Since the inception of the term SEO, it has been an integral part of website development and web content.
You cannot step into this world of online presence without thinking about SEO.
Whether you already have a website and you are trying to improve its performance or you are preparing to get a new one, it is important that you take SEO into account and then progress with your upgradation or new development.
SEO is all about making your website friendly to search engines to get an upper hand on the competitor websites to acquire a better rank in the search engine results.
This is exactly why it is prudent that you check your website and make necessary adjustments to make it a bit more search engine friendlier.
This is exactly where the SEO audit plays an important role.
As the word audit suggests, you need to review your site and for that, you either need to get an expert or if you have enough technical knowledge you can get started with manual reviews first.
You can even try out some SEO audit softwares or online platforms to check for SEO related problems that might be cutting down your web presence.
SEO Audit on a Regular Basis
Although most of the site owners don’t bother to take SEO audits seriously the truth is you need to perform SEO audits on your websites regularly.
Well, in case you are experiencing too much downtime just because your website is not doing well in the SEO aspect, then you might have to work a bit hard and go for SEO audits at least once a month.
But if your website is able to provide steady performance on search engine results, then 2 audits a year might do the trick.
Do remember that SEO techniques and methods change at regular intervals.
A particular method that works smoothly today might not be great to employ tomorrow, and this is exactly why you have to go for SEO audits at regular intervals or at least during your downtime.
Manual Audit or Automatic Audit!
Automatic SEO audits are performed by online platforms or SEO softwares that use bots to gather important and relevant information affecting your SEO score.
As you can understand going for the automated audit system is the easiest and probably the fastest of the methods that you can employ but a single audit system might not be efficient enough to help you get out of the mess or stay in sync with the latest search engines updates.
This is the reason why a manual SEO audit is the best play that you need to follow to get a better insight into your website’s SEO performance.
It might take time, might even involve hiring an expert and some fees to get the professional report but in the end, it is certainly worth the value.
Manual SEO audit: Steps you need to follow
Before you start your website audit following the manual methods, you must understand one thing very clearly, “you will have to use audit tools”.
Yes! Even though it might raise a doubt or two in your mind, but it’s a fact that you will need the help of a few audit tools even if you are following manual methods of SEO audit.
So once you are ready with the required tools, you can start following these steps that might help you improve your website’s SEO score.
Step 1: Check for Google Penalties
This is the very first step that you need to follow. Checking whether Google has penalized your website has 2 ways.
Since you have no idea why Google might have enforced a penalty on your
website or whether there is at all any penalty imposed by Google, you have to check both.
To do this you need to check for manual penalty first. Logon to your Google Search Console and then choose the option “Manual Actions” from the menu on your left-hand side.
In case there is any kind of manual penalties imposed on your website you will be able to see the reasons there.
The second thing you can do is to logon to Google Analytics and check with the traffic.
Select dates and check for the traffic changes.
In case you see a change in organic traffic from Google right along with the dates when Google changed its algorithm, it might be the reason because your website was penalized due to the newest upgrade.
In case you found out some penalties imposed by Google, you need to sort out the reasons and decide the best course of action to get rid of them.
Check for algorithm changes to understand your steps to fix the website issues.
Step 2: Check for Domain Search Appearance
The second step is to search for your brand name in Google and review the results.
There are certain things that you need to check to understand whether your website is performing well in terms of SEO.
Here is a list of things is a must check:
- The rank of your website on Google search result
- Check for site-links by your website on the search result
- Check for meta-description for your home page shown on search result
- Check whether your business listing is shown for your brand
- Check and review all the information of your business listing page
- And lastly, check other results for relevancy of the result
If you find anything out of place it might be a good time to start reviewing a few things on your website.
Just make sure to check for your website structure and home page SEO for improvement of your website rank.
Check the business listing page for correct information and update things as required.
Once you are done, you have to wait for a certain time until Google index your website and you get the change in results.
Step 3: Technical SEO Audit
This step is one of the most important steps in the whole process of SEO audit.
Although the name suggests it to be technical it does not require a lot of technical knowledge or programming abilities.
Here are the things that you need to check and fix if necessary:
a) Register your website on Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster.
This is important for your website because using google search console you will have all the necessary data that you need for the improvement of your website.
