If you already have a website that generates traffic and you want to boost its performance, the best way to do it is by conducting an SEO audit. Oftentimes, we’re busy with other online marketing efforts that we forget to reap the benefits of already existing opportunities.
When it comes to carrying out an SEO audit, it should be noted that there’s no single method but rather a step-by-step analysis of every SEO factor that affects your rankings. It also involves a diagnosis and detection of errors, difficulties, and SEO opportunities with an aim to improve your future positioning.
That being said, conducting a comprehensive SEO audit is not an easy task and for best results, you should consider leaving the job to professionals. A company that offers SEO audit services will cover all areas of technical and SEO website audits, identify gaps, and implement fixes, ensuring there is a positive effect of their solutions on your organic growth.
However, if you feel confident that this is something you could do on your own, here’s what an SEO audit should include in 2021.
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Crawl Your Site to Find Potential Issues
As you might already know, search engines use crawlers to analyze your site’s structure and current SEO setup to determine your rankings. So, the best place to start with your SEO audit is to crawl your website yourself.
While crawling your site, you’re almost certain to find technical SEO issues such as broken links, duplicate content, redirects, no index tags, too long or too short meta tags, broken images, etc. Research has shown that half of the analyzed web pages had indexation issues and duplicate content, whereas 45% of them had alt tag and broken image issues.
There’s a wide range of free and paid tools you can use for this purpose such as Moz, SEMRush, and Screaming Frog. These tools will identify the specific URL for each issue, allowing you to fix the problems quickly and efficiently.
Check Your Site Speed
Page speed is officially an important Google ranking factor. Research has shown that pages that take 2 seconds to load have a bounce rate of about 9%, whereas pages that need 5 seconds have a bounce rate of nearly 40%! In addition, nearly 80% of customers who have had a poor experience with your site are not very likely to come back and buy from you.
You can easily check your site speed by using a tool like GTmetrix or Pingdom. Just type in the URL, choose a location, and run the test. In most cases, speed problems can be fixed by simply downsizing image files or installing a caching plugin.
Test Your Mobile-Friendliness
In this day and age, your site definitely needs to be mobile-friendly since more than 50% of all global web traffic comes from mobile devices. Google prioritizes mobile page load speed as a key metric when determining your site's ranking, which is important since nearly 95% of organic traffic comes from Google.
Testing to see if your site is optimized for mobile is easy: go to Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test, type in your URL, and run the test. If your score is low and you don’t have the expertise to sort out the problem, you might need to hire a developer to help you fix this.
Remove Low-Quality or Excess Content
Did you know that Google doesn’t value the volume of content or frequency of posting as a ranking factor? Sounds counterintuitive, but it’s true - over the last several years, many websites have improved their rankings by actually removing pages from SERPs. This strategy is called Content Pruning and can result in a 44% increase in traffic.
The above-mentioned SEO tools will help you identify and remove any pages that serve little purpose or don’t adequately answer search queries, but you might also need to do some manual searches.
Start by checking how many of your pages Google has indexed, and if the number is too big, start pruning. In addition, if you’re using a CMS, note the types of pages that are unnecessarily indexed. There might be a backend setting that you could change to fix the problems, rather than manually no-indexing and deleting hundreds of pages.
Optimize Internal Links
When it comes to linking, most of us are preoccupied with backlinks and tend to forget about the importance of internal links. This is not very wise as optimizing your internal links can boost your traffic by up to 40%!
Analyze your internal links using the Google Search Console link tab. Here, you’ll be able to see a breakdown of your internal links, showing all pages based on how many internal links they’ve received.
Of course, Terms, Privacy Policies, and other pages linked to your site’s sidebar/footer will rank higher here, but Google is smart enough so don’t worry about that. Concentrate on the original, relevant content pages and see if you are maybe linking too often to content that’s targeting low-volume keywords, or if your cornerstone content could use more internal links.
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Work on Your Backlink Strategy
Backlinks remain the backbone of any SEO strategy, with some SEO experts even claiming that more than 70% of SEO is off-page!
However, times have changed and Google is not interested solely in the volume but also in the context. This means that Google wants to see if the website that links to you is in the same category, that it is authoritative, and that it links to you in-content (as opposed to linking from a directory or list).
So, go ahead and check what websites are linking to you using the Search Console’s link tab. Focus on the external links this time and if you find any relevant, high-quality domains, you could consider doing outreach to cover other pages of content in the future.
Running a comprehensive and successful SEO audit in 2021 is like running a race; there are many factors you could choose to get into, ranging from keyword density to alt tags. The important thing is not to lose sight of the bigger picture and try to nail the basics.
Of course, tracking your results is of the utmost importance as it will help you learn from your mistakes and improve gradually.