Site Auditing and Tools

Site Auditing and Tools – Part One

by Dave Curtis on 09/24/2012

in copywriting,Every Day SEO,Forensic Analytics,marketing,Site Auditing

SEO Audit

Site Audits are Nothing New

I won’t ever be popular with the younger SEOs because they’re all selling automated tools on their sites to even more “young” “nube” SEOs on their own sites. I like the tools, I think they do a fine job, but I’m not looking for any all in one tools where only 2 of the suite of 8 are any good. I’m a “plug it in one at a time – get the best one that does the best job, and create my own suite” kind of guy.” ~David Curtis

  Site Audits! Every SEO has performed them. There IS no SEO without an audit because it’s the FIRST step in performing SEO. While you can optimize a web site mechanically by performing steps in a list, without some sort of an audit the work would be done blind. Too much work would be done in one area, not enough in another, and all without regard to the strengths or weaknesses of the competition.

Site audits are like report cards in that they tell you where your sites are strong and where they’re weak. But just like report cards, they only report on the specific points being measured. Site audits won’t tell you whether your site’s content is excellent or just mediocre, or downright poor… though (based solely on a site audit’s data) some of the indicators will be higher or lower in part depending upon the quality of the content on the site.

What Has Changed About SEO Since 2011?

Thankfully (Finally) SEO has grown up to recognize that SEO isn’t about ranking but about value. Sure, sites that are higher in ranking (I don’t mean “page rank” here, I mean search engine return page position [Google page 1, position 1 or Google page 3, position 10 etc – that sort of return page position]) will get more hits and make more sales, but that sort of “Gaming The System“, no matter how it’s done or for what reason just simply won’t work any more. Google started out as an academic search engine to provide valuable and beneficial content to academicians and in that sense it has and hopefully always will remain true to its core values. It is not a shopping search engine. That’s what Pay Per Click is for. Unfortunately for you though, as a business owner, there are at most only 3 top spots available in the paid results for any given set of keyphrases. NOT SO for the organic search results. And THAT’S where SEO has changed. The Google Panda update has efficiently solved the problem of evaluating content quality vs. content jamming to game the search results.

Be that as it may, even if you already have a great web site then SEO and SEO Audits are still vital (and more so now than ever) in helping you to remediate your site’s poor content by helping you find good affordable content writers (that means “you make your money back” in a year and not ten years) and determining what’s wrong with your site structure (the hidden server stuff etc on the back end that your webmaster most often can’t even see) – By the way, I am a certified and experienced (since 2001) network/server/webserver administrator and I do guarantee you that most webmasters are NOT qualified. Webmasters are to SEOs what Interior Decorators are to Structural Engineers. They don’t have the skills.

VARIOUS AND USEFUL WEBSITE AUDITING TOOLS

1) SEARCH ENGINE SIMULATOR – See What The Spiders See

Search Engine Simulator – Use this search engine simulator with selected pages on your site to see what the search engines see. This is similar to the Lynx (text only) web browser (see Lynx installation instructions). You can also install a FireFox plugin that allows you to view pages as text only, but the plugin is somewhat clumsy to configure & reconfigure. You’re better off with Lynx if you have the desire, time and skill to configure and install it.

Screaming Frog Simulator – from their site: “The Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a small desktop program you can install on your PC or Mac which spiders websites’ links, images, CSS, script and apps from an SEO perspective.” 500 URIs free, after that it’s 90 Pounds per year. Screaming Frog also does a more thorough job of adhering to strict search engine follow rules in robots.txt and in nofollows on pages.

What to check: First page content – Make sure there are no flash banners or large images taking the place of text. The first page of your site is the most important. It shouldn’t be loaded with links to every single page, but rather to the most important ones. So you’re going to run the spider to check for what content the search engines see as well as to see what links they see to follow, and remember, internal site link sculpting isn’t a good idea.

2) DOMAIN DOSSIER – How Old, When Does it Expire, Who Owns the Site?

Domain Dossier is part of CentralOps.net’s set of free online network engineering tools. Useful for researching the age and expiration of a site as well as discovering what hosting service and name servers it’s using and often the contact information for the site owner and/or webmaster. Limited to 50 queries per day per IP address.

3) WEBSITE GRADER – Limited Usefulness for Analysis of a few Basic Nuts and Bolts

Website Grader has turned into Marketing Grader. Most interesting are the “Top of the Funnel” results. The Website Grader (previous iteration) was far more diverse and provided a great deal of useful information to quickly identify and repair basic problems. This new grader is only here because (I’m hoping) they may decide to improve upon it.

4) SITE:SEARCH – How Many Pages Are Indexed

Just type site:yoursite.com into the search engine to find out which pages of the site are best indexed. Mostly you’re looking to see that what you want to see is showing up, and (sometimes) what shouldn’t be showing up (such as a plugin directory!) is not. Pay attention to what’s not there that should be so you can investigate what may be wrong with the page.

5) CACHED PAGES – Making Sure Everything That Should Be There is, and Keep an Eye Out For What Shouldn’t

Check Cached Pages

You’ll click on the Cached version, and then choose the text only view. You can see the link (below) on the cached version of the page on the right hand side where it says “text version”.

6) GOOGLE WEBMASTER TOOLS – See what the Masters have to say

Google Webmaster Tools – A robust set of tools that will help you with helping determine problems with any site you’re working on.


There’s a lot of redundancy and overlap amongst these tools, so you’ll have to try them and compare them against one another to see which you like most and how you work best.

Part Two of this Post will cover more of the basic “easy” stuff: robots.txt check, 301 redirects, external javascript / css checks, frames, alt tags, external links, ranks and types, metadata (descriptions etc), broken links, title tags, Google Analytics check (where applicable), server status (page load times etc included here), HTML errors and subdirectory checks, dynamic URL checks, sitemap check and likely a few other areas if I can fit them within 1,000 words or less. If not then there will be parts 3 and 4 (for some coverage of the more in depth things I’ve left out).

AS A (SEMI) FINAL NOTE (IN PART ONE, ANYWAY)

Some of you who’ve known me a while aren’t used to me writing much. That’s changing now due to a few things that have made it possible for me to spend more time focusing on my own business SEO site, so expect to see more articles here on a fairly regular basis from now on.

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