We have so many websites (very thankful) at the moment that we need a completely sound system that we can rely on to stick to our timelines, it is the following list of processes and similar in other departments that have gained us the top spot in Google for web design and top spots for so many of our clients in SEO.
1. Make sure all the site’s URLs are live and function properly
Websites that are being built are built on our development server (any one of the many that we have) and it is no different anywhere else. This is the staging platform where things are tested in multiple ways, checking that everything works, where content is finalised. When this stage is all settled, it’s time for the move and I can tell you first hand that this part of the process doesn’t always go smoothly, but that is why it is best to have your website in the hands of people that know how to troubleshoot all of the things that can go wrong.
Now this is different in every case as the size, make up, design and capabilities of every website that we do have many variable elements that have to be taken into consideration. If we are working on a small corporate website with a handful of landing pages, the URLs for example, can be checked manually. If we are working on a large ecommerce website then the URLs need to be checked automatically.
How to check the sites pages
SEO minion is what we would use here to check a site for broken links, this is the automation part and relying on the fact that is correct is a risk that has to be taken in some cases, but 99% of the time, the accuracy is great.
The tool scans for multiple URL issues, such as:
- Resources with 4xx status codes
- Resources with 5xx status codes
- Pages with 302 redirects
- Broken links
2. Check site speed
Page Load speed of course is something that Google officially ranks for, so again, this is something that you will want to be paying close attention to. The tool that I like to use is Ubersuggest.
Google is on the verge of another roll out, as I have spoken about previously. The big algorithm update and user experience or page experience is the focus, so make sure that your site’s speed is up to scratch .
You want to be aiming for desktop and mobile to load completely in under 3 seconds.
How to check your site performance
Like I said, the choice of tools is genuinely massive and only growing, but I like to use Ubersuggest or you can head over to Google’s PageSpeed Insights and check your current speed on there.
No matter the tool of choice, you will be met with information for the pages that are taking longer to load and reasons why and usually solutions.
Google uses a lot of different factors to evaluate a page’s speed —
- Page size
- Server response time
- Number of redirects
- Uncompressed images and resources, etc.
In a perfect world you really need to check that your website has all of these factors marked with a green Correct sign.
Here is a quick checklist to fix page load speed
It’s important to look for page speed issues in as many places as possible, you can check out this optimization checklist that will put you in pretty good standing.
If you have business that is conducted outside of your country or region, you might want to check how fast your website loads from those countries and regions.
3. Make sure the 404 page is set up correctly
If a visitor is en route to your website, but in the end doesn’t actually get there – which by the way happens all the time on websites that come to us for help – it could be down to a misprint in a URL or a link that was bad on someone else’s website or something else. The last thing that you want happening is a visitor being met with an ugly error message. Make it your own, so even if things aren’t great, they aren’t rock bottom bad.
To stop the ugliness from happening to you or your users, make sure that you set up a 404 page on your website. Any tool that you use you will be informed if you have this set up if it’s any good.
This can be tricky if you don’t know your way around PHP and HTML. The 404.php template can be hard to edit or it can be created from scratch. There are so many people that you can hire to do this for you, but make sure to go for someone amazing (like us – we are web design experts afterall).
Alternatively, of course you can use plugins to build a custom 404 page, using tools such as 404page (but this will only work for WordPress-based websites only).
4. Ensure the site’s mobile-friendly
Google ranks websites based on their mobile performance. The world is without a doubt mobile first, so check this instead of desktop. You can check the performance with free tools.
Google don’t set the rules without setting clear instructions on what they deem as complying:
Making your website just functional is not the overall aim.#
Pre-empt what the user wants and needs.
Questions to ask yourself
What steps does a user have to take to order on your website?
Do you have content crowding your homepage that could be better placed?
Is it possible for users to direct email right from your website?
- Keep calls-to-action front and center.
- Keep menus short and sweet.
- Streamline form menu.
- Don’t make users pinch to zoom.
- Make product images expandable.
If you have all of these best practices, then great, but don’t forget to check the usability on mobile devices.
5. Validate code and CSS
Google says that some HTML/CSS errors won’t harm your website’s results. It is good practice to check how clean your code is.There are many tools online that you can use to check, but day – to – day, we use website auditor software..
Go to website auditor dashboard >>
Click on Pages with W3C HTML/CSS errors and warnings
Making sure the search engines love the site at first crawl involves in depth technical SEO, our favourite step.
6. Check for possible indexation issues
If your site isn’t crawable, then it’s not possible for Google to index it.
To check indexing issues: WebSite Auditor and follow these steps:
- Rebuild Project: check the Enable expert options box.
- Uncheck the Follow robots.txt instructions box and hit Next.
7. Check for duplicate issues
Duplicate content is a tricky one, there are a lot of tools available to you to check duplicate content, make sure that you check for this as you can get penalised for it.
8. Make sure the URLs are search-engine-friendly
Check that there are no warnings on your URLs, if they are too long and not clean then Google will not read them properly, which could lead to more issues.
9. Optimize meta tags and content
Make sure to optimise all titles and descriptions. This is not an entertaining activity, but it surely pays off and luckily it’s technically straightforward.
Your sites titles, meta tags, and alt tags are viewable, go to Website Auditor, Site Audit and look at On-page section factors:
10. Use schema to mark up the content
Technical SEO at its finest is using schema mark up. This information tells search engines exactly what your data means and helps them represent it in user-friendly way. This is a special microdata language, that tells the search engines so much more about your content
You can use mark up for local businesses, restaurants, articles and ratings, reviews of books, movies, software apps, events, products, etc.
In WebSite Auditor, you can check page structured data and Open Graph mark up, if it has been added before:
11. Check UX
Google’s top priority, or one of them, is user satisfaction. Making sure your website is user friendly is something that is 100% essential. We specialise in UX and build websites from the ground up not only for SEO, but with UX in mind too.
12. Content is King
Content is the backbone of your businesses success. Valuable and relatable content is essential to ensure that the users intent is met when they land on your site.
You can check out my blog on content for more information on how to optomise your site.
Just a few more steps…
Is your site managed, secured and updated? If it is right now, great, this is something that needs to remain in place.
These are just a few of the steps we go through to
12. Create and manage site backups
Imagine losing your business due to the lack of site backups! That really is the stuff of nightmares and sure to raise the blood pressure.
The good thing is that this is entirely preventable through manual or automatic backups.
We recommend automatic scheduling your site’s backups is a sure fire way to make sure that you never forget.
A great plugin Duplicator is – a WP migration, with over 20 million downloads, its safe to say that this is a trusted plugin, making the lives of many just that little bit easier.
Whatever you choose to do, make sure that you choose the most up to date functioning version of your site.
13. Monitor site uptime
Your website can be considered a living thing in a sense. It needs constant care and maintenance to function properly.
There are a lot of software’s and tools that you can sue to alert you to problems.
We look after and maintain over 200 websites and our tool of choice for this mammoth task is uptime robot – this alerts you to critical errors and if your site has gone down.
We also use plugins and site hosts alert us via email to issues that need corrected in real time.
Over to you
These are just a few if the steps that go into the approving of a website and each step is so important and crucial to the overall success. The others are more technical and I will go into those in another blog.
If one point is missed it is not a huge deal generally, but when a lot of small things are overlooked consistently then it does start to take a toll and when it comes time to fixing all of them, here at Gekkoshot we specialise in all of the above, we love what we do and our clients do too. Get in touch today for more information.