When taking a look at a new site, we have a variety of things that we look at as we work on creating a plan of action. On the SEO side, here are some of the pieces we look at, which may be good for you to check out on your own site. These aren’t all SEO specific, but most of them lean in that direction. These are in no particular order.
Make sure that the “examplesite.com” and “www.examplesite.com” don’t each resolve and stay intact; one should redirect to the other. In addition, extra URLs should also redirect to the primary URL. Here is a bit more about what that means how it works.
See if the site is mobile responsive or not. If not, see how it works on a mobile device and make sure there are no mobile-killers in there such as Flash.
Search Google for “site:examplesite.com” and see how many results you get. The number itself isn’t necessarily too important, but if you have a large site and Google can only see three pages, you know you’ve got a big problem in there somewhere.
Parent pages for dropdowns
If the site has dropdowns, what do the parent landing pages look like? They should be clickable and provide links to all of the internal pages. This is good both for usability and SEO.
Do they have Google Analytics installed?
Are there extra/unnecessary links in the footer? Web design companies like to stick their links down there (grrr), as well as some web products.
H1 / H2 / etc
Are the page titles in H1 tags? Are sub-titles using lower-level Hx tags?
Title and other meta tags
Check the title tags on the site to make sure they are appropriately keyword-rich. Meta Description tags are useful as well. If you find the Meta Keywords loaded up with junk, take a deeper look because someone didn’t really know what they were doing.
Make sure the copyright date in the footer is current. Not really an SEO thing, but worth fixing if it’s incorrect.
Make sure their social URLs are updated and functional, if any.
Speed is very important on a site, both for SEO and for visitor satisfaction. Oversized images are a killer. Understand the difference between dpi/ppi and pixels and get them sized appropriately.
If the site is WordPress powered…
- Category setup: Check the setup of categories, look for “uncategorized”, etc.
- Authorship: See if Google Authorship has been configured.
- Check to see if they’re using the current version of WordPress and look for any plugin updates (if any can be determined from source code)
- Sharing plugins: If they’re using social sharing plugins on the blog, see what they’re doing with them.
Once you have access to the server and Google Analytics there is a lot more you can learn, but the above can be applied to the public-facing side of any website on the internet to allow you to get a high-level audit.
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