If you’re running a website and you’re paying the slightest bit of attention to your digital marketing, you’ve probably created an SEO strategy to help boost your traffic. And if you’re paying a bit more attention, then you’d tell me that it’s working great, right? You can tell because you’re getting more traffic. You don’t need to learn how to perform an SEO audit… do you?
Well, yes you do; if you’re going to even dabble in SEO, you should understand how to perform a website SEO audit. Have you ever been to a doctor? Has your car ever been for a service? Your website is relying on your SEO to keep it alive, and a website SEO audit report can tell you if that rattling from the engine is supposed to be there or not, and what you should be doing more or less of.
We’ve put all of our most helpful tips and useful tips in one tidy place, so you have everything you need to see what parts of your SEO strategies are the most powerful, and which need to be revisited. Let’s start things off at a crawling pace…
A site index and SEO crawl is a great place to start when you’re looking for useful information tidbits on your current SEO and general structure. There are plenty of basic crawling tools online for free, from Rob Hammond to SEOCrawler, but a quality tool like Screaming Frog can be worth the price tag.To index, type in “Site:http://www.MyDomain.com” – entering your domain where it says ‘MyDomain”. This will show you all of the indexed pages you have with Google, and all of this information can be packaged nicely into a spreadsheet or database to be analysed throughout the audit.
While you’re doing that, double-check that there aren’t any other accessible URL’s – they should all be 301 redirects back to your main site.
Now, we’re picking up the pace and investigating your…
There’s no such thing as ‘spare time’ – you only get a certain amount before you run out and people are less patient than ever. With that in mind, assess your site speed with a tool like PageSpeed Insights from Google. It checks your site for both mobile device and desktop loading speed and points out any room for improvement with handy tips. Let’s keep moving forward, and take a peek behind the curtain.
Behind The Scenes SEO
Roll up your sleeves, ladies and gentlemen.
In this block, we’re going to look closely at some important SEO factors; KPI’s, Structure, Domain, and URL’s and File Names.
What are your KPI’s? Are they engagement or sales goals? Conversions? Domain authority and ranking? You can’t possibly know if your SEO strategy is working if you don’t have something to gauge it off.
The structure of your site should be your pecking order; it’s central to your SEO to prioritise the most important pages. How many times does your online visitor need to click to find their page? Could this be whittled down further? Does the navigation and page name boost your SEO? Is the sitemap organised and easily interpreted?
The three-click rule dictates it should be no more than three clicks to find any page on your website – this is untested although remaining largely uncontested.
Dig into the background of your domain with the WayBack Machine tool on Archive.org to find out more about what your domain has been up to – you can look back through archived snapshots of your site (mild sense of nostalgia optional). Assess your domains and sub-domains for untapped potential, then turn your eye to the domain authority and backlinks.
Moz’s free tools can help you unearth more data on your domain authority, which is essentially a score out of 100 based on how well your site will rank on search engines.
URL And File Names
Your URL’s may be on a default setting, which isn’t helpful for the user or the search engines.
Go through and check that all your URL’s are accurate, with site descriptions and relevant keywords. Keywords are best to be separated by hyphens consistently, and the pound symbol (or hashtag, if you were raised on Twitter) should be noted. Google doesn’t look at anything following the #, so unless you need it there then you could be rendering some keywords ineffective.
Content and Keywords
Don’t stop your SEO audit now – we’re getting to the fun stuff! Here we will look into the content of your site; everything from images to keywords. You’ve dusted out from underneath every nook and cranny, now it’s time to put everything back and see what can stay, and what needs adjusting.
What keywords are you targeting? What keywords are you ranking for? Are they difficult? Google Webmaster Tools can help you look into this, along with other SEO deities like SEMrush.com. Check out how much competition there is and how your costs might be adding up. Keyword difficulty tools can be found at Moz, where you can evaluate how difficult a keyword might be to rank for – which could help you to divert your efforts to keywords with better returns.
