Search engine optimization has become a way of life for website owners. If you’ve got a website too, we’re sure that the question “How do I do SEO right” haunts you even in your sleep. Let’s face it. It’s 2018 and SEO’s importance is definitely not waning – more than 60% of marketers feel it is their highest priority when it comes to inbound marketing.
There is a chance you have kept SEO in mind when building your website- but have you been auditing it? An SEO audit has to be carried out at least thrice a year- think of it as spring cleaning for the entire site, to make it more efficient and robust. As Stoney deGeyter, CEO of Pole Position Marketing points out- ‘You can’t just “SEO” your website and be done. It’s a forever moving goal post’.
We understand that you probably do not have a lot of time. Doing a comprehensive SEO audit that takes days would definitely yield results, but if you don’t have the time for that- do not panic! It is possible for you to carry out the perfect SEO audit in just about an hour or so. Save time and save your website, in one shot!
What is a SEO audit?
To put it simply – it is an audit to check how search engine friendly your site is – a factor that will definitely determine how well you rank on search engines.
Why is this important? Google, the world’s most popular search engine, gets over 3.5 billion search hits every day. Most people are getting their information through search engines! And the point that affects your business directly is the fact that academic research shows that around 91% of searchers do not even go beyond page 1!
Making your website adhere to SEO standards and regularly auditing it can have a sea of impact on your website’s traffic
How to do the audit in 1 hour
Now, let’s get on to the actual audit. As we said- this will take you 1 hour, and give you a full outline of all the aspects of your website that are working for you, and what you have to change!
1. Before you run, crawl
This is the most vital part of your SEO audit. There are countless tools which will burrow through your website’s links and content in order to find its relevancy to the keywords used, the subject relevant to the page, and more (we would recommend SEMrush, DeepCrawl, or Screaming Frog) . This can give you some great information on the SEO setup and structure of your site.
Here’s how you can set up an SEO crawl for your own site. For the sake of convenience, let’s use Screaming Frog.
- Once you’ve installed this tool, select the Configuration option, where you can determine what Crawl options you can use. We recommend that you use ‘Crawl all subdomains’ as a beginning step.
- After clicking OK, you’ll get the option to enter your website ID. After this, you can start the crawl, and you’ll get a breakdown of your sites’ data in a deck (like shown below).
- This step will take about 5-10 minutes for you to set up, and you’ll be able to get an idea about how Google’s bots view your site- including existing broken links, duplicate pages, and more.
A manual crawl could also help
Believe us- this will not take a long time either. You can do this when your SEO crawl tool runs in the background.
- You can go on Google, enter ‘site:yourdomain’ to search for your website’s rough ranking and also identify whether your website actually shows up when relevant search terms are entered.
Keep in mind that all your pages don’t have to show up on the top page of Google search results- and they don’t necessarily have to be on top of the list- you’re still in a good position even if it is in the middle of the first page.
2. Make sure your website has no impostors
All of us enter web addresses differently. Some people just type the name of the site, like yourdomain.com, whereas, some people prefer typing www.yourdomain.com. Whether they enter ‘http’ or ‘https’ also has an impact. However, no matter what variation of your website’s domain name a person enters, it should automatically lead them to the one single canonical version that has been determined by you.
Why should you choose only one single canonical version? Think about it this way- if there are multiple domain names associated to your site, there will be a lot of confusion regarding the traffic being driven to the site, as there will be multiple variations. This can mean big problems for your SEO ranking, as search engine bots will not have a clear idea about how to crawl your site.
So make the shift- christen your website with one variation of the domain name, and stick to it.
- Just enter the multiple variations of your site’s name and see if they automatically change to the one that you’ve already determined- and you will know if you have this covered!
3. On-page checks
You can evaluate your website by performing basic checks of your pages.
- Page title tags
This is the most basic SEO check you can conduct- do your website’s pages have a clear and catchy clickable title tag? The title should be directly relevant to the content of your page, and be catchy enough for people to want to click on it. Ideally, it should not be more than 56-60 characters either.
- You can check whether your page has title tags by right-clicking on the relevant page, and going to ‘View Source’.
After this, either manually search the page’s title tag on Google, or use a pixel width checker to ensure that this title is not truncated when it appears on search results.
