How To Do An SEO Audit in 75 Minutes [Complete Guide]
Image: Screenshot of the SEO template spreadsheet I use
Use this how to do an SEO audit guide if you want to up your SEO skills and knowledge!
This is the exact SEO audit template I use to improve my client’s google rankings and traffic conversion. That said, I’m confident that this guide will help you achieve your SEO endeavors regardless if you’re a beginner or not!
This guide is ideal for:
- SEO novice who understands the basics of SEO.
- DIY SEOs that run their own business.
- SEO managers who want to improve their SEO process.
- Digital marketers that offer national or local SEO service for clients.
- Those purists who are passionate about search engine optimization conversion!
While this is a beginners SEO audit guide, I would highly recommend that you take on the fundamentals first before ever taking on a full SEO website audit!
Table of Content
How To Do An SEO Audit in 75 Minutes [Complete Guide]
- What Is an SEO Audit?
- Explaining the SEO Audit Roadmap and Tools
- Step by Step Guide On How To Do An SEO Audit
- How long does an SEO audit take
- How much is an SEO audit?
- How much does a content audit cost
- What should be included in a website audit?
- What is SEO technical audit?
- How do you do content audit?
- Which is the best SEO Audit Tool?
- What is Keyword Density in SEO?
- Why is website auditing important?
This guide on how to do an SEO audit is different.
- It’s completely detailed with step by step action.
- It comes will an SEO audit template that you can use as worksheet for practicing!
By the end of this exercise the goal is for you to be equipped with the knowledge and skills on how to do an SEO audit!
If that sounds good to you, then let’s get this started!
What is an SEO Audit?
SEO Audit is the process of assessing the overall search engine ranking and performance of a website and it’s webpages. SEO Audit is composed of 3 main areas namely technical, on-page and off-page aspect of a website.
Before we dive into the actual process of how to do an SEO audit, it’s important to understand the concepts first.
I’m going to describe each area of an SEO audit briefly so that we can be on the same page moving forward.
What is technical SEO audit?
Technical SEO audit is the process of assessing the website’s coding conditions and making sure that what is intended to happen is understood by the search engine robots. The technical aspect of SEO includes clean and easy to understand HTML, CSS, Java, metadata and schema markup.
I should tell you:
You don’t need a computer science degree to be able to do a technical SEO audit or learn how to do an SEO audit for that matter – I did not!
Everything about SEO, the learning, the practicing and the improving, all will come to you naturally.
Technical audit includes but not limited to the following:
- Metadata (like meta description)
- Tags (like H1 tags)
- Links (like external and internal links)
- Crawl depth
- Response codes (like 404 or 301)
- Canonical links
- Mobile responsiveness
- loading speed
- SSL Certificate
- structured data (or schema markup)
- Open graphs
The best part is that there are SEO tools to make it easier for us to conduct a technical SEO audit. It’s only a matter of how we use these tools to make our SEO process efficient.
What is On-Page SEO audit?
An on-page SEO audit is a process of analyzing key elements on a webpage and how well it performs in search engine rankings. An on-page SEO audit includes checking on-page ranking factors like keyword positioning, keyword density, structured data, optimized images, and clean page structure.
Do you need to audit all pages of your website?
No, you shouldn’t!
You will only have to audit pages that are A. ranking for a keyword in the search and B. sending organic traffic to your website.
NOTE: But you have to make sure you’ve done basic on-page SEO every page that’s indexed by Google the moment you started building your pages.
What is Off-Page SEO audit?
Off-page SEO Audit (or off-site SEO audit) is the process of auditing external ranking factors that impacts the search engine result pages (or SERP) performance of a website . An off-page SEO audit checks the backlink profile, brand mentions, reviews, and user engagement in various channels.
Back in 2015 we would only consider backlink profiles as the main focus of an off-page SEO audit. Back then SEO was only about content, keywords and backlinks.
Today we have trust factors, we have user-intent, and we have social signals.
That’s why learning how to do an SEO audit is a must-have arsenal if you want be successful!
Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, time to step on the gas a little bit!
Overview: SEO Audit Template
Why is an SEO audit Important?
An effective SEO audit system is crucial for any website wanting to gain advantage in the search results because it enables it to scale, measure and refine how effective their SEO strategy is.
The same is true for any company with an effective auditing system!
Explaining The SEO Audit Template
Here you can see the SEO audit template and the SEO audit roadmap sheet.
The roadmap is a bird’s-eye view of the entire process – technical, on-page, off-page and content audit!
We’ve also got in there an on-page SEO audit checklist for local SEO. (More on this later!)
Here’s a quick overview of what the site audit roadmap is made of:
- Tool – the tools required to check or acquire the action item. We use this to sort the Action Items by tools used.
- Category – the category of the action item (technical, UI/UX, Basic, On-page and etc.). We use this to sort action items by category.
- Action Items – these are the items that needs to be optimized for your domain URL.
- First round of auditing – this column refers to the actual audit. This is to determine if the action item is fixed or not. Y for “Yes” and N for “No”. From here we can see all the action items that we need to go into and fix.
- Second round of audit -All Action Items that are marked with “N” (or not fixed) in the first round shall be fixed and marked with a check when it’s actually fixed.
- Notes – Drop in here important information that specific to the Action Item. This useful for future reference and gives a heads-up for whoever is going to work on the Action Item.
- ASANA task assignment – The use of PMS (Project management system) is up to you. I find my process efficient with ASANA when working with in a team.
- Assigned to – Indicate the person assigned for the Action Item.
Don’t worry if things are confusing the first time around.
– It’s suppose to be like that.
