How to Perform an SEO Audit for Your Website (The Complete Checklist)
An SEO audit checklist is a crucial element of an effective Search Engine Optimization (SEO) campaign.
Every now and then, there ’ s a need to conduct an SEO audit of your website to check if it is still relevant to important popular keywords and key phrases that you want to rank high for in Google in order to better target your audience. You could also potentially be targeting a keyword, only to rank for another keyword (much worse if it's a keyword unrelated to your field or industry) due to Google's constant algorithm changes.
Google also works on a relevancy and recency basis. It archives older results no matter how relevant they were in the previous week or month, in favor of the most recently published available results.
This is why it ’ s very important to have an SEO audit checklist. With that in mind, you need to know exactly how to pe rform an SEO audit. This page will teach you precisely how to go about this.
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The Relevance of an SEO Audit Checklist
Do you know which parts of your website and its content you should be assessing? Which areas should you pay attention to? Be honest: Is y our SEO audit as thorough as it could be or can you still improve upon it?
This guide by us here at Marketing Ignite was specifically developed to help get you higher traffic, Google rankings, and lead conv ersions when all is said and done.
Let's first start with what an SEO audit is anyway and move on from there!
Defining SEO Audit: An SEO audit is a process of evaluating various website elements and areas of improvement that could positively or negatively impact its organic search performance. The audit should then point to you how to improve upon your site SEO.
Value of an SEO Audit: Your site SEO is important in order to make your brand and products more visible to your specific market segment, niche, or demographics. In turn, an audit also reveals problems with your current SEO (or lack thereof) to know how to tweak your optimization or even where to start with your SEO.
An Audit is The First Step: As soon as you hire a digital marketing team like us here at Marketing Ignite, you can bet your bottom dollar that we'd do an in-depth SEO audit on your official website, blog, and social media accounts to ensure they're hitting the right notes and making impact on related keywords.
Determine Where You Are: Long story short, you need to know where you are before you can figure out where you're headed. This is where an SEO audit comes to play. It helps you figure out the absolute state of your website's or set of sites' current optimization level so we can know if it needs a tune-up or an overhaul.
Clarify Where You Want to Be: Where you want to be is everywhere — or every search phrase or keyword — people you're targeting are searching for. You want to add visibility to your brand, your goods, your ser vices, or what your company is all about when push comes to shove.
You Must E-A-T to Survive: E-A-T in SEO stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. You need to E-A-T for your site SEO to survive. Your content should demonstrate something trustworthy and give Google the impression that you're an authority and expert on the subject, say, of bitcoin or political discussions.
Types of SEO Audits
Before you can come up with your SEO audit checklist you should first be aware of the type of SEO audit you want to conduct. The larger the website the more auditing you'll need to add visibility to its content.
It might even be a good idea to decide which areas or web content you need to highlight that best epitomizes your brand or what your company is all about for starters then moving on from there.
The different SEO audit types are as follows.
SEO Content Audit: This audit assists you in identifying your chances to improve the quality, accuracy, and recency of your contextual web content on the pages you're looking to increase traffic for or to improve rank on.
The Google algorithm always looks for new content so you can't depend on your archives to rank high. You should audit then update or refresh your content.
How you update your content depends on your audit identifying opportunities to optimize, say, your passage ranking, your FAQ, your featured snippet or captions, and so forth.
Yes, content is also king in the digital age where the Internet serves as your newspaper, magazine, TV, town square, and movie house.
On-Page SEO Audit: This type of optimization audit deals with making sure your webpage's backend elements are optimized for search crawlers. It's actually classic optimization in a sense since the earliest forms of SEO were mostly worried about backend content.
This is the audit type where you have a checklist for keywords and keyword placement a to-do list on how to better clean up your backend to be more SEO-friendly.
Here, you'll deal with image alt text or captions, compression, meta titles, meta descriptions, and everything else "behind the scenes" of your front end website.
Off-Page SEO Audit: In turn, an off-page SEO audit involves looking at other pages or other domains linking directly to the pages you want to become more SEO-friendly. It might be as simple as cleaning up dead page links.
Or it could mean screening your backlinks for quality, quantity, distribution, and recency. It might be time to get new, more updated backlinks or quality collaborations with reputable websites instead of "irrelevant" ones buried deep in Google's search results.
Technical SEO Audit: As for a technical SEO audit, this involves on-page efforts like optimizing images for search engines. By and large, it mostly deals with performance metrics like how secure your site is and the speed of loading it (the user "experience").
