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SEO Audit 101: Crack the Code in 13 Steps & PageRank Higher!

Updated: Nov 7, 2023

Getting lost on the search engine's second, third, and even fourth page? When was the last time you Audited your website?


Your website needs a comprehensive SEO Audit!


Examine your page before large-scale Search Engine Optimization or a complete website revamp. A Website audit can determine whether or not it is optimized to drive your desired traffic and give you an idea of how you can enhance it to achieve your goals.


13 Powerful Steps Of SEO Audit to Drive Traffic to Success


Find out Hidden Penalties: Check Manual Actions

Check if your site doesn’t comply with the webmaster guidelines. Sometimes your site doesn’t appear on the Google search results. You may not take manual actions unless you have done something extremely wrong. Although, it is undoubtedly the best first thing to check because if you have made one, you are likely dead in the water before you even start.

Here is how to check manual actions; Go to the Manual Actions report in the Google search console.

Head to the Manual actions report in the search console, if it says ‘No issues detected,’ then you are good to go or look for the Google penalties guide.


Uncovering the Potential: Analyze Organic Traffic


Google regularly updates its search algorithm, which targets specific things like link spam or content quality.

That's why checking for organic traffic drops coinciding with known Google updates is essential, as they may discover specific issues. The update in August 2018 exceptionally affected health, fitness, and medical sites that failed to showcase credible expertise, authoritativeness and trust (E-A-T).


How to check organic traffic?


Check organic traffic trends completely free of cost in the Google search console. Go to the search results report and set a duration for the past one or two years.

If you find a major traffic drop coinciding with a Google update, don't miss out on the Google Algorithm Updates History page to find out the update's focus.


Protect Your Website: Address All HTTPS-Related Issues


HTTPS is considered a secure protocol for transferring data to and from visitors. It secures things like passwords and credit card details securely. It has been a minor yet impactful factor in Google's ranking since 2014.


How to check if your website uses HTTPS?


Visit your website and check if there is a "lock" icon in the address bar, which needs to be secure.

Although sometimes, some websites face problems where certain pages load securely while other pages and resources don't. Thus it is recommended to dig a bit deeper to ensure there are no HTTPS-related issues.


Smooth Website Navigation: Establish Single-Version Browsing

Users should only be able to access one of the following versions of your website:

  1. http://domain.com

  2. http://www.domain.com

  3. https://domain.com

  4. https://www.domain.co


The rest of the three variations should redirect to the Master version.

Google sees all four of these as different site versions; thus, having more than one accessible can lead to crawling and indexing issues. There are also some cases where it can dilute link equity and, therefore, may harm rankings.


Open Doorway to Search Engines: Solve All Indexability Issues

Indexing is a database of hundreds of billions of web pages that influence Google search results. Your web pages need to be indexed to stand any chance at ranking.

It is also essential to keep pages that aren’t adding value to the searchers out of Google’s index, which may lead to SEO issues.


Indexing issues can get quite complicated, although the basic issues can be spotted without much hassle.


Use Google's URL Inspection tool to get important information about a URL, including its indexability, rich results, videos, and mobile usability. Just enter the complete URL and get insights into its status in the Google index.


To test a URL, it must be within the current property. If you want to test a URL in a property you do not own, you can use non-owner tests like the Rich Results, Mobile-Friendly, or AMP tests. It is possible to inspect both AMP and non-AMP URLs using the tool, which provides information about their corresponding versions.

The tool also gives information about the canonical version if the page is an alternate or duplicate version and the canonical version is within a property you own. Make sure to read and understand the results. If you have fixed issues since the data was acquired, test the live URL to ensure that Google recognizes the changes.

Mobile Accessibility is Important: Ensure Mobile-friendliness

Mobile-friendly interface has been one of the essential ranking factors since Google moved to mobile-first indexing in 2019.

How to check if your website is mobile-friendly?

Go to the Mobile Usability report in the Google search console, which will show you if any URLs have errors that may affect mobile usability.

If you don’t have access to the Google Search Console, plug any random page from your website into Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tools.



Leverage Success: Page Speed Optimization


Although there has been no official approach for how fast a page should be, Page Speed has been a minute yet important ranking factor on desktops since 2010. There are several metrics factors you can try out.


For instance, you can see all metrics on Google’s Page Speed Insights tool. The only drawback of the device is that you can only test a single page at a time.


Follow the following steps to check the Google page speed insights:


Step 1: Input the Desired URL on the Page Speed Insight Website


Step 2: Click on Analyze and allow PSI to perform its analysis.


Step 3: Meanwhile, the Report is generated, and the tool performs the following task:


  1. Gathers all the ‘field data’ of the web page in the CrUX(Chrome User Experience)

  2. Measure the page performance with the Lighthouse API. It calculates the loading rate in a controlled and simulated environment.

After analyzing the report, it eliminates variables that hamper the speed and take down the speed of the page.


