Site Auditor creates an actionable list of issues and opportunities for improving the quality of a website, but that list can look awfully daunting at first glance. How do you prioritize the issues described in your report? Should you start freaking out over the 600 image errors that it picked up on? What about duplicate content?
Calm your nerves! Site Auditor can be overwhelming at first, but with this guide you'll learn how to analyze your report like a pro.
First, a friendly disclaimer
Although Site Auditor describes everything it discovers about your website as "issues," not everything in your Site Auditor report can be accurately described as a problem that needs solving.
Sometimes, Site Auditor will pick up on things that you've done on purpose, like setting up redirects or excluding pages in your robots.txt file, which do not necessarily need to be fixed. Keep that in mind as you read your report, and don't be afraid to exclude errors where necessary.
Strategize your plan of attack
Generally speaking, Site Auditor's sections are listed in order of significance. After all, editing a single META description will have a much lower impact on SEO than fixing a broken link. Here's the order of sections listed in Site Auditor:
- Desktop / Mobile Page Speed *
The wildcard in there is Page Speed, which provides information on how quickly Google is able to download and display your website. A slow website isn't going to attract many visitors and, in fact, can negatively affect your SEO. That's a factor that is arguably as important as Visibility and Metadata.
Here's one recommended path for getting a handle on your report:
1. Always, always, always start your analysis of Site Auditor in the Visibility section. The issues listed in this section indicate abnormalities in the way that our robot (and, by extension, search engine crawlers) was able to access your website. Broken links, missing pages and accidentally blocked pages should be fixed first.
2. Proceed to Meta, focusing particularly on pages that are missing titles or descriptions. These are important for how search engines display your website in their results. In addition to these errors, you'll find information on length standards for titles/descriptions and missing Google Analytics tracking code.
Note: Google Tag Manager and Shopify tracking codes aren't supported by Site Auditor at this time. You may want to remove the Missing GA Tracking error from your report if you are using these Google Analytics tracking alternatives.
3. Skip over Content and check for broken links in the Links section. If a crawler isn't able to spider its way through your website, then that's going to cause problems for you in the long run.
4. Check for broken images in the Images section. ALT Text and Title Text are nice to have (and are appreciated by visitors who have special accessibility needs), but don't let yourself get bogged down in fixing those while you have bigger fish to fry.
5. Read the recommendations for improving Desktop Page Speed and then Mobile Page Speed. These will be more complicated fixes that will involve the overall architecture of your website, so they may take longer to resolve than fixing the above quick wins.
6. Go back over Content, Links, Images and Semantics to play clean-up. This is where you would expand upon pages with low content, add image text, adjust semantic data for headings, and more. This is low impact, but useful for tuning up your website.
Find where link and image issues actually exist
Links and images can appear on multiple pages, so you'll need to know where to look when they come back in Site Auditor with errors. Click the Pages link next to any entry in either of these sections to see a list of pages where that link or image appears on.
Exclude errors with extreme prejudice
As noted above, you can exclude errors from appearing in your report when you know that Site Auditor is reporting issues that can be safely ignored. This is particularly useful for instances where you have a bunch of redirects that have been safely and accurately implemented or are using Google Tag Manager for analytics tracking.