Auditing technical SEO identifies your chances to reorganize, eliminate, or fix the code itself. It also deals with spam prevention, switching from HTTP to HTTPS, adapting a more dynamic website that uses cascading style sheets (CSS), and so forth.
Local SEO Audit: Last but not least is the local SEO audit. This includes a set of practices that assist your business when it comes to ranking in local searches such as pet food California or Hong Kong travel packages.
Auditing local SEO covers a slightly smaller area but it will still deal with elements from the abovementioned audit types in terms or listings (off-page audit), content (pages and posts focused locally), on-page elements (targeting your demo and keyword insertion), and technical audits (security and site speed).
Before you can make the ultimate SEO audit checklist, you should start with a little palate cleanser and appetizer before the main course. Instead of one checklist, let's make use of multiple ones to properly optimize your site or sites.
Fundamentals of an SEO Audit Checklist
Part of knowing how to perform an SEO audit is having a good checklist. However, there is no definitive one-size-fits-all checklist for this purpose. Rather, our complete checklist is a collection of checklists to ensure a thorough audit when push comes to shove.
Therefore, here's a starting checklist to check with your website before getting into the nitty-gritty of things. Just because it's a starter checklist doesn't mean these items aren't any less important to your overall SEO audit though!
Domain Factors: How optimized are your domain factors? This includes your domain name, age, and history as well as other miscellaneous elements rooting from your website's domain that affect your site visibility to your target audience.
Page-Level factors: Audit: Learn the important things to consider when dealing with user engagement, keyword cannibalization (having redundant or similar keywords that ruin your SEO chances rather than improve it), E-A-T headlines, and more!
Website Content Factors: Do an SEO audit of your website's organic click-through rate (CTR), schema markup, site architecture, and so forth. Identify the problem spots or places where CTR et al. is inefficient.
Content Length: The SEO audit should also read through the quality and length of your textual content. This also covers image links on a given page and how you organize your content on a sitewide basis. Maybe you're top-heavy or maybe some pages get neglected.
Website Updates: You should also monitor ongoing website changes to identify any potential issues from the process of change. Don't sabotage your site by not posting regular related updates of your content.
Duplicate Content: There's nothing quite like duplicate content when it comes to raising the spam alarms of the Google search algorithm. Identify content of yours that's duplicated or redundant through Copyscape and the like to ensure the production of unique, fresh content.
Link Profile Audit: You should also audit problematic links that could harm you and your reputation or at least your Google search visibility. Your Internet reputation might depend on such an audit.
On-Site Technical SEO Factors: You should also spot common issues and mistakes in SEO, such as poor image optimization, issues with sitemaps, and making sure your robots.txt is allowing crawling to happen.
A More Robust SEO Audit Checklist
We've simplified SEO auditing without compromising its completeness—this is still a complete checklist, after all—to a starting checklist and a comprehensive checklist. You should definitely separate every SEO audit into categories or individual items though.
This checklist is more in-depth and doesn't only list off the technicalities or details you should watch out for. It also lays out a truly well-rounded SEO audit with specific end goals while incorporating on-page, off-page, and technical SEO audits.
Identify Link-Building Opportunities: Your SEO audit won't be complete without getting advice and recommendations for building site-specific external and internal links. After all, to get website authority, you should learn how to build links.
Internal links are important when building an authoritative hierarchy within your website that impacts the E-A-T principle of SEO. This is because they pass link equity within the webpages of your site.
How to Build Internal Links: When creating new content, do a site search for older archived content related to it and has built up its own equity. Afterward, search for anchor text on your classic content to link to your new content to give it that SEO weight and authority.
When making a new Facebook ad resource, use the MozBar Chrome extension to do an SEO audit on it and find the archived content you'd want to link into it to create your authoritative internal links.
You're specifically gunning for a link with the page with the greatest page authority (PA) and also domain authority (DA), although they're not SEO metrics officially.
PA and DA serve as shorthand stand-ins created by SEO software companies to estimate which domains or pages offer the most authority. They're useful in giving you ballpark figures on which pages or sites to link from.
You should also keep in mind the information architecture and the user experience of your site when making internal links. Link them to credible pages for sure, but that's not the end-all, be-all of building internal links.
You should link them to useful related places on your site. To be more specific, have them go to pages and content that can influence them to buy your service or product.
As for external links, you need to look outwards in order to get "referrals" from authoritative domains trusted by Google and related to your industry or market so that backlinks from them can lead to a positive buying decision from potential customers.
How to Build External Links: Increase your DA or Domain Authority by getting external links from authoritative domains as a cumulative effect of authority. You can go about building your external links by searching through Google resource lists.
