There are so many reasons you need to conduct a search engine optimization audit (SEO Audit) for your website.
It helps you recognize the uncertain parts of the website that need correction or enhancement and develop a plan to solve them too.
Most importantly, an SEO audit for your website will allow you to keep your site up to date with the latest advancements in search engine marketing and enable you to stay a step ahead of the competition.
A full-fledged SEO audit will also give you answer to questions like why are you not getting the results even after spending so much time and money on your website? How are your competitors doing better than you even though they have lower website authority and poor UX?
Rest assured, an in-depth website SEO audit is surely going to help you not only with your ranking but will also help you boost your website’s SERP ranking and get more visitors, leads and ultimately more revenue.
In this step by step guide, I will teach you exactly how to perform an SEO website audit that will help you find all the shortcomings of your website and improve them for better results.
Before we learn how to audit for SEO, let’s first learn what an SEO audit is, exactly.
The process of estimating different aspects of your website to assess the search engine friendliness of a website is known as an SEO audit. As I discussed earlier, the main objective of the SEO audit is to optimize your website for better search engine results and higher rankings.
With that done, here are the tools.
Tools needed to do SEO audit
There are various tools available online for you to use and perform an SEO audit. However, for better results, it is advisable to either follow a step by step guide (like the one you are reading now) or you can even hire an SEO expert to perform the audit for you.
With that said, this guide aims to offer a thorough and detailed process for auditing your website with SEO in mind. That includes inspecting your website’s ranking, backlinks, content, and everything in between.
Here are the tools I will be using during the audit process.
- Google Search Console
- Screaming frog SEO spider
- Google Analytics
- Google structured data testing tool
- Google page speed insight
- Google mobile-friendly test
SEO Audit via tool
Seoptimer and ubersuggest are two of the most highly recommended tools to audit your website. They evaluate your website accurately and show all the missing or broken elements for you to fix. They are the best alternative to manual auditing and they help you find all issues related to your technical SEO that can be fixed quickly.
However, I always prefer manual auditing for an effective website SEO audit. This is so that I can ensure all small details on the website and make dynamic decisions to improve website SEO.
With that said, let’s get started with the step by step guide to manually auditing your website’s SEO.
Manual SEO Audit Steps
1. The website version should be single
The first step in auditing your website is to ensure that only one version of your website is indexed by the Google bots. I know how confusing this statement is, you only have one website, what do you mean by different versions?
The answer to that is all the different ways that your audience can type your website address into a web browser. That includes:
These are the top four versions and out of these only one should browsable while the other versions must be redirected to the original version via 301 redirected.
In the case of this blog, all the versions that are http://vikenpatel.com, http://www.vikenpatel.com, https://vikenpatel.com, and https://www.vikenpatel.com are all redirected to https://vikenpatel.com
To be fair, there is not a lot of issues with the non-www to www redirection. However, a lot of websites face issues when it comes to redirecting the HTTP version of the website to the HTTPS version.
That issue needs to be fixed, stat!
Once all the versions of your website are redirecting to a single version of website (https://vikenpatel.com/), we can move on to the next step.
2. Crawl/Indexing Issues
One of the basic aims of an SEO audit is to identify the pages that are crawled by the search engines and which are being indexed. This is essential because your website can only be ranked for the pages that are indexed. Thus if no index pages = no rankings = no organic traffic.
You can get an overview of the indexed pages with a simple site request. Log on to Google.com and search for “site:yourdomain.com” in the search bar. You will see the number of indexed pages is then displayed above the search results.
Indexing is not possible if the pages are not being crawled by the search engine bots. Thus, you must ensure that none of the pages are blocked, redirected, faulty, or anything else that will prevent Google bots from crawling the pages like marking them as No-Index page or more.
You can check out the indexing status of your website using Google Search Console. Once the pages are indexed they can appear in the search engine results and start the flow of organic traffic.
To find out the errors in the indexing, ask yourself these question
- What is the number of pages that are indexed?
- What is the number of pages that should have been indexed
- Are all the important web pages being indexed?
- What is the number of URLs in the sitemap and how many are in the index?
- Are there some parts of the website that do not receive any visitors through search engines?
3. Manually perform basic on-page SEO
On-Page SEO audit is a huge task! So before you start auditing all the web pages for the on-page SEO, I recommend starting the audit with the home page and slowly move towards other pages of the site.
Let’s get started with some basic on-page SEO here.
Go to your home page in the browser -> Right Click -> view the page source
Once on the source page, look out for the below points
Check if the page has a creative and enticing title tag.
In my case, the title is <title>SEO blog: Everything You Need to Know About SEO – Viken Patel</title>
Check if the title is being truncated in the search results. You can check that using free online tools like https://serpsim.com/ and determine the pixel length of the title. In this case, the title is a little longer than recommended by the latest Google updates.
One thing to understand that even though the meta description does not directly influence your ranking, it does have an impact on your click-through rate. This is because a well-written description can entice a person to click on your link.
Header and Subheader tags
One thing is for sure, the H1 tag is an important page ranking factor. So having unique, and clear H1 tags on each page is an important SEO custom. So check if the H1 is used in the right place that is it displays the objective of your webpage and is optimized with one or may two focus keywords.
Subheaders that are the H2, H3 tags are used to bifurcate different contents on the page. They can also be used to highlight your secondary/related keywords.
4. Check for duplicate content
If there is one thing that Google and I have in common is our mutual hate for plagiarism (copied content). If using the same content on multiple pages on your own website is bad, imagine how bad it would be if the content is copied from other websites.
In case you find copied content, you need to ensure that the content is linking to the source using a rel= “canonical” link.
