Pump Up Your Website With These 25 No-Brainers

<span class="drop_cap">T</span>Whether you’re new to online marketing or a seasoned veteran, it sure is nice to see what others consider important when setting up or taking over the online marketing for a business and its website.

Below is my Top 25 list of things to do from Day One.

It’s a simple list and knocking them out is not really that hard after you’ve done each once.  So don’t let it intimidate you.

Start with the simple ones and move from there!

  1. Implement Web Analytics!
  2. Setup Google Webmaster Tools
  3. Setup Google Webmaster Tools for www and non-www
  4. Track 404 Errors – Pages Not Found
  5. Create 301 Redirects for pages not found
  6. Exclude yourself from Web Analytics (Google Analytics, Adobe Omniture SiteCatalyst, etc.)
  7. Create a mobile version of your site using MobiSiteGalore
  8. Test your page load times using Page Speed
  9. Create HTML, XML and geo sitemaps
  10. Archive your website using SurfOffline
  11. Audit broken outbound links  using Xenu Link Sleuth
  12. Use a trackable phone number
  13. Create robots.txt
  14. Implement Hcard
  15. Redirect non-ww to www
  16. Redirect index.html to /
  17. Claim your business on Google Places
  18. Create a favicon.ico for your website
  19. Confirm your website’s IP address is not blacklisted
  20. Add alt tags to your website images
  21. Validate the HTML used on your website
  22. Claim your business on Yelp.com, CitySearch.com and JudysBook.com
  23. Set up Google Alerts
  24. Validate Browser compatibility
  25. Set up site search within Google Alerts
  26. Set up a globally recognized avatar (gravatar)

My list is actually much longer than this, but these are my top 25.

Do you think they’re right?
What did I leave off?

Tell me in the comments below.

Dead End Page – How To Track Error 404 – Page Not Found

Dead End - Page Not FoundLanding on a website and getting a 404-Page Not Found error is frustrating.  But owning the website with those errors can mean lost money.  If you’re not already tracking these errors, here’s your primer to start today.

If you’re here to implement 404 Page Not Found tracking and know why you need it, you can skip this first section.  If not, I’ll cut to the chase.  Tracking when your website visitors request a page that doesn’t exist has many advantages.  To do this is not just a nice feature to implement, it’s a requirement.  The downside to this is a very poor user experience.

  1. You may have links into your website from other sites that you aren’t aware of.  Those links may be pointing to non-existent pages on your website.  This has two major downsides:
    • Visitors hate 404 – Page Not Found errors.  They typically bail on the site rather than work to find out the real page they were meant to land on.
    • Search engines can’t pass any of their link love from the other site to yours.  Losing that love is a tragedy.
  2. The tactic of creating a custom 404 page is good business.  It forces you to consider the scenario and how you would like to be perceived should someone land on a dead page on your site.

The Code

Common Code

Regardless of your vendor you will need to either locate the current 404 page on your webserver or create one if one doesn’t exist.  This is where you’ll be creative and really consider the user experience with humor, information (sitemaps?) or redirects.

On this custom 404 page you will tag it like all of your other webpages with the following exceptions.  One for Google Analytics and for (Adobe) Omniture’s SiteCatalyst.

Google Analytics

For Google there are two tagging versions you can consider depending where you are in your timeline of migrating from their synchronous versions to their latest asynchronous version.

Note that as of this writing I personally have run into a significant problem with the asynch code and have rolled it back until it can be addressed by Google.

The code snippets below are your typical code snippets provided by Google Analytics with the addition of detailed trackPageview parameters.  These parameters allow your reporting to expose which page the visitors were trying to reach and where they came from.  See Google’s explanation of 404 tracking.

Old School: Synchronous code
var gaJsHost = (("https:" == document.location.protocol) ? " https://ssl." : "http://www.");
document.write(unescape("%3Cscript src='" + gaJsHost + " google-analytics.com/ga.js' type='text/javascript'%3E%3C/script%3E"));


try{
var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker("UA-xxxxx-x");
pageTracker._trackPageview("/404.html?page=" + document.location.pathname + document.location.search + "&from=" + document.referrer);
} catch(err) {}
New school: Asynchronous code
var _gaq = _gaq || [];
_gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-XXXXX-X']);
_gaq.push(['_trackPageview', '/404.html?page=' + document.location.pathname + document.location.search + '&from=' + document.referrer]);
(function() {
var ga = document.createElement('script'); ga.type = 'text/javascript'; ga.async = true;
ga.src = ('https:' == document.location.protocol ? 'https://ssl' : 'http://www') + '.google-analytics.com/ga.js';
var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s);
})();

Regardless of which version of code snippet you use, your reports will look similar to this.

