When did you last really scrutinise your website? Errors, whether technical, grammatical or design, can make a difference to visitors & the search engines loving or leaving your website.
One of the requests that I get quite regularly is a website audit and assessment. As an online marketing consultant, I look at all aspects of online marketing activities, not only reviewing the site itself from technical build to content, but taking a look at activities externally from the website, such as links and blogs.
All websites need regular maintenance and an assessment is a good place to find out where things may be going wrong and needing improvement.
A couple of years ago I wrote an article about giving your website a spring clean, as the summer months are often a good time when sales can be a bit slower (depending on what you sell of course!). This means things can be improved for the run up to Christmas, one of the most important trading times of year particularly for retailers.
Carrying out a website assessment yourself isn’t difficult as long as you know what you’re looking for. It can include anything from technical errors, to improvement in the site optimization, and obvious errors in web pages (from dodgy navigation, low quality photos to spelling mistakes). By going through these, not only should your site function better, it should rank better and give a better overall experience to the visitors on your website.
To find out if there are any technical errors with your website, which could cause problems for the search engines, and ultimately your rankings, Google webmaster tools is a good place to start. Log into your account (and if you don’t have one, set one up) and navigate to the Health and ‘Crawl Errors’ section, as below. If you see errors recorded and are not sure what they mean, ask your webmaster if they can be cleaned up. Otherwise they may just be old pages which are no longer on your site (usually these are shown as 404 errors). Make sure your 404 error page works as well!
By clicking on ‘index status’ further down the navigation, you can see how many pages of your site have been indexed by Google. This should give you an idea how well your site is being indexed. Again, if you’re not sure, or the page number looks far too low, you can ask your webmaster.
How well your site has been optimized will go a long way towards it getting found in a search. Thankfully, webmaster tools can also give us an idea of the quality of the optimisation. As seen in the image below, navigate to HTML improvements and you will be shown how many pages have duplicate title and meta descriptions. If pages haven’t been optimized, they may show duplicate tags (as the defaults may be shown). You may also have duplicate content showing the same tags, and duplicate content can also affect rankings. It’s worth going through any pages shown here and tidying them up on your website (to view the pages just click on the blue link ‘duplicate title tags’, ‘missing title tags’ etc).
Optimisation also includes images on your website and this is particularly important if you sell products. Make sure your images have ‘alt’ tags and the image file name is descriptive, not just random letters and numbers, e.g xyz123.jpg to blue-widget.jpg
General design and content improvements
From here, take a look at your site and think about where improvements could be made. Is the design up to date? Is the navigate clear and consistent? Sometimes it’s worth getting friends or contacts to take a look through your website and give you feedback, as you don’t always see obvious errors when working on your own site all the time. A pair of fresh eyes can really help when it comes to making improvements.
A recent audit I carried out for a client highlighted inconsistent navigation (I got confused while browsing the site in certain categories), social networking profiles buried away, inability to share blog posts (their blog had a few issues), error messages on some pages etc. This is a perfect example of why you should be auditing your site regularly as often these sort of errors can go unnoticed for months, and could impact on sales.
If you need help with any of the above and would like me to take a look through your website and advise on improvements, please take a look at our my website troubleshooting service. I also include a list of recommendations to go with it, so you have a starting point or find out if you need more help.