While most professionals in the field of SEO have heard of an SEO audit, few truly understand what it is.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve just started a website or if you are the owner of a seasoned, well-oiled website. The truth is; everyone needs to know what an SEO audit is and how to perform one. If have SEO experience or if you have taken on an SEO certification course, then this task is piece of cake. If not, perhaps this article could act as a lighthouse.
Introduction to SEO Audit
A search engine optimization audit is among the most important processes that you can embark on for your websites marketing and overall growth.
This statement is a big claim; however, after reading this article hopefully, you shall see why it is a critical process to go through as suggested. Additionally, after reading this article, a website audit shall not seem daunting as you may think.
To ensure that we are all on the same page about the issues at hand, here are some essential premises that we shall build upon.
First, what is SEO or Search Engine Optimization?
SEO is the practice of acquiring and increasing the quality and quantity of free or organic traffic to your website. Quality is essential because you only want to attract relevant traffic to your site. Relevant traffic means people that are interested in the content or in what you have to offer. Once you draw quality traffic, you also want to focus on increasing the number of people visiting your website (quality). Ideally, all this should be achieved without having to pay for the traffic, and hence you want to attract the traffic organically.
Good SEO boosts the performance of a website based on several factors including keywords used, the right type of pages, the quality of content and so on. Sites with good SEO rank higher than sites with bad SEO because the good SEO sites make a search engine user’s experience a lot better. To acquire this information, you could take an SEO test.
Ideally, you want your website to appear on the first page of the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) because a lot of search engine users never go past the first page to look at search results. To ensure that you appear on page one of the SERP, you need an SEO Audit.
What is an SEO audit?
An SEO audit is an analysis or an examination of both the good performing parts as well as the poorly performing SEO components of your website. The SEO audit also includes recommendations to help you improve your websites SEO by enhancing the poorly performing areas and keep up the good performing areas. The SEO check also helps to understand why a site is not attracting relevant traffic and also why traffic is not being converted into sales.
Is an SEO audit really that important?
Analyzing websites overall health to ensure streamlined usability is quite crucial. One of the reasons why it is essential is because you want to avoid getting penalized by search engines for not following their prescribed rules. Another essential reason is that you want to ensure that the search engine users experience is a pleasant one because it will mean that the website will attract relevant traffic.
To ensure the overall health of the website, you need to investigate several factors including anchor text, sitemap, social media, load time and so on. If you are managing your website, you might already be doing a lot of the things required by an SEO audit. If you are uncomfortable doing an SEO audit or if you don’t have the time or patience to one by yourself, you could, of course, get an external SEO checker to do an SEO audit for you.
On average, an internal SEO audit should be done once a month while an eternal SEO audit done by an expert website SEO checker should be done at least once a year. Through the audit, you can gain valuable insights about a wide variety of metrics and how you can tweak the website to achieve the results that you are after.
The ultimate goal of doing an SEO assessment is to ensure that:
- You gain targeted and organic visibility for your website
- The targeted traffic increasingly converts to your offer
- There is an overall growth of revenue
The above results can take several months to achieve. Therefore, a thorough SEO assessment through a properly executed SEO audit is not only essential but crucial for any website owner.
How to perform your SEO audit
To conduct an SEO audit, it is critically important to decide what your Strategic Objectives are. These strategic objectives should be based on the S.M.A.R.T principle. That is, your goals should be Specific, Measurable (w/Measurement), Achievable, Relevant and Time-Oriented.
Additionally, to perform your SEO audit, it is important to answer three critical questions
- Do I have the necessary technical expertise to do an SEO Audit?
- Should I do a manual or an automated website SEO analysis?
- What tools do I need to perform an SEO Audit?
Do I have the necessary technical expertise to do an SEO Audit?
A comprehensive SEO website audit usually requires technical expertise because many moving parts need to be attended to. That said, with proper organization skills or by following an SEO audit checklist, you can conduct a thorough SEO audit without any errors.
The specific items to monitor can be divided into diverse groups. A basic classification of the necessary areas to monitor include the following:
- On-site: On-page SEO includes all the specifics of the user experience including links, meta tags and such that can be monitored through the websites content manager.
- Technical: This includes the specifics of the coding building blocks of the website. Web developer skills may be necessary for a thorough technical SEO audit.
- Off-site: This includes specifics of what other people are doing that could be affecting your website. For example, what are competitors and the search engines doing that could affect your site?
Should I do a manual or an automated SEO analysis?
Some areas of the audit may be automated while other areas regions are better done manually. Areas that can be automated include metrics like bounce rate, page views, and conversions. These automated audits can be done once a month. If you find significant issues, then you can call a professional, or you can dive deeper with a more manual website analysis.
Even with everything performing well, doing a comprehensive SEO audit should be done at least once a year. It should cover areas like the landing pages, menu’s, user-friendliness, the effectiveness of ads and banners and so on.
What tools do I need to perform an SEO Audit?
An SEO audit can be effectively performed if you choose to use the right SEO audit report tool. Luckily, there are several free options that you can choose from. Examples of some tools that you could use include Ubersuggest, Check My Links, Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools, Moz Crawl Test Tool, SEO Report Card.
