How to conduct a thorough technical SEO site audit that makes an impact in 4 steps

You might be asking yourself, why do I need to do undertake and SEO audit on my site?

 

Well the competition to stand out on search engines is increasing every single year as business owners become more tech-savvy with their approach.

 

It is more vital than ever before to be more visible than your competitors online. One way of doing this is through SEO.

 

Ensuring your website is technically sound from an SEO perspective will make it easier for Google to understand your website and rank you in front of your audience. Bingo – more traffic – more leads & sales.

 

You can spend thousands creating an aesthetically appealing site but if there is no focus on SEO you’re going struggle to receive any organic traffic.

What Will Affect Your Websites SEO Performance?

 

Before diving into your audit, you need to understand what factors are affecting the performance of your website. Once you know this, it is easier to find the necessary changes needed.

 

Another point is Google has moved to mobile-first indexing, so you should perform your crawl with this in mind. Check your analytics to see what device your users tend to use to view your website, this will help you amend your audit where needed.

 

These factors can be split into 3 categories.

 

  • Technical factors: This includes elements such as site speed, site indexing & hosting.
  • On-site factors: This looks at how your pages are optimised. Title tag, H1’s & content.
  • Off-site factors: This is in reference to your backlink profile

 

Now we know what we are looking for. It is time to get stuck into auditing your site.

 

1.    Crawl your website

The Tecfirst step is to crawl your website. There are plenty of different tools you can use to do this.

 

I provide a free SEO audit myself which is sent to your inbox 24 hours. Unlike automated crawl’s I will manually give tips on how to improve your site based on the crawl.

 

You can also crawl your site through google by using site:domain.com. Examples below.

 

 

The pages that don’t show will give an indication of any issues on the site.

 

Another great tool to use is screaming frog. It’s free to use if your site has less than 500HTML pages. I would say it is the best tool for crawling, it gives you a complete overview of your site layered by HTML, java, CSS & images. As well as external data.

 

 

It would also be wise to make sure you check our google search console. Here you can submit your XML sitemap to see if google finds any issues. You can also check your crawl budget and frequently the site is crawled.

 

 

You want to make sure your site is being crawled as efficiently as possible to be sure to check out the following.

Make sure there is only one version of the website

 

You want to ensure there is only one version of the website being crawled. Duplication will essentially split the authority to each duplicated page making is increasingly hard for you to rank. If your site is on https:// make sure the http version redirect to this.

 

You may all use URL parameters to track marketing activity, make sure you notify google of this through search console.

 

Deal with any errors

 

If you have any 404 pages, redirect the user to the more relevant page. Google does not like sending users to pages with no content.

 

Update broken or 301 links

 

Once you have redirected the necessary page on your site. Update your internal link to the new pages. This will stop google having to crawl between the redirects.

 

Update your indexing

 

There might be a few pages that you do not necessarily need the search engine to see. For example, terms & conditions or privacy pages, noindex these to save crawl budget.

2.    Conduct On-Site Checks

 

The next part to look at how your pages are optimised. You can have a technically sound site but if you are not telling the search engine or the user what is on the page, you simply will not rank for the keywords you desire. So, here is how you start.

URL structure / Website Sitemap

 

The first part of this is looking into your URL structure & the website hierarchy. This is vital in search engines crawling and understanding your services or products.

So as a rough guide you should be looking for a nice silo structure:

http://www.example.com/SERVICE

http://www.example.com/PRODUCT

 

 

Title Tags

 

‘Page titles should appear uniform and consistent across the whole website. There should be no duplicates, and there should be none that exceed 70 characters.’ These are the basic guidelines.

The page titles should follow the format of KEYWORD – COMPANY NAME

Take my site for example: https://www.michaelryanseo.co.uk/free-seo-audit/

The URL slug is relevant to the keyword - 'Free SEO Audit'

The title tag is ‘Free SEO Audit | Michael Ryan SEO’

 

H1 & Heading Structure

 

Heading tags should flow in order from H1 to H4 on each page. Each page should have only one H1 and this should contain the primary keyword for that page.

So to use my free SEO audit page. My H1 is ‘Free SEO Audit’

 

Content

 

You want to make sure your content is created firstly for the users in mind and secondly the search engine. I cannot help but cringe when I see a page optimised for ‘cheap shoes’ that says ‘cheap shoes’ 100 times in the first paragraph.

 

Instead you want to write useful content including the keyword you have optimised the page for, but don’t force it in, it has to be natural.

FAQ content & reviews are a good way to provide further content for pages while potentially increasing conversion rates.

