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How to Do an SEO Audit

seo site audit

Are you still baffled about why your website isn’t performing to its maximum potential, even though it was designed with all the littlest detail in mind? It doesn’t appear anywhere near the top results of search engine results pages; it has low traffic, and the pages aren’t converting. You’re frustrated because you’ve made sure that your website has the best user experience: it loads fast, and you’ve laden it with the best content, yet it’s still performing poorly in search results. 

This wouldn’t be such a mystery if you conduct a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) audit.

An SEO audit allows you to see the nitty-gritty of your website. You can see what works and what doesn’t. With that insight, you’ll also be able to implement changes and repairs to boost up your website’s performance on search engines.

The problem is, the audit can seem like it’s too technical for you. While it is technical to some extent you don’t have to overdo it, especially if you have a simple website. You can run an audit on your own and do simple fixes that generate profound results. But if your website is too huge and has lots of pages, then you’d probably want to invest in a professional SEO audit service.

Recommended reading: What Is User Intent and How to Master it in Content Marketing & SEO

What is an SEO Audit?

An SEO audit is a process of dissecting a website and checking most, if not all, of its ranking signals, to determine its strengths and weaknesses. Think of it this way: the audit tells you the “grades” of your website. If you have high grades, chances are, your website is also doing well in search engine results. With that, as a webmaster, you must study very carefully every factor that affects your website’s performance so that it goes up in ranking in SERPs.

Another way you can think of SEO audits is that they are essentially check-ups, like when you go to your family doctor. You may consult your doctor regularly even if you don’t feel anything wrong, to make sure that your health is top condition. However, you will want to visit your doctor when something’s amiss so that the ailment can be remedied right away and won’t go into something worse.

Following this line of thought, websites need their check-ups too. It is best to make sure that everything is in order and up-to-date, as well as identify issues that may be damaging to their health.

Why Do You Need an SEO Audit?

An SEO audit is an essential practice that helps improve your website’s visibility. It gives you a bigger picture of your website’s performance. It checks on as many factors as possible to let you know what you should keep doing, what you should stop doing, and what needs changing. Most importantly, you need to do an SEO audit due to these reasons:

  1.   Measure progress

Whether you’re performing your own website audit or hiring professional SEO audit service experts to do it for you, having an audit in place before you start a project gives you a suitable measuring benchmark of your website’s progress over time. Regular SEO audits give you data to determine whether your SEO strategies are working and are effective.

  1.   Pinpoint your website’s weaknesses

Although your website may be generating traffic, your site may not be maxing out to its full potential. A comprehensive audit points out the weaknesses in your website, which may include missing or broken links, thin content, site speed issues, or non-secure websites. If you know where to improve, you can direct your focus where it’s needed.

  1.   Study the competition

The great thing about doing an SEO audit is that you can audit not just your website, but all of your competitors as well. Running a free SEO audit on your competitor’s site will uncover a lot of things, such as keywords that work for them, backlinking strategies, and more. You don’t want to copy your competitors’ website, but it helps you understand what’s working and what isn’t. 

  1.   Roll with what’s new

Search engines like Google roll out new updates now and then, so a strategy that works today may no longer be applicable next month. It’s important to make sure that your website rocks not just by design, content or structure, but also in terms of searchability. Regular audits allow you to keep your website in sync with the latest updates.

How To Do A Basic SEO Audit

A website SEO audit may sound complicated and takes a lot of work. You can do most parts of the audit manually, but you also need tools to simplify the process. If you’re ready to conduct a basic SEO site audit on your website, here are the things that you should do.

  1.   Check your website’s accessibility

One of the first few things you need to check up on is how you and others can access your website. You may be familiar with different URL formats, like www.yourwebsite.com or yourwebsite.com and so forth. Regardless of how a user can access your website, it should always redirect to a single and secure version.

Why is this important? 

If your website has two versions, then Google might flag you for having duplicate content. Not only will you get flagged, but potential traffic may also get divided between the two sites, so you’re losing a lot by having both.

If you find your website having more than one version, you can resolve the issue by going to your WordPress settings and specifying the correct URL.