I’m going to make sure this SEO audit guide will be easy for you to follow. I’ve created videos side by side each steps.
And If that’s not enough, feel free to contact me if you stumble upon something.
Great, this is awesome!
Now that we’ve covered the basics, we can now dive in to the actual step by step process of auditing your website!
Step by Step Guide On How To Do An SEO Audit
How often should you do an SEO audit?
You should conduct a full-scale audit every 3-4 months and a mini-audit every 30-45 days. Frequency of auditing your website is depend on the amount of work done within a given time versus the size of your website.
Here’s the steps on how to do an SEO audit for your or your clients website.
1. Crawl your website using SEO tools (Paid & Free)
What are the best tools for auditing a website’s SEO?
Screaming frog & Ahrefs are the best paid tools for an SEO audit. Google search console and Google Analytics are the best free tools for auditing site performance. Other specialized tools such as SEOptimizer are priceless too because they perform certain tasks that most tools are limited or are not able to do!
But we’re not getting into the nitty gritty of how to best operate these tools.
(At least, not yet.)
You will end up opening more than 10 browsers while going through the audit. To save time, I usually run the tools first before I start with the audit.
Here are the list of SEO tools you will use in this guide:
- Screaming frog
- Google Search Console
- Google Analytics
I’ve grown this list over time as a result of the countless audits I’ve done. You too will stumbleupon tools that will satisfy your needs. I keep improving my craft day in and out, so should you!
How to Set up Screaming Frog SEO Spider?
Run the software after downloading and installing Screaming Frog SEO Spider. You will see a screen like this:
The first thing you need to do is integrate Google search console (GSC) and Google analytics (GA). Go to Configuration>> API Access>>> then you have GSC and Analytics.
What this does is it pulls out data from the tools and into screaming frog. Data that we can do audit and “play around with” on a later step.
Question:What about AHrefs, Moz & Majestic API’s? Should You integrate that as well?
Yes and no. I broke down my process so I can isolate each step as much as possible. Why coz most of the time I end up jumping around from one step to another making sure things where done accordingly (the control freak in me).
Some of you like stacking up humungous data into one spreadsheet, not me. So feel free to freestyle as much as you like. But do it when you’ve grown out of the SEO audit process.
Now back to Screaming Frog!
It’s important you have access to both accounts for you to be able to integrate it in screaming frog.
You’ll need to configure and set-up both tool like so…
Setting up GSC in screaming frog:
You’ll now see the GSC properties under your account and choose the site property you want to run an audit with.
The date range is set to default to the last 30 days. My SEO process is usually a monthly and quarterly audit. For monthly audit I set the range as is. For quarterly I set it to the last 90 days.
Setting up Google Analytics in Screaming Frog:
Click “Connect to New Account” if you can’t find the gmail account in the list of Existing Accounts.
When that’s done, you go ahead and select the gmail and click “Connect”. Now you have integrated your Google Analytics into screaming frog!
Select the “Account” and the rest will follow. Make sure the segment chosen is “organic”. Then check if the Date Range is the same with the GSC set up we did earlier and then hit “OK”.
Then you go to Mode>>>Spider and then enter in the URL you want to crawl and hit START.
Now you have initiated your first ever screaming frog site crawl – Congratz!
But no, you’re not done yet!
Once, the crawl is finished click “Export” right beside the filter.
Name and save it into your PC or Mac, and then add it to the “Screaming Frog Content Audit” in our SEO audit spreadsheet:
How to set up the SEO Audit tool of Ahrefs?
Here are steps to set-up an SEO audit tool using Ahrefs.com:
- Go to ahrefs.com and sign in to your account. At the top click “site audit”.
- When you’re in the dashboard click “New project”.
- On the next window fill out the scope with your domain name URL and the name of your campaign information. Click “continue” after Ahrefs verified your site’s accessibility.
- Next, you will verify the ownership of your domain by choosing one of the three verification methods: DNS record, HTML file and HTML tag.
- Of the 3 methods I would suggest that you choose HTML tag especially if you’re a beginner. Do that follow the next steps.
- Verify domain ownership via HTML tag:
- choose HTML tag options from the verify ownership steps. A drop down will open with code or meta tag to use.
- Copy the meta tag and head over to your website’s admin dashboard. I’ll be using a WordPress site in this example.
- inside the WP dashboard go to Appearance>>>Theme Editor.
- Make sure to select the active parent theme that you are using. Then look for the header.php file.
- Inside the header.php file you’ll find the
- Once that’s done head back to Ahrefs and click continue. You should see step 3 – Schedule site audits.
- Set a preferred schedule you want Ahrefs to do an SEO site audit and click continue.
- Under add keywords to track step you can set specific locations, If you’re a local business, drop the keywords you want to track, and hit continue!
- Lastly, add the competition in your market space. In most cases, I would usually go for industry competition rather than SERP competition for this one. But if you’re working on a blog, for example, it’s best to analyze your search ranking competitors instead. Click finish!
- You’ll be able to see a dashboard with the newly added domain for tracking. From the dashboard you’ll see the health score, URLS crawled & internal URLs having errors.
Launch the rest of the tools we shall be using!
So while screaming frog and Ahrefs SEO site audit tool are cooking you can also go ahead and fire-up the rest of the tools!
You’ll notice most of the tools does the same thing. That’s because A. each tool have their own additional features not found on another tool, and B. we want to cross reference the data we have to be as accurate as possible!
SEOptimer.com – This is a free tool for page speed test and it create list of optimization recommendations!
GTmetrix – This is also a tool to measure page speed and spot possible anomalies on your site. it’s straightforward but you need to work with a developer to execute its recommendations!
