Can you conduct a basic SEO audit yourself? Do you know where to begin? Which tools to use? In this article we will answer these and many other questions!
A successful SEO process of a website depends on many different factors. There are over 200 ranking factors that determine the position of your website in Google search results. One of the first, very important steps in the SEO process is to perform an audit, based on which it is possible to analyze the most important parameters and examine all SEO-relevant elements on a given website.
What Is an SEO Audit?
SEO audit is a thorough analysis of the current website condition, during which the level of its compatibility with the requirements and guidelines prepared by Google is checked. If you want to learn more, click the link: Google Webmaster Guidelines. Based on the gathered data, it is possible to prepare a special document containing all the most important recommendations concerning the analyzed website. Their correct implementation should have a positive impact on web traffic and visibility in the search results.
When and Why Is an SEO Audit Conducted?
It is of particular importance especially at the beginning of the SEO process, as it determines a preliminary plan for further actions. It is also worthwhile to decide on conducting an SEO audit when you notice a decrease in organic traffic, i.e. the number of visits to the website from search engines, and when you want to check whether your website meets current standards.
SEO audit is aimed at evaluating the degree of optimization of the most important elements of a given website, showing its positive and negative aspects, as well as indicating errors that prevent the website from being correctly indexed in search engines. By conducting an SEO audit, it is possible to identify the elements that require improvement in order to achieve higher positions in the search results for given keywords, which results in increased website visibility.
In Delante we really pay extra attention to conducting an SEO audit of our customers’ websites – we do it at the very beginning of the cooperation with a new client. The audit is kind of a base for the whole SEO process. Without it, I can’t imagine starting working on the website as it allows us to evaluate the current state of the site and plan the strategy for its optimization.
Tools for SEO Audit
There are many tools that enable to check the validity of particular elements of a website. They are particularly important when you want to conduct a detailed analysis of a website. Thanks to them you can obtain loads of data concerning your website, which can prove to be extremely helpful during the further optimization process.
However, it is worth noting that a correctly conducted SEO audit is not just dry facts. Tools provide you with data, but in order to draw useful conclusions from it, you first need to interpret the information you obtain. This requires substantial knowledge and experience, on the basis of which it is possible to draw appropriate conclusions and propose the best solutions.
Free Tools for SEO Audit
Among the most popular tools for conducting an SEO audit you may find:
- Google Search Console – this is one of the key analytical tools to monitor website performance and its accessibility for users. It is very helpful during the site optimization process. This tool provides a range of useful information on the actual number of visits from Google to your website. It also shows how many times your website is displayed in the search results over a certain period and which keywords generate web traffic.
In order to use all the functions of the Google Search Console tool, you need to make a simple and quick configuration – it’s worth doing it as early as possible. There are several methods for “connecting” your site to Google Search Console. The most popular one is to add a short meta tag in the <head> section of a specific website’s HTML code. Alternative solutions include signing into domain registrar and verify your website by adding DNS TXT or using Google Analytics account for authorization. For a person conducting an SEO audit, data obtained from Google Search Console are invaluable. Thanks to them and adequate analysis, many conclusions may be drawn, which will allow to determine further SEO strategies.
- Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool – this is an extremely helpful tool when analyzing a website. It allows you to examine its architecture and structure. Screaming Frog is available in two versions – paid and free. The free-of-charge version has its limitations – you can check only 500 pages during one analysis; however, this is absolutely enough to conduct a basic SEO audit. With the help of this desktop tool, after pasting the home page address, you will get a list of subpages with duplicate content, missing H1 headings, incorrect URL addresses, as well as other SEO elements requiring optimization. It is worth noting that Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool is also a good solution for content audit. You don’t have to manually analyze the content of all the URLs on your site – “frog” will do that for you and present the results in the form of legible tables and graphs.
- PageSpeed Insights – a free Google tool, which allows you to test the website speed and compatibility for mobile devices. Once you enter a web page URL and press the Analyze button, you get tips and suggestions on how to improve your website loading speed. Google PageSpeed Insights uses a 100 point rating scale – the higher the result, the better the situation is. It is worth noting that this tool is constantly being developed, which makes the information provided even more complex and detailed. Over the past years, this tool has evolved several times. When performing an SEO audit on your own, this Google tool will help you discover what you need to do in order to improve both user experience and website optimization. If you want to learn more about measuring page speed, read an entry on our blog: How to measure your website loading time? 7 helpful tools
- Siteliner – another extremely helpful and free-of-charge tool that allows you to find duplicate content on the website and analyze on-site elements such as external and internal links or 404 errors. Once you have finished scanning the site, you can download a comprehensive report with loads of valuable data. Siteliner works as a web application and enables the page analysis with no need to create an account and login – in this case only 250 subpages are scanned. If you want to use the full version, all you have to do is to create a free account and log in.
