If you need to audit your website and check to make sure it’s performing at the top of its game, this will serve as your guide. Follow the steps and create a personalized site audit that will help your website rank better in Google and other SERPS. These guidelines are not in any particular order and they are all of importance when optimizing your website.
Use Google’s Cache to Check Key Pages
When you update a page on your site, Google will update our index (including our cached version) when we next crawl it. Until then, our cache may still contain the original content, and that content may appear in search results. You can request removal of the cached version (this will also remove the page snippet). For example, say you have a page that lists your office address. When you move, you’ll want to make sure that the out-of-date cached version listing your old address is no longer visible in Google.
Use Google to Check All Indexed Pages & Branding
- Using Google search, type in site:example.com
- Make sure the homepage is the first result, if not… there are issues.
- Using Google, perform a regular search for your brand/company name or your unique and specific keywords.
- If the right pages aren’t showing up there may be issues.
Precede your query with site: if you know you want your answer from within a specific site or type of site (.org, .edu). For example: site:edu or site:nytimes.com.
Make Sure There’s No Duplicate Content
- Any sub-domains? Do they have duplicate content?
- Are there other sites owned by the company? If so they should NOT have duplicate content otherwise the value of each page is significantly reduced and Google will penalize the site accordingly.
- Improve the canonicalization of a site (if needed) – Great post explaining how to tell Google which parameters to avoid. Correct use of 301’s. Specific version of the website is specified in Google Webmaster Tools. Rel canonical link tag properly used.
- Use Google to search for duplicate content. How? Take a content snippet, “put it in quotes” and do a Google search. Is it found on another URL on your site? Or has it been taken and added to another site? If the second is true, file a content removal request with Google.
Make Sure the Site is Technically Sound
- The permanent redirects should be proper and complete (301 and not 302).
- Test site speed using a third party like pingdom and check suggestions and adjust the site accordingly.
- Use of Alt Text – Are useful keywords used? Do the keywords used reflect the message of the content?
- Check errors in Google Webmaster Tools (then fix).
- Check XML Sitemaps: In place, proper XML protocols?
Confirm Site Content is of High Quality and Elements are Accurate as Intended
- Perfectly clean URLs (descriptive and useful keywords)
- Length of URL (under 115 characters)
- How many links are on each page?
- Linking structure for navigation: Homepage > Category > Sub Category and Pages as Appropriate (URLs should reflect categories).
- If eCommerce: products link to other viable products (increase customer satisfaction and ease of use)
- Use good linking strategies NOT grouping.
- Check for broken links using a Free Broken Link Checker
- Title Tags (unique and specific for each page) (Primary keyword in the beginning) 65 – 70 characters
- Title and Title Tag should be specifically keyword rich with a focus on usability for all visitors.
- Meta Tags (validate it’s being used) Entices the user? (include meta robots tag)
- Homepage content may be brief but it MUST be useful. Make sure your text represents your purpose and stands out against the competition. On a personal note, I prefer sites that show clearly what the business believes and if it aligns with what I believe I’m more likely to stick around.
- Unique landing pages should not be similar in nature to any other page on the site. Clear message, decent amount of content.
- The overall site should be useful in nature and easy to navigate.
- Proper H tags used.
- Images (preferably not stock) and Alt Text is accurate and in place.
- Blog – Useful information and up to date. A blog is a must – it helps with traffic and building your belief structure and helps visitors trust you.
Give visitors the information they’re looking for
Provide high-quality content on your pages, especially your homepage. This is the single most important thing to do. If your pages contain useful information, their content will attract many visitors and entice webmasters to link to your site. In creating a helpful, information-rich site, write pages that clearly and accurately describe your topic. Think about the words users would type to find your pages and include those words on your site.