How To Perform A Technical Seo Audit
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Nowadays, SEO covers a wide range of types, and those types can change at any given time. Search engine updates and consumer trends can alter any SEO gains you might have made, dropping you further down SERPs and affecting your online visibility. When SEO is vital for every business in the digital age, you need to know that the steps you’ve taken to gain that online visibility are always working as hard as possible. That means a technical SEO site audit. Unfortunately, many people see the word technical and start to panic! The good news is that the more often you do a full site SEO audit, the faster and easier it becomes.
SEO website technical audit fundamentals
There are clearly defined steps to take to carry out your technical SEO audit. Do your audit often, and you’ll find that each step reveals fewer issues, but the first full site SEO audit that you carry out will very often reveal a huge number of problems. No matter how fantastic your existing SEO strategy is, the fact is that it’s easy to miss when updates happen. That means you could be using SEO techniques that are harming your SERP visibility.
Here are the steps that you need to take for a full website technical audit.
1. Identifying Crawl Errors
This should always be your first step. A crawl report will highlight the vast majority of your SEO issues and errors, and many of the available tools will rank those issues in order of importance. Factors such as duplicate content, missing H1 and H2 tags, and even low webpage speed will all be highlighted for you. There are multiple tools available to carry out your crawl report, but the most popular remain:
- Moz Pro
- Google Search Console
Ideally, you should be checking for crawl errors at least once a month and going through your report to identify any new issues. This will ensure that any subsequent SEO site audit will be quicker to carry out.
2. HTTPS Status Codes
If your website is not secure, then search engines will not give you much of a priority on SERPs. Google now lets users know if a website is not secure. If you are still using HTTP URLs, then you are essentially hiding your content from both search engines and your customers. Ensure that you have made the switch to HTTPS, and then check for additional status code errors. These can be highlighted in your crawl report, and will often include these most common problems:
- Internal Server Error: HTTP Error 500
- Forbidden: HTTP Error 403
- Page Not Found: HTTP Error 404
- Bad Request: HTTP Error 400
- Unauthorized: HTTP Error 401
Google Search Console is very good at identifying errors, so it’s always a good idea to check that regularly and work to ensure that your error list is empty. Finally, check that your current SSL certificate is right (the SEMrush site audit tool is a user-friendly way to do this).
3. Checking your Sitemap
Your XML sitemap is what search engine bots use to find and crawl through your pages easily, and that makes them essential to get right. That means they need to:
- Be formatted correctly (in an XML document)
- Use the right sitemap protocols
- Be updated when you add new pages
- Be submitted to the Google Search Console (there is a sitemap tool available on Google Search Console)
If your sitemap is not perfect, then you may waste valuable amounts of crawl budget on pages that are harming your SEO.
4. Website Loading Time
If your webpages are slow to load then your bounce rate will rise, and your conversion rates will drop, and search engines will take note of that. You will start to drop down the SERPs, and that means site speed is critical to get right. Use the Google PageSpeed Insights tool to quickly find out how your website performs in terms of speed. If your pages take longer than three seconds to load, then you are losing customers. If you want your digital presence to be working hard for you, then site speed is a quick element to check and can be an easy fix if there are issues.
5. Mobile Compatibility
More than ever, device compatibility is crucial. If your pages work on a PC, but they’re hard to navigate, read, or input information on a smartphone or tablet then you will be punished on the SERPs. Again, Google has made this very easy to check. Use their Mobile-Friendly checking tool to identify problems. Many of these will only need easy fixes, such as:
- Making fonts larger
- Embedding YouTube videos
- Compressing your images
Now that Google has confirmed that device compatibility is a ranking factor, you need to check your loading speed regularly as part of your technical site audit.
6. Keyword Problems
Keyword cannibalization is a common issue that will be highlighted in your technical SEO audit. If every page on your website is using the same keywords, then you are forcing a search engine to compare them and grade them individually in terms of value. That will mean a weaker performance on SERPs. Although this is a common problem for those brands prioritizing localized SEO, it is remarkably quick and easy to remedy. Google’s Search Console Performance report will highlight the pages of your site that are currently competing with each other on keyword use. This is especially important if those keywords are in your metadata or make up part of your URL.
7. Quick Checks
In addition to the above checks, there are also some additional tasks to complete before your technical SEO audit is complete. These are very quick to test and remedy. To finish off your site audit, you will need to:
- Check the robots.txt file to ensure that you have allowed search engine bots to recognize your pages (or to disallow them).
- Perform a basic Google search for your website to see where you rank. You should also do a specific site search, by typing in site:yourwebsitename.com. This will show you all of your pages that Google has indexed. If your website is not the top result, it often means a robot.txt issue.
- Make sure that your meta descriptions for every page are the right length. Recently, Google changed the proper length to 320 characters, but it’s best to stick to 50-160 characters to fit potential snippet opportunities better.
- Check for any broken internal or external links that will harm your SEO. There are several link-checking tools available online, many of which are free to use.
- Duplicate content will also need to be addressed. It is estimated that as many as 66% of websites have problems with duplicate content, but you can use Copyscape, SEMrush, or Screaming Frog to check your content duplication problems.
Once you have checked, tested, identified, and then resolved your technical SEO issues, your audit is complete. Remember, the more often you carry out your technical site audit, the fewer issues will exist, and the entire process will take a lot less time. Don’t ignore what are very easy fixes because the thought of technical SEO sounds complicated. By taking your time and going step by step, your SEO site audit will be the key to improving the profitability of your business.
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