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ThermometerTo stay healthy, it’s best to make the annual trip to the doctor, get checked out, say “Ahhh.” In the meantime, there are a host of steps you can take to maintain your health on your own – eating right, exercising, getting proper rest, etc. The health of your website is the same: once a year, you should have a professional audit, a thorough checkup to maintain optimal site performance. But in the meantime, there are steps you can take to ensure you stay healthy.

Some aspects to review during your DIY audit:

Crawling and Indexing Issues

Ensuring Google properly crawls and indexes your website is critical. Log into your Webmaster Tools. ON your dashboard, click Google Index > Index Status > Basic. This will tell you how many URLs Google has indexed. Click Advanced  for more information on how many URLs Google has ever crawled and if any have been blocked by robots. Check your robots.txt file to ensure that any blocked URLs are, indeed, blocked by your choice to enhance your strategy (such as to not have Google crawl or index duplicate content).

Look for an increase in the number of crawled and indexed pages. A decrease may mean that Google cannot properly access your content.

Sitemaps

Your sitemap is just that: a map of your content for Google. Make sure it follows the established protocol and that it is formatted correctly. Compare the URLs that Google has crawled to your sitemap and update if necessary.

Links

It is essential that you keep an eye on your link profile. Do you see any spammy or questionable links? Are there high-quality reputable links? With the rise of negative SEO, it pays to stay on top of your profile, and to cultivate great links from authoritative sources.

On-Page SEO Elements

Now you’ll want to examine your tags and metadata. Quickly:

  • Do you have unique title tags for each page? Do you have any duplicates? Are they relevant and keyword-optimised? Are they between 40 and 69 characters?
  • Do you have solid copy for your meta description tags? Is it relevant to searchers and provide the information they need? Are they 200 characters or fewer?
  • Do you have alt image tags? These help visually impaired searchers, and they play a role in your search engine visibility. Make sure they accurately describe the images.
  • Do you have H tags in the proper places? Do you have H1 for the main headline and subheaders as H2?
  • Do you have relevant, interesting content? This applies to your site copy, as well as to blogs, whitepapers, and other “long-form” pieces.

Speed

Site speed is huge this year, especially with mobile users. Make sure your site is running on all cylinders. Google’s PageSpeed tools are helpful here. When you identify issues, create a strategy to address them and boost performance.

This, of course, is not an exhaustive audit, but you should keep your eye on these types of issues continually.  A professional audit will fill in the gaps and give you a great foundation on which to build over the year.

Server Concept 3

Site speed is critical for optimal performance. Studies show that the average user will wait 6-10 seconds for a page to load – but they’re not going to be happy about it, and many bounce when they encounter even a second or two of delay. One of the ways that you can shave off some time is to opt for a content delivery network, or CDN? How does this work, and is it a good choice for your business and website?

What is a CDN?

Don’t be intimidated: it’s just a network! Typically, when a visitor comes to your site, he is redirected to your webhost server, which could be next door or a half a continent away. When a high volume of visitors sends requests to the server at the same time, it can lead to sluggish load times. CDNs solve tackle this problem on two fronts:

  • CDNs utilize a network of server, reducing the chances that you’ll overload any one server with high volume requests.
  • Visitors are redirected to servers closest to their geographical location, which speeds up the entire process.

Other benefits include:

  • Improved user experience and decreasing bounce rates.
  • Customer retention.
  • Greater network security and reduced risk of crashes.
  • Seamless delivery of content, including video streaming.
  • Removal of global barriers and expansion of reach.
  • Cachable files for reduced load times.

Is there any reason why a CDN is not an optimal solution? Cost is a major issue. It may not be useful for a small business, for instance, to invest in a CDN given the startup costs and maintenance fees. While large companies can save money by serving faster content, the same may not apply to smaller entities.

Another issue is that you’re sharing resources; if other customers within your particular CDN are experience high volumes of traffic, it could impact your load times. And, as always when you introduce more moving parts, there is a risk that there could be failures somewhere along the delivery line. Now, this is true no matter what server option you choose, but it’s something to consider.

Is a CDN right for you? Weigh the increased speed against the cost. Will it provide a solid ROI, or can you get by with a centralised web server? There is no right answer – just the one that will benefit your business most.

Ipad And Iphone

There are more mobile devices on earth than there are people. More than half of us have smartphones, and for half of mobile phone users, their device is their primary internet source. Just one more statistic for you: more than a quarter of all internet searches are conducted on a mobile device. A few years ago, you could get away with a desktop-based site. Not today. To reach your audience, you have to go where they are, and they are on the go. Here are the three ways you can accommodate mobile users.

