Site Audit: Summary & Explanation of results
Getting your site audited and tested for on-page SEO factors and bugs in your website’s design is an essential part of creating and maintaining an SME/Social Enterprise Website.
So your website has just been built, just about to be rebuilt, or your site has been live for a while, and you want to check that serious errors haven’t crept into your site’s content and structure, We Build The Web can help.
We’ll conduct an audit of your site’s content and structure to discover broken links, HTML/CSS errors and errors with the site’s on-page SEO factors such as META information not being adequate for SEO purposes.
Please like or share this website in order to be able to read this explanation on how to act on the reports from out website audits.
The following guide describes what we test for with explanations of what the different tests mean and how to fix any issues that crop up:
INDEXING AND CRAWLABILITY
Firstly, we’ll check your site for indexing and ‘crawlability’ issues and will start by searching for any 404 page not found errors and website 5xx errors.
RESOURCES WITH 4XX STATUS CODE
404 errors are often caused by the URLs of pages changing or content being removed or moved.
When you get a new version of your site built, there may be links from other sites to old URLs from the old version of your website.
There are a couple of ways of eliminating these:
- First off, install a WordPress redirection plug-in and redirect the URL’s from the old URLs to the new content or suitable related content on your new website. Preferably use a plug-in that notices changes to your site’s URLs automatically so that your site redirect rules are added whenever you change a page or post’s URL. This will ensure that visitors to your site that are using an old URL are automatically redirected to the new or related content on your site.
- Make sure you create a custom 404 error page so that users are automatically taken to a custom 404 error page that both tells the person who has tried to find a page that no longer exists that the site can’t find the page (or post) that they were looking for.
- You could also add a sitemap to this custom 404 error page to help your visitors to find the page or content that they were looking for.
- You could also add a search box to this custom 404 error page in case visitors want to search your website for the content that they’re looking for.
RESOURCES WITH 5XX STATUS CODE
A website error code that starts with a ‘5’ appears when the server that a site is hosted on fails to fulfil a request. It also tells the user that the server is aware that there’s been an error.
There are various different 5nn error codes that users of the internet might come across and here’s an overview of the most common that you could come across:
500 INTERNAL SERVER ERROR MESSAGE
When the server has encountered an unexpected problem that is stopping it from displaying the requested content by the website visitor it will display a 500 error message.
501 NOT IMPLEMENTED ERROR MESSAGE
A server will generate a 501 error message when it doesn’t support the functionality used on a website so is unable to process a request or when the server doesn’t recognise the request made.
This error code also means that your server isn’t currently able to support and request and but that it could be available in the future.
502 BAD GATEWAY ERROR MESSAGE
This error occurs when a server is being used as a gateway or proxy to another server/location and has received an erroneous response from the server that it’s trying to access while trying to process the request.
503 SERVICE UNAVAILABLE ERROR MESSAGE
If a server is struggling to process or cope with a request then it’ll display this error message. This error message means that the server is temporarily unable to complete the request made to it. Usually because the server doesn’t have sufficient resources in order to process the request.
So, if you’re getting this error you might need to check that your web server has the CPU or memory resources to run your site.
It could also be down to a badly coded plug-in so another way of fixing error messages with this code by trying to use a more server-friendly plug-in or technology.
504 GATEWAY TIMEOUT ERROR MESSAGE
This error is displayed when, while acting as a gateway or proxy, the server didn’t get a response from the server that it’s sent a request to quickly enough.
505 HTTP VERSION NOT SUPPORTED ERROR MESSAGE
This error message is shown when a server doesn’t support the specified HTTP protocol version used in the request but this response will frequently contain details of why the HTTP protocol version isn’t supported.
506 VARIANT ALSO NEGOTIATES
When a server has an error located in its configuration and its chosen variant resources are intended to negotiate with a ‘transparent’ process then it will commonly display this error message.
507 INSUFFICIENT STORAGE ERROR MESSAGE
This error message is usually generated by the server when a method couldn’t be completed due to it being unable to store and complete a request.
This is similar to the 503 error message in that it usually means that the issue is temporary and that this has come about because of a user interaction with a web app or function on the server.
508 LOOP DETECTED ERROR MESSAGE
This error is usually displayed when there is an infinite loop problem with the server’s configuration and often this is linked to redirects that have been added to the server or web app’s configuration and this infers that the whole process has failed.
511 NETWORK AUTHENTICATION REQUIRED ERROR MESSAGE
When a client need’s to be authenticated by the server in order to access a resource or area on a network then this error is displayed and it will usually displays a link to resource that enables a website visitor to enter their user credentials.
