How to Do an SEO Audit: The Ultimate Checklist
What started as a groundbreaking addition to digital marketing, search engine optimization (SEO) has become a fundamental part of establishing a website. With several updates and new search engine algorithms, SEO has also developed a lot from what it used to be.
However, simply applying different optimization approaches and not checking their progress can significantly hinder your website’s progress. Hence, after a certain interval, marketers conduct an SEO audit to inspect all the different aspects of their site. As per the SEO audit definition, it is a process of analyzing how well your site is performing and whether there are any issues or not.
In this comprehensive guide, you’ll get to know about how to conduct an SEO audit and the ultimate SEO audit checklist.
Why SEO Audit Is Important?
You must conduct at least a yearly audit so that you can omit all the useless optimization practices you have been wasting time on. You can then use that saved time on areas that are showing potential growth.
This will also save your funds as you will only invest in areas that benefit your business and filter all the unused tactics. It will also help you go back and check other unavoidable issues, which you can correct after locating them through the SEO audit.
Moreover, as online trends and ranking factors keep changing, a regular audit will help you see if your website complies with such requirements.
How to Conduct an SEO Audit
Now that you know what is SEO audit is and why it is important, the essential part now is executing it.
By following the steps mentioned below, you can audit your website without any issues. The steps are:
#1 Determine Your Optimization Goals
The foremost step to any analysis is understanding what your point of comparison is. Hence, you, too, need to have a clear idea of what exactly did you expect to achieve after a year of optimization. These are certain goals that you might have framed at the beginning of the year and framed the entire SEO strategy aiming towards it.
These goals can be anything, from a certain number of backlinks to a particular amount of revenue generation. This way, you can assess how SEO fits your marketing strategy and conduct the procedure keeping that in mind.
#2 Actively Crawl Your Website
A major deciding factor of how your website will perform on the internet is its SERP ranking. And this ranking depends on how the search engine has crawled your site. So, if you want to streamline this “crawling part,” you must mimic it and understand how Google or other search engines will perceive your site.
There are several tools to conduct this process, such as the SEO Spider from Screaming Frog. It is free for the first 500 URLs you check.
#3 Follow the Ultimate SEO Audit Checklist
After you are done with understanding the basic crawling experience of your site, you need to dig a little deeper. Now, you have to individually scrutinize every aspect of your site and assess its importance. Please check the 20 checklist pointers below.
#4 Create Goals for the Next Year
Now that you have understood how to do an SEO audit and assuming that you have conducted one as well, your site is more or less ready for the coming year. However, your work does not end there. Once the audit is done, list down the aims you have for the upcoming year and create a proper set of goals.
For the next year, you will be applying all the tactics and techniques to achieve these goals and at the end of the year, compare your site progress with it as well.
The Ultimate SEO Audit Checklist
While you can check numerous different aspects of your website, the following 20 are the ultimate pointers that you have to go through.
1. Mobile-Friendly & Responsive Design
With about 4.66 billion active mobile internet users as of 2021, your website must provide a similar user experience to that on a PC. Hence, you need to check that your site is mobile-friendly and responsive on other devices. This way, no matter which device one uses the internet from, your page will provide him/her with a proper experience. This is also why mobile-friendliness is now a major ranking factor for Google.
2. Google Indexes One Version
Your website can sit on different domain versions, but not all of them are ideal for your online performance. To Google, these are different versions of your site, while ideally, there should only be one. So, check for these versions and make sure only the best domain name is indexed.
3. Site Loading Speed
Checking website loading is a crucial part of this SEO audit guide, as in May 2021, Google made it an official part of website ranking through its Web Core Vitals update. Ideally, your web pages should load within 2-3 seconds; else, their bounce rate will increase exponentially.
4. Website Architecture
Having a simple architecture of internal links will improve the crawlability of your website. However, if you find that your site’s internal links are not in the ideal pyramid structure, take your time and actively streamline it. Any experienced SEO agencies like eSign Web Services recommend it, you must not skip this part.
