SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of increasing traffic to your website through search engine ranking and results. An SEO audit can seem like a big, scary task, but it doesn’t have to be! A quick monthly audit can only take an hour or less. Follow these steps below to perform an SEO audit to start getting better traffic, and increase your search engine rankings!
Step One: Initial Crawl
The first step in any SEO audit is to let a tool do the initial crawl, and check for any errors or warnings that need to be addressed.
For this example, we’re using SemRush. In SemRush, select the project that you want to check. Then, click “site audit”. SemRush will then do a quick SEO audit for you, where you can check if there are any warnings or errors concerning duplicate or unlinked pages.
Path: SemRush > Project > Select Project > Site Audit
To check your SEO score in SemRush, select your project again. Then, choose “backlink analysis” and enter the domain of the website you are checking. This will show you the authority score that SemRush has calculated for the website, based on factors such as link building and ranking.
Path: Project > Select Project > Backlink Analysis > Enter Domain > Authority Score
To manually check your ranking, Google your website name and see how you rank for your own brand name. It is important that you rank high for your own name, preferably first! If a competitor is ranking higher than you for your own brand, it’s time to seriously reassess your SEO.
Step Two: Make sure your site is browsable
It’s important to know if you’re running the right version of your site. Confirm you are running https and not http. When switching to https, you are at risk for having mixed content. Ensure that your website foes not have mixed content, as it will display warning signs to browsers that the content they are viewing is not secure or unsafe. To manually check, simply put your website in the search bar as http, and ensure you are redirected to the https version.
If some of your content is still listed as “http”, Google will mark them as unsafe, and you will lose potential traffic to those pages, as well as your site.
Step Three: On-Page Check
There are a number of things you can do on your website to ensure that your pages are optimized for SEO:
Check for external duplicate pages, headers, metatags and meta descriptions
Sometimes, there are competitors or other websites that have identical or similar content to you, and night even be ranking higher for keywords because of it. To avoid this, make sure that your titles and headers are as unique as you can make them, while still being relevant for keywords
- You can do this on Copyscape: enter a URL and find duplicate pages
Ensure that title tags are relevant to keywords, to rank for the appropriate topics
It’s important to have titles that are relevant, but equally as important that your title tags are relevant to keywords as well. Title tags and metatags work like a hashtag, when it comes to google search. By including tags that are relevant to your keywords, you are categorizing your content so that Google connects it with those chosen keywords
Check that meta descriptions and metatags are relevant for the keywords you are targeting
As with title tags, it is important to ensure that both your metatags ands meta descriptions are relevant to the keywords you are targeting. This will help you to increase your rankings
Ensure targeted keywords are placed at least within the first 100 words of your page
When users are browsing, they are searching and scanning endless content for exactly what they’re looking for. If your content is about gluten-free baking recipes, your users will be scanning your content for the words “baking”, or “gluten-free”. If these aren’t at least in the first 100 words, you’ve increased the probability of a higher bounce rate.
Step Four: External and Internal Link Check
Links, and the quality of those links, are an integral part of any SEO strategy. Checking your external and internal links frequently is a good practice to keep your rankings high.
First, build internal links. Link your own pages on your website. This elevates navigation, and gives your website more exposure, overall. If someone is checking out one of your blog posts about the best things to eat in summer, and you link to your recipe book product page, you’ve gained traffic that you might not have otherwise.
Next, you need to check for bad links. These are links which give users an error. This check can be done quickly in Integrity: Enter your URL in the search bar, and check for errors. Specifically, fix any links with 404 errors.
Step Five: Page Speed
While having the content of your website optimized for SEO is important, none of that matters if users can’t even get onto it! Page speed is an important factor in increasing your ranking, and reducing bounce rate.
PageSpeed is a quick and effective way to both check your page speed rating, and also see which actions Google offers to increase that rating. Simply enter the URL of your website in the search bar, and PageSpeed will calculate your page speed ranking, and the reasons that your website got that particular ranking. By outlining the issues, PageSpeed makes it easier to create a list of action items to remedy those problems.
Step Six: Analytics and Site Metrics
No SEO audit would be complete without a dip into Google Analytics, and other site metrics. This is a great way to see how your website is doing, and how it ranks against competitors. Follow this checklist, take note of your score, how it faces up against the competition, and areas in which to improve:
- Ensure tracker code for Google Analytics is above header of each webpage
- Check bounce rate in Google Analytics. It doesn’t necessarily matter how many people come to your website, as much as it does how many people stay there. To check the bounce rate, search under “Audience” > “Overview”
- Look at your domain ranking against multiple sources, such as SemRush and Mozbar.
- Check index via Google Search Console > Index Status
- Have a look at organic search traffic. Which pages rank the highest? Once you find out which pages have high rankings, you can determine what you’re doing right, and mimic those actions on all you other pages. Some question you might ask yourself could be what keywords are associated with those pages.
Step Seven: Check Backlinks
A backlink audit can be done as part of an SEO audit, or can even be done when executing a link building campaign. If you’re interested in learning more on how to create a link building campaign, read all about it here.
Check your backlinks
How do they measure?
Sometimes, a domain or authority score takes into account the authority of your external links. Who is linking to you, and who are you linking to in return? Are these “good” links, or do they not rank very high in Google search? You need to ask yourself these questions, and assess how your backlinks measure up. In the world of link building, good link brings good rankings in an upward cycle, and and bad links bring poor rankings, in a downward spiral.
How do they measure against that of competitors?
Once you establish how your backlinks are doing overall, it’s time to measure them against competitors. If you want to rank highest for certain keywords, it’s important to target your SEO around those words.
Social media audit
Understanding how to create a social media campaign is one thing, but knowing which types of social media campaigns to launch and execute is anther. Know your audience. Do they tend to be more active on Facebook, or is the largest part of your following on Instagram? Your social media efforts will be wasted if they aren’t in line with your target audience’s behaviour online.
Step Eight: Check Content
Finally, no SEO audit would be complete without having a look at the quality and relevance of your content. It doesn’t matter how much SEO you do-if the content isn’t there to back it up, your ranking will never stay high for long.
First, it’s important to search for a content gap. You can’t know which pages to improve if you don’t know where the gaps are. What keywords do competitors rank for that you don’t? To check and track this, follow:
SemRush: enter URL > Keyword Gap tool > choose keywords > check/Google these > who ranks highest
Create a list, either on a spreadsheet or however you prefer, and track which keywords you need to improve on. If you run a cooking blog and don’t rank for any food-related keywords, you have a problem-but don’t panic! Simple content and SEO changes in metatags, titles and descriptions will do the trick.
Next comes the content audit itself. Go through all of your pages and ask yourself:
- Is the content too thin?
- Are there missing keywords?
If you can say yes to either of these, it might be time for a content update!
SEO audits aren’t just about weeding out the bad. It’s also important to check which pages are doing really well. Look at which pages have the highest rankings. These can be opportunities to boost and optimize that content, or even use it as an asset in a link building campaign! Alternatively, you can use these pages as examples of how all your other pages should look-what are you doing “right” on that page, versus the others?
A Final Word
While all this can seem long and tedious, it is definitely worth it! After your first SEO audit, using an actionable process such as this, it’ll continue to get easier. Don’t be afraid to take an hour, or even a full day, and comb your website for any opportunities you might be missing to optimize your search rankings.
Graphics taken from Pixabay and ThoseIcons