HOW 5XX IS DEALT WITH BY GOOGLE AND OTHER SEARCH ENGINES:
Google doesn’t like 5xx error codes and will commonly lower a site’s rankings or drop it from its index entirely if it comes across them as it stops Google from crawling your site correctly.
So, it is well worth fixing these errors and researching the cause(s) of these 5xx error messages thoroughly. Still, unfortunately, they are often quite difficult errors to fix on a website so it may be worth contacting your developer or web host to get support with fixing them.
However, you must fix 5xx errors as they are such a major factor to Google’s bots that not fixing them, could have serious consequences for your site’s SEO and rankings.
Keep in Mind:
Keep in mind that quite often with WordPress websites, these errors are caused by a plug-in that you’ve used in your site’s development.
A common method of finding out which plug-ins are causing a 5xx error message is to deactivate all of your plug-ins. Then testing the area of the site where the error occurred, and then gradually re-activating plug-ins one by one and testing the problem area on your site after each plug-in as been re-activated.
When the 5xx error message appears again you will have a better idea which plug-in is causing the issue. To get the plug-in to validate, you should seek support from the plug-in’s developer, or you should find a different plug-in that provides the same functionality, but that does validate.
RESOURCES RESTRICTED FROM INDEXING
This will crop up when your server or WordPress site has been set up to not allow a particular resource to be ‘indexed’ which means that if Google comes across this resource, it won’t crawl it and add it to its index.
404 PAGE SET UP CORRECTLY
We’ll test your website for this and tell you whether you’ve correctly configured a 404 error page has been correctly setup.
We’ll test whether your site has a robots.txt file added to the site.
A robots.txt file tells search engines and search engine crawlers which pages & files that it is allowed to crawl or request from your site and this is the industry standard for stopping a site’s resources or content from being crawled.
Adding an XML site map to your site is the best method of ensuring that all of your site’s pages are considered for being included in search engines’ indexes and is a file that contains a list of all pages on your site that a search engine should crawl.
If your website doesn’t currently have an XML site map then often you should create one and add it to your site yourself or, if your site is built with WordPress, you can install a plug-in that generates this automatically.
At We Build The Web we use Yoast SEO usually, and that automatically generates an XML site map for the site.
We recommend that you set up accounts with Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools and submit a link to your site’s XML site map to them so that they crawl and index as much of your site’s content as possible.
When we test your website, we’ll also test for whether the site has any 301 or 302 redirects configured. Too many redirects can slow a website down so we recommend that you use these sparingly.
This section of our reports cover the following redirect tests:
FIXED WWW AND NON-WWW VERSIONS
Google Search Console will view www and non-www versions of your website as completely different sites. Hence, it’s worth deciding whether you want to use www in your domain’s URLs or configuring your site to automatically redirect your site’s links to either use ‘www’ in its links or not to help avoid confusion.
ISSUES WITH HTTP/HTTPS SITE VERSIONS
In our report, we’ll search for whether there are any issues with your site having content with both HTTP and HTTPS content.
We recommend that all sites have SSL installed on their server and that they’ve configured their site to use HTTPS links in all of the site’s resources.
(You may need to get your site’s developer to search your WordPress website’s database to change any HTTP links to an HTTPS link instead)
PAGES WITH 302 REDIRECT
We’ll tell you how many 302 redirects your site uses. A 302 redirect means that a page or resource on a site has been temporarily moved to a new location.
PAGES WITH 301 REDIRECT
We’ll tell you how many 301 redirects your site uses. A 301 redirect means that a page or resource on a site has been moved permanently to a new location.
PAGES WITH LONG REDIRECT CHAINS
If a page or resources has numerous redirects added to it then this is called a redirect chain. We’ll test for this and let you know if you have any of these.
PAGES WITH META REFRESH
We’ll test for an inform you if any of the pages on your website have a META refresh tag added to any of your pages.
PAGES WITH REL= “CANONICAL”
rel=” canonical” elements are used by webmasters and developers to prevent duplicate content issues. The rel=” canonical” link is the preferred location of the source of the content.
ENCODING AND TECHNICAL FACTORS
We’ll test your site for issues relating to encoding and other technical factors including:
WHETHER YOUR SITE IS ‘MOBILE-FRIENDLY’
If there are elements in your site that are obviously troublesome to display on mobile devices then we will flag this up.
HOW MANY OF YOUR SITE’S PAGES HAVE MIXED CONTENT ISSUES
When testing your site, if your site has an SSL certificate installed, then we’ll check whether any of your site’s pages have non-https links used in the site’s code and content.
