WHY DO YOU NEED AN SEO AUDIT?
SEO audit is an effective way to identify internal and external errors on a site, unlock its potential and activate further progress for promotion in search engines.
In this article, we’ll give you tips on how to audit your website yourself, and also tell you about some of the basic tools and services to help you get started. We also discuss when the instructions provided here are sufficient and when it is important for you to reach out to professionals who provide Digital Marketing services .
There are basically two types of SEO site audits. Superficial or express audit and full site audit.
A full SEO audit is usually performed by a professional who can analyze, simulate and look for non-standard solutions. He mainly answers the following questions:
- how to raise low-frequency queries?
- why was the site filtered?
- how to fix the situation?
A complete SEO audit of a website requires experience and the use of special tools.
It gives a complete picture of the state of the site, which helps to carry out full-scale optimization activities and opens up great prospects for promotion.
Express site audit:
- gives a general idea of the effectiveness of the project;
- helps to identify gross violations that prevent better ranking;
- helps to improve behavioral factors and increase conversion;
- can be performed independently according to the standard algorithm of actions.
In this article, we will consider only express audit, since it can be carried out independently and free of charge.
What difficulties can arise when conducting an express site audit
Here’s what you need when conducting your own audit:
- analytical mind;
- access to SEO audit tools that are paid;
- have an understanding of the site audit process (you can study case studies of other companies);
- Watch out for new trends in search engine optimization.
Before conducting an SEO audit, you need to understand how search engines work, what factors affect ranking, and how indexing is done.
How search engines work
Before a page of a site gets into search results, it goes through a chain of actions on the part of the search engine. The search engine chain of action includes: planning, collecting data, indexing, ranking and evaluating the quality of search results. Let’s take a closer look at some of the links in this chain ..
The preliminary stage, which compiles lists of links (URLs) of pages that the search engine will crawl. To get into them, you need to place a link somewhere, mention the site. You can use webmaster tools (Yandex, Google, Bing) to send the link. And also use the sitemap.xml file
Data collection (scanning, crawling)
When collecting data (crawling), the search robot moves through the generated list of links, collecting page data. Interaction with the search engine is of great importance. In order for the search robot to quickly find important information on the page, you need:
- Set up a robots.txt file that controls the behavior of the robot on your site;
- use robots meta tags in the web page code – this will help search engines express their wishes regarding the indexing of the page content and links placed on it;
- specify encoding, server response code, document size in HTTP headers;
- work out the structure of the site – the search robot should easily move from page to page using links.
At this stage, factors are important:
- semantics and quality of content;
- the presence of internal and external links on the page;
- and many more signals (Google has over 200).
- language and region settings, especially for multilingual sites;
- The page type determines the formula by which it will rank. If this is a product page in an online store, then that would be one formula for commercial inquiries. And the product description in an article on the blog of the same online store will be ranked according to a different formula, like an information request. Accordingly, if someone is looking for a product to buy, the product page will be significantly higher than the blog page.
Evaluating the quality of search results
The quality of search results is assessed by the search engine using complex algorithms, which can only be guessed at from general search theory and registered patents.
The main factor is the return to search results, including with a change in the query – when the user has to supplement the query, deepening the search.
The search engine tries to determine which query your page matches best.
You also need to take into account that the search engine may give your page for other requests if it believes that a small part of the content on the page responds to the user’s request.
Over time, the search engine accumulates information about the page and can improve the ranking for certain queries, regions, or worsen the position of the page.
What should be analyzed on the site?
It is necessary to approach the site analysis in such a way that it affects 4 efficiency factors:
- SEO (positions, traffic from search, semantic core);
- technical factors (loading speed, correct opening of pages, links, attributes and tags, correct operation of JS scripts and styles);
- ease of use (behavioral factors, number of views, refunds, failures, time on the site, use of the internal search function);
- commercial (number of regular customers, orders, sales, calls, check amount, conversion rate).
Commercial metrics are a measure of business success. They need to be tracked, but they depend on factors other than SEO.
The usability of a site affects both business metrics and SEO metrics. The trend towards user-friendly resources motivates website owners to fill websites with additional UI elements that make them easier to use. The user experience (UX) is also constantly improving.
Traffic can be highly technical. Pages that are wrongly closed from indexing, pages with little content or errors, all of these can reduce traffic to your site.
SEO site audit includes analysis of technical and search metrics. Also an important element is the usability of the site, usability. Convenient catalog, “buy” button, price list – everything for convenient “shopping” or search for performers. Contact information, warranty and return information, feedback form – everything for trust and peace of mind.
Necessary tools for SEO site audit
You will need to use various tools to collect data and analyze the site. Some of them are available for free, and some require payment (often a package that is valid for a specific time).
Since the paid SEO audit tools are designed for professional use, it can be more expensive to buy a single site audit tool than to pay for the services of an SEO specialist.
Now let’s move on to the practical part – we will learn more about site audit tools.
Free SEO Tools
Mandatory publicly available resource analysis tools include:
SEO checklist – a structured algorithm of actions that must be taken to cover all the analysis issues;
Google Analytics is a service that collects statistical data on the operation of the site, as well as on the behavior of visitors;
Xenu Link Sleuth is a website analyzer that collects technical statistics by looking at all addresses (document sizes, HTTP headers, encoding type, broken links location, etc.);
Web developer toolbar – an extension for browsers Chrome, Mozilla, providing ample opportunities for webmasters to audit sites;
Firebug– functional extension for analyzing the technical characteristics of the site (HTML codes, page loading speed, tracking script elements that take longer to load when loading);
SEOquake is a free plugin that provides website and page optimization data.
