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Your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts require ongoing maintenance in order to improve and provide you with the desired results. You can achieve this by performing SEO website audits. An audit provides you with the opportunity to improve certain aspects of your website so that your site keeps ranking higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs) or elevates its rank. 

So, let’s understand how you can execute an SEO audit and what are its key components. 

What is an SEO Audit?

An SEO audit involves evaluating the alignment of your online presence with established practices. It identifies all the factors that impact your ability to rank in the SERPs. It is essentially the initial phase in formulating an action plan with quantifiable outcomes. The primary objective of an SEO audit is to pinpoint a comprehensive range of foundational issues that may impact the performance of organic searches. This audit encompasses the identification of:

  • Technical SEO challenges
  • Concerns related to the website structure
  • On-page SEO discrepancies
  • Potential issues extending beyond the site structure
  • User experience challenges
  • Uncovered content gaps and prospects
  • Valuable insights into the competitive landscape

This audit is regarded as a routine practice and should be conducted at regular intervals. It functions as a periodic health check for your website. 

Importance of Regular SEO Audits

Your website serves as the central hub for your online brand. That is why it is necessary to conduct regular checkups to ensure everything remains in optimal condition. Given that your website is a dynamic digital entity that often undergoes changes and is not static for extended periods. 

Throughout the year, content is both added and removed, underscoring the necessity for regular audits. A recommended frequency is at least once a year which allows your teams to promptly address any critical issues that may arise. 

Beyond the foundational technical aspects, other facts of SEO demand attention post-audit to sustain competitiveness. Recognizing that the technical groundwork is just a starting point for SEO success, it becomes essential to stay abreast of your competitor’s SEO activities. 

Keeping a vigilant eye on emerging search engine best practices as well as local guidelines, especially if your business relies on physical visits, are crucial components of a thriving SEO strategy. These considerations should seamlessly complement your audit and ongoing SEO maintenance efforts. 

What is Analyzed in an SEO Audit?

An SEO audit is a meticulous analysis that delves into various aspects crucial for enhancing the performance of your website in search engine rankings. To ensure its effectiveness, an SEO audit should encompass both structured and content-related elements influencing your SEO visibility. The aim is to offer a comprehensive overview of your current state. This makes sure no vital components are overlooked, which could lead to misguided or unnecessary recommendations.

Furthermore, the audit’s findings should be presented in an easily understandable manner. As a business owner, you need to connect the dots between identified SEO issues and their impact on your online priorities, goals, or revenue. All recommendations should align clearly with overarching business objectives, fostering a direct correlation between SEO strategies and business outcomes. 

Therefore, an SEO audit needs to be actionable. A well-conducted audit should outline a clear pathway for implementation, prioritizing each recommendation based on its projected impact and the effort required. The output should present a user-friendly roadmap, facilitating a straightforward execution of the suggested improvements. 

However, it is crucial to remember that an SEO audit should never be rushed. This is because uncovering the root causes of online issues demands thoroughness and diligence. Depending on the size of the website, a proper audit may take anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks to complete. Undertaking significant changes to a website necessitates due diligence, and an SEO specialist must conduct a thorough investigation to offer precise and impactful recommendations.

Moreover, an SEO audit should never adopt a “one size fits all” approach. While certain technical elements are universal, a situational analysis should be initiated at the audit’s outset to focus on the specific areas requiring attention for that particular site. 

SEO Audit Checklis

Following are all the factors that you should consider when performing an SEO audit:

  • Domain Factors: It consists of insights about your domain, including its name, age, history, and other critical elements that impact your online presence. 
  • Page-Level Factors: This helps you understand E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness), headlines, potential keyword cannibalization, user engagement, and more, all of which impact your page performance. 
  • Content Assessment: With this assessment, you can evaluate the length of our pages, assess image links, and analyze how content is structured throughout your entire site. 
  • Duplicate Content Issues: Swiftly identify duplicate content issues during your SEOaudit which will enable you to implement timely corrective measures. 
  • Website’s Content Factors: This contains critical factors like the schema markup, site architecture, and click-through rates (CTR), along with other elements shaping the effectiveness of your website’s content. 
  • Website Updates: It helps you understand the importance of monitoring your ongoing website changes where you can identify major issues that may arise during the update process. 
  • Link Profile Audit: By using effective techniques, you can identify and mitigate the impact of problematic links. 
  • On-Site Technical SEO Factors: This includes finding common technical issues, including challenges related to robot.txt, sitemaps, and image optimization so that your website can maintain optimum performance. 
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By following this checklist, you can execute each crucial aspect of an SEO audit. Achieve valuable insights and implement actionable steps to enhance your website’s overall performance. 

