What are SEO audits and why do we need them?
As freelancers, our websites are our portfolio and our point of sale. They provide potential clients with the ability to browse our work and then contact us for paid job opportunities.
SEO audits take a deep dive into your site to evaluate numerous factors that impact your ability to rank in search engine results pages or SERPs. These elements include your website’s on- and off-page SEO, as well as technical SEO performance.
Essentially, it outlines how well your website runs and analyses how efficient it is in generating work for you.
Many people struggle when learning how to do an SEO audit from both an execution and delivery standpoint. So let’s look at what should be included in your audit and what areas you should be focusing on while performing an SEO audit.
An audit will look at total organic traffic and compare it month over month and year over year and as a percentage of total traffic. Platforms like SEMRush provide decent organic search traffic data. While it might not be exact (it’s definitely not) it’s usually good at picking up trends and issues caused by penalties or technical issues.
Look and and comment on the conversion data and landing page data for organic traffic. Does all the organic traffic go to the homepage (like most small business websites) or is it well diversified throughout the content? Are they tracking performance at all in terms of conversions? Looking at this will be able to spark great client conversations down the road.
SEO ranking- where does the website come up?
Check to see where the website appears in the SEO search results page of choice. Mix in some higher volume and higher competition SEO keywords as well as some long-tail keywords.
Carry out a link profile analysis
A good link profile analysis will answer some important questions:
- How many total links does the website have, and what percent of them are no-follow vs. do-follow?
- What anchor text distribution and ratios does the website have?
- What type of links are pointing to the website?
- Are there any high-risk links that should be disavowed?
- What types of links would benefit this overall link profile?
Page speed is so important. If your website page doesn’t load within a few seconds, most visitors will assume it doesn’t work and then proceed to click off and look elsewhere.
A great way to benchmark a website’s speed and performance and to get recommendations on how to improve it is via Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool. SEO consultants should be intimately familiar with this tool and how to act on its recommendations.
Pingdom has a great tool for measuring the load time of websites as well. While different from Google’s tool this is also very useful to determine overall page load speed.
Check for 404 pages
Ah the dreaded 404 page. 404 Error pages can lead to poor user experience. Depending on the reason for the broken links or pages, it’s possible that they are also causing a decrease in domain and page authority due to lost link value. While having access to Google Search Console would be the best way to identify 404 errors that Google has found it’s not always possible to get this sort of access if you are completing an audit for free.
Tools like Screaming Frog are great to crawl the entire website to identify any broken links on the site itself. While this doesn’t consider broken inbound links it does pick up any broken internal links and pages.
Setting up a website so that it is properly themed and siloed is a great way to add a level of relevance for both users and search engines.
URL structures for an SEO audit should promote organisation of content. Are pages and posts just published any old way or is there a system and organisation to the content. The more thought that goes into the structure ahead of time usually the better the website will perform.
It’s always easier to setup a website well in the first place than to restructure it later, however it is possible. You’ll just need to properly manage all the redirection of pages similar to how you would in a website redesign or migration.
Is it mobile friendly?
The important aspect here is that it passes both the Bing and Google mobile friendly tools.
If they pass they probably aren’t at risk of any sort of mobilegeddon-style algorithm update penalties. If you want to take it a step further you can look at the user experience within the mobile environment, however that is getting a little outside the scope of an SEO audit.
Are the page titles not optimised, under-optimised, or over-optimized? Is the website taking advantage of the full length that a page title can be but not going over? Are they wasting space with additional branding or templates at the end of their titles?
Some general rules for header tags:
- Only one H1 tag per page.
- Follow the H1, H2, H3 hierarchy when sectioning off content.
- Include keyword variations in header tags when possible.
- H1 tags should be unique across the website.
You’ll also want to identify any issues and opportunities within the SEO audit. It’s more than giving the data you’ll need to comment on what should be done and why.