  1.   Secure your website

A secured website through the use of an SSL certificate (Secure Socket Layer) gives the user more confidence that any information (such as username, password and payment details) is less likely to be stolen by hackers. Additionally, Google now considers an SSL certificate as an essential ranking factor.

A secured website often starts with https; otherwise, it’s crucial to get an SSL certificate. To do this, you need to find a host that provides an SSL certificate. Then you need to purchase the certificate, activate, and then install it. After that, your website should always redirect to its secured version.

  1.   Crawl your site

Crawling is the process of letting Google spider through the entirety of your website by following the hyperlinks. Crawling is essential because it leads to the discovery of new content and pages. It also allows for indexing, which means Google stores your web pages in its massive database.

Crawling is also essential in an SEO audit because it helps unlock numerous issues you probably never noticed on your website before, such as duplicate content, excessive redirects, and other errors. Google doesn’t appreciate this, and it would make your site less appealing and relevant to search queries.

Furthermore, crawling allows you to see your website the way Google does and allows you to take action on these issues so that your website performs better. There are several ways to crawl your website through free SEO audit tools and premium ones. The leading crawlers include:

  •   SEMRush
  •   Ahrefs
  •   DeepCrawl
  •   ScreamingFrog

Typically, you’ll have to download a crawling application onto your computer and set the criteria. You’ll have to enter your website’s URL and then start the crawl. After a couple of minutes, the application should bring back a report, which may point you to potential issues that require attention.

  1.   Manually search your site

You probably don’t always do this, but it’s good to search your site on search engines. The results tell you a lot about how your website performs in terms of traffic.

Start by typing in your business name or brand name in the search query. From the results, you can determine if your brand comes up on the first few sites on the list, if the description below your link is accurate, and whether the pages on the first page results are relevant or not.

Now, scroll down and look at the suggested searches. There’s a box there that contains results for related searches. Find terms that are relevant to your brand or make use of these searches to come up with dedicated content as well.

There’s another way to search for your brand on Google. In the search bar, type in site:{brand name}. You’ll probably see that Google has indexed more pages than your site truly has, and this happens often to many websites. Those extra pages are called “zombie pages,” and they can affect your ranking negatively. Zombie pages often take the form of thin content, category pages, old pages, and other irrelevant pages.

What you should do is delete these zombie pages, and your ranking should see some improvement. After all, having fewer relevant pages is better for Google because it takes less time to crawl and index your site. 

  1.   Fix broken links

If you’ve moved, removed pages or did some updates to your website, you might encounter some broken links. Broken links are links that no longer work. Unfortunately, these broken links can go unnoticed. Having them on your site doesn’t bring down the ranking, but they contribute to poor user experience. Too many broken links make your website seem less professional and credible.

Finding broken links is an easy task, and there are several ways to find them through SEO link audit tools. You can use various broken links checkers and tools that identify broken links. Once you’ve seen where the broken links are, it’s in your best interest to remove them, update them, or redirect them to a suitable page. Some of the most popular applications you can use to identify broken links include the Google Search Console, Xenu, ScreamingFrog, Ahrefs, and Google WebMaster.

  1.   Check for mobile-friendliness

There are two reasons why it’s important to have a mobile-friendly website. First, more than half of today’s searches are done from a mobile device. Second, in 2018, Google announced an update in its algorithms about mobile-first indexing. In simpler terms, mobile-unfriendly websites will weaken your SEO campaign in 2019.

With mobile-friendliness is now considered an important ranking signal, it’s essential to audit your website in this aspect as well. You might think your website is mobile-friendly, but it’s always best to check.

The best way to check for mobile-friendliness is through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. Input or paste the URL into the app, and it will tell you almost instantly if your website is mobile-friendly. However, if you want to have a more accurate test, use Google Webmaster Tools.

If you find out that your website is not optimized for mobile searches, consider getting a responsive design immediately.

  1.   Optimize On-page factors

Now, look at the contents of your pages and see whether they’re optimized to attract traffic. After crawling your website, you should be able to see how your pages are performing. The elements you should be checking out, and optimizing, include the title tag, meta description, sub-headings, and links. Here are the things that should be included in the SEO content audit:

  •   Title tags

Make sure that the title is relevant and unique because the purpose of the title tag is to differentiate one page from another.  Also, the title tag should contain the keywords that you are trying to rank for. It’s best to have the keywords near the start of the title rather than the ending of it. 