How to Do SEO Audit?

An SEO audit mainly comprises three parts- On-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO. Let’s understand the most integral factors of each of these aspects in order to understand how to do website audits.

On-Page SEO

Your on page audit consists of different website elements that you can control and optimize. A significant portion of that is the content. Therefore, in this audit, you focus on optimizing elements within your website that impact your site’s SERP rankings. 

  • Keyword Research

Conducting a thorough on-page SEO begins with an extensive exploration of keyword research. This strategic endeavor goes beyond mere identification; it involves a deep dive into comprehending the intricacies of existing content landscapes. By scrutinizing competitor websites that excel in Google rankings, you not only identify keywords but also gain insights into the thematic focus of their content. 

This assessment enables you to bridge gaps, capitalize on opportunities, and align your content with the nuanced search intent of users. The goal is not just rank to resonate, ensuring your content stands out in the digital landscape. You can use useful online tools like Keyword Suggestion Tool or Keyword Generator Tool to get relevant suggestions of keywords in different search engines as well as app stores.

  • Keyword Usage

Strategically incorporating keywords across diverse on-page elements is an integral element of effective search engine optimization. Beyond the conventional checklist of headers, body content, title tags, and meta descriptions, the emphasis is on how well you can integrate it into your content. 

You need to incorporate keywords in your headers where they fit naturally. For instance, you want to showcase handmade leather accessories on your website. In this context, your primary keyword could be “artisan leather goods.” Here, you need to construct an attention-grabbing header that smoothly weaves in the primary keyword, for example, “Elegance Redefined: Discovering Artisan Leather Goods for Every Style.”

Similarly, you need to strategically integrate the primary keyword and its variations throughout the body of your content. Avoid repetitive usage and instead emphasize contextual relevance and maintain a seamless flow. You can incorporate variations like “handcrafted leather treasures” or “artisan accessories” where they seamlessly contribute to the overall narrative. This approach ensures that your content aligns with the search engine algorithm as well as provides a delightful reading experience for your audience. 

It is crucial to remember that your content should not merely aim to meet SEO requirements but, more importantly, to engage and inform your audience. Therefore, optimizing title tags and meta descriptions is also important as they both provide users and search engine crawlers with a contextual roadmap to your page’s content. You can use the Free Bulk Keyword Rank Checker to identify the ranking of keywords for specific websites.

  • Internal Linking

Facilitating easy navigation for search engine crawlers and users alike is vital for on-page SEO. Internal linking plays a key role where you can achieve this. When crafting new content, it is not just about filling in hyperlinks; it is about creating a cohesive digital ecosystem. 

Internal links should be strategic and connect new content with other relevant pages within your site. Imagine a symphony where each note harmonizes with others; internal linking when done right, results in a seamless flow of information. 

For example, in a blog post discussing investment strategies, weaving links to a dedicated page that intricately details those strategies is not solely about optimizing for search engines. Instead, it serves as a deliberate effort to enhance the reader’s journey, providing a structured pathway to explore more dimensions of your insights. 

  • Sitemaps

The heartbeat of a well-optimized on-page SEO strategy includes meticulously crafted sitemaps. It is not a mere checkbox for SEO requirements; it is about providing a structured navigation that invites search crawlers on a guided tour of your website. The inclusion of both HTML and XML sitemaps is strategic. 

HTML sitemap servers as a user-friendly directory, offering links to each page on your site. In the vast digital landscape, where some pages might not have internal links, the HTML map becomes a beacon. On the other hand, XML sitemaps are the behind-the-scenes helping hand, helping search engines discover and crawl new pages. You can use different plugins to generate sitemaps or leverage the helping hand of SEO professionals. 

If your website already has sitemaps, you should ensure the most important pages that you want indexed are included. You can monitor your sitemap issues by going to Google Search Console and clicking on “Sitemaps.”

