SEO Audit: Expert Step-By-Step Advice To Complete Your Own Audit

If your website traffic isn’t what you want, you may need a search engine optimization (SEO) audit. A general and technical SEO audit can help gauge your website’s SEO performance. You can further optimize your website based on the information you glean from this audit.

While you might benefit from an SEO audit, you might also be unsure of what it entails. Here, you’ll find a complete guide to give you a better idea of how an SEO audit works.

What is an SEO Audit? 

An SEO audit analyzes a website to measure its performance on search engines. It reviews every relevant component that affects SEO and rankings. Using this audit, you can optimize your website for better performance.

During this audit, you’ll be able to discover various issues that might hold your website back. These issues could include technical, on-site, and off-site SEO issues. The audit can identify problems with your website structure and user experience.

Your audit could also reveal specific insights and opportunities. For instance, the audit may highlight gaps in your content. You might ‌fill in these gaps with high-value and well-optimized content.

Performing an SEO site audit can let you know what’s working and what isn’t, giving you clear guidance. This will help ensure you get the most from your SEO campaigns.

Why Do You Need an SEO Audit?

Through an SEO site audit, you can better understand how your current strategy is doing. A proper audit will make the results of your efforts a lot clearer. You’ll learn which steps you need to take to maximize visibility online. An audit will also make it easier to determine what to update on your website to keep up with current practices.

With the help of a basic or more technical SEO audit, you’ll see several benefits. Some of these include

  • The ability to determine which keywords you’re ranking for and where you’re ranking

  • The chance to identify specific issues around content and website structure

  • Competitive analysis that gives you insight into top-performing competitors

  • The opportunity to spot any issues with the user experience that might hurt your SEO

  • Insight into pages’ optimization for titles, title tags, meta descriptions, and headings

These are simply some of the many ways an SEO audit can help boost your site’s performance. However, there are certain items to consider to get the most from your SEO audits, however.

What Should an SEO Audit Look Like?

If you’re thinking of conducting an SEO audit, it should look a certain way. The point of an SEO site audit is to highlight every issue affecting your site. With this in mind, it should give you a complete picture of your website’s SEO performance. You won’t get the best results if your SEO audit isn’t comprehensive enough.

Besides being thorough, your audit should present all data in a digestible format. Confused is the last thing you should be when reviewing your audit. Otherwise, any vague elements could prevent you from fully using your audit. On the other hand, if the data makes sense, you can actually use it.

The insights you gather from your SEO audit should also give you a rational course of action. Even if your data is understandable, you shouldn’t be unclear about what’s next. An exhaustive audit will help you put a plan in place that gets actual results.

Conversely, do not ‌rush your audit, and it shouldn’t be too broad. Remember that a proper SEO audit can take over a month to complete. The process involves looking at every component affecting SEO. Rushing things could cause your audit to overlook key issues. It may also be more inaccurate if you don’t give it the time it needs.

When we say it shouldn’t be too broad, we mean ‌you should tailor your audit based on your needs. Your audit should address the specific issues your website experiences. For instance, ‌focus on specific pages or sections of your website instead of the whole thing.

How Long Does an SEO Audit Take?

An SEO site audit can take a while to complete, so you should never rush it. You might want to get the results as quickly as possible, but the results will be better with a thorough audit.

Audits can take a long time, depending on the size of your site and the specific issues involved. Expect your SEO audit to take place anywhere from two weeks to around half a year. If your website is large and has many pages, the process will take a lot longer. In the end, though, it will be worth it.

If you give your audit the time it needs to complete, it will yield far better results. You’ll gain complete transparency into your website’s performance.

How Much Does an SEO Audit Cost?

Apart from the ‌time it takes, you might worry about the cost of an SEO audit. You might be on a tight budget and not want to spend too much of it on an audit.

The fact is that you should expect to spend a considerable amount on a comprehensive SEO site audit. Be wary about any agency or consultant offering cheap audits. They’re not likely to get the ‌results you need.

In most cases, you will spend anywhere from $6,000 to $100,000 on reliable SEO audit services. The exact cost will depend on how large your site is and the issues it faces. Often, a website will need a lot of work to optimize SEO performance.

The cost of a complete audit may seem steep, but it’s worth it if it boosts your site’s performance. A website that ranks well and reaches the right people at the right time will maximize ROI.

What Services Are Available or Included With an SEO Audit?

The right SEO site audit services will provide you with an all-in-one solution. You should be able to get all the necessary audits that analyze every element of your SEO efforts.

The services you get should include a general on-page audit along with a technical SEO audit. Both ‌central audits will look at every relevant element on your website.

To give you a better picture of what an SEO audit looks like, let’s dive into what to include in an SEO audit checklist.

Elements of a General SEO Audit: A Complete SEO Audit Checklist

If you’re wondering what an SEO site audit will cover, the following are some key elements. A reliable SEO agency will review every aspect of your site to identify and address specific issues.

