Website health or site hygiene is an integral part of the long-term SEO success of any website.
No matter how good your site’s SEO foundation is, you are bound to find some issues and errors whenever you run a technical SEO audit. Google also keeps rolling newer updates that can sometimes make certain practices obsolete or punishable.
That’s why keeping the website “healthy” is an ongoing process — and one that should not be taken lightly.
Website health is generally measured by how good the foundations of your website are and how many errors and issues the website has at any given point in time.
Just like your own health, it is recommended to conduct regular tests and checkups to ensure that everything is in order and that nothing is broken.
A website that has good health and hygiene may lead to the following SEO benefits:
On the contrary, a website with poor health and hygiene — one that has lots of issues and errors — may result in lower search visibility, poor search engine rankings, reduced organic traffic that comes from search engines, potential website penalties by Google, lower conversion rate, and a loss of potential revenue.
Now that you know and understand what site health is and why it is so important let’s discuss actionable ways how you can improve it.
Here are a few things that can affect the overall health of your website and actionable ways you can make noticeable improvements.
How easily search engines find the different pages on your website, how many pages they find compared to the total number of pages on your site, how easily they find those pages, and how many of those pages get indexed in search engines: these are all factors that affect the crawlability of your website.
It is also one of those most fundamental aspects of search engine optimization.
If Google cannot find pages on your site in the first place, it certainly won’t be able to index and rank those pages on the SERPs. That means no search engine traffic for your website.
First, you need to make sure that Google can find and crawl all the pages that you want it to find. That means pages that are too big, don’t have any link pointing to them, and have a lot of crawl depth may be at risk. You should fix those issues. Having a sitemap can significantly help with improving the crawlability of your website.
Second, you need to make sure that all the pages that you want Google to index and rank on the SERPs are indeed indexable. Therefore, you need to double-check your robots.txt file and the no-meta tag on pages to ensure that none of the important pages are being blocked.
Internal links are the backbone of a robust SEO strategy. These links help Google crawlers and users find pages and navigate their way to the different sections of your website.
But these links can be broken sometimes. That leads to 404s and a frustrating user experience. As you can guess, that also abruptly stops Google crawlers by putting a 404-wall in front of them.
By fixing all the internal 404s on your website, you can drastically improve the health of your website.
Just find all the internal links that are broken on your website and either remove or replace those broken internal links.
Similar to deadends on your website, you can also sometimes send your website visitors to dead pages on some other website. These are commonly known as external 404s — you link to an external web page on the internet that leads to a 404.
Make sure to fix all external 404s so your website visitors can have the best possible experience.
Does your website have an HTTP or an HTTPS version?
Website security is of utmost importance nowadays, and it can also directly affect search engine rankings.
If you are still using an HTTPS version, make sure to install an SSL certificate and migrate to HTTPS to improve the security and health of your site.
Orphans pages are those pages on your site that do not have any links pointing to them. That makes it significantly more difficult for search engine crawlers to find those pages.
What you should do is find all the pages that do not have any link pointing to them and then create contextual and relevant internal links from other pages on your website.
When your site gets older, it is also common to experience more and more redirect chains and loops. That happens because as a site grows, you create new pages, retire old pages, create redirects for 404s, etc.
And because internal links are usually not edited every time there is a change, that piles up redirect chains and loops over time.
Redirects are not as bad as 404s, of course, because while visitors are redirected to another page, they eventually find their destination most of the time.
However, it is still a good practice to fix redirect chains and loops to improve the user experience as well as to make it easier for Google crawlers to find pages. In some cases, if there are multiple redirects, Google crawlers may just stop midway. That can directly affect your website’s crawlability and search visibility.
Your site’s performance has a direct effect on your site’s health and user experience. Moreover, websites that load unreasonably slowly suffer from poor search engine rankings, lower conversion rates, and lower sales and revenue.
Test how fast your web pages load and take the necessary steps to improve your site performance.
Core web vitals are now also an important part of website loading speed and user experience. That includes three big parts:
To ensure your website health is at its best, make sure that all three core web vitals are in the green zone.
You can learn more about core web vitals here. And you can find the state of core web vitals on your website through various speed testing tools, such as the Google PageSpeed Insights, or by looking into your Google Search Console for site performance reports.
If your website has duplicate content, it can also lead to potential site health and hygiene issues.
For one, Google does not like duplicate content. If multiple pages on your site have the same content, you will find it difficult to rank higher on the SERPs for those pages — and maybe for the entire website as well.
Second, duplicate content can also confuse Google on which pages should it rank and prioritize for certain keywords. It can also lead to content cannibalization issues that directly affect your website’s health and hygiene.
Third, duplicate content also ruins the user experience. They do not find any new information, which leads to a lower engagement rate that can send negative SEO signals to Google.
If you want sustainable organic traffic for your website, you need to ensure that your website has good health and hygiene.
Follow the tips mentioned in this article and focus on these eight areas that could lead to meaningful improvements, higher search visibility, and increased organic traffic.