SEO Audit. Being found organically on the Internet has become one of the main needs of small and large companies. To achieve this, an SEO audit is the perfect starting point for any positioning strategy. With SEO audit you can identify where you are and what it takes to achieve your website’s objectives. This process allows you to determine improvement opportunities and find structural, technical, or content flaws that will serve as the starting line to start optimizations.
In this complete 15-step guide, you will learn how to perform an SEO audit for your website or blog.
In the end, you will be able to optimize your organic positioning and drive traffic to your website. Let’s start!
- 1 What is an SEO Audit?
- 2 Why is it Important to do an SEO Audit?
- 3 Step by Step to do an SEO Audit
- 4 Tracking and indexing
- 4.1 1. Analyze the organic traffic of your page
- 4.2 2. Start a website crawl
- 4.3 3. Check your indexing on Google
- 4.4 4. Verify that only one version of your website is navigable
- 4.5 5. Check your position in the search engines
- 5 Website Content
- 6 Performance and Usability
- 7 External Analysis
- 8 Conclusion
What is an SEO Audit?
SEO audit is a detailed analysis of the different aspects that affect the organic positioning of a website.
Its purpose is to diagnose problems and detect optimization points to improve the ranking of a website in the results pages (SERPs) of search engines such as Google.
This study involves a detailed examination of the internal and external elements of the site to generate an accurate and updated diagnosis to define the actions to be followed.
Therefore, auditing is the first step in any SEO optimization that is aimed at meeting strategic objectives.
Why is it Important to do an SEO Audit?
When we create a website and constantly feed it with new content and settings, it is very easy to lose track of the behavior of these activities once implemented.
Also, with the constant changes in Google’s algorithm and evolving user behavior, it is necessary to periodically evaluate the performance of your website in these new scenarios.
In this sense, an SEO audit allows you to:
- Adapt to changes in the search engine algorithm;
- Optimize the indexing and positioning of your pages;
- Attract more organic traffic,
- Make strategic decisions;
- Maintain the general health of your website.
Step by Step to do an SEO Audit
Despite being more than 200 factors that Google takes into account to rate and rank websites, there are essential aspects that we must pay attention to in any SEO strategy.
Here are 15 steps and tools to help you start your audit. We group them into 4 main themes:
- Crawling and indexing;
- Performance and usability;
- External analysis.
With that said, let’s get to work!
Tracking and indexing
1. Analyze the organic traffic of your page
The first thing we are going to do in this SEO audit is to map the current state of organic traffic of your website to know where we started from.
For this, Google Analytics is the perfect tool. Once configured, you can know which are the most visited landing pages and what is the origin of the visits, distinguishing various traffic sources such as:
- Direct search;
- Organic search (the one that interests us most in this case);
- Social networks ;
- Paid ads;
- Among others.
With this information, you can determine which are your strongest traffic sources, which ones you should optimize to diversify the traffic attraction and which is the type of content that is most attracting your users.
You can also study the history of organic visits to identify peaks and falls. With this you can analyze the actions you took in the past, replicate those that had good results, and avoid those that did not.
2. Start a website crawl
Tracking the website at the beginning of the SEO audit gives you a clear view of your current situation.
It also helps you to see the progress in positioning and attracting organic traffic as you solve the problems discovered.
An SEO crawler will explore your website in the same way that Google would, to give you a perspective of the structure and current SEO configuration according to your CMS, being that the most adapted to a position in search engines is WordPress.
There are numerous tools that you can use to start the trace and leave it operating in the background while you continue with the following steps. These are:
- Screaming Frog ;
- Beam Us Up;
- Ahrefs Site Audit;
- SEMRush Site Audit.
3. Check your indexing on Google
The indexing Google is the alpha of organic positioning. If you don’t appear in the Google index, you basically cannot be found by your users organically, despite all your efforts to constantly publish new content.
So, an essential aspect of SEO audit is to verify that your website and all its relevant pages are being indexed in search engines.
For this, the best Google Search Console tool. From the main menu of Search Console, you can go to the “Index Status” option and there observe how many pages you have indexed in Google.
Next, we will see 3 aspects that you must take into account to evaluate the indexing of your website in Google.
Configure your sitemap
The sitemap is a file that contains an organized listing of the URLs of your website. Basically, it tells crawlers which way to go to crawl and index web pages.
This file can be organized by content type, publication date, web areas, priority URLs, etc. The important thing is that it contains all the relevant URLs for your website.