Ahrefs – Is a great tool for SEO audit both on-page and off-page. You can also use it to analyze your competition! (More to that later).
Cora (Alternative is Surfer SEO) – It’s a tool that analyzes 200+ different ranking factors out of 100 search engine ranking results.
webpagetest.org – Another page speed testing web-based software that we use. You can set the test using a slow 3G connection and location.
copyscape.com – The premium version let’s you crawl the web for potential duplicate content issues.
siteliner.com – Siteliner is the tool I use to find duplicate contents within the website.
search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly – This what you want to use when you do final mobile page speed check up!
tools.pingdom.com – It’s also a free page speed test software where you can select the location you want to test your page’s loading speed.
sslshopper.com/ssl-checker.html – If you want to be sure your SSL certificate is updated and working properly, this is the tool you need!
Google Search Console – A free website performance tool that tells you what/how Google sees your website.
Google Analytics – Is another Google tool that tells you what kind of visitors you get, where they come to your website, and how they react to your pages.
The rest of the tools are straight forward. You just need to enter your domain URL on each of the tool, let it start analyzing and move to the next.
The Why, What and How we’ll tackle them moving forward. So don’t fiddle away into the unknown and stick to the steps for now.
Do you need paid tools to do an SEO audit?
Yes, you need paid tools to save time & resources when you do an SEO audit. Paid SEO tools will interpret information from a website with thousands (or millions of pages). You can also make better decisions quickly and efficiently when you’re working with tools!
There’s massive data to be sorted everytime you run an audit. So, instead of weeks or months, the goal is to do it in hours or even less!
Premium tools I’d consider vital are Screaming Frog (or sitebulb) and Ahrefs.
But Screaming Frog’s free version can crawl up to 500 URLs and Ahrefs comes with a $1 trial. SEMrush & Majestics are alternatives for Ahrefs as well.
2. Benchmark The Statistics Of Your Website
We’ve fired all the tools, marked that step on our Roadmap!
Now, we’re going to benchmark the stats of your website. This usually takes no more than 2 minutes tops for me to execute.
Why benchmark your website’s SEO stats?
You want to benchmark statistics to measure the results of fixing the issues found on your SEO site audit. Benchmarking your sites stats also gives you an impression of the deficit in terms of how competitive your website is.
For this exercise we’re going to use the SEO audit we’ve done for Katitikan.com (awesome resource for literary news in the Philippines).
Here are the steps on how to benchmark your site SEO statistics:
- Export All Backlinks From Ahrefs
- Export best pages by clicks
- Initial Stats Export Organic Keywords
- Initial Top 20 URLs with most inlinks
- Initial Stats “Number of Indexed pages via GSC”
- Initial Stats “Number of backlinks via Ahrefs”
- Initial Stats “Linking Referring Domains”
- Initial Stats “Number of organic keywords”
- Initial Stats “Average Monthly Organic search visitors”
- Initial Stats “Bounce Rate %”
- Initial Stats “Avg. Session Duration”
- Initial Stats “Exit Pages”
- Initial Stats “Returning Visitors Percentage”
Don’t worry if you’re a total beginner. I’ve taken the time to really dig into the step by step process the best way I could. Again, if that won’t work feel free to shout me out on my social profiles.
I just need you to own this and get better learning how to do an SEO audit on your own!
1. Export All Backlinks From Ahrefs
We’re going to need ahrefs (comes with 7 days trial).
log-into your dashboard>>>enter your domain in the search bar>>>click backlinks. You will see this:
Click export and then add it to our SEO audit sheet like so:
Now you got that completed copy the url of sheet, but make sure you’ve selected the “backlink audit” tab.
Head over to the roadmap tab and paste it so you can easy check it from time to time.
2. Export best pages by clicks.
Go to your Google Search Console account>>>performance>>>pages>>>export
Select a google sheet export file and GSC will generate it for you.
Go the pages tab and copy everything as is and paste it in our “Best Performing Pages” tab. Then, update our Roadmap sheet like we did when we export all backlinks from Ahrefs!
3. Initial Stats Export Organic Keywords
Click keywords in Ahrefs and expert the first 1000 keywords. Add it to our “Keywords” tab in the sheet – make sure the headers match!
4. Initial Top 20 URLs with most Unique inlinks
Head over to the SF tab on our sheet and look for column AI “unique inlinks”. Then sort from Z-A. I then select the top 20 pages and mark bold the numbers under the AI column.
Doing this I can use this SF sheet as cross-references when I’m weeks deep into the project.
5. Initial Stats “Number of Indexed pages via GSC”
You can find this under GSC>>>Coverage>>>Valid.
Copy that number and put under the “Notes” column for that action item
6. Initial Stats “Number of backlinks via Ahrefs”
7. Initial Stats “Linking Referring Domains”
8. Initial Stats “Number of organic keywords”
All three can be found here:
9. Initial Stats “Average Monthly Organic search visitors”
Head over to Google Analytics (GA) Dashboard, select your account and then go to Acquisition>>>Overview>>>Organic Traffic>>> Users.
Katitikan.com got 35 organic leads for the last 7 days and 87 organic leads for the last 30 days!
FYI: Once you select the segment, on our case the Organic Search segment, it will trigger the rest of the tools within GA to populate data based on your selected segment!
9. Initial Stats “Bounce Rate %”
10. Initial Stats “Avg. Session Duration”
Both are in analytics go to Audience>>>Overview
11. Initial Stats “Exit Pages”
Located here: Behavior>>>Site Content>>>Exit Pages
12. Initial Stats “Returning Visitors Percentage”
– 30 New Visitors | 10 Returning Visitors
Can be found at Audience>>>Behavior>>>New Vs Returning
There you have it!
