How to Perform an SEO Audit in 4 Simple Steps
What Is an SEO Audit?
Learning how to perform an SEO audit is essential for website owners. An SEO audit examines various factors that could affect your website’s ability to rank on the SERPs. It can give you insights into your site traffic, page loading speed, and the effectiveness of your web page design.
Doing an SEO audit can help you fix and optimize your website for higher rankings in search results. You can identify technical SEO issues, on-page and off-page SEO issues, structural issues, user experience issues, and content gaps through SEO audits.
Why, When, and How Should You Perform an SEO Audit of Your Website?
When to Perform an SEO Audit
So, when should you perform an SEO audit?
It’s a good idea to audit your website or campaigns when you launch them to make sure they will succeed. Also, you may consider auditing your SEO every quarter. If you partner with an agency like PixoLabo, your SEO plan may already include monthly reporting and optimization.
It’s important to remember that SEO takes time to show results. If you audit it every quarter, you can monitor issues or changes in your campaign and make the necessary changes.
Why Perform an SEO Audit
Fast-paced growth in the digital world puts a lot of pressure on business owners and marketers. You need to regularly audit a website for discrepancies and optimize it to improve search rankings.
Frequent search algorithm changes and new SEO strategies make search engine optimization a continually moving target. One that can be difficult to hit. Luckily, many technical SEO audit tools can save you valuable time and money.
With search engines such as Google focusing on providing quality content and usable websites to their users, not having a well-optimized site can seriously affect your ranking. An SEO audit is an in-depth analysis of a website that checks for technical errors and offers you practical solutions.
Whether you use the services of an SEO company or are managing your website independently, chances are you’ve come across the concept of an SEO audit before. Still, you may not know what an SEO audit entails or how to perform an SEO audit.
How to Perform an SEO Audit
So, how to perform an SEO audit on your website?
For your SEO audit, the first step is to check whether Google has penalized your website. You can use the Google Console to check for penalties or see if a recent Google update has affected your rankings.
Penalties affect your rankings, and if you find one, you should check the date of the penalty and then look for reasons as to why it may have happened.
Follow this with an audit of your technical SEO, on-page SEO, off-site SEO, and competitor and keyword research.
How to Perform an SEO Audit in Four Steps
What should you be looking at when you perform an SEO audit?
An SEO audit consists of different sections. An audit is a significant undertaking, so breaking it up into manageable chunks is an excellent way of making it easier to execute.
Learning how to perform an SEO audit can help you see the big picture of your SEO efforts. Through an SEO audit, you can identify issues that affect your site, goals, and revenue.
You can perform an SEO audit manually or hire an expert to check the areas of your site that need improvement. Using SEO tools is helpful to get a detailed analysis of your website.
As you learn how to perform an SEO audit yourself, it is helpful to break it down into small, manageable sections. The main elements are technical SEO, content or on-site SEO, off-site SEO, and competitive analysis.
Let’s look at each of these in more detail.
Step 1: The Technical SEO Audit
Technical SEO involves all the technical aspects of your site like site speed, URLs, site maps, and more.
I recommend using technical SEO tools to uncover technical mistakes in your site structure and core semantics. This type of error adversely affects your search rankings and site traffic.
For an effective technical SEO audit, here are some of the things that you should take care of:
- Make sure you added your robots.txt files and meta tags correctly. Mistakes in robots.txt can cause serious indexing issues.
- Register your website on Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. Google search console provides helpful information like the number of pages on your website, keywords you rank for, and more.
- Have one preferred domain to avoid duplicate content issues. Write unique SEO- friendly links and URLs. If you also have other versions, make sure only the chosen version is browsable.
- Activate your XML sitemap and ensure that it’s working perfectly. Users should be able to navigate from one page to another on your website easily.
- Enable structured data for your homepage, articles, products, and XML sitemap. Doing this ensures that Google can understand the context and meaning of the content on your site. Structured data also helps Google enhance its presentation of search results.
- Set up a canonical URL to ensure Google identifies essential pages on your site. It’s also a great way to find duplicate content issues.
- Be prepared to handle HTTP 404 Errors. Optimize your 404 error pages for a smooth user experience.
- Make sure your site is mobile-friendly.
Tools like SE Ranking perform end-to-end SEO auditing of your sites. You can do on- and off-page audits, domain tracking, competitor research, keyword profiling, and organic traffic analysis.
