A quick and effective website healthcheck
I often get asked to review the websites of businesses. Many website owners genuinely don't know if their website has been well made. One of the first things I do is to test their website pages using the tools that I am going to share with you below. They are fun, easy to use and extremely helpful - so please use them too to get a good idea how well your website is doing.
I specialize in building websites to high standards - so if you would like help with your website please add a comment below or contact me directly. Be sure to copy and paste your website test results for me to see.
Is your website error free?
Input any webpage url and the W3C Markup validation service will point out the HTML, CSS or XML coding errors.
Why fix coding errors? At time of writing, Google.com throws up 23 HTML validation errors. Furthermore HTML errors are usually invisible to the end user - I have seen webpages that throw up hundreds of HTML errors without having any noticeable affect when browsing the webpage. So why bother? Apart from demonstrating a healthy website, having a page free of errors makes for a more stable website that is easier to maintain and easier to upgrade.
How fast is your website
Google Pagespeed tool is simple enough to use and understand. Plug in your url and Google will calculate the speed with which your page loads on both mobile devices and PC - even going as far as highlighting where you can speedup your page loading times. Implementing the changes can be tricky and you will require a web designer with knowledge of htaccess, servers and xml (like me). As a ball park estimate, anything over 80/100 is a good Pagespeed. Under 50 and you have problems to resolve.
The importance of Page speed? Simply put - if your page is slow, visitors will go elsewhere.
Eyeball your webpage for keyword optimization
Each webpage should be optimized for 1 keyword or keyphrase. Over-simplifying the on-page optimization process slightly, you should check that the the keyphrase appears in the page url, the browser page title, the on-page title and within the page.
Why optimise a website? On-page optimization is about clearly communicating to search engines what your page is about. It helps search engines to index your webpages correctly and plays key apart in driving visitors to your website.
Is your website mobile ready?
Does your website have a responsive design or a mobile website? Use Google's mobile friendly tool to test if your site is deemed suitable for mobile users.
Why is responsive so important? Mobile traffic accounts for around 30% of internet usage and rising. If your website is not mobile ready then you are missing out on a large proportion of your market. Furthermore, Google sees time spent on a website an increasingly important indicator to the true value of a website. If mobile users reach your website and immediately leave, this will be taken as a clear signal by Google to stop sending mobile traffic to your site.
Website and server performance
Pingdom is a paid service (with free trials) that monitors your website downtime (how often it is off-line due to server problems/maintenance) and server speed. Many hosting companies accept the server speed data as an unbiased industry standard - I have used it on occasions to request free server upgrades. Like the many of the other tools in this post, Pingdom is easy to use and intuitive - sign up for a free trial, plug in your homepage url and enjoy.
Why downtime is important? Do you really know when, how often and for how long your site disappears? If you are Europe-based but targeting the US, the last thing you want is a server that goes down for maintenance each night whilst you are asleep but your US clients are trying to logon.
Server downtime and server response time vary from one hosting company to another and even within hosting companies. If your website is slow, often the main cause is server response time. Requesting an upgrade to a better server will may well solve your problem.
6 in 1 Pagerank, Alexa and moz rank checker
PRchecker.net offer a six-in-one tool that checks your Pagerank, Moz Rank, Alexa rank, SEMrush rank, Page Authority and Website worth. Plug in your URL and you will get back all six results along with a badge to display on your webpage should you need it. Many people continue to use PageChecker.info, though this does not provide the additional info that our 6 in 1 checker offfers and you have to make the additional step of adding a captcha.What is your Google PageRank™?
Your website's Pagerank - a number from 0 (low) - 10 (high). PageRank is an algorithm used by the Google web search engine to rank websites in their search engine results.
Why is PageRank important? along with Alexa, PageRank provides a fairly accurate indication of a website's importance across the web.
Check your Domain Authority?
Domain Authority was devised by Moz to predict how a website will perform in search engine rankings. Domain authority is a score from 00 (low) to 100 (high), calculated by using a range of metrics including the number linking root domains, number of total links to your website, MozRank, MozTrust. You can use it to compare your website against competitors, and to track your marketing and SEO progress over time.
Test your website's structured Markup
Schema.org Markup is a relatively new SEO tool, brought about by a rare collaboration between search engines Google, Bing (Microsoft) and Yahoo. Schema Markup is used to provide enhanced search engine results by showing additional information such as product pictures, star ratings, product prices, dates and even events. Websites using Schema markup stand out against competitors in search engine results which can greatly improve your website's click-through rate.
