How To Audit Your Website & Improve SEO

how to audit your website

If you’re at a wits end with your organic rankings and just can’t seem to make a positive difference to your organic performance, an SEO audit can help identify problems with your website that you never knew existed and may have been sabotaging your rankings for a long time!

It’s common that business owners assume web developers have a large knowledge of SEO so their website is already the best it can be, but they would be mistaken. Web design is their expertise so there is no guarantee they have built your website with SEO in mind.

An SEO agency will perform an in-depth technical audit of your website that will provide valuable advice and action points to get your website back on its feet. However, if you’re waiting until the New Year to hire an agency and you want to have a look yourself, here are the basics you need to audit on your website!

Google Analytics

Without Google Analytics installed on your website, how are you actively monitoring your traffic and conversions? GA provides so much valuable data that you would otherwise miss out on, it’s crucial this is set up correctly. When auditing your Google Analytics, you need to ask yourself:

  • Do I have Google Analytics set up? (If not, why?)
  • Is it installed correctly on every page I want to track?
  • Have I defined important actions on my website as conversions?
  • Is it correctly configured for both HTTP and HTTPS?

There is no excuse to not have Google Analytics installed, it provides so much for free. From traffic, conversions and top pages to time on page and click through rate, there is so much to learn and use to your competitive advantage.

Google Search Console

Similarly to Google Analytics, Google Search Console provides more technical diagnostic data provided from Google themselves that may be preventing your search potential. Ask the following questions:

  • Is Google Search Console set up with all variations of my URL? (www, non-www, http, https)
  • Is the number of indexed pages reported what you would expect?
  • Has your XML sitemap been submitted?
  • Do you have any mobile usability errors?
  • Are there any manual penalties put on your website?

Read our in-depth guide on How to Use Google Search Console for SEO.

Page Errors

Download a free website crawling tool of your choice and get a list of all the URL’s on your website. Ideally all the response codes that are returned come back as 200 OK, meaning that the pages are displayed fine and there are no issues. These crawling tools are designed to identify any errors such as 404 Not Found pages where redirects haven’t been put in place when a page has been deleted or the URL path has changed. Create a list of all the issues and resolve them accordingly! You can find a full list of response codes and what they mean here.

URL Mistakes

A good URL is all lower-case with a descriptive URL path that tells the user, and search engines, what the page is about. Your URL’s shouldn’t contain any uppercase letters or non-ASCII characters as they are not seemed ‘friendly’.

For example:

Example.com/services/

Is far friendlier than:

Example.com/?gjao976300

After identifying any URL issues you should change each URL path and redirect old URL to new URL to prevent 404 errors.

URL Structure

Arguably one of the most important elements to audit is the URL structure. A friendly and concise URL structure should be organised, with all relevant pages grouped together in folders and sub-folders to show the relationship between the pages. A small business that sells shoes, for example, would benefit from a URL structure similar to the following:

Example.com/boots/high-leg
Example.com/boots/ankle
Example.com/boots/

Rather than:

Example.com/red-high-leg-boots
Example.com/sale-ankle-boots

Title Tags

If your traffic is looking a little lacklustre, you may want to audit your title tags to see if your titles are scaring people off rather than drawing them in. If users are finding you through organic search, your title tag is the first thing they see – so it best be good.

To ensure it doesn’t truncate, we generally keep title tags between 35-65 characters and include a priority keyword towards the start of the title.

If you’re a local business, make sure you include your location so users know you’re they’re local!

By crawling your website and getting a list of all your title tags, this will enable you to go through them manually and improve them to get more clicks and be more relevant to your keywords.

Meta Descriptions

Similarly to title tags, your Meta description gives users information about you and your products/services before they click on your website so it has to be informative and engaging for them to want to click through. A good combination of engaging information and sales copy is key for a successful Meta description.

Character lengths for Meta descriptions do vary as Google likes to increase and decrease sporadically, so we say stick to a length of 155 characters so that your description always shows as we have never seen it decrease to less than 155 characters.

Header Tags

We recently published an article on How to Use Header Tags for SEO so feel free to head over there to get a full in-depth strategy. However, identifying issues with your header tags within a crawl is fairly straight forward.

Your H1 tag should contain a primary keyword for that page and be descriptive of what the main objective of the page is. They should be similar to your page title and description to send a concise message and a collective topic.

Use the crawl to identify pages with no H1 or H2 tags as well as pages with poor header tags.

Page Speed

2018 has been the year of getting your page speed optimised! With users waiting no more than 3 seconds (if that!) for a page to load, a page speed of more than 3 seconds will damage your rankings and user experience.

There are three free tools you can use yourself at home to identify any issues with your website that are slowing down your page speed:

SEO is more than title tags and keywords; it’s a machine with many moving parts that need to work together in order for your SEO strategy to be a success and all this starts with an audit.

Overwhelmed and don’t have enough hours in the day to remedy your SEO? Drop us a line!

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