16 Steps to Perform a Perfect SEO Audit:
To whatever online business you are running or intending to start, have you ever think why your uniquely created website needs an SEO audit despite the perfect website design, coding, meta tags and everything related to the site visibility? In actual, SEO audit is conducted to identify the problematic areas on the website that the human insight cannot perceive. The particular areas are then afterwards improved via the creation of an action plan. The action plan involves latest developments in coding, design and state of the art techniques associated with the SEO.
Most of us while creating a website don’t give much attention on its optimisation for search engines. Even the sites that are purely handled by SEO experts are also not fully optimised. Instead, the primary focus given by most SEO experts is on the link building. No doubt that link building is a reason for increasing the website visibility, but there are numerous other factors that require equal, rather more consideration. Here, we will discuss essential phases that are a must have in doing an SEO audit.
Phase 1: Use Screaming Frog to Crawl the Website: Screaming Frog is the most common and widely used tool utilised to crawl a website. The best part of this tool is that it goes through each single page to check the following elements:
- Title Tags: Either title is long, short, duplicated or missing.
- Meta Description Tags: Just like the title whether it is missing, repeated, involve the focus keyword or not and either it is short or exceeding the given characters.
- Meta Keyword Tags: Usually search engines ignore this field as it contains the maximum keywords relevant to the topic and web page.
- Headings: Either H1, H2, H3, etc. are placed in sequential order, contain keywords or not. It also focuses on the duplication or missing of the headings.
- Meta Robots: Which parts of the website do you want the crawlers to crawl and index and which pages you don’t allow to be indexed.
- Page Duplication: Anything included the content, whichever is duplicated.
- URL Structure: Is the URL structure user and search engine friendly; contains hyphens, underscores and uppercase characters? Are they dynamic URLs and what is the length of the URL?
- External Links: To which web pages or websites you are linking out to?
- Internal Links: Whether you are linking your webpages internally to other pages on the same website or not.
- File size: Is the file size heavier or lighter, because in case of a light file size, the loading time will be quicker.
- Anchor Text: What type of text links are you using for your webpage(s) or images.
- Images: The size of the image and whether you have used or missed Alt Tags.
- Redirects: Are there any pages that require redirect (301, 302) or not.
- Errors: Whether there are any issues from the client or server side like 404 pages.
- No Follow and Follow: Which links to be allowed to the search engines to follow and which not.
- Rel Canonical: To which pages you are pointing the search engines to crawl that have a different URL.
- Bot Crawl: To which search engine you prefer to crawl your website that is Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. You may even crawl your own website as a bot.
Phase 2: Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools: Get your website registered with the Google Webmaster tools and create a sign up for the Google Analytics if you have not tried this yet. Everything related to the site crawling, loading time, etc. can be improved with these tools.
Phase 3: Keyword Research and Analysis: With Screaming Frog, you can analyse the keywords that you are using in the meta title and meta description and then compare it with the Google Analytics Tool or a Google Keyword Planner tool to know what type of traffic you are getting and how to improve it. Through Keyword Planner Tool, you can come to know how much is the keyword competitive, what are the average searches and competition of a keyword in the World Wide Web. Remember to emphasise on the keywords with low competition and high searches.
Phase 4: URL Structure: You should analyse whether you URL structure is user friendly or not. Prefer to have the static URLs as they include letters, hyphens, underscores or sometimes numbers. Dynamic URLs always change and involve random characters such as &, =, +, $, etc. Avoid extending your URLs to more than 100 characters.
Phase 5:Meta Title: While writing the page title tags, make sure that it should be unique and does not exceed 55 to 60 characters as Google then converts rest of the title into dots which seems quite ambiguous. Your title must include the important keyword(s) with a hyphen, pipe or colon as required. Adding a geographical location like New York or Birmingham can give good search results.
Phase 6: Meta Description: Never make your description keyword stuffed. It should be unique, must involve some call to action and must not exceed more than 155 characters. Correct punctuation, appropriate usage of keywords and geolocation is more preferred by Google.
Phase 7: Headings: Most site owners do not emphasise much on the headings tags that prevent their site from getting listed in the search results. For Google, heading tags must be in sequential order, with the most important keyword being as the H1. In HTML, H1 is the biggest heading that holds the largest size. H1 tag should appear on all the web pages as it helps the search engines to determine the page topic. Avoid using logos or images in H1. It should be a plain text. Breaking up page text after every two to three paragraphs with H2, H3, H4, etc. gives a good impression to the search engines that heading tags have been used appropriately and chronologically.
Phase 8: Page Content: Just as we heard a common saying that “Behind every successful man, there is a woman,” similarly, behind every successful website or blog, is there a primary role of the content. Each web page must have a sufficient content. Adding or bringing unique content with a considerable length on the web pages frequently can help a great deal to increase the website ranking. Each web page must have at least 400 to 600 words content. Google just loves this.
Phase 9: Internal Linking: Webmaster Tools can really help you to know whether your web pages have appropriate internal links or not. Internal links must not be more than 100 on a page, while anchor text links should not always be rich. Your page should include text links like “read more”, “click more”, etc. Each web page should have two to three internal links.
Phase 10: Alt Tags for Images: Don’t forget to use the alt tags for your images. Remember that these tags must explain your image(s) with the relevant keyword(s). If you are using the image as a link, then alt tag functions as an anchor text. There should be a reasonable height and width of the images.
Phase 11: HTML and XML Sitemaps: To help the bots crawl your site easily, create an XML sitemap for the search engine bots and HTML sitemap for the humans. After the xml sitemap creation, submit it to the Webmaster Tools, by this you would come to know how many URLs have been indexed. It is not necessary that all URLs get indexed. With internal linking, you can increase the chances of your maximum or all URLs get indexed.
Phase 12: Content Duplication: To whatever search engine you have opted for, no one likes duplicate content. Duplicate content gives poor user experience. Create a unique content to avoid duplication. Check out the URL structure to avoid duplication and rel canonical tags so that the 301 can redirect from the duplicate content to the canonical webpage or site.
Phase 13:Broken Links: After website creation, make sure to check it thoroughly to remove any broken links that may distract the crawlers or create problems in search engine rankings. Broken links encountered by the Google lets it to consider it as a poor user experience. Such errors can increase the reduction in the crawl rate, indexing and ranking. In case of such errors, use 301 redirects.
Phase 15: Inbound Links: To get a better ranking in the search engines, you need to get more links for your website. Remember that these links should be relevant and each one must be from the unique domains. Avoid pointing all the links to your homepage, instead they should also point to the internal pages. The more linking root domains you would have, the more you would rank higher.
Phase 16: Social Media Buttons: Social signals actually play a significant role in the website ranking. All search engines consider social signals because they affect SEO. While creating a website, never forget to integrate the sharing features throughout the entire website or on all the webpages. This may help you to increase the website or blog traffic. Also, create a unique content that visitors love to read and share.
After thoroughly analysing and completing the SEO audit, you may convert it into a comprehensive PDF report to give it to the higher management. It would just look pretty.