Look for industry-related sites and domains that could realistically feature your content and link towards you, even if it's a press release site for starters then a web repository for online coupons if you're an ecommerce site.
For instance, if you’re running an SEO audit for a California private school website, you can build your external links for your website by searching "Best Prep Schools in CA" and taking note of all the resources there you could use.
Now that you have a better idea of who to reach out for and which domains have the most DA or which pages with the most PA to help establish better exposure for your business, allow Google itself to guide you in more effectively appealing to its own algorithm.
You can also yield a higher SEO return to search for unlinked mentions. Your SEO toolbox should have some sort of content explorer tool that enables you to look for sites on the net where you can get brand mentions.
Sort your would-be "referrals" by DA and make sure they haven't already linked to your site. From there, reach out for their content managers by email, twitter, and so forth to ask for links back to your homepage. Collaborate with them.
They can also benefit from linking to your website with your own DA. Offer to share their articles, news, blog, or other web content on your social accounts in exchange for such favors too.
Identify Site Structure Improvements: The shortlist earlier about domain factors, page level factors, and the like is related to this entry. You should definitely care about information architecture or IA. Don't get intimidated by such a sweeping term though.
IA is simply how you structure or order information. It's because Google—and also Yahoo and Bing, even though their "Domain Authority" or "relevancy" has definitely shrunk through the years—it's all about the user experience.
Nothing ruins the user experience quite like a disorganized mess of a site with scattered info and orphaned pages as well as dead links, which makes the Google algorithm and its crawlers less likely to index such a website.
In regards to how to improve website architecture, it typically involves the redistribution of internal linking structures on your site to make the pages more equitable. Give the pages that need traffic more internal links. To deal with a messy site structure, do the following.
Work Closely with Designers and Developers: Work with your SEO auditors like Marketing Ignite or the developers and designers in order to help the development of user-friendly solutions that will give your pages more PA without compromising the user experience (UX).
Increase Your Blog Posts Per Page: The web log or blog went from a method for webmasters to take note of site updates to being a means for users to turn the Internet into their own diary. Nowadays, it has become another branch of the digital marketing and advertising tree.
In any case, if your blog index only lists ten pages at a time, this pushes your archived posts some 20 to 30 clicks away from your homepage (where most equity distribution originates). Increase your blog post numbers per page to bring your older posts close to the homepage.
Check for Overlapping Links: Look at your blog's "Popular Posts" and "Related Posts" section as well as the header and footer. Replace any duplicate links with links to less visited pages if you want to spread the love across your whole site to maximize your coveted link space.
Unless you—the webmaster or company owner—are auditing your own site, your IA-based recommendations should be based on the project stakeholders' goals. You can either make the site more immersive or intuitive.
Use your business goals (of expansion and increasing revenue) and the preferences of your target audience (including any trends they're currently riding at the moment, like TikTok advertising) to guide the way that you organize and define your web content.
Find and Fix "Thin" Content: If you want your web content to have an impact on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), they shouldn't be so thin but instead be as thick and comprehensive as this guide. Or you can expand on your content in bite-sized pages that make up a comprehensive archive.
Back in 2011, Google implemented the Google Panda algorithm update. It helped crack down on sites with thin content, such that in order to get to the top of the heap, you should produce relevant content for your site in a seemingly endless loop, like the running treadmill of an assembly line factory.
In Web 2.0, content is king, whether it's informational content produced by business owners to appeal to their target audience or user-generated content you can compile to build communities from your target audience.
What content should you search for? Search and audit the following.
Select Pages: You should identify pages that have dropped performance-wise or rank-wise. We here in Marketing Ignite will also audit any deck of all the pages you'd like audited since we provide SEO services too as part of our total digital marketing package.
Top Pages: Export the Top 25, 50, or 100 pages you got as sorted by traffic. How many pages you get depends on the size of your website. From there, make sure the weaker ones get beefed up to bring about equity and equal results when push comes to shove.
All Pages: Most site audit tools and software offer a broad report on your content's quality and length. You can afterwards export any pages with thin content and elaborate on them as well as identify page-level action items to fix their SEO value too.
"Thin" content isn't just sparse content. It also refers to unrelated content that doesn't meet your marketing or lead generation needs. Your 300-word blog post explaining complex concepts like an SEO audit would be thought of as thin because it doesn't cover everything you need to know.
However, it's not realistic to put 1,000 to 2,000 words' worth of SEO audit guide into single webpages. Any pages close to your homepage's vicinity should be dominated by design work and presentation. It's filled with call-to-action buttons, icons, hero images, and a product-centric copy.
