A SEO audit is a check of all the characteristics of a website, which affect its indexation and ranking in search engines. The main tasks of the audit is identifying bugs and weaknesses, as well as identifying points of growth to get into the top of extradition.
Search engine optimization audit is often sold as a separate service in marketing agencies. But a truly in-depth analysis, involving an analyst and the use of professional tools is often unaffordable for small businesses. The other situation is that the SEO audit acts as a lead magnet, that is, it is offered free of charge. In this case, your resource will simply be “run” through one of the automated site analysis services and identify the most obvious problems.
Here is how the site owner can check his resource on his own and what tools to use in the course of the work.
Table of Contents
When Conduct an Audit
Starting promotion of the site without SEO audit is as impossible as to play at the website with legal online betting games without a proper strategy. To conduct quality optimization, you need to know the initial conditions in which the resource is located.
Most often, an audit is resorted to when:
- The site has not previously been used for promotion.
- The site has already been promoted, but the results were unsatisfactory.
- The site has dropped out of the extradition or there is a significant drop in traffic for no apparent reason.
In all cases, the site will be evaluated by about the same list of criteria. But some of them will need to pay special attention. For example, in the third case, you may suspect the filters of search engines, and the first is to pay special attention to technical characteristics and content.
The Main Qualities of a Good Site in Terms of SEO
All phases of the site audit, which we will discuss below, are based on the following principles:
- Pages of the site should load quickly and without errors.
- Pages should have unique content that meets the expectations of users.
- The site should be adapted for mobile devices, have a convenient structure.
- The site must be referenced by other authoritative resources.
- The site should be visited, users should spend a sufficient amount of time on the pages.
All criteria are of equal importance for promotion. After all, quality articles will not be useful if you have to wait indefinitely to load them, and a good link mass will not help the resource, which places useless information for visitors.
Top 9 Stages of a SEO Audit
For convenience, site analysis is usually divided into several large sections and subsections.
Analysis of Site Indexing
To check whether search robots are correctly indexing the site, you must first go to Google Search Console.
Analysis of Traffic
If you audit not just a newly created site, but a long-functioning resource, it is important to determine its current situation with organic search traffic. In this case, you should pay attention to:
- Whether the flow of visitors is stable or there are jumps (except for seasonal niches).
- To which pages is the main flow of users.
Google Analytics also provides useful information about traffic: the total number of visitors, popular requests, and the devices from which people most often visit the site.
Having a Site in Google My Business
Yandex and Google directories of organizations provide an additional opportunity to promote and get traffic, especially to local businesses. Many users look for the services and businesses they need on maps. That’s also where they look for reviews. That is why it is important for a business to be represented in geoservices and for information about it to be filled out as fully and accurately as possible.
If the site is present in search engine directories, the audit should check the degree of completeness of the profile and its rating.
For search engines, versions of https://www.sample.com and https://sample.com are two separate resources. The same applies to versions https://www.sample.com and http://www.sample.com. It is important to select the main mirror for the site and to set up 301 redirects from all other mirrors to it.
The robots.txt file should be located in the root directory of the site. It contains instructions for search engine robots on which pages to include in searches and which not.
You can check the presence of the file by adding its name to the site address: https://www.sample.com/robots.txt.
The Sitemap.xml File
Site map in XML format helps robots to find all pages to be indexed. In this case, garbage and closed from indexing in robots.txt pages in file sitemap.xml should not be. The file itself is located at https://www.sample.com/sitemap.xml.
Bugs in the Code
There is a special online service for checking HTML code – validator.w3.org. You can check CSS using the tool jigsaw.w3.org/css-validator. The results of the validation must be carefully analyzed. It will not be easy to do this on your own, if you are not an expert in programming. At this stage it is better to involve a developer. Some of these errors may require immediate fixes, and some are more like recommendations.
The presence of “broken” links to pages with 404 server responses has a negative impact on behavioral factors. Besides, a large number of such links may indicate technical deficiencies on the site.
You can check for bad links with the help of many analyzers. For example, the tool Brokenlinkcheck can handle up to 3,000 pages for free.
Site Load Speed
Recent years, search engines focus on page loading speed as an important ranking factor. This is especially true for Google. Google’s PageSpeed Insights quantifies the loading speed of the desktop and mobile versions of the site on a scale from 0 to 100. The higher the score, the better the situation.
Analyzing Site Structure
The structure of the site can be:
- Linear – the simplest option, where pages are placed one by one, as in the presentation. Usually such sites are difficult to promote in search engines.
