5 Sections to Remember when Performing a Top SEO Audit
If you are an SEO auditor, then you would have read most of or every audit-related article. You may have written thousands of lines of audit-related code, and have performed SEO-audits for hundred times for your friends, your clients, or for many others who have a website. Every time you want to perform the Top SEO Audit, but not all the time you may succeed. I also have gone all through this as I am also an SEO audit junkie. And from my experience and research in this article by mentioning these 5 sections to remember when you perform the greatest SEO audit.
What is an SEO Audit?
Let me give you a brief on SEO Audit first. It is a process of evaluation of the healthiness of a website in different areas. You can perform an SEO audit by either following step-by-step guide, for which you will find dozens of posts on the web or you can hire an SEO auditor to complete the task for you. You can also check the content of your site by this free paraphrase online tool. If you are not familiar with the SEO, then the second option is recommended for you, and if you’re an SEO pro, then the first one is the best without any doubt.
What should you expect from an SEO Audit?
From atop SEO audit, you should ask for three main things:
- A detailed analysis of your website’s performance in Google search, social media platforms, quality of internal and external links and other important information of your website
- A list of actions to perform to improve your site’s performance based on the SEO audit checklist
- Not just SEO, but how you can take advantage of available traffic resources of the internet by building a top Internet Marketing Strategy
Which are the 5 Sections to Consider when Performing a Top SEO Audit?
When you want to perform a top SEO audit, you need to keep in mind some important things. Check the list below:
1) On-Page Ranking Factors
You need to take some attention to the web page characteristics which influence your site’s search engine rankings. The On-page analysis is useful to identify specific optimization opportunities and domain level analysis which help to find out the necessary site-wide corrections.
Check out the below on-page ranking factors which need attention:
URL– It’s the entry point of your page where the on-page analysis begins. Keep the URL short & user-friendly and make it less than 115 characters. Use relevant keywords and subfolders in the URL name and avoid using excessive parameters. Use hyphens to separate words.
Content– Content is the most effective part of SEO. Create at least 300 words content for your web page. Make it subjective and valuable to the audience. Use targeted keywords in title and page content, but do avoid keyword stuffing. Remove spelling and grammatical errors from your content and make it easily readable to the user. Make sure you create unique content and it does not have any copy on the web and on your site’s other pages.
HTML Markup– Your site’s HTML contains some of the most important on-page ranking factors. You can get the help of W3C which offers a markup validator and a CSS validator to check the standard violation of the HTML markups of your site and the status of your site’s CSS.
Title– The page title is the definition of your page content. Make a unique page title with less than 70 characters. Make an effective page title to describe your page’s content in the best way, include targeted keywords. Don’t over-optimize your page title.
Meta Description– Though, the meta description does not explicitly act as an important ranking factor, it still plays a big part to effect on the click-through rate in the SERPs. Create a unique meta description of each web page which almost identical to the page title. Make it effective, relevant and not more than 155 characters.
Other important Tags– Avoid meta keywords on your site, as they are universally associated with spam. Make proper use of the rel= “canonical” link on your site. Also, use rel= “next” and rel= “prev” link elements which inform the search engines to handle the pagination on your website. Use only one H1 tag on one single web page and include targeted keywords in it. Avoid frames and iframes in your page, as a search engine will associate the content of the page as the source of a frame. Don’t overpower inappropriate content or ads on your page, maintain the content-to-adds ratio.
Images– For a search engine perspective, images are mute, but from a user perspective, the image says a thousand words. If you provide image metadata, then search engines will also take part in the conversation. Analyze the image title and alt text, include relevant keywords in them and optimize them to reduce on-page ranking errors.
Outlinks– When you link one page to another, then it is a recommendation of the receiver page. Make sure your site is having high-quality links. Point the links to the trustworthy sites and relevant to your page’s content. Remove broken links and avoid unnecessary redirection. Use correct anchor texts and let the link juice flow freely.
2) Off-Page Ranking Factors
Off-page ranking factors are very important aspects of your site, as they are generated by the external sources.
Trustworthiness– It is a very subjective metrics for your site, as every individual has its own interpretation of trust on the site. To make this easy, the identified behavior is commonly accepted as becoming untrustworthy. Most commonly they are malware and spam. The blacklists such as DNS-BH or Google’s Safe Browsing API are trusted services. The analysis service like McAfee’s site advisor is also useful. If you want to identify the spammy behavior of your website, then look for the keyword stuffing, hidden or invisible text, and cloaking. Remove immediately if you find any of these.