The technical side of a website can significantly impact its speed and how well it functions. If a website has too many errors, it can see you drop in SERPs, or even worse, lead to the de-indexing of entire pages from search engines.
As you perform an SEO audit on your website, focus on the following aspects of technical SEO:
Google Analytics Tracking Code
It’s essential to track your website’s performance. That’s what Google Analytics does, and all you need to do to get started is add a small string of code to all of the pages you want to track.
Suppose a page doesn’t have that tracking code. In that case, you won’t be able to see any statistics about it, including page visitors, time on page, and other metrics that indicate performance.
Google Analytics also doubles as a complete catalog of every page on your site. That means you can quickly and easily see how many pages you have, what they are, and more all in on location.
With Google Analytics on all of your pages, you can move to the next step of a site audit.
Your first step should be checking to see if Google can crawl your website. Suppose search engines can not crawl and index your site. In that case, any other problems with links or content are less significant, as you won’t receive any search engine traffic.
If a page has a robots.txt file with specific instructions inside, it may block Google and other search engines from indexing it.
That means pages with this file and those instructions won’t show up on Google, but if you’re tracking them, they’ll show up in your Google Analytics account.
Suppose there’s a discrepancy between how many pages you see in Google search results and Google Analytics. Check your pages for robots.txt files that may be responsible for blocking Google’s crawlers.
Keywords are a crucial part of SEO. They determine when your site appears in the search results. When you conduct your SEO audit, you’ll want to analyze the keywords you target.
First, take a look at the keywords you’re using on your website. The best types of keywords for your campaign are long-tail keywords. These are keywords that contain three or more words.
An example of a long-tail keyword is “sushi restaurants near Seattle, WA.” This specific keyword will attract leads interested in sushi restaurants near Seattle. Similarly, other long-tail keywords help you drive more qualified leads that are looking for your business.
When you audit your SEO campaign, revisit your keywords. If you have a majority of short-tail keywords, which only contain one or two words, you’ll want to rethink your strategy. You can drive more valuable leads by using long-tail keywords for your campaign.
You’ll also want to make sure that your long-tail keywords are driving valuable results. If keywords are not driving traffic to your page, consider swapping them out for higher-value keywords.
Also, it would help if you integrated keywords into your titles and meta descriptions. Placing keywords in titles and meta tags will help your pages rank higher in search results for those keywords.
Now that you’ve verified that all of your pages can be indexed, it’s time to search for branded keywords. That means you should look up phrases that include your brand name followed by your product or services.
So for PixoLabo, branded keywords would be something like “PixoLabo WordPress web design.” Once you have the results for your company, look at the pages included in the results.
If pages are missing, you may have incurred a penalty from Google for some reason or another. Take note of any page that’s missing because you’ll have to work on it later.
This method also checks for Google penalties because using the command “site:[yoursite]” reveals all of Google’s indexed pages.
When you use branded keywords, Google is still pitting you against your competition.
So if you have a page that shows up when using the “site:” command, but it doesn’t show up for a branded keyword, you’ve probably received a Google penalty.
Site speed is an important ranking factor for search engines like Google. People hate to wait for slow-loading pages. If your page takes too long to load, you risk losing leads to your competition.
Google favors fast-loading sites too. They want users to have a positive experience, so you need a site that loads quickly.
Visitors will not wait for pages if they take too long to load, so you’ll want to optimize your site speed to give your audience a good experience.
So, how do you determine your site speed?
If you choose to use these tools, you must make the required changes to your site on your own.
You can also invest in website optimization services from a web design agency like PixoLabo. With this option, you can worry about running your business while your web design company helps improve your site’s speed.
HTTP Status Codes
Whenever a search engine requests a page, your web server will return with a status code, and this must come back with a value of 200 so that there are no errors.
You can quickly check for status codes using Google Webmaster Tools, a free resource that shows your pages’ health.
You’ve probably experienced going to a webpage and receiving a 404 error. This error usually happens if the crawler can’t find the correct page on the server.
Another frequent cause for this error is moving pages to a different location without redirection.
A 301 redirect is the best method to remedy this. It will transfer all authority from the old page to the new location.
When Google crawls through your site, it “reads” your content and indexes your pages. Indexing is crucial to your page appearing in the search results. If your pages aren’t indexed, they won’t appear in the search results, and it will hurt your SEO.