  • Indexing Issues

Pages absent from Google’s database won’t be ranked by search engines. To ensure the indexing status of your page, evaluate potential issues directly within Google Search Console. Simply navigate to the “Pages” report within the “Index” section on the left to identify the issues. You will encounter a list of reasons for the pages not being indexed.

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Carefully review each listed reason individually and examine the pages associated with these reasons. It’s important to note that not all pages need to be indexed; only those you intend to rank in search results. Consequently, having some URLs unindexed is a normal occurrence. For instance, pages with redirects, administrative pages, alternate pages with canonical tags, or feed pages don’t need to be indexed.

Therefore, you need to identify the page that requires indexing and then proceed to rectify the issue by adhering to Google’s guidelines. After the issue is resolved, utilize the “Validate Fix” button to confirm the resolution. 

  • Duplicate Versions of Your Site

It is crucial to confirm that Google is exclusively indexing a single version of your website. Your site may exist in various URL versions, depending on factors like the inclusion of “www” in the domain and the utilization of “HTTP.” 

Operating your website on multiple URL versions can lead to complications in crawling, indexing, and ranking, primarily because Google interprets them as duplicates. Furthermore, maintaining multiple versions may dilute Google’s PageRank algorithm, thereby, adversely impacting your SEO efforts. 

A straightforward method to verify different URLs is by inputting all versions of your site into a web browser. Now implement a 301 redirect for the alternate versions so that it redirects to your preferred one, streamlining and consolidating your site’s presence. 

  • Core Web Vitals

In 2020, Google introduced three new metrics designed to gauge page speed and enhance user experience- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)- collectively termed Core Web Vitals. Assessing these metrics in key pages is crucial for an SEO site audit. 

Use Google Search Console’s “Core Web Vitals” report under “Experience” for insights into the issues and affected pages. Distinguish between severe problems (poor URLs) and those needing improvement. In Site Audit, click the “Core Web Vitals” widget on the dashboard for a breakdown of each metric. The “Analyzed Pages” table tracks progress per page. You can manually select up to 10 URLs for assessment by using the “Edit list” button, customizing the list, and saving the changes. 

  • Broken Pages

Having broken pages within your site negatively affects your site rank as well as SEO. If these pages possess backlinks, they become futile as they direct to non-existent pages. To fix a broken page, you need to identify the root cause of the 404 error or broken link. If the content has moved, update the link. If the page no longer exists, redirect the link to a relevant or existing page. 

Note that if the broken page was linked by external sites, inform the respective webmasters of the updated link or redirect. Ensure the correct page is reflected in your site’s sitemap to aid search engine indexing. Moreover, you need to periodically check the broken links to rectify any emerging issues and maintain a healthy site structure. 

  • Audit and Improve Your Top Pages

While a comprehensive site crawl is effective for identifying overall technical issues, it’s advantageous to conduct a more detailed examination of specific pages- especially those of utmost significance to your objectives. This improves analyzing their performance and devising strategies for enhancements. 

So, rather than scrutinizing every page, concentrate on those that generate the highest conversions and target keywords that hold significant importance to your business. Leverage online tools to compare your data against top-ranking competitors. Identify actionable insights and recommendations to facilitate improvements in various on-page SEO audit aspects. 

Off-Page SEO 

Off-page SEO encompasses elements that aren’t under our direct control but have significant influence.

  • Backlinks

Backlinks are one of the critical factors of off-page SEO. These are links that originate from other websites. So, when a reputable site includes a link to your page, it transfers some of its online credibility and value to your site. This not only enhances the value of your pages but also opens avenues for potential visitors to click on the link, directing them to your website.  

Backlinks contribute significantly to improving your rankings for crucial keywords, ultimately increasing the visibility of your business in SERPs. The higher you are in the search engine results pages for relevant keywords, the more valuable traffic you can get to your site. 

Driving targeted traffic to your website through specific keywords has the potential to generate qualified leads, eventually leading to tangible sales for your business. As part of the SEO audit, it’s imperative to delve into your backlink profile and evaluate those of your competitors. 

Understanding who is linking to your competitors unveils opportunities for potential links to your site. You can utilize various online tools to assess your own and your competitor’s backlink sources thoroughly. Therefore, it’s crucial to perform a backlink gap analysis so that you can implement relevant backlinks like that of your competitors.

