What is an SEO audit?
An SEO (search engine optimization) audit is an assessment of all factors that could potentially influence your website’s ranking on Google and other search engines. Audits identify issues which could negatively affect traffic and sales, making them essential tools to enhance web performance and enable higher placement on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
Perform an SEO audit using online tools such as SEMRush or Ahrefs. ScreamingFrog offers a free digital SEO audit report template. We suggest conducting an audit at least once each quarter or when beginning a new project.
An SEO audit is designed to detect any foundational problems that are negatively affecting your website’s performance and eliminate any past SEO practices for which you may be receiving negative consequences.
Types of SEO audits
- Technical SEO – Technical issues will negatively affect how search engines locate and index your site, so it is essential to address them by performing tasks such as crawling and indexing your website, along with checking its usability and mobile-friendliness.
- On-page SEO Report – On-page SEO refers to content and keywords. An on-page SEO audit report includes things like HTML improvements, creating a keyword strategy, and auditing your site to guarantee internal links are evenly distributed throughout (this tells search engines your content is important).
- Off-page SEO Report – Off-page SEO refers to actions taken outside your website that can influence how high you appear in search engine results (SERPS). An off-page audit analyzes backlink data and devises a plan for improvement; it also looks into social media engagement, as well as targeting local communities through keywords and Google Maps.
Why is an SEO audit important?
Search engine marketing (SEM), which increases website visibility through paid advertisements, differs from SEO in that it drives unpaid traffic driven by algorithms. SEM utilizes pay per click (PPC) to get your website to the top of search engine results while SEO uses organic search results to rank it. Organic (or unpaid) traffic accounts for most website visits; an effective audit report can help you devise strategies that build trust and credibility for your brand.
SEO is typically free, creating a high return on investment (ROI), though it requires considerable effort and time. 61% of marketers say SEO is their main priority when it comes to inbound marketing strategies.
SEO audits are essential for many reasons. Constantly auditing your website ensures that it remains compliant with search engine algorithms, meaning you must adjust accordingly. Furthermore, audits make sure your website is user-friendly and enhance its overall web performance.
Steps of an SEO audit
Step One: Decide how SEO suits your overall marketing strategy
What would you hope to gain from this audit? If your business is expanding internationally, international SEO optimization should be taken into consideration. Conversely, local businesses can benefit by targeting their local communities.
Enterprise-level companies require a different strategy than smaller startups. An enterprise website SEO audit report necessitates special software and the expertise of an experienced SEO strategist.
Step Two: Crawl your website and resolve technical errors
Use a crawling tool such as ScreamingFrog to identify technical errors on your site and resolve them quickly. One important issue with crawls is the Robots.txt file; if Google cannot access this file, it won’t index your website. Make sure your Robots.txt file works by testing it in Google Search Console.
Check for broken links using a tool such as the Check My Links Chrome extension. Broken links can have an adverse effect on usability and the reputation of your website by sending users to nonexistent pages.
One common, yet often ignored issue is search engines recognizing example.com and www.example.com as two separate websites (with duplicate content). To resolve this, go to Google Search Console to set your preferred domain and redirect traffic there instead.
Make sure your domain name is registered and that its registration won’t expire soon.
Search engines don’t recognize underscores, so be sure all your URLs use hyphens instead.
Finally, submit your XML sitemap to Google and Bing. An XML sitemap is a file that lists all the URLs on your website so search engines like Google and Bing can easily detect and crawl them.
Another crucial accessibility concern is ensuring your website is mobile-friendly. To do this, ensure the viewport (a meta tag instructing a browser how to set page dimensions) is set properly; Google offers an instructional tutorial on how to do so. Google cannot crawl certain types of content such as flash content, frames and iframes so try to avoid using them whenever possible. To guarantee your site remains mobile-friendly, the Google Search Console can check for any issues.
Step Three: Check Google for indexing issues
After fixing accessibility problems on your site, it’s time to focus on indexability. One major concern should be Google Penalties; these penalties are issued when websites violate Google’s quality guidelines through improper SEO techniques such as keyword stuffing.
Google Search Console will show you which pages on your site are not indexed by Google. Issues such as 404 errors, server errors and indications that a page may have duplicate content can prevent indexation.
Research Your Competition – Researching competitors can help you uncover new strategies and assess how well you stack up against them in head-to-head competition. Online tools like SEMRush provide reports of competitors’ keywords, backlinks, ads campaigns and most successful content.
Analyze keywords and organic traffic – Organic traffic refers to visitors who arrive at your website through unpaid sources, such as search engines. This kind of traffic is essential because it drives sales. Organic keywords are those which drive organic traffic; you can track them using Google Analytics by linking your account with SEMRush so you can gain even more valuable insights on organic traffic sources.
Step Four: Run an on-page SEO audit
When performing an on-page SEO audit, title tags should be the initial focus. These titles appear in search engine results pages (SERPS). Ensure your title tags are unique for each page; between 50-60 characters long; and finally, include your page’s primary keywords at the start of the title.
The next step should be to review meta descriptions. These 150-160 character-long summaries appear beneath the title tag in SERPs and should attract people’s attention by including your primary search term highlighted in bold.
Once an on-page SEO audit has been conducted, the next item to consider are the HTML headings (h1-h6) in descending order of importance. H1 titles should include the page’s primary keyword and only one should exist per page, while h2-h6 headers can be sprinkled throughout for added emphasis.
Finally, when conducting an on-page SEO audit, pay special attention to alternative text (image descriptions). Search engines cannot see images so ALT text helps determine an image’s relevance for a query. Therefore, all your images should have descriptive ALT text; make sure it’s no longer than 150 characters long.
Step Five: Improve content quality
One of the most crucial elements in SEO is creating content that is informative and not thin or biased. Make sure your posts are valuable and unique; duplicate material will prevent your website from being indexed by Google.
First, conduct keyword research and compile a list of keywords you want to rank for. Keyword research helps determine which search terms your audience uses by making an exhaustive list of all the words you wish to be found for, analyzing their intent, and creating landing pages accordingly. More common terms are referred to as head keywords, while more specific and lengthy expressions are known as longtail keywords.
Establish a blog and post regularly; this will drive traffic to your website. The more often you post, the more frequently Google will crawl your pages. If your blog is engaging, consider encouraging user comments on posts.
One important element in creating high value content for your website is ensuring the posts make sense and complement the main idea. Sponsored content may be lucrative in the short term, but having too many competing ideas can negatively affect a site’s SEO optimization.
Step Six: Curate your links
Optimize Existing Internal Links – Linking your site to important pages or content will signal search engines that your content is important, and will distribute link juice (the value passed between sites) throughout your website. To ensure maximum benefit from internal links, check for nofollow tags, remove redirect chains and make sure all pages have rel=next and rel=prev attributes set accordingly.
Remove any unnecessary links from your page. Quality is more important than quantity.
Try to expand the scope of backlinks – Backlinks refer to external links pointing at your website. The more relevant these links are, the higher your ranking on Google will be. It’s best if those backlinks come from reliable, high-authority sites; spammy or toxic backlinks won’t give you as much benefit as a mention from an authoritative site. Data collected through competitor analysis could also prove beneficial here.
Your website’s backlink profile determines its Domain Rating – how authoritative your website is on a 1-100 scale.
OR IF THAT SOUNDS OVERWHELMING…
Step Zero: Get a FREE site audit report below!FREE Website Audit Report Download your very own site analytics & SEO PDF Now. Enter your URL and Email. The report will be ready in about 30 seconds.