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HOW TO PERFORM A COMPLETE SEO AUDIT (in 14 steps)  

What is an SEO Audit?

A search engine optimization review is the procedure of evaluating the level of optimization of your site for search engines.It finds out the issue that might affect the rankings of your sites as well as the opportunities that enhance your site’s visibility.

An SEO audit usually includes areas such as:

  • Indexing and crawlability 
  • User experience
  • Site structure
  • Competitor analysis
  • Keyword analysis
  • On-page optimization
  • Backlink evaluation

Essentially, it serves as a comprehensive “health check” for a website. 

SEO Audit Tools  

An efficient SEO website audit depends on accurate information redarding the technical condition, traffic, and backlink profile of your website.

The two primary tools essential for this purpose are:

  • Google Search Console: a suite of dashboards and reports from Google that enables you to monitor and resolve any issues related to your website’s visibility on Google.
  • Semrush: a comprehensive SEO toolset that offers a detailed analysis of your site’s performance and facilitates enhancements across critical SEO aspects.

Next, we will look deeper into carrying out the SEO audit using these tools.

How To Do An SEO Audit?  

1.  Verity for Listing Issues

Pages that are not listed are missing from Google’s database. Google cannot rank them.

To verify if your pages have been listed, inspect for problems directly in Google Search Console.

Here, you can view a chart of all pages based on their listing status.

Beneath, you’ll find a catalog of reasons why pages haven’t been indexed.

Examine all the specified reasons individually. Investigate the pages that fit into these reasons.

Remember that not all pages need to be listed—only the ones you wish to rank in search results. So it’s entirely typical to have some URLs that are not listed.

Here are some instances of URLs that don’t need to be listed:

  • Pages with redirects
  • Administrative pages
  • Alternative pages with canonical tags
  • Feed pages

If you discover a page that should be listed but isn’t, resolve the problem by following Google’s guidelines. Once completed, click the “Validate Fix” button.

Alternatively, you can simply copy a specific URL and paste it into the search bar at the top of the Google Search Console dashboard.

You’ll observe the URL’s status. Now select the “Request Indexing” link.

If you’ve significantly altered the page, you can request indexing once more, even if the page is already listed.

You can also ding out the indexing problems with Site Audit.

Make the necessary corrections to your site and navigate to the “Issues” tab.

These are all the mistakes, cautions, and notifications impeding your site’s SEO effectiveness.

Now, choose “Indexability” from the “Category” dropdown to exclusively view indexing concerns.

2. Look for Duplicate Versions of Your Site

It is crucial to ensure that Google is indexing only a single rendition of your site.

Your website might exist on various renditions of a URL (based on whether there’s WWW in the domain and whether your site employs HTTPS).

The following are all the distinct redentions of the site, to a search engine:

  • http://www.yoursite.com
  • http://yoursite.com
  • https://www.yoursite.com
  • https://yoursite.com

If your website operates on more than one of these URL versions, it can create numerous problems with crawling, indexing, and ranking. Particularly because Google will interpret them as duplicates.

Moreover, having multiple renditions of your site can diminish PageRank, which can also adversely affect your SEO standings.

You can verify this very simply:

Simply input all the renditions of your site into a web browser.

You should be redirected automatically to the preferred version.

If you can reach your site via different versions, implement a 301 redirect for the alternate versions.

3. Run a Site Crawl

A thorough SEO audit is crawl-based.

This entails simulating Google’s page crawl process to identify all issues that may affect these pages as Google would perceive them.

To achieve this, you’ll require an SEO auditing tool such as Site Audit.

Initially, you’ll establish a project and configure the audit settings.

There are multiple setups in this phase. You can refer to this guide to assist you through it.

Once you’re ready, select the “Initiate Site Audit” button.

Depending on the quantity of pages crawled, completion may take some time. 

The audit dashboard resembles this:

The primary criterion you ought to focus on is the Site Health rating.

It’s a comprehensive gauge of the SEO wellness of your site founded on the quantity and severity of problems identified.

Afterwards, you’ll observe the problems categorized into three groups:

  • Mistakes
  • Cautions
  • Notifications

These will aid you in prioritizing your corrections. Address mistakes initially, followed by cautions, and then notifications.

You’ll also discover “Thematic Reports” designed to assist you in examining different facets of technical SEO:

We’ll delve deeper into some of these in the subsequent stages.

The main aim of the Site Audit tool is to help you in viewing all the problems in a single location.

Click on the “Issues” tab:

You’ll discover a comprehensive list of all the problems. Go through them individually and begin resolving them.

Click on each problem so that you cover the list of all affected URLs.

Here are a few examples of problems you might come across:

Crawlability problems: for instance, some pages returned a 5xx status code

Redirect problems: for instance, some of your redirects are in a loop

Sitemap problems: for instance, some incorrect pages were discovered in your sitemap

Problems with HTTPS: for instance, HTTPS pages link to HTTP pages

Issues with internal links: for instance, you have broken (non-functional) internal links

On-page SEO problems: for instance, some pages lack title tags

Markup problems: for instance, some structured data markup doesn’t adhere to Google’s guidelines

Performance problems: for instance, some pages load slowly

Some of these problems are relatively easy to address, while others may require a more intricate solution.

