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E-Marketing Performance Blog

Don’t Roll It Out Yet! Three Checks Before Your Optimized Site is Ready to Go Live

When you deal with big projects, it is often easy to overlook small things along the way. It’s not that anyone is cutting corners, but rather some small detail gets overlooked. Sometimes even the smallest details can matter a great deal!

Web developers and SEOs often focus on the bigger picture but forget to do what we learned in Algebra: check your work.

If you’re a developer, you want to make sure the sight design looks just right and all the pieces align visually. You might also want to make sure some basic title tags are in place that accurately represent each page. SEOs need to look at things like keyword research, great keyword integration into the copy, writing keyword rich title tags, getting links and so on.

But for both web developers and SEOs, it’s the small things that can often sink a ship the fastest. Here are the three most commonly overlooked tasks when uploading new or changed content to your website:

Forgetting to Check Spelling and Grammar

More times than I can count, I’ve made only minor edits to a page only to later realize I left behind some glaring spelling or grammatical errors. It was such a small change and my quick review didn’t spot anything wrong, but sure enough, it was there. Large changes or small, errors are inevitable.

I’ve also seen new site’s roll out from the developers with spelling or grammar errors galore. Nothing wreaks unprofessionalism more than misspeled words and grammer on the site errors. Fortunately, most people will give you a pass or won’t notice a single mistake or two. But make any moore then that and you look fool!

Bottom line: spell check every change. When you add new content, update content, reword content or even remove content, a few added minutes checking your spelling and grammar pays off. Plus, you’ll save embarrassment from having someone else point it out to you, or worse, not tell you, causing it to stay on your site for weeks, months or even years!

Overlooking HTML Validation

Validating your code is not entirely important for optimization, but it will ensure that there are no coding problems that can prevent search engine spiders from properly indexing your pages.

If you’ve ever gone through the process of validating your code you have likely encountered many “errors” that really have no effect on how a page displays in your browser or the search engine’s ability to “read” the page’s content. A lot of the “errors” in HTML are completely innocuous and sometimes even pointless. Is it really worth it to add alt attributes to every image on your site, even if they are blank?

The answer to that (along with all the other sometimes inane validation errors that pop up) is: absolutely! It might take some time with the first pass validating each page, but getting those errors down to zero (or as few as possible) is worthwhile in the long run.

Why?

First, unless you run a validation check, you won’t know if you have any serious problems with the code that need to be resolved. Your code may be spiderable, but you need to know if there are any errors that might prevent the search engines from analyzing it properly.

Second, once your code is validated, after making any new change, you can quickly see if new, potentially harmful validation errors pop up. If you leave code unvalidated, you may change something that creates one or more potentially harmful validation errors and never really know about it.

Keeping pages validated eliminates a chunk of SEO guesswork.

Failing to Fix Those Damn Broken Links

Like spelling errors, broken links happen quite easily, and often without you doing anything on your end at all.

Internal broken links can happen when you or your developer move, rename or delete pages of content. Such changes require going through and changing all internal links. Don’t just stop at the navigation; be sure to specifically look for any in-content links.

External broken links happen when a site or page your are linking to has moved or gone defunct. The other site may have redesigned and moved pages around and not captured the traffic with a 301 redirect (all bad!).

Regardless of what they have done, you want to make sure you don’t send your visitors off to someplace that doesn’t exist. That makes a pretty significant statement about your ability to keep your information current and up to date (all bad x2!).

If you run a broken link check regularly (every 1-2 months), that will help you find and fix these types of errors.

While these issues generally won’t have a significant impact on your SEO campaign (with the exception of serious coding issues), they are nonetheless important. SEO is, in large part, about credibility. The less credible your site is due to broken links, spelling and grammar errors, etc., the less likely you are to get links, which help improve your credibility in the search algorithms.

Once each of these checks are performed and issues fixed, upkeep from that point doesn’t take much time at all. But the benefit of performing these checks can be substantial. When you lose credibility with your visitors, you also lose credibility with the search engines.

The goal in SEO is to develop the best site possible and give your visitors reasons to consider your site the most authoritative. More of that is always good for business.

Follow at @StoneyD, and @PolePositionMkg.

Stoney G deGeyter

Stoney deGeyter is the author of The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!. He is the founder and CEO of Pole Position Marketing, a web presence optimization firm whose pit crew has been velocitizing websites since 1998. In his free time Stoney gets involved in community services and ministries with his “bride enjoy” and his children. Read Stoney’s full bio.

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