In your SEO audit checklist, expect to cover components such as:

Technical SEO Audit

Technical issues may be present if your pages aren’t ranking and getting traffic. These problems could prevent Google from indexing your pages. As a result, your website might not even be visible to search engines.

A technical SEO audit will look at your website’s structure. Depending on how you’ve built your site, search engines may be unable to crawl it. Your website should make it easy for search engines to crawl your content. If structural issues are present, they may have trouble indexing it.

Some of the specific technical problems affecting a site could involve:

  • URL parameters

  • The Google Removal Tool

  • Robots.txt files preventing crawling

  • rel=”canonical” URLs going to the wrong pages

  • Noindex and Nofollow HTML tags

  • Improper content index

  • Incorrect international SEO setup

  • The wrong ref link tags

  • Pagination structure issues, such as no rel=”next” or rel=”prev” going from page to page

As you can see, there are plenty of potential problems with technical SEO. A technical SEO audit will identify them and give you a roadmap to tackle them.

With the help of a technical SEO specialist, you can gauge technical SEO performance. These experts can check to see if anyone else is stealing your content. They can also crawl your website regularly to see if everything’s in the right place.

A technical SEO service provider will perform a variety of other tasks to keep your site on top. For instance, the specialist may ensure your website is on HTTPS for optimal security. They will also help keep your website AMP-ready for mobile responsiveness.

All these aspects will factor into your technical SEO audit.

Traffic Diagnosis

Auditors also conduct a traffic diagnosis to determine why traffic has dropped. They’ll do so by looking at your website’s analytics and the website itself.

Based on the reason for a traffic drop, you can figure out ways to boost it. For example, your page may drop traffic because of new higher-ranking competitors. 

Penalty Diagnosis

Google may penalize a website for several reasons. A penalty diagnosis can determine precisely why.

Search engines watch for any black hat SEO techniques that warrant penalties. If you’re using them, they could hurt your website’s SEO performance.

There are many potential black hat techniques that can hold you back. For example, your content might have too many unnatural instances of a keyword. Google counts this as “keyword stuffing” that makes content less readable for users.

Websites may also have bad backlinks. This could involve purchasing too many backlinks or having links on low-quality websites.

Backlink Review

Backlinks are essential for any website to thrive on search engines today. A backlink review will check your backlink profile’s health.

In some cases, you might need more backlinks on authoritative sites. In others, the backlinks you have might be toxic and need removal to help your website.

Google News Review

Google News is a valuable platform for SEO. An SEO audit can determine whether your website qualifies to be on Google News.

Having your publications featured on Google News could improve visibility. As people search for certain topics, relevant pages on your site may make the headlines. However, you must meet some strict requirements to get on Google News.

Ecommerce Cateogry Optimizaiton

This type of optimization entails looking at your ecommerce category pages. Auditors can identify the issue if they aren’t performing well in search results.

Thin Content Review

Websites often suffer from lower rankings because of thin content. If pages are too brief or otherwise, don’t provide enough value, they may drop in rankings. In these instances, auditors can identify pages with thin content. They’ll then help build a content roadmap to improve these pages.

Duplicate Content Review

Another factor that can harm your website’s SEO is duplicate content. Your content might appear on other pages within your website, or it might be the same as the content on another. Google could be unsure of which to rank based on this issue. Review

Google takes markup into account when ranking content. This markup provides context for the content, indicating specific topics. With the help of an SEO site audit, you can make sure your markup has the right structure.

Content Audit

A general content audit inspects your content to gauge its quality. Your website won’t be able to rank as high if your content isn’t valuable or well-optimized.

One step involved in a content audit involves looking at competitors. You can take cues from competitors in your content marketing based on what they’re doing well.

SEO Audit Mistakes

When conducting an SEO site audit, some auditors make certain mistakes. The right auditors will ‌avoid some of the following potential problems:

Not Looking For Negative Links by Landing Page

Auditors may check for negative or toxic links from negative SEO. In the process, they may not look for negative links on the landing page.

One common practice among scammers involves getting bad links to competitors. A scammer might build many toxic links that return to your landing page, hurting its rankings. Looking at links by landing page will help identify these negative links.

Not Reviewing All Algorithm Updates

Another critical mistake involves failing to review recent algorithm updates. Google works to optimize its algorithm to combat spam and get better results for its users. In doing so, it updates its algorithms, which may punish certain websites and web pages.

Auditors should review the most recent updates and determine their impact.

Inadequate Content Quality Checks

Auditors might look at the quantity of content to gauge its effectiveness. However, they may fail to check for quality.

Good content will have sourced facts and figures. It will also be up-to-date with relevant information. In short, if people can get real value from your content, it will perform better.

