10 Fundamentals for an SEO Website Audit – How to Audit a Website
It is essential to audit your business website on a regular basis to ensure that it is optimised to maximum effect both for the search engines and for conversions.
SEO, by default, is an on-going process but there may be fundamental issues which need attention to boost website performance.
So, what areas do you need to focus on with your audit? Some of the factors below can be quite technical – but don’t worry – we are at the end of a telephone (01483 429222) to help you move forward, or if you are looking for a professional technical website audit, see how we can help you with visitor generation and conversions through our digital marketing consultancy services.
Your audit should be action focussed, so when recording your findings don’t write down what is wrong with the website – write down what needs to be done in the form of a prioritized list. The areas below are not an exhaustive list, but the following factors are fundamental to an effective audit.
Finally, a couple of points:
- Some of the points below could be considered “How to do SEO” types of tips, whilst that isn’t the purpose of this blog post, they are important elements for an SEO audit
- When making changes or optimising your site as a result of an SEO site audit, always consider your human visitors first, before you consider Google or the other search engines. Spammy over-optimisation on a site will not only turn off your human visitors, but can also result in Google penalties
- Q: Is your index/home page showing in Google when you search for your website address?
Your index page should appear first. If it does not, there could be an issue.
Go back to your website and check key-phrase, site architecture and internal linking. Also, check with Google Webmaster Tools to see if you have received a message from Google to suggest you have been penalised in some way.
Are you blocking Google from accessing your home page or stopping it indexing it in error? See point 2 below regarding robots and canonical issues.
- Q: How many landing pages are showing in Google Analytics?
Are some pages not showing? If so, is your sitemap.xml up to date? Do some pages need further focussed optimisation?
- Is Google visiting your site regularly and updating?
To find out, check the Crawl Stats tab in Google Webmaster Tools.
This will show you the number of pages Google has crawled over the past 90 days. If the data is showing no crawl stats, something is likely to be wrong – have you made changes to the site that might have affected Google’s ability to access the site? Have you made changes that Google may consider spammy?
You can also search for your website in Google. To the right of the domain address is an upturned triangle. Click on this and then click on “cached”.
This shows how your site looked the last time Google cached your site – it will also give the date the page was cached. If the last cache date was over two weeks ago, Google may be experiencing problems with your site and you should check for penalties.
- Are all title tags optimised on all pages?
All title tags should be unique to each web page.
They should include relevant key words/phrases that relate to the page content or subject matter. Title tags should ideally be kept to 55-60 characters as this is what will be displayed in the results pages, although terms included within the <title> after that character count are still taken into account within the ranking algorithms.
- Are all meta descriptions in place on all pages?
Again, check meta descriptions presented are unique to each page.
As much as Google does not factor into its algorithm keywords in meta descriptions, they are very powerful because the searcher will match words they have typed in the search box with what your web page offers (and Google will also embolden matching keywords which can help to improve click through rates from the search results page).
- Is web text optimised?
Check that each page is optimised with a sprinkle of the keyword/phrase relevant to that page.
Synonyms are important, rather than too much repetition of your main target keyword/phrase. Place the keyword(s) in areas such as page title, header tags, subtitles and leading paragraph, graphic names and alt tags, but DO NOT stuff the target keywords everywhere – a good tip is that the copy should read naturally when read aloud.
- Is there enough text for Google to understand what the site is about?
This is a problem with graphic heavy sites.
For instance, if you are a photographer, who needs words when your pictures speak for themselves? Wrong. Google can only determine what your site is about from the text on each page.
As well as adding optimised text to each page consider naming graphics with the keyword relevant to the page and don’t forget the image alt facility in the coding.
“Thin content” is also worth keeping an eye on, this can occur by mistake, but either way it is likely to result in a manual spam action from Google.
- Are there duplicate pages?
Check to make sure that you have no pages with duplicate text. Google could penalise you for duplicate content.
- Is the text substantial, does it promote brand awareness and include calls to action?
It’s fine optimising the text for the search engines but, if your visitors are just faced with filler text that does not excite, engage and create leads, they will bounce away very quickly.
Ensure the text is substantial and informative, gives credibility to your brand in your chosen industry; enhances brand awareness and smoothly guides your visitor through “calls to action”.
- How fast do the pages download?
Again, the one thing searchers have is lots of choice. If your website is taking too long to download, it is likely they will give up and go elsewhere.
You can use the Google PageSpeed Insights tool to determine if your site is downloading fast enough and what the issues may be. This tool will also highlight any problems with the speed of your site on mobile devices.
The performance of your site on mobile devices is a hot topic currently, as Google will actively demote sites within the mobile rankings if it feels that the site offers mobile users a poor experience – check your site’s mobile performance using the Google Mobile-Friendly Test tool for this.
These are the very basics of a website audit. To consider a full professional site audit which takes into account all your online channels contact us on 01483 429222 or visit our page on strategic digital consulting.