How to conduct an SEO Audit

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The term “SEO audit” refers to taking stock of your website’s SEO status and identifying areas for improvement based on best current SEO practices.

With so many factors affecting your website’s search engine rankings today, conducting a proper SEO audit is not a trivial task.

An SEO audit should be comprehensive enough to take into account all important SEO ranking factors. At the same time, you should always be mindful of the risk of getting lost in detail and stay clearly focused on identifying your priorities moving forward.

Your SEO audit should result in an actionable plan that will have you on track for improving your search engine rankings.

Below we list the main steps that a complete initial SEO audit should include.

Chapter 1

Data cleanliness and reliability

Collecting relevant and actionable website traffic data is the first step necessary to properly assess the starting SEO position of any website.
Two people cleaning up the data

An SEO Audit should begin with ensuring that a website has:

  • Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager set up correctly.
  • The filters enabling different views of data and filtering out of the robots – properly set up.
  • Goal and event tracking – including macro and micro conversions, other key actions, and ecommerce tracking where appropriate – in place and set up correctly.
  • Account linking to Google Ads and Google Search Console.
Chapter 2

Website traffic audit

The next step is to evaluate the existing organic traffic your website attracts.
Data showcasing website traffic

This provides some important insights into the site’s starting position with the search engines and allows you to identify any other sources of referrals – such as direct traffic that results from visitors just typing the website URL into the browser, traffic referred by social media, etc.

Other important traffic parameters that should be evaluated during an initial SEO audit include:

  • Mobile vs Desktop Users
  • New vs Returning Visitors
  • Visitor Breakdown by Age
  • Visitor Breakdown by Gender
Chapter 3

Site architecture, navigation, and coding

Website architecture plays an important role when it comes to its crawlability and overall search engine friendliness.
Two people site coding

The elements of site structure that require particular attention are:

  • URL Taxonomy – the way in which information the website contains is organised by type and topic. It is crucial that the URLs on your site form a consistent pattern and are sequential.
  • Indexation – ensuring that meta descriptions are used appropriately and that only one version of the site is indexed.
  • Search and user friendliness of the site’s URLs.
  • Appropriate use of tags and the internal linking structure that points to high value pages within the site.
  • Structured data mark-up – important for generating rich snippets that Google may display for certain content types. 
  • Clean coding practices – optimised code, valid HTML, external CSS and JavaScript files, and valid SSL certificates – all contribute to better crawlability and loading speed and, consequently, to improved rankings.

Site navigation must be fully crawlable, with no broken links. Descriptive and relevant anchor text should be used for internal links wherever possible.

Chapter 4

Site speed and mobile friendliness

Your site’s loading speed is extremely important both in terms of user experience and as an important search engine ranking factor. You need to pay particular attention to:
Data showing site speed
  • Google Page Speed Insights rankings. This tool evaluates a website speed by giving it a ranking out of 100. The Mobile and Desktop versions of the website are assessed separately. Any ranking under 90 should be addressed as a priority as it can negatively affect your site’s standing with search engines.
  • Server loading speed is also highly relevant as it can affect how much of the website is indexed by search engines. 
  • Mobile friendliness has been one of the major Google ranking factors for the past few years. Mobile versions – not the desktop versions – of websites are now the first to be crawled by Google. A non-mobile friendly site has a direct negative impact on search engine rankings and should be addressed as a matter of urgency.
Chapter 5

Keywords and content structure

The importance of a website’s content for its SEO rankings is hard to overestimate.
Keyword research

Google now uses a special algorithm called Semantic Search to figure out how the knowledge your website provides should be classed in terms of its uniqueness and relevance.

As a result, certain search terms are assigned to your website that represents the data it contains. Then your website is ranked in relation to other websites based on its ability to semantically match your content to that search term.

Over the past four years, Google has been extensively focussing on improving the quality of its search listings, paying particular attention to identifying and rewarding unique, non-duplicated content.

Panda – an algorithm created to ensure that websites with poor content are ranked lower – has been part of Google’s core search algorithm since 2016.

How you present and organise your content is also extremely important. Some page elements to pay particular attention to are:

  • Page titles. These need to be unique, relevant, and SE optimised, as they are prominently displayed in the list of search result rankings and directly affect the click through rate – which, in turn, affects your website’s search engine rankings.
  • H1 headings.  As search engines rely on H1s to determine what the page is about, these headings are also of utmost importance and should be unique, descriptive – and present on every page of your website.
  • Other headings. The other headings are also important, both in terms of user experience and for helping search engines to understand the subtopics and keywords within a page. 
Chapter 6

Backlink analysis

Links that point to your website remain an important ranking factor. Google now has an algorithm - called Penguin - in place to ensure that websites with poor links, manipulated links, or over optimised links make websites rank lower.
Creating backlinks between websites

Some important factors to consider are:

  • Total number of links.
  • Total number of linking domains.
  • Linking domain authority.
  • Link toxicity.

Overall, today the higher linking domain authority should be prioritised over the total number of links.

Chapter 7

Local SEO

For websites of brick-and-mortar businesses, paying attention to local SEO can make a huge positive difference.
Local SEO

Some important local SEO tools are:

  • Google My Business
  • Bing Places
  • Apple Maps
  • Google Reviews
  • NAP (name, address, phone) of your business listed in the footer of every page of your website.

Does your website need a complete SEO audit? We at Digital Tribe can help! Contact us today to take your SEO game to the next level!

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