Sample Resulting Report

google analytics 404 error pages not found report

Google Analytics Report - Click To Enlarge

The simplest way to view these reports is to create an advanced segment that sets the Page as containing “/404.html”, or whatever your custom 404 page URL begins with.  Make sure it is qualified as “contains” and not “matches exactly” or anything else.

After applying this advanced segment go to “Content-Top Landing Pages”, from there you’ll be able to see a report detailing each instance of the 404 error along with the intended destination page and the site the inbound link came from.

Omniture

sample code

s.pageName=""
s.pageType="errorPage"

Do not set the s.pageName variable on this page!

From (Adobe) Omniture’s SiteCatalyst v14 Implementation Manual

SiteCatalyst pageType Implementation

SiteCatalyst pageType - Click To Enlarge

2.1.44 pageType

The pageType variable is used only to designate a 404 Page Not Found Error Page. It only has one possible value, which is “errorPage.” On a 404 Error Page, the pageName variable should not be populated.

Table: pageType Variable Parameters

The pageType variable captures the errant URL when a 404 Error Page is displayed, which allows you to quickly find broken links and paths that are no longer valid on the custom site. Set up the pageType variable on the error page exactly as shown below. Do not use the page name variable on 404 error pages. The pageType variable is only used for the 404 Error Page.

! NOTE: In most cases, the 404 Error Page is a static page that is hard-coded. In these cases, it is important that the reference to the .JS file is set to an appropriate global or relative path/directory.

Syntax and Possible Values

The only allowable value of pageType is “errorPage" as shown below.

s.pageType="errorPage"

Examples

s.pageType="errorPage"

SiteCatalyst Configuration Settings

None

Pitfalls, Questions and Tips

To capture other server-side errors (like 500 errors), use a prop to capture the error message and put “500 Error:

<URL>” where <URL> is the URL requested, in the pageName variable. By following this course of action, you can use Pathing Reports to see what paths caused users to generate 500 errors, and the prop will explain which error message is given by the server.
omniture sitecatalyst pages not found report

Omniture SiteCatalyst Report - Click To Enlarge

Tracking 404 Error Pages Improves Visitor Experience

This tactic has proven invaluable to me and my clients.  Over time we notice the number of visits to the custom 404 page go down because we create custom 301 redirects for each bad inbound link and redirect to the most appropriate page on the site.  This regular maintenance slowly firms up your website and in the end creates a better visitor experience.

Are You Tracking Your Broken Inbound Links? Your 404 Pages Not Found?

I see this happening all of the time with company sites.  Not only do they have no handling of “404 page not found”, if they do handle it there is no tracking of what page the visitor was trying to reach.

So let’s think about this.  Someone has come to your site through a bad link and here’s the results.

  1. They get peeved by the bad link and abandon your site.  You just lost money.
  2. You even don’t know they came and went.
  3. You don’t know where the bad link is out on the web.  So you can’t fix it.

Now here are the solutions:

  1. Oh Snap!  Create a custom 404 page according to some best practices out there.  Each time I do this I look up great examples and borrow their ideas.
  2. Track hits to your 404 page.  This will show you which pages are not being found as well as show you where the links are coming from.  Have these reports sent to you on a daily basis.  Else you lose more traffic.
    • Google Analytics has a simple addition to the JavaScript tracking code on the 404 page.
    • Omniture SiteCatalyst: in the code of your 404 page, leave s.pageName=”” blank and set s.pageType=”errorPage”.  This will create a custom entry into your “Pages Not Found” report in SiteCatalyst.
  3. Once you know which pages are being requested but not found, create a 301 redirect to the closest matching page you have.  Don’t give them options if you know where they should be going.  If you’re not sure where they should go (you are the webmaster, aren’t you?), then send them to a tables of contents page.  Not the sitemap.html or sitemap.xml page, but rather a page with a few targeted pages that will help them decided.
  4. Contact the owner of the inbound links and fix the problem.  Sometimes it’s as simple as claiming your business on a review page, other times it’s going to be harder because they’re in someone’s blog comments.  At least you’ll have the 301 to back you up.

Don’t be blind to this visitor loss.  Everyone has bad inbound links.  Fix yours or lose money.

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