Failing to Check for Duplicate Content

Not only do auditors need to check for duplicate content, but they must do so on a granular level. Content filters often result in duplicate pages. When people filter products or categories by various options, this can produce duplicates.

Not Checking for Hacking

Auditors may not check to see if hackers have infiltrated a website. One way to check for hacking is to look at the Google Search Console Security Report. You can also check the website’s source code to check for spammy terms.

Only Looking at Google Search Console on the Surface

Sometimes, auditors will look at Google Search Console reviews at a superficial level. For instance, they may not check for a disavow file and see if it’s blocking bad links. Auditors should also check to see if pages have undergone crawls without indexing.

Neglecting to Check for Removed Pages

It’s actually possible for people to ask Google to remove certain pages from the platform. They can do so by going into your Google Search Console and using the page removal tool. An audit should help ensure this doesn’t happen.

Overlooking Penalties

In the Google Search Console messaging area, you can see if Google has penalized your website.

SEO Site Audit Tools

When completing the items on your SEO audit checklist, auditors use tools such as:

Auditors may also use many other tools to perform various tasks. A reliable auditor will have all the resources needed for a comprehensive audit.

SEO Audit FAQs

Have other questions about SEO site audits? The following are some frequently asked questions and answers to them to guide you.

1. What is a website crawler?

Google locates pages on a website using a website crawler. A crawler is‌ an executable program, or an automated agent. The tool works by looking at all links on a website.

Besides Google, auditors often use website crawlers to analyze pages. With the help of a crawler, auditors can identify many issues. For example, a crawler could determine that the title of a page doesn’t match the title tag. The latter element would appear in Google search results. A crawler could also detect an inadequate text-to-HTML ratio and other technical problems.

Although a crawler can help speed up the audit, the process will still demand some patience.

2. Do SEO audits involve competitor audits?

When auditors conduct an SEO audit, they’ll want to look at competitors’ performance. As auditors look at your top competitors, they can determine what’s working for them. They can also compare your site’s performance to competitors’ to decide on the next steps.

There are plenty of tools out there to help conduct competitive analyses. In fact, they can also help with on-site and off-site audits. They’ll be able to track competitors’ performance along with your own. Using these tools, you can get a better feel for how you match up against the competition.

3. What types of SEO audit templates are available?

If you plan on conducting an SEO site audit, you can follow a template. The right template will help you along and ensure you complete all necessary items.

Creating an in-depth report will enable you to succeed with your audit and plan ahead. If you’re not familiar with the process, it can be daunting.

To help ease the process, there are some SEO audit templates out there. For example, you can use Ahref’s SEO report template. This report covers various aspects of an SEO audit. Some of these elements include SEO health, backlink profile, and ranking visibility.

Using templates like Ahref’s, you’ll have an easier time building dependable reports. You’ll avoid getting lost at any point during your audits. You’ll know what to do based on actionable insights into your SEO performance.

4. How often should you perform an SEO site audit?

To keep you on top of your SEO practices, you’ll need to conduct regular audits. While an SEO audit can take months to complete, you should conduct them frequently.

Consider conducting an SEO audit once every 12 to 18 months. You may also want to launch one if you’re planning a redesign. Doing so will ensure your redesign gets the start it needs.

5. What are some questions to ask in an SEO site audit?

During an SEO audit, you can ask a variety of questions to point you in the right direction, including:

  • How many pages has Google indexed?

  • Is the site experiencing any crawl errors?

  • Does your Google Search Console have a sitemap?

  • Have you correctly set up your robots.txt file?

  • Is your website easy for website crawlers to go through?

  • Does your website have an SSL certificate?

  • Do you need to redirect any pages with 404 errors to existing pages?

Get Long-Term Results from SEO Campaigns with a Complete Audit

When you trust the right auditors to help you with a thorough SEO audit, your website will ‌excel. Regular audits will ensure you don’t fall behind and give you the resources necessary to stay on top of SERPs. As a result, you’ll get a competitive edge over less optimized businesses in your industry.

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John Lincoln is CEO of Ignite Visibility, one of the top digital marketing agencies in the nation. Ignite Visibility is a 4x  Inc. 5,000 company. Ignite Visibility offers a unique digital marketing program tied directly to ROI with a focus on using SEO, social media, paid media, CRO, email, Amazon and PR to achieve results. Outside of Ignite Visibility, Lincoln is a frequent speaker and author of the books “Digital Influencer” and “The Forecaster Method.” Lincoln is consistently named one of the top digital marketers in the industry and was the recipient of the coveted Search Engine Land “Search Marketer of The Year” award. Lincoln has taught digital marketing and Web Analytics at the University of California San Diego since 2010, has been named as one of San Diego’s most admired CEO’s and a top business leader under 40. Lincoln has also made “SEO: The Movie” and “Social Media Marketing: The Movie.” His business mission is to help others through digital marketing.

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