A routine SEO audit is necessary for any business.
Make sure yours is an effective use of your time by focusing on the right areas and using tools that will show you your gains over time and areas for improvement.
Let’s go through what an SEO audit is, a 10-step process for conducting one, and some of the tools that are available from our partners at Semrush that will help you make sure you are optimized for the right keywords, get more backlinks, find errors on your site, and more.
What Is an SEO Audit?
An SEO audit is a check-up to make sure your website is competitive and findable online. Audits are thorough evaluations of all the elements that Google’s SEO algorithm likes to see. You’ll check for tech errors, load times, keyword rankings, and backlinks. You’ll even compare your site against your competition to see how your site ranks within search engines.
How to Conduct an SEO Audit
A solid SEO audit requires a bit of planning. First, you’ll want a detailed checklist to work through (more on that below). Then you’ll want to have the right tools to help you collect, analyze, display, and easily understand all the data SEO audits produce.
A few other tips:
- Set aside time to focus on your SEO audit. Find a week or two within your company’s calendar that’s free of product launches, promotions, or other busy times.
- Repeat it! Audits aren’t a one-and-done exercise. Search algorithms change all the time. You’ll want to make sure your site keeps up with every trend.
- Get tech support. The audit evaluates more than just content and clicks. There may be tech errors and bugs that need to be fixed. Resolve them quickly by sending them to a developer.
Alright, time to get into your SEO audit checklist and action plan.
10-Step SEO Audit Checklist
Prepping, executing, and analyzing your audit can take weeks if you don’t have the right resources. For each to-do, we suggest a couple tools to help you get started, plus a bonus tool to help you take your reporting to the next level.
1. Analyze Current Keywords and Find New Ones
Keywords are homing signals. Using the right ones will make sure your content and site get in front of your target audience. The perfect keyword selection means you’ll be able to drive organic, unpaid traffic to your site from people who are searching for what you offer.
An audit will help you determine whether or not you’re targeting the right keywords. Great tools to help you out include:
Already have your keywords set? Semrush and Google Analytics also tell you how well you rank for each given keyword. Use these tools to help you determine the keywords that:
- Are relevant to your business
- Command a high search volume
- Are not highly coveted or competitive keywords
Compare what you find against your current strategy to determine what changes you need to make.
2. Technical SEO Audit
Tip: Partner with tech support on this section.
Search engines favor well-optimized sites because they lead to a better user experience. Here are a few things your tech audit should look for:
- Indexing issues. The Google index is a huge database of all the webpages it has crawled and stored to later serve up as search results. It may take a few days or a few weeks for Google to crawl your site and index new or updated pages.
You can create and submit an XML sitemap of your website through the Google Search Console to get your pages indexed faster.
|How to find your XML sitemap|
It will likely be found by adding “sitemap.xml” to the end of your URL: https://companysite.com/sitemap.xml. It will produce a page with lines of code that Google reads like directions and signs to index in their database.
Not every page needs to be indexed, like company pages, just the important ones, such as the homepage and product pages.
- Broken links. Check internal links to make sure they all lead somewhere.
- Site speed. Patience isn’t a quality most internet searchers have. How quickly your site loads is essential to user satisfaction and keeping them on your site for as long as possible.
Ideal website load time: 1-2 seconds. You can improve your load time by compressing large images and caching browser activity to faster recall.
- Crawl errors. You can run a simulated site crawl with the tools below and catch errors before Google does. Remember, if your site can’t be crawled then it can’t be found.
Feel like you need to take a web development class before tackling a technical SEO audit?
Luckily, there are several tools to help you beat the learning curve by doing all of this for you. Great options are Semrush’s Site Audit and Google Search Console.
Each tool will crawl your site, list your errors, and give you an overall health score.
3. On-Page SEO
Focus on your top pages and deep-dive into the SEO optimization of each page. As Google crawls each page of your site, it looks for obvious signals (keywords) in visible places (headers and titles). So make sure keywords show up in:
- Meta titles
- Meta descriptions
- Header tags (H1, H2, H3)
Semrush’s On-Page SEO Checker is the perfect tool to help you through this part of your SEO Audit.
4. Content Audit
In mid-2022, Google launched a new content update to its search algorithm to target content that’s been created to help and inform people. During your SEO audit, take a look at the quality of your content. Does it satisfy both Google and searchers?
