Website Health Check That Gets Below the Surface
Your site may look good in a browser, but Google and other search engines don’t look at your site in a browser! Search engines view your website as nothing more than a mass of machine code, like an array of mathematical formulas. So just because your website looks good in a browser doesn’t mean that it is performing well in the eyes of the Google God. You need to look deeper, much, much deeper. At GWD, we believe that this is one of the most important factors on any website. You have gone to the expense and effort of creating your site now you need to make sure that it’s in perfect coding health or Google will not rank it very highly.
Remember that Google is just a complicated mathematical algorithm and when it’s crawling your site it is looking at your own mathematical formulas. If Google crawls your site and sees missing code, errors in the code, slow load speeds on different pages, broken links, missing tags, poor architecture and non-logical navigation structures then it is going to rank your site down.
These days, load speed and the quality of your coding are two of the first and most important aspects of your website. Google is looking to rank sites which provide a good (fast, seamless and error free) user experience to its customers. For example, from a Google perspective if your site takes longer than five seconds to load then it will be ranked lower by their index algorithms. Speed is just one of a plethora of areas but it’s a really important one and it’s as critical as good, unique content. Seamless coding is another thing it examines as errors in the code just indicate that the site isn’t giving the best user experience to their customers.
This is the key to ranking well on Google, that good user experience. Google wants its customers to have the best possible experience and the search results it presents at the top of the page are picked from the websites that load fast, perform well in code tests and contain lots of unique, engaging content. Our health check will cover all of the important areas below (most of which are ignored by other developers).
- H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, H6 heading tags and the importance of using them in the right place and the right way.
- Setting static resource expiry dates on all images and files to ensure they’re delivered by cache.
- Website compression using gzip and effective image optimisation.
- W3C validation to eliminate all errors and warnings in your site code.
This is something we see time and time again. There seems to be some sort of separation between most website developers and H Tags. Most developers know nothing about them and they will openly admit that to you. It’s quite bizarre but using a developer who knows nothing about H tags is like using a bricklayer who knows nothing about foundations. Eventually, it will all come crumbling down around you.
There is a wealth of information out there on the importance of H tags but it’s suffice to say these are the first thing Google looks at when it lands on any web page. Like the title of a book, H Tags are the title and sub title that tells Google what the main subject of the page is about. It’s so important to get these right yet most developers are using your H Tags as nothing more than styling code for your fonts! A big mistake!
Please, if you have a live website at the moment then take a minute look at your source code (ctrl+u on your browser) and search for your H1, H2 and H3 tags to see what they say. They should make good sense and tell Google what your page is generally all about. Unfortunately, we usually find the H Tags make no sense at all. It’s something we always look at when we analyse a website, especially on the home page. Usually what we see are signs that the site’s been built without any consideration for search engine optimisation (SEO) at all. It’s a fundamental mistake with most websites and it will cost you dearly.
You can read a bit more about H Tags here. It’s just such a shame that most developers consider SEO to be something that you can just tag on at the end, as if websites just automatically rank well by themselves. What they don’t seem to realise is that SEO is the foundation and all other aspects of the site should be designed around good tags and a good search engine structure. What good is a site that doesn’t harness the full potential of the search engines? Isn’t this the main objective after all; to be found in as many search results as possible?
Many sites that we analyse have multiple H1 tags (a BIG no-no)! You should have only one! Google looks at your H1 tag and asks, “what is this page all about”? Your H1 tag should be your main keyword phrase and it should define the general theme of your page. To give you an example, we analysed a wedding directory website recently and expected to find an H1 like, “Weddings in Grampian”. Unfortunately, we found their H tags being used as nothing more than CSS styling tools with several H1 tags from, “Song and Lovebirds” and “Tradition”, to “Tractors and Trikes” and “Made-up and Sky High” amongst other meaningless keyphrases. This was a major flaw. Their H2 tags were no better. If you’re not using your H tags correctly then it’s very costly to you and your business.
Please, check your H tags and if you find they aren’t telling Google what you do then stop paying your SEO guys! They are stealing your money from you! Please get in touch with Glasgow Website Designer as we know everything there is know about your tags and we will be able to fix your website for you.
Basically, these types of code files should load in single, minified versions only. However, it is standard for template designers and web developers to have several files, all working together instead of merging them for you. This type of practice will slow down your website and it can cause really poor load times. Let GWD run an analysis on your site and work out your load speed, let us determine how much faster it would be if we minify and merge all of your JS, CSS and HTML files into one. Merging and minifying your file will streamline the way your site loads, reducing the load on the server and delivering content to your site visitors quicker.
Expiry Date for Static Resources
All static resources such as images, CSS and JS files need to have an expiry date set in the future so that browsers don’t request the same resource every time it loads a page. Setting an expiry date will ensure that these static resources will be cached by the browser not flushed from browser memory until the expiry date is reached. If it’s not done properly ( and most sites we analyse is not) then it will be JS blocking and slowing your site down. This is such an important thing to address. We will enable browser caching to stop it blocking JS and we will set expiry dates on all of your static resources.
Website Compression and Image Optimisation
Server Side Compression
In addition to the above fixes, you need to be using server side compression like gzip to compress all of the static resources, which in turn reduces the amount of time it takes to download to the client. If you’re not using server side compression, it’s like never using 5th gear when you’re driving. Let GWD activate and configure your gzip, it will reduce your site loading time dramatically and improve your website performance and user experience.
Compress Images Across Your Website
It’s alarming to see some of the images we find on the existing, live websites that we analyse. Web images should be less that 50kb but developers will uploaded them at 1.2mb or more if they get away with it! If you have images on your website which are not compressed then it is a sign your site is not built properly. It’s just unacceptable for a non-optimised image to be on your website as it’s such an easy thing to do. As a general rule of thumb, no image should be greater than 50kb on a website as it will dramatically slow down your load speed. Let us analyse your site and determine if you are optimised for the best performance.
Most of the websites that we analyse have errors in the html markup validation, throwing dozens of errors and warnings. This is a basic error check in the html and xhtml code of web documents and you can verify this, here. W3C validation is something that the Google algorithms consider. If search engines find lots of errors (especially on the home page of a website) then it will mark the site down. Let us eliminate all of your w3C validation errors and warnings. It’s straightforward to do this and it needs to be done or your site will be marked down on Google.
The Aim of Our Website Health Check Service
The aim of the game is to fine tune your site files and your coding architecture to obtain the fastest possible load speeds on every page. According to research, just a one second delay in load speed can cost you 7% in conversions, 11% fewer page views and a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction. Don’t let a slow site cost you sales. Don’t let your load speed cost you in your Google search position. We can improve the load speed on any website by just analysing and repairing any signs of poor coding or poor optimisation. Get in touch and let us show you what we can do. Above are just a few of the things we will check for you but there are many more::
- Image Sprites
- Inline CSS
- Site Maps
- Title Tags
- Meta Tags
- Image Tags
- Broken Links
- SEO URL’s
Our website health check leaves nothing to chance and every single element of your site is analysed and a report will be presented outlining everything that we find with the steps required to fix them. By the time we’re finished, your website will be performing at it’s absolute tip-top optimal.
Learn More About Glasgow Website Designers Website Health Check
Call: 0845 643 9323
Quote Request: Tell us about your website health check requirements.