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Conducting an SEO Audit From Scratch

Paul Hudson October 16, 2017

Chances are you landed on this page in your hunt for a guide to help you with your first site-wide SEO audit. Congratulations; because it’s almost certain that your website’s SEO score will be much better when you’re done with the audit. Doing the audit, however, can be tricky, purely because there could be so much you’d want to do! The better and more practical strategy is to cover the high priority aspects of SEO in your audit. You’re in luck because I am going to tell you exactly what to do and how to do it using some of the top rated tools for site analysis.

Traffic Audit

The first step is to get a bird’s eye view of your website’s traffic, so that you can figure out the depth to which you need to take the audit. I recommend SEMRush for this; the tool is free, intuitive, quick, and doesn’t even require you to login.

Enter your root domain here.

Check out the PPC and organic traffic charts, top 5 keywords, and top 5 competitors. Plus, there’s a pie chart showing your traffic sources and their contributions to total traffic. The key aspects worth your observations and analysis are:

  • Search volumes
  • Trends in search volumes
  • Top organic keywords
  • Ranking of the top keywords
  • Competing websites

The Competition Graph is pretty useful, offering you a graphical comparison of your domain with top competitors. If you’re not ranking in the top 2, it makes sense to observe what the top 2 are doing.

Apart from this, you can use SEMRush’s analysis to understand pretty much everything about your website traffic sources, keywords, backlinks, paid search campaign success, ads keywords, etc.

SERP Audit

This is a practical method of understanding keyword performance, apart from identifying key areas of improvement that can help improve organic traffic.

Type your website’s brand along with the location (if it’s a business website) in Google search. Observe whether:

  • You rank in the top 10 for the search
  • There are multiple website pages in the top 10
  • These pages are actually the ones that deserve a place in the top 10
  • All links that you don’t own or control (in the top 10) mention your brand in a positive light
  • The titles and meta descriptions are well written, catchy, and click-worthy
  • The meta description is complete (no dotted lines, they don’t look good)

Identify scope for improvement in:

  • Keyword strategy
  • Title and meta tags
  • URL

If you change the title or meta tags for any web page, use Google SERP Simulator to check how it will look on the search results page after you edit the title, URL, and meta tags.

Authority Audit

This is where you attempt to evaluate your website’s off-page SEO prowess. AHREFS Site Explorer is a great tool to do this. Just key in your website in the analysis tool, and you will get all the info you want.

  • The key aspects to consider are:
  • Your domain rank: Is it good enough?
  • Number of backlinks and referral domains: the ratio should be at least 10%
  • Trends in the number of pages referring to your domain

A useful trick: repeat this analysis for the top competitor you found while doing traffic audit, and see what it’s doing better than you.

Content Audit

Your SEO audit is the perfect opportunity to revisit site content and make amends where necessary. Here are some best practices.

  • Use Copyscape to identify websites that have copied your content, and send them DMCA notices.
  • Evaluate the website’s navigation structure and menu hierarchies; is there a scope for simplification?
  • Make sure that each page has its primary keyword that doesn’t compete with any other web page within the same website.
  • Use the keyword once in the first sentence of the article, and once in the last sentence.
  • Update the content on web pages whose original content might have become obsolete; it’s a good option to include a phrase such as [September 2017 Update] in the page title tag.
  • For more actionable advice, refer to Moz’s content audit guide.

Technical Roundup

There are way too many technical aspects of website management that impact SEO. Here are the ones to focus on during your website SEO audit.

  • Page Loading Speed – Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool to evaluate your website’s loading speeds on desktops and mobile devices.
  • Mobile responsiveness – Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool to identify how well your website is optimized for mobile devices.
  • Robots.txt – Check whether the robots.txt file needs any tweaks; make sure it’s not unintentionally preventing some webpage from being crawled by search engine bots.

Final Thoughts

Trust me, your website SEO audit will reveal such massive insight that you will end up with a majorly improved website when you act on your findings. The perfect time to start? Now.