PAGES WITH MULTIPLE CANONICAL URLs
We’ll test for whether any of your site’s pages contain multiple canonical URL’s added to them.
For more information about canonical URL’s check this website…
PAGES WITH FRAMES
We’ll test your site for any frames used on them.
PAGES WITH W3C HTML ERRORS AND WARNINGS
If you choose to, we can test your site’s HTML for any issues. We use the W3C’s HTML validator.
A lot of WordPress plug-ins don’t necessarily use valid HTML code so if you want to eliminate invalid HTML, then you’ll have to choose your plug-ins carefully.
PAGES WITH W3C CSS ERRORS AND WARNINGS
If you wish to, we can test your site’s CSS for any issues or errors. We use the W3C’s CSS validator to find these issues.
WARNING: The W3C CSS Validator struggles with the newer CSS3 elements that the latest browsers use so this may flag-up problems even if your code is fine.
TOO BIG PAGES
With this test, we’ll find out whether any of your pages are simply too big.
If a URL contains dynamic elements included in it, such as parameters passed to the URL, then this is called a ‘dynamic URL’.
For SEO purposes, it is better to have less of these, and in WordPress websites, you can choose not to use dynamic URL’s.
If you do change the URL’s to use words rather than parameters in WordPress, your site will use the page’s title words in the URL which is better for SEO if you use the keywords in the slug. They don’t have to be the same as the page’s title.
TOO LONG URLs
If we discover that any of the links on your site are too long, then we’ll flag that up here.
The links section of the audit we run tells us about possible problems related to internal and external links on the site.
A broken link is when the HTML code of the link is incorrect or doesn’t go anywhere. Usually, this problem arises when the wrong links are used, but it also occurs when the content it’s linking to has been moved, changed, or has been deleted.
PAGES WITH EXCESSIVE NUMBER OF LINKS
Having too many links to other websites on a page can harm your SEO and will be seen as ‘spammy’ by search engines.
The audit we run will tell us how many pages have too many links on them.
DOFOLLOW EXTERNAL LINKS
Dofollow links can be useful when you add them to high-quality content that is related to the subject of the text on your page and is almost seen as a vote or vouching for the site that you’re linking to.
However, too many do-follow external links might harm a site’s SEO. This is because do-follow links drain the SEO benefit acquired by sites linking to you.
You can get plug-ins for your website that change all of the site’s do-follow links to no-follow links which will rectify this problem.
This section on the report displays any issues your site has with images, and whether there are any apparent improvements, you can make to your site’s images.
When an image links to an image file that doesn’t exist, it is called a broken image and will show an icon with any text you added to the image’s ‘alt’ element.
EMPTY ALT TEXT
Alt-text is an attribute in an HTML image tag that only displays when an image link is broken or if a user has images switched off or are using a text-only browser.
Alt text should be added to every image on a website as it helps with SEO and the quality rating that search engines give every page that they crawl. Alt text should be a suitable replacement when an image isn’t being displayed.
This section provides details of on-page factors that can affect SEO.
EMPTY TITLE TAGS
The title tag is placed in the head of the website’s HTML and is the title of the page that search engines usually use when they display a page in their search engine results pages (SERP’s).
Every page on your site should have a title tag, and if you can, you should try and use the search terms that you’d like to rank on in that title tag for maximum SEO value.
Each page on your site should be unique for SEO purposes, and this test will flag up if you’ve got duplicate title tags used in your website.
TOO LONG TITLES
This test will flag up any pages with too long a title used in its title tag.
As a general rule, Google will typically display the first 50–60 characters of a title tag. If you keep your titles under 60 characters, you can expect about 90% of your titles to display correctly.
EMPTY META DESCRIPTION
Every page on your site should have a META description tag added to it. This META description is often used in search engine results pages (SERP’s).
This test will show how many mages have an empty META description.
We recommend writing a META description as if you’re writing an accurate & unique description of your specific page as it’s going to be used to help attract clicks from a search engine’s results page.
TOO LONG META DESCRIPTION
This test in the audit will tell you how many META descriptions across your site have META descriptions that are too long. It used to be said that you should keep a META description below 155-160 characters. These days Google has increased how many characters it will display, and we recommend that you keep them under 300 characters.
This section of the audit relates to international sites and those that contain multiple languages so most people will be able to skip these details.
This test will tell you how many languages are set up on your website.
PAGES WITH HREFLANG ELEMENTS
Hreflang tags are a technical element designed to be used on websites that have similar content in different languages. If you’re interested in finding out more about this, then we recommend visiting this site.
INCORRECT LANGUAGE CODES
This test will flag up when a site has wrong language codes.