Below is a list of the specific components of the SEO audit that you will need to pay attention to based on the three primary categories:
On-site SEO checklist
- Are description tags between 150-160 characters long?
- Are titles between 50-65 characters long?
- Are page Titles unique on every page?
- Are your website URL’s SEO friendly?
- Is your description tag keyword stuffed?
- Does your content make use of short paragraphs, bold, and italics?
- Does your content make use of H1 Headings for titles?
- Does your content have H2 and H3 tags for subheadings?
- Does your website have a unique logo?
- Do you have fresh content on your website?
- Do you have a favicon?
- Have you optimized content for featured snippets?
- Have you linked internal pages?
- Do you have the right content length on post pages?
- Do you have varied anchor text for internal linking?
- Do you have ALT tags for all images?
- Are you ranking for highly competitive keywords?
- Do images have descriptive file names?
- Do blog comments have the ‘nofollow’ tags?
- Are image file sizes optimized?
- Do web pages with duplicate or no content have noindex and nofollow tags?
- Do banner ads have a ‘nofollow’ tag?
- Do you have too many ads above the fold?
- Does your website implement rel=canonical to identify original content?
- How long do your home page and other web pages take to load?
- Do you have an HTML sitemap in the main menu?
- Are important pages easy to navigate to (e.g., through sidebar navigation or from the homepage)?
- Do you have a ‘related posts’ section on each detail page?
- Do you have an author for all web pages?
- Does your website have broken links?
- Do you have a custom 404 page?
- Do you have a breadcrumb on all pages?
- Does your website have invalid 301 and 302 redirects?
- Is your website registered on Google and Bing ( for Webmaster tools and Analytics)?
- Is the website optimized for mobile crawlers?
- Does your website have the robots.txt file and robots meta tags?
- Do you have a valid XML Sitemap?
- Have you done Panda and Penguin checks?
Off-site SEO checklist
- Do untrusted external links have ‘nofollow’ tags?
- Have you searched for opportunities to acquire new links?
- Is your website mobile friendly?
- Have you done competitor analysis
- Do you have a Google+ Add to circles button?
- Do you have a Pinterest business page?
- Have you considered the number and type of outbound links?
- Do you have dedicated social media buttons on all pages?
- Do you have a Google+ business page?
- Is your website listed in Chrome Web Store?
- Do you have a native Android app on Google Play (have you considered building a Progressive Web App- PWA)?
- Does your website have a dedicated YouTube channel?
- Do you have a Facebook business page?
- Do you have a twitter account?
- Are your social media profiles SEO optimized?
- Have you considered asking your audience to register for Newsletters and RSS feeds?
An SEO audit template you can follow (and why you need one)
Having an SEO audit template will allow you to have a structured approach as well as make it easier and more manageable to address all the critical aspects of the audit comprehensively. Additionally, an SEO audit template will also afford you the following benefits:
- Immediately identify what needs a change and how to make the change
- Instantly appreciate how efficient your website is from an SEO perspective
- Quickly determine your site’s weaknesses and know how to address the shortcomings
- Ensure constant and measurable improvement of your website over time
- Assist you in balancing your strategy for paid advertising and organic optimization
- Assess Keyword (KW) use. Specifically, if KW’s are appropriately used and well placed; attracting targeted traffic; attracting the optimal amount of traffic.
- Set realistic expectations for your website based on S.M.A.R.T goals
- Measure yourself against competition and gain a competitive edge on your competitors
One of the best SEO audit templates that you can follow to comprehensively cover all the essential aspects of a Website Audit in a step-by-step or structured way is as follows:
STEP 1: What Are Your Strategic Objectives: The goal is to determine the goals of your SEO campaign and overall business.
STEP 2: Keyword Analysis: to determine whether your keyword strategy is working and find easy untapped keywords that you could use
STEP 3: Competitor Analysis: are keywords you are using too competitive? What content is working well for your competitors? Can you scrape for possible link opportunities by scrapping your competitor’s link profile?
STEP 4: Technical Analysis: Are there technical issues hurting your websites user experience and search engine performance?
STEP 5: Page Level Analysis: are landing pages appropriately optimized with keywords for maximum effectiveness?
STEP 6: Content Analysis: Is your current content strategy working?
STEP 7: User Experience Analysis: How well are users interacting with the website and its content as a whole?
STEP 8: Link Analysis: What are the strengths and weaknesses of your link profile?
STEP 9: Citation Analysis: Do you have consistent NAP-W (business Name, Address, Phone number, Website) information on all listings?
If you want to get maximum benefit from owning a website, then it is necessary to do an SEO audit. There are several options for doing a site audit including using free SEO audit tools, doing it manually by yourself or by asking a professional to do a more comprehensive audit for you. Each option has its place, and it is, therefore, essential to utilize all these resources for your maximum benefit. If you do this well, then you will end up with a website that not only attracts relevant organic traffic but one that can continuously improve conversions and increase the overall revenue of the website.