Having a search engine friendly site is an essential building block for all your search engine marketing. In the past I’ve even made the argument that an ability to code is the most important seo skill you can possess. What do you do, though, if seo site development isn’t your strongest skill?
Via Marketing Pilgrim I discovered SEMCheck, a new site claiming to analyze your site the same way the search engines do. SEMCheck will monitor:
- Custom 404 Pages
- Deep-nested Site Hierarchies
- Alternate Domain Availability
- Domain.com to www.Domain.com Redirects
- Dynamic URLs
- Home Page Redirects
- Flash/Splash Home Pages
- HTML Validation
- HTTPS Link Splitting
- Virtual Hosting
- Server Status
- Text Link Sitemaps
- Index/Supplemental Content Status
- Available Typo Domains
- Unique Description Tags
- Unique Title Tags
- Maximum Links Per Page
- Web Directories
- Google Cloaking
- Image ALT Tags
If you happen to be a search friendly site developer you might look at the above list and wonder why you need to use an automated site audit. Most of what SEMCheck is monitoring is fairly standard, but an independent check can sometimes find problems in the details you might have missed. It’s happened to me before and I assume it will happen to me again.
It’s also nice to be able to run an audit for a new client or for a site you’re thinking about taking on as a client. A lot of these checks can be quite tedious and having them done for you will save time. Of course if you’re like me you like manually checking many of the above since it helps you learn the site as you go.
There is one catch. Each audit will run you $50. If you click through to the Marketing Pilgrim post I linked to above, Andy has a link allowing you to get one free audit. I had hoped to have a report of my site prior to posting so I could share my thoughts, but the server is running a little slow with all the requests and I’m still waiting. When the report does come in I’ll update this post.
Until then have a look at the sample report on the SEMCheck site. The information looks generally good, though again much of it is basic information and as with any automated check of your site you shouldn’t blindly follow every recommendation. SEMCheck might advise getting rid of your subdirectory that’s 4 levels deep, but you may have a good reason for having 4 levels to your site structure for example.
If you are looking for a quick way to check client sites or if search engine friendly development is a foreign language you might want to spend the $50 for an audit of your site to help identify potential problems.
SEMCheck seems like a good idea and I’ll be interested in seeing how it grows over time. No automated audit will replace a full scale manual site analysis, but the automated check can be a quick initial test for the experienced and a way to better understand where your site might be at odds with search engines for the less experienced.
At the very least follow the link at Marketing Pilgrim and run the free audit to decide for your self.
Update: The report came in and I’ve had a chance to look at it. I’ll stick with my thoughts above and say the value here will depend on who you are and what skills you have and why you want the report. For example I didn’t need an audit to know I don’t use frames on my site or that I haven’t overused Flash. Someone not understanding why either is an issue might find the information helpful.
On a more positive note the audit did help me find and correct an error in the code for a link that I’ve fixed.
And as I mentioned the advice does need to be taken with a grain of salt. For example based on the permalinks WordPress uses to rewrite URLs many pages of this blog appear to be more than 3 levels deep when in fact they aren’t. Were I to take the advice I might spend time needlessly working out a new site architecture.
I’d like to see how SEMCheck evolves. I think there’s a lot of potential here to present some useful information for the less experiences and to save time for the more experienced. I probably won’t be ordering a report in the near future, since the information provided is easy enough for me to find on my own. That might easily change in the future as the tool develops. There is quite a lot of potential here and if you haven’t already done so hop on over to follow the link on the Marketing Pilgrim post and take SEMCheck for a test drive.
Download a free sample from my book, Design Fundamentals.