A well-implemented SEO strategy involves several processes, including keyword optimization, quality content creation, and backlink building. But one aspect most people leave out on is performing SEO audits.
An SEO Audit is a process of analyzing a website to evaluate its ability to appear in search engine results pages (SERPs). It involves checking various aspects of the website, such as content quality, technical performance, and backlink profiles.
We’ll discuss in detail what this aspect of SEO entails and how you can perform one to improve your chances of ranking.
Why Bother About SEO Audit
Why should you be interested in an SEO audit? Here are a few reasons:
Types of SEO Audit
There are several types of audits. However, these three provide a better foundation and cover vital aspects of SEO:
Technical SEO Audit
This audit checks the technical aspects of a website that can affect its visibility in search engines. It includes areas like website speed, mobile friendliness, XML sitemaps, robots.txt files, URL structure, and website architecture. The goal is to ensure that search engines can seamlessly crawl and index the site.
On-page SEO Audit
This type of audit focuses on the content elements of a website and how well they’re optimized for relevant keywords. It involves examining elements such as title tags, meta descriptions, headers, keyword usage, and content quality. The aim is to ensure that the content is valuable to users and optimized for search engines.
Off-page SEO Audit
This audit examines external factors influencing a website’s visibility in search engines. It includes aspects like backlink profile, social media engagement, and online reputation. The goal is to ensure that the site has a strong, high-quality backlink profile and a positive online presence.
How to Perform Full-Blown SEO Audit: Step By Step Guide
To ensure you follow through with each process, we’ll break down the guide into three parts, covering how to handle each type of audit.
Part One: Doing a Technical SEO Audit
Conducting a technical SEO audit involves several steps designed to ensure your website is easily crawled, indexed, and ranked by search engines. Here’s a step-by-step guide:
Step 1: Crawl Your Website
Use an SEO crawler tool like Google Search Console, Ahrefs, or Screaming Frog to crawl your website. This process will help you identify and fix broken links, uncover redirect issues, find duplicate content, and detect other technical problems.
Step 2: Check XML Sitemap
Ensure your XML sitemap is functioning correctly and up-to-date. It should be registered with Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. Check it for errors, and remove any URLs that return a 4xx or 5xx HTTP status code.
Step 3: Evaluate Site Speed
Step 4: Check Mobile-Friendliness
Google uses mobile-first indexing, meaning it primarily uses the mobile version of your site for indexing and ranking. Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool to ensure your site is optimized for mobile use.
Step 5: Analyze the Robots.txt File
Your robots.txt file guides search engine crawlers on which parts of your site to access or ignore. Ensure it’s correctly formatted and doesn’t block essential resources or pages.
Step 6: Inspect Site Architecture and Navigation
Ensure your site is easy to navigate, with a clear and logical structure. Each page should be reachable within 3-4 clicks from the home page.
Step 7: Review URL Structure
Verify that your URLs are SEO-friendly, meaning they are readable and concise, and include target keywords where appropriate.
A proper URL structure is simple, logical, and easy to understand both for users and search engines. Here’s an example:
In this example:
- https:// refers to the protocol indicating a secure website (HTTPS).
- www.example.com is the domain name.
- /category/subcategory/product-name is the path, indicating the hierarchical structure of the content on the website.
This URL is SEO-friendly because:
- It uses HTTPS for security.
- It’s simple and easy to understand.
- It contains words (instead of ID numbers) describing the page’s content.
- The use of categories and subcategories clearly indicates the site’s hierarchy.
- It includes the product name (which could be a target keyword) in the URL.
Step 8: Check HTTPS
HTTPS is a ranking signal for Google. Check that your site uses HTTPS (SSL certificate) and that it’s correctly implemented (no mixed content errors).
Step 9: Analyze Core Web Vitals
Check your site’s Core Web Vitals in Google Search Console. Core Web Vitals are a set of specific factors that Google considers essential in a webpage’s overall user experience, including load time, interactivity, and the stability of content as it loads.
Step 10: Check Structured Data Markup
Use Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to implement your structured data markup (Schema) correctly. This can help search engines better understand your content and enhance your SERP visibility.
Part Two: Doing an On-page SEO Audit
An on-page SEO audit focuses on optimzing the individual pages on a website to rank higher and attract more relevant traffic from search engines. To do an on-page SEO audit, follow these steps:
Step 1: Analyze Title Tags
Title tags should be unique for each page and should accurately describe the content. They should ideally be under 60 characters and include your target keyword. Use an SEO tool to check the title tags across your site.
Step 2: Check Meta Descriptions
Meta descriptions should be unique and relevant, offering a concise summary of the content on the page. They should ideally be under 160 characters and incorporate your target keyword.
Step 3: Review Header Tags
Check your H1, H2, and other header tags. Each page should have one H1 tag that includes your primary keyword, and subsequent headers (H2, H3, etc.) should follow a logical structure and include relevant keywords where suitable.