- Meta description
Meta descriptions are the write-ups that appear beneath the link for the page. Though it does not directly have an impact on the SEO page ranking, it is still extremely important, as it determines whether or not people click on the link (it is assumed that the click-through rate does have an impact on the SEO page ranking- so if your meta description increases the CTR, it will definitely impact your page ranking).
Enter your page title into the search engine, and the description you get beneath is the meta description. If you haven’t entered a meta description for the page, Google will display the phrase on the page that has the search keywords embedded (this might not be the most relevant quote, and might restrict the click through rate). You can see a good and bad example below:
- Hierarchy on the page
Site structure is one of the most important SEO metrics, as it determines user experience, and allows search engines to clearly analyse and index your pages, to make them easier to access.
- Keyword placement
One of the key cornerstones of SEO is inclusion of keywords, and in the right places. This will give search engines a clear idea about what the page is about, and whom to redirect to your site.
A good rule of thumb would be to include at least one focus keyword, that appears at least once in the first 100 words.
- Duplicate content
- This is fairly simple to track- you can use SEO tools such as Copyscape, which will assess your site and tell you if there is any duplication of content on your site.
4. Internal and External Linkages
Broken links can be one of your biggest enemies in this battle towards SEO dominance. Of course, this is not always your fault- domains change, pages are often moved, and sometimes, the older linkages are left behind. But thankfully, there is a way for you to fix this now. And no- you don’t have to check each and every link on your page manually.
There are tools to do the same- we recommend Xenu Sleuth, Integrity, or Screaming Frog.
- Here’s an example of how you can use Screaming Monkey to check for broken links. At the end of the crawl (the one you started in the first step), you’d have received a lot of data. Go to Internal > Status Code > sort by > descending order. Here, you’ll see a list of all the ‘404’ response code links- which are the ones that are broken and need to be fixed. You can use the same steps for the External links as well- just choose the External option first.
5. Make your pages load fast!
It’s abundantly clear that site speed is one of the biggest factors when it comes to site traffic and SEO rankings. You can use a tool such as Ahref’s Site Audit, or Pingdom, or GTMetrix in order to find your website’s speed (there is Google’s own PageSpeed tool, but we’d suggest not to rely on it too much, as it can be rather fickle).
You’ll get a breakdown of the pages on your site, and the average time it takes to load, giving you a clear idea about which are the pages that you need to fix.
6. Check your organic content and traffic
Organic traffic is the holy grail for search engine optimization- it’s what everybody dreams about. Tools like Google Analytics will inform you about your organic traffic- but you’ll have to dig deeper to see how this affects your ranking.
- Use Ahref’s Site Explorer, or SEMRush, or even KWFinder to get an idea about your organic search rankings.
- Go to Site Explorer, and enter your domain name in the search bar. Go to Overview > Organic Search > Organic Keywords. Here, you’ll get a detailed report of the keyboards, the traffic it draws, CPC, and the keywords’ position.
- Here, you can also find the timeline of the organic keyword growth- to see if your growth has been in the right direction, or if there is a drop that you need to address.
7. Do a backlink audit
SEO rankings are all about popularity, and the easiest way to prove your website’s relevance is by having enough backlinks. A Google bot will crawl your site for hyperlinks, brand mentions, and more- which is why you need to pay attention to the linkages on and off your website.
You can use SEMrush or Ahref to do a backlink audit for your website.
- Go to the Ahref Backlink audit tool, where you can enter your domain name in the search bar. You’ll get a dashboard, with your total rankings, referring domains, and more, where you can assess your backlink profile, and what you have to improve.
Of course, to get a better picture about how well you’re doing, backlinks wise, you can use a tool like SEMrush, where you can see the rankings of other sites for your keywords, and what backlinks are going to those sites.
With the insights gained from your backlinks and keyword data, you can utilize strategies to increase your engagement- like engaging more in social media (a strategy known to improve consistent backlink success).
This 7 step process will take you less than an hour- and will give you a roadmap to all that you have to do in order to maximize your SEO returns in the upcoming year. Using any other strategies to improve your SEO rankings? Let us know what has worked for you in the past!
Drop your email at firstname.lastname@example.org for a first free 30-min consultation.