If you’ve been in business for a while, you’ve more than likely heard the term “SEO audit”. If you’re unfamiliar, SEO (or Search Engine Optimization) is the process of optimizing your website and digital presence to make it easier for potential customers to find you and your business in search results. This is tremendously important, and most digital marketing experts recommend performing an SEO audit at least once per year.
I was inspired by an article and methodology on Quicksprout to create an SEO audit template that you can access to easily perform an audit of your own website. Grab the whole SEO audit in Trello that we recently completed for a large e-commerce client. In this audit, you will find our analysis, recommendations, and guidelines.
Let’s begin with the Technical SEO audit
By following technical SEO best practices as outlined in this audit template, we can ensure that our site is optimized to receive organic search traffic from the targeted keywords and phrases. On-page SEO can be time consuming and tedious, but is incredibly important in today’s digital age.
Ensure proper indexing on Google
The first thing we need to check before we begin our audit is that Google’s web crawlers are indexing our site properly. To do this, we go to www.google.com and type “site:www.yourdomain.com” into the search bar, replacing “yourdomain” with your website’s URL. This should return all the pages of our website, in most situations with our homepage as the very first result.
Check robots.txt and meta robots tag
Check XML sitemaps
An XML sitemaps helps web crawlers explore the pages of your website and determine the relationships between them. It is recommended that when changes are made to your website, you update your sitemap as well.
Check status codes
Using SEO tools like ScreamingFrog or GWT, we can check that all of our links are working properly and that we don’t get any error codes (404s, 500, etc)
Architecture – Check www. or non-www.
According to most search optimization professionals, the choice of using a www. or non-www. domain is up to personal preference and won’t impact your search rankings much. However, it’s important to stick to your choice and ensure all links, both internally and externally, use the same prefix.
If you’ve done a Google search recently and been offered up a quote at the top of the search results page, congrats – you’ve discovered Rich Snippets. These little blurbs greatly increase click-through rates and boost the traffic to your website significantly. So how do websites show up in the Rich Snippets box?
Welcome to structured data. In short, structured data better informs search engines about the content and contextual elements of each of your website’s pages, allowing the search engine to utilize your content in unique ways. There are several ways you can set up structured data on your website, but Google typically recommends using JSON-LD.
“Pagination” is when content spans multiple pages on your website. If not properly configured, this makes it very difficult for search engine crawlers to index your pages properly.
The importance of Content Audit
Below, we’ll walk through the necessary steps to optimize your website’s content for proper search engine performance. The content on your website should be the most important part of your SEO strategy as it’s what attracts visitors (and potential customers) to your website.
From the very beginning of creating your website, it’s crucial to consider the exact keywords you want to rank for in search results. Google has repeatedly stated that each page of a site needs to have a single, clearly defined main topic. The best way to achieve this is to assign each page of your website a keyword, then build the page’s content around that keyword.
If you aren’t in the SEO field, you might not think that the URL of your website’s pages are important – however, that’s not the case. It is a good practice that each page’s URL should contain the main keyword of the page for the search engine to index more easily.
Furthermore, URLs are important not only to search engines but also for users. When the URL exceeds about 100 characters than it is truncated in the search results. It is recommended to write URLs that are shorter than 100 characters.
The most important place to put the keyword of your page is in the title tags. The title tag is the headline that shows up in the search results, so it’s a user’s first impression of your website. Here are some tips:
- Title tags should be about 50-60 characters in length
- Don’t re-use title tags, each page should be unique
- If it’s relevant, utilizing a geo-qualifier (such as London or Sydney) can help increase click-through rate
The heading tag should be the first body element of every webpage, and should be text only (no images or logos). Search engines and users alike look to the heading tags to determine the content of the page, so it’s important to use the page’s keyword in the heading tag as well.
Meta description tags
While they don’t affect your ranking in search results, the meta description is the blurb that appears underneath your title tag in SERPs. This is the first contextual piece of content the search user will see, so make sure it’s well-written and engaging to your audience.
Doing a Content Marketing on your Blog
One of the best ways to boost traffic to your website and engage your audience is to write and publish content to your website. This can be in the form of video content, writing a blog, or publishing articles that provide value to your target audience. When done properly, content marketing can produce astronomical results for your business.
Image alt tags
Since web crawlers rely on text, they can’t comprehend images – unless, of course, you utilize “alt tags”. Alt tags describe the images to web crawlers, helping them better understand the content of your webpage. Image file names are also important; they should be text-based (not numbers or a query string) and include the keyword if relevant.
SEO for Local Businesses
When you’re looking for a product or service in your area, most people turn to Google Maps – if your business doesn’t appear at the top of the list, you’re losing potential customers! So how do we make sure our listing is ranked #1 in local search results?
Google MyBusiness page
If you do business locally in 2019, an accurate, professional Google MyBusiness page is essential. The most important things to consider here are setting up your location information, keeping business hours up to date, and garnering positive reviews.
Citations are helpful in helping Google establish that your business actually exists. A citation is when a credible source mentions any combination of your business’ name, phone number, address, zip code, or web URL. The great source for local business you can find on Whitespark site.
Again, we’ve created an SEO audit template for folks that would like an in-depth, step-by-step walkthrough of the process. The SEO audit in Trello goes further in-depth on many of these topics, making it easy for you to complete your own audit.