If you’re unsure where to begin, the tool provides an explanation and a brief “how to” guide for each issue.

Just select “Why and how to fix it.”

4. Check for Manual Actions

If your site breaches Google’s spam policies, it could result in a manual penalty from Google.

A manual action means that your site’s rankings will decrease until Google removes the action. This can apply either to individual pages or your entire site.

Some reasons for which you might receive a manual action includes:

  •  Keyword stuffing
  •  Unnatural links (both incoming and outgoing)
  •  Various types of spam
  •  Thin content lacking value

You can verify for manual actions in Google Search Console.

In the left-hand side menu, navigate to the “Security & Manual Actions” section, then select “Manual actions.”

Here, you’ll see the current status. Ideally, you’ll see a green checkmark indicating no issues detected.

If there’s a manual action against your website, you need to resolve the issues and submit a reconsideration request. Refer to Google’s Manual Actions guide for further details.

For instance, if you’ve received a manual action due to purchasing backlinks (“Unnatural links to your site”), you’ll need to eliminate those backlinks either by contacting the webmasters or disavowing them.

5. Check for Mobile-Friendliness Issues

We reside in a mobile-first era, and if your site isn’t mobile-responsive, there’s a strong likelihood that you aren’t prioritizing user experience.

Mobile-friendliness is a primary Page Experience signal for Google.

In fact, it has been a ranking criterion since 2015, meaning it can directly impact your search result rankings.

You can inspect for any problems in the Mobile Usability report within Google Search Console.

Simply click on “Mobile Usability” under the “Experience” section in the left-hand menu.

Here, you’ll discover a brief summary of the usability of your pages over time:

The report will also enumerate all the issues associated with mobile-friendliness

 Like this:

You can expand each problem to view all the impacted pages.

Follow the directions in Google’s Search Console Help Center to address the issues.

Once addressed, you can validate the correction to prompt Google to re-assess the page and confirm that the issue is resolved.

6. Analyze Your Site’s Speed

It is increasingly crucial that your site loads swiftly. Page speed has been a ranking factor for quite some time, aiding in higher rankings on Google.

Moreover, it is a critical user experience element. Analyzing user behaviors, data indicates that the longer a page takes to load, the greater the likelihood of a user abandoning the site.

To assess your site’s speed, navigate to the “Site Performance” report on your Site Audit dashboard.

Here:

In this section you’ll find a compilation of all the issues impacting your site’s loading time.

To learn more about an issue and how to resolve it then select “Why and how to fix it.”

Resolve as many issues as possible. Doing so should lead to improvements in your site speed (and rankings).

7. Analyze Your Cor Web Vitals 

In 2020, Google introduced three fresh metrics concerning page speed and user experience:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): gauges the loading time of the largest element on the page.
  • First Input Delay (FID): gauges the delay between the user’s initial interaction with a page and the browser’s response.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): finds out the amount of unexpected layout shifts that might occur during page load.

Collectively, these metrics are known as Core Web Vitals.

As Core Web Vitals influence rankings, evaluating these metrics for your key pages should be integral to your SEO site audit.

Go to the “Core Web Vitals” report within the “Experience” section of the left menu.

You’ll find both “Desktop” and “Mobile” reports detailing all the issues and the pages affected by them.

These reports will provide you with comprehensive insights into any Core Web Vitals issues your site may be facing.

The tool differentiates between pages with significant problems (“poor URLs”) and those that require minor improvements.

Review the issues and follow the instructions for resolving them.

There’s also a specialized Core Web Vitals report available in Site Audit.

Click on the “Core Web Vitals” widget on the dashboard.

And you’ll encounter a breakdown of each metric.

Similar to this:

If you scroll down, you’ll find a table titled “Analyzed Pages.”

Here, you can view all the metrics for each individual page and monitor your progress over time.

You can also manually choose 10 URLs to inspect for Core Web Vitals issues. Simply click the “Edit list” button.

Next, modify the list as needed. Then, click “Save.”

8. Analyze Your Internal Links 

Internal links are pivotal in SEO for three key reasons:

  • Facilitating search engine crawling of your website
  • Assisting users in navigating your website
  • Directing link equity to priority pages

There’s a specific report in Site Audit focused on internal linking issues. Select “Internal Linking” in the roaster of “Thematic Reports”: 

You’ll receive a roster of problems concerning internal links along with suggestions on how to rectify them.

The report will also provide a helpful summary of your pages based on Internal LinkRank (ILR)—a metric that assesses the degree of interlinking for each page.

Going through each category will assist you in identifying two types of pages:

  • Crucial pages that do not receive adequate internal links (so that you can direct more internal links to them).
  • Pages with satisfactory ILR (so that you can leverage them to distribute link equity to other pages).

9. Check Your Organic Traffic 

Organic traffic pertains to visitors who arrive at your website after clicking on unpaid search results.

This is one of the foremost indicators of your website’s achievement in terms of SEO.

