When you’re working to improve the SEO of your website, SEO is a long-term project. To ensure that your SEO efforts are as effective as possible and that your site is to truly benefit from your SEO efforts, you must conduct an SEO audit.
In this post, we’ll go over everything you need to know about SEO audits so that you can stay on track with your SEO strategy.
What is an SEO audit?
An SEO audit is a review of how your website ranks in search engine results. This assessment looks at various aspects of your website to see how they affect your rankings and if they need to be changed/improved, or if they are doing exactly what they should.
An SEO audit will assist you in identifying your website’s weak points as well as its strong, high-performing points. Audits help you determine what isn’t working and should be phased out, as well as which strategies are producing excellent results. SEO audits help you learn which areas of your website need to be prioritised and how to better allocate your resources.
There are many different opinions on what constitutes a good SEO audit, as you can find on the internet. Different sources will advise you on which tools, steps, and amount of time to devote to an SEO audit. All of this varying information can be overwhelming, but as long as you understand how to use each tool, what you’re doing/looking for during each step, and why you’re doing each step, you’ll be on the right track.
How long does it take to perform an SEO audit?
Depending on how in-depth you want to go with your SEO audit, it could take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks to complete. Weeks, indeed. The duration of an SEO audit is determined by the size of your website and the scope of your audit.
Whatever time you devote to your SEO audit, one thing is certain: a good SEO audit cannot be rushed. It is preferable to overestimate the time required for an audit and reserve too much time in your calendar for this project than the opposite; rushing an SEO audit allows for errors and prevents you from devoting enough time to each step.
A hastily performed SEO audit is essentially pointless; it will not provide you with useful information. However, it is understandable that many website owners are unable to commit to a month-long audit. If you’re short on time and want to cut the number of hours required to complete an audit, choosing a specific type of SEO audit may be beneficial.
What are the different types of SEO audits?
Because there are so many components to a website that can be modified for SEO purposes, there are several types of SEO audits. If you’ve been focusing on a specific area or strategy for your website, conducting a tailored audit could save you time and provide you with more actionable results.
The most common types of SEO audits are as follows:
- Technical audit
- Content audit
- On-page audit
- Off-page audit
You’ll need a thorough understanding of the tools you’ll be using if you choose to conduct one of the above audits or a full SEO website audit.
Common SEO auditing tools
So, what are the most commonly used SEO auditing tools?
- Google Analytics
- Google Search Console
- Google PageSpeed Insights
- Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool
- SERP Simulator
- Web Page Word Counter
How do you conduct an SEO audit?
Now that we’ve covered what an SEO audit is and what tools you’ll need to perform your own, we can get down to business: how do you actually perform an SEO audit?
SEO audits are carried out by following a set of steps. Each step examines a different aspect of your website to determine how it can be improved.
There are hundreds of different step-by-step guides on the internet that claim to have the right list, but there is no single perfect way to conduct an SEO audit.
The best SEO audits include the steps that are most applicable to your website.
We looked at some of the most popular SEO audit guides on the web and combined the information with our own SEO knowledge at DigitalCrave to create our own step-by-step guide for a fairly comprehensive SEO audit. While this list does not include every component you could consider for your website, we chose the steps that have been shown to have the greatest impact on our organic traffic.
Check out our SEO checklist if you’re looking for a list of quick hits. You’ve come to the right place if you’re looking for a comprehensive set of steps.
We’ve divided our list into three sections to make it easier to understand which category of SEO each step belongs to to keep related steps close together Benchmarking, Technical SEO, and Content are the three components.
DigitalCrave SEO audit step-by-step guide
Section 1: Benchmarking
1: Get checked that Google indexes only one version of your website
Google may have multiple versions of your site, believe it or not. This is not an SEO best practice you should always show the correct version of your website to users.
The good news is that this is a simple and quick fix. To see which versions of your website Google has indexed, enter the following URL formats into your browser’s address bar:
If any of these formats returns a version that isn’t your most recent website, simply add a 301 redirect to resolve the issue.
Now that we know everyone on Google is posted somewhere, we can concentrate on auditing that location!
2: Begin a website crawl.
Using a website crawling tool to get a preliminary assessment of the health of your website is a good place to start.
Many online tools are available to check for the specific things we’ll be looking at later in this guide, such as broken links, indexability, crawl ability, and duplicate content.
