To achieve success online, you’ll have to maximize your SEO efforts by engaging in an SEO site audit for your webpages. Whether you like it or not, SEO is a top priority for any marketer.
However, before you can begin a site audit, you’ll need to understand the fundamentals first.
What is an SEO audit?
Now, it’s only natural that you’ll want your content to be relevant to the people who visit your website.
By now, you should be aware that the old SEO tactics, such as keyword stuffing, creating several pages for various keywords, as well as trying to utilize multiple microsites to drive up traffic, don’t work anymore.
In the last ten years, ranking factors and criteria have changed significantly. These days, the most favored websites are those that are mobile-friendly and optimized for user intent.
Search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing come with algorithms that crawl webpages and compare your site to varying ranking factors denoting usability and reference. Each page on your website is crawled to determine if your site offers useful and legit content.
As your site is being crawled, these search engines also check to see how secure, fast, and easy-to-navigate it is. Once confirmed, each of your pages gets placed in a ranking system that determines how high it appears on a search engine results page (SERP) whenever people search for keywords related to the information on your webpages.
This is exactly how SEO works. However, like many other things, the world of SEO is subject to change. Each search engine comes with its own algorithm. Also, these algorithms get altered and updated regularly to improve them.
However, algorithms aren’t your only problem. There are your competitors who are blitzing to earn a better rank over you. Thus, old content needs to be updated in order to stay relevant.
So, as rules change, you will need to be able to conform to update SEO tactics while avoiding red flags along the way. Regardless of this, it is still going to be difficult to know when an adjustment needs to be made on your website.
That’s why a regular site audit is required to make sure your website is functioning properly and nothing is disrupting the seamless flow of qualified traffic to your site. By running an audit, you’re basically checking your website’s health.
Since search algorithms and technology keep changing at an alarming rate, you’ll want to engage in mini-audits every month. However, they shouldn’t be used to replace a full SEO site audit.
The full website audit should be done every four to six months or after a major update on your website. Before we begin with the site audit, let’s quickly consolidate the crucial aspects of the audits.
The key elements of an SEO site audit
Generally, there are three major elements to look at in a site audit report. These are;
- The back-end (especially factors such as hosting and indexing)
- The Front-end (such as content, metadata, keywords)
- The quality of links and external references
In most cases, you probably won’t have that much time on your hands to address each pain point. That’s why you should decide on which audit has the most priority and take action on it accordingly.
The most important aspect of your website’s SEO should be the area involving your incoming traffic.
However, it won’t matter if your site isn’t mobile-friendly. That’s correct. You’ll need to understand how your website performs on mobile view to ensure proper placement on SERPs.
Because 60% of all searches occur on mobile, Google’s algorithm has been updated to crawl on mobile sites. Now, with this in mind, be sure to always check that your site is mobile-optimized.
Below are the steps you can take to conduct your SEO website audit. Keep in mind that you may be required to use certain site audit tools to make the process quicker.
How to Perform an SEO Audit
1. Start the audit with a crawl
The crawl is the most important aspect of the SEO site audit. That’s why you should begin with it before you do anything else. Ubersuggest is an efficient site audit tool you can use to simplify the crawl.
Crawling helps you identify the problems with your website including low word count, duplicate content, unlinked pagination pages, as well as excess redirects. You can also run a few Google searches to have an idea of how well your site is ranking.
2. Check to ensure that just one version of your site can be browsed
You wouldn’t want to get search algorithms confused and that is why you must ensure that your site works with all permutations of the same URL.
If your site has different “versions” of itself, you’ll be sending mixed messages to search engines about how to crawl your site since they won’t know the right one.
And once they can’t get the right one to crawl, it will impact negatively on your site’s SEO ranking. Examples of multiple versions of a website include a mobile and desktop version clashing with each other.
It could even be the inconsistency between a duplicate “https” version and a non-“https” one limiting its SEO ranking.
