Ultimate Guide: Improve Your Google Rankings With An Expert Audit

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Ultimate Guide: Improve Your Google Rankings With An Expert Audit

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Hello there!

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) audits have become critical to maintaining and improving website performance in the digital age. 

With a staggering 68% of online experiences beginning with a search engine, understanding your website’s SEO health is more vital than ever.

An SEO audit provides a detailed insight into your website’s performance, revealing its strengths and areas that need improvement. 

It helps identify technical flaws, assess on-page and off-page SEO effectiveness, gauge user experience, and compare your site’s performance against competitors.

Performing regular SEO audits can significantly enhance your Google rankings. 

It is estimated that the first five organic search results on Google account for around 67.60% of all clicks.

Therefore, improving your SEO through regular audits can help your site rank higher, increasing its visibility and potentially driving more traffic. 

This process enables you to align your website more closely with Google’s ranking factors, considered the gold standard in the SEO industry. 

Regular audits can help you stay up-to-date with these ranking factors, considering Google changes its algorithms thousands of times yearly.

An effective SEO audit holds the potential to deliver substantial benefits.

A study showed that 61% of marketers believe improving SEO and growing their organic presence is their top inbound marketing priority.

If implemented correctly, the improvements recommended from an SEO audit can increase the quantity and quality of traffic to your site, thus leading to higher conversions and business growth. 

Preparing for the SEO Audit

Student preparing school assignment in library

An effective SEO audit requires various tools and resources to analyze different aspects of your website. 

Tools like Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools provide valuable insights into your site’s overall health. 

They can help identify any crawl errors or penalties impacting your rankings. 

SEMrush and Ahrefs are excellent resources for backlink analysis and keyword research, helping you understand how your site performs against competitors and which keywords drive traffic. 

Furthermore, tools like GTmetrix and PageSpeed Insights can assess your site’s speed, a critical factor considering that a 100-millisecond delay in load time can cause conversion rates to drop by 7%.

Setting clear goals for the audit is an integral part of the process. 

Without specific objectives, you may aimlessly go through data without deriving actionable insights. 

Your goals may be to increase organic traffic, improve page load times, reduce bounce rates, or boost conversions. 

These goals will guide the audit and help you prioritize areas needing improvement. 

Remember, businesses that set goals are 429% more likely to report success than those that don’t, and 81% of these successful, goal-setting businesses achieve them.

Without further ado, here we go!! We will divide the information into 5 stages, each with 5 or more how-to steps…

Stage 1- Technical Analysis

Crypto trader making technical analysis to identify and predict trends in value changes of currency

Technical analysis is a cornerstone of any comprehensive SEO audit. 

It examines the technical aspects of a website that can significantly impact its visibility in search engine results. 

These factors include page load speed, mobile-friendliness, indexing status, XML sitemap validity, robots.txt configuration, and more. 

This technical groundwork, often unseen by the user, is critical in improving a website’s ranking potential, ultimately driving more organic traffic and conversions.

Let’s dive into it…

How To Check Indexing Status

arrow with the word http. the concept of a website or web page

Step 1: Log in to Google Search Console

You need to have a Google Search Console account to check the indexing status of your site. 

Here are the steps to creating an account if you still need one. 

Step 2: Select your website

Once on the Google Search Console dashboard, select the website for which you want to check the indexing status. 

If you still need to add your website, click on the ‘Add property’ button and follow the prompts to add your website. 

Step 3: Check the Coverage Report

On the dashboard’s left side, click ‘Coverage’ under the ‘Index’ section. 

This report will show you the number of pages on your site that are currently indexed. 

Step 4: Look for Errors

Within the Coverage report, you can check for any errors or issues that prevent your pages from being indexed. 

This includes server errors, redirect errors, blocked by robots.txt, and more. Make sure to resolve these errors for better indexing.

Step 5: Use the URL Inspection Tool

For a more detailed look at the indexing status of individual URLs, you can use the URL Inspection tool in Google Search Console. 

