How to Run a Successful SEO Audit

When it comes to SEO, it is vital that your website is healthy and optimized, and an SEO audit is an important tool in the process for keeping your site performing well. It helps you see what you’re doing right and what areas need improvement.

A successful SEO audit will reveal ways in which you can improve your website, how you can rank higher in search engines like Google and Bing, and thereby attract more visitors.

What is an SEO Audit?

An SEO audit is a deep dive into your website’s performance. When you run and SEO audit you need to look closely at how your website is set up. A website with that is set up properly will rank higher in search results than those that search engines consider poorly constructed.

The audit helps you spot both big and small issues that might be hiding and keeping your site from ranking higher in those search rankings.

After the audit is completed, you will have a better understanding of what areas your site is performing well in, and what items need to be fixed. This means you can tweak your SEO strategy, solve problems, and fine tune your site in ways that will attract more visitors.

So, what does an SEO audit cover? Well, it’s a full-scale examination of the various components of your website. A well run audit will look at:

  1. How easily search engines can find and understand your website.
  2. The experience visitors have on your site.
  3. The keywords that you’re using and how effective they are.
  4. SEO elements on individual pages
  5. The quality and quantity of other sites linking to yours.

Conducting an SEO audit is an essential task that should be performed regularly. It ensures that your website is in top shape and that it attracts as many visitors as possible.

The benefits of Performing an SEO Audit

There are several reasons why conducting an SEO audit is essential. Here are some top benefits:

  1. Find out what’s working: Understand which parts of your website are already doing great in terms of SEO.
  2. Spot issues: Discover problems that might stop your site from showing up higher in search results.
  3. Improve user experience: A website that is easy for your visitors to navigate and find the information that they are searching for will create an enjoyable experience, which will keep them coming back.
  4. Stay ahead of competitors: See how your site compares to your competition and find ways to improve.
  5. Better keyword strategy: Learn which keywords are performing best on your site and which ones you should focus on for reaching your target audience.
  6. Enhance site performance: Identify the technical issues that might be slowing your site down or making it less accessible.
  7. Increase visibility and boost rankings: When your site is more visible to search engines, they will send more potential customers your way.

Regularly doing an SEO audit keeps your site healthy and competitive. It’s an important step in ensuring that your site is visited and used by as many people as possible.

Conducting an SEO Audit

Let’s look at what steps are needed to perform an SEO audit. We’ll work through each of the 12 steps in the process!

Step 1. Be Certain Your Website is Indexed

The very first step that you should take is to check and make sure that your website is being indexed by search engines like Google and Bing. If they can’t see it, then they won’t recommend your site to people searching for your products or services.

Make sure that no Search Engine Visibility settings have been added that discourage search engine robots from indexing your site, or that a robot.txt file is set to no:index and is blocking access.
You can manually check if Google has indexed your pages by typing Be sure to replace “" with your own website address.

If your site shows up, then you’re all set!

You can also use Google’s free tool, Google Search Console to submit your site for indexing and manage it’s presence in search results. In your Google Search Console dashboard you can add new pages or posts manually by entering the URL and hit “Request Indexing” if it’s not already indexed.

Step 2. Check That Your Website is Using HTTPS

After ensuring that your site is visible to search engines, the next task in your SEO audit should be to check whether your website uses HTTPS.

When a website has HTTPS at the beginning of it’s domain URL, it means it has an SSL certificate. This SSL certificate is a necessary component to your website’s security because it encrypts data between your website and your visitor’s browser, keeping it safe from hackers.

Search engines trust secure websites. Google began penalizing websites that lack SSL certification back in January 2017, and today it’s required by Google to include your site in it’s top rankings. You can tell if your site is secure by looking for the padlock icon next to your website address in your browser’s search bar. Sites that are missing HTTPS will receive a “Not Secure” warning and be downgraded in search results.

Many website hosting platforms offer free SSL certificates that are included as part of their site hosting plans. Don’t worry if they don’t, they are easy to purchase and add to your domain.

Step 3. Ensure That All Versions of Your URL Lead to Your Website

Next up in your SEO audit is to check and make certain that every version of your website’s address brings people to the same place. Your website might have a few different addresses, or visitor’s might enter different versions into their browser search bar.

For example, someone might type in, while someone else might type in or just and call of those URLs should take them to the same place - your website.

Google might get confused if different versions of your address don’t lead to the same site. It could think they are separate sites with duplicate content, or be unsure which version it should show to people when they search. This can cause confusion; which is bad for SEO, and your site authority will be downgraded as a result.
Setting a canonical URL for your site will tell Google which version of your address you prefer and help to avoid mix-ups.

Step 4. Use an XML Sitemap to Improve Indexing

Another key step in your SEO audit is to make sure you have an XML sitemap and that it’s been submitted to search engines.

An XML site map helps search engines like Google and Bing to easily find and understand how all the pages on your website relate to each other by giving them a handy map to follow. Having a sitemap won’t guarantee your website will jump to the top of search results, but it will help search engines to index your site more efficiently.

Again, Google Search Console is a helpful tool in submitting your sitemap and keeping new pages indexed, especially when your website is relatively new and doesn’t have a lot of backlinks from other websites yet.

Step 5. Check Your Website’s Page Speed

Page speed and the time it takes for your website to load is a high priority metric for your website. You want your website to load as fast as possible!
If a website takes to long to load, people will get annoyed very quickly and might leave. Google understands this and prefers to show fast, user friendly websites in it’s search results.

