While your website may be fully optimised externally, such as having Google+ and citations, having a website that isn’t ‘technically’ optimised can render the external optimisation a waste of time.
I have created a list of what I believe are the most important ways to check whether your website is technically optimised:
1. Being responsive
In April 2015, Google rolled out an update where any website that isn’t responsive, or usable on other devices than a desktop, will be at a disadvantage compared to ones that are.
There are many tools that can check your website for responsiveness, but my recommendation is Google’s own mobile test tool. This tells you simply whether it is or it isn’t responsive; whether you want to read all the technical gibberish is optional.
2. Being fast
You may have a well-designed website, which is responsive, but if your website takes half an hour to load a page then you’ve got problems. Actually, most visitors to your website will probably leave after 5 seconds of loading, as people expect a website to be faster than the speed of light.
The best tool to test this is the Pingdom tester, which tells you where it is being tested from, how fast it is, and how fast you are compared to others.
3. Being usable
Have you ever been on a website and landed on a page which has a 404 error? Don’t worry, that’s not your fault, that’s just poor website design! These are not only annoying to the user but can also affect search rankings, as Google isn’t going to rank a website high if its pages are all broken.
The best tool to test this is Screaming Frog. While you may download it and be greeted by words such as “Response Codes”, “Meta Keywords” and “Spider”, this tool isn’t actually that scary, it’s pretty simple, really. You just enter your website URL into the top bar (right-click+paste doesn’t work, you’ve got to use ctrl+v) and it will run a scan.
After it’s finished, the third column (status code) shows you what pages are good (200) and which are broken (404). It will also tell you what pages contain the broken 404 link. There are other status codes, but these are the most important.
4. Being unique
While you may have (and should have) created all your own content, there are e-thieves out there who will copy your content and put it onto their own website, maybe out of laziness or more malicious reasons.
This can affect your ranking in search engines, because if your content appears on other websites, this may make the search engine believe that your website is not genuine, and stop indexing it.
The best way to check for this is to use Copyscape, where you can individually check each page for plagiarism.
5. Being safe
While you may have created your website with genuine intentions, you might see the “This site may be hacked” text line come under your web address in search results.
This isn’t entirely your fault, as someone may have managed to gain access to your website for malicious intentions, such as simply putting a hidden link on it to boost their own website, or to gather information on every visitor to the site.
The best tool for this is the Sucuri Sitecheck website scanner, which checks your whole website for viruses and malware, and also whether it has a firewall. Not having a firewall is why I put “not entirely your fault” at the start – not everyone on the internet is your friend.