How To Conduct An SEO Audit?
SEO is the heart and soul of any website. SEO is your key to success, from helping you rank better in search engines to attracting the right search traffic to your pages and generating sales and profits.
But if your website needs to be correctly optimized, you will miss the opportunity to benefit from the 3.5 billion Google searches made daily. Plus, if your website appears even on the second page of the SERPs, you only have a 0.78% chance of getting a click from the searchers.
However, understanding SEO procedures is a highly overwhelming task: On-page SEO, off-page SEO, technical SEO, regular optimization, and more to yield better results. Here, we bring you an 11-step guide with the most valuable information for making your SEO audit journey easy.
So, let’s get started without further ado.
What is an SEO Audit?
An SEO audit analyzes the performance of your website on search engines. It helps you identify errors and missed opportunities affecting your ranking on SERPs. It is an overall website analysis to check what works in your favor and what does not. SEO audit is an initial part of a more comprehensive strategy for website optimization.
Your SEO audit can consist of the following:
Enhanced user experience
Indexability and crawlability
Benefits Of Conducting An SEO Audit:
Here are the primary reasons why you need to conduct an SEO audit:
It lets you have a better comparison with your competitor’s website.
You can make your content more reader-friendly.
You can spot better SEO opportunities and optimize your ROI I. E. Return on investment.
Let you build a better SEO strategy.
It enables you to spot and fix issues beforehand.
SEO Audit Tools
To conduct an in-depth SEO audit, you will require some site audit tools, which are as follows:
Google Search Console, previously known as Webmaster Tool, allows you to check index status search queries and identify crawling and technical errors through reports. It allows you to monitor your website for a better presence on Google.
Google Analytics: provides web analytics to track website traffic and measure your actions’ results. It lets you better understand which actions gained more traffic or vice versa.
SEO Software: Whether you decide to use SEMrush, Moz Pro, or Ahrefs, all offer excellent site crawl tools like keyword research tool, backlinking tools, etc., to help your website appears on top and identify pitfalls that are affecting your site’s performance.
PageSpeed Insights: It is a free tool that lets you identify performance on a single URL and provides suggestions for improvements.
How To Conduct An Effective SEO Audit:
Let’s come to the fun part of conducting the SEO audit using the abovementioned tools. Not all SEO audit procedures are similar, but the one compiled below is guaranteed to bring effective results.
Conduct a site crawl.
A crawl-based software imitates Google’s behavior of analyzing the SEO issues on your pages. You can run a crawl using software tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs Webmaster Tool (AWT).
If you use AWT, head to the Site Audit and add a new project using the + sign. Allow the software to access your account.
Note: Create a Google Search Console beforehand.
Now click on the “Import from Google Search Console” option. It will automatically start the audit process and notify you upon completion. Such audits can highlight numerous issues, and fixing them together will be mind-boggling, especially for beginners.
Therefore, it’s best to focus on the steps mentioned below.
Look for the reasons for the drop in organic traffic.
Look for when the major Google updates significantly affected your site traffic. Here’s what you can do to fix the problem. Firstly identify the reasons for the decrease in traffic. It can be due to Google algorithm updates or your manual performance.
Google Algorithm Update:
Google search algorithms are constantly updating. These updates usually look for low-quality content and unnecessary backlinks on the pages. To check if your site is affected by the Google update, go to Ahref’s Site Explorer and analyze the traffic slips that coincide with the updates.
You can also use Google Search Console to check the organic performance of your content. Double-checking your site performance is important because the number of traffic Ahref is just an estimation.
For checking performance via Google Search Console:
Get Performance Report on Search results.
Adjust your date for the last 12 months.
Check whether there was any considerable change in performance.
Now, match those drop results with the Google Search Status dashboard.
Analyze your manual performance if you detect a major drop to zero in your site traffic. It usually happens due to keyword stuffing, poor-quality content, spam activities, or unnatural links; all can lead to manual action. It affects your content by showing either some or none of your content on the search results.
Manual actions occur when your site violates Google’s spam policies. It rarely happens, but it’s always best to check before trying advanced strategies and amendments.
Checking for manual actions:
You can access the report of Manual actions under Security and Manual Actions from Google Search Console. If the report shows a “No issues detected” message, check for Google penalties.
If the decrease in traffic is not due to manual action, look for Google algorithm updates.
Search for duplicate websites:
Make sure your website is accessible by specific web addresses only. For instance:
Your site can use www in its domain name or HTTPS, but you need to ensure Google indexes the same version of your site. If your site runs on various versions, Google will consider them a copy, and it will cause crawling, ranking, and indexing issues. Using different versions of a site negatively impacts your ranking and link equity on the search page.