You can check if you already have a sitemap by entering the following address in the search engine: .your domain. com/sitemap _ index. xml
Create your Robots.txt file
The file Robots.txt is used to inform search engines which parts of your website should crawl and which should not, using “Allow” and “Disallow” commands.
Verifying the correct configuration of the Robots.txt file will help you have more control over what Google is tracking, indexing, and positioning in the SERPs.
This will prevent some of your content from being found by your users, for example, downloadable materials protected by a Landing Page, or author pages.
It is very important to analyze this aspect in your SEO technical configuration due to the existence of the crawl budget, that is, the frequency of crawling of the Google algorithm on your website.
The goal of that research is to increase the efficiency of page mapping on your website, making Googlebot spend his time on the ones that are most relevant to your SEO.
You can see the Robots.txt file from any web page by typing the one you searched for yourdomain.com/robots.txt. your domain. com / robots . txt.
Mark the contents you don’t want to index with the meta tag “No Index”
Another way to solve the problem of indexing pages that we do not want to be shown in the SERPs is using the meta tag “No Index”.
In your website’s HTML settings, you can put the <noindex> meta tag in the <head> section of the pages you don’t want to be displayed.
In the end it should look like this:
<meta name = ”robots” content = ”noindex”>
This meta tag is useful for hiding duplicate content, file pages, outdated content, or “Thin Content,” which is content of less than 200 words.
To verify that the meta tag is being read by Google, you can do a “site: yourdomain.com” search of the pages to which you applied the No Index and check that they do not appear in the SERPs.
A simple but powerful verification is to make only one version of your website navigable. It turns out that users can find your website in different ways:
- http : // www . your domain . com ;
- http : // your domain . com ;
- https : // www . your domain . com ;
- https : // your domain . com ;
The problem is that Google thinks that these are different versions of the same domain.
To fix it, you need to determine a single version of your website (better if it’s the one with the SSL security certificate ) and have the others direct the website version using 301 redirects, which we’ll talk about in step 11.
5. Check your position in the search engines
Part of the initial diagnosis you get from SEO audit is knowing what your website looks like in search engines to identify if there are aspects that you can improve. In this aspect you must evaluate 3 issues.
Verify that you rank first for your brand
One of the simplest and essential optimizations is to check that your website appears first in the SERPs when you search for your brand name in Google.
Unless your website is very new or your brand name is very generic (ex: shoe store), your home page should always appear first for your brand.
If this is not the case, the solution lies in two strategic actions: Branding and Link Building.
The first is a set of actions to make your brand recognized in the digital environment, which encourages users to search for it on Google, forcing it to see its relevance.
The second consists of a strategy for acquiring quality backlinks, which represent one of the main ranking factors in Google.
If your website is frequently mentioned by others of great authority and relevance in your market segment, Google will have many reasons to index your pages and give them deserved recognition.
Check your position for your most relevant keywords
Recognizing the keywords that are connecting your website with your users helps you to know how they are finding you and focus your efforts on it.
In the “Search results” menu of Google Search Console or with keyword tools such as SEMRush (freemium) you can identify them.
In this way you can track your position for different keywords, find opportunities and warn about threats, preventing your competitors from stealing the positions you already have.
Examine your snippets
Snippets are the combination of title, URL, and meta description that appear as the result of a search.
In this sense, Rich Snippets are rich snippets that contain additional information depending on your website.
The advantage with Rich Snippets and their most coveted format, Featured Snippets (Google’s famous zero position), is that they can give your CTR a boost since the first three organic results take 61% of clicks.
In that sense, identify if your pages already have the rich snippets incorporated and if you have already conquered some prominent Google snippet, like this:
6. Run a content audit
Just as Batman cannot be understood without Robin, SEO cannot be understood without content. And it is well known that content is king!
So, one of the fundamental steps in SEO audit is reviewing all the content on your website to detect harmful content and optimize it to the maximum.
You can use Google Analytics to find harmful content . Select a period of at least 3 months. In the “All pages” menu, organize the results from least to greatest. You will see which are the pages that attract less traffic.
Here you have two options: update or delete. If you are going to delete some content because it does not add value, you should make a 301 redirect from that URL to another with related content.
On the other hand, if you are going to update it, you must include new information, expand the content extension and, since you are in that task, verify that the keyword still corresponds to the user’s search intention.
