How we're using our own website auditor to fix our own website

We're not only the developer of our website auditor, we're also a client

Author
David

We opened our site in beta a few weeks ago, and as you can see, we have a lot of work to do.  We're still adding and changing content, changing the layout, but most importantly, our site must be perfect in all aspects of security, performance, and search engine optimization.

This article gives a sneak peek as to how we're improving our site by using our own product.

How do we know what issues to fix so we can move from beta to version 1.0?  How do we know what issues are outstanding that would negatively affect SEO and usability?  How do we know what basic security issues are outstanding that would assist cybercriminals with stealing user data if we took a careless posture?

We, of course, know how to find the issues and how to fix them.  For any site, we'd strap on our plastic gloves and give it a probe, but that's a time-consuming process.  How would we find and fix issues for hundreds, or even thousands of websites?

Scale is one issue, but an equally perplexing problem is one of quality.  Would we go the extra mile to find and fix issues on our site, yet not give our clients and potential leads the same level of tediousness and care?  If it's good enough for us, should it not be good enough for our clients?

The overwhelming majority of websites have common problems, like outdated and insecure third-party libraries and missing important metatags.  Each site has over one-hundred issues to check, and each issue can extrapolate to multiple items (for example, links missing "alt" attributes).

A solution that can scan many websites and generate a report of not only the problems, but isolate the specific items that are causing the problems, would be a great benefit.

This is why we've been building our website auditor.  We've been writing the code over the past few months, and we're at a point where we're using it in our development environment to generate audits.  It's working so well that we've begun to use it to find and fix issues on our own site.

The purpose of this article was to showcase some of the functionality of our auditor, and how we're using it to fix our own site.  We generated a report for SEO-specific issues, from which we'll cherry-pick two issues: one the canonical tag, and the other images missing "alt" text.

Here's a screenshot snippet from the report:

 

Snippet of Krohn Media audit results

 

This first item we'll fix is the canonical URL.  We correctly had the metatag canonical URL set to "https://krohn.media":

 

Krohn Media canonical tag

 

Therefore, the problem lies elsewhere.  We refer to the authority, Google Search Central, to troubleshoot. Let's check our sitemap's URL:

 

Krohn Media sitemap URL

 

It was incorrectly set as "http".  Search engines see "http" and "https" as two different URLs.  We changed it to "https" and re-ran the audit.  Even though we corrected this misconfiguration in our sitemap, we didn't fix the problem, as our auditor again gives us a red flag.

Next to troubleshoot for our invalid canonical tag, per Google Search Central, is the HTTP response header.  Let's check the headers and inspect:

 

Krohn Media canonical HTTP header

 

We indeed have our header incorrectly set, which is stepping on our canonical metatag.  After changing it to https, I re-run our scan and we're now set to green:

 

Canonical URL correctly set

 

 

One down.  The next item are images missing the "alt" attribute.  Our auditor found one image missing "alt":

 

Image alt tags

 

This image is the light color logo in the footer at the bottom of our pages.  I added an "alt" attribute and re-ran the scan:

 

 

Green status for KM image alt attributes

 

These were issues flagged by our auditor.  We fixed them, re-scanned, and we're green.  It's a time saver being able to go right to the problems instead of checking every item by hand.

We'll continue to post about the progress we're making on our website auditor project.