5. Crawling & Indexing Problems
Apart from internal linking, there can be several other issues hindering your page from achieving optimum crawlabality and proper indexing. Tools like Screaming Frog can help you locate problems, like broken links, duplicate content, etc. This is primarily a part of the technical SEO audit. After finding all the problematic elements, eliminate them from your website once and for all.
6. Backlink Analysis
Link building is one of the two most crucial ranking factors for Google. However, Google’s algorithm is much smarter than what it used to be, and it actively checks if the link signals are from relevant websites or not. So, check if all the leads you have earned are related to your site or not.
7. Organic Traffic
8. Optimize Your Web Content
According to 57% of marketers, content development was the most effective optimization tactic they used in 2020. So, by optimizing your web content with every SEO audit report, you are improving your chances of creating an effective online presence.
9. Unique Title/Meta Tags
While you are fixing all the technical issues, check if the meta tags in your site are unique and distinct. Since crawl bots go through them as well, unique titles will give your site an edge over the rest.
10. Fix Broken Links
With time, the websites you have cited on your pages may no longer be active. Should you not remove, replace or fix those links, they will create a very poor user experience, resulting in a drop in your SERP rank.
11. Image Optimization
Make sure the images have proper ALT texts as they further boost ranking. However, you also need to ensure the images are of good quality and small size to provide a proper user experience to your visitors.
12. Heading Optimization
An important part that people usually skip in their SEO audit checklist is optimizing their headers or H1 tags. But, you should pay attention to them as that is what your readers come across first; if it is not precise and attractive enough, you might lose traffic as well.
13. XML and User Sitemap
The XML sitemap helps Google find those pages that you want it to crawl. So, if you do not create a clean map to follow, it might cause a negative effect. Similarly, a proper user site map will ensure they reach the pages where you want them.
14. Google Search Console & Analytics
If you do not have your website linked with Google Search Console and Google Analytics, get it done immediately. While you will only conduct SEO audit once a year, the Console and Analytics will provide a certain amount of insights regularly.
15. Structured Markup Data
By fixing the errors with your site’s structured data markup, you can improve the way Google perceives your website. For example, if Google clearly understands your website, it will use newer ways of introducing your site on its search results.
16. Keyword Rank Tracking
It would help if you tracked keyword rank because it aids your websites in several ways. For instance, through it, you can troubleshoot traffic drops, understand organic CTR issues, identify keyword relevancy, etc.
17. Competitor Analysis
Apart from understanding how your website performs on the SERPs, it is crucial to keep an eye on your competitors as well. By doing competitor analysis, you can avoid several mistakes and gain a new perspective on improving traffic.
18. User Experience Signals
88% of users on the internet are less likely to visit a website a second time if they had a bad user experience. You cannot determine which particular element actually made your visitors unhappy. So, it is best to optimize every user experience signal on your site.
19. Social Media Engagement
As already mentioned, the popularity of smartphones has changed how people used to browse the internet. At present, social media marketing plays a big role in determining how much exposure your brand gets.
Check how much engagement you could establish with the previous efforts and if you should change any.
20. Other On-Page SEO Fix
The true SEO audit meaning is to scrutinize every minute aspect of your website. So, if you feel something still needs a proper check after going through all the mentioned 19 pointers above, go for it.
SEO Audit Tools
If you are still wondering how to SEO audit a website, the following tools can help:
- Google PageSpeed Insights
- Google Search Console
- Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool
- Google Analytics
- Screaming Frog
- SEO Site Checkup
Even though there are other tools available on the market, if you successfully manage to leverage these, you should have a detailed audit report every single time. Professionals use every SEO audit tool mentioned here, and so you do not have to doubt their accuracy.
Therefore, a routine SEO audit is a must if you want to achieve optimum optimization results. However, should you not have time to conduct one yourself, do not skip on it; rather, hire an SEO service agency. Such agencies have dedicated optimization experts who have devoted their time and energy to learning every little detail about it. So, if you avail of an SEO audit service from one such company, you are certainly improving your chances of ranking high.
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