Jun 11

SEO Audit – A Step By Step Guide To Running An SEO Audit

Most people give up on SEO audit because the guides they find online overwhelm them with technicality and CS jargon. The purpose is to show that an SEO audit which is the most useful way of evaluating your website performance doesn’t have to be complicated.

The purpose of this step by step guide should move you up the ladder, improve your website’s ranking, thus helping you bring in more visitors and potential perquisites.

SEO Audit

In essence, an audit is a what we do with a set of tools, almost always used for marketing purposes: improving traffic, attracting visitors and potential customers. If done correctly, An SEO audit  should give you a better insight of how your website is performing, which pages function efficiently and which don’t. You analyze individual pages and then bring them all together to see how your entire business performs.

Determining The Objectives

SEO Audit DiagramDeveloping A Strategy

First, you need to develop an audit strategy according to your goals: what is it that you are trying to accomplish? Now, let’s assume you know nothing of auditing, strategizing and website functionality. How do you know which tools you should use? You need an SEO checklist to help perform a great SEO audit.

Keyword Analysis + Keyword Mapping To URL

Keyword analysis examines the efficiency of your current keyword targeting tactics. Moreover, it can help you find valuable unutilized keywords, thus helping you get a surprising and rapid edge over your competitors.

First, see if your strategy aligns with reality.  You shouldn’t blindly aboard the train of popular keywords. Instead, go for the ones that have less usability, the long-tailed ones.

After evaluation, you should separate create two groups, separate the keywords that perform well from the bad ones. Naturally, you should always invest your resources in those keywords that bring you best results. To ensure that you are targeting the right keywords, go with the SMART principle.

When it comes to tracking, don’t waste your time on tracking every single keyword. Instead, monitor the vital ones. This method should tell you what Google thinks of your websites.

Older websites have more authority accrued over time. That is why we suggest that you use unique, long-tail keywords.Make sure that you pair the keyword with the right site; this is called keyword mapping. You match the keyword with the dedicated webpage or create a new website for that specific keyword.

Competitor Analysis

Analyzing competitor is suitable for multiple reasons. You can compare keywords, see what works for your competitor (and could work for you), check for potential link possibilities, and so forth.A good SEO audit should revolve around identifying your competitors strength.

First, use Moz toolbar to compare keywords regarding Domain Authority and Page Authority. You enter a specific keyword and see its performance, is it worth using, etc. In essence, you are checking for keywords that work for your competitors (and could potentially work for you).

You should also check link profiles using tools such as Majestic. And if you want to find golden keywords, you can use the Google Search Console:

  1. Click on Search Traffic
  2. Proceed to Search Analytics
  3. Select Impressions
  4. Sort out the results by clicking on position (ranking from low to high)

Speed And SSL Analysis

If someone visits your website and it takes them forever to load the page, they’ll probably leave. You can use Google Speed Tool to check the speed value. Make sure that every page takes less than 3 seconds to load (3 seconds is minimum). You can find more information about the speed improvement here.

Furthermore, perform SSL analysis. You want to make sure the website is secure (perhaps you heard of SSL certificates). You have two options: go to the HTTP site or HTTPS site, the last one being secured type of website.

There is a simple way of checking your website security. First, enter your site’s URL in the browser. Then, remove the s from the HTTP(s) and click enter. Now, if everything is okay, it the browser should redirect you to the https version of the website. If it doesn’t, perform a more profound analysis.

ssl certificateGoogle Pagespeed & Lighthouse

The best way to evaluate your website’s mobile speed, use the Google’s Pagespeed Test. Sites load differently on various devices, and Page speed Test is almost always the best tool for performing a mobile-related analysis. Lighthouse is another useful tool. It is free, and you can use it to improve your site’s performance, accessibility, and so forth. Note that Lighthouse operates only with Google Chrome platform.

Checking For Duplicates

To avoid Panda penalty, you have to prevent the duplication of your content. This often happens because most online retailers merely copy the product’s description. That way, you end up in a situation where both manufacturer and the retailer use the same product description (often META description).

Here’s where Screaming Frog comes into play. You enter the site’s URL in the tool and start scanning. Select the Meta Description tab, set Filter to seek Duplicate and then export the data. You can examine the duplication on the page level.

Screaming frog also tells you if some pages have similar titles or content. Look into these pages and ensure that you have unique content and unique meta.

On Redirecting Links

Here’s how you check the redirect chain on screaming frog:

  1. Open Screaming Frog (I told you it is a useful tool!)
  2. Go to Configurations and click on Spider
  3. Then Advanced -> Always Follow Redirects -> click OK
  4. Paste dedicated URL and begin to Scan
  5. When the scanning is complete, select Reports, and then Redirect Chains
  6. The report will tell you if the link is broken, where is the problem, etc.

Index Issues

If you aren’t indexed (registered) on Google, you won’t be ranked. You can use Google Search Console, select Google Index, and then check Index Status. And if you don’t use the console, you can google site:website.com.

Not only will this tell you whether or not you are indexed, but the Google will also show you the number of indexed pages (concerning your domain). For instance, it will say “about 350 pages found”, which means that 350 pages are indexed.

