Marie Ysais

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I wanted to start a thread on diagnosing sick websites. I have run into a lot of websites lately that are sick and in need of an overhaul. Sometimes its small things and other times its really large items but regardless if I don't find the problem they won't rank with all the help in the world.

I wanted to build a list of items to check to make sure the website is healthy and capable of flying to the first page.

I will start: I always check for canonical problems. Very often I find the website has the www.website.com , http://website.com and www.website.com/index.html and more.

I check the content to make sure they don't have duplicate content on their pages. Often they use the same content and only change out the city names.

I check the websites load time.

I check alt tags on the images as often they are all empty.

What do you check on the website to make sure your hard work won't be wasted?
 
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Phil Rozek

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Just to go for a splatter shot here, below are the items I typically look at for my clients:

Website ? will analyze / critique / optimize / provide the following:

  • Crawlability (Is it a Flash site? Has Google indexed the pages?)
  • Title tags
    • Landing page ? most important
    • Unique title tags for each page?
  • Description tags
  • Page names
  • Internal anchor text (is it service-relevant but not spammy/over-optimized?)
  • H1 on landing page
  • H2s
  • Body copy (not overstuffed with keywords, but still service-relevant?)
  • Images (alt & title attributes)
  • Schema or hCard footer with name/address/phone
  • hReview or Schema testimonial(s), if applicable
  • XML sitemap ? check for
  • KML sitemap ? create and upload
  • Authorship markup ? IF client is blogging and IF he/she has a Google+ page
  • Page-load time ? just check and only advise if page loads really slowly
  • Dead links
  • Outbound links (e.g to any credentials or certifications)
  • Links/buttons to places where customers can leave reviews (Yelp, Google+Local)
  • Duplicate content (check CopyScape)
  • Any crawlable phone numbers or addresses that conflict with ?core? name/address/phone information
  • Any videos on the website ? hosted on Youtube or elsewhere
  • Embed clickable Google map on landing page (unless there are privacy concerns)
  • General conversion / usability suggestions

It's kind of in my shorthand. The above items are part of something I shared the other day with the people on my email list.
 

Marie Ysais

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Crawability is a good one. I have had a few websites that are wordpress that had the switch clicked to not allow search engines to crawl.

Great List Phil. Thanks for sharing.
 

Linda Buquet

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Thanks Marie - GREAT post! And thanks Phil, GREAT list!

I Sometimes its small things and other times its really large items but regardless if I don't find the problem they won't rank with all the help in the world.

What do you check on the website to make sure your hard work won't be wasted?

So glad you made that point and it's something I stress in my on-site Local SEO training. I see consultants often doing all this extra work and trying all these heroic measure to get a site to rank when the problem is they are building on a broken foundation. All the backlinks in the world won't help if they have an organic over-optimization penalty or some other on-site problem.

Back in the old pack days optimization was so easy. Now that organic is such a big factor AND there are so many organic penalties, Marie is right, you can waste a lot of time and nothing will work if the site is penalized.

I'll add a few pointers/things to check:

NAP - Be sure it matches NAP on G+L. Be sure it's on every page PLUS in full at top of Contact Us page. (Often they just have address and contact us, not full NAP.)

PHONE - If using 800# or tracking # be sure it's in a graphic with no alt text. Be sure NAP phone is on every page in this format (555) 222-3333. (Not 555.222.3333 or 555- 222-3333)

TITLE TAGS - Don't repeat KWs or city more than TWICE. See this: http://localsearchforum.catalystema...h-engine-optimization-warning-city-title.html

INTERNAL LINKS - http://localsearchforum.catalystema...ation-penalty-local-sites-internal-links.html
(NOTE In that thread Atty I did consulting for. He dropped from #3 to PAGE 3. I told him to remove the KW stuffed HOME link. 2 days later he popped right back to #3.)

CITY STUFFING - ZIP STUFFING - PHONE STUFFING New organic penalty most folks don't know about and MANY local sites abuse this one! http://localsearchforum.catalystema...ng-new-google-guidelines-local-seos-must.html

This thread lists other things to watch out for that could cause ranking drops or penalties: http://localsearchforum.catalystema...ndling-ranking-drops-google-algo-changes.html
 

Nick.SEOSpark

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Phil and others have already mentioned a lot of them.

First off, I like to run a Local SEO Health Check report on BrightLocal

Phil mentioned PageSpeed and I also have this as one of the things to check on. So, I run it through the Google Page Speed Tool.