5. Find and Fix broken links
According to Google, you don’t need to worry a lot about broken links on your website as they don’t really hurt your rankings. However, broken links do affect User Experience which can impact your SEO. Therefore, you must find and fix broken pages on your site.
First, you need to find the broken links on your website that are not indexed by Google. The Index Report on Google Search Console can easily provide you with that data.
The next step is to find the broken internal and external links which you can do using tools like Ahrefs or a free tool like Broken Link Check.
These broken link pages affect the user experience and your PageRank too. So as soon as you find them, you must either delete them or replace these pages.
6. Structured data errors
The next step on my SEO auditing adventure is to test any structured data on the website and fix the errors if required. There are many types of structure markup and different content that is included in them. Content like product reviews, events, product USPs surely benefits from the inclusion of structured data.
You can utilize Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to analyze the current structured data. Using this tool, you can evaluate the structured data for the page and find any errors. Fix the errors you find using the Google Structured Data guide.
7. Speed up your website
We already know from numerous SEO checklist blogs that the load speed of the website is an important ranking factor.
Here’s what you need to ensure that the website is loading fast
Fix issues in your website’s HTML code
First, you need to resolve the issues in the HTML code of your website which you can easily find using tools like the PageSpeed Insights. It’s advisable to test 2-3 internal pages instead of just the home page.
Check your website’s speed
Crunch the images on your website
Large size images can slow down your website significantly. So you can compress the images on the website using tools like https://tinypng.com/.
8. Mobile friendly testing
There’s no doubt that mobile SEO is very important especially since Google officially came out with its Mobile-First Algorithm.
If you are thinking, how do you know if your website is mobile-friendly or not?
Google to the rescue again. You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Testing Tool to see if your website is optimized for mobile or not.
9. Improve User Experience
Your website’s design (UI) and the User Experience (UX) offered by your website, are very important determiners to understand how your visitors interact with your website. UX is also an important element that will impact if the visitor will convert into a paying customer or not.
Elements that impact the User Experience include
- A simple and clean website design
- The correct ratio of images and videos on the page and text content
- The position of the CTA
- Easy site navigation
- The Page content should offer what your audience is looking for
- Social proof
- Trust factors like testimonials
- Easy access to the majority of your website content (should be accessible in 3 clicks)
- Use subheadings
- Use bullet points
- Use of whitespace
- Website speed
It is advisable to work with a UX expert to find out the bottlenecks of your website when it comes to User Experience and optimize it for better conversions
10. Analysis of Interlinking
Interlinking plays a key role in the ranking algorithm of search engines and is considered to be one of the most overlooked SEO strategies too.
To make most of the interlinking strategy, you need to understand how to interlink pages on your website correctly.
It’s no rocket science, in fact, it’s all about adding maximum links to high priority pages.
Once again, you need to check the report for your website’s interlinks on Google Search Console.
Go to Search Traffic → Internal Links.
Here you will find all the pages on your website that get maximum links internally. With this data about internal links, you need to keep an eye out for the following issues
- Links to any error or orphaned pages
- Any incorrect redirects
- Contradictory links
- Not to exceed more than a 100 links on a single page
- See if any priority pages don’t have enough links
11. Analysis of organic traffic
Head over to your Google Analytics to get an understanding of how much organic traffic your website receives.
Google Analytics ->Acquisition -> All Traffic -> Channels ->Organic Search.
Here you will get complete information on how much traffic your website received the past month. Chance the dates to 6 months and you can see the graph of how your organic traffic is performing.
Ideally, the graph should be upwards, however, don’t fret even if the graph is flat. The goal of this audit is to find where you stand right now and based on that data device a new strategy.
12. Track your rankings
The next thing you need to do is track your ranking in the SERPs using tools like SEMrush or Ahref.
Check your domain ranking for your target keywords.
If you see a decline in your rankings, it could for multiple reasons including stale content, bad UX, penalties, etc which you need to fix ASAP.
13. Analysis of backlinks
Nobody can deny the significance of backlinks and the fact that it’s directly related to your website’s rankings. Therefore, your SEO audit would be incomplete without analyzing your backlinks.
Let’s get started with it.
Pick any backlink analysis tool.
I am using SEMrush, you can use Ahref, Majestic SEO or MOZ too. Enter your website link into the backlink analysis tool and get a detailed report of the backlinks.
Check for connecting domains and Domain Authority
The next thing you need to know is the number of websites that are linking your website.
Next, you need to check your website’s domain authority which is determined based on the number and quality of backlinks on your website.
Keep an eye of suspicious links
If you find that there are few shady links from irrelevant web pages linking to your website, simply go ahead and disavow them.
14. Content gap analysis
Different people have different definitions of content gaps. Some people understand the content gap as the difference between what people are searching for and the information they find on your website. While other people understand the content gap analysis as competitor analysis in which you are not ranking for the keywords for which your competitor ranking. While both of them are true to some extent, I am using content gap analysis to analyze the keywords that my competitors are ranking for and I am not.
To analyze your content gaps here’s what you need to do
Find your competitors
Once again use tools like SEMrush and Ahref to find your closest competitors. Both of these tools have competitor research tools which will give you a fair idea of your competition. I am using SEMrush.
From the Competing Domains report pick the top 3 competitors.
In SEMrush, head to Gap Analysis ->Keyword Gap and the name of the three competitors and press Go. Add an advanced filter to only show keywords with a search volume of more than 5,000. This will weed out any irrelevant keywords and brand searches. You can easily pick out high-search volume keywords from the remaining report and build your content around it.
That’s the end of a very detailed step-by-step guide to performing SEO audit on your own.
What did you think about this SEO audit guide?
Let me know in the comments how this guide works for your website audit.
Or share any cool tricks of your own in the comments that I might have missed.