We’re currently promoting our Free Website Audit so we figured the best way to do that is to provide an example of a Website Audit. Since the US President heads to Mar-A-Lago every weekend, we decided to choose his Mar-a-Lago website, www.maralagoclub.com
Age of Domain
www.maralagoclub.com is a 13 year old website and that’s a good age for a domain. Anything that’s over 10 years old is good because Google understands that its not a “fly-by-night” company. New domains are harder to rank simply because they are new and need to prove their staying power.
Site Search Operator
When doing a site:search, the homepage lists as the first website and Google informs us that there are about 35 results for the domain. The fact that the homepage actually showed up first is good but having only 35 pages for any website in a competitive industry might prove an issue.
Search Engine Friendly URLS
One of the hallmarks of a website that was developed with the intention of assisting Search Engines in categorizing it properly is having search engine friendly URLS. This is the “www.domain.com/this-part-has-to-be-readable” but these are the URLS for Mar-a-Lago:
URL for “Dinning” http://www.maralagoclub.com/Default.aspx?p=dynamicmodule&pageid=100006&ssid=100028&vnf=1
Suggested URL: www.maralagoclub.com/dinning
Suggested URL www.maralagoclub.com/wedding-events
Suggested URL www.maralagoclub.com/contact
The URLS are not search engine friendly and yes, Trump is a brand so it will probably get a lot of branded searches but for services like ‘weddings,’ it might not show up as well as it can so having search engine friendly URLS would be a good idea.
On White Oak Websites here are our URLS
Visually, its easy to compare the difference. Users and Search Engines will trust a website more if they are using universal standards when developing a website.
Another very important aspect of ensuring that strength of your homepage domain is in tact is by using Canonical tags. For example this is the homepage of Mar-A-Lago: http://www.maralagoclub.com/ but this is also the homepage for Mar-a-Lago (from an internal link) http://www.maralagoclub.com/default.aspx?p=DynamicModule&ssid=100001&vnf=1&navRefresh=1&PageId=1
Both the domains point to the homepage but Google recognizes them as two separate domain. This is a huge issue because it splits the strength of your domain into two instead of just one. It is ideal if Canonical tags were used to inform the Search Engines of their preferred domain. Another way to get around this issue would be to use 301 redirects.
The mobile speed of the domain, www.maralagoclub.com is 33/100 and the desktop speed is 38/100. Which is really low. Its a given fact that when a web page doesn’t load within 3 seconds, over half of Users simply click off.
The website, www.maralagoclub.com is mobile friendly
Optimized Title Tags
One of the elements of a Search Engine Friendly website is its <title> tags. The title of the web page informs the Search Engines what keyword they want to rank for. On the homepage of Mar-a-Lago, the title is “Home – Trump National Golf Club 2016 Mar a Lago” — there are a few things wrong about this title:
- Putting “home” on the title tag is a amateur mistake. You only have about 55 characters to make an impression so you really want to use a title that will invite users to click on your link and having “home” in the major landing page of your website is an SEO Sin
- Putting “Trump National Golf Club” — When you search on Google for “Trump National Golf Club” the first page is this domain: http://www.trumpnationaldc.com/, Ma-A-Lago is actually on the 10th place for that keyword. This isn’t a complete site audit and I’m not going to do any Keyword Research but from the looks of things, they didn’t do any keyword research either. They are relying on branded searches but even for that all the Trump websites are competing for one branded keyword, which I feel could be handled better.
- Putting “2016” when its already 2017
- Putting “Mar a lago” — it is obvious to me that they are relying on branded searches so they should also be using branded words within their title tags, ie. Mar-a-Lago instead of “Mar a lago”
Essentially, everything was incorrect in that title tag.
Because the website isn’t using canonical URLS or 301 redirects, this is causing quite a few duplicate content issues.
These are all the same pages but with different URLS and this is causing a duplicate content issue on the website. Since Trump is a brand and (I assume) rely on branded search, they will not suffer too much because of this penalty. They can definitely do so much better but it probably isn’t a priority for them. But, if you are a small business and you don’t have a canonical URL in place, your website might never be more than a glorified online brochure.
So there are many more elements to consider when doing a Website Audit. Things to expect are keyword research and keyword integration to a website, backlink audit, competitive online industry, semantic structure, etc. But we will end it at that. From an SEO perspective, the website doesn’t really adhere to any SEO standards but that may be because they don’t really need to. Trump is a brand and they are relying on branded searches and they can get away with a lot of these issues. But bear in mind, they could also do so much better and show up for a whole range of keywords if they optimized their website. For example one of their menu’s is “weddings” — if they optimized their website, there is no doubt that it would be easy enough for them to show up for the first page of “weddings” in Palm Beach. That’s the strength of their brand. So again, they aren’t losing too much from not optimizing their website but they could gain a lot more if they did.