As an ongoing monitoring of technical problems affecting the site (like Dead Links/404s etc), I have it set up in Google Webmaster Tools.
 

Nick Rink

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Great list from Phil that covers all the big hits and very important point from Linda about getting technical issues with the site sorted before building too many links. It's a bit like building a house on shaky foundations - it'll stay up for a while but sooner or later it'll all come crashing down around you.

As well as running a local health check on BrightLocal we also check for


  • unindexed pages (sometimes just a simple robots.txt issue)
  • URL structure
  • page titles & descriptions (too long, too short, duplicates, etc)
  • pages with a low text count

Everything else is pretty much covered by Phil's list.
 

Phil Rozek

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Great points you guys have brought up. Nick R., I really like your point about low-word-count ("thin") pages. Will have to file that one away.

Another one I just thought of - which I always look at but haven't thought to write down until now - is to look at where the blog resides (if my client has one).

example.com/blog = ideal

Blog on subdomain = OK, I guess

Blog on different domain = bad idea
 
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Great Tips Here!

Many SEO/Website designers are moving local businesses over to Wordpress because of the ease of use and ability to effectively use content marketing.

If you are evaluating a new client already on a WP platform, check there Plug-ins and compatibility issues.

We recently did an analysis for a plumber whose website was running poorly and found 47 plug ins - redundant analytics, outdated junk etc...

Plug ins are great but when used sparingly and only if necessary. We prefer Genesis because many of their built in features eliminate the need for plug ins.

Check each plug in to see when it was last updated. Many inspired plug in authors lose interest and do not keep up with WP updates.

We recently found a Pinterest plug in with a hole in it that allowed click-jackers to take over the website. Check the credibility of the author before buying a plug in.

Also who is the host? Slow-Daddy is an awful host and does not play well with WP.

Check their category structure - are they putting everything in the uncategorized box. Do they have way too many categories?

We find that many website designers are using WP and are clueless about SEO. Is the sitemap working, the RSS feed? Are the permalinks set up properly?

Last but not least, is the theme they are using outdated or not compatible with local optimization? Many WP users try to save a few dollars and download free themes that are either outdated or not designed to accomplish local SEO.

Don't try to fix a theme that will not work or may become inoperable on the next WP update! It's not worth it.
 

Nick.SEOSpark

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Thanks a lot for all the tips Jeffrey.

I find Wordpress (and it's plugins) an interesting area of Web Maintenance and SEO. As you pointed out, plugins can be great but should be used sparingly. I have also seen new clients website that have dozens and dozens of plugins - - some of them seeming to fight with each other over functions to perform.

I think it pays to have done some proper research before installing a plugin as well - like you pointed.

On the point of Wordpress, I also want to mention page speed. Wordpress sites tend to be pretty slow "out of the box" so you need to look at ways of speeding it up. As above, you normally have to go down the route of plugins but be careful to use one of the recommended ones - the choice being between WP Total Cache or WP Super Cache.
 
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Great points Nick!!

Wordpress can run slow! We always check page speed and both plug ins you listed are excellent!! We use both of them depending on the website.

Since we have switched to a Genesis platform we have found page speed to be less of an issue.

Websites heavy in images, loaded with plug ins or using old themes are prime suspects for slow page speed!!

Thanks for bringing a very important issue that i missed.
 
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Great contributions from everyone on this thread.
One of the things that I've been doing lately is assessing whether or not the site is mobile friendly. I'm seeing my clients with mobile device visits of 30% or more, so being able to provide a good user experience on a smartphone or tablet is important. If my clients are looking for a re-design, I'm recommending that they consider a responsive design in Wordpress to future proof their site as much as possible.
 

aaronwatters

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Nice comments everyone, I don't have too much more to add but I did want to mention that I use Woorank.com in order to get a quick snapshot of a site. It's a nice tool that gives me quick feedback while on the phone with a prospect.

Less technical, but I wanted to stress Phil's suggestion of Conversions, I've been floored with the number of sites I've seen without a sense of direction.

Thanks for all of the suggestions everyone!
 

Phil Rozek

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@Aaron

Amen to that. I'm aghast at how many PPC advertisers don't even have a basic name-capture, and I'm equally mortified to see businesses that are willing to spend big money on SEO without even spending a little time and money on influencing what happens after the click. If they can do well without any conversion-tracking, I guess more power to 'em. But talk about low-hanging fruit...
 
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