  • Manual Action
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If your website violates Google’s spam policies, it might incur a manual penalty from Google. This penalty can lead to a decline in your site’s ranking until Google rescinds the action, applicable either at the page level or across the entire site. Some of the common reasons for receiving a manual penalty include keyword stuffing, the presence of unnatural links, various forms of spam, or thin content lacking substantial value.

To verify if a manual penalty has been imposed, access Google Search Console. Navigate to the “Security and Manual Actions” section on the left-hand menu and click “Manual Actions.” A green tick signifies no detected issues, while manual action requires addressing the identified problems and submitting a reconsideration request. You can refer to Google’s Manual Actions guide for comprehensive instructions.

Technical SEO 

Technical SEO is another vital aspect of SEO audit. A technical audit dives deeper into the mechanics of your website. There are a variety of factors that influence technical SEO; let’s start by understanding the major factors that impact your site.

  • Site Crawl

Conducting a site crawl is essential for effective technical SEO. It helps uncover and address issues such as broken links, optimizing the site structure for efficient indexing, or ensuring relevant pages are indexed or not. It also helps in enhancing page speed for improved user experience and addressing duplicate content concerns. 

Additionally, site crawls allow webmasters to monitor changes and updates, ensuring alignment with SEO best practices. Overall, the insights gained from a site crawl contribute to the overall health and performance of the website, positively impacting its visibility in search engine results and user experience. 

  • Page Speed

When undertaking a technical SEO audit, delving into the intricacies of your site’s mechanics is paramount. A crucial aspect is to assess page speed which significantly influences user experience. The contemporary online landscape demands fast-loading websites, with a significant portion of users abandoning sites that take longer than three seconds to load. 

A slow site not only increases bounce rates but also adversely affects search rankings. Utilizing tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights or NextGrowth Lab’s Page Speed Assessment during your SEO audit enables you to gauge how well your pages load on both mobile and desktop devices. It provides valuable insights and suggestions for optimizing your website. 

  • Mobile-Friendliness

Another critical component of technical SEO involves evaluating the mobile-friendliness of your website and its individual pages. With mobile device usage comprising over half of all web traffic, it is imperative to ensure a seamless transition from desktop to mobile. 

Google, recognizing this trend, prioritizes a mobile-first approach in crawling and indexing new sites. Failure to deliver a mobile-friendly experience may result in compromised visuals and readability, ultimately leading to the loss of valuable web traffic to competitors with optimized mobile versions. Assessing and optimizing for mobile-friendliness is integral to maintaining a strong online presence.

  • Site Security

Site security is often overlooked in traditional search engine optimization considerations. However, it holds substantial weight in the ranking algorithm. Beyond SEO implications, it serves as a critical trust signal for users. Visitors encountering “not secure” messages next to a URL might hesitate to input sensitive information, potentially resulting in data breaches. 

A secure website, on the other hand, is denoted by the “secure” label, which encrypts and safeguards user data, contributing to enhanced rankings and fostering user trust. In a scenario where two companies offer similar online services, a secure site becomes a differentiator. It instills confidence in users to share their information. Therefore, ensuring site security is a vital aspect of technical SEO, and seeking assistance from web experts may be advisable for those less experienced with backend operations.

What Can You Anticipate During and After an Audit?

As mentioned earlier, the duration of an SEO audit typically ranges from 2 to 6 weeks. Throughout this period, an SEO specialist meticulously analyzed your website, uncovering potential SEO opportunities. Despite the comprehensive nature of the audit, regular bi-weekly or weekly check-ins are maintained to keep you and your team updated on the progress. 

In the course of any website audit, certain readily accessible opportunities often come to light. It is critical to implement appropriate measures as soon as you discover them as it helps you regain visibility while the remainder of the audit unfolds. 

After the completion of the audit, you will understand what actions you need to take to increase your website’s visibility in the SERPs. You need to follow the detailed roadmap to implementation to ensure the desired outcomes.

Conclusion

Thus, conducting an SEO audit at regular intervals is crucial for your website. It helps you determine how well your website is performing and ranking in the SERPs, as well as indicates the issues you need to address. With this audit, you can implement relevant actions that help improve the performance of your website and positively influence user experience, thereby impacting audience engagement and revenue.