SE Optimization SE Positioning SE Tactics

The What and Why of Website Graders and How They Apply To Search Rankings

Image courtesy of Unsplash

Congratulations, you’ve made a website. You’re now among the near 2 billion websites — and counting — bouncing around the internet. From one website in existence in 1991, this is how far we’ve come. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that your site can easily get lost amongst the incessant influx of websites populating the internet at an incredible rate. 

This is especially true when Google sifts through billions of search results in less than a second. Hence, the world of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is important to make sure that your website doesn’t get buried. To properly optimize your website and improve your rank on Google’s search engine, there are a number of tools to help. 

One of the most important tools is a website grader. Just like it says, a website grader breaks down specific SEO aspects of your websites and shows you what’s working, what’s not, where you stand, and where you can improve. How a website grader goes about doing this can be variable because there isn’t only one out there. However, there are certain SEO gold standards that website graders take into consideration. Let’s break down some of the whats and whys of website graders. 

Why Should I Use A Website Grader?

It seems obvious, but enough people — even those with their own websites, businesses, etc. — don’t understand the dynamic nature of search engine ranking. Google dominates the search engine market and they write the algorithmic law as far as search rankings are concerned. In a given year, they change their search algorithm between 500 and 600 times. Most of these updates you can neither see nor really tell exist, but some of them are major changes that, if not closely heeded, could be damaging to your search ranking. 

Website graders stay up to date with what Google wants to see, as well as other tried-and-true SEO methods to consider. Without using a website grader, it’s akin to taking tests in school and never knowing what answers you’re getting right, what you’re getting wrong, or if there have been changes to the subject you’re studying. Basically, you’d never know if you were passing, failing, or somewhere in between, which isn’t good for academic performance. From classroom to search engine rank, the concept remains the same. 

What Does A Website Grader Grade? 

There’s a long list of things website graders can look at to grade the viability of your SEO, but there are certain aspects that float to the top of the list if you want your site to really make the grade. These broad questions break down more specific aspects of your site, weighing their importance in SEO. 

  • How does it look, how does it feel?
    • Falling under the umbrella of user experience (UX), the look and feel of your website can bring traffic in or drive it away. How it does that depends on a few aspects. 
    • Site loading time is one of the leading reasons for bounce rate. People will leave your website if the webpage takes too long to load. Having a website is only as good as the number of people who visit and stay on it and a slow site loading time will drive users away. 
    • Mobile first design considers the fact that the majority of people are accessing websites from their mobile devices. If your website is designed only considering desktop users, you’re missing the mark and that clunky page won’t load well on mobile devices, causing people to bounce. Proper design should pander to mobile users first, then to desktop users. Responsive website design is the preferred method of website building that can switch seamlessly from mobile to desktop platforms.
    • Your site visitors should also not be confused or lost by your site’s layout. They should know where to go, what to do, and what your product is within seconds of reaching your homepage. Confused users leave overly complex sites quickly to find easier ones, so remember that less is more and simple, easily maneuverable design is paramount.
  • Are people going to your site?
    • You can’t have people leaving your site if they’re not visiting in the first place. The most important thing your site needs to have to be successful is people visiting. Otherwise known as website traffic, the amount of people who visit your site, turn into leads, convert into sales, subscriptions, etc. is what drives your website and gives your business the exposure it needs. Of course, if they can’t find your site when searching for a product or service you provide, you’re not getting the traffic you need. It’s a simple game of numbers. User traffic is what SEO revolves around and is the main function of the website grader. By analyzing your site’s SEO and grading it therefrom, you’re better able to make informed decisions on what needs to be changed, tweaked, added, and deleted in order to boost your search rank.
  • Do you have good backlinks?
    • Backlinks are one of the most important parts of SEO. Simply put, it’s when a site has a link in their content that takes their users to your site; their content links back to yours. The more sites that link back to yours, the more legitimate you look in the eyes of Google.
    • However, this has been taken advantage of over time. People would simply get as many backlinks to their site as possible and completely disregard whether or not those sites were relevant, legitimate, or even remotely viable. A link was a link. Google caught on to that and now analyzes backlink legitimacy with an algorithm update called Penguin. 
    • If you have sites linking to yours and they’re less than reputable, aren’t well designed, inactive, inaccurate, or otherwise questionable, Google will penalize you. It’s important to keep up with your backlink profile, making sure that you’re checking on the legitimacy of your backlinks and disavowing links from sites that aren’t legit. 
  • Does your site have good content? 
    • A site can’t have backlinks without content and other sites won’t want to link back to yours if it doesn’t have good content. You might think good content is a relative term, but it has specific values to separate the proverbial wheat from the chaff. 
    • Keyword research is important to make sure your content targets whatever keywords are applicable to the service/product your website offers. Good content is also free of grammatical errors, poor word usage, and general typos. 
    • As a general rule, the longer, more in-depth, and accurate your onsite content is, the more likely it is to render better search results. This includes who you link to. Backlinks aren’t the only factor in website grading, it’s the links you point to as well. Are they accurate? Relevant? Well-designed? Not spammy? Anything you link your readers to should be well thought out before you make references in your content.

Website Graders Are Your Ally

The world of SEO can be a tough, ever-changing landscape to navigate, but the learning process isn’t without well-formed tools that show measurable results. Website graders are wonderful ways to get an SEO snapshot and use that information to bring your site from SEOh no! to SEOmg yes!

About the author


Timothy Ludwig

Timothy Ludwig is a Premium Writer at HubShout, a white label SEO company.