Websites need to undergo a technical SEO audit from time to time especially since Google is constantly updating their SERP (search engine results pages) algorithms on a frequent basis it seems lately (Hello Panda and Penguin!). This SEO audit checklist is for beginners to intermediate SEO users. It’s not a technical SEO Audit.
What is an SEO Audit?
An SEO audit is a systematic examination of your website in order to find ways to improve the search engine optimization of your site or blog.
Why You Should Perform an SEO Audit
Search engine algorithms and best practices change, especially Google’s algorithm which updates more frequently than years ago. Making time to run a series of audit checks to make sure that your website has the best possible chance of performing well is crucial to its ongoing growth in search engines and for overall health. The goal of your SEO Audit is to complete your entire audit BEFORE attempting any fixes. You can then take the results of your SEO audit and create a list of tasks that you need to do to correct problems.
Here are a few things you should add to your search engine optimization checklist while performing an SEO audit of your company website or blog:
1. Broken links:
Broken links act as dead-ends for both the search engines and your visitors arriving at your website. Websites shouldn’t have more than a few dead links at any given time and it is important to implement proper 301 redirects to alleviate this problem. Too many broken links can hurt your SEO efforts, as well as the user-experience. An SEO audit should pull a list of every broken link on your site so you can redirect them to existing pages within your website.
2. Duplicate content:
Duplicate content (different URLs with the same content on each page) can raise a red flag for the search engines, as it may look like you are trying to trick the algorithm by creating multiple pages that say the same thing and target the same keywords. Many site owners don’t even realize they have duplicate content on their site, but if you do, you are actually hurting the search engine optimization of your website. Not only are you splitting the internal and external links between the two pages, you are also splitting your visitors. An SEO audit can help identify any duplicate content issues on your site, including Meta data (title tags, Meta descriptions and so forth). It is important for site owners to write custom title tags and Meta descriptions for each page of their website and not use auto-fill to apply the same title tag for each page throughout your site.
3. Link portfolio analysis:
One of the most important aspects of an SEO audit for your web site is to run a link portfolio analysis to ascertain the quality of your link profile. Depending on how large your link profile is this might take a while, but you should check out each and every link to make sure it’s the kind of link you want associated with your site. While you can’t always control who links to you, you need to keep an eye on your link portfolio to make sure it’s not full of low-quality and spammy links. When analyzing your link portfolio be on the lookout for:
- links in blog networks which were deindexed by Google
- links in the footer of other websites – links on unrelated sites
- too many paid links
- links on unrelated sites
- link exchanges to spammy sites
- hidden links
One our marketing agencies favorite thing to do is look at your competitor’s backlinks. This can help you uncover any missed link building opportunities and help you find new sources of links.
4. Anchor text analysis:
One last important step in your seo audit plan is to check anchor text distribution. Your SEO audit needs to pull data on what anchor text you are using as part of your link building, as well as how frequently you are using each word. In a perfect scenario, the greatest percentage of your anchor text should be branded. It’s important to make sure that you are a using a wide variety of non-branded keywords as well (including keywords you’re actively targeting on your site and long-tail variations) so you keep your anchor text looking as natural as possible.
5. Check your website design is mobile friendly:
It is crucial in 2019 as part of your SEO Audit to check that your site is mobile friendly or mobile responsive. Google announced in 2018 that they would be using mobile first indexing for websites, which basically means that the mobile version of your website becomes the starting point for what Google includes in their index, and the baseline for how they determine rankings within search engine results pages (SERP’s). With more than 50% of searches on Google coming from mobile devices, this is also of utmost importance to the longevity of your site.
6. Check Your Site Speed:
Your websites load speed is a key factor for SEO and user experience. If your site is slow it will impact your rankings in Google and lower click through rates. It can also impact how long readers stay on your site and how they interact. Use Google’s speed insights or GTmetrix to scan your site.
7. Redirect broken or changed links:
If you change the URL slug on a web page, create URL redirects (called 301 redirects) to forward visitors who go to the old URL to the updated page.
8. Add SEO descriptions:
Verify each web page (includes blog posts, products, and events) on your site has a unique SEO description. The text should be short and readable (up to 160 characters) and describe the content of the page.
9. Check page and title formats:
Control how your page titles appear in browser tabs, social shares, and search engine results. You implement this for page titles, the homepage, blog articles and collection items.
A good starting point with any SEO audit is to run a free SEO audit scan of your site. This can help identify any of the previously mentioned issues for your site and quickly identify issues that are hurting rankings along with other on-site SEO issues. You can run a free SEO audit here with our tool.
Site ranking changes
If you see your keyword rankings go down a bit right after optimizing your site, it’s okay. It’s normal to see some fluctuations in your keyword rankings while search engines index your changes.