Whenever we suggest an SEO audit for our clients, they give us a puzzled look.
“But, that’s going to take ages!” they complain.
And, that’s true. If you are a giant business whose site has been up for years, then an audit could take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. But, if you’re a small business who is just learning the ropes of search engine optimisation and wants to see if their efforts are worth it, then an SEO audit can take as little as a few hours. Granted, you need to know where and what to look for.
A good SEO audit doesn’t have to be tens of pages long nor should it require a degree in computer science to be able to complete it. Because, in the end, the purpose of an SEO audit is to help you identify the problems that are holding back your website and pinpoint the steps you should take to improve your performance in the search engines.
In this guide, we’ll show you all the steps you need to take to perform an SEO audit. And, the best part of it is that it will only take you about one day to complete it and finally figure out what could be affecting your website’s performance.
What Is an SEO Audit and Why Do You Need One
Before we dive into the steps you need to take to audit your site, let’s try to understand first what an SEO audit is and why you need it. If you can’t see the value of an audit or you look at it as this highly technical examination, then you might miss some of the issues that are affecting your website.
An SEO audit is the process through which you identify issues that could prevent your website from ranking in the search engines. An audit should be an objective analysis of your site’s performance. It usually looks at factors like page speed, broken links, technical errors, on-page, and off-page SEO issues, and so on.
Some of these issues may make it difficult for spiders to crawl and index your website, affecting your ranking and causing you to miss out on tons of organic traffic.
Let us give you an example to put things into perspective.
Let’s imagine that you’ve built a website for your handmade toys a couple of years ago and have been creating content ever since. You are doing everything by the book: your website is mobile-friendly, it loads fast, your content is optimised. However, you rarely appear on Google searches for your target keywords.
An SEO audit can help you realise that your content is too thin, for example. Or maybe, you are targeting multiple pages with the same keywords and they are now competing against each other. Whatever the reason, an audit can help you see the big picture and get to the bottom of the problem.
How to Perform an SEO Audit: a Step by Step Guide
If this is your first SEO audit, then you may have no idea where to begin, how deep you should dig, or what tools to use. To make things a bit easier for you, we’ve nailed everything down to seven crucial steps you need to take to perform a successful SEO audit. We’ve also listed the tools you will need to get the job right. Don’t worry: you don’t have to invest in new software to perform this audit. You’re probably already using some of the tools listed below:
- Google Search Console
- Google Analytics
- Google’s Structured Data Tool
- Google PageSpeed Insights
Now let’s start auditing your site.
Step 1: Ensure Just One Version of Your Site Is Browsable
Before you start the actual SEO audit, you should check first which version of your website is browsable.
Think of all the different ways people might type into the search bar when looking for your website, such as:
If more than one version is accessible in the browser, then you may have a problem as Google will flag them as not secure. Only one version should be browsable (preferably an HTTPS one) while the others should be 301 redirected to the correct version. So, if the correct version is https://www.yoursite.com, but someone types in http://yoursite.com, then they should be taken automatically to the canonical version.
Step 2: Crawl Your Site
Perhaps the most important step in an SEO audit is ensuring that the spiders can crawl and index your website. If your site (or even a page on your site) is not visible to the search engines, then all the other SEO efforts don’t really matter.
There are a few tools you can use to crawl your site, such as Ubersuggest, Afrefs, or SEMrush. We’re going to focus on Ubersuggest because it’s a free SEO tool and it makes the entire process quite simple.
All you have to do is enter your website, click Search, and then click on Site Audit from the left sidebar. Then, the tool will generate a list of SEO issues and suggestions on how to fix them.
You can also perform a few Google searches to see how your website is ranking. Is your site the first result when you are searching for your name? How many of your pages appear in search results for your target keywords?
You can also use “site:domainname” to see what pages show up in the search results.
If your website isn’t at the top of search engine results or you notice that a few pages are missing, then that isn’t necessarily a cause for concern. But, it will give you a good idea of how effective your SEO is and what you should focus on to improve your results.
Step 3: On-Page SEO Checks
On-page SEO refers to the elements that you can optimise to rank higher in organic searches, such as the title tags, headers, meta descriptions, and so on. Make sure to spend plenty of time on this step since these are the factors that help search engines understand your content as well as convince your audience to click on your pages.