Our benchmarking for Katitikan.com is finally complete! Your SEO Roadmap spreadsheet should also look like this:
3. Check Basic Sitewide Optimizations
In this exercise, we are going to deal with some of the basic optimizations that should be present on a website like robots.txt, sitemap.xml and so on.
We’re going to break down each step as diligent as possible. Feel free to skim through if your SEO knowledge is past the basics.
Here are some of the basic website optimizations we will/should check moving forward:
- Does the website show up #1 when you search the brand name?
- Does the brand have a positive reputation in the SERPs?
- Site redirects to perferred version
- Is there a Robots.txt file?
- Sitemap Included in Robots.txt?
- Sitemap is properly set up?
- Favicon is present?
- AMP properly set?
- About Page Is visible and Optimized?
- Contact Page Is visible and Optimized?
- Terms of services page visible in the footer?
- HTML Sitemap visible in the footer?
- Pagination URLs does it contain Next/Prev Canonicals tags?
- Canonical points to a different internal URL?
- URL Problems?
- Social Media visible sitewide?
- Keyword mapping Set up already?
- Are all pages with canonical tags?
Our 2nd volunteer for this exercise AMC Consulting LLC. Special thanks to
- They’ve chosen a bad domain name for their business website. or;
- They’ve not done any brand promotion or profile building.
14. Does the brand have a positive reputation in the SERPs?
This is more like a requisite of the action item #13. You search for business brand name check for ratings from review sites and citations like Facebook and Google My Business.
But you do that with a service-oriented or product-oriented business like masonry contractor, iPhone repair, office & furniture supply, for example.
If there’s an overwhelming amount of low ratings, or if there are no ratings at all, that you see mark it with an “ N “. If not then with a “ Y “.
15. Site redirects to the preferred version
When you type in the following versions of the domain and it still redirects to the correct version, you’re good:
We do so, we want to make sure the search engine doesn’t index two versions of our domain name.
I’ve encountered a number of cases where the http version does not redirect to https version. It’s usually fixed in the .htaccess file. Ask a web developer if to help you with it!
16. Is there a Robots.txt file?
Some SEO pros argue is not necessary to have a robots.txt file.
Bryan Dean, says in his hub said…
Most websites don’t need a robots. txt file. That’s because Google can usually find and index all of the important pages on your site. And they’ll automatically NOT index pages that aren’t important or duplicate versions of other pages.
Yep, that’s correct.
But you can use Robots.txt file to set conditions on how robots should behave when crawling your pages. That could mean the world for a membership platform or an ecommerce, for example.
It’s won’t be a determining factor but it’s like an itch we want to scratch from time to time.
17. Sitemap Included in Robots.txt?
Why add sitemap.xml in the robots.txt?
The idea is for Google to easily find your sitemap (or crawl it immediately) whenever it crawls your website. We want Google and other search engines to crawl the new changes right away and index them.
So far, we’ve both these action items. Let’s mark them accordingly!
18. Sitemap is properly set up?
If you see URL parameters in your sitemap you know your SEO butler isn’t doing their job properly.
Basically, you’ll want in there nothing but the pages you want search engine robots to index and rank!
19. Favicon is present?
It’s that tiny little icon that appears on top of the browser when you open your website – You’ll want to have your logo there as well.
One of those tests was showing the site’s favicon on the search result right beside the URL of your website.
It’s now official in mobile search:
Definitely something you should have in there!
20. AMP properly set?
To check this head over to this page and have your page site:
Do you need to have AMP pages?
Absolutely not. Unless your building heavy loading pages all the time, you’re good with a well-optimized HTML page.
If this does not apply to your website, mark this “X” on the SEO Roadmap.
21. About Page Is visible and Optimized?
22. Contact Page Is visible and Optimized?
I rarely see sites that don’t put about us page & contact us page in the main navigation.
You should have it up there for a number of reasons:
- Google crawls main navigations and sees these types of pages About Us, FAQ, Contact Us and etc., as trust factors.
- You want to introduce brand right away to potential customers so you build the rapport right off the bat – Hence, why #1 exists in the first place.:)
You can use different anchor text however you wish, but I’d suggest you use “domain.com/about/” and “domain.com/contact-us/” in almost all circumstances!
23. Terms of services page visible in the footer?
– Not found in the footer of expediteyourbusiness.com
– Not found in the footer of expediteyourbusiness.com
25. HTML Sitemap visible in the footer?
– Not found in the footer of expediteyourbusiness.com
Like about pages, these basic pages are influencing the trustworthiness of your website as a whole.
But then again only but only will this matter if you care about your brand’s SEO!
26. Pagination URLs does it contain Next/Prev Canonicals tags?
To check: go to the screaming frog content audit tab>>>column Y and Z.
You will find rel=”next” 1 and rel=”prev” 1
You should be able to check or confirm by visiting the actual page and look for rel next & prev tags on the html view of the page.
To view the Html code of a page: right-click anywhere on the page + select “View Page Source”.
Then when you’re in the Html version of the page Click CTRL+F (It’s COMMAND + F for Mac) and type in either rel=”next” or rel=”prev”.
If you can verify that it’s there then mark the action item as Yes.
In the case of AMC Consulting, I can see the screaming frog detects these tags. But I am not able to find it when I check to verify.
It could be that the robots are fetching a cached version of the page. In other words, the pages have not been updated for a long time. Yaiks!
NOTE: We should write our observation in the Notes section for future preference!
27. Canonical points to a different internal URL?
Still on the screaming frog: We should confirm that the canonical tag URL matches that of the page’s URL.
