Do you own a website? Is your website’s performance down? Do you want to improve its search engine ranking? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” consider performing an SEO audit. For those who don’t know, it is a comprehensive review of a website to examine its performance of on-page and off-page activities.
The audit helps you determine various issues causing your website to underperform. Usually, the website SEO analysis helps you identify duplicate content, architecture-related problems, and analyze backlinks and social media engagement.
If your website is not working as per your expectations, don’t make random changes to your website. Go for a complete SEO audit and find out the actual cause for your website’s poor performance.
You can follow the steps below or perform a fully automatic SEO audit with a tool such as SEMRush.
Below are the 10 steps you should follow to perform an SEO audit.
Step 1: Check If Google Has Flagged Any Issues with Your Site in Google Search Console
The Google Search Console is one of the most important tools for beginning your SEO audit. They have multiple tools in the Search Console:
- Search Results: See what search queries your pages rank for and how many clicks you get for each query.
- Coverage: Check how much of your website is indexed by Google.
- Experience: This section has various tools to check your page experience. More on that in the Core Web Vitals section below.
Check Core Web Vitals
In June 2021, Google launched a new way of evaluating page experience. Page experience is now a small ranking factor (mainly as a tiebreaker). It includes:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) measures how long it takes a page to load and display the main page content. Aim for an LCP of 2.5 seconds or faster.
- First Input Delay (FID) measures how long a user has to wait to interact with a page. A “good” FID is 100 milliseconds or less.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) is the evaluation of how stable a page is as it loads. It measures how much the layout of a page shifts as it loads. Ideally, a page’s CLS should be no more than 0.1.
Run your website through Google’s free PageSpeed tool to see how your site is doing.
Make sure your site is mobile-friendly
Even if Google hasn’t flagged your site as having mobile issues in the Search Console, you should still make sure that your site is rendering properly.
As a large percentage of Google searches come from mobile devices nowadays, your website must be mobile-friendly. Besides this, mobile-friendliness is essential from Google’s ranking point of view. Don’t forget that Google has already rolled out mobile-first indexing. You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Testing tool to know whether or not your website is mobile-friendly.
Step 2: Find Out Whether Your Website Has More Versions Indexed
Most new website owners don’t know, but their websites might have different versions indexed in Google.
For instance, a single site may have the following versions.
An easy way to check is to go to google.com (the actual website, not through the browser address bar)
Remember, if you fail to use the right version of your website, it can lower your site’s performance in terms of SEO visibility. Luckily, there is an easy way to check and fix it. You can use permanent 301 redirects to show the website version you want. This redirect helps you send your website visitors to a different URL than the one they typed in their browser. You may click here to know how to redirect a URL.
Google prefers websites that have a valid SSL certificate, so while you’re doing your SEO audit, make sure that your site is appearing in Google as the “https://” version, not the “http://” version.
Cloudflare has an option to
Step 3: Run Your Site Through an SEO Tool
There are a lot of great SEO tools that you can use to evaluate your site, but we recommend Semrush.
Using an SEO Tool
SEO tools have tons of built-in features that let you know how your site is doing in search engines, what keyword opportunities you have, what changes have happened to your rankings. You can even do this analysis on your competitors to find keywords you can rank for as well.
Current Keyword Ranking
Below, we’ve done an analysis of how hikingupward.com is currently ranking. As of this post, they were moving down for the keyword “hiking” but moving upwards for “burney falls”. Semrush will list all keywords that your site ranks for so you can spend hours delving into this data to see how you currently rank and where your opportunities to rank higher might be.
Another great feature of Semrush is the “Position Changes” feature which lets you see where you’ve recently gained or lost rankings. This is a great way to know how your SEO efforts are trending.
Keyword Magic Tool
Another great tool that Semrush has is the “Keyword Magic Tool” which will highlight keyword suggestions for you when you enter a keyword.
Link building plays a significant role in growing your website authority. As a result, it is an integral part of the SEO process.
