Why do you need an SEO audit?
First things first, let’s take a quick look at why you need to know how to do an SEO audit. Essentially, the world of SEO has changed a lot – and put simply, it’s not as easy to rank as it once was. A search engine like Google now has multiple factors it checks to determine your ranking, from bounce rate and backlinks to content length and website security. Improving some, or all, of these factors – not to mention avoiding issues that could incur a penalty, will boost your ranking in the SERPs and help drive traffic to your website.
As ever, if you set out to improve your performance, you need to know where you’re currently at. That’s where a site audit comes in. Think of it as the mechanics’ once-over before you get in your SEO car.
How to do an SEO audit: the checklist
To help make the process simpler, we’ve broken down how to do an SEO audit into eight steps. Your best friend is going to be one of the many SEO tools out there, as only one of these can you accurately crawl your site. Check out our list of SEO reporting tools or consider one of the big names rated highly by experts: Ahrefs, SEMRush, Moz Pro, or Google Search Console.
1. Conduct a crawl
The building blocks of your site audit, a crawl will check your website from top to bottom and highlight any errors as well as positive metrics. Though we’d love to congratulate you on your monthly traffic stats here (and please, do take a minute for those), we’d like to guide you straight to the area that’s probably named something like “SEO Issues” (depending on the tool you use).
2. Check your page speed
This is now super important for determining your rankings. A load speed of anything more than 3 seconds is a big no for Google, so optimize yours for both desktop and mobile.
3. Improve your website security
A must-do in any site audit, this means redirecting your http pages to a secure https address. Website security is another key ranking factor, and nowadays we all need to be working with https. Ensure you have solid redirects in place to avoid duplicate content.
4. Clean up duplicate content
While we’re on the subject, this is yet another important part of how to do an SEO audit. Google wants unique content, so any copied pages are a potential problem (find out more about that in our guide to duplicate content). Redirects and canonical tags take minutes to implement but will save you a big headache in the future.
5. Fix broken links
Plus missing images or pages. Basically, anything that gets a visitor the dreaded 404 message. A good site audit will highlight these site errors and allow you to clean them up nicely.
6. Optimize on-page SEO
This includes an update of your title tags, meta descriptions, keywords, and site architecture. Some are a quicker fix than others, but if you work your way through all of them thoroughly you can create a cleaner, more user-friendly, crawl-able site. Remember to keep content unique where possible, not to mention succinct and compelling. A meta description template and keyword research tools can be invaluable at this stage.
Related: Keyword research services
7. Audit your off-page SEO
You may have fixed broken links within your website, but what about any broken links from external sources? Fixing broken backlinks can be a matter of sending a quick email with an updated URL. The best part? An SEO audit will allow you to find new backlink opportunities, so you can reach out to other sites in the future.
8. Update your content
So-called thin content contains a low word count, few images, and poor use of keywords. In short, a search engine is unlikely to consider it good at answering search intent. Finding these pages offers you a great chance to consolidate topics (thereby reducing duplicate content) or make updates that will get Google crawling your pages as though they were new.
There are, of course, several other steps you can undertake, but these are the ones that are simplest and yield the greatest results. Now you know how to do an SEO audit, try to make it part of your SEO strategy at least once a year – if not more often. Analyze regularly and don’t be afraid to change things. Even in the complex world of SEO, a little really can go a long way!