Otherwise, we have fixing to do!
28. URL Problems?
Check if the URL of the pages have these signs of URL problems:
- Are there uppercase letters in the URL Parameter, especially service pages?
- Are there URLs using an underscore, plus signs, tilde, instead of hyphens “-“?
- Are there dynamic URLs present like “/.com/page.html?param1=abc”?
You can also do a quick check on screaming frog for this:
This is what the parameter in question but it’s non-indexable so we’re good there:
29. Social Media visible sitewide?
A brand that doesn’t engage potential clients on social platforms means that they won’t want to do business with people online – which is irony!
Google likes to see those social profile links on strategic positions on your website like the header and the footer. Do this, otherwise, you won’t get a good score for trustiness!
30. Keyword mapping Set up already?
Since AMC Consulting isn’t my actual client’s I’ve no knowledge about their in house SEO operations. But keyword mapping is actually done on stage 2 of my SEO process (stage 1 is the audit). I should be able to create a guide on this so, stay tuned!
31. Are all pages with canonical tags?
Still using screaming frog overview you can see that 28 HTML pages have self-referencing canonicals- meaning they are working correctly.
One of them isn’t but it’s a non-indexable category page, so not an issue per se.
So there you have it, we’ve learned how to do a basic audit for the most important bits (trust factor elements) on your website.
I know it’s tempting to go ahead and fix it but stick to the madness – there’s a method behind it!
4. Check for Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), User Experience(UX) & User Interface (UI)
You check these factors for one reason only – Traffic conversion.
Here’s the thing:
High traffic conversion leads to good impression from Google… good impression means Google trust… Google trust means website boost in all facet of search results.
Which basically means you’re Google’s go-to guy/gal whenever people search for a keyword related to your brand!
Why CRO audit is important to SEO?
CRO works hand in hand with SEO to create successful campaigns that scale! You want to rank but you also want to maximize the percentage of conversion. You optimize for Conversion Rate because it supplements your SEO!
The thing is Google changed it’s algorithm drastically over the last 7 years. It’s no longer about keyword stuffing, or link stacking, or all of that automation back in 2012.
For this exercise, we’re going to work with luxdezine.com A home furniture and office supplies distributor.
[Image of their homepage]
let’s dive into it..
32. Are goals/Conversion being tracked?
There are tons of conversion tracking tools to choose from. But our weapon of choice is none other than Google Analytics – I mean, why not?
To check if goal conversions are set in Google analytics:
- go to google analytics
- Select the property of your GA
- Go to Views
- Select the Gear icon(bottom left of your screen).
- Under views go to Goals.
- From here you can see all the goals created.
[show GA image here]
Option B is to go to Conversions>>>Goals>>>Overview!
[show GA image here]
If goals were not set, then you go ahead and do so! Goal tracking is crucial data that you’ll need for your business!
Again, Mark this action item with a Y or N in the SEO audit Roadmap.
33. Are Conversion tracking working properly?
This step requires a bit of GA learning curve because of how its conversion tracking work.
But here’s how I would go about doing this…
- Identify the type of conversion you’re tracking: Contact form, call, video, funnel.
- Go to your GA dashboard>>>Realtime>>> Conversions. keep this section open.
- Then visit your website via incognito mode.
- Do a dry run and go through the steps to complete the goal you want to test. For example a contact form submission – Complete the form, submit and then;
- Go back to GA dashboard to see the realtime tracking if it’s showing Goal completion you just did.
[Show image of real-time conversion tracking. Do an actual test and record.]
34. Are free lead magnets being used in supporting pages/posts?
Lead magnets are a great way to stay connected with your future clients that weren’t ready to purchase or avail your service the first time. Of course, you want to position this strategically on your website for maximum conversion.
What are lead magnets?
A lead magnet is a value-pack digital product that is offered for free to site visitors. A lead magnet is often used as an incentive for anyone who will sign up for an email newsletter listing. A lead magnet can come in different forms of digital products like video, PDF insider report, newsletter, spreadsheet templates or an eBook that offers usefulness to users. Other times it’s a discount code or a free trial given at the end of the signup process!
Example of an amazing lead magnet is this SEO audit template I’m offering here at Rienzi SEO. It’s full of value and really useful for everyday SEO use.
For LUXDEZINE they don’t have a free lead magnet positioned anywhere on their website, so I might as well mark this accordingly on our Roadmap.
35. Lead magnets are sending leads to thank you page?
Lead magnets usually redirect to a thank you page after filling out the requirements. It is usually where additional information on how to acquire free item is detailed.
How to check if your lead magnet funnels are working correctly?
[image of email marketing platform with funnel configuration]
Simply go through the signup process and make sure that you are redirected to the thank you page after filling up the requirements. Do a test both on desktop and mobile versions of your website!
If you are not redirected, check the funnel you are using by going through the dashboard and then troubleshot – make sure the URL of the thank you page is set up correctly.
36. Call to action properly set up on money pages?
37. Are call to action links/buttons strategically in placed and can be noticed within 2 seconds of landing?
[screenshot sample of a call to action]
What is a call to action?
Call to action is the action that you expect from site visitors when they land on your page. Call to action can either be a click to call button, click to order or click to set up an appointment.
Why is a call to action important in SEO?
This impacts the trust factor of Google by improving the conversion of your web pages. Call to action is a must for B2B and B2C business websites as it gives customers what they want within 3 seconds of landing on your pages.
It’s not directly related to ranking but I’ve seen SEO performance improve because we’ve positioned Call-to-actions properly. As I’ve mentioned at the beginning of this exercise. Google wants to see that you’re pages are engaging with your site visitors, and they reward you for that!
