The Four Step Approach to an SEO Website Audit.

by Kayla Dreisinger | SEO


Posted on February 20th, 2017


technology

For businesses competing for the top organic spot on Google, it comes down to the details, what's happening behind the scenes that aren't necessarily obvious to an outsider. In this approach, we break down the SEO audit into four main components:

  1. Accessibility
  2. Index-ability
  3. On-Page
  4. Off Page


Accessibility

At a basic level if users can't find your site, what's the point of hosting it? When building your site, keep in mind these four factors:

  1. Site Map
  2. Equipping your page with a sitemap ensures that search engine crawlers can find all of your pages - especially important for sites with 100+ pages. Follow this protocol to make sure your site is being processed correctly.

  3. Site Architecture
  4. Keep your website shallow. A user should be able to go in circles around your site, never being more than three clicks away from the homepage or the page where they started. Strive for a flat site where main pages are easily reachable. Having a strong navigation bar is often a good starting point.

  5. Site Performance
  6. - Point-blank, your website should not take more than three seconds to load. Anything longer than that and users will lose interest. Check out Google Page Speed for a quick analysis of where your site is at. The most important things that make your site faster include optimizing your images for the web, minifying your CSS, HTML, and JavaScript files, and reducing re-directs.

  7. Canonicalization

Indexibility

Assuming your site is accessible from the implementation of the suggestions above, the next step in an SEO audit is to figure out how many of your pages the search engine has actually seen and ranked.

  1. Perform a Site:Command
  2. This command allows you to search for content on the site of your choice and spites out an estimated number of indexed pages. In your search engine simply type Site:StatusLabs.com to see the results.

  3. Page Searches
  4. Searching for specific pages on your site is a great way to double check that it has been indexed and if not to identify potential penalties.

  5. Brand Searches
  6. Simply searching your brand name is the easiest way to see if your site has been indexed. It also provides insight into basic keyword research and can give you a starting point on where to further direct your SEO/keyword efforts.


On-Page Factors

The way you built your website and the code that holds it together directly influences search engine rankings. Let's dive in to a few key concepts..

  1. URLs
  2. Best practice is to keep the URL less than 115 characters that effectively describe it's content.
    hyphens > underscores
    subfolders > subdomains
    Base your domains on your site's main keywords.

  3. Duplicate Content
  4. HTML Markup
    • Titles: should be distinct, descriptive & focus on a targeted keyword.
    • Meta Descriptions: Similar to the title, should be distinct, descriptive & keyword focused. Meta descriptions more commonly affect the click-through rate than they do rank results.
    • Images: Search engines cannot see pictures and therefor need to be able to read them. The alt text and file name of an image are equally important in the need to contain relevant keywords and descriptions of the image.
  5. Backlinks
  6. Run your website through Ahrefs.com to evaluate the other links pointing to your site. In an ideal world your backlinks will not be broken, and point to trustworthy sites, with relevant page content and anchor text.


Off-Page

These off page ranking factors are generated by external forces, but can be strategically influenced by your in-house team.

  1. Popularity
  2. In today's culture popularity trumps usefulness in it's ability to attract a following and influence people. The best way to analyze your sites popularity is using Google Analytics to track your site's visitors. Performing a competitor analysis and (again) understanding your sites backlinks - mentioned above - will further assist in knowing where you stand.

  3. Authority
  4. Many factors play into a site's authority according to Google but the most important are: the quality of their backlinks, it's popularity, it's trustworthiness, etc. To break it down further, there exists both a Page Authority and a Domain Authority, the first predicts how well a specific page will perform in search results and the former predicts how well the entire site will perform.

  5. Social Media Engagement
  6. Quite simply the more your content is liked/shared/retweeted on social media, the better. Social media is also used as a tool to target your audience on said platforms and ultimately up your conversion rate.


In practice there are many different ways to conduct and analyze SEO website audits. They will largely differ depending on what aspects your client is interested in and which tools you use. It's easy to tailor an audit depending on these factors, in fact, I recommend completing a series of audits focusing on one aspect at a time that as a whole add up to the larger picture. Feel free to comment below for further discussion.


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