A slow loading website could end up lower in the search rankings, which will make it harder for people to find you. You can use the Chrome extension for Google Lighthouse or to test page speed.

Checking your site speed is crucial to your SEO audit because it directly affects how users interact with your website.Since search engines prioritize fast websites, a site that loads quickly will help boost your rankings and attract more potential customers.

Step 6. Analyze Your Core Web Vitals

Core Web Vitals are an important indicator of your website’s overall health. Google introduced three critical metrics in 2020 that measure how user friendly your site is:

  1. Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): This checks how long it takes for the most significant part of your page to load.
  2. First Input Delay (FID): This measures the time between a user’s first interaction with your page (like clicking a link) and the moment the browser responds.
  3. Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): This metric measures how often and how many elements on you page move around as the page loads, which can be annoying to users.

While Google Lighthouse provides an overview of these measurements, the best toll for the job is Google Search Console. You’ll be able to find reports for both desktop and mobile views and the reports will list any problems and the pages they affect, whether they are significant issues or only minor problems. The tool not only shows the issues affecting your website’s performance, but will also show suggestions for fixing them.

Step 7. Find and Fix Any Broken Links on Your Website

Broken links on your website are like roads that lead nowhere. The occur when links point to a page that no longer exists, leaving visitors with a frustrating “404 - page not found” error. If the page hasn’t been deleted, it may simply be a case of a typo in the link URL.

Having lots of broken links is bad for your site’s ranking authority and SEO. Search engines as well as visitors can get lost trying to find pages that aren’t there, which can hurt your rankings and overall site user experience.

Fortunately fixing broken links can be as simple as adding a short JavaScript snippet or using an SEO auditing and page indexing tool like Screaming Frog. Google Analytics will show how many times people land on your 404 page, which can indicate an issue, and Screaming Frog will track down which pages and links are affected.

If the page has been permanently deleted, then it’s time to set up a 301 redirect; which directs traffic to a new page, or simply update the link to point to another page.

Step 8. Update Any Missing Meta Tags

Meta tags are ID tags for your the content on your website’s pages. They help search engines understand what the page is about. Search engines will then know what pages have relevant content to match with different search queries.

Meta tags give a quick preview to what your website pages are about, both to search engines and potential visitors. The two most important meta tags are the meta title and meta description. The title tag is the headline of your page in search results and the meta description is the summary that appears under it.

Although Google will sometimes change these in search results based on page content and what someone is searching for, it’s still best practice to write keyword focused terms for every blog post and page.

During your SEO audit, it’s very important to make sure that none of your blog posts or product pages are missing these meta tags. It’s also crucial that they are not duplicates and match the page content, otherwise you will confuse Google and it won’t be able to match your content to user’s search intent.

Step 9. Analyze Your Internal and External Links

In addition to checking for broken links, it’s also imperative that you examine your internal (links to other pages on your site) and external links (links to other websites). These links are very important to your website’s SEO. Search engines use these, along with the sitemap, to find and list new pages on your website. They use these links to categorize and understand the relationships between pages on your site and to rank your content.

Links are not just for search engines. These internal and external links also make it easier for you website’s visitors to navigate your site and find more information.

Step 10. Make Sure Your Website is Mobile Friendly

One of the essential checkpoints in your audit will be to ensure that your website is mobile friendly. Google focuses nohow websites work on mobile devices when deciding to rank them. More people than ever are using their phones and tablets to browse the web, so your site needs to be ready for them if you want your site to appear higher in search results.

Making your website mobile friendly means serving responsive pages that automatically adjust the layout to look good on any device, whether a large desktop screen, or a small handheld phone. This way everyone gets a good experience when they visit your website, no matter how they access it.

Step 11. Your Website Needs to be Accessible

Another critical metric that Google looks at when accessing your website is accessibility. All visitors to your site should be served the same experience, whether they have disabilities or not. People that use screen readers, increase font sizes to their preference, navigate your site with their keyboard instead of a mouse or touchpad should all be able to gather the same information.

It’s imperative that all images have alt tags so the people using screen readers can understand what an image is referencing. Buttons and links need to be clearly labeled for their intended purpose or where they will lead the user to.

Animations and videos should be limited or have the ability to turn them off (or at least have warnings) so that people with vertigo issues or epilepsy are not triggered. All buttons and links should be accessible by keyboard, and the main navigation should have a skip-to-page function so that every navigation link doesn’t need to be stepped through to get to the content.

Step 12. Monitor Your Keyword Rankings

Finally, once all the technical aspects of your website SEO audit have been examined and corrected, you can move on to checking how your keywords are performing.

You can easily do this in your Google Search Console dashboard. (You did sign up for this amazing analytics tool earlier, didn’t you?) Tracking your keyword rankings from search results can be exciting and super simple. Be sure to look at how many views (impressions) and what the click-through rate (CTR) is to understand where each keyword stands on average. You can quickly discover which keywords are high performers and which are lacking.

Monitoring your keyword rankings is essential to provide a clear indication of the effectiveness of your SEO strategy. It helps identify areas for improvement, where you can focus your efforts on successful keywords, and abandon or enhance underperforming or lower ranking keywords.

To learn more, download our free SEO Audit Checklist.

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