- Tree-like – a more complex structure, with different sections and subsections. Suitable for corporate sites and site services.
- Lattice – an improved version of the tree, in which all the “branches” are linked. Used in large projects, online stores.
Conducting an audit of the structure, you need to consider:
- Whether all clusters of the semantic core are represented in the structure, and if not – whether there is room for logical expansion.
- Important landing pages are not located further than 3-4 levels of nesting.
- Whether it is convenient for users to move between sections and individual pages.
- How the site is arranged internal linking, whether the Internal weights of pages are distributed correctly.
- Is there a separate page with a site map, where the user will have access to all the pages for quick navigation.
Besides, it is worth analyzing the structure of competitors’ sites, noting successful solutions and the possibility of their implementation on your resource.
Content analysis and on-page optimization
Title and Description Meta Tags
Title is the most important tag for search engine promotion. Its task is to briefly tell the robot and the potential visitor about the content of the page.
Description is a more detailed description of the page, can consist of several small sentences. Often the content of this tag is pulled into the snippet in the results.
Correct filling of Title and Description is a separate topic, which we have already covered in our blog.
During the audit, you need to look at the tags as a whole, paying attention to the following points:
- Whether there are pages on the site where the tags are not filled.
- Whether duplicate tags on different pages.
- Whether the content of Title and Description corresponds to the main content of the page.
- Whether all titles and descriptions fit into the number of characters recommended by search engines.
- Whether the tags contain the necessary keywords.
You can analyze Title and Description using crawlers, such as NetPeak Spider, Comparser, and Screaming Frog.
Headers on the page are used not only for semantic division of text and arrangement of visual accents. The content of h1-h6 is important for users and robots to understand the meaning of all text. And in light of the news that Google is testing h1-h2 text as snippet titles (instead of Title), these elements are worth paying special attention to.
When analyzing headers, you should check whether the following rules are being followed:
- The page should have only one main header under the h1 tag.
- H1 and Title should not duplicate each other.
- Titles should be meaningful and not too long.
- There should be a hierarchy: after h2 headings may go only h3 headings, but not h4 or h5.
You can also use parser to quickly view the headings throughout the site.
Optimizing Images SEO
All images on the page should be filled with alt and title tags. They help search engines to determine what is shown in the picture. The rules for filling in the tags are as follows:
- Keywords should be added to the tags.
- Keywords should not be commercially oriented (buy, order, price).
- Tags should not be too long.
Check the presence of tag alt in the image can be simply by pointing the mouse over it. The text of the tag will appear in a popup window.
Analysis of Commercial Factors
Commercial ranking factors are a set of site elements that influence a user’s purchase decision. These include:
- Up-to-date prices for products or services.
- Truthful information about the availability of the product.
- Detailed descriptions, accurate characteristics, quality photos of goods.
- A block with recommendations of complementary goods and services.
- Correct and accessible contact information (phone, email, address, messengers, etc.).
- Working forms of feedback.
- Online chat with a representative of the company.
- Convenient site navigation (filters and sorting, search).
- Correct information on shipping and payment methods.
For the convenience of analyzing commercial factors, you can make a table. List in it all the important parameters and note their presence on your site and on the sites of major competitors.
Analysis of Behavioral Factors
Behavioral factors reflect how visitors to the site interact with pages. These include: time on site, abandonment, and browsing depth (the number of pages viewed per session).
Search engines want users to spend as much time on the site as possible and visit more internal pages. This shows visitor engagement, interest in the content of the resource.
Link Factor Analysis
Analyzing links that lead from your site to third-party resources is important because search engines impose sanctions for a large number of outbound links.
- Outbound links should be fewer than inbound links.
- If it is important not to “squander” the link weight of the page, links should be marked with the rel=”nofollow” attribute.
- Advertising and sponsored links, search engines recommend tagging links with rel=”sponsored”.
When analyzing the incoming reference mass is important to consider:
- The total number of links, whether it is more or less than that of competitors.
- The pages to which the links lead.
- The quality of donors – pages from which the links to your site.
- Growth dynamics – it should be natural, without sudden jumps.
- Contents – the amount of anchor and anchorless links, their ratio, whether the anchor texts contain keywords. It is believed that anchors with keywords should not constitute more than 30% of the total link mass.
What to Do After the Audit
Following the results of the audit, a list of all the errors found and writing technical specifications for their correction. In this case it is necessary to determine the priority. Technical errors require early correction. Content and link mass can be adjusted gradually.