SEO Audit – How To Get Started
To improve a website’s search performance, you need to perform an SEO audit on the site. An SEO audit involves processes such as finding technical issues, dead links, on-page issues, etc., and fixing them. While every SEO expert has a different approach to improving the search performance of a site, there are some must-do basic SEO audits you need to perform on your website.
Below are 7 crucial SEO audit basics to check on a website.
1. Check for Duplicate Versions of Your Website in Google’s Index
There are different versions of a website – https://yourdomain.com, https://www.yourdomain.com, http://yourdomain.com, and http://www.yourdomain.com. To improve the SEO of your site, you must check that Google is indexing only a version of your site. Having other versions indexed means you have duplicate versions of your site on the search engine, which can affect your site’s search performance.
To check if your website has duplicate versions, simply head to Google and type site:yourdomain.com. Check the results displayed to see if there are different versions. If there are, you need to fix the issue.
2. Improving Website Speed
Although page speed is not a huge factor in ranking pages on the search engine, having a website that loads faster than your competition can make a difference. There is no official benchmark for how fast a page should load, but having website pages that load between 1 to 3 seconds is always a good one. Website visitors are getting impatient as the year goes by and won’t hesitate to leave a site that is taking longer to load. Having visitors leave your website at the point of loading can leave a terrible experience on your site’s SEO. This is known as a “Bounce” and a signal to Google that the information on your website did not answer what the person searching was looking for.
You can use Google’s PageSpeed Insight tool and GTmetrix to check your page speed and make the recommended changes. Check both the mobile and desktop results.
3. Your Website Must be Mobile Friendly
Mobile-friendliness is a major thing to focus on because more than 50% of website visitors are mobile users. At the end of 2021, mobile visitors generated 54.4% of total website traffic. For that reason, Google places serious emphasis on having a mobile-friendly site.
Even though most website themes are mobile-optimized, website owners still face mobile-friendly issues. You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool to check how your website is performing on mobile versions.The Google Search Console is another great way to find mobile-friendly errors and a guide on how to fix the errors. Simply head to the Mobile Usability tab to see if there are any errors.
4. Check Your Website’s Indexed URLs
You can check for your indexed URLs the same way you checked for duplicate versions of your website in step 1 above. Run a search on Google like this “site:yourdomain.com”, and it will display all the indexed URLs on your site.
In some cases, you might be surprised to know that Google hasn’t indexed several URLs on your site. If you are not getting a good number of indexed URLs, it might be due to duplicate or thin content pages. It might also be that Google is not crawling your pages as it should. You need to go to GSC to check for any errors and fix them.
5. Make Sure Your Website is Using HTTPS
Load your website on a browser to confirm if it uses HTTPS. If it isn’t, you should ensure you switch from HTTP to HTTPS. The “S” is an encrypted version of the HTTP protocol, adding a layer of cyber security for every visitor to your website. There is always a security warning from Google whenever a visitor is visiting a website without the HTTPS version. This could send back most visitors from visiting your site, thus, affecting your site’s search performance.
Apart from the fact that a website with the HTTP version discourages visitors from visiting your website, HTTPS has been a ranking factor since 2014. If your site is not using HTTPS, you need to implement the SSL certificate.
6. Benchmark Your Website’s Ranking and Understand Your Competitors
Before going into on-page audit or technical SEO, you should know who your competitors are. Understanding what your competitors are doing would give you a good understanding of what you are going into, thus, boosting your success rate.
You should benchmark your website’s ranking and analyze site performance against competitor websites. There are tools to use for this process and one such tool is the Semrush toolset.
7. Check for Manual Actions
Google has Webmaster Quality Guidelines that your website needs to meet. Failure to meet these guidelines may cause your site to receive manual action from Google.
The consequence of receiving manual action from Google is that your site’s ranking will drop and it will be difficult to rank as you used to do. This penalty can either be at the page level or sitewide.
To check if your website has received a manual action, head to GSC (Google Search Console), look for the “Security & Manual Actions” tab, and click on it. You will see “Manual Action” in the dropdown, then click on it. If there is no manual action against your site, you would see a green tick that says No Issues Detected.
If you see an issue under the Manual Action tab, here’s Google’s guide on how to remedy the problem. You may also read essential tips on fixing and avoiding Google penalties.
8. Website Content
Unique informative content is a must if you want to get found in the search engines. Copying content from other websites is plagiarism and is not a penalty, but it will hurt your rankings.
To check content you can try tools like Copyscape