Popularity– It is not necessary that the most popular website is having the most useful stuff for people, but it is its popularity that influences more people and gets even more attention. It is a valuable predictor of your site’s ongoing success. Make sure your site gains traffic over time and analyze the traffic medium using analytics, compare your site’s traffic with your competitors, and make sure that your site receives backlinks from other popular sites.
Authority– It is a combination of factors like trustworthiness, popularity, quality and quantity of backlinks, etc. There are two main metrics regarding the site’s authority; Domain Authority and Page Authority. The Domain authority predicts the performance of the whole domain while the Page authority makes a prediction about how well a web page can perform in search engines.
Backlinks– The quality of links your site is having determines your overall site’s quality. You can use any of the tools like Google Webmaster, Open Site Explorer, Ahrefs, Majestic SEO, and blekko to find the backlink data. You can analyze the number of unique root domains linking to your site, the percentage of the backlinks which are nofollowed, relevant backlinks from topically matching sites, and the authority of the domains linking to your site.
Social Engagement– Today, the internet is becoming more and more social. And with this, the success of your website also depends on a lot of social signals and social conversations. Facebook likes, Twitter tweets, Google+ +1s, and many other social currencies are out there which possess the website’s social relevancy. Analyze your site’s social engagement and query the networks for this information. The authority of the individuals sharing your content is also as important as the domain authority of the site providing you the external links.
You must make sure that your site is accessible by the users and the search engines both. Check this below factors of the site’s accessibility.
Robot.txt– A robot.txt file is used to restrict the search engine crawlers from accessing some or all sections of your website. It is a very useful and easy way to block crawlers inadvertently. Just make sure it is not restricting the search crawlers from accessing the important sections of your site. You can use the Google Webmaster tool to check the URLs which are blocked by the robot.txt file.
HTTP Codes– You must pay attention to check whether your page is having a 4xx or 5xx error or not, if it exists, the users and search engines will be unable to access your web page. Identify the page URLs having 404 errors or pages having broken URLs and redirect them to a relevant working URL.
XML Sitemap– An XML sitemap is a road for the search engine crawlers to easily find all of your site pages. Create a well-formed sitemap which follows the sitemap protocol. Then submit to the Google Webmaster tool from your account. Make sure that sitemap contains all of the updated and new pages of your website and also remove inappropriate locations of the existing web pages and the pages that are no longer part of your website. Make sure each page should have at least one internal backlink.
Site Architecture– The overall structure of your website is defined by the site architecture. Identify the number of clicks needed to go from your home page to other important pages of your website, and how well the pages are linking to each other in the hierarchy structure. Make sure that your important web pages are prioritized in the site architecture.
Site Performance– Tools like Google Page Speed and YSlow can help you to evaluate your site’s performance. It is very important that your site loads quickly, as users do not stay on site which takes too long to load. As the research says, the site is having a load time more than 3 seconds, loses 40% more traffic than a site which loads faster. You can take help of the tools like Pingdom to get an itemized list of objects to reduce the site load time.
After you identify the pages which are accessed by the search crawlers, you need to determine how many of them are actually indexed by the search engines.
You can use Site:Command to check how many pages of your site are indexed by the search engines. This number is rarely accurate, though, but it still helps a lot. This command allows you to take a look at your site’s indexability from a very high level. You can also perform page searches and brand searches to identify whether the web pages are indexed or not.
5) Competition Analysis
If you think you have done all the things by performing your own site’s analysis, then you are wrong. Making the competition analysis is also a very valuable factor in SEO audit. You need to identify for which keywords your competitor’s site is ranking and in which page it gets the most traffic. I know it sounds painful and uncomfortable, but you will feel relaxed by knowing their weaknesses too. You can find a number of step-by-step guides and online tools to make competition analysis.
Check these important tips to present your findings in an important manner:
- Keep in mind that, although your SEO audit report contains most of the technical recommendations and observations, not only tech-savvy persons will read your report. So, write your report in such a manner that other unknowledgeable people of SEO like executives, managers, and other audiences can easily understand what actually you are meaning to say.
- Don’t think about who is reading your report, but think about the time they are spending to read your report. Push the most important aspects at the top to make them know which things are important and which can be put on a back burner if needed anytime.
- Don’t ever provide general suggestions like “Write Quality Content”. But, provide specific examples which make a positive impact on the site. Don’t just mention the issues, but also guide your audience to solve it.
What are Your Thoughts?
As I have tried my best to provide you all the information which I think can help you to done a great SEO audit, you can find other resources below for a reference. After all, there are more than one ways to get at the top of the search results. I’d love to hear your suggestions, ideas, questions, and reports (too!) in the comment section below.