Enter the URL you want to inspect in the search bar at the top of the page, and the tool will give you detailed information about the URL’s index status, crawl errors, and more. 

These steps can help you check the indexing status of your site. 

Still, getting your site or new pages indexed involves creating an XML sitemap and submitting it through Google Search Console, among other strategies.

How To Review Robots.txt

Online analysis

Step 1: Find Your Robots.txt File

You can find your website’s robots.txt file by appending “/robots.txt” to the end of your domain. 

For example, if your website is www.example.com, you will find your robots.txt file at www.example.com/robots.txt

Here’s an example of what this looks like.

Step 2: Check the File’s Contents

A well-structured robots.txt file should clearly specify the user agents (robots) it addresses and list the disallowed and possibly the allowed pages or directories. 

Check if the file is unintentionally blocking essential pages on your site. 

Here’s an example from Google.

Step 3: Test Your Robots.txt File with Google Search Console

You can use the ‘Robots.txt Tester’ tool in Google Search Console to check for errors. 

This tool tests your robots.txt file against Google’s User-agents like Googlebot. 

You can access this by going to ‘Crawl’ -> ‘robots.txt Tester’ on your Google Search Console account. 

Step 4: Rectify Any Errors

If the Robots.txt Tester tool indicates any errors, you should correct these in your robots.txt file. 

Errors could include format mistakes or logical errors that prevent specific user agents from crawling your site.

Step 5: Test Changes and Upload

Once you’ve made the necessary changes to your robots.txt file, you can test them using the Robots.txt Tester tool. 

If the file passes, upload it to the root directory of your website.

While a properly configured robots.txt file can help search engine bots understand which parts of your site to crawl, a misconfigured file can prevent important pages from appearing in search results. 

Always double-check any changes you make to your robots.txt file.

Examine XML Sitemap

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Step 1: Locate Your XML Sitemap

You can typically find your sitemap by appending ‘/sitemap.xml’ to your domain (e.g., www.example.com/sitemap.xml). 

If it’s not there, you can check the robots.txt file for a sitemap entry pointing to the sitemap location. 

Step 2: Check the Structure of the Sitemap

A well-structured XML sitemap should list all significant pages of your site. 

It should be in a format that’s easily understood by search engines. 

It must follow XML sitemap protocol with URL entries containing loc (page URL), last mod (when the page was last updated), change freq (expected update frequency), and priority (page’s importance relative to others). 

Here’s an example of what it should look like.

Step 3: Validate Your XML Sitemap

You can use online tools like the XML Sitemap Validator to validate your sitemap’s format and structure. 

Just enter your sitemap URL into the tool, and it will report any errors or issues it finds.

Step 4: Submit or Resubmit the Sitemap to Google Search Console

In Google Search Console, select ‘Sitemaps’ from the ‘Index’ section on the dashboard. 

Enter the URL of your sitemap in the ‘Add a new sitemap’ field and click ‘Submit.’ 

Google will now crawl your sitemap.

Step 5: Review the Sitemap Report in Google Search Console

After submission, Google will provide a sitemap report in the same ‘Sitemaps’ section. 

It shows any errors, warnings, and the number of URLs discovered in the sitemap. 

Here’s an example from Google Search Console Help.

Remember, having a well-structured, error-free XML sitemap is crucial for SEO, as it allows search engines to crawl and index your site’s content efficiently.

Check Site Loading Speed

Loading, downloading, slow internet speed concept with word loading and Brown garden snail crawling

Step 1: Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights

Google’s PageSpeed Insights is a simple tool that analyzes your site’s speed. Just enter your website URL and click ‘Analyze.’ 

The tool will provide a performance score for mobile and desktop, along with recommendations on improving the load speed. 

Here’s how it looks.

Step 2: Leverage GTmetrix for a Detailed Analysis

Another great tool to use is GTmetrix

Enter your website URL, which will give you a comprehensive report, including PageSpeed score, YSlow score (which checks for Yahoo’s performance rules), fully loaded time, total page size, and the number of requests. 