But before you throw out all your old content, focus on refreshing it.
- Find your low-performers and update it or delete it.
- Check for duplicate content.
- Make sure your content is well-structured, informative, and easy to read. (Don’t forget: People like bulleted lists.)
- Include calls to action (CTAs) to give visitors a next step, like reading another article or signing up for a demo.
5. Backlink Analysis
Backlinks boost your website’s authority and, of course, its online rankings. They’re created when an authoritative website, like a government site, links to your site as a reliable source or reference.
During your SEO audit, tools like Semrush’s Backlink Analytics can review your backlink profile.
If you need to build or improve your backlinks, reach out to reputable sites in your industry. Either ask to be featured or suggest a guest posting. This is also the time to review your anchor text is relevant.
Finally, take a look at your competitors’ backlinks to help you gather new ideas for your own backlink strategy.
6. Mobile Optimization
More searches happen on mobile devices than desktop. Mobile searchers are also less likely to scroll through page results to find what they’re looking for. They’re more likely to choose one of the top three search results.
Make sure your site works great and looks great for the 4.32 billion active mobile internet users.
Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to assess your site’s mobile compatibility. You’ll see load times, displays, and other design fixes you may need to make for mobile users.
7. Local SEO
If you have a physical location or serve a local audience, your website needs to say so. During your SEO audit, make sure you:
- Claim or optimize your Google Business Profile listing.
- Maintain your NAP (name, address, phone number) across all online platforms. Make sure it’s consistent, too, such as the address displaying St or Street.
- Encourage and respond to customer reviews.
Doing all of this on a regular basis will keep you at the top of “[industry] near me” searches. And Semrush tools like Listing Management and Review Management can help manage your local SEO all in one place.
8. User Experience (UX) Audit
Although it indirectly affects your Google rankings, an SEO Audit is still an ideal time to take a look at your site’s user experience (UX). Along with content, evaluating the entire user experience will help you create a website that visitors find, return to, and actually read. Although some aspects of UX are subjective, it’s also pretty easy to test.
Ask these questions about your site during your SEO audit:
- Is my website easy to navigate? Are links and the navigation bar intuitive?
- Does my website load quickly on different browsers and devices?
- Is my site accessible to visitors with disabilities?
Consider simplifying or renaming top nav categories. And don’t forget to make sure you add alt text for images.
Look at your site as a brand new visitor or watch a new visitor explore your site to find ways to improve usability.
9. Analytics Review
It used to be difficult to measure the full effect of a company’s marketing efforts, but not anymore. Today’s analytics software allows marketers to monitor every click, every download, and every spike in traffic.
Honestly, you can track almost anything. But can you make any sense of it?
This SEO to-do item is all about reviewing the pile of metrics you have and turning it into actionable data.
- Ensure you’re tracking the right user behavior. Do you have metrics to track the journey from visitor to lead or user to buyer?
- Tie traffic flows to marketing efforts. Depending on what you find, repeat and amplify what you’re doing or change it up.
- Set targeted goals around your metrics. You’ve heard of SMART goals, right?
Google Analytics can help you set measurable goals, like increasing monthly visitors because the analytics show it’s also tied to lead generation.
10. Competitive Analysis
Understanding what your competitors are doing—their successes and mistakes—can help you outperform them and avoid similar pitfalls. During your SEO audit:
- Identify your top competitors in your industry.
- Analyze their keywords, backlink profiles, and content.
- Determine what sets you apart and what you may be missing
Semrush and Google Analytics will give you a comprehensive online report of all of your competitors. No need to spend weeks sleuthing on your one.
Like your analytics, you can turn all this information into insights that help you put together a winning strategy.
Now What? Putting It All Together
Whew! It’s only 10 steps, but SEO audits gather a ton of information from different sources. And you’ll have all the information you need to determine what changes you need to make to your content and your site to increase organic visitors.
Semrush, Google Analytics, and Google Search Console are powerful tools. You may even know a few others to add to the list.
With Swydo, you can synthesize all that data from these platforms onto a single dashboard. You don’t need to frequently change tabs, create elaborate decks with screenshots, or download CSV files.
Just open up your Swydo dashboard where you’ve synced all of your tracking platforms. Quickly notice trends and patterns that better inform your marketing strategy. Not yet a Swydo customer? Schedule a demo or sign up for a 14 day trial.
The only question left to ask is, when is your next SEO audit happening?