For any SEO strategies, SEO audit is an essential step to assess your current performance, and especially to find out the reasons when you are not getting any good SEO results.
Ideally, SEO audit should be performed before any SEO activities, and you should also do it regularly to measure the performance of your SEO campaign. Yet, how can we effectively perform an SEO audit? Which aspects should we focus on?
In this guide, we will attempt to answer those questions by sharing 7 important aspects of SEO audit that are essential for any SEO campaign’s success.
Without further ado, let us begin with the first one.
1. Checking The Indexability of Your Site
No matter how well you optimize your site, your site won’t rank if Google or other search engines can’t index it.
So, this first step is also the most important one, and first we need to understand how search engines can crawl your site:
- Google’s bot (the “spider) visits your site and “crawl” it.
- Google then add these optimized pages to their index
- Based on search queries and by considering these indexed pages, Google then show the best results
You can use Google Search Console to check whether your site can be properly indexed, and here are a few things to check:
- XML Sitemap
A proper XML sitemap is absolutely necessary in making sure your site is indexable. Create an XML sitemap and submit it to the Google Search Console.
This is also useful in the case of duplicate content, as with an XML sitemap submission, you are telling the search engine that you are the original owner.
Nowadays, there are many different tools that can assist you in this process, for example, XML Sitemaps is a fairly popular tool. There are also many different plugins you can use if your site is WordPress-based.
Robots.txt is a small file on your site with the purpose of telling the search engines of which pages they can index (and which shouldn’t be indexed).
- Crawl Errors
You can use Google Search Console to check for crawl errors. While 404 errors are not a ranking signal, it can affect bounce rate, which is a ranking signal.
2. Make sure you rank on branded keywords
Do a quick Google search using your proper brand name as the search query.
If you have a properly unique brand name, your site should be the top organic result. However, you might need to wait a few months if your site is brand new.
If your site is currently not on the top search result, then Google simply thinks other sites are more relevant for your brand name. Here are several things you can do to rank on branded keywords:
- More inbound links (backlinks) from high-quality sites
- Getting public relations (PR) mentions from influential media, authority sites, or influencers of your industry
- Have a verified Google My Business account, and build citation on local directories
- Optimize your presence on relevant social media platforms
Also, it’s possible that your site is nowhere to be found in the SERP, which can be caused by indexation issues or Google penalties.
3. Broken Links
Backlinks, or inbound links are obviously very important to get SEO results. However, backlinks will only bring value as a ranking signal when they work properly, and here we will audit for broken links.
Thankfully, tools like SEMRush can easily find broken links (you can use the site audit feature). If you are a WordPress-based side, you can also use the available plugins to achieve this.
There are also sites like DrLinkCheck, where you can check 1000 URLs with the free version. Having too many broken links can cause Google penalty, so take extra care in this step.
4. Redirect Chains
Redirect chain, as the name suggests, is using more than one redirects to link just two URLs, which can have a negative impact on your link profile. Also, long redirect chains can significantly slowing down your load time, which is an indirect ranking factor.
Redirect chains are usually a result of improper site migration, and most SEO audit tools can identify redirect chains and loops.
5. Backlinks Quality
For inbound links, quality is now more important than quantity, and having too many low-quality backlinks can cause a Google penalty. During the SEO audit process, it is very important to find and remove these low-quality links.
While most SEO audit tools offer the feature to check backlinks quality, we should also know the right things to look for:
Link relevancy is extremely important for SEO values. For example, if you are a restaurant business, having a backlink from a golf review site can have a negative impact on your business.
- Link Authority
You might want to check out this guide by SEOMark listing the important metrics regarding link authority.
Check this list to understand all the different link sources available, and aim to have a decent diversity on your link profile.
6. Content Analysis
Content is an integral part of any SEO effort, and analyzing content is both the most time-consuming and the most important aspect of SEO audit.
Here are several key factors to focus on:
Use duplicate content checker like Copyscape. Remember, however, that your content should also be unique in the eye of human readers.
Your content should deliver value by offering new information of solving the audience’s problems.
According to studies, 1,800 to 2,000-word length is the most optimal for ranking purposes.
- Blog Comments
Look for suspicious links in your comment section. These can count as low-quality links and get you penalized.
7. Page Analysis
Your content will only bring value when your page is optimized properly, and vice versa.
Here are the key areas to focus on when auditing page optimization:
- Target Keyword
There are four important target keyword locations to focus on: title tag, description, the first and last paragraphs. Mention your focus keyword at least once in each.
Include your target keyword in the URL, and make sure your URL is comprehensive for human readers.
- Internal Links
Use exact match anchor (EAM) for internal links
While there are certainly other SEO aspects you can analyze during an SEO audit, these seven we have discussed above are by far, the most important ones.
You can also use the same principles to audit other SEO aspects. Remember that the most important part not only for SEO but for any digital marketing strategy is to regularly monitor your progress, find out where you are currently lacking, and make adjustments when necessary.