 

Ensure that all content is unique, and you do not duplicate across pages. This will confuse the search engine and affect your rankings. You can use the following tool to check any duplication.

 

Meta Descriptions

 

Google announced in 2009 that meta descriptions do not directly affect your rankings. However, this does not mean they're not important.

 

 

Meta descriptions affect your CTR (Click-Through-Rate) which is a ranking factor.

 

 

Guidelines: There should be no duplicates and none above 160 characters.

 

 

 

 

The meta description is the description users will see when they find your website via a search engine, so it is important to capture this audience. Explain what the user will find on the page and ask potential customers to get in touch!

 

3.    Review your site speed

 

The speed of your site is becoming increasingly vital as google looks to mature its algorithm. Google as a company main goal is to provide the most relevant result for a user’s search. Users prefer sites that load quickly, hence why speed is such an important ranking factor.

 

Google released some guidelines in regards to speed back in 2018, specifically mobile, it’s well worth a read.

 

The slower your website, the higher the bounce rate your site will have. You will essentially be losing out on traffic.

 

 

There are a couple of different tools I would suggest for analysing your speed.

 

Firstly submit your URL through Googles page speed insight tool.

 

Page speeds insights will give you a view into speed across mobile & desktop. As well as load page speed the tool will breakdown at what is slowing down your site across the following.

 

  • First Contentful Paint
  • Speed Index
  • Time to Interactive
  • First Meaningful Paint
  • First CPU Idle
  • Input Latency

 

Fixing this is more of a development task and is down to how your website has been designed. If you score low, speak to your developer about how you can improve this.

 

4.    Analyse your backlink profile

 

The next part is to ensure your website is also generating authority off-page through natural links. You can have the most technically sound website & perfectly optimised pages with content, but if you have no links, you are going to struggle to compete against the most authoritative websites.

 

Google uses backlinks to understand the quality of your website through how many times and from what sources your site is being mentioned.

 

I use Majestic to view my backlink profile, you want to generate as many unique links as possible instead of getting links from the same source. Search engines will see this as spammy and could devalue your site, or even worse penalise you.

 

 

Through tools such as majestic you can export your backlinks to understand the following opportunities.

 

  • Fix Broken External links

Find links that are not linking to the correct page or are broken and ask the webmaster to update these.

 

  • Unnatural links

If there are any links that don’t look natural, consider disavowing these.

 

  • Competitor analysis

Submit your competitor’s website and export their backlink profile also. This will give you inspiration for what types of websites you should be sourcing partnerships with. Example below.

 

 

I am currently working on another post looking at all the areas businesses should be looking at to generate links. I will update this post with a link once done!

Conclusion

 

Whether you have got someone looking after your SEO or you are doing this yourself, make sure you investigate these 4 areas when conducting your technical SEO audit. If you are making significant changes across your site, then push the changes through google fetch and render tool via search console. You could see an instant impact.

 

Let me know what else you cover in your technical SEO audits.

 

Author: Michael Ryan is a transparent & ROI focused SEO consultant from Essex.


The 16 most useful free SEO tools all business owners should be using

 

There are literally hundreds of SEO tools out there, some paid, some free. As a small business owner or a start-up, you will most likely be looking to keep costs low until you get to a certain point. With that in mind, I?ve put together a list of the 16 more useful free SEO tools that your business can use to add value:

Keyword Research Tools

 

Always start with keyword research. If you don?t know what your potential customers are searching for, how can you optimise your website accordingly? Keyword research will enable you to understand what users search for, the competition and the volume of those keywords.

1. Keyword Planner for Google

 

Sure, Keyword Planner was created to help those creating ad accounts. However, it's a great tool for any SEO and can give you a great indication of the amount of impressions each keyword would potentially generate.

 

This is Google's own data, so it can be trusted compared to other tools. It has great filtering that you can take advantage of when researching your keywords.

 

One thing to be wary of with this tool is any metric that is related to a paid campaign such as competition and volume.

 

2. AnswerThePublic

 

AnswerThePublic is a fantastic tool where you essentially enter a keyword and it will give you hundreds of suggestions for that keyword and what people could search.

 

Their data is based on questions, blogs or social media questions that users ask, whereas most other tools use Google data. Those questions are then turned into keywords. It also has an export function, making it extremely user friendly. Plus it looks super cool.

