If you depend on your website for your business, then you know how important it is to keep your website healthy. One very crucial way to keep your website performing is with a regular SEO audit. Search engine algorithms are fluctuating constantly, and general SEO best practices can change overnight. A prime example of this is Mobilegeddon. Google decided that having a mobile–friendly site would become a factor in your SEO, and after the change, many sites saw a decline in their organic traffic. It is because of frequent changes like this that make regular SEO audits so important.

But where do you even begin? That’s a great question. I’ve outlined how to perform an SEO audit, which includes a breakdown of the four major SEO categories.

  1. Search Rankings and Traffic
  2. Technical SEO
  3. On-Page SEO
  4. Off-Page SEO

That’s enough of an introduction. Let’s get started!

Equip Yourself with the Right Tools

Before you can dive into any data analysis and identify where your site needs help, you need to be able to collect the right data. A good audit will take a look at what’s going on within the site. This means you’re going to want to crawl your site to find out exactly what you’re dealing with. Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider is a very useful tool to accomplish this. WebCEO is another useful tool for collecting SEO data. WebCEO will help you review your technical SEO, keywords, links, and help you keep track of your competitors.

Crawling your site will help you figure out what’s going on behind the scenes, but it’s also very important you check how your site is performing in search engines. Google Search Console (previously known as Google Webmaster Tools) will help you diagnose what might being going wrong off-site.

Search Engine Rankings and Traffic 

Your search engine rankings and traffic should be monitored on a monthly basis. Keeping an eye on your organic traffic and keyword rankings will let you know if things are starting to take a turn for the worse. In the case that you don’t monitor it on a regular basis, starting an audit with a review of your Google Analytics account won’t necessarily help you identify where the exact problems are. What it will give you is a high level indication of the state of your SEO, and the historical data will help you determine when things started to go wrong.

Here is what you should check for:

  • Check to see if your mobile and organic traffic have remained steady.
  • Review average time on page and bounce rate.
  • Confirm that your pages are mobile-friendly.
  • Review your keyword rankings and compare them to competitors (WebCEO is a great tool to use to keep track of your keyword performance).

Technical SEO 

Your site will do you no good if it can’t be found. It’s important that during your SEO audit you check to see that your site is easily accessible to search engines and that it is regularly indexed.

Here is what you should check for:

  • Review the number of pages being indexed and compare to your current site.
  • Check that your robots.txt file is not restricting search engines.
  • Confirm that your XML sitemap has been submitted.
  • Compare your brand searches with competitors.
  • Make sure Google has not penalized you (Google Search Console can help you out here).
  • Evaluate your site’s page speed (GTMetrix is a good tool for this).
  • Check for 404 errors, redirects and broken links (Screaming Frog will be your best bet with this).

On-Page SEO

If you’ve determined that search engines can find your site, the next step is checking if your on-page ranking factors are giving them what they are looking for.

Here is what you should check for:

  • Review your URLs for length, keywords, and user-friendliness.
  • Check for duplicate content.
    • Title tags. And we’ve got a whole article on best practices for title tags for you.
    • Meta descriptions. Which should be 150 characters or less, unique and optimized with the proper keywords.
    • Headlines (H1, H2, H3). These should be in place and coordinate with your SEO strategy.
    • Alt tags. These should accompany every image on your site.
  • Review your internal links. They should match with your linking strategy.

After you have reviewed the list above, you need to carve out some time to audit your content. Content is oh so very important to SEO. Up until this point, I’ve focused heavily on SEO for search engines. While search engines are important to your SEO, creating content designed for your readers and not Google is just as important, if not more so. There is a lot that goes into a good content marketing strategy, and one of those things is an SEO strategy backed by solid keyword research. When giving your site an SEO audit, you might want to take the time to review your content and SEO strategies. Your pages and the content on them should be planned, and you want to make sure that your copy isn’t stuffed with keywords. Write for your users, not search engines. You don’t want to have content for the sake of having content. Creating relevant content that’s meant for your target audience coupled with a strong SEO and keyword strategy will greatly benefit your overall SEO performance.

Off-Page SEO

On-page factors are important, but how your site is perceived by others also plays into how well your site will rank.

Here is what you should check for:

  • Review the number and quality of backlinks (Again, WebCEO will be able to help out here).
  • Evaluate your site’s authority. You can look at this on two different levels – page authority and domain authority.
  • Investigate your social standings. Social media plays a role in your SEO. The more people share, comment and like your content, the better. (Shared Count will help you discover how much of your content is being shared and what channels are most popular).

If you take care of your site, your site will take care of you. SEO audits should be done at least once a year and every time there is major search engine algorithm change. A thorough audit can take time, and it helps if you know what to look for. If your site is a major part of your business, it is well worth the effort.

Are you looking for a more in-depth SEO audit? Check out our website evaluation and audits.