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SEO Tip: The Importance of Taking Inventory of Your Site's Pages
Saturday, July 30, 2011
There are a lot of elements required for a successful SEO strategy to be put in place.   From keyword research to building content to acquiring quality inbound links, there are a lot of opportunities and practical tactics that can be used to optimize your website for search.  I have worked on a number of sites for well known brands, I have worked with business owners who thought they knew SEO and Search and I have worked with other search marketers who are so called SEO experts.  Yet quite often these "experts", site owners and webmasters overlook some key pieces as to the understanding of how to best optimize their website.

One of the questions that I like to ask clients is how large is their site?  Like how many URLs does your site consist of?  You would be surprised as to the blank or delayed responses that I get in return.  "Oh we have a large site, I think we have about one hundred and twenty pages..." (this is not a large site).  Another common response is "Oh our CMS has generated thousands of pages..."  or "uh not exactly sure probably about 1.5 million pages...".  The point being that quite often these site owners, webmasters and search experts have no true idea of how large their site is.  They have not taken the time to take inventory of their site pages.

The Importance of Taking Inventory of Your Site's Pages

Sure they may have tagged their various pages types for analytics, but when asked, they quite often have no idea as to how many pages their site consists of.  I find this to be a little shocking.  How can you optimize a site when you really don't have any idea of how large it is?    It really is important to have an understanding of the size of your site.  Here are five six reasons why you need to take inventory of your site pages.
  1. To gain an understanding of your site's DNA
  2. To help prioritize pages for optimization
  3. To help identify pages to build links to
  4. To help prepare for future site redesigns
  5. To help identify low quality vs high quality content
  6. To identify ares of duplicate content
Let's look at each of these areas in a little more detail.

Gaining an Understanding of Your Site's DNA

Taking inventory of your website's pages allows you to gain a better idea of the type of content and page types that your site consists of.  Does your site consist mainly of product pages?  Perhaps the majority of your site is made up of articles?  Perhaps your site is mainly listings pages (as we see with directory-type sites).  Regardless, unless you take inventory of your site's pages, you will have no idea of what the genetic makeup of your site consists of.

Assisting with Prioritization of Pages to Optimize

Once you have a clear inventory of site pages, you can cross reference the success (or lack-there-of) of your pages.  By looking at your analytics you can identify pages that:
  • are performing well from a traffic perspective
  • are not performing well from a traffic perspective and thereby requires further optimization
  • are being highly engaged with by users
  • are not being engaged with and thereby requires attention
  • are converting well
  • are not converting well
You can compare pages that are performing well and prioritize areas for improvement.  The need to take inventory of your site pages becomes even more evident.

Identification of Pages to Build Links To

Once you have a general understanding of your pages, you can review their link inventories to identify pages that require some additional "link love".  Perhaps there is a certain page type that is simply not generating quality inbound links.  Having an inventory of site pages can help prioritize destination pages for your link building strategy.

Preparation for Upcoming Site Redesigns

One of the most important parts of your redesign plan is URL mapping.  That is which URLs/pages will be retained?  Which URLs/pages are being replaced and will need to be redirected.  Having an inventory of your site's pages allows you to determine which pages to retain and which ones you can redirect or remove.  How can you effectively plan a website redesign without an understanding of your what your existing pages look like?  Again taking inventory of your site pages is critical for planning your site redesign.

Content Review:  Low Quality vs. High Quality Content

Recent changes in Google (see: Google Panda) suggest that a few poor quality pages could be a detriment to your entire site.  How can you review or gain a true understanding of the quality of your content without having an inventory of your site's pages?  While you may not be able to monitor or review every single page on your site, having a list of your site's pages can be invaluable for identifying page types that lack in quality from a content perspective.  If you want to be proactive with future algorithm updates, having the ability to know which pages are of higher quality or of poorer quality can help you address pages that require improvement from a content perspective.

Identifying Duplicate Content

By gaining an accurate count and understanding of your site's pages, you can quickly determine if you have inadvertently created duplicate content within your site.  If/when you identify any duplicate content, you can then take measure to clean up your duplicate issues.  This will help you clean up your site and will assist your site in becoming more of a trusted resource which may translate into better visibility within the search results.

  1. XENU - http://home.snafu.de/tilman/xenulink.html Such as simple tool that is extremely useful.  XENU can be a great tool for identifying site pages and broken links.  This is a free tool that can be accessed with but a simple download.  Some additional benefits of XENU include:
    • Simple user-interface
    • The report can be viewed easily, even when you have long URLs.
    • Supports SSL websites ("https:// ")
    • Special handling of redirected URLs
  2. Screaming Frog SEO - http://www.screamingfrog.co.uk/seo-spider/ Another tool that can be used to compile a list of site URLs.  This tool allows you to export key onsite SEO elements (url, page title, meta descriptions, headings etc) to Excel so it can easily be used as a base to make SEO recommendations from.
If you haven't taken inventory of your site's URLs lately, you might want to think about doing so.  A simple spreadsheet might be all you need.  Of course it becomes a little more difficult for larger sites, but not impossible.  Having some inventory of site pages is better than having no inventory of site pages.  If you have the resources, you should take inventory of your site's page a couple of times per year.  This way you can prioritize pages for review, optimization or for the purposes of link building and content development.

Page count, pages indexed, page inventory, whatever you want to call it, the importance of knowing about the pages that make up the structure of your site is a key piece of data that many site owners often overlook.

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posted by Jody @ Saturday, July 30, 2011  
  • At 9:16 AM, Blogger Rob said…

    Another tool in my toolbox is a simple free one called IDServe.exe - it simply does a query of your site to return the headers of your home page - a lot of the time you find improperly coded redirects and other interesting information from a simple header check.

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