If you have ever consulted an SEO company, you might have heard the term ‘SEO Audit’ being mentioned. Did you wonder how to do an SEO audit yourself? We certainly did when we first heard about it. Somehow, ‘SEO Audit’ sounds like a very technical process with multiple teams working together. A process that involves large amounts of data and massive servers. Lol.
A few years into the SEO business ourselves, we realised that it’s nothing like that. SEO companies big and small loosely throw around the term on the Internet. But most of them don’t understand how to do an SEO audit in 2021.
Since you are reading this, chances are that you also want to know the answer. That’s what we are going to show you today. So strap in and enjoy the read.
What is an SEO audit?
Before we get ahead of ourselves, here’s a brief explanation for businesses who are new to the space. SEO is a constantly evolving process. Sometimes, Google makes a bunch of changes overnight which affects your rankings and traffic. The only way to stay one step ahead, or take remedial action is with an SEO audit.
An SEO audit is a checklist of sorts. It ensures that you are following the most updated best practices for SEO rankings. If done right, an SEO audit can have a lot of positive benefits.
Without further ado, here’s our SEO audit guide.
#1 – Is your site mobile-ready?
Mobile devices account for 54.8 % of the world’s search traffic. It has consistently hovered close to 50% for the past three years. Experts predict that this number could increase exponentially in the next few years. The best time to optimise your site for mobile traffic was 6-years ago. The next best time is now.
If that doesn’t sound motivating enough, then here’s another reason.
Google released its ‘mobile first’ search ranking algorithm in 2018. In their words, ‘Google predominantly uses the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking.’
This was a major shift in the search industry. Webmasters scrambled to get their desktop-only websites redesigned. While Google may not have explicitly revealed that mobile-friendliness is a ranking factor, it’s like an unsaid truth. Any SEO expert worth their salt will tell you this.
Believe it or not, we still consult potential clients with rudimentary business websites designed in 2002.
Actionable tip – Log on to Google’s Mobile Ready Test Tool over here and plug in your website URL. If it’s not mobile-ready, speak to us. We can help.
#2 – How to do an SEO Audit Step #2 – Check the speed
How fast does your website load? Google has stated time and again that they are ‘obsessed’ with fast page load times. In fact, a bulk of their research goes towards improving user experience. Speed is one of the factors that affects user experience.
64% of smartphone users expect a website to load in under 4 seconds. Ironically, the average load time for mobile websites in 2018 was a sluggish 27-seconds. Research reveals that 74% of users will abandon a website if it takes more than 5 seconds to load.
For a business, it’s a double whammy. In all likelihood, Google penalizes your search rankings. More importantly, your customers will abandon the site and visit a competitor instead. The question is, how do you optimise your website page load times? Here’s how.
Actionable tips on how to do an SEO audit for speed:
- Check the current page load time using this tool
- If there’s a problem with the code, fix it. Here’s a great tool
- If your site is image-heavy, use a compression tool
- Maybe you use an economical shared-hosting service, which isn’t that great for a business website
Rockstar Marketing’s website design team can optimise your website for load times as little as 2 seconds. Speak to us.
#3 – How well does your site perform in Google’s index?
Indexing is the root cause of most SEO problems that we deal with. It’s such a broad thing that it’s impossible to cover in a single blog post. So we will stick to the most important aspects only.
Multiple Versions of your URL – If you want to know how to do an SEO audit for indexing problems, here’s the first step. Check for multiple versions of your website and ensure that they all redirect to the functional one. For example, http://www.yourwebsite.com is different from https://www.yourwebsite.com. Ideally, the ‘http’ version should redirect to the ‘https’ version.
Similarly if you use a URL without ‘www’, then both the above searches should redirect to ‘https://yourwebsite.com’. If you do not redirect these, Google considers each URL version as an independent website.
Find the leftovers – Leftovers or scraps are unwanted pages of your site that Google sometimes indexes. This can be archive pages, category and tag pages if you use WordPress or pages with less than 50 words. How do you find these leftovers? Just head to Google and use the ‘site:’ symbol followed by your website URL. Sometimes these leftovers account for 50% of the indexed pages. It can eat into your organic traffic. Also, Google has indirectly stated that more content is not always merrier. Let’s clean up the mess.
Find potential problems – A website can have coding errors or plugin conflicts that can make some pages inaccessible. Any webmaster who wants to know how to do an SEO audit must learn how to fix this. Head to Google Search Console & check for indexing problems. The report called ‘Index Coverage’ should give you an idea of the pages that are inaccessible. Some pages might have a ‘noindex’ tag. Sometimes, the robots.txt can act up and block access to pages as well.
Actionable tip – Even if everything looks great, double check with this Free SEO Tool. If you find some of the problems too difficult to fix, seek help. It’s important to fix indexing problems for more than one reason.
#4 – How to do an SEO Audit Step 4 – On-Page SEO
Once again, this probably deserves a blog post on its own. But we’ll try to cover the most important bits here. There are tonnes of theories about what makes solid on-page SEO. The more you try to dig up the ‘perfect’ method, the more you sink into the rabbit hole. We personally like this guide from Backlinko.
It’s pretty comprehensive and covers all the bases. That said, if you don’t have time to go through a long blog post, here’s the takeaway.
- Keywords – Despite all the fancy tech, SEO boils down to the basics. Do you have the target keywords for the primary pages/posts on your website? If not, then start there. Get the best keywords and proceed to step 2.
- Optimise the content – Quality content is the bedrock of any successful business website. Start off by analyzing the pages that seem to be lagging behind in search. Optimise these by placing the target keyword in the first 100 words. Now sparingly use LSI keywords through the copy.
- Meta Tags – Ensure that your target keywords feature in the Title Tag and Meta Description. That may sound outdated. But guess what? It still works. Google confirms it here.
- Internal Links – Ahrefs calls ‘Internal Links’, the sidekick to External links. Each one of your target pages should have at least five internal links to other prominent pages on the site.
- External Links – Link out to the prominent websites in your industry. If you are a news agency, add an external link to BBC. We recommend at least 5 external links in every page you are targeting.
Actionable Tip – Start with the top 5 pages of your site. It’s impossible to fix everything at one go. So go slow.
Last but not the least, we have backlinks. Backlinks are still the number one ranking factor for search engines. Period.
Backlinko in fact did a very interesting study on this. There are numerous SEO tools, both paid and free that can help you with backlink analysis.
The easiest and cheapest one is Google Search Console. Check the ‘Links Report’ and you will get a list of every domain that links to your site. Analysing backlinks is a critical part of how to do an SEO audit. Backlinks have the potential to do both, make and break your site’s rankings. If your website has backlinks from authority domains in your industry, your rankings will boost.
But if your SEO company has been cutting corners, chances are that there are some poor links from shady neighbourhoods linking to your website. Recently, we have also spoken to numerous businesses who have been hit with spam links. While it’s impossible to say why these were built, it can be an attempt at ‘Negative SEO’.
An audit will help you identify and disavow these so that they do not hurt your rankings.
Actionable Tip – If you find the search console reports confusing, speak to an SEO company who can help you generate a backlink report from Ahrefs or Moz.
A complete technical SEO audit involves a lot more factors than these. Don’t get hung up over how to do an SEO audit.
As you’d have noticed, it takes a fair bit of expertise and some paid SEO tools to get the best results. Rockstar Marketing can do a complete SEO audit of your business website. Speak to us now for a no-obligations quote.