Forensics across disciplines can be seen as bold and intuitive, thanks to the media. We would like to think those aspects play a part, although the backbone of website forensics is factual analysis through science and technology.
People logically think of a website as what they see, text and images. They are part of website investigation, although how the content is created is more relevant.
Website content is essentially a form of data, treated as such by web servers and search engines. The structure in terms of code and syntax matter to them, for clarity, reproduction and performance.
We always try to consider a website holistically, not least the business purpose. Even so, the web, search engines and websites are technical entities, each aspect offering an opportunity for quite specific forensic examination.
The Ability To Intrude
The old adage that privacy is dead tends to apply to websites themselves, very little can remain hidden:
- We can crawl your entire site in a way a search engine does. Check server returns, control files, DNS configuration.
- Search placement and indexing data can be collated. We review search engine compliance issues, however accidental.
- Internal link structure, inbound links and anchor text are mapped. On and off site duplication, including the cause.
- Page load times and inbuilt performance factors are evaluated. The ability of visitors to use and navigate your site.
- The history of a website and the domain itself. A domain’s past relationship to other websites and relevant parties.
- Content and use over the years. This could include whether a web domain has been misused, or suspended at any time.
- How use, or recent, or past change may have affected performance, or value if you are buying, or selling a website.
Technical assessment will form part of each facet but website investigation should add depth, a website is more than code.
Developing The Detail
Added to the core aspects above are a myriad of smaller details, from broken links to page titles. A defined picture comes together, unique to your website. Establishing the reality of a website is essential.
Core build errors can come to light during the process, along with other aspects which were not obvious. Forensic website examination builds itself, study of one factor defines others which need scrutiny.
You shouldn’t pluck answers out of thin air, simply be guided by what can be known. Website forensics is about accurate information.
In depth analysis of a website can be almost infinite. Alongside factual discovery, we are led by your needs, perhaps your brief.
The quality, or value of content can be important. As a website is indexed, search engines carry out semantic and statistical analysis. They wish to understand the page, the website, the web and how they interrelate.
The value of the content and wider relationships can equally be studied using dedicated software. As can the structure of a website, or individual pages, words have a forensic meaning.
Forensic reports on websites can be separate, or part of a wider study. They often underpin the mix of fact and opinion in a legal report, or identify technical errors which are causing performance issues, or project failure.
There is perhaps no field of investigation which does not involve a degree of subjectivity and experience. Forensic examination of a website is essentially still about creating a clear and unarguable picture, to help clients move forward.
Facts are to the fore but we do not want forensic reports to lack purpose. They can raise opportunity, answer questions, reveal strengths and weaknesses, help solve disputes, through shared knowledge.
Ethical and Confidential
Our task is to investigate and bring out information of value. In the case of website development, or a dispute, this may not be known by either party. The ethos underlying our work is ensuring fairness for all involved.
Nothing we find is used for any other purpose. If you talk to our staff in confidence, information you supply is not shared without permission. This is not to hide anything, simply to respect good practice.
Whether your interest is settling a dispute, or creating a better website, investigation of a website on a wider basis matters. As with most factors in business, website reports create awareness, opportunity and progress.