevent unauthorized access to server files and directories.
Description: This test identifies the presence of plaintext email addresses on your website, which can be harvested by spammers.
How to Pass: Use contact forms or email obfuscation techniques to hide email addresses from spammers while still allowing users to contact you.
Description: Unsafe Cross-Origin links can pose security risks by allowing unauthorized access to resources on other domains. This test checks for such links.
How to Pass: Review and update external links on your site by adding a rel=”noopener” and rel=”noreferrer” attribute and ensure they don't allow unauthorized cross-origin access.
Description: The meta viewport tag controls how your website is displayed on mobile devices. This test checks if it's properly configured for mobile optimization.
How to Pass: Add a meta viewport tag to your HTML and configure it to ensure a responsive design on mobile devices.
Description: Media queries allow you to create responsive designs for different screen sizes. This test checks if your site uses media queries effectively.
How to Pass: Implement media queries in your CSS to adapt your site's layout and styling for various screen sizes and devices.
Description: Structured data, such as Schema.org markup, provides additional context to search engines. This test checks for its implementation.
How to Pass: Add structured data markup to your website to provide search engines with information about your content, such as product details, reviews, and events. Learn more about structured data.
Description: A custom 404 error page provides a better user experience when visitors encounter broken links or non-existent pages.
How to Pass: Create a custom 404 error page that guides users back to your site's navigation or offers helpful suggestions.
Description: The noindex tag prevents search engines from indexing specific pages. This test checks for its usage.
How to Pass: Use the noindex meta tag on pages you don't want to be indexed by search engines, such as thank-you pages or duplicate content.
Description: The canonical tag specifies the preferred version of a page when multiple versions exist. This test checks for canonical tag implementation.
How to Pass: Add canonical tags to pages with duplicate or similar content to indicate the preferred version for indexing.
Description: The meta refresh tag causes a page to refresh automatically after a specified time, which can be disorienting. This test checks for its usage.
How to Pass: Avoid using the meta refresh tag for redirection for better SEO and user experience.
Description: SPF (Sender Policy Framework) records help prevent email spoofing. This test checks for their implementation.
How to Pass: Configure SPF records in your DNS settings to specify which mail servers are authorized to send email on behalf of your domain.
Description: The ads.txt file helps prevent unauthorized selling of your ad inventory. This test checks for its presence and validation.
How to Pass: Create and maintain an ads.txt file to list authorized sellers of your ad space, ensuring it's correctly configured.
As we conclude our analysis of the SEO landscape of the top 100 US websites, one thing stands out clearly — SEO is a dynamic field. It's not about grandiose claims but rather practical adaptability.
We've seen how websites are embracing better practices like image optimization and addressing issues such as URL redirects. We've also observed shifts away from keyword-heavy approaches.
The key takeaway here is the importance of staying agile in the face of SEO's constant evolution. By focusing on user experience, maintaining website security, and keeping an eye on emerging trends, websites can secure their place in the digital realm and continue to climb the SEO ladder.