It would be entirely reasonable to assume that an SEO audit is something that requires the contracting of a team of über nerds, able to speak to computers a la Doctor Doolittle with the animals. Of course, should your resources permit it, getting expert help is never a bad idea, but with some simple guidance it is entirely possible to carry out a simple, straightforward and highly effective audit of the SEO of your website without great expense.
For most small to medium sized businesses an SEO audit is imperative as with a good SEO grounding you will notice an exceptional uplift in traffic as search engines understand and rank your content higher in relation to relevant search terms. The SEO audit will help you to understand what is working and what is hindering your site. There are plenty of excellent free tools out there like Google Webmaster Tools, Screaming Frog and Google Analytics that are relatively straightforward to get started with and well worth taking the time to learn to help you progress your site’s SEO Strategy. Like most things in life, becoming empowered to carry out your SEO audit will be a big boost to your company, as after all it is your baby and you know what you want to portray better than anyone.
It’s certainly a name you won’t forget and once you realize its subtle power, it is a free tool you’ll never want to be without when conducting your SEO audits either. Maybe the very first step will be to use Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider, thusly named as it allows you to ‘crawl’ the URLs of websites, fetching key onsite elements in order to analyse onsite SEO. Using the SEO Spider among other things you will be able to:
- Identify broken links. You will be able to crawl your site instantly in order to pinpoint those dreaded 404 broken links and server errors. You can bulk export the errors and their source URLs to fix or send to your developer for them to sort out. Google Search Console is an alternative for finding such errors, but Screaming Frog is perhaps simpler to use.
- Scrutinise meta data and page titles. It is vital that these are all as they should be and Screaming Frog is great for finding duplicates or titles that are too short or verbose. Be aware that Google Webmaster Tools can also do this and some of these other functions and choice of tool comes down to personal preference.
- Generate HTML sitemaps enabling advanced configuration of URLs, including last modified, priority and change frequency.
- Visualise and plan for changes to site architecture
- Integrate with Google Analytics. This is key as we will now look at Google Analytics as well. You can fetch user data like bounce rates, conversions, revenue and transactions for landing pages and measure them against the crawl.
If you are undergoing an SEO audit you may already have Google Analytics and be au fait with its excellent and multitasking interface. But in case you are not, let’s take a look at how Google Analytics can help both boost your SEO and help you to see what is functioning and what changes could make a difference.
With Google Analytics you can check up on your current traffic and stats. You will be able to see what has changed over time. If you have received extra traffic over a certain period, you should be able to access enough data to find the pattern. You may, as you know your business, realize what has done so without even looking. Believe me, after using Google Analytics you will have fresh ideas for your SEO strategy going forward as well as possibly pinpointing some problems for your audit.
OK, so now we’ve introduced you to and mentioned some of the tools available for your audit, as well as some of the key issues to look out for, it’s time to highlight some more of the most important problems that you could find that may be hindering the SEO of your website.
Are you fast?
Nothing is more important among today’s internet users than speed. With 5G on the way, even a lack of WIFI will mean ultrafast internet speeds everywhere, so if your page suffers from slow loading, I’m afraid it will be the website equivalent of TL;DR and will be skipped by users. Optimize all of your images everywhere and ensure you don’t suffer from slow server response time.
Are you mobile friendly?
The roll out of 5G by 2020 will only serve to increase the percentage of browsers using mobile devices and if your site is not equally comfortable handling the differing demands of android, IOS and Windows devices then you will really suffer. Google even introduced a new algorithm update to include mobile friendly bias, known as mobile-first. Going back to speed – this is ultra-important in the context of mobile optimisation, as is compressing your images without substantial loss of quality and you can also help things by:
- Avoidin using multiple JS and CSS files
- Using caching plugin, which will help with speed
In addition, make sure your site is as responsive as possible and finally test its mobile friendliness with this free Google tool.
With too much duplication you will be penalised by Google. Ensure that you haven’t lifted content from other sites without referencing it.
Research and fine-tune keywords
Using Google Analytics you should be able to pinpoint which search terms have led your better customers to your site, but in addition you can use some excellent free tools to help you research some great keywords to use in your content. Some of these include: Google Search Console, Adwords, Google Keyword Planner and LSI Graph.
Finally, remember to check and double check for broken links and get them fixed as this will impact on your ranking in the search results of all major search engines and if using Google Analytics you find you are suffering from a high bounce rate, it is all the more reason to stop and wonder if the key words you are using in your content are attracting the right visitors.