Sitemares… Are your website's guts in a turmoil?

a person holding their stomach with both handsHow good is your housekeeping? Is your website as clean as a whistle, free from errors and broken links, without any on-site issues? Or are its poor guts in a turmoil? 
I thought I was  pretty good housekeeper until my SEO Consultant husband Tony took a look at my site. As it turns out, while it scores high in some respects it’s far from perfect in others.
Some issues are down to WordPress plugins, others are my own silly fault. If, like me, you haven’t checked your website’s insides for ages, it’s probably high time you bit the bullet.

On-site optimisation – Why bother with fixes?

You could leave your site to gently deteriorate and take the consequences on the chin. But thousands and thousands of new websites come online every day and whatever your sector, it’s highly likely the competition is heating up, with more and more businesses chasing page one Google positions. The way search engines work is in a  constant state of flux, too. You may have applied best practice in the first place, but the guidelines might have changed.
While they don’t all affect your site’s visibility directly, fixing on-site optimisation issues should help you stand above the hoi polloi… she says, having become one of the hoi polloi herself!
So what’s wrong with my site? Tony analysed data from several sources to pinpoint my sins, and this is what he discovered.

On-site fixes identified through Google Webmaster Tools

  • 404 Errors x 184 – These need to be examined to find out why they’re happening, and I need to put redirects in place wherever appropriate.
  • Sitemap issues – Lots of issues with my XML sitemap(s). Of 808 pages submitted, only 62 have been indexed.
  • Structured data – There are 399 errors in 399 entry items. They need fixing, and – slap on the legs – I should make better use of Structured Markup. Duh.

Fixes identified by IIS SEO Analysis

  • 7092 ‘violations’ in total
  • Invalid markup x 2,159
  • Broken links x 1,446
  • Missing meta descriptions x 1,336
  • Pages containing unnecessary redirects: 656
  • Page titles too long: 235

Problems identified by Screaming Frog

  • 100 404 Errors
  • 132 duplicate page titles
  • 543 too-long titles, over 65 characters
  • 63 titles fewer than 30 characters
  • 388 titles that’re the same as the H1 tags
  • 1588 missing meta descriptions
  • 4 meta descriptions with fewer than 70 characters
  • 450 duplicate H1 tags
  • 135 images with no ALT text

Tony also used SEM Rush, Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools to analyse my natural search positions. As you might expect, my visibility has gone through the floor despite the fact that the site’s full of good quality, relevant content and is updated regularly.
MajesticSEO delivered a trust flow of 28 plus backlinks insight, revealing a total of 1,310 backlinks spread over 106 referring domains and 101 referring IPs. And MOZ OSE revealed a home page domain authority of 25% and a 37% page authority score.

Don’t panic, Mr Mannering

It might seem like a total nightmare. I admit I had a bit of a panic. But it’s entirely possible to fix things, with the help of someone who knows their on-site optimisation ass from their elbow. Thank goodness for my tech-savvy husband!
Will fixing on-site optimisation errors affect my Google SERPs rankings? Only time will tell. But at least I’ll be on a level playing field with diligent competitors who haven’t fallen into the same trap.
The moral of the story? Check your website at least once a year, ideally a lot more often, to identify on-site issues before they turn into sitemares. Lesson learned.

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