All You Need to Know About SEO Audits
Are you a small business owner who recently created a site and want to learn more about SEO? I’ve reviewed hundreds of sites and 80% what I consider basic quick action items are being neglected. This is especially the case for startups who considers growth hack a priority over organic traffic.
The issue with that mindset is that it ignores perhaps the most valuable traffic channel: organic search results. And to perform well in search results your website must deal with those "basic quick action items."
In order to determine how well your website is performing, you must perform an SEO audit of your website.
Why Perform an SEO Audit?
An SEO site audit checks the key factors on the website that should be tested and analyzed to determine how the website is performing. It can be easy to understand and sometimes hard to implement, but the key goal here is to help you understand what to look for and what to expect.
Not understanding your current state of SEO is a detriment to your overall traffic, website engagement, lead generation and sales performances. Your competitors likely will outrank you and performing an SEO audit will definitely shed some light to what needs to be done.
First, we will go over the important SEO factors that you need to be aware of and whether or not you can fix the issue or leave it to an SEO expert, so you can pinpoint what needs to be fixed so you can clear that off your checklist and focus on building your site marketing strategy.
While we are not going to go over every aspect of every SEO factor, you can perform your site review with WooRank to generate your report to see what other factors you might be missing out on.
What Is an SEO Audit?
An SEO audit of your website is usually step one for any SEO expert you hire (if you choose to go that route) to handle your marketing. However, you can save yourself some time and money by conducting the audit yourself using WooRank’s website review. WooRank’s audit consolidates the important SEO factors into a simple, easy-to-understand checklist — with explanations — to help you optimize your site.
An SEO checklist as an audit tool is basically a list of the factors that should be analyzed and included as passed or failed in the SEO audit report. There are different tools that can be used to perform the audit that can be hard to understand thanks to an overreliance on graphs, numbers and technical jargon, so we simplified the whole process.
We designed our audit specifically to help people without a technical background have an impact on their own SEO.
What’s Covered by an SEO Site Audit?
SEO audits can be broken down into six main areas that cover all the items that should be checked when conducting the audit:
On-Page/technical SEO audit
This is arguably the most important part of the checklist, and most audits often only cover this particular area. This section checks whether the website is operating optimally a key requirement when it comes to search engine optimization. These are the factors that you would commonly find listed on an on-site SEO checklist.
The basic on-page audit checks your pages’:
Page titles and descriptions
The titles on each page should be unique, the right size and describe and advertise the content of the page in a way that is easy for users to understand. Check out our guide to creating killer titles so you can write the best titles and descriptions. Better titles and descriptions will improve your pages’ CTR in search results, an important ranking factor.
Dealing with duplicate content
The content of each page should be unique which means it should be free of plagiarism. Use tools like Copyscape to identify if any instances of your plagiarising yourself or others. Any duplicate content you find should be disallowed or noindexed — or removed entirely.
You can read more about how to get rid of duplicate content and perform a Site Crawl of your site to identify technical issues regarding duplicate content. You probably won’t be able to detect if your content is of high quality outside of using a grammar tool like Grammarly, so if you can’t write your way out of a paper back you’ll need to outsource this.
HTML headers and subheads
The text formatting should not be homogeneous and should follow proper formatting rules. Use a variety of formatting styles used including italics, bold, and forming lists. Subheading
code, all text should be clearly attributed.
Using HTML headers, bold text and bulleted lists makes your content more readable for machines as well as humans. In fact, they are very important when Google chooses content for its Answer Box featured snippets.
Add alt text to your Images
Images on a website are great for making the content more consumable attractive to users but they need to be used and optimized correctly for you enjoy any SEO benefits from them. Use alt text to describe what’s in an image so Google can "see" it.
Be descriptive, but don’t make it too long. Google seemed to count the first 16 words in the alt text, based on a study from Hobo.
URL structures the SEO way
Your audit should check for unique URLs that are properly formatted:
Hyphens for word separators, not underscores (this_character)
Less than 255 characters
Internal and external linking
Internal linking between pages is recommended as it helps both human users as well as the search engines find your pages. Internal links should use your canonical URL versions (HTTPS, www. or not, etc.) and never point do a redirected page.
Using internal linking in this way will pass any acquired link juice around your website.
Your SEO audit should also check all of your external links as well. Linking out to broken or missing pages frustrates your users. Too many broken links on a page also runs the risk of Google dropping a page or site from its index due to low quality.
Page speed and load time
One of the biggest factor in SEO is the loading speed of the pages. Load time affects everything on your website from engagement to conversion rates to search ranking. It is therefore important to check and ensure that the loading speeds are fast enough.
Cheap hosting might be affordable but due to its performance, the best advice is to cough up some money to avoid it altogether. Other things to consider is asset compressed and cacheability. Here are 10 tips on how to optimize your page load time.
The crawlability audit
This audit is part of a technical SEO audit, but it’s worth listing these factors separately for one reason: they do not impact your website’s ability to rank in search results. They are, however, incredibly important for SEO.
Robots.txt files and XML sitemaps are used by search engines to influence the way access and crawl pages.
Sitemaps help bots to find the URLs on your website, and the information provided in the XML helps them prioritize where to allocate their crawl budget. Robots.txt files contain lists of commands that tell search engines which pages, folders or file types they cannot access.
Most CMS platforms automatically generate these for you and typically best practices are usually implemented but keep an eye for any discrepancies. Here is a beginners guide to Robots.txt and your Sitemap guide.
The social media audit
Having a social media presence is very important and vital for any website. The vast majority of people expect brands and companies to have a presence on at least Facebook and Twitter.
While social media engagement and shares don’t directly impact Google rankings (except on Bing!), Facebook and Twitter can help drive significant qualified traffic to your website.
Measuring social media engagement also gives you insight into how valuable your audience finds your content if it is high quality or not.
The inbound link audit
This audit will help you find and analyze your incoming links.
Backlinks are essential to SEO, and have been since day one. However, knowing who is linking to your website in how is essential to maintaining a healthy and positive link profile.
Conducting a link audit will uncover any bad links that hurt your rankings, as well as opportunities for link building in the future.
Give it a Shot
There is much more that goes into SEO than what we’ve covered in this post, but your site’s SEO audit is a great jumping off point. In fact, an audit is step one when it comes to any SEO campaign or effort.
Learn where your website stands with a free SEO audit from WooRank.