To observe the natural traffic of your website, visit the Google Search Console and navigate to the “Search results” report within the “Performance” area of the menu.

The report consists of four primary metrics.

The metric that will be most compelling in this context is “Total clicks”—the number of times a user clicked through to your site within the specified time frame.

There are various ways to customize the report to view the data you require.

For instance, you can examine results by queries, pages, devices, and countries:

These reports will provide valuable insights into the organic traffic to your website and assist in setting benchmarks and monitoring your progress.

10. Benchmark Against Your Competitors 

A comprehensive SEO audit should also provide insights into your competitive positioning.

An effective method to begin is by utilizing Domain Overview.

First, input your domain and country, then click “Search:”

Next, navigate to the “Compare domains” tab.

Here, you can choose up to four competitor domains. If you’re unsure about your primary competitors, select the domains recommended by the tool.

Then, click “Compare.”

The tool will provide a comprehensive comparison of the key metrics for the selected domains. This will offer you a clear understanding of where your site is performing well or falling behind.

For the best overview, pay attention to these metrics:

  • Authority Score: evaluates the overall quality of the domain on a scale from 1 to 100 (based on factors like backlinks and search traffic)
  • Organic Traffic: indicates the amount of organic traffic the domain attracts
  • Organic Keywords: reveals the number of keywords the domain ranks for
  • Referring Domains: shows how many distinct domains link to the analyzed domain (this metric gives a more insightful comparison than the total number of backlinks)

In the following two steps, we’ll explore how to elevate competitor research and leverage their keywords and backlink data to its fullest potential. 

11. Find Keywords You’re Missing Out On 

SEO analysis is a fantastic chance to examine the keywords your competitors aim for. And determine if you’re overlooking any chances.

Access the Keyword Gap tool and input your domain and up to four competitor domains. Then, select “Compare.”

The tool will evaluate the collections of keywords the examined domains are ranking for.

Scroll down to the list of keywords and carefully examine the “Missing” and “Weak” tabs:

  • Missing: keywords your competitors rank for but not you.
  • Weak: keywords for which your competitor ranks higher than you.

The roster will probably uncover some concealed keyword opportunities you might not have considered.

12. Find Missed Backlink Opportunity 

Likewise, utilizing the Keyword Gap tool to discover excellent keyword opportunities, you can employ the Backlink Gap tool to uncover backlink opportunities.

Enter your domain along with up to four competing domains. Then, click “Find prospects.”

The tool will display a roster of domains that link to your competitors but not to you:

These are domains that are significantly more probable to link to your website as they’re already linking to analogous sites (your competitors).

Tap on the arrow beside the figure indicating the count of backlinks from a specific domain.

This enlarges the view to display precise pages that link to your competitors. 

Now, you can attempt to duplicate these backlinks.

Choose the backlinks important to your website and select the “start outreach” button in the upper-right corner.

This will forward the chosen prospects to the Link Building tool, where you can establish a fresh project for your domain.

The tool will assist you:

  • Discover backlink opportunities from diverse sources
  • Contact the domain owners requsting them for backlinks
  • Monitor the advancement of your outreach campaigns

13. Audit and Improve Your Top Pages 

A broad website crawl will aid in identifying technical problems throughout your site.

Nevertheless, it’s also beneficial to meticulously examine particular pages (particularly those of utmost significance to you), assess their effectiveness, and discover methods to enhance them.

Essentially, an on-page SEO examination.

A convenient tool named On-Page SEO Checker will assist you with this.

Establish the project and input your pages and their desired keywords.

You can allow the tool to automatically discover the pages and keywords or manually input them.

You don’t have to inspect all your pages. Instead, concentrate on those that:

  • Generate the highest conversions
  • Focus on the keywords that are crucial for your business

The tool will analyze your data against the top-ranking competitors and offer actionable suggestions and advice to enhance your rankings in different on-page SEO audit domains:

To verify the concepts for a particular page, navigate to the “Optimization Concepts” tab. And press the green button with the quantity of concepts beside the page’s URL:

You’ll receive an exhaustive catalog of every recommendation (with pointers and challenge levels) :

14. Monitor Your Rankings 

Using a rank monitoring tool is among the most effective methods to consistently monitor your website’s performance in natural search outcomes.

These instruments enable you to:

  • Monitor your website’s standings for keywords you prioritize
  • Verify how the search engine results page (SERP) standings alter in various geographic areas
  • Compare your standings  your rivals
  • Receive notifications for any significant modifications in your website’s standings

To configure rank tracking, access Semrush’s Position Tracking tool and input your domain.

The fundamental configurations will prompt you to specify the search engine, device, and location parameters for your monitoring.

Next, you’ll be asked to input the keywords you wish to monitor.

You can enter them manually, import them from an external document, or utilize the recommendations Semrush provides.

With your recently established position tracking project, you can observe all the changes in your rankings in one location.

To configure notifications, click the small bell icon in the upper right corner.

Here, you can establish different triggers (e.g., a keyword reaching the top 10 results) and receive immediate alerts about these modifications to your email.

Conclusion

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