  •   Meta Description

The meta tag should be concise yet thoughtful. The tag needs to communicate clearly what the topic is going to be about with about 200 characters or less.

  •   H Tags

H1, H2, and H3 tags are strategic places to put your target keywords. Ideally, you should have one H1 tag that contains your keywords, and then have subsequent subheadings that contain your secondary keywords. Make sure that you have H tags; having none, too little or too much affects the readability of the content. 

  •   URL

Google favors short and concise URLs over long ones which should also contain keywords in it.

  •   Links

Both outbound and inbound links are important ranking factors. Linking to 2 authority sites is highly desirable for Google. Additionally, it’s best to avoid no-follow links. Internal links keep visitors within your website for a longer period, thus improving “dwell time.”

  •   Keyword placement

The placement of your keywords matter. While you want to make sure to include them throughout your content, it needs to sound as natural as possible. Avoid stuffing keywords everywhere. It also helps to mention your target keyword within the first 100 words of your content.

  •   Alt tags

Image optimization is also an essential on-page element. Make sure that your images are correctly optimized with keywords contained within the images’ alternative texts.

  •   Content length

Several studies have found that longer content tends to rank higher in search engines. Longer content keeps the audience hooked for an extended period, which is great for SEO. Content with 1000 or more words gives you a better opportunity to include more keywords naturally.

  1.   Determine the page speed

Page speed is an important ranking factor for Google. The faster the page loads, the better user experience it creates for your audience. Nowadays, people have a shorter attention span. If they can’t find what they want on your website as quickly as possible, they’re likely to leave and turn to your competition. Additionally, slow page speed also slows down search engines when crawling and indexing your site.

A slow-loading page is a recipe for missed opportunities, lost sales, and conversions. If you don’t know for sure how fast your page loads, you can start testing with the PageSpeed Insights Tool by Google. You may also inspect page speed with YSlow, Firebug and Page Speed if you’re using the Firefox browser.

If you have a slow-loading page, here’s what you can do. First, minify the code by using a compressor such as a CSSminifier. You’ll also want to minify Javascript, reduce file requests, and redirects. To optimize the speed, you’ll also want to optimize the images and use a caching system.

  1.   Remedy thin and duplicate content

Thin content and shallow pages are content that doesn’t offer substantial value to the users. Sometimes, thin content also takes the form of duplicate content and auto-generated content. Here’s the word about thin content: Google doesn’t like them and it might penalize you.

You need to identify if you have any thin and duplicate content on your site, and then act on them fast. For duplicate content, you can input the page’s URL into Copyscape, and the app should give you a report on whether parts of the content are duplicated somewhere else. If this is the case, you need to improve the content so that it becomes unique and valuable.

As for thin content, you want to think of them as badly written material laden with various keywords designed to draw in clicks without giving users any real value. Thin contents have low word counts and have texts repeatedly mentioned on other pages. 

You should be able to identify thin content when crawling your website. We recommend running Grammarly, Content SEO checker, ScreamingFrog, and MarketMuse to locate thin content.

When you’ve identified where the thin content is, you have different options of what to do with them. You can expand the content so that it provides more value and relevance, or rewrite the content entirely. You may also want to remove the thin and duplicate content to increase your odds of getting a higher ranking.

Are You Ready to do an SEO Audit for Your Site?

A website SEO audit is one of the most important things that you should do as a webmaster, marketer, or business owner. Your website stands for you and your brand, and you want it to succeed. However, if you don’t know what exactly is pulling your site down, then you would be clueless as to which SEO site audit to focus on.

Learn how to do an SEO audit of your website, starting with the basic ones. If you feel overwhelmed about the number of tasks that you have to do to complete the process, you can use an SEO audit checklist to guide you. Additionally, you can use SEO audit software to streamline the process to save valuable time.

All in all, you should give an SEO audit enough attention if you desire to see improvements with your ranking, traffic, conversion, and sales.

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