 

3. Moz Keyword Explorer

 

Keyword Explorer by MOZ has a free version where you make a certain amount of queries. While using Google's monthly data volume, they have their own metrics that can be very useful. Difficulty essentially looks at the domain authority of the top 10 results for the keyword you search, the higher the authority of the websites, the higher the difficulty. You might want to find variations of your keywords with lower difficulty, making them easier to rank for.

 

4. Ubersuggest

 

Ubersuggest is a tool created by SEO influencer Neil Patel. Again, it gives you great insight into keyword data and volume of search. My favourite thing about this tool is its competitor analysis and content ideas. Not only does it help you find the keywords you need your website to optimise for, but it also suggests what content and what optimisation you should use to rank for them.

 

Analytics

 

The below tools should be used to monitor search performance, keywords and trends in traffic. They also provide great insight into attribution and what channels generate conversions for your business.

 

5. Google Analytics

 

Again, we start with a Google tool. In all fairness Analytics is a fantastic tool that every business should be utilising as much as possible. It?s the most used analytics platform on the market and is completely free. It connects with the other Google products such as Search Console and Data Studio, which makes it fantastic for insight and reporting.

 

6. Google Search Console

 

This is my favourite free SEO tool. Search Console is the holy grail of free SEO tools. There are plenty or really useful tools and insights within. Search Console provides reliable keyword data, position of your keywords as well as a view of impressions and your CTR across the SERPs. Not only this, but it also has great features sitemaps, structured data and internal linking.

 

7. Keyword Hero

 

Are you frustrated at seeing 'not provided' in Google Analytics? Keyword Hero effectively works to ease that pain by using machine learning to give an estimate of what keywords generate organic traffic. It?s not 100% accurate but uses a hypothesis that enables users to take value from it. It's completely free for sites with 2,000 sessions a month.

 

Crawling, Indexing, On-Site & Speed Tools

 

The below tools will help you make sure your website is crawlable, being indexed where it needs to be, is optimised correctly and finally is as fast as possible.

 

8. Screaming Frog

 

Screaming Frog is by the far most popular tool for crawling websites. This is a great tool for smaller websites as the free version can be used up to 500 URLs although not as advanced as the paid version. Here you?ll be able to see a full crawl of your site, title tags, h1s, meta descriptions, response codes, canonical links and the rest. It's a great place to start when auditing your site.

 

 

 

9. Tag Manager

 

Another Google tool, Tag Manager does exactly what you would think it does. It manages your tags such as those you use for analytics - essentially anything you need to inject into your website as HTML. It makes life a lot simpler than diving into the code constantly.

 

 

10. PageSpeed Insights

 

Yes, shock, a Google tool. Ok, so PageSpeed Insights is a fantastic way to understand how Google views your site from a speed perspective. This is becoming an increasingly important ranking factor as user-friendly sites are what Google looks to provide to its users. It?s completely free and easy to use, although some suggestions you?ll need help from a developer to implement.

 

11. GT Metrix

 

GT Metrix is very similar to Google PageSpeed but has a different interface. It automatically visualises historic data for each page it analyses.

 

Backlink Analysis & Link Tools

 

12. Disavow Tool

 

Although notoriously difficult to find, the disavow tool can be a very powerful tool to use. It is a fantastic way to fight off any negative SEO or spammy links that are aimed towards your site. You simply upload the domains and Google won't take those links into consideration. It's a handy tool for getting any link-related penalties removed.

 

13. Moz Link Explorer

 

This is a great tool when reaching out to potential publishers and understanding not only the quality of their site but also the value from getting a link from them. It is a reliable backlink checker and provides a quality score in value of ?domain authority? which has since become a bit of a buzzword in the industry. They also have a chrome extension, 'Moz Bar', which is super handy.

 

 

Local SEO

 

14. Google My Business

 

Google My Business is by far the best free tool for local SEO. It has numerous features enabling you to connect with customers around your store or physical location. You can manage your business listing and respond to reviews, among other things.

 

Content & Research Tools

15. Siteliner

 

Siteliner will scan your website for issues such as broken pages and redirect issues, but its best feature is detecting duplicate content. As we all know, duplicate content is a big no from a search perspective, as it doesn't add value for the user in most cases.

 

16. Buzzsumo

 

Buzzsumo is one of my favourite research tools. It?s a great tool for getting inspiration for content, content marketing or even PR ideas. You simply add a topic and it gives you a list of the content that generated the most engagement from social platforms and links.

 

 

These are all tools that I use day in, day out, and that can be used by those who have time to develop their own strategy. If not, I offer SEO consultancy to anyone who wishes to generate a positive ROI from organic search.

 

Let me know if there are any tools I missed that would be worth adding!