Separate Mobile Site

With this option, you maintain a desktop version of your site and a separate mobile version. This has a few benefits: you can create a fully customised experience for your users. If, for instance, A/B or multivariate testing reveals your mobile users prefer infinite scrolling while your desktop users like vertical. You can also pare down your “big” version and create a simplified, streamlined mobile site that loads faster. Another plus is that you can employ HTML5 and other technologies without having to worry about compatibility.

Why not opt to create a separate mobile site? Well, it costs more, and that’s certainly a big consideration. Another issue is that if you have users who rely on both traditional and mobile versions (think of an Amazon shopper who likes to search for gifts at a coffee shop and then purchase at home), they may dislike having two separate experiences. It may create a disconnect and reduce the efficacy of the mobile site. Think about SEO, too. While having a separate site does not have to hurt your rank,  you will have to be on top of your redirects to make sure.

Dynamic Serving

With this option, you use the same URL, regardless of what type of device is attempting to access your website. So, how does a site load optimally for, say, a desktop, an iPhone, and a Galaxy? The specific devices employ User Agents. When the user agents request the site from the server, the server delivers the correct HTML for that particular device. This is beneficial because you only need one URL.

On the downside, Google  may not recognize the mobile HTML set, so you have make sure that you point the content out to the bots. The bots will need to crawl the content with different user agents, and redirecting them can be tricky. Check out Google’s help page for more information on that, if you choose dynamic serving. Another issue is that you have to continually update user agent strings for new mobile devices as they come on the market. Finding this information can be difficult, especially when the devices are brand new.

Responsive Web Design

This is the method that web design experts typically recommend. The website uses only one URL and responds to the type of device on which it is viewed. All devices read the same HTML. How does it work? CSS changes the page dimensions and the layout to fit smaller screens. Googlebot and Googlebot Mobile need to be able to crawl your CSS, Javascript, and images, and this reconfiguration process is automatic. No page redirects mean sites load faster; there is just one URL; and bots can crawl more efficiently and index more often; and mobile experiences are the same as desktop. This can be a big plus for many users who want that continuity.

The downside is cost and technical difficulty. Responsive web design is highly technical in terms of implementation, so an experienced web developer is an invaluable asset.

How are you going mobile?

Site owners have been moving to mobile access in droves, and with good reason. Statistically speaking, mobile viewers are the only significant part of the population, and leaving them out of the equation just isn’t a good idea these days. Going mobile, though, isn’t just a matter of clicking here and there. It takes some real work to convert your site to a mobile friendly browsing popularity machine, and there’s a good chance you’re going to encounter a few obstacles along the way.

One of the biggest mobile conversion obstacles you may come across is screens size factor. Keep in mind that mobile design no longer just means a tiny smartphone screen instead, your site must respond to those looking at it on a smartphone, those looking at it on a tablet, and those who view it on a tablet in landscape mode. Ensuring it looks great no matter what the screen size is an absolute must.

Your images are another huge conversion obstacle. Images are supposed to automatically resize, but that doesn’t always work well. An image that looks great on a 24 inch screen doesn’t always look fantastic on that same 4 inch smartphone. What’s more, though, is that those images can affect your load times across various devices. The smaller resolution images load faster and look good on small screens, but on the larger display, it may look ineffective.

One other note you may want to make before you start converting is that simply testing isn’t enough with mobile conversion. You have to test in different browsers, across different platforms, and even across real world devices. There are no shortcuts when it comes to looking at how things might work out on a customer’s device.

As you move toward mobile, your best bet is always to go mobile first, designing for those smaller screens before you think about anything else. Mobile is essential, but don’t expect it to be trouble-free.

You know your site could be doing more every single day. From a higher traffic volume to better CTRs, it could be working harder for you, right? Wondering how to make sure it gets there? Many look to an SEO audit, but if the concept alone seems confusing, you’re certainly not alone.

What is an SEO Audit?

Every process of your business is examined and evaluated periodically, right? It’s the only way to make certain that your business is moving forward. When was the last time  you offered the same careful evaluation to your website? Some businesses build it then just sit back and wait for the visitors to come. Sites just don’t work that way anymore, and if yours isn’t well optimised, easy to navigate, and offering the level of content visitors want to see, you’re missing out. An SEO audit looks at all of those factors and more.

SEO Audits 101

So, what exactly does an SEO audit look at? It takes a closer look at your tag optimisation, both on and off page. It also looks at broken links and dead pages. Additionally, it ensures your site can be indexed by the search engines, factors in the link profile compared to your competitors, and tests your site’s speed.

Can I Handle It?

An SEO audit isn’t necessarily hard, unless you’re (a) pressed for time, or (b) SEO challenged. If you’re not sure what any of the terms mean or even how to begin checking for dead links on site, it’s probably time to enlist a bit of professional help. This is particularly true if you think you have much bigger problems, because you may need someone to handle a custom audit that’s a bit tough to tackle on your own.