A thorough SEO audit can be exactly what your website needs for it to excel at achieving its goal. A full audit can nonetheless be a daunting task. It might also be quite time-consuming; and well, who’s got the time. Right?
Therefore, we are going to take you on an informative journey that will teach you how to conduct a comprehensive SEO audit for a website in less than one week.
If you find yourself overwhelmed by other tasks or just want someone else to handle, there are tons of professional marketing agencies specializing in local SEO to help boost your brand.
Begin by Crawling
Before you can fix any website, you ought to know its current status. This calls you to crawl the site in totality.
Most agencies and contractors have their own custom codes that they use for crawling and analyzing a website. If you are not into coding, you could take advantage of other tools such as the Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider.
You must then configure the crawling tool to behave like a bot from a search engine of your choice. To do so, you first set the correct string for your desired search engine bot and then adjust the crawler’s settings on how to handle various web technologies.
Use Web Master Tools
The information that you get from crawlers makes better sense when you consult a search engine. Since Google, or any other search engine for that matter, won’t casually give you unrestricted access to their servers, you have to use Webmaster tools to analyze the data from crawlers.
At this point, you must have your website registered with any one of the popular webmaster tools such as Bing or Google Webmaster Tools.
After getting the information, you want from your search engine you must then get info about the folks visiting your website. The website’s analytics will provide this info. The internet has numerous analytics packages. You can thus pick any one of them as long as they can give comprehensive data on the traffic patterns of the site.
Testing A Site’s Accessibility
This process will determine whether your website is accessible to both search engines and users. To do this, use the following methods.
A robots.txt file is meant to restrict web crawlers from reaching sections of your website that you do not want to be accessed. It is quite useful at times. Nevertheless, it could be the reason why search engines aren’t reaching your website. You, therefore, need to carry out a manual check up to see if the robots.txt file is restricting some important pages from being accessed. Google Webmaster tools will come in handy here.
Robots Meta Tags
This is a tag designed to direct a search engine crawler on whether or not to index a particular page. It also tells the crawler whether it’s allowed to follow the links in a specific page. You, therefore, must find out whether there are pages that have been blocking crawlers hence impairing the accessibility of your site.
HTTP Status Codes
A site’s accessibility is hindered if the URLs for some pages have return errors. You must, therefore, find and fix all the URLs that may be broken on your web page and redirect them appropriately. You must also ensure that 301 HTTP redirects are in use in your site.
This is the roadmap that search engine crawlers use to get to your website. You must ensure that it is a well-formed XML document following all the sitemap protocols. It must present an updated view containing all the pages in your website. In case some pages do not appear, you must review the architecture and create internal backlinks to these orphaned sites. You could also make easy for search engines to find your site by submitting the sitemap to your Webmaster account.
Review the Site Architecture
This paints for you a picture of how wide (horizontal breadth) and how many levels (vertical depth) are there on your site. It tells you how many clicks a user has to make to get to important content. You additionally get to see how different pages link to each other in your site’s hierarchy.
Always strive to make the architecture fast and give important pages the highest priority.
A site’s navigation bears critical importance in determining its SEO rankings. The rule of the thumb is that you should do your best not to use Flash navigation. Even though intelligent crawlers are being developed daily, Flash is still quite invisible to most of them.
The Performance of The Site
Not many users are willing to put up with an unresponsive website. Most visitors will have very low attention span on your site. They are therefore most likely going to move away if your pages take too long to load. Search engine bots are just like people. They too will only afford to spend a limited amount of time crawling through your site. A fast website, therefore, gets a more thorough crawl than one that is slow or unresponsive.
A site’s performance can be evaluated with the help of various tools including the Google Page Speed and the YSlow. The best of these tools will not only check your web pages but will also give you propositions on how you can improve the speed of a site. A tool such as Pingdom Full Page Test will create a list of all the pages on your site, their sizes as well as load speeds. This way you can easily tell which pages are slowing down your sites.
SEO auditing is a wide topic. In this post, we’ve addressed how you can audit for the accessibility of your site to users and search engines. You must, however, appreciate that SEO doesn’t end here. There still much that we haven’t looked at including how to test the indexability, competitiveness and on-page/off-page ranking factors that affect the visibility of your page. All these are topics that we will be getting into in future, and we hope you will be joining us then as we explore SEO to its core.