The Ultimate SEO Audit Guide (With FREE Roadmap Template Included)
How to Do An SEO Audit (The Right Way)
It’s the year 2018 & SEO is still constantly evolving. I’ve read many “how to do an SEO audit guides” but a lot of them seem to be quite a bit dated if you ask me…
So I figured I’d create an seo audit guide with some added value…
SEO audits are equivalent to getting a car inspection.
Before getting your car inspected, you may think that your car is running fine; When you hit the gas, it moves, when you change the gears, the transmission shifts.
But how well does your car run in comparison to the rest of the cars on the road?
It isn’t until you’ve gone to the mechanic to get an inspection that you’re informed you were just a hair short of destroying your rotors.
Had you gone any later than you did, you probably would have had to spend roughly about 500$ in total to get it repaired.
It’s a great thing you went for that inspection, phew!
Now replace that image in in your head; Think of your website as your car and your SEO audit as the inspection.
It is essential to understand the problems with your website before causing harm to your online business.
Conducting a national or local SEO audit could be the edge that you need to put you above your competitors on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page)
That is why I’ve dedicated my time to writing an up to date seo audit guide.
To teach you how to do an SEO audit – the right way.
As I walk you through learning how to do an seo audit, the tools I will be using to conduct this SEO Audit are as followed:
- Screaming Frog (This will be used to crawl the website and search for errors)
- Website Auditor (Will be used to double check if we’ve missed anything)
- Google Search console
- GT Metrix
- Structured Data Testing Tool
Without further ado, let’s get started.
Here’s an audit I did myself
Remember To Crawl Like A Baby
Open Screaming Frog or the tool you’ve chosen to conduct this audit with & start by entering the website you want to crawl.
After you enter the website that you want to crawl, you’re going to need to filer the information to get a more targeted list of what you’re looking at.
At the top of the tool, you’re going to see several different tabs, you’re going to want to look at the information that matters the most and make note of it to correct it later.
I’m going to go through the process with you step by step as you learn how to do an SEO audit today.
Check Title Tags With Screaming Frog
As you can see, when clicking on a tab, Screaming frog will highlight the tab & show you the information that you need to see about these tabs.
Here you can start looking at the data to see if there’s anything that you need to optimize. As we can see, the title tags on my pages need to be optimized, they are way too short.
To optimize this content, you should generally know it’s best practices. But for the sake of this guide, I will include them below:
Title Tags: Should have 50-60 characters within them. If you find that they’re too short, or much longer than that, then you’re going to want to go ahead and take notes to make the necessary changes later when creating your roadmap.
It’s also good to include your keyword in your title tag as well. When people see what they’re searching for, they have a higher chance of clicking on it.
After we’re done checking our title tags, we need to take a look at our Meta Descriptions.
When we take a look at our meta descriptions, we notice that most of them are empty. We’re going to need to take note of this and include it in our notes in the roadmap so that we know what we need to do when it’s time to fix it.
When the time comes to fix it, we’re going to want to optimize it. To optimize the meta description, it differs quite a bit than the title tag but not too much.
You’re going to want to have 300 characters in your meta description (As per Google’s 2018 update) and you’re going to want to include your keyword preferably around the beginning of the paragraph (I’d go as far as to say make it the first word if possible)
Checking Your H1 Tags & Optimizing Them
Next up, we’re going to want to check our H1 tags.
These are not going to be too complicated. We’re going to need to verify that our keyword is in our h1 tag…
If we notice that it’s not, we will take a note that it’s empty & come back to fix it once we have completed our analysis.
As you can see, when using screaming frog, you’re going to want to be checking for errors and taking notes. We’re not going to talk about screaming frog much anymore for the remaining content of this blog though, if you want to learn more about screaming frog, you can check out Chase Reiner’s screaming frog tutorial.
Analyzing Site Speed & Performance
Human beings have an attention span that’s lower than that of a goldfish (Literally). If your site isn’t loading fast enough, they will opt for something that’s loading much faster.
If people leave your webpage because it’s taking too long to load, that can cause a seriously high bounce rate, which will have a negative outcome on your rankings – something you want to avoid.
That is why site speed is a very crucial thing that you want to analyze when conducting your seo audit. You’ll want to make a note of the site’s loading time, and see if you can improve it.
You’d check your site speed by selecting a tool to measure it on, you can use Google’s PageSpeed Insights, but my tool of choice is Gt Metrix.
When we enter our url in GT Metrix, we can see where we’re at with our load time right now.
1.7 Seconds – Not too shabby if I say so myself
Site speed plays a role in user experience if Google notices that the moment users go to your site – they leave, they will drop your website lower in rankings. If you want to avoid this, you should make sure the website has a good loading speed time.