- OSE Moz Rank – with this tool you can check the authority of your domain. The Domain Authority (DA) is the numerical value that estimates how a website performs in search engines. This parameter was introduced by MOZ and aims at determining the estimated competition of a given site. This result is provided on a scale from 1 to 100 – the higher the number, the better. The domain authority (DA) is measured based on the link rating, including the number of backlinks.
- Seoptimer – this tool verifies the level of SEO optimization of a given website. The HTML code and content of the website are analyzed and then a detailed report is generated, divided into the most important parts for SEO. With this web tool, you will learn, for example, whether the title tag of your website is correct, i.e. whether it is of the right length (about 55-60 characters). It also provides valuable information about the heading structure or the number of keywords included in content – simply put, it shows all the information necessary to perform an SEO audit.
Paid SEO Audit Tools
There are plenty of paid tools that are really helpful when conducting an SEO audit on your own. Most of them are quite expensive, that’s why usually only SEO agencies can afford to buy a license or subscription. The use of many tools, both paid and free-of-charge, gives a full picture of your current website condition. The most popular paid tools that effectively support the SEO audit are:
- Ahrefs – one of the most widely used tools for competition research and link analysis. It allows us to obtain detailed data, which are presented in a clear form of comprehensible lists and graphs. Thanks to the information provided by Ahrefs, you can check the profile of backlinks and their exact anchors. Ahrefs is an extremely effective product, so it is worthwhile to use it when conducting SEO audits.
- SEMrush – a complex paid tool that enables monitoring the position of keywords in the search results, as well as analyzing and comparing them with competitors. SEMrush allows you to improve SEO strategy and increase the visibility of your website in the search results. Moreover, the functions provided by this tool allow you to easily monitor the activities of your competitors. Thanks to SEMrush, you may find the answer to the question “what competitors were better at that they achieved higher positions?”. This solution will help you to identify areas for further optimization, so as to stay ahead of other competitors in the same industry.
Helpful SEO Browser Extensions
You can also find special browser extensions, which are very helpful when conducting an SEO audit. The most popular ones are:
- Woorank – great tool, which provides basic information on the level of optimization of a given website in a very clear way. What’s more, this extension checks if the analyzed website is optimized for mobile devices and what is its page loading speed. The data obtained from Woorank will help you improve the effectiveness of your own marketing strategies. The Woorank browser extension analyzes, among other things, structural data, usability, technologies used, backlinks, as well as web traffic and visibility in the search engines. It is worth mentioning that it is completely free-of-charge, doesn’t spy on users, and doesn’t gather any data on usage or browser history.
- SeoQuake – another popular tool that, like the above-described extension, is available for free. It analyzes a number of SEO-relevant parameters. It provides you with information about, for instance, the number of pages indexed in search engines such as Google, Bing or Yahoo, as well as the number of backlinks. SeoQuake also estimates the keyword difficulty and exports SERP analysis to a CSV file.
- SEO META in 1 CLICK – another free browser extensions that show many SEO parameters. With the use of it you can directly check the title tag and meta description of a given page and their length. You no longer need to check this information in HTML code! SEO META in 1 CLICK also enables you to preview headings in the display order, the number of images with the alt attribute, as well as information on robots.txt and sitemap.xml files.
Steps of SEO Audit
Technical analysis is carried out in order to check the basic SEO parameters of the website. The most important stages of technical analysis are:
- Analysis of internal linking
Correct URLs should be short and intelligible. They shouldn’t contain special characters or capital letters and words should be separated by hyphens, not underscores. A correctly constructed link to a product in a given category in an online shop should look like this: https://web-address.com/category/product
- Meta data
One of the most important elements on every website is: title tag, which should be around 55-60 characters long, contain keywords, information about subpage’s content and brand name, and meta description tag, which should not exceed 160 characters in length and its content should contain keywords corresponding to a given subpage. While constructing and analyzing the title tag, it is worth keeping in mind that the greatest value for the site is to include the most important keywords at the beginning of the title tag. If you want to learn more about metadata, we recommend checking an entry on our blog: meta tags – what are they and how do they affect SEO?
Images on the website shouldn’t be too large so as not to increase page loading time. Their size shouldn’t exceed 100 KB. Another extremely important parameter is the correctly optimized alt text for the images, which provides Google with information about the content of a particular image. It is also important to make sure that the names of the uploaded images reflect, at least to some extent, what they contain, and are not just a bunch of random letters. You can read more about it in our article: Images vs. SEO. How to get down to it?
