Bugs. They’re as undesirable in our websites and software as they are in our homes, and just as termites can hollow out your house’s walls before making their presence known, certain bugs could be gnawing away at the SEO ranking of your company’s website without your knowledge – as we speak.
When a bug makes its way into your site or product and goes undetected on release it has the potential of affecting not only user experience, but your business’ finances and reputation as well. American Airlines learned this the hard way in April when their jets were grounded by a single iPad bug in their piloting software.
While highly skilled engineers and a talented QA team are the best defense against releasing with bugs, many small businesses don’t have the budget for these resources and those that do tend to have complex, fast-evolving products for which complete testing is an impossibility. Also, small businesses are common targets for cyber attacks due to resource limitations resulting in security oversights. For this reason, community testing services such as Expert Testing can be of great service; SEO experts will likely find different issues than those with a background in cybersecurity, while the trained eyes of copywriters and designers will scrutinize those elements of a site that they know best.
To get a clearer idea of what different bugs are capable of, let’s take a look at some examples of the more damaging types that may be hiding in your website:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Effective SEO relies on a number of tweaks that, when implemented correctly into your site, can greatly increase the visibility of your site in search engine results. This can be an effective way for small businesses to stand out among large competitors, and considering that roughly fifty-one percent of traffic to websites comes from organic searches, it would be difficult to overstate the importance of regular SEO audits. SEO issues can result in huge traffic losses and are often elusive and hard to detect.
- Incorrect “robots” meta tags: The “robots” meta tags act as instructions for search engine crawlers and are prone to neglect and unintended changes. The follow and index tags are particularly crucial for being recognized by search engines, but there are cases when using nofollow and noindex tags are beneficial for SEO.
- Bad redirects: Moved or deprecated pages should always utilize 301 redirects. These tell crawlers that a page has been permanently moved and redirect them to the new location. If implemented incorrectly, crawlers may run into the dreaded 404 error; the equivalent of a dead-end.
- Errors in Sitemap or robots.txt: The Sitemap and robots.txt files are prone to numerous errors and misuses that can hamper your SEO ranking. While smaller websites may not require a robots.txt file, others may be blocking crawlers from CSS and JS files or inviting them to crawl pages containing low-quality content that will harm their ranking.
Without cybersecurity experts on hand to analyze your website, sealing all of the holes through which hackers may attack can prove to be a huge challenge. Security bugs tend to be wholly invisible to users who don’t know what to look for, but those that do know just where all the usual security vulnerabilities tend to hide.
- SQL Injection Vulnerabilities: Placing unprotected data inputs on a page can allow shady users to execute malicious SQL code that can have devastating affects on your site. In fact, SQL injections are responsible for some of the most costly cyber attacks ever recorded.
- Cross-site Scripting (XSS) Vulnerabilities: Cross-site scripting is another form of injection attack that allows for client-side execution of code on a page. Despite being fairly simple to prevent, XSS attacks are still considered the most prevalent security flaw in web applications.
- Insecure pages & authentication errors: Self explanatory, but surprisingly common issues. Ignorance or simple human error may result in a page that is meant to be secure being made insecure or cause any number of errors in the authentication process that can leave your site and its users vulnerable to attack.
Functionality & Design
You would think that issues with a page’s design or functionality would be simple to identify and weed out, but there are many bugs that can hide in plain sight; minor annoyances and page-destroyers alike.
- Responsive Design bugs: With Google now seeing more searches coming from mobile devices than desktop computers, thorough cross-device testing is becoming crucial for maintaining a consistent user experience. Responsive design bugs can mean much more than your page looking ugly on certain mobile devices, but often result in buttons and other content being completely obscured by other elements on a page.
- Multiple form submits: If the right restrictions aren’t applied to a form submit button multiple clicks can result in multiple submissions. This leaves the potential for numerous issues including accidental duplicate purchases or spamming abuse.
- Character limit bugs: If somebody named Bartholomew Thanyawatpokin from Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, Wales visits your site and decides to sign up, how will that work out for him? Character limit bugs tend to result in minor display issues but can occasionally hamper user experience. For example, if the character limit on a “set username” text field is greater than it is on the “username” field when logging in, those who set long usernames will be unable to log in.
Anybody in QA will tell you that “fresh eyes” are invaluable when looking for defects because less familiarity with a product means interactions are more likely to resemble those of the end user. Additionally, a diverse set of fresh eyes is bound to warrant valuable feedback because each user viewing the product does so through the lens of their own skills and experience.
For this reason, Expert Testing is an invaluable tool for individuals and small business alike. Members can submit projects, define project scope and provide directions for testing, allowing experts to find and report bugs in your website. With the help of the Experts Exchange community, consisting of professionals from across the globe trained in virtually every tech discipline imaginable, you can finally rest easy knowing that your website is free of hazardous bugs.