If you’re not taking SEO audits seriously, you’re setting yourself up for failure. A comprehensive review of your online content and site assets is a must if you want to stand the best chance of doing well in organic search.
SEO can seem like a daunting prospect for small businesses. However, even large-scale enterprises can struggle to keep a handle on on-site content and search performance.
Does your knowledge of SEO begin and end with keyword research? Are you unsure of how deep to take your audit? Read on for a 10-step checklist that outlines everything you need to consider when conducting an SEO audit.
Think About Link Building
If you’re looking to boost your website’s authority, you’ll need to prioritize link building. For best results, your SEO audit should focus on internal and external link-building opportunities.
Internal link building is relatively simple. Every time you publish a new piece of content to your website, sweep your archives for related pieces. Once you’ve found a good match, make sure you’re linking it to your newly-created content. SEO tools and browser extensions can be useful for singling out high-value pages to link to.
To increase your domain authority, you’ll need to think about external links. There are a couple of strategies you can employ here. As well as making recommendations for external links, you can reach out to third-party sites that mention your brand. Look for mentions on sites with high domain authority, then contact content managers to ensure your site is being linked to.
Improve Site Architecture
One of the most important aspects of SEO is site architecture. In simple terms, this refers to how your site’s content is structured. Thankfully, it’s fairly simple to whip an unordered site into shape.
If you’re lucky enough to have an in-house development team, work alongside them to streamline the user experience. Just a few minor tweaks will boost your page authority.
Are you guilty of overstuffing your site with links? Overlapping links can wreak havoc on site architecture. When carrying out an SEO audit, look for duplicates and ensure each link is directing users to a separate page.
Does your business have a blog? You’re in good company. More than 54% of Fortune 500 businesses use blogs. They’re a vital source of lead generation, but there’s a good chance you’re not leveraging them effectively.
Take a look at your blog index. If it’s only listing a handful of entries at a time, your older entries aren’t going to get a look in. For a quick fix, increase the number of posts displayed per page.
Any SEO agency will stress the importance of sweeping for duplicate content. There are a lot of myths surrounding duplicate content and its impact on SEO.
Although Google won’t necessarily penalize you for duplicate content, it makes more work for search engine crawlers. Ultimately, Google will filter any identical content, which will inevitably affect your page rankings.
Invest in Richer Content
Thin content is a big no-no. In fact, Google has been penalizing websites populated with thin content since the release of its Panda algorithm update back in 2011, and as of this month, Google has rolled out another update called the “The Page Experience Update.”
What constitutes thin content? If you’re regularly updating your company blog, 500-word posts should be the standard. Ideally, you should be aiming to publish longer pieces than this that will bring value to your readers.
When conducting your SEO audit, target select pages first. Are certain pages dropping in rank? Reassess their content to see what can be improved. Next, look at the pages that receive the most traffic. If the content is lacking across these top pages, it’s time to up your game.
Long-form content isn’t just more valuable to site visitors. It also broadens your horizons for link building. What’s more, you’ve plenty of scope when it comes to implementing keywords.
This step goes hand in hand with content optimization. It’s not always practical to load key pages with primary and secondary keywords. However, with a little creative thinking, you can easily bolster blog pages and long-form content with low-competition keywords that can bolster your SEO strategy.
Keyword research is easy to do. Almost every piece of SEO software will feature a keyword research tool. If your software suite is lacking, there are countless free tools you can use.
Refining existing content with keywords can be time-consuming. However, if you’re starting from scratch with fresh content, loading your text with keywords is simple.
Page Speed Performance
Page speed has always been important to the user experience. However, it’s become even more vital to SEO in the past few years. Google’s page experience and speed updates are largely a direct response to the increase in mobile-first internet users. This is hardly surprising when you consider that more than 92% of users regularly turn to mobile devices.
Use tools like PageSpeed Insights to determine how well your site is performing. This user-friendly tool makes it easy to determine how both individual pages and your site are performing.
Metadata Best Practice
Meta tags are a fundamental part of SEO. However, it’s surprising just how many sites aren’t employing metadata best practices. If your meta titles and meta descriptions aren’t optimized for SEO, now’s the time to focus on them.
Ideally, meta titles should be no more than 60 characters. Google will only display the first 50-60 characters of your meta title, so ensure you’re prioritizing important keywords and high-value information.
Meta descriptions should be between 155 and 160 characters. For best results, prioritize your target keyword at the start of your description, followed by secondary ones. Finally, wrap things up with a call to action.
Secure Your Site with HTTPS
If your site is still running on HTTP, you’re asking for trouble. HTTPS is now the base standard for online security and Google will take this into account as a ranking signal. Certain browsers will flag non-HTTPS websites as a security risk.
Checking your HTTPS situation is a vital part of any SEO audit. You’ll need to be thorough when scouring for non-HTTPS URLs. If you’re unfamiliar with this process, it’s best to seek the services of an expert.
Sweep for Errors
Whether it’s missing images or broken links, most sites will encounter errors from time to time. Although search engines won’t penalize you for these errors, it’s important to address the issue.
Most site auditing tools will quickly identify errors, allowing you to manually repair them. If the error list is a long one, you’ll need to prioritize them by importance. Focus on broken links attached to key pages with high volumes of traffic.
Update Site Content Regularly
Google’s constantly monitoring for minor updates to pages. As such, it’s a good idea to make regular updates to trigger these page signals.
Start by looking at the top pages that receive the most traffic. It’s not always practical to refresh them with new content, but make sure you’re identifying any potential update opportunities.
Next, target your pages that have yet to penetrate the top 10 in SERPs. By regularly adding updated information or new keywords, you’ll give them the best chance at securing a higher spot.
Take the Next Steps Today
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to an SEO audit. However, the 10 steps outlined above are all essential elements of any good SEO audit. More technical aspects like encryption protocols will only need attention occasionally.
Meanwhile, once you’ve carried out a full assessment of site architecture, you’re free to focus on other factors with more immediate gains.
Pinpointing link-building opportunities should be an ongoing activity. Meanwhile, constantly monitoring for thin or duplicate content should be a constant concern.
Keyword optimization might seem like an uphill battle, but provided you’ve invested in the right tools, you’ll continue to reap the rewards. What’s more, keyword research will inform every piece of content you create in the future.
Dylan Thebault is the SEO Executive at Digital Funnel, a digital marketing agency based in Cork, Ireland. Digital Funnel helps SMEs get found online through organic search queries.