Step 3: Check Individual Elements with Chrome DevTools

You can also use Google Chrome’s built-in DevTools for a detailed, element-by-element loading speed analysis. 

Right-click on your webpage, click ‘Inspect,’ go to the ‘Network’ tab and reload the page. 

You’ll see a waterfall analysis of every element on your site. 

Here’s a screenshot from Google’s guide.

Step 4: Make Necessary Improvements

The above tools will also suggest improving your site’s load speed. 

This may include optimizing images, leveraging browser caching, minifying CSS, JavaScript, and HTML, reducing redirects, removing render-blocking JavaScript, and improving server response time.

Step 5: Recheck After Implementing Changes

After implementing the suggested improvements, retest your site’s loading speed. 

Decreased load time should improve your site’s user experience, bounce rate, and SEO.

Remember, even a few seconds delay in page load can significantly impact user engagement, conversion rates, and SEO. 

Google aims for a load time of under two seconds, a good benchmark for most websites.

For more on website speed, check out this post.

Ensure the Website is Mobile-Friendly

Conceptual image depicting conducting an online search for information with a magnifying glass

Step 1: Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test

Google offers a free tool called the Mobile-Friendly Test

Just enter your website URL, and Google will analyze the site and report if it is mobile-friendly. 

Here’s what it looks like:

Step 2: Check the Mobile Usability Report in Google Search Console

In Google Search Console, there’s a ‘Mobile Usability’ section under ‘Experience.’ 

This section will highlight any issues your website has that could negatively affect the user experience on mobile devices. 

Here’s a screenshot from Google Search Console Help.

Step 3: Manual Inspection on Different Devices

It’s also a good idea to manually inspect your site on various mobile devices. 

You can use your device or Google Chrome’s Developer Tools to simulate different mobile screens. 

Right-click on your webpage, click ‘Inspect,’ then toggle the device toolbar (you’ll see an icon representing a phone and a tablet). 

From there, you can select different devices and screen orientations. 

Here’s a guide from Google.

Step 4: Improve Based on Feedback

Based on the information gathered from the previous steps, make the necessary adjustments to improve your site’s mobile usability. 

This could involve adjusting the viewport, increasing font sizes, ensuring clickable elements aren’t too close, and optimizing images and other media.

Step 5: Recheck After Implementing Changes

Once you’ve made improvements, retest your site using the Mobile-Friendly Test and Google Search Console to ensure the changes have been effective.

By ensuring your website is mobile-friendly, you’re improving the user experience for a large audience segment and enhancing your SEO, which can lead to improved search engine rankings.

For more tips and tricks on indexing, check out our ultimate guide here.

Stage 2- On-Page SEO Analysis

SEO text on wooden cube, Search engine optimization ranking, SEO

On-Page SEO analysis is a vital component of an SEO audit as it delves into the elements of your web pages that, when optimized, can significantly boost your site’s visibility in search engine rankings. 

It examines keyword usage, meta descriptions, title tags, URL structure, header tags, content quality, and image optimization. 

This process is crucial in building a solid foundation for a site’s SEO strategy, setting the stage for off-page and technical SEO efforts.

Let’s dive into it…

Analyze Meta Tags

Girl in hoodie analyzing budget

Step 1: Use an SEO tool to Crawl Your Website

Use an SEO tool like Screaming Frog to crawl your website. 

It will provide you with a comprehensive list of URLs on your site, their corresponding title tags, meta descriptions, and other important SEO information. 

Step 2: Evaluate Title Tags

Title tags are a significant factor in helping search engines understand what your page is about, and they’re the first impression many people have of your page. 

Title tags should be descriptive, include your target keyword, and extend 50-60 characters to avoid truncation in search results.

Step 3: Check Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions are brief summaries of a page’s content and appear under the title tag on a SERP (Search Engine Results Page). 

