How to Perform a Thorough SEO Audit on Your Website

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Hi there! Performing a thorough SEO audit on your website is crucial for identifying issues that may be negatively impacting your search engine rankings and website traffic. By auditing your site‘s technical SEO, on-page optimization, backlinks and other ranking factors, you can gain insights into areas that need improvement.

In this comprehensive guide, we will walk through the key elements to audit as part of an SEO website review. Follow these steps to perform a complete SEO analysis of your site.

Set Up Tracking and Analytics

Before diving into the audit, take time to set up proper tracking and analytics, friend. This will allow you to monitor the impact of changes you make based on the audit results.

Here are some of the key platforms to have in place:

  • Google Analytics: This should be set up on your site to track visits, sources, site speed and other key metrics. Make sure ecommerce tracking is implemented if you have an online store. Google Analytics provides a wealth of data to measure the impact of your optimization efforts.

  • Google Search Console: Connect your site to Search Console to see search analytics like impressions, clicks and rankings. This is also where you can request indexing, submit sitemaps and view crawl errors. I highly recommend verifying your site ownership here.

  • Third-party rank tracking: Use a tool like SEMrush, Moz or Ahrefs to track keyword rankings over time. This will show the impact of your optimization efforts. SEMrush is my personal favorite for rank tracking and competitive analysis.

  • Conversion tracking: Install Facebook pixel, Google tag manager, etc. to measure conversions from your site. Track sign-ups, purchases and other goals. Understanding your conversions helps prioritize the most valuable keywords.

Having this tracking will allow you to measure results from the audit and identify high-value optimization opportunities. Don‘t skip this step!

Audit Your Site‘s Indexation

The first step is to examine your site‘s indexation status in Google, my friend. This will show you what pages Google is aware of, how it is crawling your site and if you have any major technical problems.

Here are some key things to check:

  • Index coverage: What percentage of your site has been indexed by Google? You can check this in Search Console. A lower number indicates crawl issues. Experts recommend striving for at least 80-90% indexation.

  • Sitemap submitted/indexed: Verify your XML sitemap has been submitted to Search Console and that the pages have been indexed. Ideally, you want 100% of your sitemap indexed.

  • Robots.txt: Check your robots.txt file is not blocking Google from crawling important pages. Test it using the Robots.txt Analyzer tool.

  • Crawl errors: Are there any crawl errors or invalid URLs in Search Console? This should be fixed as soon as possible.

  • Speed: Evaluate your site speed insights and implement optimizations like caching, image compression, server improvements etc. Page speed is a ranking factor.

Resolving major indexation issues should be a priority before further optimizing your site. Getting indexed is the first step!

Analyze Your Site Structure

Next, do an in-depth evaluation of your site structure and how Google bots navigate your site. Optimizing this can directly improve rankings, crawling and user experience.

  • Sitemaps: Create XML sitemaps for your site sections – homepage, blog, products etc. Submit these to Search Console. Sitemaps help search engines efficiently crawl your site.

  • Internal linking: Check that your site has a natural linking structure allowing bots to crawl efficiently. Add contextually relevant internal links between pages. This helps pages get indexed and pass authority.

  • Pagination: Implement proper URL pagination like rather than just numbers. Descriptive pagination is better for SEO.

  • URL structure: Use descriptive SEO-friendly URLs with target keywords, not generic ones. For example, instead of Keyword-focused URLs can improve CTR.

  • 301 redirects: Set up redirects from old to new pages to pass on link equity. Check for chains of inefficient redirects using Redirect Path. Redirects prevent losing SEO value from changed URLs.

Optimizing your site structure goes a long way in improving bot crawling, indexation and rankings. Don‘t neglect this technical SEO element.

Audit On-Page SEO

On-page optimization is how you optimize individual webpages to target keywords and rank well in the SERPs. Go through each important page on your site and evaluate:

  • Page titles: Your title tag should be an attractive, clickable title that captures the topic of the page in 55-60 characters. Titles impact CTR and search appearance.

  • Meta description: This 155-160 character snippet should provide a summary of the page that entices searchers to click. Descriptions influence click-through-rate.

  • Headings: Use relevant keyword-focused headings (H1 to H3 tags) to structure content on the page. Headings help indicate topic relevance.

  • Content: Ensure your content is high-quality, covers the topic in-depth and uses related keywords naturally. Manage length appropriately. Unique, useful content drives rankings.

  • Images: Use descriptive file names and alt text for images that includes target keywords where relevant. Optimize images for better indexing.

  • Videos: Optimize video content with engaging titles, descriptions and transcriptions. Videos can help pages gain visibility.

After optimizing pages, test how they will appear in the SERPs using tools like the MozBar. Tweak as needed to improve click-through-rate.

The quality and quantity of backlinks pointing to your website are a critical ranking factor. So a key part of any audit focuses on evaluating your backlink profile, including:

  • Disavow tool: Check for unnatural links flagged by Google that should be disavowed using this tool. Removing toxic links protects your site.

  • Number of backlinks: Assess whether your site has gained a natural volume of backlinks from quality sites over time. More backlinks generally improve rankings.

  • Referring domains: You want links from a diverse set of high-quality sites, not a few low-quality ones. Varied domains signals trust.

  • Anchor text: Your backlinks should have a natural anchor text distribution, not solely keyword-rich ones. Natural anchor text helps avoid manual actions.

  • Broken backlinks: Use a backlink analysis tool to identify and reach out to fix broken backlinks pointing to non-working pages. Fixing broken links maintains SEO value.

  • Competitor links: Research how your competitors are building backlinks for ideas on link building strategies. Learn from what‘s working for others.

