In bygone days, a developer could create a web grader, sit back for a year or two...or five and let it do its thing. Now, a web grader ages much like a dog—really really fast. New generations of web graders have to contend with momentous updates like Penguin and Panda, as well as smaller updates and advances in digital marketing.Since its release in 2011, the HubShout web grader has analyzed over 2,000,000 websites. Its ability to benchmark a website’s link counts with competitors was unique when other free web graders were typically limited to onsite SEO analysis. The HubShout web grader was a standout in 2011 and it's still very useful—benchmarking link counts, comparing links to competitors, providing traffic value, keyword rankings and Moz metrics. But much has changed since 2011 and it’s time for a refresh.
The Industry Has SpokenWe asked around (via HARO, twitter, email) to get an idea of what the industry is looking for in a web grader. Some respondents gave feedback specific to the HubShout web grader: Shelley Zurek of stillblondeafteralltheseyears reports that the HubShout web grader was very comprehensive and she was easily able to see things she could improve on her site, but feels it’s not as “comprehensive” as it once was. Carolyn Bowers of commonplaces finds that other web graders (Woorank and SEMRush) provide quite a bit more information now. She added this constructive criticism: “I think the layout is a little odd and could be more user-friendly.” Tim Frick of mightybytes is interested to know “how you guys differentiate yourselves from Moz. Some interesting stuff there.” And then there’s Craig Tomlin usability testing expert at usefulusability. He tweeted: How about hiring a Usability Testing expert to provide valuable data and feedback? #JustAnIdea #HintHint
How to Build a Better Web Grader
In other feedback about web graders in general, a few common themes emerged; they are, in no particular order:
#1 MobileMobile optimization is top of mind for everyone in the industry now that Google has unleashed the update known as “Mobilegeddon.” Jim Lastinger of deepfieldinc.com says, “2015 is the year of mobile. SEO tools need to help website owners make sure that their site works properly on any size device.” Max Pollak, Digital Marketing Manager of straighterline.com says, “Website graders should anticipate shifts in the market and develop tools that align to the latest trends including trends like location based searches and mobile optimization.” Michelle Friedman Director of SEO and Marketing at medicalscrubscollection.com wants a web grader to do “More mobile testing—most tools analyze web pages' desktop features, with just a cursory glance at the mobile site. With the web trending toward mobile devices we would like to see more mobile-centered data.”
#2 Content/ContextBesides things like how many words are on a page, is the content too spammy with keywords, do you not have enough keywords, Matt Morgan, SEM strategist at Mount Comfort Coffee would like to see a web grader that "makes recommendations on rich data like forums, video and interactive content to make sure it is being utilized well." Matt DiCiero, SEO Associate at Blue Fountain Media finds that “There really isn't anything that allows you to gauge what's acceptable and valuable content. Validity of content is rumored to be coming soon in the Google world, and without an intensive content analysis tool, it's hard to understand what content is valuable.” Neal Fondren, Senior VP for Digital Strategies and Insights with Intermark Group Inc. says, “Structure, content themes and consistency between the title tags and page descriptions are increasingly more critical. Being able to automate associative properties and being able to index content with associated tags and page descriptions so that, algorithmically, inconsistencies are flagged for action would create the ultimate in tools.” And finally, Jordan Schneider Director of Marketing at TechnologyAdvice would like to see “Schema Score—Some kind of third party scoring system for how well a website is making use of semantic markup.”
#3 ConversionsA web grader with the ability to measure conversions and evaluate the efficacy of calls-to-action is what Kent Lewis, President of Anvil Media wants: “A webgrader with that kind of aptitude would be “magical.” Indeed it would be! Linda Waterhouse, Digital Marketing Consultant at WSI has found that web graders “can tell us whether we are getting conversions, but if we're not, they don't help us understand why we're not.”
#4 LinksThe HubShout web grader does report on inbound links, but now, there’s a demand for more granular information about links, as well as metrics on brand mentions. Nathan Richardson of ComplexSearch wants a webgrader to “Benchmark the incoming links to your competitors and their mentions in brands. Then show links that are possible spam or are suspicious.”
#5 Local OptimizationIn addition to reporting on the number of inbound links, Max Pollak of straighterline.com wants to know “the accuracy of local citations.” Ron Perry of egniteBIZ would like the local data that’s usually offered in services specific to local listings: “It would be nice to have functionality in place to check for consistency of local listings, duplicates, and missing business listings in the major search engines and directories.”
#6 Everything but the Kitchen SinkMichael Juba of EZSolution has a long list of webgrader wishes: “We use several tools and website graders to do the job, but it'd be nice if there was one tool that did all of these: Broken link checker, both internal and external Duplicate content checker Optimized tags for keywords On-page optimization recommendations Link analysis tool Competitive analysis Flesch-kincaid reading score Keyword density Mobile optimization suggestions Page site speed Optimized UX experience Good use of calls to action Content above the fold, Social above the fold, Potential spam score, Grammar checker.. Really it'd just be nice to have all of these tools in one place for ease of use and to show clients easily, quickly, and effectively what is wrong with their website.” Katie Donabedian of Walker Sands Digital says, “The main thing missing from website graders is getting all of the important information in one place. When I perform a website audit, I use different tools to get each piece of information, which takes time and subscriptions to multiple tools. It would be great to get everything I need with one tool.” And from Oliver James, Marketing Director for Realize Internet Marketing, "I would like to see click through rate being focused on more since it is Google's number one ranking factor, according to Search Metrics."
We Have our Marching Orders
We can’t promise “magic” but we will build a better web grader.The technology team at HubShout has taken all of the feedback into consideration and upgrades are in progress. It's not too late to add your two cents! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment, below. Keep an eye on the HubShout blog for updates.