While they don’t directly impact search rankings, they influence click-through rates. 

Meta descriptions should be compelling, include target keywords, and be under 160 characters.

Step 4: Check Other Important Meta Tags

Review other meta tags like the meta robots tag and the canonical tag.

The meta robots tag can control the behavior of search engine crawling and indexing, and the canonical tag can help prevent duplicate content issues.

Step 5: Identify Issues and Make Corrections

Identify any missing, duplicate, too long, or too-short title tags and meta descriptions. 

Ensure all essential pages have a unique title tag and meta description that accurately describes the content.

Step 6: Re-run the Site Crawl

After making changes, re-run the site crawl to ensure all your changes have been implemented correctly.

By carefully analyzing and optimizing your meta tags, you can improve your website’s SEO, increase your visibility in search engine results, and improve click-through rates.

Evaluate Content Quality

High Quality

Step 1: Use a Website Crawler

Use a website crawler such as Screaming Frog to find any duplicate or thin content (content with few words). 

These types of content can harm your SEO efforts. 

Here’s a screenshot from Screaming Frog’s guide.

Step 2: Manual Evaluation of Content

Go through your most important pages manually. 

Check if the content is relevant, valuable, and informative for the reader.

It should be well-written and free of grammatical or spelling errors.

Step 3: Check for Keyword Relevance

Evaluate if your content effectively incorporates your target keywords. 

It’s not just about keyword frequency but how they’re used in context. 

Your content should answer the users’ search intent by typing those keywords into search engines.

Step 4: Use Google Analytics

Leverage Google Analytics to see which pages have the highest bounce rates and the least time spent. 

This could signal that users need help finding content valuable or relevant to their search query. 

Step 5: Check Content Freshness

Google favors content that is regularly updated. 

Review your content for freshness and determine if any information needs to be updated or new sections can be added to improve it.

Step 6: Use User Feedback

User comments, reviews, and feedback can provide valuable insight into your content quality. 

If you’re receiving negative or no feedback, it might indicate a problem with your content.

Step 7: Make Necessary Improvements

Update or remove duplicate or thin content. 

Improve content that has high bounce rates or low engagement. 

Keep your content fresh and relevant by regularly updating it.

Evaluating and improving your content quality can enhance your website’s SEO, increase user engagement, and drive more organic traffic.

Check Keyword Usage

keyword

Step 1: Identify Your Target Keywords

Before you begin, you must know which keywords you’re targeting. 

You can identify these through keyword research tools like Google’s Keyword PlannerSEMRush, or Ahrefs.

Step 2: Use a Website Crawler

A website crawler like Screaming Frog can help you understand how your keywords are currently being used. 

It will show each page’s title, meta descriptions, and header tags (H1, H2, etc.). 

Step 3: Manual Evaluation

Check a selection of your pages manually to see how keywords are used in the content. 

They should be naturally incorporated into the text and not excessively repeated.

Step 4: Use an SEO Tool to Check Keyword Density

Keyword density refers to the percentage of times a keyword appears on a web page compared to the total number of words on that page. 

Tools like SEOQuake can help check this. 

However, note that the relevance and context of keyword usage matter most, not the raw density.

Step 5: Check the URL Structure

Keywords should also be included in the page URL.

This can help search engines understand the page’s content, making the URL more attractive in search results.

Step 6: Evaluate and Improve

Based on your analysis, make the necessary changes. 

This might include adding keywords to title tags, meta descriptions, headers, and body content or reducing keyword usage if it’s overly repetitive.

Remember, while keywords are important, it’s also crucial that they’re used appropriately and add value to the user. 

Overusing keywords or ‘keyword stuffing’ can lead to a poor user experience and may harm your search rankings. 

It’s all about creating helpful, informative, and contextually relevant content for your users.

Check Content Formatting and Readability

UI and UX - user interface, user experience designer.

Step 1: Manual Review

Start with a manual review of your content. 

Look for a consistent and clean formatting style. 

