Search engines are getting smarter. Newer algorithm updates have ensured that only the best websites acquire the coveted top spots on the SERPs.
In this brutally competitive digital space, search engine optimization (SEO) can help you gain the highest possible rankings leading to business growth and profitability.
As a proficient website owner, you must be putting in reasonable efforts to enhance your online organic presence. However, are your SEO efforts procuring the desired result?
A comprehensive SEO audit can help you determine the performance of your overall website and the effectiveness of your SEO procedure.
SEO audit is a standard procedure employed mainly to gain better insight about individual web pages, inbound user traffic and the visibility of your website on the search results.
Even though SEO audit is an extensive process, it can be divided into four broad categories:
- Accessibility and indexation
- On-site ranking factors
- Off-site ranking factors
- Link profile
- Accessibility and indexation
Before your website and its pages can appear on the SERPs, search engine crawlers or bots need to access and index them. Therefore, when conducting an SEO audit, the first course of action is to determine the accessibility and indexability of your website.
Robots.txt file and robot meta tags
Robots.txt file and robot meta tags are two of the most critical factors. If configured incorrectly, they can simultaneously block accessibility and indexation of specific areas of your website.
Typically, the search engine bots crawl and index all the pages it encounters, except those that carry “disallow tag” in their URLs or “noindex meta tag”.
You have to manually check both robot.txt files and meta tags to make sure that they are not inadvertently restricting any of the important sections from appearing in the search results.
At times, a URL returns an error message when a user or search engine tries to access it. One of the most common HTTP error messages is the soft 404 error that relays when a URL is undiscoverable.
You can use the Google Webmaster Tool to generate a “Crawl Error” report and tackle each error consecutively. Most of the times, you have to implement a 301 redirect to direct the broken URL to a relevant page.
XML Sitemap serves as a map, which guides the crawlers across your entire website to ensure they find all of your web pages.
You should update the XML Sitemap, regularly, with new pages and submit the updated version to the webmaster tools. In addition, format the Sitemap according to Sitemap Protocol to get it processed correctly.
An optimal site speed delivers various advantages:
- It makes sure that users do not leave the site because research shows that 40% users abandon a site which takes more than 3 seconds to load
- Faster websites are ranked higher than slower sites
- Google bots crawl more pages of websites that load quickly
Therefore, evaluate all the variables resulting in a sluggish site and eliminate them to enhance the user experience and rankings.
To keep abreast with the unprecedented rise in mobile usability, you need to make sure that your site is mobile-friendly. Mobile devices are used to conduct approximately 60% of the online searches. If you do not optimize your site for mobile viewing, you will not only lose valuable user traffic but also drop down on the search listings.
- On-site ranking factor
In addition to the above-mentioned technical factors, the on-page characteristics of your site also have a major influence on your search engine position.
Periodic and well-structured content creation is integral to a relevant, high scoring website. Therefore, evaluate the contents of all your pages to ensure that they are original, engaging, and offer value to the readers.
Avoid keyword cannibalism because when multiple pages host the similar keywords, it appears unnatural and dilutes the search engine visibility of each page. Keyword cannibalism forces the search engines to choose the most pertinent page featuring the keyword relevant to the search query. This detracts the online presence of other pages of your website. To alleviate this issue, you can either merge the pages with similar keywords or repurpose them to include unique keywords.
Another important aspect to consider when evaluating content is the presence of duplicate content.
The issue of duplicate content arises when two pages have similar content, whether intentionally or unintentionally. To mitigate duplication, you can provide a link back from all the same posts to the original content. You can also hide the content from search engines using noindex meta tags or canonical URLs.
Lastly, Google designed its latest algorithm, Panda, to eliminate low-quality pages from its directory. Hence, improve the value-additive features of all the pages to ensure indexation.
Title tags and meta description
Titles and meta descriptions appear on the SERPs as representatives of your content. Titles identify the topic of your post and, ideally, should be succinct and contain the relevant keyword. Meta description provides a summary of the content on the page and plays a fundamental role in enhancing the click-through rates.
Internal link structure is another crucial on-site factor that influences the SEO of your website. Internally linked pages lead to an effective site architecture that offers seamless navigation.
Analyze your link structure to ensure that it requires a minimum number of clicks to travel from the homepage to the end page. Determine if the most important pages are reachable within a few clicks. Finally, review all the links to identify and fix the broken links.
- Off-site ranking factors
Off-page ranking factors refer to all the eternal elements that affect your position on the SERPs.
Google cites website security as an important ranking factor. An unsecured site is prone to attack from hackers and can compromise the user experience. It can also trick the users into revealing their personal data thereby affecting the credibility of your site.
To enhance the immunity of your site against malware, you should regularly evaluate its security level and upgrade to SSL encryption.
Increased user traffic defines popular websites. Even though popularity is not a definitive ranking factor; it affects your click-through rate and conversion rate. Therefore, it is one of the most influencing variables for your website’s scalability.
You can determine the popularity of your website by analyzing its inbound traffic against competitive sites, quality and authority of its backlinks and social media engagements.
The more social media interactions your site garners, especially from influential personalities, the more credibility it gains, thus, creating a ripple effect of popularity.
- Link profile
The link profile of a website includes:
- Outlinks, the links you create that connects your site to another site
- Backlinks, the links you acquire from other websites
Link building is imperative for a highly search engine optimized site. When your website links to other relevant, high-quality websites, it enhances your credibility and, consequently, your position on the search pages.
Moreover, you should procure your links from various trusted domains and authoritative websites instead of getting hundreds of links from a single domain or site. You should also acquire the links gradually as aggressive link building appears unnatural and is intolerable by Google.
Finally, evaluate your link profile periodically to make sure that it is clean and natural. Make sure spammy websites do not link to you, and you do not have any broken, useless links that do not direct to a relevant page.
SEO audit is a time-consuming, lengthy process but it also produces remarkable SEO results. A competent SEO audit tool, like GrowthRobotics, can expedite your auditing process, generate more leads and enhance the overall outlook of your website.
ABOUT Erica Silva
Erica Silva is a blogger who loves to discover and explore the world around her. She writes on everything from marketing to technology, science and brain health. She enjoys sharing her discoveries and experiences with readers and believes her blogs can make the world a better place.
Find her on Twitter: @ericadsilva1