The process of launching a website is filled with checks and double-checks, making sure that every part of your online presence is optimized and ready to go. However, sites will undergo a number of changes during their lifetime, from simple text updates to major overhauls. It’s very easy for a key SEO piece to go missing, especially when you have granted access to multiple people with various levels of experience. Worse yet is not noticing the error until much later, or duplicating it update after update.
There’s no need to suffer through the angst-inducing process of correcting problems that could have been avoided. Scheduling a regular site audit can help you catch mistakes before they become major pitfalls in your SEO strategy. Here’s a basic list of things to check on while you’re giving your site a once-over.
CHECK YOUR PAGE TITLES
If you add or change a page on your site, make sure the page title (or title tag) is correct and relates to the content on the page. Your page title is an incredibly important piece of your SEO strategy, as it affects how search engines will rank you as well as how you display in SERPs. For many people, how you look in these search results is their first impression of your company, so make sure your page title helps convey the right message to them in terms of both the user experience as well as proper, logical use of keywords.
CHECK YOUR BROWSERS
Be sure to make sure your site displays well in various browsers, both desktop and mobile. Even in an era of responsive site design, text fields can sometimes frame out differently depending on how the user is accessing the site. Reviewing your Google Analytics browser reports can be a great indicator of issues you may not be aware of, especially if you see a particularly high bounce rate within a certain browser type.
PROOFREAD YOUR TEXT
Make sure that everything reads well, is spelled correctly and is free of grammatical errors. While it may only seem to be a “small mistake”, your site represents your company and if the first impression is a sloppy one, you’re likely to lose business as people move on to find a stronger voice of authority.
REVIEW CONTACT INFORMATION
Make sure that all of your contact information is correct and that no older cached pages have re-emerged. Make sure the email addresses you have listed are correct and any mailto: links are working. If there’s a captcha on the page to submit a message, make sure it’s legible and working. If you list employees individually, make sure their information is correct and that an old employee isn’t still listed.
CHECK YOUR IMAGE TAGS
Search engines can’t “see” images – they rely on the alt image tags. Take a moment to make sure that any images you have uploaded are named properly with either keywords or descriptors…people are more likely searching for “Funny Dog Picture” than “15123910685_88cb288809_k”. This way search engines can index it and you can boost your SERP visibility.
CLICK THOSE LINKS
That’s right, click them! Make sure nothing is broken or heading to a 404 page. That also means checking the header, the menus, and especially the social media links. If you’ve added a new social media platform to your overall online visibility plan, is it represented?
Make sure anything that’s supposed to work on the site actually works. This means everything from comment and share buttons to any plugins you may have, such as Twitter streams or RSS feeds.
TRACKING AND ANALYTICS
If you have an Analytics code on your site, check your stats to make sure it’s actually tracking. If a form has changed, make sure any conversion tracking you installed is still functioning. If there are separate codes that need to be on certain pages, make sure they haven’t gotten lost in a redesign.
XML sitemaps allow search engines to index your site quickly. Make sure your sitemap hasn’t been deleted accidentally at some point. If you’ve updated your site, make sure the sitemap reflects the new changes.
WHO HAS THE KEYS?
Make sure you know exactly who has access to your site. If you’ve lost an employee recently who had access, make sure they are removed and passwords have been changed. If you’ve released a third-party team, make sure you’ve removed their access as well. And if passwords have been updated, make sure everyone who needs the info has it available.