In order to push organic search rankings to optimum levels, we know from experience that a website’s technical SEO needs to be perfect or at least near-perfect. After all, any technical issues can make it harder for search engines to crawl and index a site—and this can cause lower rankings and less traffic.
That is why here at SEOValley, we conduct a thorough technical audit process covering all the important aspects of technical as well as on-site SEO. No stone is left unturned. The goal of this audit is to ensure that every component of these key areas are identified, reviewed, and resolved. This process has been very successful, and we want to share it with readers of our blog. Below is a checklist of items we watch for whenever we conduct a technical SEO audit:
There are three main areas to inspect: site navigation, labeling and naming conventions, and directory structures.
Site navigation needs to be intuitive; users must be able to find what they need and find it fast. Grouping similar product categories or content together can improve site navigation. Labeling using targeted keywords is also important. Finally, directory structures must not be more than 3 folders deep.
Crawling and Indexing Issues
Server Response Codes
Make sure that if there are any redirects, they are 301s (not 302s). 301s are search friendly and can pass on PageRank. Use Pingdom Tools and Webconfs to check if there are any redirects on your website. You also need to fix broken links. To find them use Screaming Frog or Xenu Link Sleuth. Google Webmaster Tools likewise provide detailed lists of broken links and pinpoint the pages from where these broken links originate.
Duplicate Content Issues
It’s a well-known fact that duplicate content can diminish your organic rankings. When Google accesses and indexes multiple versions of a page, it will most likely will filter out everything but one version. It has full control of what gets filtered—not you.
The easiest and most cost effective way to check if you have duplicate content issues is to check your pages on CopyScape. Many e-commerce websites unwittingly use duplicate content because they rely in the manufacturer’s product description, which is also used by other retailers. To avoid this, vary your content. Make the product description unique by adding a few comments.
Do you have an e-commerce site? Your products are probably pulled from your database and/or have some kind of ‘session IDs’ in them, making your URLs unfriendly, with special characters tend to trip and trap the bots. Keep in mind that search engines prefer simpler static URLs to dynamic ones. To prevent any problems, implement a ‘URL rewrite’ solution.
Site Loading Time
When your site loads slowly, your visitor drop-out rates go up, and conversion goes down. Make sure to audit for heavy images, excessive use of scripts, Flash files that increase page weight, and heavy images. Your home page should weigh no more than 130K and all your other pages, no more than 180K.
Google, in particular, has been known to reward faster loading websites, so it is important that this aspect is covered by a technical site audit. Aside from Google Webmaster Central, tools such as Pingdom and Gomez can help you check your loading time.
A technical SEO audit can take many hours to accomplish especially if your website is highly complex. Many experts recommend breaking down the process into two phases. First, create a scorecard that lists all the targets and metrics suggested above. Then, formulate recommendations. Don’t have the time or the technical expertise to handle your own site audit? Let SEOValley help you. Call us at +415 670 9746.