When I first delved into the complex world of SEO, I found myself asking, “How do I effectively conduct an SEO audit?” Unfortunately, the online resources I came across were either too superficial or overly technical.
After extensive hands-on experience with SEO audits, I’ve decided to write this guide, providing clear and comprehensive insights into conducting a successful SEO audit, covering all the crucial steps you need to know.
How To Do An Seo Audit – 19 Solid Steps
1. Run a Crawl of Your Website
Running a crawl of your website is the foundational step in an SEO audit, something I’ve done numerous times. This involves employing a specialized tool designed to scan your website comprehensively. The purpose here is to uncover any underlying issues that could be impeding your site’s SEO performance.
During the crawl, the tool assesses various facets of your website. This includes the overall structure, the quality and relevance of the content, and key technical elements. Each of these areas is critical for SEO success.
The tool’s findings often reveal a range of issues. I commonly encounter broken links, which can frustrate users and lead search engines to dead ends.
Duplicate content is another frequent issue; it can dilute your SEO efforts and confuse search engines about which page to prioritize. Missing meta tags and slow page load times are also identified.
These elements are crucial for both search engine rankings and providing a positive user experience. Addressing these issues is essential for improving your website’s SEO health.
2. Identify Organic Traffic Drops
Identifying drops in organic traffic is a critical aspect of an SEO audit. From my experience, organic traffic is the lifeblood of most websites, as it represents visitors who find your site through unpaid search engine results. A decline in this kind of traffic is a red flag, often pointing to underlying SEO issues.
These drops can stem from various factors. Sometimes, they indicate penalties imposed by search engines, perhaps due to non-compliance with their guidelines. Other times, they could be a result of changes in search engine algorithms. By tracking and analyzing these traffic patterns, I’ve been able to pinpoint specific areas of the website that require attention and improvement.
3. Check for Duplicate Website Versions
In parallel, checking for duplicate website versions is equally important. This issue arises when your website is accessible through multiple URLs, such as both “www.example.com” and “example.com.”
Such duplicates can create confusion for search engines, potentially diluting your SEO efforts and resulting in lower rankings. To tackle this, I ensure proper redirects are in place, guiding both users and search engines to a single, authoritative version of the site. This step is vital for maintaining clear, consistent SEO practices
4. Diagnose Indexability Issues
Diagnosing indexability issues is a key step in an SEO audit. Indexability, simply put, is the ability of a search engine to analyze and add a webpage to its index, which is crucial for the page to appear in search results. In my experience, even the most well-designed websites can face indexability issues.
Common indexability problems include blocked pages, which are pages that search engines are instructed not to index, often through a robots.txt file or meta tags. The presence of ‘noindex’ tags is another frequent issue, which explicitly tells search engines to exclude the page from their indexes. Additionally, pages that are difficult for search engines to crawl due to poor structure or heavy content can also be problematic. Addressing these issues is vital for ensuring your website is fully accessible and indexable by search engines.
5. Find and Fix Manual Actions
Regarding manual actions, these are specific penalties imposed by search engines, typically when they detect non-compliance with their guidelines. I’ve found that these penalties can have a significant impact on a website’s visibility in search results.
To address manual actions, the first step is to identify the specific issue, which usually involves a detailed review of the website against the search engine’s guidelines. Once identified, making necessary changes to the website is crucial.
This may involve altering content, restructuring the site, or removing problematic links. After these modifications, submitting a reconsideration request to the search engine is essential for lifting the penalty. This process requires a thorough understanding of SEO best practices and a meticulous approach to website management.
6. Ensure Site is Mobile-Friendly
Ensuring your site is mobile-friendly is an essential component of an SEO audit. In my experience, a mobile-friendly website is not just a convenience; it’s a necessity. This means the website must display and function correctly on mobile devices. Given the ever-increasing use of smartphones and tablets for internet access, a mobile-friendly site is indispensable for effective SEO.
To achieve this, I focus on several key areas. Firstly, the website design must be responsive, meaning it automatically adjusts to fit the screen size of various devices. Next, the site must load quickly on mobile devices. Slow-loading sites are a major deterrent for mobile users. Finally, all elements, especially navigation buttons and links, should be easily clickable on a small screen. This ensures a seamless user experience, which is crucial for both retaining visitors and improving search engine rankings.
7. Benchmark Core Web Vitals Scores
Benchmarking Core Web Vitals scores is another crucial step in an SEO audit. Core Web Vitals are a set of specific metrics used by Google to assess a webpage’s user experience, focusing on its speed, responsiveness, and visual stability. These metrics significantly impact SEO, as they can influence a website’s ranking in search results.
