A Quick Tutorial on How to Perform Your Next SEO Audit

DEFINITIONAn SEO audit is an analysis of your website’s health and performance. A thorough SEO audit should result in a boost in traffic and higher search rankings.  

Just like you’re supposed to get a general medical checkup once in a while, your website needs to have its routine checkups. These regular examinations of your website’s performance are called SEO audits. 

   

Who knows what might be plaguing your website behind that glossy design?

 

While you’re probably (hopefully) proactively monitoring your website’s traffic, keywords, backlinks, etc., every quarter or so you should consider performing an SEO audit. It will give you an opportunity to fix any issues you didn’t notice before, and find new possibilities for your website. 

 

Before we get started, you’ll need an SEO audit tool. We like this one, but you don’t need to have a dedicated tool, per say. We’ve compiled a list for you to build your own free suite of SEO Tools. While they aren’t dedicated to SEO auditing, the listed tools still perform the functions necessary to completely analyze your website. And if you’ve just started looking into SEO, it’s never too late to start adding to your SEO toolbox!

 

With all of that out of the way, let’s check out how to perform an SEO audit.  

Jumped the gun with this article on performing SEO audits? For an introduction to search engine optimization, check out our starter guide on SEO.

Table of Contents

  1. A proper SEO audit starts with…
  2. Analyze your links
  3. Perform a content check
  4. Off-page Analysis 

A proper SEO audit starts with…

Technical SEO a.k.a. technical analysis.

 

Why? 

 

If Google’s algorithm can’t find and crawl your web pages easily, you aren’t going to get much traffic. Make it hard on Google (even unknowingly), the search engine giant has no reason to bump your content up SERPs. 

 

Search engines are people pleasers, at the end of the day. Their existence, in part, depends on their ability to get you the pages you want to see. If it’s hard for their algorithm to log your web pages, why would they want their users to struggle with your unnavigable website?   

 

Without practicing technical SEO, your on-page and off-page optimizations you might have made will be meaningless. All that time crafting informative and helpful content, for naught. 

 

First and foremost, you need to make sure your website functions optimally, not just passably.   

Crawl

Google sends out its spider bots that ‘crawl’ your website if your pages can be accessed. For you arachnophobes out there, this is the only instance when you should welcome anything associated with those creepy crawlers. 

DEFINITIONCrawl refers to when Google’s spider bots access web pages, analyzing, and then adding them to the search engine catalog. When a person conducts a search, Google will collate and display the crawled web pages relevant to your query.    

Sign up to use Google’s Search Console, so you can verify the spider bots are crawling your web pages. By the way, it’s completely free, and has many features you’ll find useful to perform SEO audits and just generally monitor your website’s performance. 

Robots.txt

“A robots.txt file tells search engine crawlers which pages or files the crawler can or can’t request from your site. This is used mainly to avoid overloading your site with requests; it is not a mechanism for keeping a web page out of Google.” 

From Google’s Search Console Help

In other words, the robots.txt file can restrict Google’s spider bots from accessing web pages. Problems arise when a webmaster has inadvertently blocked off the pages you want the crawlers to access. 

 

You can check if any of your pages have been blocked via Google’s Search Console (we told you it would be helpful!).    

An SEO audit tool will check your robots.txt file, as well. google_search_ console_SEO Audit tool

XML Sitemaps

An XML Sitemap, as the name suggests, is a map to your site. Search engine crawlers use your XML sitemap as a guide to navigating from one web page to the next.

 

The sitemap makes sense, but what the heck’s ‘XML’?

 

You shouldn’t make this any more complicated than it needs to be. Your SEO audit tool might have an XML Sitemap generator or, if you’re on WordPress, Yoast has one built-in. 

 

Just make sure you help out Google by uploading the most up-to-date version of your XML Sitemap on the Search Console. The search engine crawlers might be able to find the file themselves, but why make it more difficult for them?  

Site Architecture

Closely related to the XML sitemap, your site architecture needs to be easy to follow. Both the search engine crawlers and real people want to easily and quickly arrive at the target web page

 

Put yourself in the shoes of the site visitors. You want to get to your desired web page ASAP. Imagine how inconvenient it’d be to go through a site with the architecture depicted below: disorganized_site_structure - SEO Audit

Think about minimizing the number of clicks it takes for visitors to get to their desired destination. 

 

Ideally, you’ll build a ‘flat’ site—less depth, more breadth. Instead of creating a bunch of smaller topics within topics, you should carefully think about how you can better organize and categorize your content. flat_site_structure-SEO Audit

Mobile Friendliness

check_mobile_friendlyness_to_SEO_auditYour site visitors will be accessing your content with all kinds of devices. If your web pages appear wonky on their device of choice, they will most likely back out immediately. That’s why it’s crucial that your website functions well across all platforms.

 

There’s a simple way to test this, even if you don’t have your mobile device next to you. Just paste your URL into this convenient tool offered by Google. Most of the DIY website services like Squarespace automatically create a mobile-friendly version of your web pages, but just make sure you’ve checked it out yourself. 

