When was the last time you gave your website an SEO checkup? Considering that somewhere between 70% and 80% of your website traffic comes from search results, making sure your site is at peak performance should be high on your list of priorities.
Not only do you want to ensure that search engines can crawl your website properly, you also want to make sure your website is driving relevant search traffic to a wide number of pages on your site.
Since search engine algorithms are constantly changing, you should be running SEO audits every few months. Here is a step-by-step process for performing a basic SEO checkup.
A quick website crawl will provide a detailed look at all the pages on your website and their index status, meta tags, duplicate content, page links and excessive redirects. Several online tools offer website crawlers, including Moz, Screaming Frog and SEMRush. They provide exported spreadsheets that can be sorted by different columns to identify top priorities for each issue. For example, you can sort by the “Title Tag Length” to identify pages with title tags that are too long.
Multiple Website Versions
Run a few searches to make sure that multiple versions of your website are not running on HTTP and HTTPS. If you can see both an HTTP and HTTPS version of a web page in a browser, so can search engines. Since SSL protection is a factor in search rankings, make sure that only the HTTPS version of your site is running. If you’re seeing both versions, let your IT person know that the HTTP version has to redirect to the HTTPS version.
In Chrome, you should see a lock icon in the browser address field that indicates you are running on HTTPS. A site without SSL protection will show a “Not Secure” warning in the browser address field.
Broken Link Check
Linking to internal and external resources is important for the user experience and SEO; however, links often become broken as outside sites take down pages or change URLs. Running a broken link report helps identify links that no longer work so they can be changed or taken down. Integrity (for Macs), Xenu Link Sleuth and Broken Link Checker are all good tools for this task.
Domain authority (DA) is a search engine ranking score developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engine result pages. A DA score ranges from 1 to 100, with higher scores corresponding to a greater ability to rank. The metric is best used as a comparison tool for your website over time and against competitors.
When running an SEO site audit, compare your site’s DA against your previous audit. You can also compare your site’s authority against competitors to see which sites are predicted to perform the best in searches. Conducting a deeper audit of a strong competitor’s site (e.g., looking at content, speed, user experience, links, etc.) can provide ideas for improving the search strength of your own website.
Every site should have some type of analytics tracking installed; Google Analytics is the most popular. During an SEO checkup, dig deeper into your analytics to look for red flags and compare year-over-year performance. You’ll want to assess:
- Top pages — How many visitors are going to each page of your website?
- User metrics — How do users behave on your website and on individual pages? Check the average time on page, average time on site, bounce rate and average pages per visit. Look for pages that have high exit rates, and try to understand why people would leave that page at a higher rate.
- Geographic regions — Where are visitors coming from? Does this line up with your business goals?
- Conversions — Are visitors completing actions on your website? Tracking contact form completions, PDF downloads, newsletter sign-ups, etc., in a year-over-year view can shed light on how well your desired audience is performing on your website.
Google Search Console
Google recently gave Google Search Console a makeover. This free Google tool helps identify technical problems with crawling and indexing a website. You can track total clicks, total impressions, average click-through rate (CTR) and average position (see description in image) to ensure that people searching online are shown your website and click through to your website.
Mobile usability reports show issues that affect the user experience on mobile devices. You can click through to see exactly which elements Google is referencing in the report and make changes to improve usability for mobile visitors.
Ideally, your site does not have any security issues or manual actions working against it. But it’s always good to check Search Console to make sure. You want to see this message:
Google My Business listing
Google search pages contain quite a lot of information about a company. Google pulls this information from your Google Business Listing or from Wikipedia. With access to your Google My Business account, you can update information that shows in this pane.
Confirm that your business information is correct and mark upcoming holidays when your offices will be closed. You can also view your listing in search and maps to ensure your company’s information and location are rendering correctly.
Finally, run a page speed report for top pages on your website. This free Google developer tool provides suggestions for how to make your website faster. Since the speed at which your web pages load is a ranking factor, you want to optimize your site to be lightning-fast. You may need to use a website developer to implement page speed improvements, but doing that is well worth the effort (and expense).
Going through this process will give you a decent idea of how your site is doing and where you need to make some adjustments. More-detailed audits look at page content on a keyword basis and delve into linking reports.