In the world of SEO, there's a saying: "What gets measured gets managed."
When managing your website's SEO health, nothing is more critical than a technical SEO audit. But what exactly is a technical SEO audit, and how do you conduct one?
Buckle up because we'll dive deep into the nitty-gritty of technical SEO audits.
Table of Contents
What is a Technical SEO Audit?
A technical SEO audit is a process where you analyze the technical aspects of a website related to search engine optimization.
The primary goal of a technical SEO audit is to optimize your website's technical elements to ensure better visibility and performance in search engine results.
Think of it as preventive maintenance for your website, keeping it running smoothly and efficiently.
How to Conduct a Technical SEO Audit?
Now that we've covered the basics let's dive into the steps of conducting a technical SEO audit:
Use a Site Audit Tool
Site audit tools are essential for a comprehensive technical SEO audit. They scan your website and provide detailed reports on all crawlable pages, helping you identify various technical SEO issues.
Check Crawlability and Indexability
Ensuring your site is crawlable and indexable by search engines is critical to a technical SEO audit. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to do this:
Use Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a free tool that provides insights into how Google views your website. It's an essential tool for checking crawlability and indexability.
Verify Your Site
First, you need to verify your site on Google Search Console. This involves adding a piece of code to your website or uploading a file, which proves to Google that you're the site owner.
Once your site is verified, you can check the crawlability and indexability of individual URLs. Enter your site's URL into the tool, and it will tell you whether the URL is on Google, if it's mobile-friendly, and any crawl or indexing issues.
Check for Crawl Errors
Go to the "Indexing" report in the Google Search Console dashboard. This report shows any pages on your site that Google couldn't index. The reasons why URLs weren't indexed are listed in the Why pages aren't indexed table.
In your dashboard, you can also see the following:
- Reason - why a URL couldn't be indexed.
- Source - whether the source of the issue is Google or the website.
- Validation - whether you have requested validation of a fix for this issue, and if so, what the status of the validation attempt is.
Check the Robots.txt File
The robots.txt file tells search engines which parts of your site they can or can't crawl. You can check this file by adding "/robots.txt" to the end of your domain. Make sure that none of the important pages or directories are being blocked.
Check the XML Sitemap
The XML sitemap is a file that helps search engines understand the structure of your site and find all of its pages. In Google Search Console, you can submit your sitemap, and it will tell you if there are any issues. Ensure all important pages are included in the sitemap and that it's up to date.
Check for Indexing Issues
If certain pages aren't appearing in Google search results, it could be an indexing issue. This could be due to a "noindex" tag on the page, a disallow directive in the robots.txt file, or a manual action from Google. Use Google Search Console to identify and fix these issues.
Review Page Speed
Page speed is a significant factor in user experience and search engine ranking. Tools like Google's PageSpeed Insights can help you analyze your site's loading speed and provide recommendations for improvement.
Here's a step-by-step guide on how to review your page speed using Google's PageSpeed Insights:
Access Google PageSpeed Insights
Google PageSpeed Insights is a free tool that analyzes the content of a web page, then generates suggestions to make that page faster. To start, visit the PageSpeed Insights page.
Enter Your URL
In the box at the top of the page, enter the URL of the page you want to test. This could be your homepage or any other page on your site. Then, click "Analyze."
Understand Your Score
The tool will take a few moments to analyze your page. Once it's done, it will give you a score out of 100 for both mobile and desktop versions of your site. A higher score is better, with a score of 90 or above considered good, 50 to 90 considered moderate, and below 50 considered poor.
Review Metrics and Diagnostics
Below your score, you'll see a section called "Metrics". This Performance category in PageSpeed Insights provides information on the page's performance on different metrics, including:
- First Contentful Paint (FCP)
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
- Speed Index
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
- Time to Interactive (TTI)
- Total Blocking Time (TBT)
Each metric is scored and labeled with an icon indicating whether it is good, needs improvement, or is poor. The scores are then combined to calculate an overall PageSpeed score ranging from 0 to 100. The score is a weighted average of different metrics, with more heavily weighted metrics significantly impacting the overall rating.
The "Diagnostics" section provides additional information about the performance of your page, including best practices that are not directly affecting your page speed score.
Regularly reviewing and optimizing your page speed can provide a better user experience, reduce bounce rates, and improve your search engine ranking.
Check Mobile Optimization
With the increasing use of mobile devices for internet browsing, ensuring your website is optimized for mobile is vital.
Here's a step-by-step guide on how to check mobile optimization using Google's Mobile-Friendly Test:
Access Google's Mobile-Friendly Test
Google's Mobile-Friendly Test is a free tool that allows you to check if a page on your site is mobile-friendly. To start, visit the Mobile-Friendly Test page.
