Performing an expert SEO audit is a complex and time-consuming process that requires the right tools, knowledge and methodology. Since audits focus on detailed website elements that have a crucial impact on the performance in the search results, conducing it properly and analyzing the right data is the cornestore of future search engine optimization activities and strategies. How to do an SEO audit of your website? Let’s find out!
Before you move on to performing an SEO audit of your website, you should determine its objective and type. What do we mean by that? There are various types of audits focusing either on the general condition of your website or on its specific aspects.
Consequently, we can differentiate a few basic types of audits such as:
technical audits that focus on page structure and technical elements like indexing, crawling, hosting, and more,
content audits that analyze the quality and quantity of content, allowing you to find areas for improvement and determine which content pieces should be expanded, optimized, redirected or deleted. Want to learn how to conduct a content audit? Check out our article.
local SEO audits focus on local SEO elements like Google My Business that have a crucial impact on your website visibility in the local search results. This type is particularly important for all owners of locally-based businesses. Are you wondering how to perform this audit? Benefit from our local SEO audit checklist.
Core Web Vitals audits allow you to assess the performance of your website and adjust it to the CWV metrics to improve your page design and user experience.
Once you select the type of audit you want to perform, it’s time to analyze your target audience. Will they understand complex SEO terminology? Will they have enough time to go through long walls of text? Or maybe they only need specific tips and recommendations on what to implement on the website?
Answering these questions will make it easier to adjust the format of the SEO audit to the people who will be reading it and their needs. So, how to do a site audit? To start with, you’ll need to select the tools that will help you obtain the data you need. What should you focus on?
Google Search Console - this is a must for any website audit. It provides valuable insights into the performance of your website in organic search. You can also use it to diagnose any technical issues, find keywords your website ranks for as well as uncover any opportunities to optimize your website for search and visibility, based on the data on impressions and clicks.
Google Analytics - it's a great tool to gain insights into your website’s traffic and performance. You can use GA to track user engagement, analyze conversions, check the performance of your content, and identify areas for improvement.
Google Schema Markup Testing Tool - it’ll help you to test and debug your structured data. It's important to have schema markup on your website, as it helps search engines understand the content on your site better and improve the way they display it in the search results.
Keyword visibility tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, SE Ranking, and more - these tools will help you identify the keywords your website is ranking for, as well as find any opportunities to further optimize your website for a better ranking performance. Thanks to this data, you’ll be able to uncover the hidden potential of your page and minimize the gap between you and your competitors.
Link building tools like Ahrefs, Moz, or Majestic - they’ll help you analyze the link profile of your website and identify any issues with the link quality, allowing you to boost your SEO performance and website parameters like Domain Authority, Domain Rating, Trust Flow, or Page Authority.
Crawlers like Screaming Frog, Sitebulb, OnCrawl, or Lumar - these tools are great for performing a comprehensive technical audit of your website and identifying any potential issues like broken links, missing redirects, duplicate content, slow-loading pages, and more.
Advanced Log File Analyzers like Screaming Frog, JetOctopus, or OnCrawl - they’re truly multi-functional tools perfect for extracting data and detecting common SEO issues. With their help, you can quickly find any broken links or errors, analyze metadata, headers, image sizes, and alternative descriptions, discover duplicate pages, and many more.
Website speed tools like Page Speed Insight or GTMetrix - will help you to measure the speed performance of your website, and optimize it for a better user experience.
As you can guess, these are only some of the tools you’ll need to use to perform a comprehensive website audit and gather all the necessary data to analyze your website’s performance and find areas for improvement. Other than that, you’ll also need to check your website’s on-page SEO and content, or benchmark your performance against your competitors.
All this will allow you to stay on the cutting edge and compete for top positions in the search results.
How to Do an SEO Audit Step by Step
Now that you know the basics and theory, let’s move on to the subject matter of this article. How to perform an SEO audit? To evaluate your website’s performance and find areas for improvement, follow the steps described below:
Check Your Website Visibility and Determine the Most Important Keywords and Pages
This can be done using Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and other external keyword visibility tools described above. Thanks to it, you’ll:
obtain basic data about your website’s performance, and its potential,
find out which keywords your website is currently visible for,
uncover opportunities to optimize the existing content,
identify which pages are ranking and why,
uncover any potential visibility issues with the content,
discover any potential keyword gaps between you and your market rivals,
track your website’s performance in the organic search.
Check Your SSL Certificate
It’s important to make sure your website is secured with an SSL certificate, meaning it’s available over HTTPS, not HTTP. Having an SSL certificate is essential since it encrypts the connection between your website and the user’s browser, making it harder for third parties to get access to user data.
