Do you know how well your website is performing?
SEO experts know the importance of regular audits, but for many of us who only have a basic knowledge of SEO, it may seem like a daunting task. However, in today’s world of digital marketing, it’s becoming more important to have a clear understanding of this.
In this blog, we’ll give you tips on how to perform an SEO audit (like an SEO audit checklist) and learn more about the latest tools and get tips for a better understanding of the what, where and why behind the process.
So what is an SEO audit? It’s a way to check the health of your website to prevent spam and look at suggestions on how to optimize it. SEO audits are important for many reasons, primarily because Google changes its algorithm frequently in accordance with new technology and search patterns.
Conducting a thorough SEO audit is an essential starting point for any digital marketer, whether you do so in-house or outsource the task. This is because it allows you to analyze your current SEO efforts, no matter how prolific or sparse they are, and take immediate action off the back of those insights.
How much does an SEO audit cost? That depends on the tools you want to use and the size of your business and website. Prices vary depending on the agency you work with so make sure to seek out a few quotes to compare.
Have a look at our SEO audit handbook and toolkit to get guidance on the process and get a downloadable toolkit to get you started.
It’s important to check a website’s overall health to ensure its usability in both an internal and external context. You’ll need to have an internal investigation of several factors, including the sitemap, anchor text, and even social media platforms. Load time is big, and doing a thorough audit will also bring up red flag issues that you need to address.
One of the reasons that doing this is so important is to make sure that you’re not getting penalized by Google for doing something that might damage your site ranking. There are a lot of little details that can result in this, and if you’re not an SEO expert, you could do it without knowing it. When you get an external audit, you can receive detailed feedback about best practices with your content, linking, and so on.
Doing a full SEO audit is quite complicated and technical, and you can find many more technical descriptions of how to complete one. It may not sound like the most fun activity in the world if you’re not a techie, but it can boost your revenue in ways that you might never imagine if done right.
You must investigate the overall performance of your website regularly. Do a check once a month using some of the tools mentioned above, and get an expert to review your website on an annual basis.
Find out what an SEO Manager does to get an overview of the responsibilities.
An SEO audit is essentially a checkup for your system to see how well it’s functioning in comparison to the market. Below are some of the most important areas that an SEO audit will cover:
There are a few key steps involved in an SEO audit to ensure maximum optimization. Let's look at each of them in more detail.
So how do you do an SEO audit? Every effective audit starts with a comprehensive site crawl. This allows you to assess the current situation and identify any issues your website might have. Essentially, a crawl will help you to set a baseline for the rest of your audit.
It’s good practice to do an automated scan once a month just to monitor basic factors like bounce rate, conversions, and page views. This will be often enough to bring up major issues, like any on-page errors in the form of broken links, page titles and meta-data or duplicate content. If you find any significant issues, you can contact a professional for a detailed audit. A more thorough check should be done annually.
When you do a scan or a full audit, your site is assessed, and bugs can be found, plus it gives you key indicators to optimize your site for better SEO and building brand awareness.
Here are a few key areas to consider when doing a technical SEO audit:
A thorough check will analyze your landing page and how it relates to other pages, the overall user-friendliness of the page, the menu, and whether ads and banners are effective or in the way.
Page speed is also huge when doing an SEO audit, so it's important to test and benchmark your page load time. A fast site speed promotes a positive user experience, whereas a slow one will result in higher bounce rates in our age of limited attention spans! This is far from ideal if your website is one of your primary channels for conversion.
Here are some of the best SEO audit tools that can help you with page speed. Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights to analyze the speed of your website as it renders both on desktop and mobile. YSlow is another tool that will check your web pages and provide suggestions that you can easily implement, such as correctly formatting and compressing images. Pingdom Website Speed Test examines every part of each web page and provides a detailed list of the items on a page, their size, and individual load times.
The importance of a speed test lies in the fact that you can determine which elements of your website are acting as obstacles from an SEO perspective. Once you know which areas you need to improve, you can optimize your site’s performance.
Another factor that will improve your site’s SEO is ensuring it has a solid structure. The better the architecture, the better the user experience, both in terms of website visitors and the bots that crawl it to determine search ranking.
It’s for this reason that having a clear, logical, organized structure that is reflected in a complete, accurate sitemap (that has been submitted to your webmaster tool accounts) is essential. A strong URL structure is equally important.
Make sure that it relates to your site hierarchy and that you adhere to clear and simple naming conventions, avoiding any symbols or numbers where possible.