Breakdown of Google Page Insight

A comprehensive PSI report consists of lab data, field data, diagnostics, and a page. You can easily understand the areas that are performing well on the website and the areas that need improvement. The insights are color-coded throughout the report in the following manner:

  1. Red indicates the areas of Poor Performance

  2. Green shows good performance

  3. Yellow indicates the areas that require your attention



Focused User Experience: Inspect Core Web Vitals


Core web vitals are the metrics that Google uses to measure user experience by measuring a number of Core search signals for page experience: Loading /Largest Contentful Paint(LCP ), Interactivity/First Input Delay(FDI), and visual stability/Cumulative Layout shift(CLS).

Check the Core Web vitals report from the Google Search Console. The report shows how your page performs based on real-world data to provide dedicated information to help site owners quickly identify opportunities for improvement.


Tiden up Broken Links: Fix Broken Pages


Broken pages on your site can also adversely affect your SEO ranking, as the pages have backlinks pointing nowhere. It can frustrate your visitors and lead them to leave your site.


How You Landed Up Having Broken Links on Your Site?


You may end up with broken links on your site for various reasons. In most cases, the links are broken and lead the visitors to leave your site. You could lose out on valuable traffic when the search engine fails to crawl your website properly due to broken links.

Reasons for broken could vary, like:

  • The Page is Removed

  • The Link wasn’t updated after the page had been moved.

  • The Link points to the wrong page.

  • You added an extra space in the URL or forgot to include the “https://” or “http://” part of the URL

  • You updated your site’s URL structure recently by missing redirecting old URLs

  • Broken ELements within a page due to Malfunctioning plugins and other problems.

All the above sloppy mistakes like such are responsible for causing broken links.


How to detect Broken Links?


If the link takes you to another page on your website, that's perfect! However, if it doesn't, then it's a broken link.


You can use Google Chrome's "Inspect" tool to check for broken links. Right-click on any page of your website and select "Inspect", which will bring up the "Inspect" panel. Then click on the "Console" tab and refresh the page. It will list all the 404 errors, indicating that the page could not be found and, thus, a broken link. If you want to automate the process of finding broken links, you can use various tools like Google Search Console, Screaming Frog, Google Analytics etc. These tools will crawl your website and find out all your broken links.


Map out Your Success: Resolve Sitemap Issues

Does your website have public and XML sitemaps files? The Public sitemaps are like the index of a book that users can access to review the pages of your site.


The XML sitemap is for Google to review pages that get added to your site altogether.

Generally, the sitemap.xml location is ‘www.domainname .com/sitemap.xml’.

The XML sitemap is mandatory for every website, as it offers an opportunity for Google and other search engines to know the pages on your website you want to be crawled and indexed.

Although search engines do not ensure that they will abide by your site maps, evidence has proven that if your sitemap(s) dynamically update your new web pages - it provides insurance that your pages come up faster and faster.


Issues with sitemaps that can send mixed signals to Google:

  • Dead inaccessible pages listed in the site map

  • Non-indexed pages on the site maps

  • Redirected and Non-canonical pages on the site map

Here is an example of a website with the above sitemap issues.


Check On-Page Optimization: Audit Basic Elements


Check if every indexed page of your site has basic elements such as a title tag, meta description and H1 tag for Google to understand your content and help you to get more clicks from your rankings.


Here is how to Audit on-page elements using the Ahrefs ‘Site audit’ tool:


Go to the “ Issues” tab in the ‘content report’ in the site audit, where you can check all the issues on your site, like missing title tags, meta descriptions and H1 tags.


As in the picture below, we can see the website has 724 pages with missing and empty title tags, which is not ideal for Google to show them in search results and lead you to miss on clicks. The tool also provides you with suggestions on how to fix the problem.


Power of Renewal: Identity Dying Content


Rank will never remain the same. When content becomes outdated, the traffic starts to drop off. The best way to fix this problem is by refreshing and republishing the content.


Here is how you can check declining content with the help of “Google Search Console”


  • Head to “Search results” report

  • Set the compare mode of the date filter

  • Select “Compare last six months” to the previous period.

  • Click on the “Pages” tab

  • Categorize the table by “clicks Difference” from low to high


Bridge the Gap: Address Content Gaps


When you miss out on important subtopics in your content leads to content gaps. As a result, you miss out on ranking with the help of your long-tail keywords and potentially not as high as your long-tail keywords.


Here is an example of how you can find content Gaps with the help of the Ahrefs tool:

  • Put your page’s URL into ‘Site Explorer.’

  • Check out the ‘Content Gap’ report

  • Also, put in the URLs of a few similar pages with higher ranks than you

Now, hit ‘show keywords’ -it will show you all the keywords that help you to rank your page and the one that doesn’t.

Most will show you various ways to search for the same thing; some may highlight the subtopics you missed.




FAQ

What is the SEO audit?

An SEO audit is a procedure that assesses the effectiveness of your website's optimization for search engines. It identifies any mistakes that may hinder your site from ranking well and any opportunities to boost your ranking.

What is SEO rank?

What is a good SEO audit score?

What does 100% SEO mean?



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