How to check if your page has the SSL? Simply enter the website and see if it starts with https:// and if there’s a padlock symbol before the URL.
Check Redirects Between Individual Page Versions
It’s essential to check the existing redirects between individual page versions (www.example.com, http://example.com, http://www.example.com, and https://example.com). All of them should be redirected to the version you’ve chosen to use.
How to do it? You can perform the check either manually or benefit from crawlers like Screaming Frog.
Check if Your Website is Responsive and Mobile Friendly
In the era of omnipresent mobile devices, reaching top positions in Google necessitates ensuring your page has a responsive design and is mobile-friendly. This means your website should be easy to use and navigate on any device, not only on desktops.
How to check your responsiveness and mobile-friendliness?
You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test, Google Search Console, or… do it manually. How? Just change the browser window size a few times and check if your page displays correctly and if the content adjusts to the new screen size.
Check Website Indexing and Scanning Data Using Google Search Console
To check if your website is being indexed by search engines, use Google Search Console. Thanks to it, you’ll be able to determine which pages are indexed, as well as verify the speed of indexing, and uncover any potential indexing issues. If your page is big, it’ll be easier to analyze the scanning using server logs, however, it’s a very complex topic for a separate article, so we won’t dwell on that today.
Check if Your Website Doesn’t Generate 4xx or 5xx Errors
4xx and 5xx errors are HTTP status codes that indicate errors such as a bad request or unauthorized access. They can have a detrimental impact on website performance, traffic, and bounce rate, so it’s crucial to deal with them as soon as possible. To check the existing errors, use the tools mentioned above like Google Search Console or crawlers.
Thanks to it, you’ll be able to detect any 3xx, 4xx, or 5xx errors, uncover potential issues with the server, and find broken links.
Check the Robots.txt File
The robots.txt file contains instructions for bots, telling them which sections of the website they can access and navigate. When performing an SEO audit, you need to manually check the file and make sure that you block the robots from accessing all unnecessary pages, such as filter results.
Why? Because you don't waste your crawl budget on elements that shouldn't be indexed.
Check Meta Tags and Canonical Links
Meta tags include descriptions and titles which are displayed in search engine results, while canonical links inform the search engine which version of the page should be indexed. It’s essential to make sure all of them are properly set up and optimized. One of the tools you can use to check meta tags is the Screaming Frog.
It allows you to see existing meta titles and descriptions, as well as check if you’ve forgotten to set any canonical links.
Check if the Sitemap Is Implemented Correctly
An XML sitemap is a file that contains a list of all the web pages on your website. It helps search engine spiders understand the structure of your website and crawl it more efficiently. To check if your sitemap is implemented correctly, you should manually check the file and verify if it’s updated regularly, contains only the most important pages, and is free of errors.
To streamline the process, you can also benefit from Google Search Console.
Check Website Speed and Core Web Vitals Metrics
How to do an SEO audit?
The next step is to analyze your Core Web Vitals metrics and focus on user experience. In May 2021, Google announced that the Core Web Vitals metrics, such as Largest Contentful Paint, First Input Delay, and Cumulative Layout Shift, became important ranking factors affecting website positions in the SERPs.
To make sure your website meets the requirements, you should evaluate the page load speed and Core Web Vitals using tools like Google Page Speed Insights, Google Search Console, or GTmetrix.
Check the URL Structure
URLs are one of the most commonly overlooked elements when performing an SEO audit. To make sure your URLs are SEO-friendly, you should:
make sure they’re concise and to the point,
include only the most important keywords,
avoid using underscores and use hyphens instead,
avoid using too many parameters,
To quickly gather data about all the URLs, use crawlers like Screaming Frog.
Check Website Architecture
How many internal links lead to the most important pages and how many pages have been crawled?
Analyzing your website architecture manually or using crawlers will allow you to find areas for improvement. Generally, it’s advisable to organize the content into categories and subcategories and make sure the most important pages are as close as possible to the homepage.
You should also add internal links to navigate users to related pages, and create descriptive URLs.
Check SEO-Friendliness of Meta Data
To check if your metadata is SEO-friendly, you should analyze the titles and descriptions of all the individual pages. Make sure they’re concise, start with the most important keywords, are easy to understand, and don’t exceed the recommended length. For meta descriptions, it’s between 140 and 160 characters (960 px).
On the other hand, titles should have approximately 600 px. You can use crawlers like Screaming Frog to quickly scrutinize the metadata of all the pages.
Check Header Structures
Headers are important for SEO since they inform the search engine and users about the content of the individual sections on the page. To make sure your headers are optimized, you should:
add keywords naturally in the H1 header and at least 1 H2 header
make sure all the headers are properly structured and used in descending order,
avoid keyword stuffing.