Your content should use headings (H1, H2, etc.) to break up sections, bullet points or numbered lists where appropriate, bold or italics for emphasis, and images or infographics to illustrate points.

Step 2: Check the Text Length

Large blocks of text can be off-putting for readers. 

Check your content to ensure your paragraphs are manageable (typically 3-4 sentences). 

If any paragraphs seem too long, break them down into smaller ones.

Step 3: Use a Readability Checker

Tools like the Flesch-Kincaid readability test can give your content a numerical readability score. 

This tool rates text on a 100-point scale; the higher the score, the easier it is to understand. 

Aim for a score of 60 or above, roughly the reading level of a 13-15-year-old student.

Step 4: Check Your Image Usage

Images can significantly enhance readability by breaking up text and providing visual interest. 

However, they need to be used appropriately. 

Each image should support the surrounding content and should have an ALT tag describing the image content for search engines and visually impaired users.

Step 5: Evaluate the Content Structure

Content should be logically structured with a clear introduction, body, and conclusion. 

Using subheadings to break the content into digestible sections is crucial for readability and SEO.

Step 6: Implement Changes

Based on your analysis, make necessary adjustments to improve readability and formatting. 

This might include breaking up long paragraphs, adding headings or images, or simplifying complex language.

By focusing on readability and content formatting, you’re ensuring your content is user-friendly and accessible, which can lead to increased engagement, better user experience, and higher search rankings.

For more tips regarding On-page SEO, check out this post.

Stage 3- Off-Page SEO Analysis

Link building

Off-Page SEO analysis is a vital element of an SEO audit as it helps identify the impact and value of external factors contributing to your website’s visibility in search engine results. 

It primarily assesses your site’s backlink profile, including the quantity and quality of websites linking to it, social signals such as shares and likes, and other brand mentions.

Businesses can create effective strategies to enhance their digital reputation and authority by conducting a comprehensive Off-Page SEO analysis. 

This will help them build stronger relationships with other websites, increase brand recognition and trust, and improve their search engine rankings.

It is a crucial pillar of SEO, complementing on-page and technical efforts to deliver a holistic SEO strategy.

Let’s dive into it…

Review Your Backlink Profile

Analyzing marketing tools

Step 1: Use a Backlink Analysis Tool

Use a tool such as AhrefsSEMrush, or Moz to check your website’s backlinks. 

These tools provide comprehensive data about the number and types of backlinks to your site. 

Here’s a guide from Ahrefs on how to use their tool.

Step 2: Check the Number of Backlinks and Referring Domains

Check the total number of backlinks and the number of unique referring domains. 

A healthy backlink profile has links from a wide range of unique domains rather than multiple links from a few disciplines.

Step 3: Assess the Quality of Backlinks

Not all backlinks are created equal. Check the authority of the sites linking back to you. 

Links from high-authority sites are more valuable than links from low-authority ones.

Step 4: Look for Toxic or Spammy Links

Use your tool’s spam score or toxicity rating to identify potentially harmful backlinks. 

These might include links from low-quality, irrelevant, or spammy sites.

Step 5: Analyze Anchor Text

The anchor text is the clickable text in a hyperlink. 

Review the anchor text of your backlinks to ensure it’s relevant and diversified. 

Overuse of exact-match anchor text can appear spammy to search engines.

Step 6: Identify and Remove Bad Backlinks

Once you’ve identified any toxic or spammy backlinks, try to remove them. 

This may involve contacting the site’s web admin and requesting removal or using the Google Disavow tool if necessary.

Step 7: Develop a Strategy for Building High-Quality Backlinks

Based on your analysis, devise a strategy for gaining more high-quality backlinks. 

This might involve content marketing, guest posting, or influencer outreach.

Regularly reviewing and optimizing your backlink profile can improve your website’s authority, enhance your SEO, and boost your rankings in search engine results.

For more tips regarding Off-Page SEO, check out this post.

