SEO Audit: How To Check Your Site’s Search Performance

SEO Audit: How To Check Your Site’s Search Performance

An SEO audit is the process of analyzing a website’s SEO and identifying any problems that prevent it from ranking for certain topics and keywords. An SEO audit is an assessment of a site’s content, technical SEO and off-page factors.

Webmasters and digital marketers need to stay on top of their game if they want their websites and pages to perform and rank in the top spot of the search engine results pages.

Marketers can ensure that their websites are performing at their best by conducting an SEO audit and then implementing the suggestions or findings discovered in the site audit.

What is an SEO Audit?

An SEO audit is the process of analyzing a website to determine its ability to appear in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

An SEO audit checks if a website follows the best practices as laid out by popular search engines such as Google and Bing. 

Furthermore, an SEO audit checks if there are any problems with the website’s health that hold the site back from performing well in the SERPs. 

You can think of an SEO audit as an inspection of the website to determine which area(s) the webmaster needs to focus on in order to improve rankings and performance.

Here are some of the common areas that are checked when doing a SEO audit:

  • Current search performance
  • Competitive analysis
  • On-page SEO audit
  • Backlink audit
  • Site speed check

What is the purpose of an SEO audit?

The purpose of conducting an SEO audit is to be able to identify and fix issues that negatively affect the organic search rankings of a site.

Now that you know what the SEO audit process is about and its purpose, let’s discuss how you can conduct your own SEO audit. 

How To Conduct an SEO Audit in 2022

Understand Your Current Search Rankings

Before you can implement new changes to improve your search engine rankings, you’ve first got to establish where your site is currently ranking for your target keywords.

How else will you know whether or not the changes that you’ve implemented have resulted in any ranking improvements when you conduct a follow-up SEO audit?

Without tracking changes in search performance, it’s like you’re flying blind. 

You won’t have any idea of what you should keep doing or stop doing.

That’s where keyword tracking comes in. 

By knowing which position your website currently ranks for certain keywords, you’ll have a clear idea of which keywords to focus on, create better content on and build more links to. 

You can use SEOptimer’s keyword tracking tool to identify all the top keywords that your website is ranking for, the position that your website ranks for those keywords and some more data points. 

SEOptimer keyword research tool

With this keyword tracking tool, you can enter keywords manually or the tool will suggest keywords based on those your website is already ranking for. 

Set Realistic SEO Goals

An essential part of any SEO audit is to have predetermined goals that you’d like to achieve with regards to SEO and site rankings.

Before you start conducting an SEO audit you need to ask yourself what your search engine optimization goals are for your website or a client’s site.

Examples of SEO goals are:

  • Improve backlink profile
  • Rank for more popular keywords in your niche
  • Decrease bounce rate
  • Ensure there are no obstacles or roadblocks preventing pages from ranking
  • Increase internal linking
  • Do you want to increase organic traffic by X%?
  • Secure 10 guest posting opportunities
  • Increase site loading speed
  • Make sure site has SEO essentials in place like a sitemap and SSL

Once you know what your SEO goals are, you can use an SEO audit to determine how far away you are from reaching these goals and what action steps you need to take to get there. 

Check Competitor Rankings, Keywords and Content

To be able to rank you need to survey the competitive landscape. This entails analyzing what your competitors are doing. 

Once you know what your competitors are doing, you can reverse-engineer their most successful strategies into your SEO strategy.

By conducting a competitive analysis on your competition, you’ll be able to answer the following questions:

  • Who are my competitors?
  • How fast is the average load time of a competitor’s site?
  • What keywords are they targeting?
  • Which topics should I also cover?

Finding your competitors

The first step in analyzing your competitors is to actually determine who they are.

This sounds pretty obvious, and you probably know who some of your main competitors are, but if you have a look at the data you may realize that there are new competitors that have entered the market. 

An easy way to determine who your real competitors are is by simply just entering your top keywords in Google. This will reveal the top-ranking domains that are ranking for your target keyword(s).

find competitors using google

Do this for all of your priority keywords and add the ranking domains in a spreadsheet.

Once you’ve established who your competitors are, then you can start analyzing their SEO strategy to see if you can implement some of their tactics. 

Checking competitor PageSpeed

You also want to check the PageSpeed of your competitors’ websites. 

Doing this will give you an indication of how fast you need your website to load so that you can tweak it to ensure that you've got the fastest page loading speed. 

You can check the PageSpeed of any website using Google’s PageSpeed Insights.

Check best-performing keywords

Next, you’re going to want to find the best-performing keywords and the pages that rank for them.

As mentioned earlier, you can use SEOptimer to check the best-performing keywords of any website, including your competitors’ sites. 

The reason for doing this is to get an idea of which keywords you can target and what content to create (this is obviously dependent on how difficult it is to rank for those keywords).