Website crawlers will not replace the manual SEO audit described in this guide, but they can certainly supplement and guide you while you conduct one.
3: Perform a competitor analysis
Finding out how your competitor’s websites are performing and what their best practices are is just as important as knowing how your website’s SEO is doing.
We recommend conducting a competitive analysis as a “sidequest” to your SEO audit. We have our own set of tools to assist you in completing one quickly.
In summary, conducting a competitor analysis consists of four steps:
Determine your competitors.
When it comes to SEO, your competitors are the sites that rank on Google for your target terms. Determine the target terms you want to rank for and see who consistently ranks for them.
Examine their search results.
Enter site:yourcompetitor.com into Google and examine the number of pages they have indexed, whether there are any pages they should not have indexed, and their content strategy.
Examining the following characteristics on each page of their website:
- Meta description tags
- Meta keywords tags
- H1 headings
- URL structure
- Content and keywords
Analyze the links
Some of the most popular tools for analyzing your competitor’s backlink profile are Ahrefs and SemRush.
Examine their website
Use a web crawling tool on your competitors’ sites, just as you did on your own, to see how their results compare to yours.
4: Identify and resolve indexing issues
This procedure necessitates the use of the Google Search Console. The “Index Coverage Report” will give you a list of pages that the search engine is unable to index for various reasons.
You should also refer to the data discovered by the web crawling tool you used; these tools can sometimes provide context that Google cannot.
From here, you can ensure that Google indexes the correct pages, including blocking pages that you don’t want Google to index.
You can prevent Google from indexing a page by adding a noindex tag to it.
The number of pages indexed by Google from your site may surprise you, and many of them may be less traffic web pages.
They’ve earned this moniker because they’re “living dead” pages—they don’t add value to your site, receive little to no traffic, and rarely appear on the SERP. However, these pages will have an impact on your search rankings, so you must deal with them accordingly. Here are some examples of less traffic web pages.
- Content overlapping
- Press releases Outdated
- Search result pages with little content
- Pages from the archive
The list goes on and on. When a page is identified as a less traffic page, it should be deleted. After all, more isn’t always better in Google’s eyes, and if your website has fewer pages, you’ll have fewer to keep track of and manage.
5: Examine your organic traffic
We’ll be using Google Analytics from now.
To find your organic search traffic, open Google Analytics, go to Acquisition, and then select Channels from the All Traffic dropdown. Select Organic Search once you’ve arrived.
You can change the time periods displayed to see how many people visited your site in the previous month, six months, year, and so on.
This will assist you in determining where your website stands in terms of traffic, and it will assist you in setting reasonable goals once your audit is completed.
6: Determine where you rank for your brand name.
It’s time to see what happens when people try to find your brand using Google. Enter the name of your company into the Google search bar to see where you rank on the SERP.
Ideally, you want your website to be the first result. Furthermore, you want your homepage to be the first result that users see.
If your website is a few results down on the results page, it means you have some brand building to do. This can be accomplished primarily through link building—we’ll discuss how to get more backlinks later.
It could also mean that your brand name is too generic, and Google is returning results that are completely unrelated to your business but use the same wording. If this is the case, you may want to consider rebranding to make your company and website names more unique and distinguishable.
If you cannot find your website on the SERP, this indicates that there are serious issues at hand. In Step 4, you should have identified and corrected any indexing issues, but it is possible that your website is subject to algorithmic or manual penalties. Checking Google Search Console can assist you in getting to the bottom of this.
7: Perform a keyword optimization scan and set up keyword rank tracking.
A significant part of participating in Organic search involves ensuring that your website and its pages are keywords optimised.
To determine how well your website is performing in terms of keywords, you should first conduct keyword research to identify a list of keywords to target.
Then, work on incorporating keywords into the following areas of your website:
- Title and H1 tag
- H2, H3, H4, H5, H6 subheadings
- Meta title and meta description
- Body copy – keywords should be included in moderation throughout the post
You can then use another online tool to set up rank tracking for the keywords that are important to you.
Section 2: SEO Techniques
8: Examine the architecture of your website and fix them
Website architecture is an unseen force that has a significant impact on SEO; it not only helps search engines find and index the pages on your website, but it also tells them which pages are the most important.