You can fix your thin content pages from beyond the design-focused fringes of your homepage links by doing multi-part long-form content or by exploring the multiple branches of a huge topic like SEO auditing so as to not waste its SEO potential.
When you do long-form content, you can benefit from it in two ways.
More chances for internal linkage.
More chances to put in LSI, ancillary, and target keywords that will assist in getting the page found SEO-wise.
Identify and Nix Duplicate Content: The easiest way for the Google algorithm to recognize that a website is spamming links and the same content over and over on a given forum, social media site, or website with the articles turned on is by putting a red flag on repeating duplicate content.
You can also search for duplicate content that bogs down the SEO value of your site along with the same subsets that you perused when doing a thin content scan. Some SEO plans can be ruined because of duplicate content. Google does do site penalties for seemingly "spammy" pages, so make this part of your SEO audit checklist.
The Google algorithm has become smart enough to know whether you're intentionally or maliciously stealing content from other sites to paste on your own site or duplicating your existing content to fill up the sparseness of your webpages for the sake of spamming the SERP with your site URLs.
Spam like spam email or spam websites are defined by their repetition and abuse of the copy-paste feature. They might even try to evade services that identify redundancies such as Copyscape by using automated word spinners (that usually results in unreadable text no human can deal with).
However, regardless, having redundant content places here and there carelessly doesn't help with your SEO. Your Content Management System (CMS) might generate new pages dynamically that have similar appearance as your other pages that you haven't manually put into canonization with your Search Console.
WordPress can also generate redundant or duplicate content when generating archive pages. A nice SEO audit can clear all that up in short order to leave such content on the cutting room floor so that Google's crawlers won't mark your site as spammy.
This is also what we mean when we say a 1,000-word essay of a webpage can still end up coming up as "thin" as a 300-word blog post if it has redundant, repetitive, or empty content that doesn't lead to audience retention or leads to buying your product.
If you're afraid of being penalized by Google for unintended duplicate content, you should have such content audited regardless. When it comes to how to perform an SEO audit properly, it's better safe than sorry. It's safer and better to rewrite a "samey" blog post into a separate new article altogether.
Scan for Keyword Optimization: Aside from beefing up or adding SEO value to thin content so that every word counts to getting your end goals SEO-wise, you should also add scanning for keyword optimization as a top SEO checklist priority. On that note, some pages can't have their thin content beefed up with keywords.
Some pages can't be optimized completely for target and ancillary keywords. For instance, let's say you've tried squeezing in "employee scheduling software" for your scheduling software company website's homepage. The lowest competition, highest volume keyword linked to that key phrase is "best employee scheduling software".
Even though you'd want to rank for that specific keyword or key phrase, it's not ideal to say "We're the Best!" on your homepage. That's also spammy behavior, like something a sales landing page would do. You should reserve that particular keyword for a blog post instead, where you have more leeway.
In regards to how to audit your keyword research results, do things like rewriting "How to conduct keyword research" to "How to Do Keyword Research" as your better-optimized Header 3 for your article, guide, news, or blog entries.
You should also add vertical-specific keyword research. Vertical-specific keywords are those related to your company and niche market. They're keywords of markets and industries linked or somehow connected to your own market and industry.
For example, if you're a scuba diving company, related keywords and industries you can include or touch upon with your content for SEO purposes include underwater photography, surfing, technical driving, water sports, and liveaboard cruises.
They're not directly linked to scuba diving but they can help add eyeballs to your site with their inclusion due to their relationship with one another.
Also, place your target keywords for your website and your blog topics in the following places:
H1 (if applicable)
H2 (subheadings in your post—at least one)
H3 (examples or lists—optional)
Meta title (do vertical-specific keyword research and rewrite as much as possible)
Meta description (do the same as the title)
Body copy (littered throughout but in moderation)
When updating old pages, just do your best. What's done is done with your archive so just improve what you can improve and focus more on doing even better SEO with your future articles and blog posts. It's not practical to optimize an old URL for a new keyword when you can do that to fresh content instead.
Getting More Out of Your SEO Audit Checklist
Audits can happen as soon as a startup's foundational SEO for their recently developed corporate website or user-friendly blog is developed and published online. You have to do it—it's a web developer's way of gauging whether the SEO was properly implemented from the start!
Just be forewarned that there are multiple facets to optimization, so avoid getting overwhelmed by such a prospect. Instead, work at your website one step at a time, one checklist at a time.
