Conducting a Complete Website SEO Audit: A Step by Step Guide
The internet has become highly cluttered with intense competition. Brands are investing heavily in Digital Marketing to cut through the clutter. To stand out from the crowd, and to outshine your competitors you have to ensure to remain at the top of the game.
First things first, your website is your backbone for online presence. You can only rock the online show if you have a completely optimized website.
Every type of online communication, advertisements and numerous pieces of content, all of them attract your target audience to your website.
Since the website holds utmost importance in getting more leads and conversions for you, it becomes even more important to consistently audit your website to derive maximum results.
The Landscape of SEO
One of the major contributors to any website’s success is Search Engine Optimization. Thus, you need to maximize your SEO efforts if you want to succeed in the online sphere. SEO is a top priority for marketers as it improves the user experience and usability of the website.
Google’s extraordinary power along with its increasingly strict website ranking guidelines has added more ways for websites to run right over a cliff.
Irrespective of how well you think your website is optimized, there are huge chances of having some issues that affect your SEO.
This arises a need for a complete website audit. A good website audit includes all the factors that can influence the success of the website. In other words, there are a lot of technical aspects that you can use in each step of a website audit.
These can include technical SEO issues, slow page speed, duplicate content, broken links, or anything else that could be preventing your website from getting all the traffic (and conversions) it deserves.
Why you need a Website Audit
The major reasons to conduct a website audit is to check whether your website is in good shape, is your content relevant, worth sharing and optimized or not? A website audit also checks the number of backlinks, traffic & website loading speed.
A website audit will help you to identify pages, links, and media that needs to be fixed or optimized. A key takeaway to conduct a website audit is to provide updated information to your readers while keeping your goals and objectives on point.
The SEO process is a continuous effort that involves consistent checking and optimizing of your website. Add regular site audits to your process to ensure that your site (or your client’s site) is always set up for SEO success.
How to Conduct a Website Audit
Conducting a website audit is a lot of work, especially if your website has already been up and has created quite a lot of content for many years.
But you do not have to worry about it since the good news is that there are tools that can actually help and assist you to conduct a complete website audit.
Choose a Site Audit Tool
Select a website tool that is powerful enough to scan your website as deeply as possible (scan all pages, sub-domains, and even test pages). Ensure that it scans your website with a high level of detailing so that you can see what pages require your immediate attention and which ones wait for a little.
Make sure that the website audit tool that you choose includes a robust and highly customizable reporting module. There are various tools in my mind right now.
AHREFS has its own version, SEMrush has its own auditor. Other niche-specific tools like Screaming Frog and Sitebulb exist that exclusively provide audit services.
Screaming Frog is the right tool to use if you have up to 5000 pages. The tool returns with reports of over 30 matrics, including meta descriptions, outbound links, response time, security, and anchor text, etc.
All of these tools are premium & paid SEO tools but have the best reputation for being thorough, accurate, easy-to-use, and comprehensive.
It is very important to keep in mind that the difference between a free site audit tool and a paid version is massive in terms of capability and reliability.
These site audit tools allow you to scan your website for any technical problems such as to identify on-page and off-page SEO issues, check for the broken files, links, find duplicate content, assess page errors, page load speed issues and pages blocked by robots.txt.
In short, it can be said that SEO tools are one of the best ways to identify any website issues and generate a report of problems that need to be fixed immediately.
Run Your Website URL Through the Site Audit Tool
Once you have chosen a premium SEO tool for conducting a website audit, you will get the option of entering your website URL into the site auditor.
URLs should be clean short and descriptive that mean they should be keyword rich and not keyword-stuffed.
The site-auditor will crawl your website in order to generate a comprehensive report of all website issues. Every tool is a bit different in how they display the results.
Finding Technical Errors
The website audit tool in SEO profiler checks your web pages for errors that have a negative impact on the search engine rankings of your website.
All of these issues can impact SEO, but even if you aren’t prioritizing SEO for your website, fixing the technical issues will still help your website to run more smoothly and be more user-friendly.
This is the reason why it is important for all website owners to conduct site audits on a regular basis and eliminating the errors to get higher rankings on the Search Engine Results Page.
The Website Auditor tool that you select will generate a list of technical errors that need to be fixed on your website.
Here are some possible errors:
(i) Crawl errors: These errors can be a big frustration for the website visitors. These appear when the tool identifies pages that are unable to be crawled by search engine bots.
(ii) HTTPS status: This determines whether your website’s SSL certificate is up-to-date (i.e. “HTTP://” vs “https://”) and whether your website is safe for users to access.
(iii) XML sitemap status: Your XML sitemap is essentially a map for search engine crawlers. This determines whether your sitemap is formatted properly, includes all updated pages, etc.
(iv) Site and page load times: Find out whether your website and pages load quickly (or slowly). Generally, the slow speed of the website makes the visitor bounce back.