The general rule of thumb is that the closer a page is to the homepage, the more important it is.
A well-designed website. What exactly do we mean by that? From your homepage, you should be able to navigate to any page in three clicks or less. This means that each page has a clear path to and from the homepage and that no pages are buried deep within the website.
Having a good website’s navigation should not be a predator hunt for users; it should be logical, simple, and natural!
Modifying your website’s architecture could be as simple as improving internal linking or, in more extreme cases, enlisting the help of a web developer.
When you are analysing the architecture of your website, look for orphan pages. Orphan pages are those that are not linked to anywhere else on your site and exist on their own.
Once you come across an orphan page, you should first evaluate its purpose and performance. Then you can choose whether to create internal links to that page or simply delete it.
Even if it requires significant changes to your website’s structure, flattening its architecture will undoubtedly benefit your site’s user experience.
9: Optimize your website for mobile use.
The following three steps are also heavily centered on the user experience.
It’s 2022, Almost everyone does at least some of their internet browsing on mobile devices. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re losing a lot of potential traffic and leads.
How can you make your website look good on a mobile device?
10: Check the speed of your website.
People’s attention spans are extremely short in 2022. Probably because of all that mobile device usage we discussed in the previous step.
This means that site speed is critical for the user experience, and Google has repeatedly confirmed that site speed is a ranking factor.
We recommend the following activities to improve the speed at which your website loads:
- Clean up the HTML code on your most important website pages.
- Run a speed test using an online tool and address any bottlenecks that are discovered.
- Large images should be compressed.
- Use Google PageSpeed Insights to get suggestions for future improvements.
11: Locate and repair broken links.
Surprisingly, broken links have no direct impact on how a search engine ranks your site. However, encountering “Page Not Found” errors on your website creates a terrible and irritating user experience.
You can find broken links using the site audit tool from Point 1 or the Index Report in Google Search Console.
Once you’ve determined which links are broken, you can go through them and decide whether or not to repair them. If a link is still relevant and helpful to your users, you should fix it; if it is outdated or useless to your users, you should delete it.
12: Examine your backlinks and look for opportunities to build links.
One of the top ranking factors for search engines is the number of quality backlinks your site has, so pay close attention to this step.
Online tools can tell you how many backlinks your website has as well as its domain authority. Domain authority is determined by the trustworthiness of the sites that link to you.
You want as many backlinks as possible, but only if they are all high-quality!
If you notice a lot of links from spammy or fake websites, you should disavow those links. Look for links originating from link directories, non-indexed sites, or sites with a high number of mirror pages.
You want to build links from trustworthy sites so that your site can have a trustworthy reputation as well. To identify link-building opportunities, locate websites and people who fit these criteria, and devise an outreach strategy:
- Journalists who write about your industry
- Blogs that produce content related to your industry or nice
- Companies with similar but non-competing products
- Thought leaders and influencers in the industry
13: Conduct on-page SEO audits.
Now that we’re all on the same page about what on-page SEO is, we can go through your website’s most important pages and perform a manual on-page SEO audit.
To determine which pages of your website will be visited the most frequently, use the following list of questions:
- To begin, is the title well-crafted and clickable? Is your desired keyword present?
- Is the H1 tag only used once on the page? Is it optimised and does it contain a keyword?
- Is your meta description tailored to entice users and explain the purpose of your page?
- Is it the correct length to avoid being cut off by the search engine?
- Is it stuffed with target keywords?
- Are you correctly utilising subheaders on your page to break up text and make your post more readable and navigable?
- Are targeted keywords included in the first 100 words of the post? Is there a use of LSI keywords throughout the body copy?
- Do you have five or more internal links?
- Do you have five or more external links?
14: Metadata Optimisation
We touched on this briefly in the previous step, but you’ll want to pay attention to the page’s metadata and make sure it’s working for you.
Check that your meta tags and meta description have been optimised for SEO.
Meta descriptions should be under 300 words, include a call to action, target keywords, and have a unique draw for your target audience that distinguishes the page from the results.
Meta titles must strike a careful balance between including target keywords and becoming overcrowded and losing coherence. Meta tags/titles are visible to both indexers and search users, so make sure they are appropriate appealing title containing 1-2 target keywords/terms.
