What is an SEO audit? If you’re wondering why your website isn’t doing as well as you’d like in Google search results, then this question is also the answer to your problem.
A digital marketing company uses audit tools to find improvements you can make to make your site and it’s individual pages more attractive to Google.
What is an SEO Audit?
To audit your site, you should focus on three core areas of your SEO strategy:
Let’s take a closer look.
Technical is the area where it all begins.
A technical SEO audit checks to make sure the site is running properly, including.
- Accessibility – This is considered the top priority. If done correctly, no one will have issues accessing and moving around the website.
- Indexability – Whether or not the website crawled by the search engine. Optimizing this will improve the site’s performance.
- Performance – Your site needs to perform properly to rank well on Google. Broadly, this includes key variables like load speeds and security.
It’s important to have your technical SEO in order before moving on to other elements.
On-Page SEO Audit
The on-page SEO audit deals with how the content looks on the website. This is pretty general, but during the SEO website audit, any problems with the content are fixed. Quick fixes include:
- Unique Titles – These have to be unique for each page. Tells your reader what the page is about. Each title is between 50-65 characters.
- URL Structure – URLs should be clean and unique for every page and formatted the correct way. Be sure to have your keyword included in your URL.
- Description Tag – This should be between 150 – 160 characters. It’s crucial that you’re not stuffing keywords into the description tag.
- Content Length – This has been discussed at length, but it’s always best to have content that’s long, at at least 500 words. If your content is less than that, there’s a chance it.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the things you should look out for during the on-page stage of your audit.
Having quality content is the biggest part of ranking better than other websites. Copyscape is an SEO audit tool used to check the uniqueness of each page, and to check for duplicate or plagiarized content.
Having plain text won’t work. Each page is properly formatted with the H1 (Title), and multiple H2’s (subheadings). Use bold, italics, and lists when needed.
Google Analytics finds your most popular pages. These pages are entirely free of spelling mistakes, grammar issues, wrong information, or incorrectly formatted content.
Redirect Similar Pages:
With duplicate or similar pages, the 301 redirect is used to direct your readers to the popular page. Everything on the site should be fresh to improve rankings. While posting every day is not needed, a regular schedule is recommended.
Another important SEO website audit task is using internal linking. Most people create content but don’t link to their website. Not only is this helpful to your readers, but search engines will take notice. Each page should have at least two internal links, but no more than 10.
While on the topic of links, check for broken links. Broken links is a horrible user experience. There are multiple tools to use when checking external links. The other option is the “raw errors” report on Google. 301 redirects are the best and easiest way to fix broken links.
Images add a high-quality look to your page while making it easier to read. During the SEO website audit, there are three things to check:
- Filenames describe what your image is. Keywords can be used.
- Every single image needs an ALT tag description.
- Every image is compressed to the smallest size.
Off-Page SEO Audit
Once you have fixed everything on your page, it’s time to focus on the off-page audit.
The off-page audit checks the results to see the website’s popularity. During this time, we’ll check to see whether or not people are linking to, and which websites have your links.
The more websites that link to your site, the more trustworthy it’s considered.
How to Perform an SEO Audit in 8 Steps
Before you start planning this SEO campaign, it is important to have a good idea of where your website stands in the eyes of search engines. You can do this by performing at least one SEO audit on your website. Here is a guide that will help you perform the first SEO audit for your site.
Step 1. Use Screaming Frog Crawl
The first thing you should do is use a program like Screaming Frog to crawl your website. This will identify the following during your SEO audit:
- Errors – 404 pages and other server and client issues.
- Redirects – Temporary or permanent redirects (301, 302).
- External links – All of the sites your website links to.
- URL issues – Uppercase characters, underscores, lengthy URLS and dynamic URLs.
- Duplicate pages – Pages with duplicate content.
- Page title tags – Short, long, missing, or duplicate page title tags.
- Meta description tags – Short, long, missing, or duplicate meta description tags.
It should only take a few minutes or so to crawl your entire website using Screaming Frog. You should export all the data you receive in the report to an Excel spreadsheet, where you can use it to analyse the data and plan the next step of your SEO strategy.
Step 2. Use Google Webmaster Tools and Analytics
You should register your website or blog with Google Webmaster Tools. If you don’t have Google Analytics, you should sign up for it.
Use the Google Webmaster Tools and Analytics to measure the health of your website and to pinpoint crawl errors that Google is encountering during your SEO audit. You will be able to know how fast your website loads and more. There is a guide that will teach you about all the features of the Google Webmaster Tools.
Step 3: Keywords
Now that you have data about your title tags, meta keywords and meta descriptions from Screaming Frog, you will be able to figure out what your website is attempting to rank for.
Use this data along with the keyword data from your Google Analytics to figure out which keywords your website or blog is getting traffic for.
Take the keywords from Google Analytics and Screaming Frog and enter them into the Keyword Planner. This tool will provide you with a list of ideas for keywords – an essential tool in your SEO audit.