Google Adwords Keyword Planner is free, and it can give you a fantastic insight into your paid search keywords. While this doesn’t always guarantee the efficacy of the keywords in an organic search setting, it’s usually pretty spot-on.
Keyword research can be arduous, but it’s extremely important that you commit time to this SEO cornerstone. Create a spreadsheet to easily interpret the cost and power of your chosen keywords – you’ll gain a better understanding of your brand, your audience, and how to connect the two.
Here’s where you need to comb through your content and ensure that your keywords are being used properly. This doesn’t mean that they should be littered around because Google is evaluating websites more and more intuitively. A page written solely for the search engines is going to suffer compared to its audience-driven counterparts, so use an optimisation tool like the one from Internet Marketing Ninjas.
Review your title tags, meta descriptions, and H tags for keywords, accuracy, and on-page cohesivity; review your content for spelling and grammar errors, or plagiarised content. Robots.txt files are also extremely helpful – they’re the little gatekeepers that tell the search engine to look at a certain page or avoid another. You can use them to restrict access to your site from bots, block robots from crawling files that you don’t wish to be accessed (whether confidential information, or unfinished sites that you don’t want appearing in the SERP), and even to avoid duplicate content issues. Check your robot.txt easily thanks to tools from SEMRush.
Pictures and Images
If you see broken links, poor quality or sized images, or improper ALT tags – fix’em. Your page may be poorly presented and slow to load without these problems being addressed.
ALT tags are often paraded as another keyword stuffing opportunity, but they’re there to offer more information about the image with a helpful description. Best practices; do both. Find a way to include a couple of your keywords in with the description, so long as it still makes sense and is accurate.
You may want to investigate the rights around the images you’re using – is someone stealing yours? Did you unintentionally steal someone else’s? A tool like Tineye or Image Raider can help you find out more with reverse image searches.
We’re so close, people! Links are how we traverse the web, either internally (from within a singular website), or externally (between different websites).
External links, inbound links, backlinks; these little signs to search engines that other sites value and reference your site, giving you more reputability as a website. While we’ve evolved past the ‘backlink-for-backlink’ phase of SEO’s adolescence, link building is still a factor. A crawl will let you know who’s linking to you, and for what page. Google has tools to show all of this to you, but there’s also tools like Majestic. Review the quality of these backlinks, and find out why you’re getting them. You can use this data to find out where your SEO might be thriving or suffering.
Internal linking, or the linking within your own site, should be arranged logically with helpful navigation to keep your visitors on your page. Tools like MetaForensics and SEO Review Tools can break down your internal links and show you where you could be misstepping.
Social and Listings
Social media and business listings are both big factors in your SEO, however they can be overlooked if you are only assessing your website.
First of all – have you claimed all of your spaces on social platforms? Tools like KnowEm can help you to find spaces that you may have overlooked. You might have a Facebook for your Harriet’s Flowers floral business, but what if you found there were an Instagram and Twitter running your brand name?
Next, evaluate your content marketing strategies and how it integrates with your social media – factors like links and URL’s will need a look. Check your traffic and see where your social media strategy is succeeding or lagging.
Listings, or external citations, are pretty influential for your SEO. Are your details up-to-date across the board? Are they using geo-targeting? Do you have any reviews – are they positive or negative? What are your competitor’s mentions? Make sure that all of this information is as accurate, relevant, and helpful to you and the online user.
SEO audits are a pretty big job, but the tools are all there to help you succeed. It’s always better to do an intensive audit of your site than to let these problems marinate, and the more audits you perform, the quicker and easier they become. Use the information you gather to refine and develop your SEO further and further, and you’ll see the impact it can have on your business. Dilate Digital isn’t just a team of go-getter digital marketers; we’re online marketing consultants too and we know how to guide you through the intricacies of digital marketing and SEO. For any more help or to chat to our team, simply call or email the Dilate Digital HQ.