Section 3: Content
15: Bulk up thin content and remove duplicates
Have you ever clicked on a link expecting to find exactly what you’re looking for, only to be let down when the page loaded? Instead of the juicy, valuable information you require on the subject, you only find a few sentences that barely scratch the surface.
You’ve just become a victim of poor content. Thin content is any page that offers little to no value to users, and it can take several forms. Thin content can be defined as short, ambiguous, unoriginal, or low-value affiliate content.
Duplicate content is just as bad. Especially if the content has been copied from other websites. You are able to use online tools to find similar pages on the internet to your own, and then differentiate your pages from there.
To identify thin content issues, go through your pages and identify those that “just aren’t doing it” for users. You can then either improve or delete these posts by adding valuable information and content.
16: Create a list of potential page updates.
“Freshness” is a factor that Google considers when ranking pages. It’s also something that users care about, and it’s very easy for users to tell when a page hasn’t been updated in a long time, or when it’s completely out of date.
To boost your rankings and appear hip to the kids, make a list of pages that could benefit from a page update.
You can then go through those pages and ensure that the information on them is still correct and relevant to the target audience. You should include any significant developments in the topic since the page was last updated.
Create pages that you know your audience will want to read right now.
17. Find pages that rank 5-10 for high-volume keywords.
This is about improving your existing high-performing content. A search engine result page ranking of 5 is nothing to sneeze at, but the truth is that organic traffic grows exponentially with each ranking above that.
So go through your website and look for content that ranks anywhere from their high-volume target keyword, they rank fifth to tenth on Google.
Then, look at the content that ranks above your page and tailor it to be even more valuable than the content that ranks higher.
This will put your SEO content development skills to the test, as it’s difficult to improve on a good post. You’ll need to get a little creative and into the SEO weeds, but the extra time spent putting the icing on the cake will pay off when you see your rankings slowly but steadily rise.
18. Optimize your content for user experience signals.
UX is an abbreviation for user experience. This step focuses on designing your posts with the user experience in mind. How do you go about doing this?
The most important thing is to match your content to the search intent of the user. Check out our post here for a more in-depth look at search intent.
Consider why the user is performing a specific search query and what they hope to find when they type that query. Then, make sure your post is exactly what they are looking for.
To optimise your content, look for pages that aren’t performing well and investigate why the content isn’t resonating with users. Examining how the competition responds to that query may aid in bringing the issues to the surface as well.
You may need to stick with the same topic but change the purpose, angle, or style of the content you’ve created around it.
Examine every detail in the piece and ask yourself, “Who is this really going to help, and how?” If you’re having difficulty answering these questions, it’s time to make a change.
19. Find your website’s “content gaps.”
This step will require some creativity as well as some snooping.
Topics for which your target users want to find content on your website but for which you currently do not have any pages are referred to as content gaps.
It can also refer to keywords that your competitors rank for but you do not.
To address this, look at which keywords your competitors are targeting and which ones you’ve included in your content strategy. If there are discrepancies, you should account for them and begin incorporating keywords that were previously absent from your content plan.
Your content gaps do not have to be filled by your competitors. You can also keep up with the latest industry news, developments, and trends to identify keywords that your users are definitely using right now.
20: Start a relevant posting content
This is the final step of our SEO audit for a reason; it will assist Google in processing all of the changes and improvements you made throughout your SEO audit Faster
This step is completed in two parts. First, you must create content optimised for a target keyword that is significantly stronger than the content currently ranked for that keyword.
Following that, you will heavily promote the post. This can be accomplished by sharing the content on various social media platforms, mentioning the post in an email newsletter, and so on.
When word spreads about your post and traffic begins to flow in, Google will be notified and send search bots to your site.
When you add new content to your website, the number of pages crawled per day increases. They’ll be able to look around once the bots have arrived for the high content post and see what else is new—exactly what you want following an SEO audit.
What should I include in my SEO audit for my website?
While all of these steps are important and can improve your website’s SEO, we recognise that there are a lot of them. Start looking at aspects of your website that you’ve never studied before when conducting your first SEO audit—this is where you might find the juiciest and most drastic changes.
If you’ve read this far, you’ve realised that an SEO audit is more of a marathon than a sprint. We hope that this guide teaches you how to be intentional about your SEO improvements and demonstrates just how dissimilar SEO activities can be from one another.