School Website Check List
As part of the Ambitious Minds website audit for schools, the following are checked, corrected, improved or advised upon.
- Title tags should be optimised and unique.
- Your school name should be included in your title tag to improve click-through rates.
- Title tags for pages should be limited to 55-60 characters in order to be fully displayed.
- Important pages have click-through rate optimised titles and meta descriptions to improve your organic traffic, independent of your rankings.
- Pages should be checked for missing page titles and meta descriptions
- On-page content should include primary keyword phrases multiple times, as well as variations and alternate keyword phrases
- Key pages should contain a significant amount of optimised, unique content
- he primary keyword phrase should be contained in the H1 tag
- File names and alt text for images should be optimised to include primary keyword phrases associated with each page
Are URLs descriptive and optimised?
While it is beneficial to include your keyword phrase in URLs, changing your URLs can negatively impact traffic when you do a 301. As such, we typically recommend optimizing URLs when the current ones are really bad or when you don’t have to change URLs with existing external links.
115 characters or shorter – this character limit isn’t set in stone, but shorter URLs are better for usability.
Is the content formatted well and easy to read quickly? Are H tags used? Are images used?
Is the text broken down into easy to read paragraphs?
Good headlines on blog posts
Good headlines go a long way. Make sure the headlines are well written, descriptive and draw users in.
Is the Homepage content optimised?
Does the homepage have at least one paragraph?
There has to be enough content on the page to give search engines an understanding of what a page is about. Based on our experience, we typically recommend at least 150 words.
Check for duplicate content/page titles
There should be one URL for each piece of content
Do URLs include parameters or tracking code? This will result in multiple URLs for a piece of content.
Does the same content reside on completely different URLs? This is often due to content being replicated across different categories.
Search to check for duplicate content
Does the content show up elsewhere on the domain?
Has it been scraped? If the content has been scraped, you should file a content removal request with Google.
Check for “print” pages
If there are “printer friendly” versions of pages, they may be causing duplicate content.
Accessibility & Indexation
Check the robots.txt
Has the entire site, or important content been blocked? Is link equity being orphaned due to pages being blocked via the robots.txt?
XML sitemaps listed in the robots.txt file
XML sitemaps are submitted to Google/Bing Webmaster Tools
Check pages for meta robots noindex tag
Are pages accidentally being tagged with the meta robots noindex command
Are there pages that should have the noindex command applied
Check for 400 errors and 500 page warning errors.
Site architecture and internal linking
100-200 internal page links across a site is a good target, although not a strict rule.
Vertical linking structures
Ensure there are homepage links to category pages and links from those category pages to sub-categories.
Horizontal linking structures
Ensure category pages link to other relevant category pages.
Check indexed pages
Conduct a site search to ascertain how many pages are returned. The homepage should show up first – if it isn’t, there may be issues such as poor site architecture or poor internal linking structures affecting the site.
Links are in content
Check for blocks of links stuck in the content to do internal linking. Good internal anchor text and check for broken links.
Review the number of organic landing pages in Google Analytics
Check that the number of organic landing pages matches with the number of results in a site search. This is often the best view of how many pages are in a search engine’s index that the search engine finds valuable.
Check Google’s cache for key pages
Is your content showing up? Are navigation links present or are there links that aren’t visible on the site?
Search for the school and school terms
Is the homepage showing up at the top, or are correct pages showing up? If the proper pages aren’t showing up as the first result, there could be issues, like a penalty, in play.
Check Google’s cache for key pages
Is the content showing up?
Are navigation links present?
Are there links that aren’t visible on the site?
Carry out a mobile search
Is the web site ‘Responsive’? That is, is it easily viewable on a mobile device – essential for students.
Does your listing have the “mobile friendly” label?
If the answer is no to either of these, it may be costing you organic visits.
The code “301” is interpreted as ” web page moved permanently”. A “301” redirect is the most efficient and Search Engine Friendly method for webpage redirection, and it should preserve your search engine rankings for that particular page. If you have to change file names or move pages around, it’s the safest option.
Redirects should point directly to the final URL and should not leverage redirect chains, as these significantly diminish the amount of link equity associated with the final URL. Google has said that it will stop following a redirect chain after several redirects.
Use of iFrames
Is content being pulled in via iFrames?
Use of Flash
Are large sections of your site built in Flash, or is Flash used sparingly and in a way that doesn’t hinder crawling?
Are XML sitemaps in place? Are they structured to show indexation problems or are they covering for poor site architecture? XML sitemaps should follow proper XML protocols. A canonical version of the site should be established through 301s and specified in Google Webmaster Tools. The relative canonical link tag should be properly implemented across the site and it should point to the correct page.
Review the page load time for key pages to check if it is slow for users or search engines. Conduct a GZip test and ensure that compression and caching are enabled.
Optimize images for the web
Images often account for most of the downloaded bytes on a web page and also often occupy a significant amount of visual space. As a result, optimizing images can often yield some of the largest byte savings and performance improvements for your website: the fewer bytes the browser has to download, the less competition there is for the client’s bandwidth and the faster the browser can download and render useful content on the screen.
Ensure analytics tracking code is on every page and that it is properly tracking and capturing internal searches. Are there pages that should be blocked? Ensure demographics tracking is set up and that internal IP addresses are excluded.
This audit covers the main technical elements of a school web site and will help us uncover any issues that are holding a site back. As with any project, the deliverable is critical. We’ve found focusing on the solution and impact is the best approach for site audit reports. While it is important to outline the problems, too much detail here can take away from the recommendations.