46 Actionable Checks

Edit Entire Sites Efficiently

Automated and Manual Checks

Elevate Content Quality Scores

Avoid Devastating Penalties

Improve SEO & Conversions



Checklist

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OK | NOT Check Findings

Have we extracted all raw text?

In the steps ahead, we'll extract all text on the site for easy editing.

Can you export all the site's content?

If the entire site runs on WordPress (like most):

  1. Install the Export to Text Plugin
  2. Go to Tools > Export To Text
  3. Export a TSV of all posts, pages, comments
  4. Open the spreadsheet
  5. Copy/paste the Title, Description, and Body columns into a Word document

If that worked, skip to ahead to Do you need PHP?, marking all steps OK in between.

If you're using a different platform, a spreadsheet export is probably still possible. Search Google. If you still can't export all the content like this, don't worry. Mark this step OK anyway and move to Do we need to scrape the site?.

Do we need to scrape the site?

If you couldn't export all content, scrape it instead.

WINDOWS

We recommend a free tool called HTTTrack. First, download and run the software. The default settings are fine. This creates a messy array of files and folders with all the pages from the site. We'll consolidate those next.

OS X

Your best option is a $5 desktop app called Peacock WebScraper. You can try it free for up to 5 pages. When done, choose "add" to your export options, and include "content", "plain text".

Do we need to consolidate scraped pages?

If you scraped the site, you have a new problem: too many files. Let's combine them.

WINDOWS:

  1. Open the command line using Start > Run > "cmd"
  2. Find where you saved the files using "dir" (list directory) and "cd X" (change directory to X)
  3. Enter: copy *.html alltext.txt

OS X OR Linux:

  1. Open shell/terminal
  2. Find where you saved the files using "ls" (list directory) and "cd X" (change directory to X)
  3. Enter: cat * > alltext.txt

If you get the error "Argument list too long", try dividing these files into few folders first and try again.

Did we scrape headers/footers?

If you scraped the site, clean out the repeating headers/footers. You don't want 500 copies of the same menus.

Fix this using FIND/REPLACE. Copy any repeating content into the FIND field and leave REPLACE blank.

Repeat for both header and footer.

Do you need PHP?

Unless your site is really small, you're going to need to run a little PHP script in the next step to clean out all the code. And that means you're about to become a programmer. Sound scary? Don't worry, it isn't.

OS X OR LINUX

Pop open Terminal and type in:

php --v

Did it tell you about your installed PHP version? Then you're set.

If there's an error, type yum install php to install it (or apt-get install php).

WINDOWS

If you've never gone out of your way to install PHP on Windows, you don't have it. But you can set it up in less than one minute.

Just download the latest Windows PHP 5 release.

Have you trimmed out all the code (HTML, CSS, and JS)?

OS X: Paste this PHP script into TextEdit. Edit where indicated to include the filename of whatever you saved the site's content to above. Then, open Terminal. Find the file's folder using ls and cd commands. And run it, likeso:

php filename.php

Windows: Paste this PHP script into Notepad. Edit where indicated to include the filename of whatever you saved the site's content to above.

Then, navigate to Start > Run > CMD and run your script using the Windows command line like this (substituting the file paths with the location where you put the files):

C:\PHP5\php.exe -f "C:\PHP Scripts\script.php"

Now locate a new file called trimmedtext.txt with your clean text.

Is writing quality competitive?

The next several steps allow us to edit the entire site's content efficiently.

Is content novel?

To edit for substance, begin by pasting into a free style editor called HemingwayApp.

Make language simple, direct, and less wordy. Aim for a score of 8 or higher. Cheap copywriters strive to hit a certain # of words. Quality copy maximizes impact in minimal space. There are a variety of Google Ranking Factors, such as novelty scores, that reflect this; directly and indirectly.

Is any content outdated?

This is a good opportunity to flag certain pieces for a refresh.

Long-term, irrelevant and incorrect content does a poor job at earning links, social shares, or drawing competitive task completion times, among many, many other considerations.

Is there good grammar?

There are countless grammar checkers available. The best, by far, still seems to be the one included with Microsoft Word. Use this to identify imperfect grammar.

Language carries with it varieties of SEO implications, from phrase-based indexing (indirect) to grammar factors (direct).

Is there good spelling?

Just like above, are there misspellings shown in Word?

We've gotten mixed messages about spelling and SEO, but regardless of if it's direct, indirect, Bing-only, or is done purely for better branding and UX: good spelling matters.

To be extra thorough, you could also try checking spelling exactly as it appears live using a freemium tool called CheckDog.

Are there accidental missteps?

A handful of scenarios can lead to some potentially signifiant problems.

Are there code errors visible?

Use CTRL+F (or CMD+F) to search for error, and then notice.

Fix any code errors or just disable error reporting (PHP instructions) if they appear.

You'll likely find some false positives. We're only looking for actual code errors (which should be obviously different from normal copy). We think that the impact of code errors on rankings is purely indirect. Aside from making your content/phrasing sound funny, it increases bounce rates, decreases rates of new links and shares, and so on.

Is there sexually explicit content?

If the site is not intended to be a porn site, CTRL+F for a handful of sexually explicit words and phrases.

This could cause content to be restricted behind Google's Safe Search filter.

Is any content inconsistent with the site's theme?

Since the introduction of the Hilltop algorithm, Google has gone out of their way to identify and reward "topical experts".

Content that falls off topic may harm these metrics. If it's absolutely necessary to keep content that doesn't follow the site's theme, consider moving it to a separate subdomain.

Are there intentional missteps?

When it comes to the SEO value of your content, there's a lot more that you can do wrong than right.

This next section will make sure the brand is on the right side of various, known webspam controls.

Does content repeatedly list keywords?

This is considered keyword stuffing by Google, and they are looking for it.

Look for behavior that ends lot of sentences in ...word, word2, and word3, for the sake of just putting more keywords to a page. This is common "discount SEO writer" behavior and it will be punished, most often without any notification. The occasional list is fine, but watch for a deliberate trend.

Replace with writing that covers topics naturally, thoroughly, and rich with substance.

Is there an absence of semantics?

Has an "SEO writer" apparently drafted keyword-rich content that lacks synonyms and goes out of its way to mention the exact same phrases again and again?

Google is widely believed to use a process known as latent semantic analysis, or one similar, whereby they recognize synonyms and other interrelated language. Expect devaluations and penalties for aggressive patterns that avoid semantics.

Is there an absence of word stemming?

Has an "SEO writer" apparently drafted keyword-rich content that always mentions a keyword the exact same way, without ever stemming? Example could be repeatedly using optimization, but never optimizing, optimized, etc.

Again, this is a common webspam pattern that should be avoided, even if not intentional. This may be further enforced by Google's constant repetition of the phrase "optimize for user experience". Humans prefer naturally varied language.



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