Step 4: Assess Keyword Usage
Your content should include relevant keywords that reflect the search queries of your target audience. However, they should be used naturally within the content and not stuffed, as this can lead to penalties.
Step 5: Inspect Images and Alt Attributes
Images should be optimized for size and loading speed, and each should have an alt attribute that describes the image content. This improves accessibility and helps search engines understand what the image is depicting.
Step 6: Evaluate Content Quality
Check the quality of your content. It should be original, relevant, and provide value to the reader. It’s also essential to check for spelling and grammar errors, as these can negatively impact user experience.
Step 7: Check Internal and External Linking
Links on your page should be relevant and helpful to your audience, and any broken links should be fixed. Internal links should point to other relevant pages on your site, helping to guide users and pass authority between pages.
Part 3: Doing an Off-page SEO Audit
An off-page SEO audit assesses the factors outside your website that impact its ranking. Here’s a step-by-step guide:
Step 1: Backlink Analysis
Backlinks are essential for SEO, as they signal to search engines that other sites approve of your content. Use tools like Ahrefs or Moz to evaluate your site’s backlink profile, looking at factors like the number of backlinks, the quality and relevancy of linking sites, and the anchor text used.
Step 2: Evaluate Link Quality
Not all backlinks are beneficial. Links from high-authority, relevant sites are valuable, while links from low-quality or spammy sites can be harmful. Use your backlink tools to identify potentially harmful links that you might need to disavow.
Step 3: Analyze Competitor Backlinks
Understanding the backlink profile of your competitors can give you insights into potential link-building opportunities. Identify the sites linking to your competitors but not to you, and consider reaching out to these sites for links.
Step 4: Check Social Media Presence
Social signals can impact SEO. Check your brand’s presence on different social media platforms and the engagement level of your posts. Also, ensure your website is easily shareable on social media.
Step 5: Monitor Brand Mentions
Online mentions of your brand can contribute to your site’s authority. Monitor your brand mentions using tools like Google Alerts or Mention.
Step 6: Review Local SEO
If your business has a local element, ensure your NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) information is consistent across all platforms, including local directories and Google My Business.
Step 7: Check Domain Authority
Tools like Moz can give you a Domain Authority (DA) score, which predicts how well your site ranks on search engine result pages (SERPs). High DA sites tend to rank higher than low DA sites.
Step 8: Analyze Traffic Sources
Use Google Analytics to analyze your traffic sources. A healthy website should have a good mix of direct, referral, organic, and social traffic.
12 Paid/Free SEO Audit Tools
Performing a site audit requires the right set of tools to analyze your website and get actionable insights effectively. Here are some essential tools, from free ones to premium ones, that can help you conduct a comprehensive SEO audit:
Here’s a review of six free and six paid SEO audit tools:
This tool provided by Google allows you to monitor your site in the Google search index, identify crawling and indexing problems, view backlink information, and more.
Google Analytics provides in-depth insights about your website’s traffic, user behavior, and conversions. It helps you understand what parts of your SEO strategy are working and what needs improvement.
MozBar is a free browser extension that provides on-spot SEO metrics about a site or page. It saves time by giving quick insights into different aspects like domain authority, page authority, and more.
A powerful SEO toolbox for your browser, SEOquake allows you to check various SEO parameters quickly, conduct on-page SEO audits, check social statistics, and more.
In its free version, this tool is great for small websites. It can crawl website links, images, CSS, scripts, and apps to evaluate onsite SEO.
Ubersuggest offers a range of features like keyword suggestions, backlink data, content ideas, and site audits for free. It’s a handy tool for basic SEO insights.
SEMrush offers a comprehensive toolkit for digital marketing professionals. It offers advanced SEO features like technical SEO audits, semantic core collection, position tracking, and competitive intelligence.
Ahrefs is known for its extensive backlink database. It’s an all-in-one SEO tool offering keyword exploration, competitor analysis, rank tracking, and site audits.
9. Moz Pro
Moz Pro provides a comprehensive set of SEO tools, including keyword research, link building, site audits, and page optimization insights, all in one platform.
10. Majestic SEO
Majestic specializes in backlinks. It provides link analysis features such as The Majestic Million (a ranking of the top 1 million websites), ‘Site Explorer’ for exploring a domain/URL in detail, and more.
11. Raven Tools
Raven Tools generates detailed SEO audits offers backlink tools, keyword and competitor research, and comprehensive reports.
DeepCrawl is a website crawler that identifies and monitors vital issues that could affect your SEO performance. It helps you recover fast from search engine updates and prevent future problems.
Throughout the SEO audit process, you’ll uncover various technical, on-page, and content-related issues that, once resolved, can significantly improve your site’s SEO performance.
From running a website crawl to identifying and addressing critical issues, each step of the process helps optimize your site to achieve higher rankings and attract more organic traffic.
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