What makes a thorough technical SEO audit?
Here we take you thorough some of the steps in a technical SEO audit.
Note that due to some technology platforms and niches there are variations on what is in an audit and how it is conducted. Also, if we uncover that there was a site migration that is cuasing issiues, we would naturally focus in more depth in that area, just as if there had been poor SEO or a negative SEO attack in the past we would look more closely at links from those issues.
Outlined below are the top level categories we look at in an SEO audit.
- Domain Overview
- Penalties and Error Checks
- Search Visibility
- Technical Factors
- Link Analysis
- Content Analysis
1. Domain Overview
A high level domain over view looks at the status of your domain and pertinent factors.
Here is a list of some of the things we look at in a domain overview
- Domain Age
- When is the domain registered to
- Who is the domain registered to
- Hosting (Shared or dedicated?)
- Server geographical location (is it in the target region?)
- Is it on a bad neighbourhood?
- Is the domain black listed?
- How much traffic is it getting?
- Where is the traffic coming from?
- Does it have correct canonicalization?
- Does it use http or https?
- Is https implemented correctly?
- Does it have a robots file?
- Does it have a sitemap file?
- What does the load time look like?
2. Penalties and Error Checks
The next step is a inbetween a general domain overview and a technical check. This step is really looking to see if there is anything specific that could be causing a site not to rank.
We look for evidence of either manual or algorithmic penalties. We also look to see if there are lots of toxic domains listing or if the site has links from bad neighbourhoods or blacklisted sites.
One bad link can kill your rankings!
3. Search Visibility
The next step is a general look at how visible the site is to search engines. This includes how a site is ranking for its keywords where it typically positions in search results and what search features it is being found for.
After the basic visivility checks and analhysis we look a little deeper into issues that can effect how visible a site is in the search results.
Crawlability is a technical SEO related issue and is effected by the sites structure and set up. We look to see if a search engine's spider can access all parts of your site that it should. It is often surprising to many customers that a key part of their site is inaccessible to search engines and that they are missing out on massive amounts of traffic because of it.
Once a search engine can access a site it then needs to index it such that the site can be shown in search results. There are numerous issues that can effect how a search enginge can index a site. There are often some site specific settings that prevent a search engine from indexing a site properly even if it is able to succesfully crawl the whole site. We check that the site can be properly indexed and address any issues associated with indexing.
4. Technical Factors
There are many technical factors to look. There are a lot of different technologies and combinations of frameworks and plugins used to makesa web site look and function as desired. This can provide a very nice appearance and user experience but this can also prevent search engines from seeing all of your site.
There are also many server and domain configuration issues that can cause issues for search engines to be able to properly view and display your site.
4.1 HTML Structure
The structure and order of HTML elements is also important. Search engines like structured data so it is prudent ot ensure that data and structures are well ordered and formated in a best practice manner.
4.2 Site Performance and UX
The user experience and general site performance have a major effect on search engine ranking. This is largely due to the implementation of Google's Rank Brain AI technology that will push a well perofrming site up in the rankings above where it would normally place algoritmically on the pure ranking algorithm. Consequently, Rank Brain will also push down a poor performing site. It has always made sense to make sure you have a well performing site giving the best user experience, however now there is even more reason to do so, as having a poor user experience will literally drop you like a stone in the search engine results.
Site load time is another significant factor for similar reasons as user experience (UX). If a site takes loinger than 3 seconds to load, you can expect to lose up to 90% of the traffic you would otherwise get with a faster loading site.
4.3 Site Configuration
Site configuration is something that can be fairly invisible to a site owner but have a major effect on search engine performance.
5. Link Analysis
Links play one of the most significant roles in how a site ranks in search engines.
One bad link can literally kill your search rankings.
5.1 Inbound Links
Inbound links (often called external links) are what most people focus on. These are links from an external domaain to your site. The number of referring domains that link to your site is one of the single biggest influencers on where you rank.
However, not all links are created equal. Some are much more valuable than others, and some can actually have negative values that cause your site harm.
5.2 Internal Links
Internal links are links from a page on your site to another page or to another anchor on the same page.
Internal links are often neglegted and considered to have less significant and bennefit on your rankings. While that is true, they still have a lot of potential to improve a sites ranking if applied correctly. Looking at the use of links and the structure of internal link flow can help improve a sites rankings. Given that you are directly in control of internal links it makes sense to ensure they are fully optimized.
5.3 Outbound Link
Outbound links are links from your site to another external web site.
In the past some SEOs have advised against linking out to other sites for fear of losing coveted "page rank" (Google metric used to rank site). However, it makes sense to link out to high quality relevant resources where those links are useful and explanetory.
When linking out, we must make sure that the sites we link to are of high quality, as linking to a bad domain or neighborhood can cause your site to lose rankings and even be penalized.
Another consideration on linking out as making sure that correct and appropriate citations of references and information is used. This plays into EAT - Expertise, Authoritiveness and Trustowrthieness, which is part of Google's algorithm to verify that the author of a certain piece of content is qualified to make the statements they are making. This is not used in all niches but it is our opinion that this type of algorithmic adjustmner based on EAT will be more broad based in the future. Most SEOs agree that this is good practice and should be done in any event, EAT or not.
5.4 Anchor Text
Anchor text is the text that is the clickable link. This has an importance in associating relevance to a resource. Rather than just saying click here you can desribe what the link is about and since this is usually in context of what the link is, that is usually beneficial.
We look at the use of anchor text and if appropriate anchors are being used to ensure that proper relevance is being associated with each page being linked to.
6. Content Analysis
Content is often an after thought in terms of search rankings. Very often a brief description or high level overview is given with the intent to get a user to complete a goal of contact a site.Call to Action! CLICK ME CLICK ME!
Data shows that content matters a lot. We benchmark an niche and see what the use of content is. Very often more content is needed. Typically this means longer content as many pages are light on content. Statisticss show that pages rank higher as the number of words approaches 2000 per page. This varies from industry to industry and niceh to nice but the trend is clear. Long form content with more detail ranks better.
This data is from a study by Backlinko on 1 million google search results
There are many ways to structure and organize content, we look to see that best practices are being employed and how a site compares to its industry benchmark.
We take a detailed look at your site and cover all bases to make sure we provide a solid basis for your web site. Get a free site audit today and unlock your sites potential.