To benchmark these scores, I measure the website’s performance against each Core Web Vital metric. This involves using tools that provide insights into aspects like loading speed, interactivity, and visual stability of webpages. I then compare these scores to industry standards or to competitor websites. This comparison is invaluable as it highlights areas where the website excels or needs improvement, guiding targeted optimization efforts for better SEO outcomes.
8. Analyze Site Speed
Analyzing site speed is a crucial aspect of an SEO audit. Site speed, essentially how quickly a webpage loads, is a critical factor for both user experience and SEO. In my experience, slow-loading webpages can significantly impact a website’s performance.
They often lead to higher bounce rates as users tend to leave pages that don’t load promptly. Additionally, poor site speed can result in lower user engagement and satisfaction.
To analyze site speed, I measure the load time of various webpages on the website. This process involves using tools that can accurately gauge page load times and identify specific elements that may be causing delays.
Common issues that can slow down a website include large image files, unoptimized code, excessive use of scripts, and server response time. Identifying and addressing these issues is vital for enhancing site speed, thereby improving both the user experience and the website’s SEO performance.
9. Optimizing Site Architecture And Internal Links
Optimizing site architecture and internal links is another key step in an SEO audit. The site architecture encompasses the overall structure of the website, including how webpages are organized and interlinked. A well-optimized site architecture is not only beneficial for search engines but also enhances user navigation.
To optimize site architecture, I ensure that the website has a logical, hierarchical structure. This means that all pages should be easily accessible, preferably within a few clicks from the homepage.
Also, effective use of internal links is critical. Internal links help guide users through the website and also enable search engines to crawl the site more efficiently. They should be used strategically to connect relevant content, ensuring a cohesive and intuitive user journey.
A well-structured site with effective internal linking significantly boosts SEO by making the site more understandable and easier to navigate for both users and search engines.
10. Monitoring Organic Traffic
Monitoring organic traffic is a fundamental part of managing a website’s SEO. It involves tracking the number of visitors who arrive at your website through unpaid search results.
My experience has shown me that this is an effective way to gauge the success of your SEO strategies. Regularly monitoring this traffic gives you a clear view of how well your website is performing in organic search results.
One of the key benefits of monitoring organic traffic is the ability to identify trends and changes. This can be particularly useful in understanding user behavior and preferences. More importantly, keeping a close eye on your organic traffic helps in spotting any sudden drops or spikes.
These fluctuations can be indicative of underlying issues with your website or, conversely, opportunities for further optimization and improvement.
11. Benchmarking Against Competitors
Benchmarking against competitors is another critical aspect of an SEO audit. This process involves comparing your website’s performance with that of your competitors in the same industry.
Such comparisons provide valuable insights into where your site stands relative to others and highlight areas where improvements can be made.
The benchmarking process can cover various aspects of your website. This includes comparing traffic levels, search engine rankings, backlink profiles, and the quality and relevance of content. By understanding how your website measures up against competitors, you can identify both strengths to capitalize on and weaknesses to address.
This comparative analysis is invaluable in formulating effective strategies to enhance your website’s SEO and overall online presence.
12. Identify Missing Keywords
Identifying missing keywords is an integral part of an SEO audit. Keywords are the terms and phrases that people enter into search engines, and they play a crucial role in driving traffic to your website. From my extensive experience, I’ve learned that identifying and incorporating missing keywords is key to enhancing your website’s visibility.
The process involves researching and finding relevant keywords that are not currently used in your website’s content. Once identified, strategically adding these keywords to your content can significantly improve your site’s ranking in search results. It’s about finding the right balance; the keywords should be relevant to your content and used in a way that feels natural and adds value to your readers.
13. Seek Missed Backlink Opportunities
Seeking missed backlink opportunities is another essential strategy in SEO. Backlinks, which are links from other websites to yours, greatly influence your website’s credibility and search engine rankings.
In my approach, I identify reputable and relevant websites that could potentially link to your website but currently don’t. This might involve reaching out to these sites, creating high-quality content that naturally attracts backlinks, or participating in industry discussions and forums.
14. Audit and Improve Top Pages
Auditing and improving your top pages is a critical step as well. This involves reviewing the pages on your website that receive the most traffic or have the highest rankings. By analyzing these pages, you can gain insights into what aspects are working well and what areas need improvement.
Improvements might include optimizing the content for readability and keyword usage, enhancing the design for better user experience, or resolving any technical issues that might hinder page performance. This ongoing process of reviewing and refining your top pages ensures that they continue to perform well and contribute positively to your website’s overall SEO.
15. Monitoring Your Rankings
Monitoring your rankings is a vital practice in SEO management. This process involves tracking your website’s position in search engine results for targeted keywords.