38. Optimize Image metadata in your local folder
[image of image property with meta tags]
Images have different types of metadata. You have the IPTC, EXIF, XMP, and others, which contain information about the image.
Information that you can take advantage of SEO wise.
Yes, you read that right. Here’s how:
The idea is when someone downloads your image and use it on their website, it indirectly gives you a free link (without them knowing) from their pages.
Just make sure you have your URL, brand name and keywords set up in the copyright, name, description, and keywords of the image. If it’s a local business you’re running make sure to add GPS location in there!
When uploading make sure to add meta description and alt title to your images too!
I checked a couple of LUXDEZINE images and found that they’re not optimizing their images, so we mark it with an N.
[Show a screen shot of the sample image]
39. Are there banner popups being utilized or chat boxes that disrupt the visitor immediately?
40. Are there ads that are restrictive or misleading?
Intrusive Banner popups and chat boxes are bad for User experience (UX)…
In fact, Google stated this in 2012:
“We’ve heard complaints from users that if they click on a result and it’s difficult to find the actual content, they aren’t happy with the experience. Rather than scrolling down the page past a slew of ads, users want to see content right away.
So sites that don’t have much content “above-the-fold” can be affected by this change. If you click on a website and the part of the website you see first either doesn’t have a lot of visible content above-the-fold or dedicates a large fraction of the site’s initial screen real estate to ads, that’s not a very good user experience.”
This was followed by a series of Algorithm updates targetting websites with heavy ads at the top of the page.
Of course, this doesn’t mean never to use banners, like ever!
There are ways to utilize banner pop-ups without affecting your site’s SEO. Aleh Barysevich wrote a guide on this topic on SE Journal.
There are a lot of pieces to take into consideration and this depends on a case to case basis. But here are some pop-up situations that I would recommend avoiding:
- Banner pop’s out right after landing on the page – not only that it’s intrusive but it slows down your page’s loading speed.
- Banners that locks the entire screen – A full banner pop-up that blocks the screen, and requires to be closed/dismissed, is not healthy for UX, especially if the ad is not related to the content. If you can position the banner on the sidebar or at the top of the navigation, go ahead and do that.
- Banner pop-ups on every page visit – If once is obscuring twice is definitely excessive, don’t you think? This has been heavily penalized back in 2014 and will be so today.
Our sample website doesn’t show such issues so we’re moving forward!
41. Is the overall design able to relay the message of the website?
Most business owners’ mistake is to create things to their liking. That’s a bad habit that can cost you your business, if not taken into consideration.
When a design is presented to me, the first questions that pops in mind is…
“Will they buy this?”
“Are we sending the right message?”
“Are we targeting the right segment of customers?”
If these questions aren’t satisfied, I go and ask the people I work with “what can we do to make this better?”
Here are quick web design guidelines to help you with this decision:
- Mobile Responsiveness.
- Right choice of theme color.
- Fast loading.
- User-friendly navigation.
- send the right message.
The main takeaway I’d give LUXDEZINE is #1 remove their rotating banner on the home page and #2 lack of CTA in the header area of their pages. So I say, their design needs improvement!
Other action items to check are the following…
42. Are fonts consistent, easy to read and easy on the eye?
When it’s a blog post (especially a long one) you want to use neutral background colors and lighter text colors. Long hours of reading sharp colors put strain on the eyes.
For money pages you want dense and noticeable text colors to catch attention and give strong impression on your blog!
In our subject’s case, they are using similar font and similar texture all throughout. That’s a no for me!
43. Are links and buttons understandably clickable?
Use hover effects and contrasting colors for buttons and links.
44. Are there sections of the pages that are misleading or unclear?
Some designs are good for the eyeballs but terrible for user experience.
An example of this are drop-down/collapsable containers. When you have a long list of FAQs and didn’t want people to keep scrolling then you use a collapsable container for this.
You have to make sure it functions with zero complications. Otherwise, you’re readers will assume something else and end up pogo-sticking on your website.
FYI: Google might see hidden content as immaterial. Meaning they might end up bypassing all the hidden treasure on your div element. So reconsider your options here!
45. Is there a site search function both mobile and desktop?
It’s one of the trust factors that I consider Google looks for on a page.
I mean it only makes sense because you’re giving all the tools a user needs however they want to consume your website.
You can create this with any WordPress theme or within WordPress itself. Just make sure it functions properly!
46. Are there breadcrumbs visible in ranking pages?
It gives away information on how your pages are structured- Something that any search engine robot would appreciate you for having.
Then, of course, you also provide a good UX experience for users to know where they’re at on your website.
47. Can the breadcrumbs indicate which page a user is on?
Check if the last bit on the breadcrumbs is highlighted, bold or emphasized indicating the page the user is on. Mark it with Y on the spreadsheet.
In the case of our sample site, the breadcrumbs are not designed well:
[show screenshot of breadcrumbs here]
48. Is the primary navigation easy-to-understand?
For human visitors, it must be flowing like a stream of water, your navigation that is!
You see Google bots crawl webpages top to bottom and from left to right.
This means you should position the most important links to the left side of the screen. Important to customers not to your business.
[screenshot of LUX main navigation]
For LUXDEZINE, they should reconsider the order of their navigation.
49.Email address accessible in the main and footer nav as well as in the content?
I’ve found that whenever I’ve added the email address in the header & footer navigations as well as in the content (in service pages) good things happen. The same is true with phone numbers and social links.
There’s no correlation to rankings, per se, but it contributes to a certain degree. Again, Google sees this as a trust factor and I’d suggest you have it on your website more often than not.
User experience-wise, it gives people the option to contact you aside from social media and phone numbers.
