The Importance of Website Health-Checks

By Steph Von der Heyde | Search engine optimisation (SEO)

Jul 03
Website Health Animation

Any business owner or marketing manager in charge of a website will know that it comes with a huge amount of responsibility. You have to check on it constantly, make sure it’s healthy, and clean up after it.

But with the right systems in place, it can be a walk in the park.

It’s not enough to implement health-check fixes at the beginning of the year, and just expect your site to look after itself from then on. Changes are always being made which are sure to affect your website’s health – and you need to be there every step of the way.

These changes can include new pages added to your site, links being gained and lost, other websites duplicating your content, among many other factors.

Leaving your website in bad health for too long can result in too many lost leads due to affected rankings, which is why we implement weekly health checks to ensure our client’s websites are all in tip-top shape and working to their full potential.

We’re going to take you through our health-check process, and why it’s such a  crucial aspect in improving (or at least maintaining) your site’s rankings, traffic, overall user experience, and ultimately, conversions.

Our System

As with all our systems here at CleverClicks, we operate most effectively using Google Sheets. It’s user friendly, the information is automatically saved, and it can be accessed and edited by everyone in the team who’s involved in the process.

Each of our clients has been allocated a sheet in a new tab, all in the same Google Sheet. This allows us to quickly and efficiently jump between clients whenever need be.

The Process

The first step of the process is to gather all the necessary data required to show us where the problem areas are on each respective website. Once all of the data has been gathered, the second step is to implement the required actions and fix the problems.

Here are some of the tools we use for our weekly health-checks:

1. Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a freely available tool provided by Google, which we use for a number of issues including the following:

  • Crawl errors / broken links (404s)
  • Structured data errors
  • Robots.txt errors
  • XML sitemap errors
  • Mobile usability

The most common error we experience is the crawl error (you know – when instead of seeing the page you want to see, you see a big “404 error” message across the screen.

Google Search Console allows us to quickly see which links on a client’s website Google has been unable to crawl, which can cause a number of problems. Firstly, it can frustrate users by allowing them to click on links that take them nowhere, possibly increasing the site’s bounce-rate. And secondly, any links that were on the page with the 404 error are lost, resulting in the link-juice from those links also being lost as a result.

How we fix it:

We download the links with crawl errors from Google Search Console into a Google Sheet, and based on the URL name, we redirect the broken link to a working page on the website that is the most relevant for the given URL.

This should ensure that every link on the website goes somewhere relevant, improving crawlability and user experience.

2. PageSpeed Insights

Page-speed is an important SEO ranking factor as it’s seen to have a big impact on a user’s experience on a site. Poor page-speeds will leave users frustrated – and Google’s aim is to give users the best online experience possible.

The best tool available for checking the page-speed of your site is Google’s PageSpeed Insights, which is also freely available. It does exactly what the name suggests, and provides insight into the various factors affecting your website’s page-speed, as well as providing a page-speed score out of 100.

The most common page-speed issue has been found to be image optimisation requirements. This simply means that images on a page are too large in file size and resolution, resulting in longer loading times. 

How we fix it:

We download the optimised images from PageSpeed Insights and use them to replace the current images on the website which are decreasing the page-speeds of the site.

Once this has been done, you can retest the page-speed of your sites pages and see the improvements.

3. Screaming Frog

Screaming Frog is an incredibly useful tool for performing an in-house crawl of any website you wish. It can be downloaded for free, but you’re only able to access all the features by paying for the full version ($149 per year), which we make use of. We use it to assess a multitude of website issues including the following:

URL structures: Screaming Frog instantly provides us with details on whether URLs are SEO-optimised; whether they’re too long (over 115 characters), duplicated, or contain capital letters or underscores. We’re also able to view every URL manually to check whether they are structured to be SEO-optimised.

Page titles: We can check a number of factors such as whether page titles are too long (over 65 characters), too short (below 30 characters), duplicated, and even missing from the page entirely.

Page titles that are too long get cut off from the search results page towards the end of the title. Page titles that are too short on the other hand don’t utilise all the available space to rank for those keywords, and can also result in sub-optimal click-through-rates due to not being enticing enough for the user. Page titles need to really sell the contents of the page in as many words that will fit.

Like the URLs mentioned above, we also do a manual check of the overall structure of the sites page-titles to make sure they are SEO-optimised.

We also check the status of, H1s & H2s, image alt text, nofollow & noindex tags, among many other aspects of a website to give us a good idea of how SEO-optimised it really is.

This includes checking the status of every page’s meta description. We need to ensure that it’s the correct length to fit nicely in the search result, has a call-to-action to entice users to click, as well as being an accurate description as to what’s actually on the page.  

4. Ahrefs

Ahrefs is the tool we use to monitor the status of our client’s backlinks and referring domains, we well as our linkbuilding campaigns. It isn’t cheap – we pay almost $200 per month – but it’s an incredibly valuable tool.  

There is a free trial available, but once expired you’ll need to pay a monthly fee (it costs $99 per month for the most basic package).

In our weekly health-checks, we record the number of backlinks and referring domains lost, gained, and broken.

 

What we do:

When spotting a lost or broken backlink, it’s important to contact the website to find out more about why this has happened. 

You don’t have to be dramatic and assume they just don’t like the link as much as they use to. There’s a good chance they may have deleted or edited their page, inadvertently removing your link.

By contacting them we can resolve the issue by bringing it to their attention, and asking if they’d like use the link on a different page or in a different context.  

Overview

So we essentially follow a two step process which includes gathering all the health-check data using the various tools, and then implementing the various health-check fixes. The implementation times can vary, but we like to put aside a number of hours per week to ensure we get through it all thoroughly.

We’ve found that performing weekly health-checks is extremely helpful in keeping track of the health of our client’s websites (as well as our own), and has proven a really efficient method to do so.

Unhealthy websites from an SEO perspective can cause significant drops in rankings and traffic, and therefore conversions if not seen to regularly. The problems can accumulate fast and cause major SEO issues – so it’s definitely best to catch them out early.

But a website that’s well-looked after, given enough attention, and seen to when it falls ill will grow to be a happy, strong, lead-generating machine.  

We hope this helps!

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