Whenever we take on a new client, one of the first steps we perform is a site review. This is important for several reasons. But most importantly, you can’t know what needs to be done to a site until you know what you’re working with. It’s that simple.
Like most search marketing agencies, we have a master checklist for site reviews. From that list, I've created a brief breakdown of seven questions to ask yourself about your site before you begin any SEO campaign.
What do I need to consider when evaluating my site?
Conducting a site review takes time, and the seven questions that follow can help you cover all the bases.
- Look at structure. Is your Information Architecture structured in such a way as to put relevant informational pages within the same category/bucket? This is most commonly called theme-based structure. Do you have enough pages of relevant copy within the site? I’ve mentioned it before, but a 20 page Web site in a competitive vertical is going to be difficult to be successful with, so you should consider adding a blog or otherwise develop good content within the site.
- Look at URL propagation. Are your URLs optimized? www.domain.com/page-name is the best way to structure your pages. (But before you go and change all your URLs, speak with a professional first.) If you are rewriting your URLs, be sure that you are putting into place the proper redirects (probably best to put 301 redirects into place). Some search engines do better than others at following redirects, so as mentioned, consult with a professional before you do anything drastic.
- Look at design and functionality. Is your site user-friendly? While this isn’t strictly SEO-related, it is absolutely necessary for customer conversion, brand reputation, and customer retention. Are your callouts located above the fold? Are they easily discernible? Is your contact form or shopping cart easy to use?
- Look at the code. Is your site W3C compliant? Is it Section 508 compliant? W3C compliance entails clean code without errors. Section 508 compliance involves enabling your site to be readable and usable by users with various disabilities.
- Look at your Meta tags. Do each page’s Meta tags accurately reflect the content of the page? Are the keywords employed popularly searched for what you offer? Remember, the Meta keywords tag is not the all-powerful “optimization” platform that it might have been in the year 2000. Title tag, then Description, and then Meta keywords is the proper way to think of these, in terms of valuation and importance.
- Look at your content. Do your H1 and other headers reflect each page’s keywords? Do you even have H1 headers? You should. Headers, Content, and Meta tags should all adhere to a keyword theme on each page.
- Look at interior linking. Are you using keyword-rich anchor text to link to pages devoted to the keywords used in your links? Are your most important pages receiving link love from the rest of the site?
Free Site Review on SEW
Having shared these tips, I realize, as a Web site manager or owner, this may all be very new for you. That’s why, in the spirit of SEW sharing tips from experts, I’m offering to perform a free site review for you. What’s the catch? By sending in your URL and the keywords you are interested in targeting, you are giving us express permission to post the constructive site review as a future article right here on Search Engine Watch.
We will select one site and post article-length reviews here, on a quarterly basis. Simply click the e-mail link below my photo, fill out the fields, and enter your information (URL, keywords, and contact info) in the comment field.
What can I expect from a site review?
Expect us to cover the material mentioned above as well as some honest and constructive opinions. The goal is to earn and retain qualified traffic through SEO and usability, so expect most suggestions to fall under those categories. Someone out there desperately needs this kind of input, so I hope you take the time to submit your site. I will be looking for the sites most in need of help for site reviews.
When will you post the first site review?
It will take some time for site submissions to come in and for the reviews to be completed, so I will continue to post more articles until that prep has been completed. These site reviews should provide an extra dimension of insight for readers desperate to get their sites ranking for important keywords. In the meantime, I will continue to share insights and tips on organic SEO.
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!