A Guide for Conducting an SEO Audit

When it comes to redesigning a website or improving the content on a site for SEO purposes, then there’s something that needs to happen first: an SEO audit. It’s something that’s required to be carried out when a digital marketing agency takes on a new client so that the results can be written up and given back to the client so they know what needs to be done in order to make their site the best it possibly can be. So what is an SEO audit and how can you carry one out effectively?

What is an SEO audit?

An SEO audit is a process whereby a variety of factors and elements on a website are identified and analysed to determine how much of an impact it’s all having on the website’s overall performance when it comes to organic searches and appearing high up on the search engine results page (SERP).

It’s important that an SEO audit is carried out so as to uncover any problems that a website might be experiencing that’ll subsequently be holding the company back from receiving quality leads and high conversion rates. The job of the marketer is to pinpoint the issue, work out how it happened and resolve the problem so as to improve the performance of a website and the engagement it receives, as already touched upon.

5 domain factors that need to be evaluated during an SEO audit

A domain name can impact SEO performance, which is a well-known fact throughout the digital marketing industry. There are a number of factors that need to be looked at whilst an SEO audit is being carried out. Those factors include the following:

Choosing a domain name

The company owner might own a domain name that’s either not suitable or streamlined enough to attract new leads and organic traffic. In order for a domain name to be considered a “good” one, it needs to be:
  • Easy to type
  • Easy to remember
  • Kept short and sweet
  • Lacking in numbers, hyphens and double letters placed next to each other
  • Memorable

Understanding when a domain name is “bad”

A “bad” domain will have many different links pointing to it as well as a long history. Those links can be negative, like spam links, but they might well be positive. In order to find out whether these links are good or bad, a link profile audit needs to be performed. For example, a bad domain will not produce any results in Google’s index.

But then if SEMrush shows historic organic search traffic but doesn’t any more, then it could present somewhat of a problem. You might also find that there aren’t any results that appear in the Google Index, which indicates that there could be more of an issue with the domain and, therefore, it’s either not worth purchasing it or it needs to be scrapped and a new one established.

Things to check when it comes to domain names

There are a couple of things that need to be looked at when checking a domain name and its overall quality, including:
  • Links to the domain in Majestic – used to check for spammy links, primarily
  • Links to the domain in Ahrefs – used to check the overall quality of the links

The age of the domain name

Domain age doesn’t actually play a vital role in search engine rankings, according to John Mueller. However, Google does use the age of a domain name in an extremely minimal way, so minimal in fact that it doesn’t actually play a vital role in how well as website performs. However, if the age of a domain name is something you wish to know out of curiosity, then there are ways to check:

  • Use godaddy.com/whois
  • Input the domain name
  • Look up the age of the domain name

Keywords in subdomain names

According to Moz’s Ultimate Guide to SEO, it’s established that keywords within a subdomain should still be used today, writing:

“If you can include a keyword that helps make it obvious what your business does while keeping your domain name catchy, unique, and brand-friendly, go for it. But, stay away from domain names that might be considered “keyword-rich” or “keyword-targeted” (such as best-pancake-pans-for-pancakes.com or senior-eldercare-retirement-home-finder.com) We mentioned this earlier, but it’s worth mentioning again: While these types of domain names once carried weight as a ranking factor, their tendency to be associated with low-quality content means searchers (and search engines) may now view these keyword-dense domain names with a negative bias.”

How to evaluate content length when conducting an SEO audit

Content plays a crucial role in SEO and the optimisation of a website and, possibly, the articles and/or blog posts it produces. With this in mind, it’s important that a content audit is also carried out as part of your SEO audit, because it’s extremely relevant. It might be that your copywriter can do this for you, as content writing is their specialism. Here’s how to evaluate content length:

Identify pages containing thin content

Only so many words are taken up by navigation, so it should be fairly straightforward for a mental assessment to be made to determine whether or not a page has thin content. If you still aren’t sure, then you can use a word count extension that’s available on Google Chrome. This way, you’ll be able to see just how many words belong to that article or page content specifically.

Determine page load speed via HTML

Page speed has become a significant ranking factor. John Mueller recommends that a page load time should be no more than around 2-3 seconds. There are three different tools that can be used to determine how fast or slow a page loads, including: Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool, WebPageTest and Google Analytics. If you find that pages load particularly slowly, then these can be fixed using a variety of different marketing methods, including:

  • Enabling compression
  • Minifying CSS
  • JavaScript and HTML
  • Reducing redirects
  • Removing render-blocking JavaScript
  • Leveraging browser caching
  • Improving server response time
  • Using a content distribution network
  • Optimising images

Assess content length based on competitor analysis

Long-form content is preferred by search engines when it comes to ranking, which is a widely-known fact within the digital marketing industry. But content length can, in fact, be assessed based on what the competitors are putting out there. Determining whether content is too long or short in this way is beneficial for a number of reasons, including:
  • Personalised results don’t muddy the waters if you aren’t using your logged-in account
  • Localised results don’t confuse things as they would do if a logged-in account was used or a non-logged-in account that’s used in a normal window
  • Tailored results won’t interfere with any data that needs to be examined

Pinpoint SEO content issues & fixing them accordingly

There can be a variety of problems that are faced in the Google search, especially when an extensive number of issues are found to be underperforming. Some of those problems might have come about due to a combination of having a poor-quality website, a failing brand and high-competition levels. If a traffic drop has occurred, for example, then there could be other issues that are causing it, such as keyword cannibalisation.

How to check for duplicate content in an SEO audit

There are a number of tools that can be used to check for duplicate content. It’s important that these cases are identified and rectified because it can have detrimental effects on how well a website performs in the SERPs, hence why your client might be complaining that they aren’t receiving the traffic or the leads that they’re expecting.

One tool that’s often used by internet marketers is Siteliner.com, which was developed by Copyscape. This can identify duplicate content within a website in a flash. It displays the information clearly and in a way that’s easy to understand. It shows which pages, if any, have match percentages and if any pages match that of other pages by way of content.

Copyscape can also be used to see if web page content has been duplicated either across the website or across the internet. It’s a standard audit tool that uses private index functionality if you opt for their premium service.

Google’s index can also be checked to identify duplicate or plagiarised copy. All you need to do is select the text you want to check and then copy and paste that chunk of text into the Google search bar. This will help to determine whether that content has been stolen from elsewhere – it’s as simple as that.

10 technical SEO factors that need to be assessed during an SEO audit

There are some technical SEO factors that need to be looked at also in order to complete your general SEO audit. A strong technical foundation for your SEO is required to ensure a successful, effective audit. This is considered to be more of a necessity as opposed to a process that’s optional. Some of the technical SEO factors that need to be assessed during an SEO audit are as follows:
  • Sitemaps
  • Robots.txt
  • Crawl errors
  • Multiple URLs, including capital and lowercase URLs
  • Whether or not a site has an SSL certificate
  • Minifying CSS and JavaScript files
  • Optimising images
  • Errors in HTML code and/or W3C validation
  • Mobile testing and mobile optimisation
  • Forcing a single domain
Andy Morley is a specialist digital marketer with over two decades of experience and knowledge to draw upon. Whether you’re in need of website design services, PPC services, SEO services or expert content creation, Andy will be on hand to help. For more information about how we can propel your website into the spotlight, setting you apart from your competitors, get in touch with a member of our professional team today – we’re always pleased to hear from you.

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