Technical Site Audit Checklist
Posted by Geoff Kenyon
- Do a site: search
- How many pages are returned (this can be way off so don’t put too much stock in this)?
- Is the homepage showing up as the first result?
- If the homepage isn’t showing up as the first result, there could be issues, like a penalty or poor site architecture/internal linking, affecting the site.
Search for the brand and branded terms
- Is the homepage showing up at the top, or are correct pages showing up.
- If the proper pages aren’t showing up as the first result, there could be issues, like a penalty, in play.
- Is the content showing up?
- Are navigation links present?
- Are there links that aren’t visible on the site?
Don’t forget to check the text only version of the cached page.
- Does the homepage have at least one paragraph?
- Do these pages have at least a few paragraphs?
- Is it template text or is it completely unique?
- Is there real content on the site or is the “content” simply a list of links.
- Is the intent right?
- Are there pages targeting head terms, mid-tail, and long-tail keywords?
- Do a site: search Google for important keyword phrases.
- Check for duplicate content/page titles in the SEOmoz Pro Campaign App.
- Is the content formatted well and easy to read quickly?
- Are H tags used?
- Are images used?
- Is the text broken down into easy to read paragraphs?
- Good headlines go a long way. Make sure the headlines are well written and draw users in.
- Since the implementation of Panda, the amount of ad-space on a page has become important to evaluate.
- Make sure there is significant unique content above the fold.
- If you have more ads than unique content, you are probably going to have a problem.
How to Write Magnetic Headlines
SEO Copywriting Tips for Improved Link Building
The Ultimate Blogger Writing Guide
Tips to Earn Links and Tweets to Your Blog Post
- Do URLs include parameters or tracking code – This will result in multiple URLs for a piece of content.
- Does the same content reside on completely different URLs?
Exclude common parameters, such as those used to designate tracking code, in Google Webmaster Tools. Read more at Search Engine Land.
- Take a content snippet, put it in quotes and search for it.
- Does the content show up elsewhere on the domain?
- Has it been scraped? – If the content has been scraped, you should file a content removal request with Google.
- Does the same content exist on different sub-domains?
- Does the content exist on a secure version of the site?
- Is the content replicated on other domains owned by the company?
- Has the entire site, or important content been blocked? Is link equity being orphaned due to pages being blocked via the robots.txt?
- Use the Web Developer Toolbar
- Is the content there?
- Do the navigation links work?
- Use the User Agent Add-on
- Are they cloaking?
- Does it look the same as before?
Use SEO Browser to do a quick spot check.
- Check for 4xx errors and 5xx errors.
- Are category pages set up in the appropriate way to flow link equity to key pages?
- Do they have landing pages high enough in the architecture to receive enough link equity to compete for competitive terms?
- How many category pages are there?
- Have they been scaled out too much?
- Category pages should be built out only when there is enough demand for new or sub category pages.
- Is pagination or faceted navigation more appropriate? Or, should they be used in tandem?
- Does pagination exist to help long tail content get indexed?
- Pages targeting really competitive head terms should be one or two clicks from the homepage.
- Pages targeting moderately competitive keywords should be 2 or three clicks from the homepage.
- Pages targeting the long tail should be 5 clicks away (obviously exceptions must be made here for sites with a ton of content).
- Most important content should be higher up in the pagination
Successful Site Architecture for SEO
The SEO Guide to Site Architecture
Information Architecture and Faceted Navigation
- Are 301’s being used for all redirects?
- If the root is being directed to a landing page, are they using a 301 instead of a 302?
- Use Live HTTP Headers FireFox plugin to check 301s.
- Is content being pulled in via iframes?
- Is the entire site done in flash, or is flash used sparingly in a way that doesn’t hinder crawling?
Flash is like garlic. A little bit of garlic in your food can make it taste better. Eating a plate full of garlic would be quite terrible. Likewise, Flash can be added to a site in a way that improves the user’s experience, but creating the entire site in flash is not a good idea.
- How long does the page take to load – Is it significant for users or search engines?
- What improvements can be made?
- Is alt text present?
- Does the alt text use keyword phrases?
- Does the alt text reinforce the topical themes presented in the content?
- Google WMT will give you a good list of technical problems showing up on your site that they are encountering (such as: 4xx and 5xx errors, inaccessible pages in the XML sitemap, and soft 404′s)
- Make sure it points to the correct page, and every page doesn’t point to the homepage.
- This can cause a lot of problems if you have a root domain with secure sections.
- No excessive parameters or session ID’s
- URLs exposed to search engines should be static.
- 115 characters or shorter – this character limit isn’t set in stone, but shorter URLs are better for usability.
- Get your primary keyword phrase in there.
Best Practices for URLs
URL Rewriting Tool
mod_rewrite Cheat Sheet
Creating 301 Redirects With .htaccess
- 100 is a good target, but not a rule.
- Homepage links to category pages.
- Category pages link to sub-category and product pages as appropriate.
- Product pages link to relevant category pages.
- Category pages link to other relevant category pages.
- Product pages link to other relevant product pages.
- Does not utilize massive blocks of links stuck in the content to do internal linking.
- Does not use a block of footer links instead of proper navigation.
- Does not link to landing pages with optimized anchors.
- Link Checker and Xenu are good tools for this.
Importance of Internal Linking
Internal Linking Tactics
Using Anchor Links to Make Google Ignore The First Link
- Every page should have a unique title tag.
- Pages should contain the primary keyword phrase.
- Is possible to use the secondary keyword phrase in a non spammy way?
- In most cases the brand should be included at the end of the page title to help build a brand or entice users if you are a well known brand
- If the title is longer than this, the entirety will not be displayed in the SERPs.
- This data should be removed as competitors can scrape this data.
- Each page has a unique meta description.
- Meta descriptions are representative of the content and entice users.
- For key landing pages, write meta descriptions by hand instead of systemically implementing.
- Noindex pages only appropriate pages.
- Not blocking important pages.
Web Developer Toolbar
User Agent Add-on
Your own scraper