During your SEO audit, make sure Google isn’t accidentally blocking your pages.
You’ll want to check your index status report in the Google Search Console. In this feature, you will see the number of pages that Google has crawled on your domain. If you notice that the number of pages isn’t increasing, there is a good chance that some of your pages aren’t getting indexed.
When you check your pages, you can search your site to retrieve a list of indexed pages. Also, you can type “robots.txt” at the end of your URL to see pages that are disallowed or not indexed. It will look like this: https://www.yourwebsite.com/robots.txt.
This trick will help you see which pages are indexed or skipped. It’s an efficient way to help index your pages, which will improve your SEO.
Another alternative is going to Google and typing in the following command:
For example, you can see every page that Google has indexed from PixoLabo by typing “site:pixostage.wpengine.com.”
When you have your results, compare the total number of pages on Google to your site’s total number of pages. They should be the same unless you use robots.txt to restrict pages from indexing through the no-index command.
Mobile-friendliness is an essential part of your SEO strategy. Considering that mobile accounts for approximately half of the web traffic worldwide, it’s crucial that you optimize your site for mobile consumers.
Since 2018, Google has primarily focused on mobile-first indexing. Mobile-first indexing means that mobile-friendly sites rank higher in search results.
One of the easiest ways to make your site mobile-friendly is by focusing on mobile-first web design. A mobile-first design ensures that your website adapts to whatever device a user is using. Your website will display correctly on desktops, mobile devices, and tablets.
Mobile-first design creates a positive experience for your audience and allows them to browse your site easily. When you perform your technical SEO audit, check that your site is mobile-friendly.
Voice Search Optimization
The first part is ensuring that your content is easily readable. If a speaker reads your content out loud, you want to make sure your content is straightforward. Review your content to make sure the information is concise and easy to digest.
Also, ensure that you’re providing your audience with the information they want. If someone is conducting a query like “What’s the best way to cook a turkey?” your content should answer that question directly.
When you provide your audience with relevant and direct information, you have a better chance of appearing in the featured snippet. The featured snippet is a block of text that appears at the top of the search results.
You want to earn the featured snippet known as “position zero” because voice search devices pull information from these featured snippets. When you optimize your content, you help your site perform better in voice search results.
When you perform your SEO audit, you must make sure your site is secure. People don’t want to enter sites where their information is at risk. Likewise, Google doesn’t rank sites unless they are safe for users.
When auditing your site, check to make sure your site has a properly installed and configured SSL Certificate. HTTPS is the signal for a secure site. As long as you have that designation, your site will be safe for your audience, and Google will index and rank your site.
When you perform an SEO audit, you must crawl your site to identify errors.
If you want to crawl your site, you can use a tool like Screaming Frog. This tool helps you identify errors on your site and fix them to improve your site’s performance.
You can start by identifying pages that are not currently indexed and fixing errors preventing Google from crawling them.
Also, look for broken pages that produce an “Error 404” message. This error occurs when pages get deleted or the URLs change. Creating redirects for these links will help prevent your audience from getting error messages.
By fixing errors and disallowed pages, you’ll help send visitors to the relevant information and keep them on your site. Your website’s SEO will improve as a result of your hard work.
A broken link is any link to a page that no longer exists. Broken links (or “dead links”) are common whenever you delete a page from your site without redirecting to another page.
Broken links are frequent throughout the Internet. Whenever you see an error message saying “404,” it’s because a link no longer connects to a page.
If you have many broken links on your site, you no longer provide a good user experience. As a result, you’ll notice a gradual decline in traffic and conversions.
It’s also possible that you’ll lose rankings in Google search results since Google focuses on providing a positive user experience for its searchers.
Regardless, if you find broken links, replace or remove them as quickly as you can.
Internal links are those from one page on your website to another page on the same web server. Providing contextually relevant links will help improve the rank of your linked pages.
You will never receive as much authority from an inbound link as you would a backlink from a reputable external website in your niche. However, using inbound links is an excellent way to gain a bit of extra link juice.
You can find information about your internal links from Google Webmaster Tools under Traffic – Internal Links. From here, you can ensure your inbound links are relevant to provide you with the most benefits.
It’s also a good idea to check your internal links to ensure they link to the correct page.