Indexed URLsWebsite Architecture And Internal Links

If you are interested in search engine optimization, you need to pay attention to the site architecture. It is needless to say that your site should be designed and constructed with users in mind, that is, you need to predict what the users might like.

However, don’t forget that the website needs to be suitable for both users and search engines. These questions should help you examine the quality of the site’s architecture:

  • Is your website smooth? Is the navigation neat or cluttered?
  • Are you using internal linking efficiently?
  • Is there a room for improvement? Can you make the website smoother and more pleasant for both users and search engines?

When you use internal links, you have to make sure that they match the anchored text. If the text says “table” but the link directs to “car engine,” that will confuse the search engines. But not everyone has the time to check for ineffective links, and ineffective links do exist.

And here’s the problem: no tool can assist you in this problem. You have to go through all your pages and check every link manually. It is time-consuming, but very much needed. The best way to avoid the accumulation of broken links is to test them upon their creation.

Technical SEO Analysis

Dealing with technical issues is never easy, especially if you are tech-unfriendly, but it is vital, especially for effective ecommerce SEO. SEO audit that rely too heavily on nont technical issues simply fail because crawling and indexing is still a technical process.

Website speed is essential, and we already discussed how to can check them and improve the website speed. You also need to make sure that your website is mobile friendly. Now, you don’t have to be a software or web developer to understand that sites operate differently on different platforms.

Fetch As Google

Fetch as Google is a tool that allows you to see how the Google renders web pages. The tool also allows you to submit your pages too Google Index, helping you change the site according to new standards. Here’s how you do the Fetching:

  1. Navigate to the Google Console, and select Crawl -> Fetch As Google
  2. Here, you have two options: fetch or fetch & render
  3. Fetch allows you to see how Google perceives your code, and Fetch & Render gives you a visual presentation of how the Google views your page

Now, if you left the URL bar blanked, the tool will scan your website by default and list out all the pages. If you selected Fetch & Render, you would receive two images: how Google sees your page, and how the end user sees it. And if you are satisfied with the results, you can Request Indexing (top right corner).

This option is helpful, especially if you made changes to your site and want to update the progress. In order to ensure that you check this off your SEO audit list ensure that you also check the new version of the page in Google.

HTML Improvements

HTML Improvements is another useful tool and part of the Google Search Console. It helps you with title issues, meta description problems, and non-indexable content. It is rather simple to use:

  1. visit the Search Console and click on the wanted site
  2. navigate through the menu, then select Search Appearance -> HTML improvements

If the Google found any issues during the Crawl or Index, the HTML Improvements will explain these issues. The tool is useful and straightforward to use and can help improve user experience, as well as boost the traffic (use it regularly).

On Sitemap Errors

Sitemap errors come in many forms, and we already discussed some of the issues. For instance, your site isn’t using the URL format of your choice (it doesn’t use www, or it uses http and not https). Or, your sitemap is just one big fat blank white page.

Other Webmaster Issues

Google Search and Google Search Console can help you solve a lot of problems. Regardless of the issue, you can always use Webmaster troubleshooter to examine and tackle those issues.An SEO audit that doesn’t account for GWT issue fails primarily because it relies on third party intelligence.

Perhaps your website isn’t mobile. Or worse, it is mobile, but the Google still claims it isn’t. Maybe your site features a lot of links you didn’t build. In short, you can run into a lot of weird problems, all of which can be solved, as long as you.

Webmaster Index Coverage ReportGoogle Schema Tool tester

Google Schema Testing (Structured Data Testing Tool) is a tool used for data accumulation and evaluation. You open the tester, paste the desired URL and start testing. You can also check the piece of specific code, but we won’t go into that right now.

This Data Testing tool will examine all the data within that specific link, and provide you with potential errors and warnings, which is very useful. In the top right corner, you can click Help to learn more about the tool. Or, you can click on Search Gallery, which will explain to you how to use structured data effectively.

Google Mobile Page tester

Google Mobile-Friendly tester functions in a similar way as the Structured Data Testing Tool. It helps you see how mobile-friendly is your website, that is, can mobile users use the site quickly and comfortably. You paste the URL in the blank spot and start the test.

If you run in some issues, such as not being able to load the data (your page isn’t reachable), or if the page isn’t fully loaded, check the Search Console for help (or click here).

WWW or Non-WWW Analysis

Which is better, WWW or non-WWW? None (or both, depending on how you look at it). Choosing between the two won’t help you generate more traffic, attract more customers, or increase your revenues: that’s a fact. And don’t think this is my opinion; even Google said that this is a preference thing, meaning that it has nothing to do with the performance.

SEO Audit Conclusion

This covers the basics of an SEO audit. There are a range of other things professionals from an SEO agency might check. A large range of these factors are based on site architecture and experience derived auditing a lot of websites. If you have any other factors that are not covered as a part of this audit please feel free to leave a comment and let us know.

About The Author

Ajay Chavda is the co-founder of Weboptimizers, an SEO agency in Melbourne and has been involved with SEO for over 15 years. Between the digital properties and security forums he has managed, his articles have been read by approximately 50 million unique visitors.

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