Ahrefs is a service that analyzes the quality of a website’s link profile (new, outdated, etc.). There is a free online version with limited features.
Majestic SEO audit service, similar to the previous one, but it has its own peculiarities.
Screaming Frog SEO Spider is similar to the Xenu Link parser, but offers more options for site auditing. Differs in convenient work with filters and settings. The free version is limited to 500 pages per site. Therefore, if the site has more than 500 pages, you will have to pay.
You can also use complex SEO services such as SerpStat, Netpeak, SEMRush.
Instructions on how to conduct an SEO audit of a website
Site audit includes the following audit types:
- technical audit – analysis of technical factors ( technical website optimization);
- external audit – analysis of reviews, external links, related resources and references ( external website optimization);
- internal audit – audit of internal links and content ( internal website optimization);
- semantics audit – analysis of the semantic core of the site, keywords and queries;
- analysis of the structure (information architecture) of the site (information clusters, the number of page levels, etc.);
- commercial analysis – data on the commercial efficiency of the site, as well as the correctness of the operation of commercial tools (phone numbers, links, contact forms, “shopping cart”, etc.).
How to conduct a technical audit of a website
These steps include analyzing website code, page load speed, HTTP headers, robots.txt file, tagging, and mobile optimization.
Identifying errors in HTML and CSS code
Errors in HTML and CSS lead to incorrect display of pages. The consequences can be serious and can greatly affect your ranking.
- using a deprecated tag;
- not recommended symbols in links;
- the tag is not closed;
- using optional attributes.
How to check:
Using HTML and CSS validators.
Based on the scanned code, the services generate a detailed report with the errors found.
Sites where users open a series of 404 (Not Found) error pages will not appeal to visitors. Such situations can arise if:
- the deleted (or moved to another address) page is saved in the search engine index – users receive a link to it in the search results;
- when the site itself has internal links to a deleted (or moved) page;
- other sites link to a remote page;
- there is a typo in the address bar.
How to check:
Check it out with the Webmaster Panel (Google) and the free Xenu Link Sleuth service. It is better to use several methods to identify the maximum number of broken links.
You need to get rid of broken links depending on the situation:
- for moved pages – configure 301 redirects;
- for deleted pages by internal links – remove the link;
- for 404 pages on external links – contact the administrators of these sites and inform them that their links are not working.
Other errors (401, 403, 500) can be corrected in the same way.
Check page load speed
Users hate pages with slow loading speeds, so you need to make sure the loading speed is acceptable.
How to check:
First of all, we recommend using Google services. To check your page speed, you can use the famous PageSpeed Insights or use an extension called Lighthouse. For a more detailed check of the mobile site and how your site loads on mobile networks (2G, 3G, 4G), use the online mobile testing service, Google, Pagespeed Insight, PingDom, or GTMetrix. We also recommend checking out webpagetest.org. It is a tool that will allow you to check your website speed on both mobile devices and PC.
How to reduce page load time:
- compress pictures;
- enable data caching;
- get rid of unnecessary redirects;
- reduce the number of requests to the server.
Checking your robots.txt file
This file contains commands for search engine robots. Close service pages, filter pages, site search, etc. from search robots.
The file must be located in the root directory of the site https://site.com.ua/robots.txt
How to check:
Use Google Search Console. Some errors are displayed there.
Check for duplicate pages
When creating new pages, if there are filters and sorting on the site, pages with the same content may appear in the search. Search engines, contrary to myths, do not punish duplicate content. But it is very important that the page with the correct address (URL) is in the index.
How to check:
Use free SEO audit tools, Google Search Console
What else needs to be considered in internal SEO audit
- Check the content and meta tags title and description;
- Add unique titles;
- Get rid of junk index or unnecessary pages;
- Check your comment moderation to make sure that profanity, spam links don’t end up in them.
External SEO site audit
This stage covers: analyzing the link profile of your site, analyzing the link profiles of the sites that host your backlinks and the profiles of competitors’ sites.
(Alexa service shows the dynamics of resource popularity)
Analyzing inbound links on your site is important. Avoid posting on your site links to resources that are inappropriate, look suspicious or have negative reviews.
You can use Ahrefs.
Analysis of the profiles of donor sites
It is necessary to control the sites where links to your site are posted. Pay special attention to purchased links, especially on so-called “link exchanges”. In practice, often, links to a site selling building materials end up on a site with medicines for sexually transmitted diseases.
When conducting an external audit of a site, you should also pay attention to the so-called “anchors”.
Since you do not have access to the webmaster tools of these sites, use third-party services.
We recommend using comprehensive SEO audit services for competitors ‘sites such as SerpStat, SemRush and Ahrefs, which can give you a lot of information about competitors’ sites (backlinks, Internet advertising activity, keywords used, etc.).
At this stage, the semantic core and the requests by which people get to your site are analyzed.
Tools for working with semantics: Google Analytics, LiveInternet, Yandex.Metrica Wordstat, hints in the search engine search bar, Key Collector, Rank
Use the natural language processing services from Google and IBM. There are other services on the Russian-speaking Internet that you can use.
All of them will help you optimize your text so that it is understandable to search engines and pleasing to people.
Site structure analysis
The structure of the site is closely intertwined with its semantic core. At this stage, the correspondence of semantics, nesting depth and ease of navigation are analyzed.
- Nesting level is more than 4;
- The structure does not match semantics;
- Spamming due to the abundance of internal links, which can lead to sanctions from the search engines.
Analysis of the commercial component of the site
At the level of express SEO audit, it is enough to simply check the presence of a contact page, map, operating mode, certificates and the correct functioning of the functionality (shopping cart, contact forms, etc.). if you are looking for digital marketing agency for Digital marketing services we will provide.