Can search engines easily "crawl" pages on your site?
Your website has to be crawl-able by the search engines. If your website isn't - everything you do is for nothing. This can be affected by a few things such as complicated elements like flash, messy coding from web software or being blocked on the robots.txt. The easiest of those fixes is the robots.txt file needing updating.
Visit here for more on setting up your robots.txt file.
Does site manage duplicate content issues well?
You must have processes in place to ensure that duplicate content doesn't happen. You need to ensure that your links are canonical. This entails providing a tag to show that the URL is the preferred version to be shown in Google. This is an absolute must with eCommerce websites or those that support categorizing content.
To better explain this, let's explore the below example:
You can search for swedish fish on this site in a few ways including this URL: http://www.example.com/product.php?item=swedish-fish
You can also find the exact same content with this URL: http://www.example.com/product.php?item=swedish-fish&category=gummy-candy
If you don't specify the canonical URL, Google will treat this as duplicate content.
Does your site work well for mobile devices & make use of app indexing?
If your site is not available in a mobile friendly format - then you're not even behind the 8 ball ... you're behind the 7 ball. Join the new era of technology and get a site that's mobile friendly. There are plenty of statistics available on the web that suggest more than 60% of searching is done from a mobile device. Mobile devices rarely make phone calls anymore - they do everything but that.
Does site load quickly?
This is a subjective factor and no one has a definitive answer on the time to load a website. A basic HTML website can load in milliseconds - but technology has advanced so much that websites aren't that basic anymore. They have content management systems, online stores, forums, interactivity, cookies and more. The rule of thumb we use at Pulse Media Solutions is the site must load in under 5 seconds, dependent on the complexity of the site.
Do URLs contain meaningful keywords to page topics?
You should always customize your URLs to include useful phrases that are relevant to the content of the page. This doesn't mean to go crazy and have a 45 word long URL - it means to name it for what the major keywords are for the page. For example, look at the URL for this page - https://www.pulsemediasolutions.com/2178/seo-periodic-table-architecture/
This website is a "secure" website using HTTPS, discussed below. Then the domain name which is typically the organization name and then .com is the most popular domain type. After that the 2178 is the unique number to identify this article. That number has permanently been assigned to this article no matter what is after that. This is very important if you have a dynamic website or very large website. This helps the search engines know what's the for sure way to find the content. It also helps with the canonical portion mentioned above with avoiding duplicate content.
Does your site use HTTPS to provide a secure connection for visitors?
The world-wide-web is full of bad information and corrupt websites that can harm your visitors. If your visitor has their information stolen or get's attacked because they visited your website - I can guarantee you they will never return. Secure websites has recently been pushed by Google too - so now they use it as a ranking factor for SEO.
We recently did an article on SSL and HTTPS.
Do you show search engines different pages than humans?
This is one of the best ways to get your website penalized or even removed from the search engines. This is HIGHLY frowned upon by every search engine out there. Utilizing this might generate short term gains - but the long term penalty effects are not worth it. If you're using this tactic you should stop immediately. Search engines want to index the same information and data you're providing the visitors - anything different falls into this category.
When assessing your architecture make sure you're evaluating it as a whole and individually. Take a look most importantly at whether or not the search engines can even access and crawl your website. After that, make sure your website handles duplicate content appropriately, has a mobile friendly environment, loads quickly, utilizes HTTPS and SSL, and lastly you have SEO friendly URLs. If you're using cloaking as a tactic to "trick" the search engines - trust me when I tell you they'll figure it out and they won't be happy.