Without any technical knowledge, the easiest way to see if your website is using Schema, is to input your homepage URL into Google's Structured Data Testing Tool. The results will show what your webpage may look like in search.
Click here to see the how one of our product pages looks with correct Markup.
Fix broken links
BrokenLinkCheck finds all broken links on your website - helping you plug the cracks in your website, and prevent link juice from seeping away.
Why fix broken links? Broken links give the impression of a sloppily-made, old and poorly maintained website, as well as frustrating users. Google specify in their webmaster guidelines that broken links should be fixed.
How many versions of your homepage
Open two separate browser windows and type in your domain with and without the "www", for example - http://www.yoursitename.com and http://yoursitename.com. How many versions of your website do you have?
Why www / non-www is important? It doesn't generally matter if your site is at http://www.yoursitename.com or http://yoursitename.com. But it should not be at both, or you are essentially showing 2 versions of the same site to Google, which may cause duplicate content issues and dilute the Pagerank of your web pages.
Input any webpage url into Alexa to find an estimate of the number of backlinks to the site. With varying degree of accuracy, Alexa will also rate your website on a host of other other metrics including country rank and website traffic.
Why backlinks are important? As a rule of thumb, the more links pointing to a website, the more importance search engines will give to that website, and the more traffic it is likely to receive due to people clicking the links to visit the website. There are large variations in the perceived weight attached to each link. Links from larger sites, and from industry leading websites are viewed as far more important by search engines than links from small sites that are irrelevant to your own industry/ sector.
How authorative and trusted is your website?
Open Site Explorer from moz will tell you how domain authority, page authority as well as information on the websites linking into your own website. As an overall off-page seo health check, it gives a good overall view of your websites standing on the WWW.
Why is authority important? As a web designer, SEO or website owner,you should be continually working to raise the profile of a website across the web in general. Performed correctly and you will drive more traffic to your website and move towards dominating your online niche. Open Site provides valuable information and statistics to monitor your progress and focus your efforts in the places that really add value - high ranking, trusted websites with strong domain authority.
Get the view of a professional web designer
Criticue.com is an online community where you can request a web design review from other startup founders, entrepreneurs and web designers. You will get out of Criticue what you put in. Submit an informed, high quality reviews of other websites, and you will be rewarded with good feedback on your own sites. For one site you review, you get one review of your own website. The more feedback you post, the more feedback you receive. Criticue stands out for me as being very super-smooth, super-simple (in the good sense) and high quality unbiased feedback. You can request also specific feedback on one area such as logo, seo or usability.
Why get a second opinion? Ever worked on a project for so long that you lose site of objectives or overlook details? Criticue allows you to get an unbiased view of from a fellow web professional who is not afraid to say what they think (you will never meet this person) and who will viewing your web design for the first time with a completely fresh set of eyes and a clear mind.
Get a complete report on your website
Nibbler and it's paid, pro, bigger sister version Sitebeam are website review tools. They review your webpages using many of the metrics discussed above and give back a clear, tight report. Sitebeam will even test often overlooked aspects such as spelling and css link hover/visited/active differences. I found the broken links tool to be incorrect - I was awarded 0/10, despite having no broken links on my web site. This is not a problem as you can turn off any metric and re-score your website.
Similar but less powerful to Nibbler, Woorank will give your webpage an overall health check. The free version allows you to test one page a day. In my own experience, it does have the habit of throwing up irrelevant or incorrect issues, but is useful for picking up on aspects you may have overlooked whilst developing a website.
Do you dominate your search engine results page?
This is a major topic and covered in other blogs right on this website, so I wont just outline several key points here. Type into Google your brand name and see what comes up. You should have clearly communicated titles and descriptions about who you are and what you do. Your Google Authorship avatar showing to the left of your page listing will improve your click-through rate and give you an added advantage over competitors on the same results page. If you are a local business, you should also see a Google Map showing your location and company info courtesy of your Google My Business listing.
On the most part I probably spend less than a minute on each tool when developing a website, though the feedback they give is invaluable in cultivating a best practice approach and creating great websites. I am interested to hear what other web designers thoughts are and any tools that you use checking websites.
If you have any questions about this tutorial, or would like help with your own website please ask below or let us kick start your website and grow your online business: