When was the last time you gave your website a comprehensive health and maintenance check? Whether you are about to launch a new site or your site is a few months or years old, your site can benefit from a fresh health check and help set a benchmark for later comparisons.

Similar to any other maintenance, you want to be sure that the basic and complex components of your website are in working order.  On a car, you might check the tire pressure, oil and coolant levels, the wear on engine belts, the suspension, body, and aesthetic damages. At the doctor, you might monitor weight, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, general health, and check preventive measures to ensure small issues don't turn into larger problems. The same is true for your website.

While you may not be able to fix everything on your own, it’s good to know as a site owner (or car owner or patient) what needs to be corrected and how it fits into the overall health and performance.

The following is a comprehensive list of checkpoints and questions for you and your webmaster to review.  For each question, a site with good health would answer ‘yes’.

1. The Basics

These are the absolute fundamentals for your website to be indexed (recognized by search engines) and tools that help you monitor site health and performance. 

CheckpointQuestion 1Question 2
Webmaster Tools (WMT) Accounts Is Google WMT set up? Is Bing WMT set up?
Current XML sitemap uploaded to site Has it been submitted to Google through GWMT? Has it been submitted to Bing through BWMT?
Robots Exclusion Protocol (REP) Does the robots.txt entice search engines to crawl / index site pages?  Are pages like login portals & other pages not intended for users blocked in robots.txt?
Website Credibility Does the site have a high Domain Authority?  
Page Titles Are they unique, relevant to the page, and include the company name? Are they 65 characters or less in length?
Meta Descriptions Are they unique and are a brief description of the page content? Are between 70 and 155 characters in length?
Analytics Are tracking codes present all pages that ought to be tracked? Are they placed in the appropriately before the closing head tag?

2. Site Speed

Site speed and PageSpeed measure how long it takes for website or page to load.  You can use the Site Speed report in Google Analytics or Google PageSpeed Insights tool to determine if your site load time is hindering the user experience.                       

CheckpointQuestion 1Question 2
Avg. Page Load Time Is the average Page Load Time 3 or fewer seconds? Is it consistent across browser types?
PageSpeed Is performance without significant issues for Desktop experiences? Is performance without significant issues for Mobile experiences?

3. Is Your Site Mobile-Friendly?

Google announced that on April 21 there will be a significant mobile update to its search algorithm (read more about it here.)  Additionally, poor mobile experiences can deter potential customers from returning to your site on either a mobile device or on a desktop. Try the Mobile Friendly tool to test individual URLs or see an aggregate of site pages with mobile usability issues under the Mobile Usability report in your Google Webmaster Tools account.                                    

CheckpointQuestion 1Question 2
Mobile Friendliness Is my homepage mobile friendly? Are pages in my top navigation mobile friendly?
Mobile Usability Are 1st level deep pages (domain/category/category) mobile friendly? Are article/blog/news pages mobile friendly?
Mobile Usability Are site pages free of mobile usability issues?  

4. Page Content

On-page content is important, because through it you communicate to your audience whether it’s to satisfy a question or aid in a purchase decision. It is also the foundation by which search engines determine how relative your site or page is a to given search query.  These checkpoint items help search engines to find and understand your site’s content.                                                                         

CheckpointQuestion 1Question 2
Page Copy Depth Do 1 - 3 paragraphs of text exist on the home page? Do interior pages have sufficient text to communicate to visitors its purpose?
Copy Relevance Is the copy on a page relevant to the subject discussed? Is it focused around a central theme?
Image Text Do images have page-relevant alt-txt attributes? Do images have page-relevant title attributes?
Header Tags Are h1s, h2s, etc. used to indicate sections of the page content? Do headers in place follow correct parent-child relationship?
Internal Links Are there in-copy links to other useful and related pages from your website or other web sources? Are there no broken links (internal or external) that exist in the copy?
Structured Data Markup Is schema.org markup appropriately in place within the page content?  
Redirects Do old site page URLs 301 redirect to relevant page URLs on the new site? Do no-longer existing page URLs 301 redirect to a relevant existing URL?

5. Duplicate Content

Having duplicated content on your website makes it difficult for search engines to understand which page is relevant for related search queries.  Duplicate content can refer to bodies of text copy, page titles, meta descriptions or even content that exists on another website. Run a site crawl to:                                      

CheckpointQuestion 1Question 2
Duplicate Meta Data Do 0 pages exist with the same page title? Do 0 pages exist with the same meta description?
Duplicate Page Copy Do 0 pages exist with the same copy?  
URL Attributes Do page variations (e.g. trailing slash URLs, print-friendly versions) use canonicalization pointing to the dominant URL? Do pages URLs within a paginated series divided using rel=”next” and rel=”prev” attributes?

6. Your Site's Backlink Profile

Backlinks pointing to your site act like ‘votes’ for your website and pass on credibility to your site.  It is the word of mouth advertising of the digital space.  And similar to word of mouth recommendations, the value of that ‘vote’ is dependent on the credibility of the source.                   

CheckpointQuestion 1Question 2
Page Credibility Are Page Authority & external link metrics at acceptable levels? Is there about 10:1 ratio between total links and root domains?
Backlink Metrics Is there a variety of backlinks, referring domains, and anchor text pointing to site? There aren’t any sudden spikes or drops in my backlink history?

7. Social

Connections on social platforms with customers and potential customers can largely influence traffic to your site and conversions.  It’s an opportunity through which a company can engage and interact with their customers.                                                

CheckpointQuestion 1Question 2
Social Icons Are social icons clearly visible on my website? Is there a social share capability on product pages, blog posts, articles, videos and other useful content?
Social Shares Are visitors sharing content from my site? Are visitors sharing social posts on social
Social Profile Is the company information up to date and accurate? Are photos, posts, and other profiles regularly updated with fresh content?
Customer Engagement Do we (the company) actively reply to comments on posts and photos? Do we (the company) actively respond to questions or reviews posted?

It’s important to know the health status of your website, regardless of where it is in its life cycle and to continually conduct periodic checkups just like you would for vehicle maintenance or for your own personal health.

Some items from this list you’ll be able to troubleshoot and fix yourself and some may require the help of your digital team.  No matter your technical savvy level, as a website owner it’s important to understand what needs to be fixed in order to achieve your business’ goals. Use this post as a checklist now and for future checkups.

Don't get caught with gaps in your website when you can easily address them now. Good luck!