50. Is the drop-down navigation uncluttered and easily understood?
When you have an e-store, for example, it is best for you to map out your categories and your products accordingly.
From there you can decide how your drop-down navigations should behave – make sure to design it with user-friendliness in mind.
Keep in mind Google only prioritize crawling web pages base on crawl depth. The further it takes from the root domain the less likely Google will see it as important (up to tier 3 is good).
51. Is the footer navigation easy-to-understand, uncluttered, and non-spammy?
It has to be organized.
This is where you put together everything that’s secondary in nature to your business like certificates, blogs, contact info, company overview, and resources.
Again, it has to be user-friendly for the most part. Here are some ideas to help you with this!
52. Check SSL certificate
I’ve seen people asking in the Facebook community about websites not having the “lock” icon beside their domain URL – they don’t have an SSL certificate.
And it’s an issue to site visitors not wanted to check your site because it says it’s not secured browsing – this is gonna hurt if you’re running an e-store!
You can go to https://www.sslshopper.com/ssl-checker.html to check your SSL certification details.
Upon checking, it looks like LUXDEZINE doesn’t have issues with their certificate (opsies!) and they definitely need to address this ASAP:
[screenshot of the result]
5. Check Your Website For Google Indexing Errors
What is google indexing?
Google indexing is the process of adding your website to Google’s index. The indexing of pages is done by sorting the information of your pages allowing Google to understand what or which category, market, niche or query they should be grouped with. Google’s index of web pages is where the algorithm pulls a list of search results based on the user’s query (or keyword that they enter into google).
That’s why it’s important to make sure Google read’s your page the way you wanted it read.
In an SEO website audit, we do have a couple of action items to check related to Google indexing and crawling.
We’re going to Use Katitikan.com for this exercise!
52. Crawl vs. Index Status is there a disparity?
There shouldn’t be a huge difference between these two if you’ve set up everything accordingly. Don’t worry if you actually end up having a huge difference, just mark it and make notes. We can go back and fix it in the 2nd round of our SEO audit process.
To check this.
Go to google.com and execute a site:domain.com search like so:
Notice the line that says “About 238 results (0.22 seconds)” this is right below the search tools.
Take a note of the number of results vs that of GSC>>>Coverage>>>Valid.
In our example, they have 238 in the search result vs 234 in GSC. Looking good!
We can investigate the 4-page disparity later!
53. Improper use of Directives Index, noindex, follow, nofollow
If the disparity between search results and GSC is minimal there’s little chance that your site is not using directives correctly.
To check this, go to screaming frog software and look for “Directives” in the overview tab.
Check if there are pages with noindex and nofollow tags. In our case, we don’t have any. But if there were, we ought to investigate why they’re assigned with noindex or nofollow tags.
On the other hand, there might be pages that are assigned with index tags that shouldn’t be like archive, blog tags or author pages. Category pages can be indexed if your website is already built up or is 1-2 years old, otherwise, I would (or experts would) recommend noindexing it until such time.
54.Improper use of Redirection 3xx
3xx redirection like 301 and 302 (here’s a list with explanation) should be put to good use. If not done properly, on a large scale, it could affect your crawl budget greatly.
Check if 301 redirects are done because the old page’s content/information is moved to a new one PERMANENTLY. 302 redirections are used when the original page is under renovation and will be live again in the future.
If it’s an external link that redirects make sure to change it/update with the current link. So far, Katitikan have 301 redirect of their old social profile link to their new one and it is sitewide:
55. Improper use of Canonical tags
If a page is canonicalized but to a different page then you should check if there’s a reason behind it. Otherwise, you need that fixed.
Or if there are different versions of a page i.e. paginated page like .com/blog/1/2/3 it’s important each page have a canonical tag pointing to the parent or original page, which is .com/blog.
To Check you can go to Screaming frog software>>>Overview>>>Canonicals>>> canonicalized
56. Improper use of Status Code 4xx
I often see people using 404 on pages that no longer exist when they should be assigning a 410 status code to it. The difference is that the earlier tells search robots “nothing is there” whereas the latter is saying that “it use to be available and now it’s not”.
404 status code can be interpreted as temporary while 410 means it is forever gone.
I use a 410 status code on an old URL that no longer works or has zero links & traffic. Otherwise, I assign a 301 to it pointing to a page with similar or identical information.
Should I redirect URLs to my home page if it doesn’t match any of my pages?
You only redirect it to the home page if it still/have backlinks and has traffic going to the URL. Once backlinks is corrected and traffic dies organically, then you can assign a 410 status to it.
This leads us to our next action items…
57. 4XX page receives organic traffic?
58. 3XX page receives organic traffic?
59. Canonical points to 4xx
60. Canonical points to 5xx
A quick way to check is via Ahrefs site audit>>>Reports>>>Others for items 57 & 58 and Reports>>>Indexability for action item 59& 60.
These action items will appear if there are affected pages or URLs.
For items 57-58 If you can’t afford Ahrefs at the moment:
Head over to screaming frog>>>Response Code>>> ID the affected urls with 5xx, 4xx & 3xx status code.
Pop each one over to GSC>>>performance>>>New>>>Page>>>Filter:exact URL>>>>drop the URL and then hit Apply.
You’ll see the traffic and impression from there.
For action items 59-60 here are steps to check canonicals pointing to URLs with 4xx and 5xx status code using screaming frog:
- Go to screaming from>>>Response Code.
- Grab one by one URLs with 4xx and 5xx.
- Head over to screaming frog audit sheet.
- Press CTRL+F (COMMAND+F on Mac) and drop the URL you want to check.
