Optimising your website for search engines will help you to improve your online visibility.
Search engine optimisation is the process of improving the quality and quantity of website traffic from search engines.
A Technical SEO audit is the foundation of a high-performing website.
But most people find it difficult to perform a technical SEO audit because it’s complicated and time-consuming.
In this article, we will take you through the steps of an SEO audit to help you boost your website ranking on search engines.
What Is an SEO Audit and Why Is It Important?
An SEO audit is the process of identifying issues that could prevent your site from ranking on Google and other search engines.
During an SEO audit, you will check the technical aspects of your website’s SEO like indexation, metadata, backlinks, site speed, etc. as well as highlighting all the upcoming key actions that need to be implemented or fixed.
The purpose of an SEO audit is to identify as many foundational issues affecting organic search performance as possible so that you can rank better.
Why is it important?
Because the website that ranks in the top 3 positions on Google gets 75% of the clicks (Backlinko 2020) leading to more traffic and sales.
When you implement actions from an SEO audit on your website, you improve your chances of appearing on the first page of Google.
Which Factors Affect Your Website’s SEO Performance?
The 3 main factors affecting your website SEO performance:
- Technical factors: These include all technical factors like loading time, web hosting, and indexing of the website on search engines.
- On-page factors: These include factors such as the quality of content and target keywords.
- Off-page factors: These are the external factors like backlinks and other outside references like reviews and mentions
How Long Does an SEO Audit Take?
There are 2 parts to an SEO audit:
- An audit (an act of using a variety of tools to find websites issues)
- Implementing fixes and recommendations from the audit
Even when audits are completed relatively quickly, the implementation does often take a long time.
On average, the SEO audit and implementation usually take between 2-6 weeks to conduct.
The duration of the SEO audit depends on the size of your website.
What SEO Audit Tools You Need
Below are the most popular tools used for an SEO audit:
- Screaming Frog
- Microsoft Excel
- Google Analytics
- Google Search Console
- Google PageSpeed Insights
- SEO Site Checkup
How to Do an SEO Audit: Step-by-Step
We follow these 10 steps below to conduct a technical SEO audit for our clients.
STEP 1: Start by Crawling Your Website
Website crawling should be your first step in an SEO audit.
At Digivate we use a tool called Screaming Frog to check crawled pages, metadata, broken links, redirects, duplicate content, and more.
Website crawling is important because a technically robust site can make a difference between page 1 and page 2 rankings.
STEP 2: Review Your Sitemap
A sitemap gives your website a structure and provides information about the relationships between all the pages and categories.
In more technical terms:
A sitemap is an XML file that lists all your website’s URLs (pages, videos, images, etc) and helps search engines understand and crawl your website more intelligently.
You can upload your sitemap on Google Search Console.
STEP 3. Pick a Browsable Version of Your Website
Every site should have the following two properties set up in the Search Console:
If your website has an SSL certificate setup, you would also add two additional properties:
Once you’ve set up all the different versions of your website on Google Search Console, you should ensure that only one version is browsable on search engines.
When you index multiple versions of your website to search engines, it becomes difficult for Google to pick the one you want to rank on SERPs.
All the different variations of your websites are seen as separate entities which can be a problem for building a unified, effective backlink profile or increasing the authority of the website.
Your preferred site version affects every reference of your website’s URL – both on (internal links) and off-site (external links).
STEP 4: Fix Broken Internal Links
Internal links are an important ranking factor.
Often, when businesses remove some of the pages of their website, the internal links break and show as 404-pages.
An SEO audit should highlight all the broken pages, so you can either update them with new content or remove them.
STEP 5: Do a Backlink Audit
Topically relevant high-quality backlinks to your website show Google that other websites value your content and find it worthy of linking to – this increases the authority of your brand.
During a backlink audit, you’ll identify and remove all toxic backlinks pointing to your website.
Toxic backlinks are usually low-quality network links that only damage your website’s authority.
We use CognitiveSEO to detect and disavow toxic links.
STEP 6: Check if Your Website is Mobile Friendly
Your website has to be mobile-friendly because over 50% of global website traffic now comes from mobile (Statcounter 2020).
Your site must be easy to navigate on mobile and tablet screens.
Google Search Console will highlight all the issues on your website that may be affecting user mobile experience.
Here are some tips to make your website mobile-friendly:
- Decide on a mobile-friendly configuration for your website
- Compress images and other large files on your website to improve loading time
- Implement Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) markup on your web pages.
STEP 7: Test Your Site Speed
Most people will not wait around for your page to load.
9 out of 10 people are likely to bounce off when your website takes over 5 seconds to load.
Therefore, you should check how fast your website loads and take all measures to optimise the speed.
You can use Google PageSpeed Insights to determine how fast your website is and how it competes with other websites in your target niche.
STEP 8: Improve On-Page SEO
Onsite SEO fixes include:
- Optimize all the headlines, meta descriptions, and title tags
- Provide alt tags on all images and videos on your website.
- Ensure your web pages have internal links
- Remove or update all ‘Orphan pages’ to make more room for Google to crawl pages that actually matter to your business.
NB! Orphan pages are thin pages that don’t get any traffic and are not linked to other pages on your website, making it difficult for Google to find them.
We use the SEMrush tool to improve our clients’ on-page SEO.
STEP 9: Flatten the Website Architecture
The site architecture should link all the web pages in a logical hierarchy.
You should reduce the click depth and position the most important web pages close to the home page.
Ideally, your most important pages should not be more than 3 clicks away from their homepage.
This is because Google assumes that pages buried deeper in your website are less important than those within a few clicks, making it harder for those pages to rank.
STEP 10: Optimise the Website for a Featured Snippet
Featured snippets are selected search results that are featured on top of Google.
Featured snippets answer the user’s question right away without having to click through to any website.
Being featured means getting additional brand exposure in search results.
To get a spot on Featured Snippets on Google you need to rank your questions, comparisons, or preposition at least in the top 5 already.
Once you rank in the top 5, you need to reformat the content you have to list a table or a paragraph but with no more than 42 words.
Need help with a thorough SEO audit, but feel that you lack the skills and don’t have the right tools?
Contact our SEO expert team here.