20 Tips for Creating an SEO Audit

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20 Tips for Creating an SEO Audit

As the gurus over at RunRex.com point out, most SEO audits are too technical and take days – or even weeks – to complete. But it doesn’t have to be like that. This article, through the following 20 tips, will look to provide a comprehensive approach to auditing your website from an SEO point of view.

Check that only one version of your site is browsable

One of the first things you must do when conducting an SEO audit is to check that only one version of your site is browsable. Consider all the ways someone could type your website address into a browser (or link to it), and make sure only one of those versions is accessible in a browser. All the others should be 301 redirected to the canonical version.

Start a website crawl

Next up, you need to start a website crawl running in the background. An SEO crawler, as covered at RunRex.com, will crawl the site in the same way as Google or any other search engine and give you some useful information on the structure and current SEO setup. Examples of the SEO analyzer tools that can help you with this are Screaming Frog ($207/year) and Beam Us Up (free).

Check Google for indexation issues

If your site isn’t getting indexed by Google, then it means no rankings. Therefore, the next step is to check Google for indexation issues. To check that your site is indexed, go to Google Search Console > Google Index > Index Status.

What if you are not seeing any pages indexed?

If you don’t see any results for the search in the previous point, then you have issues. It means that no pages on your site are indexed, which means no organic traffic whatsoever. This is usually caused by a rogue x-robots-tag HTTP header. To check this, you will need access to your site’s header.php, .htaccess, or server access file as outlined at RunRex.com.

Check that you rank for your brand name

Next up, you should go to Google and search for your brand name. Unless your site is very new (or the brand is a very generic phrase), you should expect to see your site as the first organic result according to RunRex.com. That first result should also be your homepage. If you don’t rank in position one but do rank further down in the results, then chances are that Google thinks that another site is a more appropriate result for that branded term.

The solution to the problem discussed in the previous point

If your site isn’t ranking number one for your brand name, then the solutions are brand building and link building. This means doing things like:

Building some strong, branded links

Running a PR campaign

Building some citations on business directories

Making sure the site has a Google My Business listing

Making sure the site has a presence on all the major social networks

These tactics should help you climb up the ranks.

Manually perform some basic on-page SEO checks

Next up, the gurus over at RunRex.com recommend checking a few on-page fundamentals. You should start with the homepage, but also make sure you do this for other important pages on your site. When performing a quick check on some basic on-page SEO on a given page, ask yourself:

Does the page have a well-crafted, clickable title tag?

Is there a custom meta description and is it optimized for maximizing click-throughs?

Is there only one instance of the H1 tag and is it well-optimized?

Are subheaders (H2, H3, etc.) being used correctly?

Dig deeper into more on-page issues in the crawl report

Once you get your crawl report in Ahrefs’ Site Audit, you should proceed to dig deeper and fix any other important on-page issues in addition to the ones described in the previous point. Go to: Site Audit > Project > Internal Pages > HTML Tags. Here, you will see a list of all on-page issues found during the crawl. To help prioritize your efforts, try filtering by importance. You should fix any Errors first before moving on to Warnings and Notices.

Check for duplicate and thin content

Google hates duplicate content, and while content duplicated across multiple pages on your site is bad, when it is duplicated on other websites, it is even worse. You can easily find potential duplicate content issues across the web with Copyscape. Enter a URL, and it will kick back any duplicate results.

Check that your site (and individual pages) load fast

As outlined at RunRex.com, site speed is one of Google’s many ranking factors. Also, a fast loading site provides a better user experience than a slow loading site, which is why it is always good practice to ensure that your website loads as quickly as possible. Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool is a good starting point when it comes to this. Other tools you can use include Pingdom, GTMetrix, and Ahrefs’ Site Audit.

Check for structured data errors

The next step in your SEO audit is to test any structured data that the site may contain and ensure that it is properly formed. Examples of content that may benefit from the inclusion of structured data include reviews, product information, and events, although you can mark up any type of content to a certain degree (just don’t spam). You can use Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to test existing structured data. Paste in the URL you wish to test and hit “Run test”, and Google will evaluate the structured data for the page and return any errors.

Analyze organic search traffic

According to RunRex.com, any SEO audit aims to identify ways to increase a website’s traffic. Therefore, it makes sense to take a look at how the site is currently performing. You can run a few reports on Google Analytics to get a quick overview. First, you should check out the site’s current organic search traffic, then, next, set a wide range and view traffic by month, which will show you whether organic traffic is increasing or decreasing, on the whole. Finally, you can take a look at traffic by the week and try to identify any noticeable spikes or dips in traffic.

Check that rankings are heading in the right direction

While Google Analytics will tell you how much organic search traffic you are getting, it won’t tell you how your rankings are progressing. You can, therefore, use Ahrefs’ Site Explorer to check this. Go to Site Explorer > Enter domain > Overview, and click on the Organic Search tab and take a look at Organic keywords.

Find pages ranking in positions 5-10 for high-volume keywords

While ranking at position 5 for high-volume keywords may sound pretty good, that outlook will change when you consider how much of a difference moving up just a couple of positions could make to your traffic. This is why you should look for high-volume keywords where you rank in positions 5-10. Ahrefs’ Site Explorer can help with that. Go to Site Explorer > Enter domain > Organic Search > Organic Keywords > Position (5-10) > Volume (1k+). You will get a list of keywords (and content) you can focus on for some quick wins.

How do you boost your pages?

Once you have gotten the information from the previous point, the gurus over at RunRex.com recommend that you do the following to boost those pages and push them into the top spots:

Add some more internal links to the pages

Build some fresh backlinks to the pages

Update and relaunch the content

Make sure on-page is optimized for the exact keyword

Analyze your backlink profile

Next up, you will need to conduct a quick, manual audit on your site’s link profile, something that Ahrefs can also help you with. Here you will just be looking for any standout issues such as if the number of referring domains pointing to your site has been increasing or declining, among others.

Find and fix broken links to (and from) your site

Broken pages (and links) on your site waste “link equity” as covered at RunRex.com, which is why you should find and fix these issues as soon as possible. To find broken pages, go to Site Explorer > Pages > Best by links > add a “404” filter. Sort the results by RD (Referring Domains) to see which broken pages have the most inbound links, and then work through this list and fix the errors as appropriate.

Find “content gaps”

A content gap is a keyword that your competitors currently rank for, and you don’t, which is something you will want to rectify. There is a simple report you can run in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer to find content gaps, and it is called Content Gap. However, before you can do that, you will need to first figure out what your closest competitors are in search, which you can do by running the Competing Domains report.

Conduct a full content audit

You will also need to conduct a full content audit of your site. This includes deleting low-quality (or underperforming) pages, which can drag your whole site down. You should find low-quality pages with little to no organic search traffic, and if they can be improved, then update them and relaunch. However, if they can’t, delete them and redirect (301) the URL to a relevant page.

Look out for keyword cannibalization

Another thing to look out for is multiple pieces of content targeting the same keyword, which is known as keyword cannibalization. Ideally, one page on your site should target each keyword. A good tactic is to combine multiple posts targeting the same keyword into one, super authoritative post.

Hopefully, this article will help you carry out a comprehensive SEO audit on your site, with more on this topic and much more to be found over at RunRex.com.