Keeping a close eye on these rankings provides a clear picture of how effective your SEO strategies are and helps in recognizing any shifts in your site’s search engine performance.
One of the key benefits of regularly monitoring rankings is the ability to quickly identify any sudden drops. Such declines could signal issues with your website, like algorithm updates or technical problems, which need immediate attention to prevent long-term impacts on your site’s visibility and traffic.
16. Checking On-Page Elements And Content Quality
Checking on-page elements and content quality is another significant aspect of an SEO audit. On-page elements encompass both the content and HTML source code of a webpage. Ensuring these elements are optimized for search engines is crucial, but they also must deliver a good user experience.
This process includes verifying that the content is high-quality, relevant, and engaging. I also pay close attention to the usage of meta tags, ensuring they accurately represent the content and include targeted keywords. Additionally, optimizing images for the web is critical; this means ensuring they are the right size and format to reduce load times without compromising quality.
17. Update Status Codes and Link Forwarding
Finally, updating status codes and link forwarding is essential. Status codes are responses from a server indicating the status of a user’s request to access a webpage. It’s important to ensure that all pages are returning the correct status codes. For instance, a ‘404 Not Found’ status for a page that should be accessible needs immediate correction.
Link forwarding, or redirection, is also crucial. It ensures users and search engines are directed to the appropriate pages, especially if the original page’s URL has been changed.
Properly set up redirects maintain the user experience and pass on any accrued SEO value from the original page to the new one. This is particularly important in maintaining the integrity of your site’s structure and SEO value.
18. Other Techniques, Scripts, and Coding
Other techniques, scripts, and coding are often overlooked but are essential components of a comprehensive SEO strategy. My experience has shown that these elements can significantly enhance a website’s SEO performance.
One effective technique is using schema markup. Schema markup is a code that you put on your website to help search engines return more informative results for users. It provides search engines with more detailed information about your website’s content, which can improve how your site is represented in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
Additionally, implementing Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) can greatly improve your website’s performance on mobile devices. AMP is a web component framework that enables pages to load quickly on mobile, enhancing the mobile browsing experience and potentially improving mobile search rankings.
19. Internationalization Considerations
Internationalization is another key aspect of SEO, especially for websites targeting audiences in multiple countries or languages. This involves adapting your website to cater to different languages and regions.
One of the main strategies in internationalization is the use of hreflang tags. These tags help search engines understand which language and geographical audience a specific page targets. This is crucial for providing users with the most relevant version of your site based on their location and language preferences.
Additionally, providing translations of your content can significantly enhance user experience and SEO in different regions. It’s also important to consider setting up separate URLs for different language versions of your website, which helps search engines and users navigate between different language versions of your site more efficiently.
Incorporating these techniques and considerations into your SEO strategy is vital for optimizing your website not only for search engines but also for providing a superior user experience globally.
Essential Tools For Conducting an SEO audit?
When conducting an SEO audit, the right tools are indispensable for gaining deep insights and driving effective strategies. My extensive experience with various tools has shaped my understanding of their strengths and applications.
Google Search Console is a fundamental tool. It provides a wealth of information directly from Google, including how your site appears in search results, which queries bring users to your site, and how effectively Google can crawl and index your content. It’s also invaluable for identifying indexing issues and security problems.
Semrush is another powerful tool I frequently use. It’s incredibly versatile, offering features for keyword research, site audits, competitor analysis, and backlink tracking. Its ability to provide detailed reports on various aspects of SEO makes it a go-to resource for comprehensive audits.
Ahrefs has been a cornerstone in my auditing process, especially for backlink analysis. It provides detailed insights into a website’s backlink profile, which is crucial for understanding your site’s authority and identifying areas for improvement. Ahrefs also offers tools for keyword research, competitor analysis, and site audits, making it a comprehensive SEO toolkit.
SEOptimer is a user-friendly tool that I recommend for quick health checks of a website. It provides a simple yet effective overview of key on-page elements, including meta tags, headings, keywords, and website speed. It’s particularly useful for identifying immediate areas for improvement.
What Is A Good Seo Audit Score?
An SEO audit score is a measure of how well your website is optimized for search engines. It takes into account various factors, including your website’s technical aspects and user-facing elements.
A good SEO audit score is generally considered to be anything above 80. If your score is over 90, it means your website is in the top 10% of the best technically optimized websites on the web.
However, it’s important to note that while a high SEO audit score can indicate that your website is well-optimized, it doesn’t guarantee high rankings in search results. This is because search engines use their own algorithms to rank websites, which take into account many factors beyond those included in an SEO audit score.