One of the main advantages of Google’s Keyword Suggestion tool is that it will provide you with information about how competitive various keywords are.
You will also be able to know the number of times the keyword has been searched worldwide. This is referred to as ‘global searches’. You will also know the number of local searches for the keyword every month. All searches for a keyword in your country are local searches.
Both the Keyword Suggestion Tool and Screaming Frog will help you compare the keywords you are targeting with the keywords you could be targeting. Be sure to keep the following in mind when using the Keyword Suggestion Tool for your SEO audit:
- Local searches matter more – Since a U.S. website is more likely to rank well in the United States, you should focus on local rather than global searches.
- Don’t target the most competitive keywords – You should focus on keywords that are not competitive but receive a significant search volume.
Step 4: URLs
When you view your report from Screaming Frog, you will see an entire list of URLs. Here are a few tips that will help you analyse URLs:
- Static – You want to have static rather than dynamic URLs. While a static URL contains letters, numbers and dashes, a dynamic URL contains $, =, %, +, and other random letters.
- Short length – If possible, you should keep your URLs short and under 100 characters.
- User-friendly – You should have URLs that will be easy for users to remember. Eliminate slashes and dashes that aren’t needed.
If your URLs aren’t static, short, or user-friendly, you should think about making new URLs. When you make new URLs, be sure to redirect the old URLs to your new URLs. You don’t want to lose out on the links that point to your old URLs.
Step 5: Title Tags
One of the major misconceptions about title tags is that character limits are how Google and other search engines measure them.
However, Google actually counts the pixels to measure title tags. Therefore, you should export title tag data from the Screaming Frog report to your Excel spreadsheet. Change the font type of the data to Arial and the font size to 12.
This is what Google does when evaluating your title tags. Set the Excel column width to 520 pixels, which is the cut-off limit of Google. 320 pixels is considered too short while 520 pixels is considered too long.
Here are guidelines you should follow to change your title tags:
- Limit title tags to 50 to 65 characters.
- Use unique title tags for every page.
- Use the keyword for the specific page once if there is enough space.
- Include a geo-qualifier if it is relevant.
Step 6: Meta Descriptions
One of the main mistakes that companies make when it comes to their meta description tags is keyword stuffing. Of course, you should put keywords in your meta descriptions. However, you also want your meta descriptions to be engaging and readable.
An engaging meta description will encourage people to click on the link to your website in the search results.
If you don’t have duplicate or missing meta description tags, here are a few guidelines for writing excellent meta descriptions:
- Ensure the meta description is relevant and unique to the page.
- Write the meta description so that it has a call to action and descriptive ad text.
- The meta description should not be longer than 160 characters, including punctuation and spaces; the ideal is 140-150 characters (fewer than 51 characters is considered too short).
- The meta description should consist of one to two complete sentences with proper punctuation and no greater than five commas.
- Use the keyword once for each sentence; the keyword should be closer to the beginning of each sentence.
- Include geo-qualifiers if relevant.
Step 7: Meta Keyword Tags
If you like, you can use meta keyword tags. However, meta keyword tags are not necessary. In fact, the vast majority of major search engines completely disregard meta keyword tags.
Since meta keyword tags are just one more thing you will need to maintain and update, it is recommended that you don’t use them at all on your website.
Step 8: Content
Chances are, you know about the saying “Content is king.” Therefore, you want to ensure each page on your website has enough content.
Unfortunately, Screaming Frog is not the best at analyzing content on all pages of your website or blog. However, you can simply browse your website to identify the pages that don’t have sufficient content.
If a page lacks content, you should add unique content to it on a regular basis. Also, be sure to add content that is valuable. In general, the web pages that rank highest in the search results of
Google are those that have more than 2,400 words of content. Since you may struggle to ensure each page has at least 2,400 words of content, you should strive for 400 to 600 words initially.
Perform an SEO Audit: Outsource or do it Yourself?
Of course, it’s worth considering whether you want to conduct and SEO audit yourself, or pay a professional to do it.
There are pros and cons of each. For instance, SEO analysis tools can tell you what the technical issues are with your site, but that doesn’t help if you don’t know how to fix them. By contrast, you might not think you have the budget to hire an agency.
Perform a Free SEO Audit
If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, conducting a free SEO audit by yourself is a fantastic option. As we’ve seen, this essentially requires you to use existing software to crawl your site for issues.
Hire an Agency to Audit your SEO
In most cases, hiring a marketing agency to audit your site for SEO is the best option. Even if you’re on a tight budget, most modern agencies will offer a combination of training and direct services to help you get the most SEO value.
In the long run, engaging an agency can even work out more cost effective than going down the DIY route. A task which takes you a day to complete might only take an experienced SEO professional an hour.
Specialists are also less likely to break something in the back end of your site.
As such, you should always at least contact a few agencies for quotes before trying to take any SEO actions yourself.