To check if your headers are SEO-friendly, you can use the Screaming Frog SEO Spider.
Check if Your Schema Markup Is Correct
Schema markup is a type of structured data which provides search engines with additional information about the content on your website. It’s especially important for local businesses, news sites, and ecommerce stores. How to verify if your Schema markup is correct? For this purpose, you can use tools like Screaming Frog or Google Schema Markup Testing Tool.
Check Alternative Descriptions of Graphics and Images
Alternative descriptions of graphics and images are essential for SEO, both from the user experience and website accessibility point of view. To check if all of them are properly set up, you should manually go through the existing graphics and images to verify if they have alternative descriptions.
If your page is sizable, you can also benefit from crawler tools to do it much quicker.
Check Anchor Texts on Internal Links
What phrases do you use to link individual pages of your website internally? Anchor texts should be concise and include the most important keywords. To make sure all the texts are SEO-friendly, you can use crawlers like Screaming Frog.
Check Internal Content Duplication
Duplicate content, meaning a situation when the same content can be found on various pages within your website or on a few different websites, can have a detrimental impact on website performance and visibility. That’s why it’s essential to check if it exists and address any potential issues. To do it quickly and efficiently, use crawlers like Screaming Frog or Siteliner.
You can also do it manually by typing a few content fragments in quotes into Google, and checking what appears in the search results.
What is thin content? It’s content that doesn’t bring any value to the reader and doesn’t meet the search engine’s requirements. To check if your website has any thin content, you should manually analyze the content of all the pages, use Google Search Console to get general data or benefit from crawlers like Screaming Frog.
Check Your Backlinks and Linking Domains
Analyzing your backlinks and linking domains is also crucial to uncover any potential issues with the website's visibility. To do it quickly, use backlink analysis tools like Ahrefs or Majestic. Determine what websites link to you the most and find potential opportunities for improving your link profile.
Don’t forget to check anchor texts used to link to your page and make sure your backlinks are diversified.
Benchmark Your Website Parameters Against Your Market Rivals
When performing basic competitor analysis, there’s no need (or possibility) to be as thorough as when conducting an SEO audit. A profound benchmark analysis is intended to help you prioritize efforts. If your competitors have little content and a lot of backlinks, and their websites are more visible than yours, it may suggest that backlinks are more important for this particular industry or your page.
Taking a closer look at your competitors should allow you to determine if you’re going in the right direction.
Gather All the Data on Detected Errors and Issues in One Place
When you’re done with the analysis of all the elements, it’s time to gather all the data on the detected issues and errors in one place. It’s best to use a spreadsheet as it allows you to quickly analyze the most and least important elements, prioritize the areas of your website that require the most attention, and track the progress of your website optimization.
What should you do?
turn each error or issue into a task for implementation
analyze each task and think what impact it may have on the website and how difficult it can be to implement it - this will help you determine the priorities,
start with modifications that are easy to implement and at the same time have high influence on the page,
then, focus on tasks that are difficult but have a high impact, finally, it's time to solve issues that are easy, but have a low impact,
what about difficult tasks with a low impact? Don’t bother yourself with them, it’s a waste of time and effort.
Don’t forget to designate a person or department that will be responsible for the implementation of each task.
Prepare an Audit Report (if Needed)
If you’re conducting the audit for a customer or a boss, you should also prepare an audit report.
It should include:
the list of elements that have been analyzed,
the tools used for the process,
the issues and errors discovered,
the list of recommendations for implementation,
a strategy or a game plan on how to fix the issues.
Now that you know how to make an SEO audit report, it’s time to learn how long the entire process typically takes.
So, how long does an SEO audit take? We won’t surprise you if we tell you that IT DEPENDS (after all, it’s the favorite saying of all SEO specialists ;)). The entire process is dependent on numerous factors such as:
the size of the website (the bigger the site, the longer it takes to collect the data),
the number of detected errors and issues,
the scope of the audit (if you start implementing modifications on the go, it may significantly prolong the process).
However, according to our survey, most SEO experts generally agree that performing an SEO audit takes from 1 to 3 days. This time can vary depending on the type of selected audit, the website’s condition, size, or scale of potential problems.
Learning how to do SEO audits to satisfy your clients or target audience can be a complex and time-consuming process. It requires not only the right skills and knowledge but also access to professional tools that are often expensive.
Gathering all the data about your website’s performance and identifying potential issues is the first step to improving your positions in the search results. Then you should evaluate the effectiveness of conducted activities and start devising a strategy tailored to your website, business, goals, and market rivals.
Not sure where to begin and how to audit your website?Contact us - our experts will be happy to help you and take your page’s performance to the next level.
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