If not, you can change the content so that it is able to appear again in the Top 3 of Google.
7. Do an SEO On-Page check of your website
Optimizations SEO On-Page are the most simple adjustments to make an SEO audit. However, things can get a little heavy if your website has many pages.
A tip is to start the SEO On-Page evaluation on your home page and the most important pages of your website, that is, the ones that receive the most organic traffic.
To know what they are using Google Analytics, Search Console, or Ahrefs.
Next, we will explain what aspects you should take into account in this step.
Title and subtitle structure
The Heading Tags not only makes it easier for your users to scan the content; It also allows crawlers to quickly understand what that page is about, speeding up indexing.
In each content, examine the following:
- Is there only a single parameter in the H1 title tag?
- Is the H1 of the page in question descriptive, attractive and motivates the reader to consume all the content?
- Does n’t the SEO title exceed the characters that Google shows in the results of the SERPs?
- Are subtitles (H2, H3, etc.) being used correctly, according to the semantic hierarchy?
- Are the titles and subtitles chained with keywords that have good search levels?
- Are the titles and subtitles creative and persuasive?
- Are you achieving the best results or is there a keyword with better searches that you can substitute for?
As important as Heading Tags is the meta description. This paragraph is the second thing that users read (after the title) when your website appears as the result of a search in the SERPs.
And although Google crawlers don’t rate your website according to your meta descriptions, this factor is incredibly relevant in attracting more organic clicks.
For this reason, you should verify that on the pages you are auditing there is a meta description optimized to maximize clicks.
To achieve this, a good practice is to briefly answer the user’s question in the meta description, then inviting them to know more about it. Look at this example from our blog:
Once you have covered the titles and meta descriptions, the next variable of the SEO On Page is scan ability , which refers to the ease that content has to be read and understood by the user after a quick and superficial reading.
Scannability is crucial for the user since once they enter your page, they hope to find a quick answer to their concern.
So, if you work with heavy blocks of text, without subtitles, bullets or bold, the user may lose interest and not stay to read the entire article until they find the information they need.
Creating internal links is one of the SEO techniques that shows Google what your most important content is. In fact, this is what Topic Clusters’ strategy is all about, transmitting authority between your website URLs.
Therefore, in the SEO audit, you must assess that all your content is linked and, above all, that it is organized hierarchically to reinforce the most relevant pages for your business.
With Search Console or Ahrefs, you can analyze the internal linking of your website. If your CMS is WordPress, you can also identify it, on the “All entries” screen.
SEO for images
One of the most valuable optimizations is applying SEO to images. Before letting numerous errors accumulate in this regard (which is very simple), start by:
- Adjust the size to what your page needs;
- Reduce weight with Photoshop, Tiny PNG or Imagify;
- Include text data such as the title, description, and of course the alt text.
8. Search for duplicate content
It’s no secret that since Panda came, Google doesn’t like duplicate content!
It is very important to do this audit constantly to ensure that, on the one hand, you are not working twice on the same keyword (what is known as cannibalization ) and, on the other hand, other websites are not stealing your content.
The problem is that Google cannot recognize who is the original author of duplicate content. Consequently, it can penalize you by losing positions in the SERPs or even damaging your indexing.
If you have an e-commerce, you already know that having duplicate content can be your daily bread. After all, you will have very similar products to each other. For that, learning about Canonical Tags will help you solve the problem.
9. Optimize (or hide) your “Thin Content”
Another issue that you should pay attention to is the so-called “Thin Content”. This is very short content, usually less than 200 words.
What happens with this content is that, in the eyes of Google, they provide little or no value.
Therefore, they have difficulty showing up as search results. The recommendation in this regard is to reinforce the content or, if it is not relevant, delete it.
Performance and Usability
10. Check the loading speed
Loading speed is one of the factors that Google takes into account when ranking websites, since a page that loads fast provides a better user experience on the page.
So one of the best SEO practices is to make sure the website loads quickly, preferably in less than 3 seconds.
Among the variables that slow down a website are:
- Your hosting provider ;
- Your website template and plugins ;
- The images;
- The cache;
- Excess CSS code.
Google PageSpeed Insights is one of the most used free tools to determine the current state of speed.
You can also get complete recommendations in this regard with platforms such as Pingdom or GTMetrix.
11. Look for Technical SEO errors
The Technical SEO rules setting a website that allows you to tell Google how your site is structured and what users can find there.