For example, the number of pages indexed, which keyword is useful for your website, what kind of organic traffic you are getting, etc.
b) Specify a URL on Google Search Console
Specifying a particular URL saves you from duplicate content conflict.
c) Install robots.txt file on your server
Robots.txt file plays an important role in deciding which pages can be accessed by the search engines and which pages should be indexed.
d) Format of your URLs
Many of us have the habit of using a non-uniform URL format which is not so good for SEO.
Having a nice URL format can play a valid part in improving your website’s SEO score.
Also, try to include at least one keyword in your page URLs.
e) Use Breadcrumb Menu
Having this type of menu installed on your website will only make it easier for the users to navigate through your website.
f) Optimize your error page
Your error page must be well designed.
This will ensure that users visiting your website will have proper navigation back to the correct pages in case they land upon the error page.
g) Responsive Design
These days it’s really important for any website to be mobile-friendly.
This is the reason why you need a responsive design for your website.
This will ensure that you will get your visitors from mobile platforms as well.
Step 4: Perform an On-Page SEO Audit
On-Page SEO is all about your content quality and your web design skills.
Since content on your website plays an important role in SEO score, getting a well-formulated, relevant and keyword-optimized content can always help you get a better position in Google search results.
(i) Check for description and tiles
Page titles and meta descriptions are really important and offer you a scope to define your site or your work.
Optimizing meta descriptions and titles to perfection can be key to success. Also do not forget to include at least one keyword in your meta description.
(ii) Text formatting
It might not seem that important to have appropriate text formatting but as the Google guideline suggests, a better text formatting on your website can certainly be eye-catching to your users and therefore can help in improving organic traffic for sure.
iii. Keyword optimization and Copy Content
Copying content from other websites is strictly prohibited and doing so can put up a hefty penalty on your website.
Checking your content on a copy content checker could be a great idea.
Similarly, having your content over-optimized with keywords can be problematic too.
Unless the content is readable by the users Google is not going to add up any points for your content.
Just make sure that you change content on a regular basis and everything should be fine!
iv. Link structure and anchor text
Using different anchor texts is good but using only keywords as your anchor text can harm your website.
Having a proper internal link structure is important too.
It not only allows the user to navigate easily through the website but also allows you to have a better and improved SEO score.
v. Image SEO
Many might not mention this point as one of the most necessary and important of the points, but images indeed play an important role in SEO score.
All you need to do is choose images that are relevant to your niche, put up the “ALT” tag for every single image you use and use the compressed image for easy and quick page loading.
vi. Remove broken links
Even though you have a well designed 404 error page, you don’t want your visitors to land upon broken link pages.
This not only affects the user experience but also demotes your website in terms of SEO.
vii. Add SiteMap
This is another important part of on-Page SEO and is one of the easiest of the lot too.
Sitemap.xml is a file that contains the virtual path to all your internal pages/files for easy navigation to your website.
But this is not for any user! This is for Google bot only to scroll through your web pages quickly and index them.
Step 5: Off-Page SEO
Off-page SEO is all about promoting your website through proper link building.
When it comes to SEO, link building is the most important thing but there are things you have to consider while creating backlinks to your website.
Having high-quality backlinks can boost your website’s SEO rank but having low-quality backlinks can demote your website too.
While doing an off-page SEO audit you have to check the quality of your backlinks.
Just make sure to check a few important things and everything should be fine.
How many backlinks do you have? Playing safe is alright but not creating enough backlinks can backfire too.
Just make sure to find relevant websites or blogs and create backlinks from them.
The next thing will be to get backlinks from a trusted source. Just make sure to contact bloggers in your niche and get backlinks to your website.
This can be beneficial in multiple ways.
While your SEO score will be improved because of the quality of the backlinks, you will also be able to get relevant traffic from those domains as well.
Make sure to point some of your backlinks to your internal pages as well.
Having all the backlinks to your home page is not the best thing to do.
Use different anchor texts instead of just using keywords. This makes it easier to create natural backlinks to your website.
Having backlinks can be good for your website, but make sure to be choosy on creating backlinks.
Step 6: Social Media Presence
It’s a fact that your presence on Social Media does not affect your SEO score, but certain things can be improved using your active presence on Social Media.
Well, for the start having your accounts on all the important Social Media platforms makes it easier for your targeted users to find you, know about you, and communicate with as well.
This can allow you to have an advantage over your competitors in two different ways.
Firstly you get a natural source of traffic since people visit you directly searching on Social Media platforms and secondly you get an alternative source of potential customers as well.
So, while having social media platforms won’t help you increase your SEO score but can play an important part in enhancing your online presence for sure.