How do you know if your website is healthy?

In 2020 website health is a huge SEO factor. Poor website health leads to poor Google ranking. In fact, if a site is very unhealthy Google will remove it from search all together.

website health checkup

Your website health affects how Google will place your site in search. You could look at it this way. A healthy website lets Google know you care.

  • PHP version
  • CMS Software
  • SSL Security
  • Mobile Usability check

Google Search Console is where we can monitor clients’ website health and other factors which can affect search ranking. We can also use Hubspot’s Website Grader to get a goodoverview on health and other factors like SEO (What is SEO in 2020? Read this article). Google Analytics allows us to monitor pages on a site that need attention.

With 1.5bn websites, Google is pickier than ever. They are looking for any excuse to NOT put your site at the top of a search result page. The desire to be in position number one on the first page of a result page for a phrase such as “lawn mowing adelaide” will set you back thousands of dollars. And as this SEO article about Google ranking espouses, it’s rarely in your best interests to be first in search. As any musician will tell you, ego is very expensive.

Audio Interview about “Website Health”

wordpress and website health

WordPress Website Health

For WordPress 5.2, WordPress introduced a website health check. You can find it in the admin area, under admin > tools > site health. What you want is a green circle at the top of the page with the word “Good” right next to it. Anything else means that there’s work to do. Our bread and butter equates doing that on a daily basis for more than 100 clients. We call it website maintenance, but increasingly there’s a crossover between SEO and general website maintenance.

Server tuning and onsite code tweaks will make your site healthy and improve your position in search results.

SEO Software and site monitoring

SEO software is prohibiitvely expensive and can cost thousands of dollars per month.

Places where you can check your website health

Computer Programming Languages

Computer languages are upgraded all the time. Most of the web uses a combination of PHP and Javascript.

PHP

PHP is now at version 7.3 but most websites are still running the 2005 version of php (PHP 5.3). Updating PHP is one of the first things we do for WordPress websites. In fact, many WordPress plug-ins require PHP 7.x just to function.

jQuery

JQuery is a Javascript library. Most stes use it to handle commplex tasks like animation and form retrieval and display.

From the jQuery website:
jQuery is a fast, small, and feature-rich JavaScript library. It makes things like HTML document traversal and manipulation, event handling, animation, and Ajax much simpler with an easy-to-use API that works across a multitude of browsers. With a combination of versatility and extensibility, jQuery has changed the way that millions of people write JavaScript.
(www.jquery.com)

As of this writing, jQuery is now at version 3.4.1 and yet so many websites and WordPress themes still use Versions 1.x (2006-16) or 2.x (2005-13).

In a perfect world (and if your developers are coding sites by hand) you’d research and update jQuery to bring your ailing website into the new decade. Perhaps this one is a bridge too far for most website owners (if you have animation on your site you are probably using Javascript).

Updating PHP should be enough.

What does an unhealthy website look like?

trojan threat detected and isolated by virus checker
An unhealthy website

A really unhealthy website will be found by your virus checker. Google Chrome browser (and others) can be ruthless and simply not show the site. Unhealthy sites are completely removed from search engines until they are fixed.

Case Study: Investment Company

I was asked to look after a series of sites by an investment company. Several of the sites had been hacked and security on the other sites was low. The team had an IT department with 5 computer programmers working on the sites. But the websites had huge, overworked child themes (read more about bloated child themes here) and as a result, they were difficult to update. programmers often move from job to job and each person has a different style and approach. Throw 10+ years into the mix and you can guess the mess.

Before I even started working on the website, the Australian Federal Police got in touch. The main site buttons were linking directly to child pornography websites (which the police were monitoring). Needless to say – the best way forward was to delete the site and start again.

My site looks healthy

Your website may look healthy but under the hood it’s ripe for hacking. Your finely honed gym junky looks great on the outside but all those McDonalds meals have turned his liver to fat and he now has diabetes.

Is that your website?