Here’s what you need to check:
- Title Tags: A title tag is an HTML code that helps the search engines read the title of a page. It also appears in the search engine results page (SERP) as the clickable headline of a result. Make sure that your title tags are an accurate description of your page’s content and include your target keywords. Your title tags shouldn’t exceed 60 characters.
- Meta Descriptions: Although meta descriptions are not listed as one of Google’s ranking factors, you should still pay attention to this element as it can influence your organic traffic. When people look for something online, they usually read the meta description to decide if the content is any useful. So, you should make sure that the meta descriptions are compelling enough to make users click on your web pages.
- Headers: Not only that headers and subheadings have tremendous SEO value (they help crawlers understand your page better and enable you to use your secondary keywords smartly,) but they also improve the user experience by breaking up the content.
- Keyword Placement: SEO experts suggest that you should use your target keywords in the first 100 words of your content to make it easier for the search engines to understand what your page is about. Try to insert your keywords strategically in the subheadings, title tags, anchor text, and image attributes to maximise your SEO efforts. Keep an eye out for keyword stuffing as this practice can bring a penalty that will affect your ranking.
- Site Architecture: Your site should have a clear, logical structure that is easy to follow by both users and search engines. If your site’s architecture is too complicated and it takes more than three clicks to get from the homepage to some of your more important pages, then you are losing not only visitors but also page rank. You see, Google transfers page rank from high-authority pages to new ones through internal linking. If your site architecture is too intricate, this “link juice” will get lost on the way.
Step 4: Check for Duplicate or Thin Content
One of the most important things you need to understand about search engines is that their primary goal is to provide stellar experiences to their users. That means that whenever a user performs a query, Google will try to offer the best answer. One of the factors Google will look at is the quality of your content.
For example, your website isn’t going to rank high if your content is thin (you can thank the Panda algorithm update for that.)
Thin content is content that delivers little to no value to readers. Explaining a complex concept in a 300-words blog post would be considered thin content because it shows Google that it didn’t take much effort to create it.
For SEO, the ideal length of a blog post should be over 2.000 words. Of course, not every page on your site can have 2.000 words. Your homepage, for example, might contain rich visuals, CTA buttons, icons, and more sales-centric copy rather than long-form content, and that’s ok. What matters is that your blog posts and most important pages have high-quality pages that add value to your audience.
Duplicate content is another problem that can affect your ranking. That’s because it confuses the search engines, making it difficult for them to decide which page to show in the SERPs. Google may be a sophisticated algorithm, but it can’t always tell who is the original author of the content.
Use Copyscape to look for duplicate content. If you find any, make sure that it links back to the original content on your website.
You should also make sure that you don’t have any duplicate content on your web pages either, such as on your product description pages.
Another issue that you should check for are orphan pages. An orphan page is a web page on your site that isn’t linked to another page. As we’ve explained above, internal linking allows you to transfer page rank to new pages. So, an orphan page will not receive any authority, making it difficult to rank it high in the SERPs. Luckily, this problem has a quick fix: add a few internal links from relevant pages.
Step 5: Test Your Site’s Speed
According to one Google report, the longer the loading time of a page, the higher the chances that users will bounce.
How big of a difference can one or two seconds make?
If your page takes three seconds to load, the probability of bounce increases by 32%, but, if your web page takes five seconds to load, then the number jumps to 90%.
Go to Google PageSpeed Insights to check your site’s loading time and see what you should do to improve page speed. For example, you could optimise your images, clear up redirects, or optimise your CSS files.
Step 6: Look for Link Building Opportunities
If you want to boost your Domain Authority, then you need to earn quality backlinks. An SEO audit is the perfect opportunity to look for link building recommendations. For example, if you are selling vegan cookies in Sydney, then you could look for “health blogs Sydney” or “cooking blogs Australia” and reach out to the content creators that might be relevant to your audience. You can also do a bit of social media research and look for influencers that might be interested in linking back to your website and publishing a guest post on their blog.
Comprehensive SEO Audit from Australia’s Best Digital Marketing Company
SEO isn’t only about the tools and tactics you are using to boost your ranking, but also about ensuring you’re not left behind. Algorithms evolve and SEO changes constantly, so you need to audit your website to make sure you are on track.
Would you like your SEO audit to be performed by a team of professionals? Then get in touch with Australian Internet Advertising today and we can help you analyse your site and maximise its potential.