Here's an analogy for you. The other day, I was working my butt off in the gym on the cardio machines, panting wildly with sweat dripping off me and my face as red as a beet. Not the most attractive sight, but I figure, you're at the gym to work out right? I might as well "go hard" or "go home", as they say.

As I looked around me, I could see all these people simply going through the motions. There they were, minus perspiration in their shiny new lycra and expensive gym shoes, casually walking on the treadmill or lazily turning the wheels on a bike while reading a book or glued to the TV screens in front of them. Only a few seemed to be there for the actual purpose of working out. The rest seemed to be there to check out the talent or to simply keep up the appearance of fitness, while doing the bare minimum.

Huh? I don't get it. Why have these gym bimbos paid so much money for a gym membership and all the related gear if they aren't going to take full advantage of their investment?

Then it struck me - these gymbos were just like those companies who spend thousands of dollars on a shiny new website with all the bells and whistles like graphic design, blogs, shopping carts, web analytics, the lot and then fail to take advantage of it. I see it so often, regardless of company size. Web sites that could easily be bringing in loads of traffic and revenue simply wasting away because nobody can be bothered tracking visitor activity, analyzing trends or checking for search engine compatibility and usability.

These companies are simply keeping up appearances, investing heavily in Internet technology because their competitors are doing the same. But no thought has gone into the search engine compatibility of the site, how usable it is for visitors or whether it meets accessibility guidelines. They don't look at their site statistics, they don't check for broken links and they sure as heck don't investigate why their sites aren't converting traffic into customers. What a waste!

Is your web site working hard enough for you? Run it through the following 20 point fitness assessment to find out:

  • Is your site fully search engine compatible? Are all your pages being indexed by the major search engines?
  • Do you track your visitor statistics on a regular basis? Do you use the information provided by your visitor statistics to improve your site?
  • Is your web site accessible to visually-impaired visitors? Does it meet the international standards set down by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)?
  • Do you know which sites and search engines provide you with the most traffic? Do you use this information to increase your traffic further?
  • Do you track the source of all reported errors in your site statistics and fix them promptly?
  • Do you know which keywords your site was found for in the search engines? Have you conducted keyword research to determine what search terms your target markets are looking for so you can optimize for them?
  • Does your web site HTML code validate to W3 standards? Do you check for validation regularly?
  • Does your site contain zero broken links? Do you check for and fix broken links regularly?
  • Has your site been fully search engine optimized to integrate your target search terms into your Page Titles, META Tags and visible page text?
  • Have you created and submitted an XML sitemap to Google Sitemaps?
  • Have you created and submitted a sitemap to Yahoo Site Explorer?
  • Have you checked to see if your site meets Google's Webmaster Guidelines?
  • Do you measure your visitor sign-ups and conversions on a regular basis? Do you tweak your landing page copy to increase the conversion rates?
  • Is your site navigation intuitive and are your visitors following the navigation paths you intended?
  • Do you encourage feedback from your site visitors and provide an obvious way for them to provide such feedback?
  • Are there at least 250 words of text on your home page to satisfy search engines?
  • Does your site contain a visible, text-based site map to aid user navigation?
  • Do you have an ongoing link building campaign running to secure more incoming links to your site and improve your site's link popularity score?
  • Does your site have a high percentage of repeat visitors? Are the majority of your visitors staying on your site for more than a minute?
  • Do your search engine referrals and site traffic figures grow each month?

Unless you can answer yes to all the questions in the above checklist, your web site is not working hard enough for you and needs a workout. Get to it!

October 18, 2007

Search Engine Marketing Columnist


Great list! All too often articles focus only on one area: if the author cares about HTML they'll say "validate" and follow standards. Someone who cares about accessibility will go on about the value of ensuring that those standards are followed. SEO aficionados will taut the importance of natural search optimization. In fact, all of these things must be taken into account to get the most out of the site.

You've compiled a complete and well rounded summary!

Nice list, Kalena. One thing you might want to add is not just to submit sitemap files, but more importantly to sign up for the Google Webmaster Tools and to verify your site ownership there. We've got lots of great stuff there, including a message center (with notifications about errors, penalties or other stuff about your site) and lots of statistics about how we crawl your site and which keywords bring up your site in the results (not just the keywords which lead to visitors).

I'm still laughing at "gymbos", what a great term. What is with those people?!

Anyways, that's a good list you have there and I like the analogy of going to the gym.
Like exercising, doing regular maintainance like ensuring all code is valid and checking for broken links is the sort of thing we tend to make excuses about but you can't afford to look like a slob in this game.

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Search Engine Guide > Kalena Jordan > Does Your Web Site Need a Workout?