Your In-Depth Guide in Doing a Full SEO Audit
Before you panic at the word ‘audit’, we aren’t talking anything taxes today but instead SEO. Short for search engine optimisation, you may know this is the process used to climb the search rankings on given search engines. Although the likes of Google and Bing will have their own criteria you have to meet in order to rank highly, they loosely follow the same structure which means it requires the same effort on your part.
So far, you might be pleased with your efforts only to find that your website just isn’t bringing in the numbers you hoped. Do you find yourself wondering why the inferior sites of others are always ranked above you? Do you yearn to have more traffic on a daily basis? If so, we highly recommend performing an SEO audit on your website.
What’s an SEO Audit? — In truth, the process is exactly as it sounds in that it assesses the position of your website from every single angle. While keeping in mind the key factors that’ll push you up the search rankings, an audit will check you’re doing the right thing and following the right steps. Much like we get MOTs on our car to check everything is pushing in the same direction, an SEO audit ensures that everything is contributing to your search engine rank as opposed to causing issues or slowing your progress down.
Nowadays, we think a website has to be all-singing and all-dancing to attract the attention of the search engine but this simply isn’t the case. Instead, you need to make your website ‘readable’ and we’re going to look at some of the key processes you need to check here today!
Three Stages — All things considered, there are three stages to your SEO audit and we’re going to show you the main steps you can complete so you have results in good time rather than wasting days on end trying to deconstruct the workings of your website. As well as the technical aspect of SEO, we’ll look at on-page SEO and off-page SEO. Without further ado, let’s jump right in!
Stage #1: Website Crawl — With the manual checks coming up, we want to start with a website crawl and this can run in the background while doing other things. With an SEO ‘crawler’, it will act like Google and spider the site before then providing information on the structure of your site and its SEO efforts. Once you get this going, you can continue with the auditing process.
Stage #2: Domain — In any given browser, there should only be one way to type your website address (or create a link to it on another website). In all, there are typically four options;
With one of these in place, all the others, when typed, should be 301 redirected to the ‘canonical’ version. If you notice that your website works with two or maybe even more of these addresses without redirecting, we recommend getting in touch with a professional who can realign your website and ensure it’s only accessible through one URL.
Stage #3: Crawl Report — As soon as your website crawl comes to an end, you should be provided with a report and this will list issues found on the site.
For example, the most common issue is duplication within the site itself whether this comes through the actual content, title pages, or other locations. When two or more pages have the same title, it costs your website so you need to make adjustments and have each one unique. Alternatively, you can actually add a ‘noindex’ which means Google will bypass this issue when ranking your website and you no longer have this anchor holding you back.
Stage #4: Manual Home Page SEO Assessment — If your website crawl is still going after checking your URL, you can jump ahead to this step where you can asses your home page in detail. To start, we recommend right-clicking on the page before then choosing ‘View Page Source’. Once on this screen, there’s a few different things you need to assess but the two most important features are your clever title and meta description.
Meta Description — Although this doesn’t influence the ranking of your site directly, it is something you need to consider carefully because it can easily increase the amount of clicks you receive. For Google, experts believe click-through rate plays a very important role so more clicks should lead to more success in the rankings.
With the meta description of your home page, you need it to entice the reader in a well-written way. After typing their request in the search box and hitting ‘Enter’, you have an opportunity to pitch your website with the meta description so don’t pass up this opportunity. Why should they choose your website over every other within the same search result?
Title Tag — With all the on-page SEO factors in play these days, your title tag is one of the most important. In our opinion, your brand name needs to come first because this is what will hopefully attract people towards your site when you start to gather momentum and a good chunk of visitors. After this, we recommend limiting your title tag to 55 characters and this avoids truncation. Finally, limit yourself to just one keyword (high-volume).
Stage #5: Unique Content — If there’s one thing Google has been attempting to stamp out in recent years, it’s duplicate content. Back in the day, people would have the same content on every single page and there was nothing wrong with this tactic. These days, Google’s ‘Panda’ will punish your site if the same content is found on a variety of pages or even on a different website.