3. Run on-page SEO checks
While evaluating your website and the site audit reports from your crawl, you should run checks to confirm that the site is well-optimized. You can begin by checking for any duplicate pages, headers, as well as title tags.
Once done, you should look up your page titles and title tags and ensure they are relevant to the content on your page. The title tag length shouldn’t exceed 60 characters. You can make use of the pixel width checker tool to ensure your title isn’t causing truncation.
Also, be sure to make your content as organized as possible with a comprehensive hierarchy on the page. That way, search engines find it easier to analyze your site and index it for search.
Furthermore, your focus keyword on each page should be included in the first 100 words of the page. It helps search engines better understand what the post focuses on.
4. Internal and external links management
You can’t have broken links loitering around your webpages. You could get penalized for it by search engines. However, it can be excruciatingly difficult to pore through several texts on your website and checking each link manually.
Fortunately, there are site audit tools you can use to quickly locate broken links on your website. Ahrefs, dead link checker, and broken link check are notable examples. These tools are easy to use and will keep your website free of broken links in no time.
5. Site speed
Search engines like Google and its algorithm have been programmed to behave as a human would whenever they come across a slowly loading webpage. Most people don’t have that time to wait around for your website to load.
Search engines are aware of this and that’s why they also take into account site speed when ranking websites. So, ensure you check your site speed and make changes where necessary.
6. Analytics and site metrics
Your website audit report will be incomplete if you can’t confirm whether your analytics service (e.g Google Analytics) is reporting live metric data. If the live metric data is indeed being reported then it means your code is properly installed.
If it isn’t, then it is likely that the code is improperly installed and will need to be fixed. If you’re using Google Analytics, you should check to make sure the tracker code is positioned atop the header of each web page.
Once your analytics service is up and running, check and compare the metric data to the results of your previous “site:rootdomain” search. It should show a similar number of pages as you have in your metric data.
If this isn’t the case, then it is possible that some pages aren’t properly accepting crawl requests.
Going further, assess your bounce rate. With Google Analytics, this should be easy. Try to make sure your bounce rate is as low as possible to impact positively on your ranking.
You can do this by optimizing the content on your website to be more engaging and relevant to your audience
Another website audit tool you can use is MozBar from Moz. It is a simple tool you can use for benchmarking pages. Basically, it gives you several SEO details of any web page or search results page.
It is also useful for analyzing the various types of links that you view and it lets you compare link metrics on or between pages. In addition, it has robust search tools that’ll make the life of any digital marketer easier.
With MozBar, you can produce custom searches based on location. Also, Page Authority is supported by the site audit tool. It works by ranking each page from 1 to 100 based on how well they will rank on SERPs.
With tools like this, your website audit can be done intelligently as it takes the temperature of your site’s relationship with search engines. The bottom line is that the less guesswork you engage in, the better quality your SEO site audit will be.
7. Monitor your off-site SEO and run a backlink audit
Backlinks are crucial for success with SEO. They let Google, as well as other search engines, have an idea of the relevance of your page and it informs them that other users will find your page useful.
Note that hyperlinks aren’t the only thing being crawled in an off-site SEO. Algorithms also crawl for brand mentions and that’s why it is equally important that you pay attention to what’s going on both on and off your site.
Ubersuggest is a prominent tool you can use to run your backlink audit and assess the types of backlinks that are linking to your site. Generally, backlink audits help you;
- Assess your link profile and observe its effects on your site.
- Identify those areas where you can invest in getting more high-value links.
- Evaluate your competitor’s number of backlinks and arrange a strategy to outperform them.
Although many digital marketers may disagree on what site audit tools to use, however, what they all agree on is the importance of performing an SEO site audit. So many factors contribute to affecting your SEO efforts, including search engine algorithms, your competitors, market trends, best practices, etc. That’s why you need to ensure your website is up to scratch. Feel free to contact Crank Digital for any comments or suggestions.