Monitor for Potential Google Penalties

A man puts a wooden blocks with the word Penalty

Step 1: Check Google Search Console

Google Search Console is the primary tool for understanding your website’s status in Google’s index. 

Any manual actions (penalties) taken by Google will be reported here. To check for corrections, click the “Security & Manual Actions” tab and click “Manual Actions.” 

If there’s a penalty, Google will list it with a reason. 

Here’s how it looks.

Step 2: Monitor Your Traffic

A sudden and significant drop in organic traffic could indicate a penalty. Use Google Analytics to monitor your website’s traffic. 

Suppose you see a sharp decline corresponding to a known Google algorithm update. In that case, you may have been hit with a penalty.

Step 3: Monitor Your Search Rankings

If your site’s ranking for its target keywords suddenly drops, it might be due to a penalty. 

Tools like SEMrush can help you track your rankings over time and identify any significant changes.

Step 4: Check Site Health

Use an SEO tool like SEMrush or Moz to perform a site audit and identify potential issues that could lead to a penalty. 

This could include problems with your site’s speed, mobile-friendliness, and security or issues like duplicate content or broken links.

Step 5: Fix Issues and Submit a Reconsideration Request

Suppose you’ve identified a penalty and resolved the issue that caused it.

In that case, you can submit a reconsideration request to Google through the Search Console. 

Be sure to clearly explain the issue and the steps you’ve taken to fix it.

Monitoring for potential Google penalties is crucial for maintaining your site’s search ranking and visibility. 

Regularly auditing your site and promptly addressing any issues can help you avoid penalties and keep your place in good standing with Google.

Analyze Social Media Impact

Analysts analyzing financial charts in office

Step 1: Identify Your Social Media Channels

Identify all the social media channels your brand is active on. 

This could include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Pinterest.

Step 2: Measure Social Engagement

Measure engagement across your social media channels. 

Look at metrics like likes, shares, comments, and retweets. 

Tools like HootsuiteSprout Social, or the platform’s own analytics (like Facebook Insights) can help provide these metrics.

Step 3: Analyze Social Media Traffic to Your Site

Using Google Analytics, assess how much traffic is coming to your site from your social media channels. 

Go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels and click “Social.” 

Here’s is a guide on how to analyze this.

Step 4: Monitor Brand Mentions

Use a tool like Brand24 or Mention to monitor mentions of your brand on social media and the web. 

This can help gauge your brand’s reach and sentiment.

Step 5: Evaluate Content Performance

Identify your top-performing social media content. 

Look at which posts get the most engagement, as this can inform your content strategy.

Step 6: Check for Consistent Branding and Updates

Ensure your social media profiles are consistently branded and regularly updated. 

Consistency helps to reinforce your brand identity and ensure your audience recognizes you.

Step 7: Devise a Strategy for Improvement

Based on your analysis, devise a strategy to improve your social media impact. 

This might involve investing in different content, engaging more with your followers, or exploring new social media channels.

While social media doesn’t directly impact SEO rankings, it significantly influences factors that do – like traffic, brand visibility, and potentially backlinks. 

Therefore, analyzing social media impact is vital to an SEO audit.

Stage 4- User Experience Analysis

Cropped view of designers planning user experience design with color palette and website sketches on

User Experience (UX) Analysis is integral to an SEO audit because it helps understand how visitors interact with your website. 

UX factors like site speed, mobile-friendliness, ease of navigation, and content quality significantly impact how users engage with your site and, subsequently, how search engines rank it. 

Google’s algorithms increasingly prioritize websites offering a high-quality user experience, as demonstrated by the recent introduction of Core Web Vitals in their ranking criteria. 

By ensuring a seamless, enjoyable experience for users, you boost customer satisfaction and conversions and improve your search engine rankings, making UX analysis a critical aspect of an effective SEO strategy. 

Let’s dive into it…

Review Site Navigation and Structure

Hands, phone and woman in city typing on social network, internet search and gps navigation for tra

Step 1: Review Your Site’s Hierarchy

Your site should have a logical hierarchy, with main categories, subcategories, and individual pages. 