Internal links help you pass link equity within your website and continually engage your readers. One easy way to build an internal link is, each time you create a new piece of content, look for other related content. Next, find out a quality anchor text within the old content to link to the new content.
We highly installing the Link Whisper plugin if you run WordPress. It makes adding internal links a breeze.
To boost your domain authority, you will need to earn links from a different set of external authorities. Guest posting and commenting is an ideal way to build external links, although Google has started cracking down on guest posting recently. Search for websites and blogs that are interesting in featuring your content and contact them to see if they’d be willing to link to your website or allow a guest post.
Step 4: Optimize the Speed of Your Website
Back in 2010, Google officially announced that your website’s loading speed is an essential ranking factor. According to another Google update that happened in 2018, mobile page speed will also play a crucial role in the mobile search results. So, optimize your website’s loading speed as well.
Fortunately, there are some quick ways to fix a slow loading website.
- Clean up unnecessary HTML codes
- Reduce the size of images on your website
- Consider enabling compression
You can use Google PageSpeed Tool to optimize the performance of your website.
Step 5: Audit Keyword Usage
This audit will help you determine if your keyword usage is on point. You need to determine whether or not your keywords are placed well and bringing the maximum amount of traffic to your website.
Keywords in articles because they signal to Google what your content is about. We love KWFinder for keyword research and highly recommend it if you want to get started with optimizing your keywords THey have great tutorials about how to do keyword research as well.
If you use WordPress, install the free Yoast plugin. It will tell you how well your page is optimized for keywords you are targetting.
Step 6: Figure Out If You Need Any Website Structure Improvements
In this step, you determine how your website’s pages are structured and linked together. Making architectural improvements on your site helps search engines and visitors find out different pages on your site. A website’s structure allows Google and other search engines to find out which pages are essential on your site.
Now the question is, what should an ideal website architecture look like. Well, according to the majority of experts, it should not take more than three clicks to go from your homepage to other webpages on your site.
If you haven’t already created a sitemap for your website, we also highly recommend getting one so that Google knows about all of the pages on your website. If you use WordPress, Google XML Sitemaps is our favorite sitemap generator.
Step 7: Audit Your Content Quality
According to the Panda Google algorithm update, which happened in 2011, websites with low-quality and thin content saw a substantial drop in Google search engine ranking. Thin content is the content that fails to meet readers’ expectations.
A 300-word article explaining irrelevant or complex ideas would be considered thin. It does not mean you have to add 2,000 words on every page although we recommend at least 1,000 words for good SEO performance. Instead, you need to focus on offering quality and relevant content.
Remember, pages nearby the home page should be dominated by design work such as icons, hero images, and more.
Step 8: Ensure Meta and Header Tags Are Optimized
Meta tags comprise two things: meta title and meta description. These tags help Google identify the content of the page it is crawling. Check out meta tag best practices below.
Since Google displays only the first 50-60 characters of your meta title, make sure it is not too lengthy.
The ideal word length for the meta description is 155 to 160 characters.
Header tags are another signal to Google about what the page is about. You typically find them in WordPress as “Heading 1,” “Heading 2,” etc. and in HTML as <h1>, <h2>, etc. Google pays attention particularly to <h1> and <h2> tags because they usually outline what your content is about. Make sure that you include your keywords in these two header tags to let Google know what your content is about.
Step 9: Fix Website Errors
To ensure the performance of your website, you must keep it free from different types of errors. One most common error that most website owners deal with is, “page not found” or “error 404”.
Step 10: Determine Page Update Opportunities
With regular updates, you can keep your web pages fresh and in the eyes of search engines. Moreover, this tactic helps in driving more traffic. Look for the pages that need updates. For example, you can make changes to your service or product pages.
In addition to this, you can consider adding a blog section to your website, where you can regularly update content about your product, services, and business.
Of course, these are not the only things to do an SEO audit on a website, but you can start with these to improve the site’s performance.