Your SEO audit reviews your online assets to ensure your website is performing the best it possibly could when it comes to (Google) search results. It aims to find out the following:
Strengths and successes to harness or scale
What isn't working that you should do less of
What isn't working, which needs to be improved
Mistakes to fix and low-hanging fruit to snatch up
Here's what you can expect to get from an SEO audit checklist:
Troubleshooting SEO: An audit of your website's SEO can also reveal any issues with the site, allowing you to address them so that it can start ranking where you want it to rank. It can update old SEO tactics considered as spam nowadays and implement newer SEO tactics the current algorithm favors.
Maximizing Visibility: You need SEO audits to maximize the visibility of your website on the search results of sites like Google (or mostly Google nowadays, since the other sites—Bing and Yahoo—aren't as prominent in 2022 as they were in the 2000s or even the 2010s).
The Roadmap to Relevance: Doing an SEO audit serves as your roadmap towards relevance, with your buried treasure being increased sales due to a blockbuster digital marketing strategy when all is said and done. It also tells you what to look for in terms of "shortcuts" and what to avoid in terms of pitfalls.
There are No Shortcuts to Success Though: There's no shortcut to success but you can get lucky enough to stumble towards it. The key thing to do with your SEO audit is to put your company in the right direction so that you can meet those lucky breaks coming your way head-on.
Don't carve the Michelangelo statue of David overnight! It takes time and dedication for things to work out. You should chisel that marble one chip at a time to get a rough shape then work at the rest from there to perfect the fine details.
Metaphors aside, that's how to perform an SEO audit that's worth its salt—methodically, carefully, and progressively.
SEO Audit Tools
In order for you to audit anything SEO-wise, you'll need to gather some SEO auditing tools. We recommend the following tool types.
SEO Software: Any apps for improving SEO should be worth it. We recommend auditor applications like SEMrush, Moz Pro, or Ahrefs. They use site crawler technology to comb through your site and determine its overall SEO health and which areas it requires improvements for the most.
Be on the lookout for handy tools like backlink profiling tools, keyword research tools, and so forth. Get at least the free trial version of such apps before attempting an SEO audit as a startup. Or let us cover for you.
A good piece of software should also be able to identify what's inefficient about your site that drags down its organic SEO performance, such as spammy backlinks that makes the algorithm discard your URL as trash.
Page Speed Tools: Google's PageSpeed Insights or GTMetrix offer you a better idea of how fast your webpage loads given the amount of people loading your website and how this affects your SEO exposure.
The loading time of your webpage can put a damper on an otherwise perfectly optimized webpage or website. Your tools should also feature site speed, which covers the average loading time of more than one sample page of your website.
Addressing your loading times can improve your rankings on Google. Why? Google is all about the user experience. It was made to make it easier for the average person to find what they're looking for without ending up with spam links, dead links, inaccurate links, and what-have-you.
Google Search Console: As for this piece of software, it shows you that there's more than one way to skin a cat, do an audit, or to optimize your website for search engines.
Formerly known as Webmaster Tools, it still epitomizes its former title by being your SEO auditing toolbox. It has features and commands galore related to gauging organic CTR, keywords, technical fixes, Core Web Vitals, and so on.
You can even use it to resubmit pages for reindexing because you've reoptimized them for Google based on the results of their audit. It is the webmaster's survival toolkit in every sense of the term.
Google Analytics: Since the start of the concept of SEO, Google Analytics has been a key app when it comes to improving traffic flow to your website because you can use it to experiment or go through trial and error to see which optimization tactics work or not.
Its whole point is to improve your site traffic and give you info and numbered measurements that gauge the impact of your every marketing action and promotional decision.
Analytics also assist in helping you prioritize certain action items based on which of your pages get the most traffic. You'll get clued in on which backlinks or trending keywords are bringing in the most eyeballs to your website after your audit is through.
Or you can get a thorough SEO with Marketing Ignite. Don't sweat the small details—we have you covered!
Summing Things Up
You'll find quite a lot of SEO audit guides out in the ether known as the Internet. Whether you're a big business using an agency to optimize your site for organic search or a small startup building your web development SEO from scratch, it can be hard to know where to start.
You'll also have to figure out your SEO audit checklist and what it should contain in 2022, how in-depth your analysis should be, and which SEO tools should you use to assist you in gleaning the most useful optimization info.
Just remember that a journey of a thousand miles—or site optimizations for Google search and beyond—all begin with a solid SEO audit foundation.
Set Your Digital Marketing Aflame with Marketing Ignite
Just remember that Marketing Ignite serves as the blueprint for any brand—even those that started out traditionally before the Internet came along—because they help them evolve for long-term relevance in today's Information Age.
Contact us today for more details in regards to our marketing offerings! We will make sure you'll stay ahead of the pack in more ways than one, particularly when it comes to how to perform an SEO audit!