Top web designers in cities population 120K-200K beat the national average for site quality in 26 out of 35 cities sampled. This data comes from a nationwide study on the quality of websites created by top organically ranked web designers in 131 US cities. The study which included 1,020 sites by 407 designers determined an average site health score of 73.5 from all site sampled.

Cities in the population group of 121K-200K had a health score averaging 75.4, the highest average for any city size segment. While the average score is just above the national average, the range of scores among cities in this segment ranges 22 points, 

What is Site Health and Why Does It Matter?

Site health is a term that refers to measure of technical errors or items not consistent with best SEO practice found on a particular website. More items identitfied indicates worse site health. Examples of error or issues include broken links, missing pages, weak content, and security related issues. The health score used in this study used a tool from SEMrush that examined each sample site for over 70 different errors or issues. The score is computed using the frequency and severity of all issues found.

Website health is important as there is a correlation between sites with higher health scores and higher placement in organic search results.

Top 10 Cities

The cities in the top ten all exceed the national average by over 4 points, with designers in the top ranked city, Des Moines, IA scoring 82.0, which is 9.5 points above the national average.


  • 1. Des Moines, IA 82.0%
  • 2. Springfield, MO 81.8%
  • 3. Tacoma, WA 81.8%
  • 4. Orlando, FL 81.0%
  • 5. Bridgeport, CT 80.8%
  • 6. Lakewood, CO 79.5%
  • 7. Winston-Salem, NC 78.8%
  • 8. Chattanooga, TN 77.8%
  • 9. Warren, MI 77.5%
  • 10. Knoxville, TN 77.5%

Top Errors for Websites in Cities Population 120K-200K

The site audit used to determine site health rank for the cities in this population segment classifies issues it finds by severity. The following four errors are among the most severe. They occur at nearly the same frequency as what was found in the nationwide study of the site health which included 1,020 sites by top-ranked web designers. 


Duplicate Content

Webpages are considered duplicate if they contain nearly identical or identical content. Using duplicated content across multiple pages may lead to traffic loss and poor placement in search results.


4xx Errors

A 4xx error means that a webpage cannot be accessed. This is usually the result of broken links. These errors can negatively affect both user experience and search engine crawlability.


Duplicate Title Tag

Duplicate <title> tags make it difficult for search engines to determine which pages are relevant for a specific search query, and should be prioritized in search results. Pages with duplicate titles have a lower chance of ranking well. 


Duplicate Meta Descriptions

A <meta description> tag is a short summary of a webpage’s content that helps search engines understand what the page is about and can be shown to users in search results.

Cities Ranked 11-24 – Still Above the National Average

The 13 cities in this segment beat the national average health score. Their margin was less significant than in the first group with the top score here being only 3.5% above average.

  • 11. San Bernardino, CA 77.0%
  • 12. Irving, TX 77.0%
  • 13. Eugene, OR 76.5%
  • 14. Vancouver, WA 76.3%
  • 15. Grand Rapids, MI 76.0%
  • 16. Boise, ID 76.0%
  • 17. Columbus, GA 75.7%
  • 18. Naperville, IL 75.7%
  • 19. Durham, NC 75.0%
  • 20. Richmond, VA 75.0%
  • 21. Huntsville, AL 74.0%
  • 22. Providence, RI 74.0%
  • 23. Tallahassee, FL 73.8%
  • 24. Syracuse, NY 73.5%
  • ** National Average ** 73.5%

Cities Ranked 27-35 – Below the National Average

Only ten cities in this population segment failed to beat the national average for website health, with the lowest scoring city coming in 7.5% below the national average.

  • ** National Average ** 73.5%
  • 25. Rockford, IL 73.3%
  • 26. Spokane, WA 72.8%
  • 27. Shreveport, LA 72.3%
  • 28. Dayton, OH 71.8%
  • 29. Jackson, MS 70.8%
  • 30. Kansas, KS 69.8%
  • 31. Fort Lauderdale, FL 69.3%
  • 32. Reno, NV 68.3%
  • 33. Little Rock, AR 67.0%
  • 34. Savannah, GA 66.0%

Business Owners and Website Health

Hiring a top-ranked web designer is not a guarantee you will get a healthy website. Even good designers miss things. Sometimes the problem is the designer did exactly what an owner told them. The issue is that the owner did not understand what is important to ask for.

Even the most critical things can go wrong. In a recent national study looking at site health for sites created by 407 top ranked web designers, 44.5% of sites had broken internal links and 62.2% had missing pages or other resources. On 86.6% of sites word count is low when compared to code, and 67.5% of sites have duplicate content issues.

Over the past 10 years the role of the business website has changed dramatically. No longer is a business website a glorified pamphlet. More and more, websites for business are essential elements for branding, marketing, sales and customer support.

In addition, online search is undergoing a revolution. Reconfigured search results pages change up how organic results are shown. The rapid growth of mobile and voice search is changing the queries and terms used to find products and services. Owners who hold to a “set it and forget it” approach toward their website leave room for nimble competition willing to make an effort to be seen.

Smart business owners will move monitoring website effectiveness off the back burner and recognize that there is a good chance you can win the race if you are one of the few who make the effort to run it.