When an SEO services company is hired, there’s a burst of activity in the beginning to check on-page SEO problems. Then the action shifts to off-page SEO issues like backlink creation. But if you’re not regularly checking your on-page SEO for quality assurance, problems can sneak in through the back door.
The most common time this happens is with a website update. Every website update that you do brings risk to your SEO ranking. Even if the human-readable content doesn’t change, a code change will make a search engine see your site in a different light.
Your business needs to get serious about doing regular SEO QA testing. Here is a simple list of the things to review from each page every time you do an update:
Important Tags And Keywords
First, the fundamentals need to be checked. Are the titles, meta descriptions, and meta robots entries for each page the same? Did a theme update alter the default titles? Did an SEO plugin update change your meta descriptions or gave you new features you should add in? These are the human-readable parts of on-page SEO, so don’t neglect these!
Similarly, a new theme may alter which parts of a page hold the most important positions for keywords. If you’re overhauling your theme, make sure that your keywords are in the right spots to get noticed.
Major site updates might alter the robots.txt file, which tells search engines special instructions to ignore particular pages among other things. A change to this can also happen when you move your hosting from one provider to another. This file may not be stored in the same place as your website’s directory and it’s easy to miss.
A website update can break internal links to other pages on your site, which is a huge SEO no-no. In particular, you need to make sure that all navigation links and footer links work for each page. For many websites, these links will be common to all pages and will be clicked the most.
Moving to a new domain will require a 301 redirect for people going to the old domain. If this redirect is broken then those visitors will not know where to turn next. Be sure that any page on the old domain will redirect to the new domain.
Schemas are used to access the latest in search engine optimization features, but they are still new. If you’re using a plugin to manage these, an update to that may alter your schemas negatively.
If you have a lot of paginated content, you might be using link tags to mark which page is the canonical one, how the pagination flows with rel=prev and rel=next, and what language a page is with hreflang. Needless to say, a host of SEO errors can arise if this information changes.
If you have separate desktop and mobile sites with duplicate content, link tags are also used to mark which one is the canonical one and which one is the alternate. If this information is lost, that content will be marked duplicate and you’ll lose rank.
That’s a lot of information to check! Fortunately, there are automated SEO checking tools that can crawl through your site to gather information about all of this. Your QA process should gather this information before and after the update, then check the reports for differences that need to be addressed. If you make this a regular part of your update process, you’ll have a lower chance of making an SEO-breaking change.
About the Author
Chris Hickman is the Founder and CEO at Adficient with 15 years of experience in search marketing and conversion optimization. Since 2006, he founded GetBackonGoogle.com, helping businesses and websites suspended in Adwords to Get Back on Google