For those who are not familiar with basic SEO, it is the practice — first described in 1997 — of using certain words a certain number of times in the text of a website so that those performing a keyword search are likely to come across that one first because of the resulting high ranks in the search engines. Things changed since 1997 and now SEO is not about only keywords anymore. This article is meant to be essentially a checklist of all the things that need to be done as part of an SEO audit.
1) Figure out with what you are dealing, either by writing custom crawling and analysis code or by using a “crawling tool” such as Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider or Xenu’s Link Sleuth. You should take the results with a grain of salt though. Those are automated, but not everything applies to all website.
2) Use the site’s analytics to get input from its visitors. See how your traffic is growing, where it is coming from, what pages are the most visited and the conversions.
3) Use the robots.txt file to protect certain sections of your site against access by search engine crawlers. Check it manually to make sure that important sections remain accessible. You can use Google webmaster tools.
4) Identify which pages are blocking crawlers inadvertently and fix it.
5) Identify which URLs are returning errors and fix them.
6) See if you have broken links and fix them.
7) Make an inventory of the redirections for your site. Make sure each page is redirected to the right URL. See if you have error pages.
8) Answer important questions about your Sitemap, including:
- Does it follow Sitemap protocol?
- Is it a well-formed XML document?
- Has it been submitted to your webmaster tool accounts?
- Do any of the pages that you found in the site crawl not appear in the Sitemap?
- Is the reverse true? Such pages are currently orphaned.
9) How many clicks are needed to get to other important pages from the homepage?
11) Use Google Page Speed, YSlow, Pingdom Full Page Test or some other tool to execute a site performance analysis.
12) Use Google’s “site:” command to detect and confirm duplicate content, or use other tools to find them.
13) Locate “site penalties,” find the reasons and correct them.
On- and off-page ranking factors
14) Analyze the URL to make sure it is short and user-friendly and uses subfolders rather than subdomains.
15) Find and eliminate URL-based duplicate content.
16) Does each of your pages have the right targetted Title tag and Meta description?
17) Analyze the content. Is it substantive and valuable? Delete or edit pages that don’t offer value.
18) Do the images ALT tags contain keywords, or do they at least clearly indicate the content?
19) Is your site significantly more popular than others of the same kind?
20) Is the site clear of spammy behavior such as cloaking or keyword stuffing?
21) Have most of the backlinks to your site are do-follow links? Where are they coming from?
22) Which search terms are bringing the highest quality traffic? Are you using these terms on your most visited pages?
23) Is the site written for a wide range of audiences, is it easy to use for each age group?
24) Are actionable suggestions provided, call to action for example: “CALL NOW”? Is it easy to contact you?
25) Do you have a mobile version of your website?
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