The great thing about GT Metrics, they provide you with instructions on how to optimize what might be wrong with your website.
If you’re using WordPress, there are many plugins you can use to fix these issues. I recommend Autoptimize & WPFastest Cache. Always get the job done for me, so they’re my go-to plugin. If you’d like to see how to fix these manually without plugins, please leave comments below & I’ll make videos showing that.
Identifying Indexation Issues
Robot.txt is what communicates with bots. It is what tells bots whether they should crawl your website or not.
The query above is what blocks bots from accessing your website. Unless it’s intentional, if you realize this, you’ll want to edit your robot.txt file and put what I’m about to post below inside, instead.
The query that you see above, allows bots to actively crawl your website.
I’ve seen people recommend the first query when they’re working on a website because they don’t want the site to be crawled until it’s fully up and running…
but it’s important to check and make sure that you’re using the second query so that your site can be crawled & accessible for users – After all what’s the point of putting out content that’s not accessible.
Once you’ve identified whether bots are blocking your website from being indexed or not, you should start checking for indexation issues by using the “site:” query.
When we use this query, we can see all the pages from our website being indexed by Google.
Look through Google’s index to search for pages with thin content and little to no value. You want to identify these pages and decide if you want to add more content to it, remove it, or noindex it. If it doesn’t add value, it shouldn’t be there.
If you notice that some pages on your site have 404 codes, you can decide what action you want to take.
You can check this by going to Google Search console
Selecting the correct property
Once you’ve selected the property, you’ll see this menu on the left
You’re going to select crawl. The crawl menu is going to drop down, and you’re going to select crawl errors. Here you can see if you have 404 errors.
As we can see, I currently don’t have any.
But if you notice that you do, you will want to jot that down to your handy dandy notebook.
Make Sure You’re Not on Google’s Naughty List
There are a ton of Google Penalties, the most popular ones you tend to hear about are usually Panda, Penguin, & Hummingbird.
If you want to learn more about them, you can read “Your Algorithm Cheat Sheet: Panda, Rank Brain, and Hummingbird” by Marie Haynes, she covers the topic very well..
Penalties are another thing that you can include in your seo audit. I don’t see many people checking for these much, but to be on the safe side I’d check them out just to make sure we’re not tanking because we’re being penalized by Google.
If you notice there’s something wrong, you can jot it down but if not… We can continue to the next step
In general, you just want to be sure that your website isn’t being penalized. You can check if you’re receiving penalties by using a free penalty checker such as Barracuda
Don’t Forget The Little Guy: Mobile
Google announced that they are now doing mobile index first. This means the mobile version of your site is more important than the desktop version.
To check this, we’re going to go to this Google Page
Enter your domain in the search box and click run test.
After you’ve completed that test, you’ll see your results
As you can see, my site is mobile friendly. We’ll take a note of this and move on.
Claim Your Business… Before Someone Else Does
When conducting an SEO audit, you’re going to want to make sure you’re claiming your business on Google as well as other important listings. For Google, you’ll want to check directly from the source. For the other listings, you can go to this Yext page.
However, I suggest to keep reading a long, as I am going to walk you through these steps.
Google My Business
When searching for your business on Google, you’ll go to this landing page
After you select “start now”, you will be brought to a page that looks like this:
Enter the name of your business. One of two things will happen.
If your business is already being claimed – Google will let you know, and give you a chance to request access
I entered in a random business to show you an example of this
If it isn’t being claimed, this is what you will see instead.
You can make a note of this and come back to claim your business later when you’re creating your roadmap.
On the flip side, when checking listings with Yext, you’ll see a page that looks like this
After you have successfully entered your business information, you’re going to want to click scan now.
Yext will bring you to a page that looks similar to the one above. As you can see from the “Listing Not Found” with this tool, you can identify the business’ you have not been listed on.
Note: When creating these business listings you’ll want to ensure that your Name, Address, Phone Number, & Website are all consistent.
If you’re already claiming your business and have all your listings setup, you need to check your reviews. I prioritize generating reviews on Yelp, Facebook, Google, & Bing. You’re also going to want to make a note if these reviews are being responded to or not.
Check For Markup
When checking for Schema Data, we can use Google Structured Data Testing Tool. When you click the link, you’ll end up on a page that looks like this:
Enter your website’s domain and select “run test”
If there’s schema on the page, you’ll see a page like mine, if not it’ll be empty. You’ll want to ensure that the correct markup is on the page.
Content Is King… As You’ve Probably Heard Before
When analyzing content, you need to make sure the content that was written has a search volume behind it. By checking this, you will be able to identify if people are interested in the topic you’ve written about.