Focus on earning natural links from authoritative, relevant sites versus low-quality manipulative links. Quality over quantity for backlinks!

Check Your Site for Issues

You also need to dig into technical and development issues that may impact SEO and user experience:

  • Mobile optimization: Google prioritizes mobile-friendly, responsive sites. Audit using Google Mobile-Friendly Test. Avoid mobile usability issues.

  • Page speed: Site speed is a ranking factor. Test yours using Pingdom or Google PageSpeed Insights. Faster sites have higher user retention.

  • Schema markup: Review whether appropriate schema markup has been added, especially for reviews, products and videos. Schema can enhance display of rich results.

  • Security issues: Fix any flagged security problems like non-secure elements or malware warnings. Security helps maintain site integrity.

  • Broken links: Use a broken link checker to identify and fix dead or broken internal or external links. Broken links negatively affect UX.

  • Accessibility: Check your site follows accessibility standards for images, site navigation and ARIA labels. Improve access for all users.

Fixing these development and technical problems should be an SEO priority to boost organic growth.

Compare Your Site to Competitors

One of the best ways to identify gaps in your SEO is to compare your site against competitors. Use a competitive analysis tool like SEMrush to research:

  • Pages ranking for shared keywords

  • Backlink profiles

  • Top landing pages

  • SEO strengths/weaknesses

See where competitors are outperforming you to find high-impact areas to focus your optimization efforts. Leverage comparative analysis!

Track Keyword Rankings

The entire goal of SEO is to improve keyword rankings so you need to determine:

  • Which keywords you want to target

  • Their current ranking position

  • Which pages or posts are optimized for each keyword

Do this research using Keyword Explorer, then track rankings over time using rank tracking software. This will reveal which pages need further optimization to reach the desired ranking. Monitor your rankings!

Fix Any Manual Penalties

If your site has received a manual penalty from Google, resolving this should become your top priority. Start by:

  • Identifying the violation through Search Console

  • Determining if it was an algorithmic or manual action

  • Understanding specifically what content or links caused the penalty

  • Creating a plan to comprehensively clean up the issues

  • Submitting a reconsideration request through Search Console

Penalties take time and expertise to properly address, so don‘t delay in starting this process. Act quickly to fix penalties before they significantly damage your site‘s rankings.

Create an SEO Audit Report

Once you‘ve completed the technical audit, consolidate your key findings, opportunities and recommendations in an SEO audit report. This presentation of your analysis will help obtain buy-in from stakeholders on prioritizing and budgeting resources to execute your optimization plan.

Include details like:

  • Executive summary of current site performance

  • Data visualizations demonstrating trends

  • Specific problems identified

  • Expert solutions and priorities

  • Expected costs and timelines for fixes

Having an audit report makes it easier to demonstrate the return on investment from addressing identified SEO issues. A report builds the business case for changes!

Perform SEO Audits Regularly

SEO is an ongoing process as algorithms, trends and competition constantly evolve. Set reminders to re-audit your site‘s health every quarter to stay on top of new issues impacting rankings.

Prioritize critical issues and action items first. But look to make incremental SEO gains over time through regular audits and optimization. Stay diligent with quarterly reviews!

Expert Tips to Enhance Your Audit

Here are some pro tips from leading SEO experts on performing even more effective website audits:

  • "Check that your site is mobile-friendly and fast loading. Google heavily weights site speed and mobile usability as ranking factors." – Rand Fishkin, Co-Founder of Moz

  • "Don‘t just audit technical factors. Also analyze your content quality, topics and naming against competitors." – Eric Enge, CEO of Stone Temple Consulting

  • "Review your site‘s information architecture and navigation structure. Improvements here can directly enhance SEO." – Krista Neher, CEO of Boot Camp Digital

  • "Set up analytics and conversion tracking before auditing. This allows you to measure the ROI of changes." – Aleyda Solis, Founder of Orainti

  • "Regularly audit new quality guidelines and algorithm updates. Stay on top of Google‘s evolving criteria." – Dawn Anderson, SEO Consultant

  • "Create an SEO task list from audit findings. Prioritize issues to address based on impact and resources needed." – Marie Haynes, Founder of HISkwolics

  • "Supplement your technical audit with user research. Surveys and interviews provide insights into problems." – Brodie Clark, SEO Consultant

  • "Don‘t get overwhelmed. Break your audit into manageable sections over several days or weeks."- David Amerland, SEO Consultant and Author

Seeing what the experts do is a great way to enhance your own SEO auditing process over time. Learn from the best!

SEO Audit Checklist

To summarize, here is a checklist to guide your complete SEO website audit:

❏ Set up analytics and conversion tracking

❏ Evaluate site indexation status

❏ Analyze site architecture and structure

❏ Audit on-page optimization factors

❏ Check backlink profile quality and quantity

❏ Review site for technical issues

❏ Compare to competitors

❏ Track keyword rankings

❏ Fix any penalties

❏ Create an SEO audit report

❏ Conduct audits quarterly

Having a systematic process for evaluating your website‘s technical SEO, content, backlinks and more ensures you spot problems early before they significantly impact organic traffic and conversions. Follow these steps to perform a comprehensive audit that provides strategic insights into improving your search performance.

The more you audit, the more you will master the intricacies of technical SEO. With some dedication, you can do an expert-level review of your site‘s health to help unlock its full potential! Let me know if you have any other questions.


Written by Alexis Kestler

A female web designer and programmer - Now is a 36-year IT professional with over 15 years of experience living in NorCal. I enjoy keeping my feet wet in the world of technology through reading, working, and researching topics that pique my interest.