Additionally, you can use this information to get more data on what you need to do in order to rank for target keywords. With this data on your competitors’ content you can determine:

  • How long your content needs to be
  • Which visual elements to include
  • The tone of the content (is it technical or informal in nature?)

On-Page SEO Audit

Auditing your website’s on-page SEO should play a major role in your entire SEO audit process. 

The reason for this is because, according to Google’s “How Search Engines Work” report, on-page factors such as keyword usage in headings, SEO-friendly URLs and meta descriptions still play an important role in how search engines rank your website for certain search queries. 

So, how do you conduct an on-page SEO audit?

First, identify your top 5 to 8 pages and/or blog articles.

Then analyze each one of these pages to determine if you need to make the following changes:

  • Are your blog articles longer than the competitor’s posts? If not, then you need to increase the length of your articles to be the same length or even longer. 
  • Add relevant subheadings such as H2, H3, H4 to organize your content and make it more readable.
  • Adapt the H1 tag on your page(s) and URLs to match high-volume keywords.
  • Add images and other visual elements to break content up into smaller sections. 
  • Add your target keyword to the first 100 words on a page.
  • Do you have at least 1 internal link to another page on your website? If not, then make sure to add some internal links to your content. It would be even better if you could add these links close to the top of the page.

If you were to ask any SEO professional what his or her top 3 priorities are to get their content to rank, they would most likely include backlinks in their answer.

Backlinks, also known as inbound links or incoming links, are links from an external source or website to your website. 

Google uses the number of backlinks to your website to determine how authoritative your content and website are in the eyes of other people on the web. 

We know that backlinks are a super important ranking signal. Therefore, conducting a backlink audit should be another essential part of your SEO audit process. 

It’s really easy to conduct a backlink audit with SEOptimer. 

Just simply add your website’s URL to the Backlink Checker tool and get immediate feedback on the number of backlinks, amount of different websites referring back to your website and your site’s Domain Authority. 

backlink audit

From this check, we can see that Dollarsprout has 132k backlinks and 4,600 unique domains (websites) linking to their content and website. 

Your site’s Domain Authority gives you an indication of how authoritative your website is based on a combination of the quantity and quality of inbound links. 

Based on these insights you can determine if you need to focus on link-building, the process of acquiring backlinks, to improve your website’s rankings. 

You can also conduct a backlink audit on your competitor’s website to get an idea of how many backlinks they’ve got. 

Check that Site is Indexed and Fix Any Indexing Issues

The next step of the SEO audit process is to check if your website is indexed. 

You can run this check quite quickly using one, or both, of the following methods:

Use the “site:” search query in Google

This is the fastest way to check if a URL is indexed in the search engine’s database. Just go to Google.com and type in “site:youdomain.com” in the search bar. 

Here’s an example:

This will reveal all of the indexed results that start with the URL you entered, in this case, “https://seoptimer.com”:

check all indexed urls in Google

“Inspect URL” in Google Search Console

The “Inspect URL” function in Google Search Console is the more accurate method of checking if an exact URL of your website is indexed.

url inspection

Simply go to URL inspection in Google Search Console and type in the URL that you’d like to check.

exact url google search console

Here we can see that the exact URL that I checked is indeed indexed by Google and therefore it can be discovered by users searching for my website. 

You can also use this function to check that other important pages and pieces of content are indexed too. 

For example, let’s say that we want to check if the Pricing page is indexed. All we’ve got to do is type in “seoptimer.com/pricing” in the URL inspection tab. 

Now it’s time to find the web pages that aren’t being indexed by Google.

To find these indexing issues, you can use the following tools:

  • SEOptimer
  • Google Search Console

SEOptimer

SEOptimer automatically checks if there are any indexing issues with your website when you request a crawl. 

no index header test

Google Search Console

If you’re using Google Search Console, simply go to Google Search Console > Coverage:

gsc indexing issues

gsc indexing problems

In the above example, we can see that there are 4 indexing errors with the example website. By scrolling down to the Details section, you will find the exact indexing problems that you can then go ahead and fix. 

Check Site Loading Speed

Have you ever landed on a website and had to wait 5 seconds for it to finish loading? If yes, then you know how frustrating it is. 

Not only are slow websites frustrating to deal with as a real human, but Google has also announced that page speed is a ranking factor.

And by page speed, we mean the loading time of your website on mobile devices. 

You can use a tool such as PageSpeed Insights to analyze your website’s loading speed. Most SEO audit tools like SEOptimer also have a built-in page speed checker:

seoptimer cwv

Ideally, your website should load in under 3 seconds. This will result in lower bounce rates and an increase in the number of times people visit your website.

If you find that your website takes too long to load, then fixing this should be one of your top priorities. 

