• Why You Should Perform A Health Audit Check Regularly On Your Website

    We often rate a website on what we see within our browser. Does it do what we want it to, does it look good, is it quick and if on the surface we gave the thumbs up, then why do a health check? If all you need is a brochure site and you drive traffic to it via traditional marketing methods, then this maybe all you need. But if you have decided you want to be found via Google or other search engines, then it is time to look deeper.

    What Is Going On Behind The Scenes

    All Google tries to do, is present the best websites for the search term entered into that blue box. It has its own special way of measuring quality, which isn’t always the same as how your visitors might rate it. So take for example, you have created a dynamic website, one which creates pages from different customer requests. This request could be listing a list of products in prices order, “low to high”, or “most popular” or by “size” just as an example. Typically each of of these commands shows the same page with listings in a different order, but with a different URL in the browser bar. To your visitors this shows good design and is very useful, but to Google this could be several URL’s all showing the same content and could be deemed as duplicate content. “Webmaster tools” is extremely valuable to how examples like this, where Google will indicate in “HTML Improvements” there are multiple pages with the same “Title Tag”. There is a solution to this, by using a canonical tag, but by not performing regular health audits on your website, you may never know these issues existed in the first place.

    Using Webmaster Tools To Your Advantage

    Years of experience have taught me, that internal issues can pop up from anywhere, including server errors which have created programming errors, misspelt canonical tags and Google identifying 404 errors from pages that have not existed for 18 months. So Webmaster Tools is the most valuable service in my opinion you can have, because it doesn’t measure what you can see, but what you can’t and Google’s perception of your website, which does not always represent the truth.

    Interpretation Of The Data

    What webmaster tools is not so good at is telling us what all the data means and whether it affects your quality score. There is also some argument to whether those who work at Google really do tell us the truth or just use a different language. So let’s talk about 404 errors. It has been stated officially that you can have as many 404′s as you like in your Webmaster Tools and this and you will not get a penalty. But 404′s. normally mean broken links or redirection issues, which affects the trust flow through the site and visitor experience. It is hard to believe that Google would not see this as a quality issue and I will say first hand, you will lose rankings. However, when 404′s are created from other sites linking to your pages that no longer exist, or where the URL has been misspelt, then this is something not to be worried about. It is not just the data, it is the interpretation of it. It is also understanding what Google was saying. A penalty in their eyes, is something that an individual manually does or something part of an update. But losing rankings due to broken links, is an algorithmic issue, that reduces your quality score and this is not deemed as a penalty.

    How Often Should A Website Health Audit Take Place?

    In my opinion at least once a month, but it’s fair to say I have sites that I do some actions everyday and go into WMT to check different things. Just like going to the dentist, if you do this regularly you can spot issues just after or before they happen. What is a bit irritating is that the data is not in real time, at least 48 hours for broken links and other things may not get updated for weeks. But it still is the best place to get real information.

    Other Tools To Make Checks

    Most other tools on the market tend to deal with back link information, or look at the coding that can be seen within a browser. There are too many to list here and will cover these in future articles.