There are 6 aspects that you cannot leave out in your SEO audit.
Information architecture refers to the way in which a website structures its sections and groups its URLs, that is, how it is organized in terms of information hierarchy.
By SEO recommendation, the most relevant information for users should not be more than three clicks away from the main domain or the home page.
Therefore, the content that strategically favors your business should be found in URLs of this type:
www . your domain. com / category í a / subcategory í a / Contents1
Of course, the most important sections should be less than 3 clicks and can be placed as options on the main menu of the page.
This not only favors the user experience but also makes the work of Google crawlers easier.
In the SEO audit of information architecture you should evaluate the following points:
- Verify that your website follows a horizontal structure, in preference to a vertical structure;
- Check that your most relevant content is less than three clicks away;
- Check that there are no orphan URLs.
You can analyze the architecture of your website with the functionality “Directory Tree Graph” in the “Visualization” menu of the Screaming Frog tool.
We told you in step 4 that to get Featured Snippets you must audit the status of your structured data.
And there are many ways to use them to mark your content and tell Google what information that page contains.
You can use structured data about your products, blog posts, videos, reviews and comments, job offers, events, etc. In this guide to structured data, you can learn more about it.
Now, to find out if your content has structured data, you can use the Google Structured Data Test Tool.
404 errors appear when users try to access URLs that do not exist or are misspelled.
Although this is not penalized by Google, having many 404 errors (and other error pages ) can harm the UX.
You can find all the pages that present 404 errors with Search Console, Screaming Frog, and Ahrefs.
In addition to customizing 404 error pages, the recommended solution is to make 301 redirects from the error URLs to the most significant URLs, pages that are similar or related, or simply to the home page.
301 redirects are codes that tell Google that the URL of a page has changed permanently.
Creating these redirects from harmful content to valuable content is one of the best SEO practices since the authority of the old URL is transferred to the new one.
If your page is in WordPress, you can help yourself with some plugins to create your 301 redirects, for example, with SEO Redirection Plugin.
Having a lot of broken outgoing links and broken pages is not only an indicator of low optimization for Google. It can also affect the experience, dwell times, and CTR of your website.
Using Screaming Frog or Broken Link Checker you can quickly identify how many broken links you have and update them in your content with new links.
Another essential factor in the audit is to check the SEO mobile execution of your website.
In this sense, you should verify that your website is responsive and that it preferably works with an AMP protocol.
Many WordPress templates already have responsive designs. However, you should check that all the elements are fully optimized or if you have to make any adjustments to the CSS.
12. Review User Behavior on Your Website
Taking into account that in the end, the purpose of Google is to give the best response to user searches, it is logical that some of the variables that it takes into account to position websites are related to user experience.
To start, with Google Analytics you can review variables such as the following to analyze the performance of your website and find ways to optimize it:
- Residence time on the page;
- Conversion rate ;
- Bounce rate ;
- Pages visited per session.
The EAT SEO helps you identify ways to create informative content and detailed, get quality backlinks and maximize safety for visitors to your page.
Inbound links or backlinks are one of the most important SEO factors for Google, as the different links transfer authority and popularity from one domain to another.
Dofollow links that carry traffic from a relevant website and related to your theme to your own website are well seen in the eyes of Google. For this reason, in the SEO audit, you must verify the quality of your link building.
Ahrefs can give you this information. Remember that it is crucial to check the profile of the backlinks, the quality and naturalness of your backlinks since an excess of toxic or artificial links can be penalized by Google Penguin.
14. Monitor mentions of your brand
Monitoring your brand’s behavior on social media is a good practice in SEO auditing.
Seeing how your brand is being perceived by Internet users gives you valuable insights to understand if you are transmitting the right message.
Use tools like Buzzsumo or Google Alert to track mentions of your brand, find out which topics are most important to your users and participate in the conversation.
15. Study your competition
Analyzing your competition as part of the SEO audit allows you to identify opportunities.
For example, by studying your keywords with SEMRush or Ahrefs you can find new content ideas that you may not have noticed.
You can also investigate where they are getting their backlinks from, what the structure of their website is, and what their main sources of organic traffic are to optimize your SEO strategy.
SEO audit is essential to check the health and seek better results with your website. However, if your website has been on the air for some time, it will be a long and complicated process due to the number of associated pages.
Although you can start the SEO audit with this step by step, you can also hire specialized advice to address the most complex issues and be sure that all optimizations are carried out correctly.