Tools like Screaming Frog can help visualize your site’s structure.

Step 2: Check Navigation Menus

Navigation menus should be intuitive and easy to use. 

Check your main, footer, and side menus to ensure all links work and lead to the correct pages. 

They should be organized logically and clearly labeled.

Step 3: Check for a sitemap

A sitemap is a file where you provide information about your site’s pages, videos, and other files and the relationships between them. 

You can check this in the footer of your website or by appending “/sitemap.xml” at the end of your base URL. 

Here’s a Google guide on sitemaps.

Step 4: Check Internal Linking

Internal linking helps users navigate your site and helps search engines understand your site’s content. 

Make sure your important pages are easily reachable through internal links.

Step 5: Check Breadcrumb Navigation

Breadcrumb navigation is a secondary navigation system that shows a user’s location on a site’s hierarchy. 

It’s useful for users and SEO, as it allows search engines to determine your site’s structure.

Step 6: Test on Different Devices

Ensure your site navigation works well on all devices, including desktop, tablet, and mobile. 

You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test for this.

Step 7: Make Changes Based on Findings

Based on your review, make any necessary changes to improve your site navigation and structure. 

This could include adding or modifying menu items, updating your sitemap, or improving internal linking.

A well-structured, easy-to-navigate website improves user experience, encourages users to spend more time on your site, and helps search engines understand your area — all of which can boost your SEO rankings.

Check Your Website Design and Layout

Working on website design

Step 1: Review the Visual Appearance

The visual appeal of your website matters. 

Evaluate your site’s color scheme, typography, and use of images. Does it look professional and in line with your brand’s identity?

Step 2: Evaluate the Layout

Review your site’s layout to ensure it’s intuitive and easy to navigate. 

Essential information should be prominently placed and easy to find. 

Ensure the website has a clear hierarchy with logical flow and structure.

Step 3: Check the Use of Space

White space can help guide a user’s attention and improve readability.

Ensure your site is manageable and uses space effectively to highlight essential elements.

Step 4: Check the Mobile Experience

With mobile traffic growing every year, a mobile-friendly site is a must. 

Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to see if your site is correctly optimized for mobile devices.

Step 5: Evaluate the Content Presentation

Look at how content is presented on your site. 

Is text broken up with headings and subheadings? Are images used effectively?

Step 6: Test Load Speed

A slow-loading website can frustrate users and harm your SEO. 

Use a tool like Google’s PageSpeed Insights to test your site’s load speed on both desktop and mobile.

Step 7: Check for Consistency

Make sure your website design is consistent across all pages. 

Consistency in color scheme, typography, button styles, and layout can enhance usability and create a more cohesive brand image.

Step 8: Make Necessary Changes

Based on your review, make any necessary changes to improve your site’s design and layout. 

You may need to consult with a web designer or developer for this.

A well-designed, easy-to-navigate website improves user experience and helps search engines crawl and index your site more effectively, leading to improved SEO.

For even more tips on user experience, check out this post.

Stage 5- Competitive Analysis

Group of diverse business people with laptops and notepads having a meeting in their office

Competitive analysis is a crucial aspect of an SEO audit because it provides valuable insights into what strategies work for others in your industry. 

By understanding your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, you can identify opportunities for your website and make strategic decisions to improve your SEO performance. 

This process can unveil new keyword opportunities, backlink strategies, content ideas, and more. 

Regular competitor analysis should be integral to your ongoing SEO efforts, with the competitive landscape constantly changing.

Let’s dive into it…

Identify Your Key Competitors

Alligator versus cautious dog on a stone floor in a building.

Step 1: Identify Your Main Products or Services

First, list your main products or services. 

These will be the basis for finding businesses that are competing for the same customers as you.

Step 2: Search For These Products or Services on Google

Take your list of products or services and start searching for them on Google. 

Note down the businesses that appear on the first page of the search results. 