Step 2: The On-Page/On-Site SEO Audit
An on-page SEO audit mainly involves the content on your site. It will include:
- Optimize your titles and meta descriptions
- Format your text properly (Use H1, H2 tags correctly)
- Check your content for uniqueness, correct grammar, and proper formatting
- Update dated content regularly and merge similar content.
- Link related pages
- Check your images for accurate descriptions and ALT text. Compress large files to avoid pages that take too long to load.
- Identify broken links
In SEO, content is king. Search engines place more emphasis than ever on quality content written for users. That being said, following good SEO practices is a crucial ranking factor, so you shouldn’t neglect your title and metadata.
As you perform an SEO audit on your website, focus on the following aspects of on-page SEO:
Your title tag should be as short as possible. Any longer than 70 characters, and it will not display correctly on search engines.
Suppose you’re using a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress. In that case, SEO plugins allow you to easily alter this information and see how it displays in search engines.
Alternatively, use DVANA’s search engine title tool. Always remember your title tag should be relevant and contain the keywords for which you want to rank. DVANA’s tool allows you to input a search term and show you how it appears in your title tag.
The meta description tag doesn’t affect keyword rankings, but it’s still essential. When you conduct a web search, do you know that snippet of information that appears beneath the URL?
That’s the meta description, and it’s your opportunity to convince users to click on your website over your competitors.
Search engines will also highlight any keywords that appear in this data, so use it – but don’t stuff keywords, or you’ll turn users off.
You can also find your title and meta description data in your Google Webmaster Tools account or by using the free website crawler tool.
From an SEO perspective, headings aren’t massively important. However, Google still places more weight on heading tags (H1, H2, etc.) than plain text. They are also essential from a usability perspective.
Use headings to break up your text and improve the navigation of your website. Users will have a much more positive experience.
Content length has a significant impact not only on rankings but also on conversions. Studies have found that content that was longer than 1,200 words ranked significantly higher than shorter content.
Producing detailed, quality content will earn you credibility and increase your ranking ability. Check for pages with a word count below 300 words, and safeguard against being interpreted by search engines as irrelevant.
When you create content, you want to ensure that your pages contain original content that is informative and relevant. It should have relevant keywords and pertain to the topic at hand. If you want your site to perform well, you must nix your low-value pages.
You’ll want to beef up the content of low-value pages or redirect them to content-rich URLs.
To do this, de-index the low-value pages and focus on your high-value pages. When you de-index low-value pages, people can still visit them, but they don’t affect your site’s performance.
When you create content, you don’t want to duplicate your content. Duplicate content dilutes the authority of your page, and it hurts your SEO rankings.
To prevent this from happening, you’ll want to use canonical link tags. These tags indicate “master copies” of pages. By using canonical links, you’ll help organize your site and index your most important content first.
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, so you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t optimize them for SEO.
Describing your images in the ALT attribute will help search engines crawl your visual media. And ALT text gives you something relevant to display if, for any reason, your image won’t load.
In this case, you may not get your thousand words, but saying something is better than saying nothing at all.
Step 3: The Off-Site SEO Audit
An off-site SEO audit mainly involves checking techniques you use to promote your website online or link building.
It will involve checking:
- Whether you have any toxic links
- If you are using relevant anchor text
- If unique and trusted domains link to your content
- The number of links pointing to your home and internal pages
As you perform an SEO audit on your website, focus on the following aspects of off-site SEO:
Backlinks are so important for SEO and are an increasingly significant ranking factor for search engines. By earning high-quality, relevant backlinks, you can significantly increase your rank.
Suppose you’re not getting any benefit from the links you’re receiving, or no one is linking to you at all. In that case, it’s time to review your link strategy seriously, and an audit can help you see when this is necessary.
For backlink analysis, I recommend using Link Research Tools. Their Link Monitoring module has a robust Link Check Tool (LCT).
It checks for broken and dead backlinks in your web pages and guest posts. It also alerts you when link status changes.
Step 4: The Competitive Analysis
When conducting your SEO audit, you’ll want to analyze your competitors to determine how you stack up against them.
Suppose dozens of competitors already rank for a specific keyword. In that case, you may want to rethink your targeting strategy to focus on keywords that will deliver higher-value results.
Adjusting your keyword strategy is also an opportunity for you to find keywords you may not rank for currently.
