The Live Site Clinic was another interesting part of the webmaster conference (full notes).
Adam Lasnik, along with members of the Search Quality team at Google, picked up a couple of audience websites and reviewed them live to provide feedback that will help these sites become more accessible and ultimately improve visibility in search engines.
Following are the key areas of a website that were examined during the Site Clinic for potential issue and you too can follow this simple checklist to improve upon your own site or blog.
2. The contact information on your website should be available in plain text and always provide a link from the home page.
3. Make sure a robots.txt file exists on the root directory.
4. The logo image of your site should have proper ALT text – good for graphic accessibility as well as search.
5. Always check for URL canonicalization else you may splitting your PageRank across different pages and this may also lead to tracking issues in Google Analytics. Here’s how to check for canonicalization:
5a. Type your domain with and without www and both links should point to the same URL. So http://labnol.org and http://www.labnol.org will both redirect to http://www.labnol.org/
5b. If you have index.html, index.html and index.php pages on the server, they too should redirect to your preferred domain.
6. Run a query like site:abc.com Viagra to make sure that hackers have not inserted spam links in your content.
7. Always have different feeds for different topics. So if you have a blog, you can have individual feeds for all the categories.
8. Comment moderation in blogs is very essential because if too many comments on a site end up linking to bad neighborhoods, Google may have problems with your site.
9. Google (probably) doesn’t use META description tags for determining organic ranks but it does read this information to know what a page is all about.
10. Adam recommended the following TITLE structure – “Page Title – Category – Site Name”
11. Use the site: and intitle: operator in Google to determine that all web pages on your site have your company name. This is because when people bookmark your pages in the browser or social sites, the title of your site will also be added to the bookmark.
12. Don’t repeat keywords and synonyms in your content.
13. The URL structure doesn’t matter from the perspective of search but clean URLs can give users a clue about the target landing page and hence may get more clicks in search results.
14. If doesn’t matter if have categories or directory names in URLs – just make sure that you follow a consistent URL structure across the website.
15. Don’t use the same images across multiple pages of your site. You should consider including targeted pictures that are very relevant to the content of the page where you are embedding them.
16. Use the Enhance 404 Widget in Google Webmaster Tools to embed a search box on your 404 pages.
17. Don’t do a soft 404 as it might penalize your site in Google.
You can easily check this by observing the HTTP headers. Install Firebug in Firefox, type a URL that points to some non-existent page of your site (e.g. labnol.org/xyz) and see the response code – it should always say 404 Not Found and not 200 OK or something similar.
18. Always block pages (via robots.txt) from Google that contain search results as users don’t want to see another search page in Google search results and this may even invite a penalty.
19. Good links are like votes. They are given consciously.
Also see: Know Everything about a Website