You want to succeed online? You need to maximize your SEO efforts. Let’s be real. If you do not maximize your efforts, your business will be left behind. 61% marketers say SEO is their top priority when it comes to inbound marketing. Why should you stay behind. Get started today!If you ignore it, you are ignoring potential sales. But, where to start? It’s not complicated at all. If you are starting right now, start by assessing your site’s current SEO. Using an SEO audit makes it easy. See how your current site ranks and assess what you can do to improve it. It might sound scary and complicated for the beginners out three. But, I am here to walk you through step-by-step. It can be done in one hour with the help of few tools. The time it takes is minimal, but the impact can be huge. Before we dive into the process, it is very important to understand the fundamentals of SEO audit.
What Is An SEO Audit?
Content on your website should be relevant to the people who show up to your site. This is what you want. The old SEO strategies are not so effective nowadays. Using keyword stuffing, setting up multiple pages for different keyword, and trying to use multiple microsites to drive traffic are now old tactics. Criteria and ranking factors for sites have changed dramatically since past decade. Now the sites that are mobile-friendly and optimized for user intent are favored. Search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo have algorithms that crawl your website and compare it to different ranking factors judging the usability and relevance of your website. Each page of your site is crawled to see if it offers useful and legitimate content. While your site is being crawled, search engines are also checking to figure out how secure, fast, and easy-to-use it is. And then every single page receives a rank, which determines where it is shown on the search engine results page for people searching for keywords related to your website. This is typically what SEO is all about. Do mind that SEO is constantly changing. Search Engines get updated, and when that happens the algorithms that crawl your web pages also changes. But algorithms aren’t the only thing you need to worry about. You are always in a race with your competitors to get better ranking. All of your old content needs to be updated to be relevant. You need to be able to adapt to new SEO tactics and avoid red flags as rules change. Regular SEO audit is necessary because you never know something on your website can horribly be broken which can disrupt the flow of qualified traffic to your site. In an SEO audit, you are checking the health of your website. You should get on a practice of performing mini-audits monthly since search algorithms and technology changes at a rapid pace. Make sure that they shouldn’t take the place of a full SEO audit. Full SEO audits should take place every 4-6 months or after a major change in your website.
What Are The Key Elements Of An SEO Audit.
During an SEO audit there are three key factors to look out for:
- Back-end factors such as indexing and hosting
- Front-end factors such as metadata, content, and keywords
- Quality of ink and outside references.
Sometimes addressing to each pain point can be challenging. So, in this type of situation I personally like to use 80/20 rule to decide which audit insights are worth taking action on. The part that is visible to your incoming traffic is the most important part of your site’s SEO. The introduction of the mobile-first index it is now important to understand how your site performs on mobile to ensure proper placement on SERPs. Google has adjusted their algorithm to begin crawling on mobile sites, since 60% of all searches happening on mobile. Here are the eight steps you need to take to perform your SEO site audit in less than an hour.
- Start you SEO audit with a crawl [5 minutes]
Crawl is the most important part of the SEO audit. You can use the following tools to crawl.
- Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool
These are some great tools in the industry that will provide you with a great foundation to start with. Crawlers also identify duplicate content, unlinked pages, and excess redirects along with broken links, bad keywords, poor images and page title issues.
How To Set Up a Crawl
Let’s use Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool for this example. For my site I’ll use kissmetrics. First download Screaming Frog SEO Spider and open the application. By clicking Configuration and Spider on the toolbar you can explore the criteria of the crawl. If you purchase the Screaming Frog, you can change the crawl criteria. Once you are done with the above step. Go ahead and click OK and type in your website. Your crawl will begin after clicking START. Crawling will find duplicate content, unlinked pages, and excess redirects on your website. Google Search Console can give you an idea of your ‘crawl budget’. This will give you an idea of which page Google crawls more often.
Manually Search Your Site
You can get a good judgment of your website after doing some Google searches and see where your website actually ranks. Few questions you should try to answers:
- Does your pages appear in relevant search result? If yes, how many?
- Does your site appear first when you search for it by name?
- Ultimately, what is the rank of your site in SERPs?
Get Your Current Estimated SEO Score
SEO SiteCheckup is a great tool. It breaks down you data into categories and gives you an estimated SEO score. SEO score can help you:
- Figure out your most commonly-used keywords.
- Check if sitemap and robots.txt are available for your site.
- Show any broken links your pages might have.
- Identify coding errors.
SEO SiteCheckup will also identify and notify you if your site is connecting to social media profiles. If your site is compressing and caching, that will factor into the data used in estimating your SEO score. Malware and phishing activity is also taken into account and displayed in the report. Use this tool to figure out where you need to focus your attention.
Make sure only one version of your site is browsable [5 minutes]
Your site should work with all different combinations of the same URL. The search engine gets a mixed message about how to crawl your site if your website has multiple versions of itself. Basically, if this happens the crawler won’t know which one is the right one. If the search engines don’t know how to show your site to prospective traffic your site’s SEO ranking will be negatively impacted.