Here are some of the common contributors to slow page speed:

  • Large page size
  • Slow web hosting
  • Large images
  • Too many redirects
  • Not optimizing web fonts

Is Your Site Mobile Friendly?

Google views mobile user experience as one of the most important search engine ranking factors. 

Since the roll-out of mobile-first indexing in 2018, Google uses the mobile version of your website for ranking and indexing.

This means that you need to ensure that your website is mobile-responsive.

You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool to check your website’s mobile responsiveness.

seoptimer mobile friendly page test

Here you can see that Google considers the SEOptimer website mobile-friendly.

Core Web Vitals Check

Page speed and mobile responsiveness are probably the latest major ranking signals that Google has added in the last couple of years.

But there’s a new kid on the block when it comes to search ranking signals. 

Recently, Google has announced that they will add page experience as an official ranking factor. A large chunk of the “page experience” score will consist of Core Web Vitals.

Core Web Vitals consists of 3 factors: largest contentful paint, first input delay and cumulative layout shift. Google considers these 3 factors important in a page’s overall user experience. 

Here’s a brief summary of these 3 factors:

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): This is the measure of time that it takes to load the largest image or a text block on a page. The ideal time for LCP to finish loading should be anything under 2.5 sec. 

lcp google

Image source: web.dev

First Input Delay (FID): This is the amount of time it takes a user to be able to interact with web elements such as clicking on a link or a button. Google recommends an FID less than 100 milliseconds. 

fid google

Image source: web.dev

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): This third Core Web Vitals factor measures how stable the elements of a page are while it loads. Google suggests that a website with a CLS score higher than 0.1 needs improvement. 

cls google

Where can I find my website’s Core Web Vitals data?

To view your Core Web Vitals data and scores go to Google Search Console > Experience > Core Web Vitals:

core web vitals gsc

There you will find data for the Mobile and Desktop versions of your website. Next, click on Open Report, depending on which version you’d like to view.

core web vitals report gsc

Here we can see that this site has a lot of work to do with regards to optimizing Core Web Vitals. 

gsc cwv mobile

It seems like the issue is with LCP taking too long to load:

Here are some common fixes to improve your Core Web Vitals scores across LCP, FID and CLS:

  • Remove unnecessarily large page elements such as images. 
  • Upgrade to a faster hosting package.
  • Add lazy loading effects to your images on your website.
  • Minify website CSS and Javascript.
  • Use browser caching to limit the number of elements that need to be loaded when a user accesses your website. 
  • Remove unnecessary 3rd party scripts.

SEOptimer’s SEO Audit tool can also run a Core Web Vitals check that you can view in all of your website SEO audit reports.

seoptimer cwv

Broken links don’t really bother Google, in fact, Google themselves stated that they don’t lose much sleep over broken links.

But broken links create an unpleasant user experience and can lead to increased bounce rates, lower conversions and less time spent on your site, which is something you really don’t want. 

In the words of Google’s John Mueller:

If you find things like this, I'd fix it primarily for your users, so that they're able to use your site completely. I wouldn't treat this as something that you'd need to do for SEO purposes on your site, it's really more like other regular maintenance that you might do for your users.”

To find broken links, go to Google Search Console > Coverage. In this case, we’re specifically looking for 404 errors:

So how do broken links end up on your site?

  • You deleted some content or the entire page
  • You may have misspelled the URL of the page, instead of www.myawesomesite.com you used www.myawsmesite.com.

Once you’ve found the pages that serve a 404, you can fix these broken external and internal links using one of the following methods:

  • If it was a simple typo, just edit the link and fix the typo that you made originally.
  • Recreate the page. If you encounter a 404 code on a page that existed in the past, you could just recreate that page again. This would depend on what the page was about. For example, if the page was about a product that you don’t sell anymore, it’s not going to be useful to recreate that page with the same content.
  • Use a 301 redirect. Google recommends using a 301 redirect to link to relevant content such as a related post or category.
  • If you found a broken external link, you can just reach out to the linking site and ask them to edit their link. This is the best solution for fixing broken external links, but there’s no guarantee that the linking site will even respond to your request.

You can also use a free tool like Broken Link Check to find any broken links on your site.

Shortcut: Use an SEO Audit Tool

Conducting an SEO audit manually and without the use of a tool will be a very time-consuming and tedious process.

Instead, use an SEO audit tool like SEOptimer to automatically conduct an audit of your website’s SEO. This tool runs all the checks that we mentioned above and provides suggestions on how to improve your site’s SEO.

seoptimer home page

Conclusion

And there we have completed an entire SEO audit!

By following these steps, you’ll be able to quickly diagnose any problem that a site may have with its SEO preventing it from ranking in a search engine.

This post was submitted by a TNS experts. Check out our Contributor page for details about how you can share your ideas on digital marketing, SEO, social media, growth hacking and content marketing with our audience.

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