An example of a strong URL structure would be: www.digitalmarketinginstitute.com/students/courses
Another component of a strong site architecture includes making sure all your main web pages are listed in the top navigation menu of your website, so site visitors and bots can find everything they need easily and efficiently.
For the same reason, you should also include internal links that will take users and bots from one page of your website to another in one simple step. In these ways, you’ll be able to guarantee a strong site architecture that will benefit your SEO.
Content is a fundamental on-page SEO factor and one that will strongly influence the effectiveness of your site. Google prefers regularly updated, unique content that is relevant to the needs and preferences of a searcher.
This means that you have to make sure that your website’s content fulfills this brief, so you can enjoy enhanced brand visibility and higher rankings. A content SEO audit is a key part of that so make sure you check existing content along with putting your SEO hat on when creating new content.
When creating content, you should use keywords in a consistent, natural manner. You need to strike a balance between using targeted keywords but not conveying your brand to be ‘spammy’. When it comes to creating content for SEO, value and relevance are key!
Concise, descriptive title tags that accurately convey the purpose of the webpage in question. Longer titles will be cut off by search engines so less is more. Try to include a relevant keyword where possible.
A meta-tag serves as a description of a webpage’s content. If optimized, they will incentivize a searcher to click through your listing on a SERP to your website.
Alt tags for images are a text description that is essential for bots when crawling a website. If you include accurate descriptions of your site’s imagery (and again, use targeted keywords if it feels natural), this will significantly impact your SEO and indeed your digital accessibility.
In terms of other important tags, make sure each of your pages includes a rel=”canonical” link (otherwise known as the canonical tag) in its HTML to prevent duplicate content issues, while blog post tags will help you to organize your site’s content for crawling - provided you have a blog of course If you want to start a blog, check out our 5 simple steps to do that!
Sometimes, it’s not what you know, but who you know. Often, search engines can determine the quality of your website, and its perceived value to searchers, based on the quality of the websites that link to it. Historically, there was a practice known as ‘link farming’ that involved exchanging reciprocal links with other sites to enhance SEO.
However, as time has gone on, the practice of SEO has refined and algorithms have become more sophisticated. In terms of backlinks, focus on quality over quantity, and if a search engine believes that questionable websites are linking to you, it could bring your site into disrepute. Similarly, it’s important to verify that your links are coming from a variety of domains, rather than the same website as this will also impact your SEO.
Fortunately for most of us who aren’t SEO experts, there are quite a few tools out there that can help you perform an effective audit. Here are a few of the best SEO audit tools out there.
Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider
You can crawl up to 500 URLs for free and then a license is $209/£149 per year. All you need to do is enter the URL you want to crawl - in our case, it would be www.digitalmarketinginstitute.com - and the tool will carry out an analysis for you. Check out our guide to using Screaming Frog SEO Spider.
This is a must-have for any digital marketer in any industry. It will give you key indicators of all kinds of metrics and will guide you towards better SEO in many ways. It’s something that can be used continually to track and monitor traffic. Google Analytics can be integrated into Screaming Frog so you can compare site data such as sessions, page views and bounce rates, which will give you a more granular, all-encompassing insight into what’s happening with your site.
Google Webmaster Tools (Search Console and Google Trends)
Google provides several affordable tools that allow anyone to do regular SEO checks and help you see your page ‘as’ Google sees it as a way of checking the performance of your site.
Check My Links
This extension tool allows you to do a check on your links to make sure they are all working in favor of traffic rather than against it. For instance, Check My Links will point out any broken links, appropriate density of links, and structure of both internal and external links. While this is fairly easy to do manually, this takes seconds to do.
SEO Report Card
SEO Report Card will analyze your site to see how well it’s shaping up in comparison to the competition. It will go through things like rank analysis, link-building structures, trust metrics and authority baseline. It will also assess your site's overall speed and user-friendliness.
MOZ’s Crawl Test Tool
When you get a pro subscription with MOZ, you’ll also get a tool that helps you boost your page ranking for particular keywords and gives you growth reports. What this does is use MOZ’s crawler to analyze your pages and then send a report. It ranges from $99 a month to $599 a month depending on company size and needs.
Browseo will let you view your web pages just as a search engine will read them. This will let you audit the more technical elements of your content and refine them where necessary.
Majestic is a tool that is self-described as ‘the planet’s largest link index database’, and will help you discover who is linking to you, so you can see if they provide a relevant and valuable connection.
This is a powerful SEO tool but can be particularly useful for measuring the performance of your visual content. For example, you can conduct a YouTube SEO audit by using its Keyword Magic Tool and site audit tool. Plans go from $119.95 a month to $449.95 a month.
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