Professional audits… who needs them?!
Well, if you’re tired of the way that your website currently looks and are looking for a re-design (or you have a client that is), it’s worth noting that the way in which your site is setup WILL have an influence on how Google ranks you in its SERPs (search engine results pages).
In the past I’ve had friends present me with an SEO audit for their website that had been given to me them by a professional agency.
In the most recent audit – given to me by a friend of a friend (let’s call him Rob), I took a brief flick through the long list of suggestions from this agency and quickly threw the document back across the table.
I got bored after page 3 (of 12)… I just couldn’t hack the technical stuff anymore. Rob laughed when he saw my eyes glaze over.
“That’s exactly how I felt when I read it”, he said.
The issue here was that Rob was confused. After reading through the audit he didn’t understand how much work his website really needed and so he’d come looking for another opinion.
I gave Rob a brief checklist of what I felt was important. And since this checklist is of value I figured I’d share it here with you.
Here’s what you really need to pay attention to and why:
1. Site Architecture
If your site is more than 30 pages then it’s vital that you start to build out a structure to it. This means putting information into different categories (also referred to as siloing).
2. Robots.txt File Configuration
This file tells any spider or ‘bot’ whether they have permission to crawl your site or not. Search engine spiders will pay attention to the information in this file. Malware bots won’t.
i.e. images, videos and PDFs.
4. Inner Linking
i.e. the anchor text used to link one page to another on your site.
5. Load Times
Not just your home page but also your inner pages. Many users keep their homepage ‘light’ as this is the first page that visitors generally tend to land on.
If you’re running scripts on an inner page (e.g. flash or java) then note how long it takes for these pages to load too.
Also referred to as Schema Markup.
You can add data to a particular page on your site to enhance the way in which it displays in the search engines, although there is no guarantee that the search engines will honour your Microdata.
An example is the rich snippets, e.g. the thumbnail image that shows up next to a video in the SERPs.
7. Word Count
How long the content is on your page.
8. Canonical Links
i.e. are you using http://www.site.com or http://site.com?
If so then make sure you’re using 301 redirects to the correct structure that you want to use because Google sees http://www.site.com, http://site.com, and http://www.site.com/ as different urls.
9. Title and Header Tags
Do not change the title of the page or the header tags h1, h2, h3. This is critical to your website’s relevancy in the current algorithm.
10. Backlink Analysis
Unless you have expertise in this then it’s probably worth leaving this to the professionals. You need to know what links are pointing to your home page and what are pointing to your inner pages.
Note: If you change the url structure of your inner pages in a site re-design then you could create a broken link for the site that’s linking to you… this will reduce the authority of your inner page and could affect the rest of the site too.
Did you find this checklist helpful? Hit one of the buttons below and share it with your friends.