Checking the site versions:
Go to the web browser and enter all your domain versions. Your search results must direct you to the same master page. If your URL version is https://xyzdomain.com, the rest of the versions should also take you to the same page.
On the contrary, use 301 redirect messages for other versions.
Identify Indexability issues
Web pages need to be indexed on Google’s database. You will not appear on the search results if you are not in the Google index, a database of millions of web pages.
However, indexing issues is a complicated task. Firstly, look for the indexability report in Site Audit or Google Search Console for any Nonindex page warning. It is important to check for warnings because, otherwise, Google will not add those pages to the index.
Checking Indexing issues in Google Search Console:
Go to the “Pages” option under the Index section. Here, you will get graphs for indexing status.
Here, you will find reasons for non-indexed pages.
Now, fix the matter by following Google’s guidelines.
Reasons for Non-indexed Pages
It’s not necessary to index all your web pages. For instance, redirect, feed, admin, and alternate pages do not need to be indexed.
Create a mobile-friendly site.
A non-friendly mobile site ruins the customer experience, losing numerous possible customers. Ever since 2019, Google has had a special emphasis on mobile-friendly sites for Google ranking.
To check your site’s mobile friendliness, go to the Mobile usability report at Google Search Console. Here, you can analyze your URLs for defects and issues affecting your mobile usability. Once fixed, recheck the pages to confirm the changes are updated.
Alternatively, you can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool to check the site’s mobile friendliness.
Tips for creating a mobile-friendly site:
Keep your site layout mobile-friendly.
Make sure your content has greater readability on mobile devices.
Use compressed yet quality pictures.
Test your site on various channels.
Check your Core Web Vitals results.
Google analyzes the user experience on web pages and provides calculated results in Core Web Vitals. It has three major metrics:
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): It measures the duration of the page’s largest component loads.
First Input Delay (FID): It analyzes the user’s first interaction on the page and the page’s response to it.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): It considers the visual stability of the page layout and how it adjusts for the user.
Core Web Vitals consider the page’s loading time, interactivity, and content stability. In 2022, John Muller, a Google Search advocate, confirmed that Google uses Core Web Vitals as a ranking indicator instead of old page speed signals. So, to monitor these metrics, use the Core Web Vitals report at Google Search Console as well as the Google Site Speed testing tool.
Fix broken pages
Broken pages often create negative results for your site. Pages with broken links cannot be used as they do not point to the relevant page. Using a Site Explorer, you can search for broken links. You only have to connect your domain name, access the links report, and add a 404 not-found search filter. Arrange the reports from high to low domains. This is part of an extensive check of Internal Links that should be performed during the audit.
Build an error-free sitemap.
A sitemap consists of pages indexed on Google for search engine results. It doesn’t require you to add pages like redirects or dead pages. You need to include your important pages on the sitemap that you wish to be indexed on Google. Google Search Console is the best way to monitor your sitemap issues.
Follow best on-page SEO practices.
You must add a title tag, meta descriptions, and H1 tag for all your indexable pages. These minor changes allow Google to understand your page content better and rank better on the search results.
The On-Page SEO Audit lets you check issues under the Issues tab in the Content Report. Whether it’s a title tag or meta description, you need to formulate them properly because both appear in Google searches and increase the user experience. You can also access the defective URLs by clicking on the issue and selecting “View affected URLs.”
To prioritize the possible fixes, sort the report from high to low for the estimated organic traffic.
Track down the declining content.
Rankings tend to change as the content becomes outdated and irrelevant. Therefore, it’s necessary to keep on reshaping and refreshing the content. For instance, during COVID, people searched excessively about safety measures, but now that search has decreased to zero.
So, the content on your site needs to be updated constantly. To identify the declining content, use Google Search Console the following way:
Access the Search results report.
Set two date filters for comparison.
Now you can compare the performance of the last six months to the previous time.
Then click on the Pages option.
Arrange the Clicks Difference from low to high.
Analyze your competitors
Your SEO audit must provide insight into the difference between your and your competitor’s performance. It is because when you don’t rank for the keywords your competitors are ranking for, you can lose massive potential visitors. However, identifying such keywords manually is an exhausting task.
To find the content gap, use Ahref’s content gap tool. You just have to copy your site name to the Site Explorer. Now click on the Content Gap report and add your competitor’s domain. Check for the keywords that your competitors are using and you are not.
There’s no one fixed recipe for conducting a comprehensive SEO audit. Because Google algorithms are always changing and evolving, you need constant audits, updates, and analyses to stay relevant in the search results.
You will have to handle technical SEO issues or on-page SEO issues you must occasionally fix for better organic results. Additionally, creating quality content is another dire need to rank higher on pages.
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