Just had the latest in an ongoing series of discussions with clients where the SEO audit revealed that significant portions of their site did not work. The reaction by the top guy on the team was a mixture of urgency, anger and surprise, but perhaps not as much surprise as one might expect.

Guess he hadn’t heard about the #1 Search Engine Ranking Factor.

Perhaps the biggest value added by a thorough SEO audit is not the SEO but the fact that as part of our work, the bleary-eyed SEO consultant has to click around the entire site and see how it works, both for humans and for bots. And in surfacing the bot issues, we more often that not find plenty of issues that would piss off even the most emotionally-dead human. Some typical findings:

  • Large # of internal links to 404 pages, 500 errors and “Access Denied” URLs (some even in the main navigation!)
  • Old UI that was retired but still works
  • Whole sections of the site that everyone forgot even existed
  • URLs that show exposed code
  • Video embeds that link to broken video URLs so you get a 404 page inside a video embed that you can actually navigate around – this one is kind of like being inside John Malkovich’s head
  • and on and on and on…

Once a new site or redesign is launched, we tend to hit it for a while and then we move on to our old Web surfing habits, habits which typically don’t include using our own sites (that includes me).  But when you’ve got a big operation and there’s no one whose job it is to make sure that the site works, you’ve probably got bigger problems than just SEO.

But keep it up.  My kids will eventually be going to college and every little bit helps.

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5 Response Comments

  • Michael Dorausch  April 4, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    It’s like you’re writing this post directly about me. Guilty, and for more than one site too.

    And I bet you didn’t know that movie was in part filmed in the 548 Building in Downtown Los Angeles (where I once had an office), a little local search movie tidbit.

  • Jason  April 4, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    I think it’s sort of like cleaning the never reaches of your house. No one wants to do it. Turn the project into something like Hot Tub Time Machine and it might be more fun.

  • Nick Stamoulis  April 12, 2012 at 7:26 am

    I’ve had this happen numerous times as well. Pages that were set up but have absolutely no content or have errors. Sure, they may be internal pages but every page is important and visitors might be clicking on it. It just looks unprofessional.

  • Jen  April 12, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    You’re right! We tend to get our site up and going and then we leave it and just let it sit and get all messed up. Frequent site visits are a good idea. Plus the more you visit your own site and have a good look around the more likely you are to add updates every once in awhile.