Enter Your URL
In the box at the top of the page, enter the URL of the page you want to test. This could be your homepage or any other page on your site. Then, click "TEST URL."
Review the Results
The tool will take a few moments to analyze your page. Once done, it will tell you whether your page is mobile-friendly. If your page is mobile-friendly, you'll see a green message saying, "Page is usable on mobile."
Understand the Issues
If your page is not mobile-friendly, the tool will provide a list of issues that prevented the page from passing the test. This could include clickable elements being too close together, the text too small to read, or the mobile viewport not being set.
The next step is fixing the issues identified by the Mobile-Friendly Test. This might involve adjusting the size and spacing of your buttons and links, increasing your font size, or setting up a mobile viewport.
Evaluate Link Health
The quality and health of your links play a significant role in your site's SEO performance. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to evaluate your link health:
Use a Link Audit Tool
There are several tools available that can help you audit your links. These tools can provide a comprehensive overview of your backlink profile, including the number of backlinks, the domains they come from, their anchor text, and whether they are dofollow or nofollow links.
Identify Broken Links
Broken links can harm your site's user experience and SEO. Use a tool like Screaming Frog SEO Spider to crawl your website and identify any broken links. Once you've identified any broken links, either remove them or replace them with working links.
Check for Low-Quality or Spammy Links
Low-quality or spammy links can harm your site's SEO. Use your link audit tool to identify any potentially harmful links. Look for links from low-quality or irrelevant sites or sites that have been penalized by Google. If you find any such links, consider using Google's Disavow Tool to disavow them.
Analyze Link Relevancy and Anchor Text
The relevancy of your backlinks and the anchor text can impact your SEO. Ensure that your backlinks come from relevant sites, that the anchor text used varies, and that includes your target keywords.
Monitor Your Link Profile Regularly
Link health isn't a one-time check. Regularly monitor your link profile to identify any changes, such as a sudden loss of backlinks, which could indicate a problem.
Check for Duplicate Content
Duplicate content can harm your website's SEO performance in the following ways:
- Confuses search engines: Duplicate content can confuse search engines and force them to choose which identical pages to rank in the top results.
- Loss of rankings: While Google does not impose a penalty for duplicate content, it does filter identical content, which has the same impact as a penalty: a loss of rankings for your web pages.
- Manual action from Google: In some cases, if your duplicate content issues are really bad, you could even face a manual action from Google for trying to deceive users.
Avoid these negative impacts - it is essential to identify and fix any duplicate content issues on your website. You can do this by using canonical tags, 301 redirects, and ensuring that all content on your website is unique and original.
Visit this article to learn more about some common SEO mistakes to avoid.
Review Structured Data
Structured data, or schema markup, can enhance your search engine visibility. It provides search engines with more information about your site's content, improving your chances of achieving rich results (improved relevancy, CTR, and overall user experience). Think of it as a detailed map of your city, making it easier for visitors to find what they're looking for.
Here are steps you can take to review structured data:
- Identify the pages: Determine which pages on your website contain review content you want to mark up with schema. This could include product pages, service pages, or pages with user-generated reviews.
- Choose a schema markup tool: Various tools can help you generate and implement schema markup for reviews. Some popular options include WordPress plugins like "Rank Math”.
- Generate the schema markup: Use the chosen tool to generate the necessary schema markup for your review content. This markup should include details such as the review body, the item being reviewed, the review rating, and other relevant information.
- Implement the schema markup: Once you have generated the schema markup, add it to the appropriate pages on your website. This can be done by manually modifying the HTML code of each page or using a plugin or tool that simplifies the process.
- Validate the schema markup: After implementing it, validate your schema markup to ensure no errors or issues. You can use tools like the Schema Markup Validator or Google's Structured Data Testing Tool to check if the markup is correctly implemented.
- Monitor the results: Keep an eye on how search engines display your reviews in the search results. Monitor the impact of the schema markup on your organic click-through rates and overall search visibility.
Analyze Website Code
Tools to Conduct a Technical SEO Audit
There are several tools available to conduct a technical SEO audit. Here are some of the best tools:
1. SEMrush Site Audit
2. Ahrefs Site Audit
3. Google Search Console
4. Google PageSpeed Insights
5. Screaming Frog SEO Spider
6. Schema Markup Validator
7. Rank Math
8. Google’s Structured Data Testing
These tools can help you identify technical SEO issues on your website and improve your site's performance in search engines over time.
Conducting a technical SEO audit might seem daunting, but it's entirely manageable with the right tools and a systematic approach. Remember, the goal is to improve your site's performance in search engines, and a technical SEO audit plays a significant role in that process.
So, roll up your sleeves, put on your detective hat, and happy auditing!