Now you should check out how you’re doing on inbound and outbound links. There are backlink checkers that allow you to check for broken links, link building opportunities, competitor’s links. 

 

Keep going back and adding internal links within your pages. This can bring more traffic to all of your pages, especially if you’ve hooked the visitor and they want to easily jump to your other content. Furthermore, these internal links help site crawlers travel through your website, giving you an extra boost in Google’s ‘eyes.’

 

Also, give your outbound links another pass. Are you linking to quality, relevant authorities? While you might think directing someone away from your content hurts you, Google actually looks favorably on those who defer to experts.

NOTEThis is not to say, “Dump a bunch of quality links onto your pages!” Google penalizes you for spamming links. Be selective, and only create a link when you think it’d be genuinely helpful to your audience. 

While making your link improvements, dedicate some time to performing an analysis of your competitors’ content and backlinks. 

 

Maybe they’ve targeted a keyword that has a low difficulty and high search volume. Capitalize on that by optimizing your next article for that keyword. 

 

Maybe you’ve got an article that substantially improves on your competitor’s content. See what sites are linking to your competitor’s content and reach out. You could ‘steal’ an inbound link. 

 

Check out our article on backlinks for a more in-depth explanation of their importance in increasing traffic.   

Now, check your content

We’ve already given a detailed guide on how to create SEO content. You can check that out in our guide to using Yoast. You’ll get the information on keywords and writing for the internet there. 

 

We’ll give you a single sentence version of the article, though: keep it short, simple, and sweet. One to two sentence paragraphs are quite common and even recommended, for example. 

 

Instead, we’re going to get into one content-creation sin you should definitely avoid. 

Duplicate content and keyword cannibalization 

This may seem obvious, but you’ll find early site owners falling into this trap.

 

Let’s say you create a piece of content that does particularly well. Maybe it’s about a topic that’s trending on the news. The mistake many make is to keep on churning out content on this one topic. This bad practice will lead to your pages competing with each other, making the whole content creation process meaningless for you. 

 

Duplicate content can also come in the form of (unintentional) plagiarism. You may feel tempted to quote a huge block of text because all the words seem necessary. Try paraphrasing, instead. Maybe it won’t be as eloquent, but you can definitely capture the idea in your own words. 

 

Keyword cannibalization is usually a result of duplicate content. Essentially, you’ll probably end up using the same target phrases because the topic’s the same. This means two of your web pages will be competing for the same query, probably hurting rather than boosting both. 

NOTE

Google will, in fact, rank only the web page with the most amount of traffic. Your duplicate or similar content won’t even be considered its own page. 

 

Your search ranking and traffic won’t really improve if you keep on creating content on the same topic. Not subject, topic. 

To finish off your SEO audit, perform an off-page analysis

Take a step back. What do you see?

 

Not literally, of course. 

 

Go back into the Google Search Console and see how your domain is trending. 

 

What’s your traffic like? Your backlinks? Ideally, that’s all increasing. 

 

This part of the process actually is your chance to see the results of your previous SEO audit. If this is your first time, you will have your current data to compare when you conduct your second SEO audit. 

 

But if your domain’s trending upwards, this means your domain is strong. Think of it like you’re building a reputation, not just to people on the internet but to search engines. 

 

  1. You’re operating your website in a trustworthy manner. You aren’t participating in any shady business (what’s called black hat or spamdexing). Link spamming, for example, is one such practice. 
  2. You’ve made your content easy to access and useful enough to the point where other site owners are creating links to your content.

   

If you consistently receive approval from the many people using the internet, that means you’re likely doing a great job. The positive response makes Google’s algorithm more inclined to send people your way, you see? The search engine knows you always deliver.  

 

Of course, building a great reputation takes time, but it seems you’re on the right path seeing as you’ve read this article to the end!

Feeling overwhelmed? We can help you out.

Building links the right way is hard. 

 

Writing emails to site owners can be awkward and disheartening, even when you’ve got great content to offer. They probably won’t even respond to your messages most of the time. 

 

We developed artificial intelligence to save you the trouble of link building. Our automated, 24/7 search picks out the exact keyword phrases that will bring you the most organic traffic. One of our Powerlink possesses the value of multiple standard backlinks.   

Bad BacklinksPowerlinks
Pages with a list of links and no contentGuest Posts with the exact keyword phrase and rich content
From irrelevant and unreliable sourcesFrom relevant and reliable domain authorities 
Potential ranking penalties for violating Google’s Webmaster GuidelinesNo risk of penalties

Moreover, our Powerlinks are reliable and trustworthy because we tap into our growing community of site owners. We do not dump a bunch of links in an aggregator site just to satisfy a quota.

 

Investing in our service will bring your pages quality backlinks for effective, long-term growth. We provide regular maintenance, so our backlinks consistently deliver organic traffic for years to come.   

 

We’d love to hear from you.