In my last post I talked about the importance of SEO audit for every website. SEO audit has various stages; it can begin from a simple quality control of the website (pre-SEO audit) to detailed analysis by using tools that help you in locating and fixing errors that can possibly harm your web site.
In that context we can begin with pre-SEO audit and that would essentially be the quality control check for your website. Though this is a part of the testing process before, and after your website goes live, I would still consider this part to be a critical part leading to SEO Audit :-
1. Web Site structure:
You will need to ensure that your website structure is consistent all through the site. Some of the questions in order to carry out your test would be: Whether your website’s structure is like a pyramid or is the structure flat. How many clicks does it take for the visitor to reach the pages that are at the lowest level? Is the home page linked well with the inside pages? Does a visitor get the hang of the navigation easily or do they have to make an effort to find a link. Every website structure is different, depending upon whether your website sells products or services online, but the goal of every website remains the same, conversions. Your home page can be designed differently from the rest of the pages but the internal pages should be similar so that there is a semblance of familiarity and visitors can easily find their way around your site.
Ensure that the navigation links go to the destination that you want them to go. Sometimes if those are not checked, these URLs might go to “Page not found” or to some other page other than the intended page! This can happen if by mistake you added an extra space or character or copied some other link there! This is rare but is known to happen. It is a good practice to do a thorough check of all the links.
3. Anchor texts:
A thorough check of all the Anchor texts should be done to ensure that they are linking to the correct pages.
4. Image Alt tags:
If your website is image heavy, ensure that each image has an Alt tag that defines the image. This is more from the user friendly perspective than the SEO perspective. If for some reason your images take a little more time to download, the anchor tags will provide the visitors information about the image. It is a good practice to use smaller sized images.There are several tools that will help you compress and reduce images without compromising on the quality.
5. Download speed:
Find out how long it takes for your site to download from different internet connections. Most people these days subscribe to high speed internet connections but there is a percentage of population who might have connectivity issues and are on slow internet connections. And since the purpose is to reach out to each and every one of your target audience, it makes sense to optimize your website for that percentage of population as well. You don’t have to bend backwards for this but try to do what you can to keep your website accessible to all.
6. Browser compatibility:
Check for accessibility issues across all the browsers. A lot of people access the internet from different browsers. Your web Analytics software will be able to provide you a detailed information on how many visitors browse your website with, IE, Firefox, Google Chrome etc. It is important that your web site is optimized for the most popular browsers at least.
7. Online help:
If you have an online help number, check that it works and that the number provided does not have any connectivity issues.
If your website publishes FAQs (frequently asked questions), ensure that the content is current. You might want to do this once a quarter depending upon how often your products or services get upgraded.
Your sitemap should contain all the links. After publishing fresh content, ensure that those urls are included in your sitemap.
10. Contact us form:
From time to time send test emails from your contact us form. This will ensure that if there are any errors in the form, you will catch it. You may not need to do this often, unless you have a major web site redesign whereby you will need to check that everything works seamlessly.
11. Canonical issues:
Essentially, Canonical URLs contain pages with similar content. There is a need of letting the search engines knows your preferred URL, else, the search engines might randomly pick up any one of these URLs over the others. You might want to visit the URL mentioned below to learn more about how to handle this issue. :-http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=139394
12. Duplicate content:
This may not be a very likely occurrence. Even then it might be a good practice to check your content to ensure that there is no duplicate content present.
More in the next post on SEO Audit.