Performing an audit on your website is one of the most basic things you should do before carrying on with any investments in SEO, content and other activities related to digital marketing.
At Quantum Blue Digital, we do SEO audits by using a Four Phase process. And the purpose of this tutorial will be to enable you to do the first phase of the audit yourself.
Without further ado, here is a basic checklist, which you can use in order to perform an efficient and quick audit yourself.
Step 1: Make sure the essential tools are installed:
- Is Google Analytics correctly installed and collecting all the necessary data?
- Is the Search Console correctly installed and collecting all the necessary data?
Once these are figured out, we proceed with the basics of on-page SEO.
Step 2: Taking care of the basics of on-page SEO:
In order to do an efficient audit in the step 2, we go through the following questions and aspects:
-Does the site redirect to the preferred version? This one is extremely important so make sure that you look at this carefully.
– Does a favicon exist?
– Is robots.txt properly configured? This is also very important because this file instructs the search engine’s crawlers, which areas of your website to index.
– Is there a sitemap included in the robots.txt? Also very important for the same reason as above.
– Is there a sitemap.xml present?
– Is there an HTML sitemap?
– Is there an HTML sitemap link in the footer?
– Is there an About page?
– Is there a contact page?
– Is there a terms of services page?
– Is there an unsecure content?
Step 3: site architecture
image source: business2community.com
The third stage of the Phase 1 is making sure that the website’s architecture is properly optimized and configured.
This is important for both user experience and also the search engine crawlers.
Here are the aspects that we have to go over:
- Is there a categorized URL structure?
- Are there any uncategorized pages and posts?
- Are there any broken pages that are still getting traffic? If there are then you have to redirect them to a suitable replacement page via 301 redirects.
- Are there any broken pages that are NOT getting traffic ? If yes then mark them as a 410.
- Are there any 302s taking place?
- Are there correct redirects to the thank you page?
- Do all header and footer links work?
Step 4: indexation
Image source: seocursor.com
Indexation is another important aspect of the audit process. After all, if the website is not being indexed properly then the chances of someone finding it via search are very low.
However, there are some parts of the website that there is no need for them to be indexed. There could be various reasons for not indexing them.
For example, one of the reasons could be that you have a section with paid resources that you are selling to your customers and you wouldn’t want that section to be easily found on Google.
Here are the different questions you have to go over when doing this stage:
- Are the Thank You pages no-indexed and no-followed?
- Are there any PDFs that have to be no-indexed and no-followed?
- Are there any authors’ pages that have be no-indexed and no-followed?
- Are there any WP directories that have to be no-indexed and no-followed?
- Are there any account pages that have to be no-indexed and no-followed?
- Are there any media attachments that have to be no-indexed and no-followed?
- Are there any category pages that have to be no-indexed and no-followed?
- Are there any thin content or no value pages that have to be no-indexed and no-followed?
Step 5: Google Search Console Audit
We mentioned already that the Search Console is perhaps the most important tool when doing an SEO audit.
In this section, we are going to focus on the search console and the different aspects that will have to be analyzed.
- Are there multiple keywords competing for the same page?
- Are the URLs set up in a correct way?
- Is there a sitemap submitted?
- Are there any sitemap errors?
- Are there any manual penalties?
Step 6: schema markup and OG data
Schema markup is another important tool that enables your website to get more organic visibility if it is properly used.
Essentially, what schema markup does is that it creates an enhanced description (also known as a rich snippet), which appears in the search results.
This happens after the schema code is added properly to the relevant webpages within your website.
With that explanation out of the way, here is what has to be checked for this step of the audit process.
- All pages OG Data;
- Is there an organization markup (this applies to national websites with many locations)
- Is there a local business markup?
- Is there a blog markup?
- Is there a bread crumbs markup?
- Is there an event markup?
- Is there an open house markup?
- Are there any schema errors that will have to be fixed ?
Step 7: Plugins (this applies if you use WordPress)
Although plugins are great and they provide additional functuoinality for your website there are times when having too many plugins will cause problems like slow site loading speed and so on.
This is why it is important to make sure that you don’t have too much going on in terms of these plugins as they can significantly reduce your site’s performance.
Here are some of the plugin we deem are essential to have:
- Yoast or SEOPress
- WPSSO Core Smusher or other Image Compression
- Broken Link Checker
- SOGO Add Script Header Footer
- “410 for WordPress “
- UpdraftPlus – Backup/Restore Redirection
- Simple Sitemap
- WP Fastest Cache Markup (JSON-LD) structured in schema.org
Step 8: Google my business (applies to businesses which operate out of a physical location in fixed area)
- Is there a physical address listed?
- Is there a service location listed?
- Are open hours listed correct?
- Are there multiple categories?
- Are you responding to the reviews?
- Are there stuffed keywords in the title tag?
- Are you using the posts capability?
- Are you answering questions?
- Are you using promotions?
- Are you posting content on a regular basis?
- Are there at least 3x Services Photos?
- Are there at least 3x Inside Location Photos?
- Are there at least 3x Outside Location Photos?
- Are there at least 3x Team Photos?
Step 9: page speed optimization
Page speed is quite an important ranking factor especially for mobile users.
Here are the factors you must go over.
- What is the host’s server speed?
- How much are the overall page speed timings and requests?
- Is there any image compression activated?
- Is there browser caching activated?
- Is there a gzip compression activated?
Step 10: web design
Last, but not least, we check some key web design elements.
These include the following:
- Is the website mobile friendly?
- Is there a site search ?
- Are there bread crumbs?
- Is there social media integrated on the website?
- Is the CTA above the fold for the pages with the highest amount of traffic?
- Is there a proper website navigation?
- Is the site AMP enabled? This applies for news websites only.
A few words about SEO audits and pricing
SEO audits is one of the most important activity you can carry out for your website.
Audits can help you with increasing organic traffic and ultimately – conversion rates.
Also, audits will help you identify the winning strategies used by your competitors, so you can apply them yourself.
This will save you time and money because you won’t need to play around with various tactics for a while and then give up on them after few attempts.
And if you are not an SEO expert and haven’t done any SEO before then your best option would be to hire an SEO professional (internal link to the contact page) who can analyze your website for you.
But how much is this going to cost you?
Essentially, there are no standards for pricing in the world of SEO. The pricing varies a lot by person, agency, the competition, the size of the website and the country.
Prices can be from few hundred dollars on the low-end and all the way to $10000 or more. The higher prices (the ones that cost few thousand dollars and more) usually come up from huge agencies that work with large corporate type of clients and are multiple award winners and so on.
And if you decide to go with a freelancer or a smaller agency the prices will be up to a thousand dollars or a bit more than that depending on their reputation.
In my case, my prices start from $500 (or $250) if I am promoting a discount.
SEO is super effective marketing strategy and your business should definitely consider using it in 2020 and beyond.
But foundation of an SEO campaign that has to be effective in the long-term is based on performing a thorough audit on the current situation of the online presence of your business.
This is why you should start with an audit before you do anything else.
And if you are not feeling comfortable going through this checklist by yourself then please feel free to reach to me at any time.