If you want to be sure you’re maximizing the business benefits of your website, a site audit is the way to go. One of the hardest part beginners face when it comes to performing an SEO site audit is knowing where to begin.
Even with audits are done, the actions often take time to implement. In fact, the actions from some SEO audits never get implemented at all. A great SEO audit should effectively communicate a prioritized list of actions and justifications that clearly shows the steps that need to be taken to improve organic search performance.
In this guide, I’ll walk you through the process of performing an audit. You’ll get to learn everything you need to do to audit your site and find and prioritize issues that could be holding back your site’s performance and help you understand the steps you need to take to grow your traffic organically.
That said, let me give you an overview of what this guide will take you through:
- What is an SEO site audit & why it’s important
- Must have SEO audit tools
- Starting your site audit
- Things you must check(SEO site audit basics)
- Steps after performing an audit
What is an SEO site audit?
This is the process of analyzing your website to determine that hinders your site’s search visibility. It is the first step to creating an implementation plan that will have measurable results.
Site audits require various tests to generate detailed reports for you to analyze so you can gain insight on your existing website issues. A proper site audit takes into account all the factors that can influence your website’s success: From your perspective, your customer’s, and Google’s.
The main aim of an audit is to identify as many foundational issues affecting organic search performance as possible. The SEO audit will reveal:
- Technical SEO issues
- Website structure issues
- On-page SEO issues
- Potential off-site problems
- User experience issues
- Content gaps and opportunities
- Competitive marketplace insights
If your site has issues, that means your site cannot be properly crawled and indexed, your content doesn’t stand up against your competitors, or you have toxic links & you will be missing out on organic traffic.
Must have SEO audit tools
Let’s face it, regardless of how great you are at search engine optimization, using SEO audit tools has become imperative.
If you haven’t noticed, Google’s algorithm is progressively getting more and more complicated & It’s not just a simple game of keywords anymore. Rather, Google currently uses more than 200 factors in its ranking.
There are plenty of SEO auditing tools out there but in this guide we’ll put our focus on just 5 of them:
- SEMrush Site Audit Tool
- Google Analytics
- Google Search Console
- Google PageSpeed Insights
- Scans websites for over 130 technical and SEO errors.
- Runs thematic reports.
- Sorts out pages and audit results using advanced filters.
- SEO issues are categorized into three groups, based on their severity: Errors, Warnings, and Notices.
- Compares crawls to analyze the results of different SEO audits.
- Integrates with your Google Analytics.
- Provides actionable resolution insights.
- Displays SEO audit results via intuitive graphs.
SEMrush Site Audit has a great library of automated reports allowing you to prioritize your tasks, rate your performance, track progress, and compare crawls.
Moreover, it allows you to see your broken internal linking issues and provides you with security certificates so you can ensure that your security protocols are up to date.
- Crawls the desktop and mobile versions of your site.
- Schedules automatic daily, weekly, and monthly site crawls.
- Covers 100+ pre-configured SEO issues – including; incoming and outgoing links, hreflang, pagination, duplicates, and resources.
- Allows custom filters based on multiple parameters.
- Provides actionable recommendations on how to fix the SEO issues.
- Shows you a real-time crawl log.
Ahrefs also you with the ability to configure segments so you can isolate issues to a certain section of a site. This is useful if you don’t want to conduct a full site audit.
3. Google Analytics
4. Google search console
- Monitors, tests, and tracks your AMP pages.
- Proves crawl stats directly from Googlebot.
- Highlights failed attempts at indexing, and pages with 404 or 500 errors.
- Offers a content keywords tool for analyzing your keyword performance.
- Helps you understand how well your keywords.
- Reveals all the pages have been indexed by Google.
- Generates customized audit reports.
- Sends email alerts immediately Google identifies issues on your site.
- Reviews your index coverage.
- Provides info on queries that bring traffic to your site.
- Covers user experience issues.
At its heart, Google Search Console helps users accomplish three key tasks:
- Analyze clicks from Google Search.
- Find critical website errors and bugs.
- Check if Google’s search engine can understand your content.
5. Google page insights
- Powered by Google Lighthouse.
- Reviews the page’s performance on various metrics, including; First Contentful Paint, Total Blocking Time, Largest Contentful Paint, Time to Interactive, Speed Index, and Cumulative Layout Shift.
- Offers suggestions on how to make your pages load faster.
- Documents the performance of a page on both mobile and desktop devices.
Hoe to do a site audit
It can be overwhelming when it comes to reviewing your entire site, from the backend stuff, like your coding, to the content you’re publishing for your audience.
The important thing to remember is patience and take your time on each of these five aspects of your audit.
1. Evaluate the Technical Aspects of Your Site Performance.
A technical audit is step one for any website audit as it gives you the information on how the underlying technology is performing – or not performing.
