Key and descriptions
The downloadable pdf audit file for each site contains further data about issues that are not visible in the above table. Each issue indicates not only the difficulty search engines have when crawling, indexing and ranking sites, but also, more importantly, highlights usability issues faced by website visitors.
As well as manually reviewing each space organization’s site included in the 2017 study, SEMrush
auditing tool was used to count issues and export reports, Moz
software was used to ascertain domain authority scores and Screaming Frog
was the tool chosen to crawl each website.
was also used to uncover the pages listed in the Google US search engine results pages.
- Crawled Web Pages - the number of urls SEMrush was able to discover whilst crawling a domain or website
- Domain Authority - an overall score Moz calculates from a site’s content and incoming links from other sites
- SEO Score - an score out of 100 SEMrush attributes to how well a website is optimized for the search engines
- SEO Errors - hidden issues that Google and other search engines face when crawling websites and domains
- SEO Warnings - lesser important technical SEO and usability issues, but missed opportunities nonetheless
- Broken Links - the number of internal image and text links that are broken and return a 404 not found error
- Temporary Redirects - temporarily rather than permanently redirected urls that hinder a page’s ability to rank
- Duplicate Content - pages with exactly the same content seen on multiple urls that compete with each other
- Duplicate Meta Titles - pages with non-unique meta titles (the valuable blue links seen in the search results)
- Duplicate Meta Descriptions - non-unique meta descriptions (the line or two of text seen in the search results)
- Broken Image Urls - code for missing or deleted images that have change address, leaving a big empty space
- Missing Image Alt Tags - images that lack the tag that describes to search engines what is seen in the image
Summary of findings
As is often the case, large websites operated by government organizations that are less tied to providing value to the customer (than their commercial counterparts), tend to have the biggest sites and therefor suffer the highest number of issues. Websites that represent large brands, that outsource site management tasks to agencies suffer to a lesser degree. And sites owned by smaller firms enjoy the best results, likely due to their keeping marketing staff close to the core of their business. Below are some key findings uncovered whilst auditing the top 20 space industry sites...
By far the most common website errors that make life difficult for visitors are broken links and missing images - similar to inviting customers to your company offices and allowing erroneous door signs to get them lost and stressed-out before a meeting. Common issues Google has with space industry sites include homepages with multiple urls, including the https and http variants and those linked to with and without the www. Do you know which is the correct address of your own site? Does your marketing team?
Because some brands are so big and care less if they rank high in the search engine results pages for the name of their products or services, many space sector web pages lack being optimized for target keyword phrases. Some, including NASA, are happy to have many uncrawlable web pages online, others, like the UK Space Agency have held back from creating a dedicated website and interestingly the Russian Space Agency’s site is coded to hide all its pages from Google - to little effect.
Take-aways and your next steps
Fact 1 - Google traffic brings untold opportunities
Google prefers making money rather than spending it. Their biggest expense is discovering and crawling web pages in order to index and rank them in the search results. Despite their ongoing attempts to inform webmasters and online marketing managers, making sites efficient for their robots to crawl is the most important thing that can be done to help Google give websites maximum visibility in the search results.
Action - Have your site submitted to Google
Most of your traffic already comes from Google, so having your webmaster sign up to their free service at Google Search Console and adding your site is all that is needed to have Google run it through their tools and flag hidden errors that can be resolved. These issues should not be allowed to hold you back from higher rankings and increased traffic from your target online markets.
Fact 2 - Untapped search markets mean money
Sure your site will rank for your brand name but those are just the words searched by people who already know about your firm. The much larger volume of potential customers are most likely searching for phrases that relate to your products and services for information that could solve their individual needs and encourage them to share your information on the social networks or get in touch with your team.
Action - Search for products - not for names
if you create "separation hardware for spacecraft" go ahead and search Google for that phrase and any other phrase potential customers may search for. Have your SEO guy do some basic keyword research and optimize every page on your site so that not only potential customers, but journalists, prospective employees and your fans can see what is on offer.
Fact 3 - Brand trust matters in the space sector
Because of the nature of the space industry, its products, and its reliance on gaining and maintaining the trust of customers, it is essential to prove your team pays enough attention to detail. However, representing your brand with a site full of broken links, missing images, erroneous navigation, or lack of support for mobile, tablets or other devices, is a sure fire way of trashing the trust and authority your brand really needs to maintain.
Action - Have your site health checked regularly
Have third parties review and user-test your website and make recommendations - and not just for the aesthetics. A website is a marketing machine, make sure it works perfectly in all browsers and device types. If done correctly you will be rewarded with improved brand trust and for paying true attention to detail - often claimed by competitors, and likely, by your own company.
Fact 4 - Digital marketing is central to your goals
Government organizations and large firms that leave the management of their websites to staff in external agencies suffer the most. Webmasters that are unaware of the goals of C-Suite leaders and marketing directors tend not to report issues that are holding the site back. Worse is that new opportunities are often not relayed to the appropriate decision maker to be acted on.
Action - Know your market (and your marketers)
If you are a director, manager or a decision maker of any sized space industry brand, take steps to bring your web team much closer to the core of your business. Have them feedback issues and opportunities their managers wouldn’t usually bother you with and allow them to make the best of the online opportunities your brand has left untapped.
The errors uncovered in the audit above are not just visible to Google and the search engines, they are experienced by potential customers, journalists, competitors and fans of your brand countless times every day. A broken link is a reflection of a broken relationship and just because management don’t have time to constantly review and experience these issues, they are still there doing damage to the brand every day.
To learn more about the difficulties space industry website users face and the drop in confidence they experience when visiting a site that should work as well as the hardware on offer, sign up to email updates
in order to download the full audit pdf, click the logo of each brand to read more about their website or get in touch for a SEO audit and recommendations for your website. Feel free to share the audit findings around the web and with your company\'s marketing manager - it could make all the difference.