SEO in Depth: Technical Health Checks
Prior to implementing any Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Campaign, it is recommended that one should carry out a full technical health check of the website. This works to highlight areas of your website that could potentially be withholding your website from achieving its full potential within the search engines.
So What Is a Technical Health Check?
A technical health check is a review of the website in simpler terms. A technical health check will give you an insight into how your website is performing and show you if there are any opportunity areas for improvement. The technical health check can be broken down into several sub tasks. In order to be successful on Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs), it is recommended yourself or your online marketing team carry out actions on sub tasks regularly.
In our second Blog series on breaking down an SEO campaign, we take a look at these sub tasks in much more detail:
Also known as ‘‘broken links’ are links on a webpage that are no longer working because they have been either deleted or moved by the destination web page.
Broken links should be checked regularly as this can be hugely problematic for your website as visitors will be unable to access the information they are looking for. If that user then decides your site is not helpful to them, they may well move onto another website. Be careful when monitoring your internal links as wrong links within your site can result in a very poor user experience.
For pages that you have moved or renamed their link, you should redirect (301) them to the new page. Should a page not exist, instead of redirecting users back to the homepage, try and redirect them to pages holding info they were looking for in the first place or its most relevant counterpart.
Have a custom 404 error page instead of the default white page as it keeps users engaged with the site. On the 404 error page insert links to other pages on your site to keep user engagement up.
Some examples of good custom 404 pages that encourage further user engagement include:
User Journey Errors
A user journey review is used to determine if certain goals or conversions can be achieved by the user interacting with your website. To get the most out of your website test the user journey on all different platforms. (Desktop, mobile and tablet as well as on a range of browsers).
Setup tasks or goals that you want to reach on the website. These tasks can include;
- Purchasing a product
- Filling out a contact form
- Using filters to find what you are searching for etc.
Try and accomplish these tasks or goals on the different platforms. This method can be used to identify any flaws with the website and where your visitors run into bugs. Document any issues you have and suggest fixes for them to your website developer.
Remember to put yourself in the mind of your user. The whole basis for the user journey in the end is to ensure the users reach these goals in the simplest way possible. It will provide a clear view on how easy or difficult it is to accomplish tasks on your site.
Does your website have technical documents such as an XML sitemap or robots.txt file implemented? To find out you can use the following urls replacing example with your domain:
Robots.txt – This is a file that indicates the parts of your website that you don’t want to be accessed by search engines. This file will ensure pages such as the admin pages do not get indexed by Google as you do not want these results showing up in the SERPs (search engine result pages). For sites without this file, use the robots.txt file generator.
XML sitemap – Is an XML file containing a list of all webpages on your site you mean to index within Google. The sitemap will give the site an organised structure which will make it easier for Google to know what the site is about and find the pages on the site and index them. You can use the sitemap generator to create an XML sitemap.
Poor Site Optimisation
Is your website making use of title tags and meta descriptions? If you have heard anything about SEO you will know the importance around this technical area. They are simple portions of code located in the header of a web page that help search engines understand what your website content is about. Well written and compelling meta tags can result in users clicking onto your site and improve your onsite SEO.
The title tag is a user sees in their browser tab and what search engines see when crawling a site. When writing the title tag, it should be relevant to the content of the page and should incorporate targeted keywords. However ensure you do not keyword stuff this content, users are getting more and more aware of this spammy tactic! Be concise, it is recommended that the length of the title tag be kept between 50 – 60 characters max, anything longer than that will get cut off in the SERPs to pass you little value. When writing a title tag you should ensure it is written naturally for users and should be appealing to them. Keep in mind that each page should have a unique title to avoid duplication or weaken your on site optimisation.
Meta descriptions tell users more on what content is on offer on your page. As with the title tags the meta descriptions should be unique on every page, and appealing to users. Ensure targeted keywords have been incorporated into the descriptions, but as naturally as possible. One of the most vital things to consider is a ‘call to action’ to give the user a clear instruction of what action to take to proceed. Similar to the character length for the title tag, you should aim to reach no more than 155 characters for the meta description.
A keyword mapping document should be used to document your current meta titles and meta descriptions and suggestions for each. This can then be passed on to your web developer for implementation. For some open source website creation tools such as ‘wordpress’ you can implement this by using a plugin such as ‘Yoast Seo’.
Is the content of your website SEO-friendly? (See our previous blog post to cover this topic in-depth!) When reviewing your content there are a few things you need to consider.
Original Content – Unique content will get more exposure from search engines as they do not want to show results containing the same content over and over again. Your site will suffer rankings and traffic losses if your duplicate your content whether internally or using content from external sites, as search engines will not know which version to rank for query results.
Quality of Content – If you have relevant and high quality content, people will spend more time on your site reading it and possibly sharing it. Use keywords in your content wisely by thinking about where to place them and not to overuse them. Ensure your content hasn’t got any grammatical errors or typos. To see how well your content is performing, get in touch with Win Media and discover how content can be used to stay ahead of your competitors.
Optimised Images – Large pictures should be optimised or they will affect the loading time of the page. The size of the images should be as small as possible without decreasing or sacrificing quality.
Headers and Subheaders – They will provide structure and organisation to the page. The content will be easier to read and follow, therefore users are more likely to stay on the page. Break-up your content into easy-to-read segments.
Incorrect or out of date information can be confusing and annoying for users. It can even lead to a loss of potential sales. Remember users take the information on your website as fact and 100% correct, so it is up to you to ensure it is up to date.
Ensure your website has the correct contact details and address as this will be a means for a customer or client to get in touch with you. If your details are incorrect, get your web developer or online team to update it.
Google+ is a way of achieving an extra 1st page listing in addition to organic listings. Ensure your Google+ page is showing correct information in order to show up on Maps, Search and other Google properties. Should your details be incorrect, login to the Google My Business page and edit them yourself or you may suggest an edit without having to login.
Images can be used to make your article more appealing and is some cases contribute to improving the SEO for your content.
Ensure your site has not got any broken image links. There could be a number of reasons why you have broken images. An Image could;
- No longer exist
- Named incorrectly
- Have an incorrect file path
Ensure alt tags for these images have been used so that the user will know what image was supposed to displaying on the page.
A good page structure ensures a good user experience and better crawling. You can increase your site’s ranking by ensuring page structure elements such as H1’s, H2’s etc are implemented appropriately. They are a key component of SEO that can help improve your rankings on search engines.
The H1 is vital for on-page SEO as it tells the search engine what your site is about. To ensure your site is found by search engines, your H1 should contain your targeted keywords. The H1 should closely relate to your page title and relevant to the content of the page. It is recommended that you use one H1 tag for each page.
The H2 tag ought to be used for subheadings of the H1 tag. Unlike the H1’s you may have multiple H2’s on your page. These will help in organizing the content of your page for both the users and search engines. You should also include keywords in the H2 tags.
The H3 Tag should be used as sub headings of your H2’s.
To ensure best practise, it is important that you don’t stuff your tags with keywords as Google will assume you are trying to manipulate them. It is recommended that your tags are readable and are grammatically correct.
With over 20 years combined experience in the search marketing sector, we at Win Media know what it takes to compete within search engines.
Curious on how carrying out a Technical Health Check on your site can set you on your way to improve your online presence? Talk to us and discover just how far your brand can go.
For more insightful features on how to make sure all your SEO bases are covered, stay tuned to the Win Media online marketing blog.