Presentation: Diagnosing Website Architecture Issues

SMX London 2009 turned out to be another hugely successful and enjoyable conference, both inside and outside the conference building! With plenty of useful content across both days and heaps of networking and hanging out with some really nice people, I thoroughly recommend attending next year. In the meantime – here’s my presentation from “Diagnosing Website Architecture Issues“, presented with together with Rand, Heini, and Luisella Mazza of Google.

Overall, the session was extremely exciting. Here are some key takeaways from the presentation and some tips I gave in conversation during my intro and the Q&A session:

  • Use httpFox to view server headers as you browse a website. Test that broken URLs actually give a 404
  • Use the “Domain details” plugin for Firefox to see serrver location and IP in your Firefox info bar
  • Combine httpFox and SEOmoz’s Top Pages On Domain for an awesome site audit tool
  • Your canonicalisation checklist should include capitalisation and trailing slashes, not just www’s
  • Check for legacy filetypes in your Google site index by using filetype:html and other file types
  • Yahoo Site Explorer’s first 1000 URLs can be downloaded and crawled with Xenu’s Link Sleuth for interesting (and sometimes surprising results)
  • Your internal links must be consistent to the preferred canonical form
  • Make sure your host headers are configured correctly so noone can point their spammy domains at your site!
  • Don’t leak your staging server URLs into Google…
  • Handle your expired content nicely – don’t just 404 a page because you’re out of stock or you’ve placed that vacancy
  • Internal 301 redirects are bad. Internal 302 redirects are just plain stupid :-)
  • If you really enjoy this kind of stuff, follow me on Twitter for plenty of (hopefully) useful tidbits.  Also check out these presentations – all excellent from: Dean Chew, Lyndon Antcliff, Patrick Altoft and Ciaran Norris. Finally, here’s a brilliant roundup from Molly at Distilled. Really enjoyable reading. See you at the next SMX London!

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    5 thoughts on “Presentation: Diagnosing Website Architecture Issues

    1. Michael Wall says:

      Hi Richard,

      Nice couple of plugins to play with. Thanks for the headsup.


    2. No problem Michael, thanks for dropping by!

    3. Dee Ford says:

      On the 4th slide… Continue to break down by subfolder and intitle – look at every “theme” on your site
      Inspiration – draw your site architecture and use as a URL guide. Think content groups.

      Can you give an example query?

    4. Hi Dee – sure happy to help

      something like: inurl:shoes intitle:nike -inurl:dp

      where slowly but surely you can drill down by theme to discover issues such as dupe content

      Hope that’s useful,

    5. Dee Ford says:

      Thanks Richard

      That’s really cool; I never thought about doing that before.

      You had a lot of creative ideas in your presentation. Thanks for sharing.

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