Technical Audit Checklist
- Is your site using an SSL certificate? Is it properly and consistently implemented?
- Is your site using a content management system to make updates easy and consistent?
- Have you changed or obscured all default CMS settings, including login page location?
- Does your site use security best practices, like denying access after several failed logins?
- Does your site render right on all major browsers? Have you done cross-browser testing?
- Does your site render on mobile platforms? Have you used Google mobile-friendly test?
- Is your site using Google Analytics or another suite and reporting data from all pages?
- Have you recently updated (patched) all software plugins and modules on your site?
- Are site logins, contact forms, and social media integration working as expected?
- Does your site perform regular backups? Can it be restored in less than 24 hours?
2. Review On-Page SEO Efforts.
Many people consider on-page SEO the fun part of a website audit because it’s the part you truly have the most control over. When it comes to the technology it uses and endorses, an enterprise can take months to make big changes – but on-page SEO can be radically improved in as little as one day.
On-Page SEO Audit Checklist
- Does every page on your site have a keyword-optimized title tag and a meta description?
- Is text on each page substantial, helpful, informative, and rich in relevant SEO keywords?
- Does the site have relevancy indicators including its business address and phone number?
- Are content pages set up for easy sharing on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn?
- Does your site use an XML sitemap to improve your pages’ indexing and crawlability?
- Are you using readable, keyword-enriched URL structures and avoiding dynamic URLs?
- Are your content pages making appropriate use of header tags and linking deep content?
- Are your major content pages and categories easily reached through the main nav menu?
- Are on-page images optimized for keywords and usability using alt text and filenames?
3. Assess Your Current Off-Page SEO Tactics.
Off-page SEO is often the most challenging part of achieving great online visibility – for technicians, marketers, and business owners alike. There are many factors where you have only limited, indirect control, so it can be harder to move the needle on off-page SEO.
Luckily, there are tools that can be effective, such as:
- Google Webmaster Tools – for the “official” option
- Majestic SEO – a high-quality tool that banks on a huge link index database
- Ahrefs – A versatile suite that works well for monitoring multiple websites
Off-Page SEO Audit Checklist
- How many total referring domains link to your entire website?
- How many backlinks do your content and landing pages have?
- Are you monitoring the growth of your entire link portfolio weekly?
- Is your backlink portfolio growing or shrinking over time?
- Have you used Google Disavow Tool to cut bad backlinks?
- How many shares is your site receiving on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn?
- Is your site getting traffic and mentions from your social platforms and YouTube?
- Are you reaching out to, and sharing content with, social influencers regularly?
- Are your backlinks relevant in terms of their location, language, and focus topic?
4. Look at the Entire User Experience.
User experience is critical if you want your website to be helpful and persuasive.
User Experience Audit Checklist
- Are your site pages loading in less than three seconds on the average internet connection?
- Does your site have simple, easy-to-use navigation menus and on-page “breadcrumbs”?
- Does your site use minimal (or no) advertising that might interfere with content viewing?
- Does your site use minimal (or no) obnoxious lead capture methods like “eye-blasters?”
- Does your site use videos in a low-touch way – e.g., embedded without auto-play?
- Does your site use responsive design so it can be viewed easily on mobile devices?
- If your site is currently using Flash, do you have a clear plan to phase it out by the end of 2020?
- Are you using lossless compression to ensure that large graphics load more readily?
5. Audit Your Current Content Assets.
No website audit would be complete without a nod to content strategy.
Content Audit Checklist
- Is your content built with a clear understanding of buyer personas and product use cases?
- Are content pages helpful, useful, informative, relevant, and attuned to the user’s jargon?
- Do you have fully optimized landing pages with one page per product, service, or offer?
- Are content pages of 300-500 words outnumbered by pages of 1,000 words or more?
- Does each piece of content move a specific type of user one step in the buyer’s journey?
- Do all major content pages include relevant, engaging visual elements?
- Do all major content pages include attractive social sharing buttons?
- Do landers and opt-in pages make use of progressive profiling?
- Do content pages use personalization whenever appropriate?
Steps after audit
Once you have completed your SEO audit and have identified issues that could be holding your site back, it is time to jump straight into fixing these.
Your website audit leaves you with a lot of excellent information. You can learn:
- If your site is simple enough for your visitors to use.
- If your site meets expectations of the latest technologies (e.g., mobile experience).
- If you’re doing enough to achieve search visibility.
- If you’re consistent in your messaging and using the right messaging to speak to your ideal audience.
- If your social media is getting enough traction and driving referral traffic.
- If you have gaps in content, based off of website traffic data.
- If your content marketing tools (like your CMS) sets your team up for success.
Conducting an SEO can not only help you to put together a solid strategy at the start of a new project or new site launch but is an essential part of ongoing success.