Conduct on-page SEO checks [10 minutes]
You need to ensure that your site is correctly optimized when evaluating your site and the results from your crawl. For starters, look for duplicates headers, pages, and title tags. If you are one of those who publish a lot of content with similar themes, like me, some content will show up in your crawl. But don’t worry. You are looking for duplicates of the same content. You can use Copyscape tool, this can help you assess potential SEO problem arising from duplicate content. From here you can closely examine a few key criteria that Google evaluates in their ranking.
Page Title and Title Tags
A title tag is an element that specifies the title of the page. It is visible on SERPs. It is a clickable link that you see on Google when you enter a keyword. You should make sure that these are relevant to the content found on your page. The content presented should be positioned in a way that could answer the questions of the audience. 50-60 characters is optimal length of title tags.
Your content should be organized in a way that shows a clear hierarchy on the page. This will help Google to analyze your site and index it for search.
Your focus keyword of your site should be present in the first 100 words on your website. It is always better to mention your keyword more than once, but make sure not to crowd it. This helps Google understand what the post focuses on. But this is not all, You can insert your keyword to many other places to impact your listing’s ranking. You can be strategic about where you place your keywords on your page, even though keyword stuffing will penalize you. Even though on-page SEO checks is one part of your overarching SEO strategy, it is still incredibly important.
Managing your internal and external links [10 minutes]
As I have mentioned earlier in this article that logical hierarchies have improved SEO rankings. Therefore it is very important to check your internal and external links. Sometimes some web pages can be deleted or moved to a different address, resulting in broken links on your site. This might sound a little overwhelming, but don’t worry all of this does not have to be done manually. Integrity and Xenu Sleuth are two great tools that are downloadable and can help you identify broken links on your site. Both of the tools are very easy to use. I’ll talk about how to sue Integrity as an example. Once the download is complete, add your URL in the text bar and click “Go.” Then the tool will begin testing all the links found on your site and provide you with the results. In the top-left corner, you can see a snapshot report of how many links were checked and how many of those were bad. If the results show you any links marked in the red shading with the message “404 not found” label, you should go to your website and fix them because they negatively impact your SEO.
Check your site speed [10 minutes]
People are impatient, and Google is aware of this. If your page takes a while to load up, people aren’t going to wait around for it to load. This is why Google takes site speed into account when assessing your rank. Google’s PageSpeed insights can help you deal with such problems.
Google’s PageSpeed Insights
Google’s PageSpeed Insights provides:
- A quick look at your site’s speed
- Compare it with other sites
- Recommendations to improve your speed
Utilize your analytics and compare site metrics [10 minutes]
You should focus on figuring out whether your analytics service is reporting live metric data or not. If this is happening, your code is correctly installed. If not, then you need to fix your code. If you use Google Analytics, you want the tracker code to be placed on top of the header of each web page. Once you are all set with analytics service, compare the metric data to the results of your earlier “site:rootdomain” search. The number of pages that show up in your metric data should be somewhat similar to the number of pages from the “site:rootdomain” search. If not, certain pages aren’t properly accepting crawl request.
Check Your Bounce Rate
Google Analytics can be very helpful in assessing your page’s bounce rate. For a positive ranking your bounce rate should be low. A high bounce rate tells you that people aren’t finding what they are looking for.
Check your off-site SEO and perform a backlink audit [10 minutes]
Backlinks are critical for SEO success. Good backlinks tells Google that your page is relevant and that other users will find it useful. Hyperlinks are not the only thing crawler look for, they also crawl for brand mentions. This is why it is important to pay attention to what is happening both on and off your site.
Perform Your Backlink Audit
Ahrefs is a great tool to perform a backlink audit. This tool will assess the kind of backlinks you have going to your site. Backlink audits are helpful because:
- You can see how your current link is affecting your site
- You can identify focus areas and improve upon them to get more value
- You can assess your competitor’s number of backlinks and work to outperform them
But site’s backlink audit is not more than enough. While you were relaxing or on a vacation, your competitors were busy upping their own SEO capabilities. Now, they rank above you on your most important search terms. Here a tool like SEMrush plays a very integral part. SEMrush will tell you what keywords other sites are ranking for. It will show all the backlinks that are going to those sites. Explore SEMrush and see how you can improve.
Make Sure You’re Engaging Social Media
Social Media is best way for creating backlinks and engagement. You can use it support your SEO efforts. This is how social media can improve your SEO:
- Increasing the number of your backlinks. People who find your content on social media might be more likely to link to it.
- Social media can help increase brand awareness.
Social media is an opportunity that you should utilize to increase traffic, brand awareness, and mentions beyond what people are searching for on a search engine.
There are many different tools to do an SEO Audit. But, the important point is to perform an SEO Audit to keep up. Things are always changing in this industry. So you have keep up with search engine algorithms, best practices, market trends, and competitors. This one-hour SEO checklist should help you make quick adjustments in between major SEO audits so you can figure out the issues quickly and address them. Frog SEO Spider Tool is a great way to start your audit. Drop out duplicate content with Copyscape. Utilize Google Analytics for quick access to metrics. Make sure you are engaging social media platforms and also check your off-site SEO. Once you are done, go over your SEO strategy once more and build an encompassing brand strategy around it. Your SEO ranking will always be good if you remain consistent.