- Website speed
The faster the page is loaded, the less the risk of bounce rate. The correct page loading time should not exceed 1 second, while the average size of the website should not be larger than 2 MB. You can check it by using the PageSpeed Insights tool, which we have already mentioned in this entry.
- 301 Redirects
An important stage of performing SEO audit is also to check whether the analyzed website has 301 redirects. Simply put, it is to make sure that each page has only one address. You can check it by entering different URL variants for the same page (for example with the “www” module and without it). If it occurs at more than one address, it is necessary to set up correct 301 redirects.
- Website errors
When auditing a website, it is also worth checking whether there are any errors. The most common is the 404 error (page not found). Their increased number may cause loss of valuable traffic to the website. If you want to verify whether there are any such errors on the analyzed website, you can use Google Search Console, described earlier.
Content on the website is aimed at informing users of what a particular page is about. It should be substantial and provide all the most important information about the company’s offer. Thanks to carefully prepared content, a given website has a chance to rank higher in the search engines, which will result in increased web traffic. A website may have great UX with beautiful UI, but it still generates no sales at all. Why is that? For a very simple reason. No one will find it in the search engine.
With high-quality content, your website has a much better chance to appear in the search engine. When conducting an SEO audit, you should check whether there is enough content on a given page. It is recommended that the homepage should contain a block of text of at least 500 words, whereas category pages – 250 words. However, it is important that your content is unique and not copied from other websites. The content should also include H1 and H2 headings, which provide the hierarchical structure of your website. When analyzing the content, it is also worth checking whether it contains HTML emphasis tags, such as <strong> and <em>, which indicate the most important information and provide better navigation on the website.
For valuable tips on how to analyze the content, check our entry: How to properly conduct a content audit?
Mistakes to Avoid During SEO Audit
SEO audit is a complex process, during which it is necessary to analyze many different components and technical parameters of a given website. A very common mistake made by people who don’t have the required knowledge and experience is an incorrect interpretation of the data gathered during the analysis of the website and drawing wrong conclusions. The difficulty of using available SEO tools can also prove to be a major problem, which can also lead to misleading conclusions.
Or Maybe You Should Ask an Expert For Help?
Without a doubt, SEO audit is not a simple process. The number of issues you need to pay attention to is enormous, that is why it would be hard not to overlook something when conducting an SEO audit on your own. Ranking factors that Google crawlers take into account are evolving dynamically, which means that people who don’t deal with SEO on a daily basis may not have sufficient knowledge about it.
Speaking of which, we recommend taking a closer look at our entry: Google ranking factors – check how to influence the search engine
As we have already mentioned above, most of SEO tools and extensions are highly complex and are constantly being developed. This makes their prices are often beyond the reach of people doing SEO on their own. In such a situation, competitors, who use paid tools in the SEO process, are way ahead of you.
SEO agencies have many years of experience in this field and excellent knowledge of the latest trends. In addition to the document itself, which takes into account the current website condition from SEO perspective, clients often receive valuable suggestions on UX and web design. Experts, with the help of charts and figures, are also able to draw constructive suggestions and recommendations.
SEO specialists know what usually causes errors on websites and are familiar with methods of eliminating them. They also cooperate with developers, who are able to rapidly introduce technical modifications and make some changes in website code. For this reason, instead of conducting an SEO audit on your own, it is worth considering whether cooperation with experienced professionals would be a more cost-effective solution in the long term.
Remember also that there are SEO agencies that free-of-charge audits even before signing the agreement. Unfortunately, quite often such analyses are based on basis tools, which rarely indicate accurate data. Recommendations from these types of documents usually don’t bring much value to website owners. A good SEO audit takes into account all relevant aspects of the website from the point of view of search engines and users.
Check out also what should a proper SEO audit include.
Thanks to it, it is possible to evaluate all SEO-relevant parameters and determine the changes that must be made for the page to appear in higher positions for selected keywords. An audit can be a sort of draft of the company’s further marketing strategies, on the basis of which you can plan actions such as SEO or paid online advertising.
Performing a simple SEO audit on your own requires an understanding of the necessary terminology and learning a number of tools for website analysis. However, there is a risk that once you obtain loads of data, its analysis may prove to be really difficult. That is why cooperation with an experienced SEO specialist, who has access to numerous tools and is able to interpret data correctly, will turn out to be the best solution to increase visibility in the search results and website traffic.