- Head over to the Canonical column (column X) tab to see if there’s a match.
- If there is mark it on the SEO Audit Roadmap Sheet.
From here onwards situations gonna be sticky.
I’ll do my best to make it easier for those of you who are still learning how to do an SEO audit. Of course, if you hit a brick feel free to reach out!
61. Category Pages are optimized to avoid duplicate and keyword cannibalism?
If you have an established brand, blog, or e-commerce, and your category pages are indexed, then you need to map your keywords diligently. Keyword mapping should be done as a whole, meaning assigning keywords to all the pages (category, blogs, product & other monetized pages) on your site.
This map gives you an overview of what pages are ranking/optimized for what keyword, thus making sure you avoid keyword cannibalism!
But the question is…
How do you find or identify keyword cannibalism?
You can search google using this search strings:
Then you can manually sip through the results and find pages that contain similar or identical keywords in the URL and in the title.
But my personal favorite way of finding/checking keyword cannibalism looks like this:
- Log into your Ahrefs account do a search for your domain name.
- Hit the organic keywords tab (make sure that all SERP features are unchecked) and export your keywords in csv format. We’ll get back to this.
- Head over to the keyword cannibalization sheet save it and create a copy of it. Credit goes to Joshua Hardwick for this!
- Go to your copied version and make sure to personalize the name. Then under “1. Ahrefs KW export” select the first cell.
- Head to file>>>import>>>download>>>drag and drop the csv file of your organic keyword.
- When it’s done uploading tick the “Replace data at selected cell” + import Data.
- Grab a drink while waiting. Then once it’s done calculating you can check the results tab and see if you have 2 or more pages ranking for the same keyword.
- From here on forwarding, you can make an educated judgment on which ones you should de-optimize.
62. Multiple Categories Per Post
If you’re a beginner in SEO and just learning how to do an SEO audit, I would suggest you take on this advice:
1 Post = 1 Category
This, however, doesn’t mean posts with multiple categories will hurt your SEO.
I just feel that as you dive deeper into the discipline, you’ll be able to tap into complex thinking anyways so why spoil the fun?
Action Items 63-75 are easily configured with plugins like when you’re using WordPress as your content management system. But I’ll explain in brief as to why they should be audited!
63. Thank You Pages – noindex, nofollow
Thank you pages is where people are directed to after they complete a transaction (i.e. free download, contact form, or request a quote) on your website.
They should not find your thank you page in google search results.
65. Terms of Services – index, follow
66. HTML sitemap – index, follow
They don’t really offer any SEO boost but they too contribute in the overall trust factor especially on a brand new website.
The more reason to index these pages!
67. PDF’s – noindex,nofollow
If you are offering a paid pdf download and Google sees it and index it. Chances are searchers will find it on the web – you don’t want that!
Another is there are keywords in the PDF text that Google can access and read. It could end up ranking higher than the page optimized for such keywords – again you don’t want something like this!
But if you want to flaunt them like a certification letter in PDF format, then that works!
How do you add noindex tags on PDF files?
There are scenarios to this that also require 2 different solutions.
Scenario 1: You have not yet added any PDF on your website
Solution: Add this to your robots.txt file “Disallow: /*.pdf”
Scenario 2: You already have PDFs and are indexed by Google
Solution: Enter these into your websites .htaccess file:
<Files ~ “\.(pdf)$”>
Header set X-Robots-Tag “noindex, nofollow”
Here’s a useful guide by Geoff Kenyon!
68. Dates – noindex,nofollow
69. Author- noindex,nofollow
70. Post Tags – noindex,nofollow
71. Product Tags – noindex,nofollow
Though more often than not, Google will ignore pages on your site that don’t have value. For a blog with lots of more important pages that should be checked by Google, the crawl budget becomes an issue.
This becomes a question of priority. For the most part, you don’t want to be bothered with this our verdict is to nofollow tags & archive pages!
How do you set nofollow tags on these pages?
If you are using WordPress you can simply install SEO by Yoast.
Then go to your WordPress Dashboard>>>Yoast>>>Search Appearance
Then find all 4 under Archives and Taxonomy hit disable!
72. WP Directories – noindex,nofollow
What are WordPress directories?
It’s an application that comes within the Cpanel of your WordPress site’s hosting account. It’s where all the information of your website are stored by folders or directories.
Go here for more information about WordPress directories!
How do you check if Google is indexing my directories?
You can search Google with these advance operators:
If it returns any result you should work with a developer with this. If not mark our roadmap with a Y on it!
73. Account Pages – noindex,nofollow
What are account pages?
If your business involves login portals for members, you don’t want Google to index your member’s profile and dashboard!
74. Media Attachments – index, follow
Google images rank your images too and you could end up getting free links if your images are optimized accordingly!
How to enable indexing media attachments?
For WordPress websites you can go to WordPress Dashboard>>>Yoast>>>Search Appearance>>>Media>>>Choose Yes.
75. Category Pages – index, follow (situation-based)
We’ve discussed earlier whether to index category pages or not. If it’s a new site with less than 20 pages, I’d say noindex your category pages.
If it grows at some point, you might want to consider indexing your category pages.
If you’re running an eCommerce it should well be indexed!
76. Should have no Meta keywords assigned
The main reason is that Google and the rest of the search engines don’t support Meta keywords anymore or use it as a ranking signal. Second is you don’t want to giveaway footprints of the keywords your pages are focusing on – competitors will devour you alive!
6. Check Your Site For Basic Structured Data and Underlying Issues!
Organization Mark up (national)
Local Business Markup
Bread Crumbs Markup
News Article Markup
Open Hours Markup
Are the social accounts/profiles completed as much as possible?