When it comes to duplicate content, don’t think we mean outright stealing either; sometimes, you can use content belonging to somebody else as a base for your own work. If you don’t create your content with enough care, it can end up looking too similar and this alerts the search engines. If you want to avoid this issue, try Copyscape.
Stage #6: Search Traffic — If you want to increase the traffic of your site, you first need to know your starting point (i.e. how much traffic are you receiving currently?). With Google Analytics, you should get a good insight into the numbers your website currently sees. If you’ve had your site for long enough, you could even assess the traffic over the course of the past twelve months to see if there were any spikes in interest.
Stage #7: Search Google — Rather than searching for some far-out program that hands everything on a plate, we actually find the best solution is to research yourself. For example, search your name into Google and see what comes up. If you’ve been in business for a while, you should be the top result when you type your brand name into Google. If you aren’t first, try building more branded links, add a Google Business listing, be active on social media, and keep going (don’t give up!).
As you should be able to tell so far, you don’t need expensive tools to see how well your SEO is performing. Although there are some fantastic tools on the internet to show you what is performing and what isn’t, we always recommend obtaining a base of knowledge from simple searching; just as the consumers do. Now we have this foundation of knowledge, we’re in a much better position to take advantage of the following steps!
Stage #8: DNS Settings — After logging into the Google Search Console, go to your dashboard before then finding ‘Current Status’. Underneath this subtitle, you should see ‘DNS’; a green tick means you’re in great condition. Essentially, this small check ensures the bots aren’t finding errors when crawling through the website. If you haven’t yet connected to the Google Search Console, we highly recommend you do so because it’s a great place to pick up on errors and check the health of your service. If the green tick does not appear, you should be provided with a report on the main errors which you can use to fix the problems.
While on the note of the Google Search Console and the ‘Current Status’ section, you’ll also notice two other areas of interest; server connectivity and robots.txt fetch. While the former checks to see whether there are any server errors on your website, the latter deals with the robots.txt and should ensure there are no areas of the website being blocked.
Stage #9: XML Sitemap — Sadly, not all websites have a sitemap even though it brings numerous benefits; in fact, we consider it a missed opportunity if you don’t have one. If you haven’t seen one before, this file will list all the different URLs within your website. Essentially, it acts as an archive for the different pages within your site and this one file makes it easier for Google to assess your website and rank each individual page as opposed to the site as a whole. Ultimately, there are no disadvantages of having an XML
Sitemap so we highly recommend
1. checking you have one and
2. making sure it’s in good condition.
By clicking onto the Search Console, click on the ‘Crawl’ sub-menu and then ‘Sitemaps’. From here, you can see whether there are any warnings for your sitemap. At all times, it should remain neat and tidy so Google can scan over it with ease. Whenever you add all sorts of optional tags, it only makes the process more confusing so simplicity is key here.
Stage #10: Google Page Speed — In case you didn’t know, the loading times for your web pages are absolutely critical. Especially with the development of the mobile device, people very rarely wait past a few seconds before clicking away and finding another site. Therefore, you need to use Page Speed Insights to assess the speed of your site and how you can improve the timing.
After being given a rating, you’ll be provided with a list of things you need to fix (if slow). In truth, there are many issues that can slow down a website including too many (or too large) images leading to a huge page file size, lack of caching, and excess coding.
Conclusion — With these steps and the advice we’ve provided here today, it should give you a brilliant insight into how your SEO efforts have been rewarded. Not only can you see what’s going right, you’ll see what’s going wrong and where you need to make the fixes.
Remember, there are some outstanding SEO services available these days if you need help. By improving everything we’ve discussed here today, your search engine ranking will improve and you can enjoy the new visitors that come as a result. As you can see, SEO is much more than just keywords so run this audit today and optimise your website for the future!
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