(v) Mobile-friendliness: This checks whether your website is accessible via mobile devices.
(vi) Broken images: Make sure that all images are displayed correctly on your website and don’t show a broken link.
(vii) Robots.txt file: This checks whether all of your pages are being indexed correctly.
Most of these technical issues are simple to fix either on your own or with the help of an SEO expert or web developer. Checking these errors can significantly improve your website’s online presence and user-friendliness.
Identify SEO Problems
On-page SEO and off-page SEO both are very crucial parts that determine the success of your of an SEO campaign. These are the two main buckets that search engines look at when evaluating your website compared to other websites on the web.
On-Page SEO takes care of what your website (or page) is all about. While as off-page considers how authoritative and popular your website is.
Here, we are using the SEO category to include anything was not covered in the technical section of the site audit. These are the components that are most commonly associated with SEO versus a standard website audit.
Common issues identified in an SEO audit are:
- Duplicate, short, long, or missing headers
- Duplicate, short, long, or title tags
- Duplicate, short, long, or title tags meta descriptions
- Duplicate image alt text or title text.
- Presence or absence of H2, H3, etc headings.
- Missing of Google Analytics code
The website auditor will specify which issues need to be addressed and how.
All of these issues can play a very vital role in your website SEO. While conducting a website audit, you also have to ensure that you are targeting your focus keywords correctly by including them in your title tags, meta description, etc.
Site audit tools will also check for keyword cannibalization as well. This will let you know if you are targeting the same keyword on multiple pages, thus hindering your ranking abilities.
If you have any issues about finding and fixing SEO issues, contact a reputable SEO professional for assistance.
Analyze Design and UX
UX analysis is a set of tactics and guidelines that improve a digital product’s ease of use and overall user flow.
A successful UX analysis will result in an actionable list of tweaks and overall enhancements that once implemented will show measurable improvement to the product’s user experience.
These also help conversion rate improvements and higher user engagement and retention.
Many SEO site audit tools will analyze your website’s design and overall user-friendliness (UX). Both of these aspects are very important.
In short, it can be said that the components such as site Navigation and Page Depth will indicate whether your site is easy to use and how easy it is to find information on your site.
For instance, it’s recommended that the majority of your content should be accessible within 3 clicks away from the Homepage.
Ideally, teams should conduct UX analyses regularly. This will help the team to monitor changes in user behaviour and also find opportunities for further improvement.
Assess Website Content
The quality of your content is an important factor that determines the online authority and credibility of your website.
Well – written content & optimized content rises to the top of search results and grabs the attention of the readers instantly.
Having great content is one of the foremost important components of SEO, as well as actually converting users on your website.
The content that you write for your website should be consistent and relevant to the overall page goal and purpose. Content should be concise and helpful to users and it must be well-organized and structured.
Some of the best practices to be kept in mind while writing for SEO content are as given below:
(i) Check the accuracy see whether it is free from spelling errors and is the text well-written and grammatically correct.
(ii) Check for the duplicate content. Duplicate content refers to content that may be too similar to another piece of content on your website. Google sees the duplicate content as an indication that the content may not be particularly helpful to the users or that the webmaster has not taken the time to write unique content.
(iii) Check the value of your content. Is your text valuable, shareable, useful and informational for the visitor? Take time and effort to craft interesting content & in return, Google will reward you with higher ranks in the SERP.
(iv) Content structure is also very important. Good content is easy to read. Content should also be of good quality. Learn how to start content writing because quality matters a lot. All of your website’s text should be broken into readable paragraphs that are identified by using:
Headings, subheadings, bullet lists and also other features that help readers to skim your content easily.
(v) Content freshness is also a very important thing. Publishing fresh content sends a signal to search engines to crawl your site again and again.
Generate a Checklist of All Site Issues
The last yet another important step of conducting a website audit includes generating a comprehensive checklist of all of the website issues that need to be fixed.
You can also share the checklist with other members of your team or with the SEO agency you are working with. Or, you can print out the report for a physical copy.
Having a checklist of all technical, SEO, design, and content issues make it easy to keep track of what work needs to be done immediately.
A regular technical SEO audit of your website is very critical for the success of your SEO strategy. Frequently testing all of the technical parameters for errors can help you detect and rectify them easily.
It is very important that your website loads quickly and the internal linking is done well. Broken links and unnecessary redirects must be spotted and removed.
Having your website audited should always be a part of your online marketing campaigns. However, by learning Digital Marketing you can easily learn and execute the process of Website Audit.
About the author
Among the pioneers of Digital Marketing, Pradeep has been part of the Internet Industry since 2000. He has been a serial entrepreneur for last 17 years and is currently the CEO of Digital Vidya, a leading Digital Marketing and Data Science training company. A graduate of IIT Delhi and a recipient of Adobe Content100, Pradeep is one of the most sought-after international speakers in Digital Marketing and Entrepreneurship.