When you analyze your competitors in your SEO audit, you’ll also want to look at their content. Content has a significant impact on your SEO performance. It helps your site attract more leads and perform better in the search results.
Look at what type of content is performing well for your audience. By doing this, you will discern how your content compares to the competition.
You should also take this time to analyze competitor content to develop ideas for your content.
By analyzing the competition, you’ll have a better idea of how you can help your site stand out and outperform them in search results.
It’s also a good idea to check if you have a presence on social media platforms that your audience uses.
As you perform an SEO audit on your website, focus on the following areas of your competitors:
You’ve probably heard the saying, “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” A solid awareness of your competition is crucial to success. By understanding their strengths, you have a much better chance of emulating that and eventually outranking them.
Use one of these tools to monitor backlinks to track and monitor backlinks to your site. You can also use Moz’s Link Explorer to analyze the domain and page authority metrics of your and your competitors’ sites. Then, you can determine why these websites are so authoritative.
According to Search Engine Journal, search traffic accounts for 76% of all website traffic, with social media trailing far behind at 5%. But that does not mean you should ignore the value of social media.
Social media is an effective method of gaining exposure and engaging with influencers and customers. With 31% of all referral traffic coming from social shares, your presence on social networks should be a crucial part of your SEO strategy.
The number of fans or followers on any social network will not directly affect your ranking. However, sharing and liking your content will increase your authority and traffic to your website.
SharedCount is a free tool that tracks the sharing statistics of any page, including leading networks Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Suppose you want to optimize your content for Twitter. In that case, Keyhole is a great tool that analyses hashtags and shows you what’s trending, allowing you to reach users searching for the same tags.
Use these tools together to target your content and earn more shares, exposure, and, therefore, traffic.
If your website has a local presence, it’s essential to audit its local profile. This audit involves ensuring your information is listed across directories and is visible in the local sixpack. That’s the list of local companies that appear at the top of SERPs when searching for a relevant location term.
Focus on Optimization Instead of Perfection
As you learn how to perform an SEO audit on your website, you need to keep one critical fact in mind. There is no such thing as perfect SEO. If you try to achieve that, you will drive yourself nuts. Remember, we call this search engine optimization, not search engine perfection.
The end goal of SEO traffic is leads and sales. As such, our focus will be on items that help you reach the real end goal, which isn’t typically to have a “perfect” website. Instead of perfect, we will use the word “optimized.”
Remember, you are competing with other businesses, so if your site is in better shape than theirs, it doesn’t have to be perfect to rank and generate leads.
Establishing a solid foundation is critical to your long-term success. On the other hand, achieving perfection is a “vanity” metric that can rack up a hefty bill that never turns into a return on your investment.
Performing an SEO Audit is Critical
Performing an SEO audit of your website may take a lot of time and effort. Still, it’s critical to your company’s online success.
Your pages should each have unique titles, headings, and meta descriptions that include unique keywords describing their content. Every page must target unique keywords. If different pages target the same keywords, Google won’t know which one to prioritize and show in search results.
That can be disastrous for a business trying to grow online. Learning how to perform an SEO audit regularly to keep your site in tip-top shape is critical for your business success.
An SEO audit should be an ongoing process where you consistently measure and analyze your website. Performing regular SEO audits can prevent having a significant number of issues to fix during future audits.
Now you know how to perform an SEO audit. You can take steps to ensure that you will avoid the common pitfalls that an SEO audit seeks to remedy when you update or change your website.
SEO site audits are a great way to reevaluate your SEO strategy and find new opportunities to increase your search engine rank. They also allow you to redefine your goals and ensure your website will effectively generate leads and increase conversions.
It does not matter whether you invest your own time or employ the services of SEO experts to conduct an audit. The insights you can gain to improve your website from not only an SEO perspective but also in terms of design and social media are invaluable. We are here to help.
Are You Unsure How to Perform an SEO Audit?
Here at PixoLabo, we can show you how to perform an SEO audit as part of our search engine optimization services. We can also help you with mobile-first web design, e-commerce solutions, and website optimization.
Each business is different, and we personalize our custom web design process for every client.
Why not start by requesting a free consultation!
Did You Perform an SEO Audit?
Have you performed an SEO audit of your website or online store? If so, what errors and shortcomings did you find, and how did you resolve them? If not, what is preventing you from performing an SEO audit?
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