What’s included in a website SEO Audit?
A Google search for website SEO audit will produce a litany of information on how to audit your website. You will find both services and web apps but what do you get, what does it cost, and can the audit be trusted? I had this question myself, so I decided to do some research, and this is what I’ve found.
A website SEO Audit typically consists of these components:
1. Site speed
2. HTML and programming errors
3. Page follow errors
4. Usability errors (i.e., will the site work on different size devices?)
Site speed, HTML errors, broken links, and site responsiveness are pretty basic. You can see these issues if you want to take the time and evaluate each page yourself. Just clear your browser’s cache and then load your website.
- Does your site load quickly?
- Does your site load quickly on your phone?
- Can you click on each page of your site without any errors?
- Does your site look good on your phone and then on your computer?
Answering the previous questions would be similar to a broad overview. Might give you a little insight, but not tell the whole story. If you want to know how Google or any other search engine sees your site and improve your sites SEO, you will need to dig deeper.
A proper SEO audit will evaluate each page on your website and show you errors and warnings that you need to fix based on the following statistical data.
Using markup data on your web pages is a powerful way to increase your visibility in search engines and gain higher click-through rates. Google and other search engines use markup to determine what your page content includes.
Google helps developers with Structured Data Markup with a handy markup tool. Make sure all of your website pages are set up with structured data.
Crawl depth refers to the number of clicks it takes a user or search engine to get to pages within your site. Both users and search engines do not appreciate content that takes more than three clicks to see. Make sure any relevant content on your website is easily accessible by keeping it no more than three clicks from your home page.
HTTP Status Code
HTTP status codes are requests from a search engine or user to your server where your website resides. What you want to avoid are any pages that have 4xx or 5xx errors. Both types of errors affect crawl-ability and user experience. These errors must be removed and monitored for your site to rank well.
Duplicate content on your website can affect your ranking in search engines. To avoid this use rel=”canonical” link element to point to your original webpage for each page the similar or identical content.
Also, use a self-referencing canonical link to protect your site’s data from web scrapers. If you don’t use self-referencing tags, then website scrapers can pull all of your content and wind up ranking ahead of you.
Google now gives preference to websites created with its new technology, known as AMP, or Accelerated Mobile Pages. If you want your site to rank well on mobile, then make sure your site uses AMP programming.
Google has also recently changed its algorithm and has made page speed much more important. This algorithm change drives Google’s AMP methodology. You can test your sites page speed to determine how your site performs under Google’s new algorithm. If you test under 90%, you will need to make adjustments to images and site structure.
Sitemap vs. Crawled Pages
Your sitemap.xml needs to match the number of pages that Google will crawl. If it doesn’t, it may be a sign that your website has poor crawl-ability due to bad links or related technical issues. You should watch this carefully, and make sure your sitmap.xml is matching Google. You can see what pages Google has crawled on your site by typing “site:” and adding your websites URL.
Compare those results with your sitemap.xml that you add in your Google Search Console account.
Incoming Internal Links
Backlinks are one of the more challenging aspects of SEO, especially, for new websites. Having very few inbound links means very few or no visits. You can add backlinks to your site in several ways. The best place to start is by creating high-quality and consistent content.
There are many ways to develop backlinks once you’ve created great content. Start by evaluating who is linking to your competitors, and see if those sites will link to your content as well.
Hredflang is used on bilingual websites. Using the (“rel=”alternate” greflang=”X”) attribute tells a user who is searching your site in which language they need to view your site. This attribute tells the search engines which pages to show, based on their location.
Is an SEO audit necessary?
If you want to improve your search engine ranking, you should regularly monitor your sites technical performance with a quality SEO audit. After fixing all the errors and correcting any warnings that are produced then watch those results with any new pages or new content that is created for your website.
Search engine optimization consists of three equal parts, each of which is important. If you need a better understanding of what is included under the umbrella term “search engine optimization,” see my blog “Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Without the Confusion.”
Additional SEO audit items to consider.
Tell a search engine about your content using keywords. All keywords should be used naturally, and interwoven conversationally within your content. There are a few essential areas like your Meta tags and H1 title tag where keywords should be well thought out and utilized.
There are a few techniques I utilize when developing my keyword lists.
- Read through and highlight words from my existing marketing material. We usually have much of what we need from those materials.
- Analyze competitor content. Understanding your competitors and the words they are using to tell Google what they are about is also an easy way to round out a keyword list.
- Don’t forget your customers. A quick review of customer engagement on your social channels can help you understand the keywords that interest your customers.
- Of course, there’s Google itself. Google Ads has a keyword planner tool that’s free to use. You can spend days pouring over detailed information including average monthly search volume, competition, and big range for ad placement.
The best way to determine user experience on your website is through Google analytics. If you have not set your site up with a Google Analytics account, you need to. Once you have your site set up with Google Analytics, you will discover how your target is engaging with your site.
Your bounce rate is the percentage of users who land on a page, only stay briefly and leave. If you have a high bounce rate percentage, you need to address the content on the page. There are many factors which will increase or decrease your bounce rate. One of the critical elements is available content on your website. If you don’t have the content users expect to see, they will leave. It’s no different than walking into a store at a shopping center, giving it a quick scan and then walking out because you don’t find what you think you’ll see.
Mobile vs. computer use
Pay attention to the device type as it relates to the bounce rate in your SEO audit. If a large number of your visitors are coming through mobile devices, but your site is not optimized for speed and screen size, then your bounce rate will be high.
Average Time Spent on Site
Pay attention to the average time someone spends on your site. Your bounce rate will tie into this, but you should be providing a user with enough traffic to drive up session duration. The more time a user spends on your site, the more potential there is for sales.
In addition to time spent on your site review the behavior flow under the behavior tab on the left, this is an accurate view of how someone navigates and interacts with your site. Pay attention to where users drop off and how quickly it happens.
In closing, take the time to perform an SEO audit on your website. Start with one of the free services including the SEO analyzer at MonteClark.com and get a starting point for issues which should be addressed. Focus on fixing all technical SEO related problems. The functional components are the quickest path to improving your rank. Then, develop a content strategy that focuses on user experience and engagement.
Lastly, give it time! Search engine optimization is not a short game. But, with time you will be rewarded with consistently increasing traffic flow and ongoing customer engagement which will result in leads and sales.