After you’ve identified that, you want to make sure that your content is 30% longer than your competitions. But, although the length is important, it is powerful to make sure that the content is high-quality content for your readers.
You can identify that by checking bounce rates in Google Analytics. You can find that in the dashboard of your Google Analytics
Note: Your keyword’s search volume doesn’t always have to be SUPER high. Remember, more doesn’t always mean better.
This is a very important element to look at when doing an audit. You’re going to want to make sure that links are pointed in the right direction. It is crucial that the pages you link together are relevant to each other.
The goal is to identify whether or not you’re following the best practices for good link structure.
Bruce Clay has some great information that covers what a link silo is. It’s great information for those who may not know.
Do You Have An SSL Certificate?
Determining if your website is secured or not plays a huge role in a user’s experience. If your website is secured, it will be easier to win over the trust of your visitors.
There are a few ways to check that, but my go-to way is using the SSL checker by SSL shopper
When you arrive to the landing page, you’re going to want to enter your domain name in the search box and click check SSL.
After you enter check SSL, your results will populate. My website is secured but if it wasn’t, this tool would tell us.
As I’ve mentioned a couple times above, while analyzing this stuff, you should be writing down notes.
When going through websites & searching for things to fix, there can be so many things wrong sometimes, that you’ll end up forgetting some of them.
I’ve ran into this problem a few times in the past myself.
It’s good to have a few detailed notes so you remember where you left off at in the process.
Sample Notes You Can Start With
Local SEO Notes:
- Are you claiming your business on sites such as Google My Business, Bing, Yelp, & more
- Is the NAP-W consistent through all listings?
- Are you using targeted keywords?
- Is the correct Schema Data on the site?
- How many citations do they have and is the information consistent?
- How many reviews do they have, and are the reviews good?
On Page SEO Notes:
- Are the title tags optimized? (Lengths, keywords, use of power words)
- Is the content optimized? (Optimal KW Density, 30% more words of quality content than competitors, compressed images, alt tags in images)
- Does the site have external and internal links?
- Are the url’s optimized? (Length/Keyword usage)
- Are the meta descriptions optimized?
Off Page SEO Notes:
- Are the links that are linking back to you, quality links?
- How well is your content doing on social media?
- Are your videos and content being shared?
- Is your outreach effective?
These notes are just some of the things that come to my mind automatically when taking notes, you should want to really get a thorough understanding of the issues taking place on the website.
If you want to go a bit further, you can use your marketing skills to do an audit of the business. You can start by identifying your business goals. Who you want to attract, what areas you want to focus on in the business, etc. Once you’ve identified that, you can start questioning where you think SEO can contribute to those goals. After you’ve identified that, you can start thinking of ways to better the company.
Here are some things you can do:
- Create buyer personas (It’s easier to target users when you have a better understanding of who they are. Their age, their demographics, their location, and much more can be a HUGE determining factor in this process)
- Analyze your value ladder or create a new one (Find ways your funnel can be more efficient.)
- Check what your competitors are doing and do it 10x better.
Taking notes just makes the overall process easier and more organized, and being organized is something you’re going to need, especially if you’re going to pursue a career in any form of internet marketing…
It can be a strong determining factor in meeting your goals & achieving success
Check Your Work
When you’re working on your website, or anyone’s in general, it’s never a bad idea to double check your work, sort of like Math class. This is where the Website Auditor tool comes in handy. Plug your site in and generate your automated SEO audit.
It should look something like this:
Take a look at it, compare it to yours, and if everything looks fine, then you’re in a great position to dive into the next step.
Create A Roadmap Checklist (Revise & Prioritize)
You’ve completed your website audit and potentially your business audit as well… What’s the next step?
Organization is key. Once you’ve identified the issues that you were looking for, I recommend creating a checklist with the dates and times that you plan to solve each problem. Another suggestion is to create a roadmap.
This is the one I currently use: (It’s a lot more in-depth in Google Docs. You can get this for 100% free when you join the Facebook Group)
Your overall goal when creating a roadmap is to have organized documented information that you can access at any time of what you’ve fixed on the site (or what still needs to be done). It’s highly recommended.
My Final Thoughts
Congratulations if you’ve made it all the way through this guide. Hopefully you’ve learned something new, and I’ve added some value to your marketing life. You now have some more information on how to do an SEO audit, and make your life easier.
This guide was designed to take you from zero to hero, as well as to walk you through the process. I hope this guide helped you find the issues with your online business that you can correct (Surely enough it served it’s purpose)
Leave your feedback in the comments! Let me know what you think.
About Dresean Ryan
Dresean Ryan is the founder of Dresean Consulting, and he seeks to help business owners generate leads at scale. He also aims to help young professionals find their path to a job in Digital Marketing