These are likely some of your main online competitors.

Step 3: Look at Google’s ‘People Also Search For

After performing a search, Google often provides a “People also search for” section. 

This can also be a helpful source of potential competitors.

Step 4: Utilize SEO Tools

SEO tools like SEMrushAhrefs, or Moz can also help identify your competitors. 

By entering your website into these tools, you can see which other sites rank for the exact keywords.

Step 5: Assess Competitors’ Market Position

Once you’ve identified potential competitors, evaluate their market position. 

Look at their product range, pricing, branding, customer reviews, and overall online presence.

Step 6: Narrow Down Your List

From your list of potential competitors, narrow down to those that closely match your business in size, target audience, and product or service offerings. 

These are your key competitors.

Step 7: Regularly Update Your Competitor List

Your competitive landscape can change over time, so it’s vital to regularly repeat this process and update your list of key competitors.

Remember, understanding your competitors is crucial for forming an effective SEO strategy. 

It can provide valuable insights into market trends, reveal growth opportunities, and help you stay ahead in your industry.

Analyze Competitor On-Page SEO

business

Step 1: Choose a Competitor’s Website

Start by selecting one of the key competitors you identified in the previous steps.

Step 2: Use an SEO Analysis Tool

Several tools, such as MozBar, can help you analyze a competitor’s on-page SEO. 

Install the tool and navigate to your competitor’s website.

Step 3: Analyze the Title Tag

The title tag of a webpage is a significant ranking factor. 

Look at your competitor’s title tags. 

Are they using keywords? Is the title appealing and descriptive?

Step 4: Check Meta Descriptions

Although meta descriptions do not directly impact rankings, they can influence click-through rates. 

Check if your competitor’s meta descriptions are compelling and include relevant keywords.

Step 5: Review Header Tags

Header tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.) help search engines understand the content of a webpage. Check how your competitor uses header tags. 

Are they using keywords? Are the headers informative and well-structured?

Step 6: Evaluate Keyword Usage

Review the web page’s content to see how your competitor uses keywords. 

Are they included naturally within the content? Are they using long-tail keywords or phrases?

Step 7: Check Image Alt Text

Images can also contribute to SEO when optimized adequately with alt text.

Check if your competitor uses descriptive, keyword-rich alt text for their images.

Step 8: Analyze URL Structure

Good URLs should be less than 255 characters and include keywords where appropriate. 

Evaluate your competitor’s URL structure – are they short, descriptive, and do they include keywords?

Step 9: Review Internal and External Links

Links contribute to SEO. 

Check if your competitor is linking to relevant internal and external resources.

Step 10: Assess Overall Content Quality

Lastly, review the overall quality of the content. 

Is it valuable to the reader? Is it well-written and free of errors? High-quality content is crucial for good on-page SEO.

By analyzing a competitor’s on-page SEO, you can gain insights into what they’re doing well, find areas where your website might be lacking, and discover opportunities for improvement. 

Remember that good SEO is more than just ticking boxes – providing valuable, high-quality content should always be your top priority.

Analyze Competitor Off-Page SEO

Female checking off items on SEO checklist - search engine optimization

Step 1: Choose a Competitor’s Website

Start by selecting one of the key competitors you identified in the previous steps.

Step 2: Use an SEO Analysis Tool

Use Ahrefs or Moz’s Link Explorer to examine your competitor’s backlink profile.

Step 3: Analyze Backlink Profile

Check the total number of backlinks, the number of unique referring domains, and the quality of these domains. 

High-quality backlinks from a range of websites are beneficial for SEO.

Step 4: Identify Top Linked Pages

Identify which of your competitor’s pages are attracting the most backlinks. 

This can provide insights into the content that successfully gains backlinks in your industry.

Step 5: Review Anchor Text Distribution

Look at the anchor text of the backlinks. 

This can give you an idea of which keywords your competitor is targeting.

Step 6: Check Social Media Presence

Off-page SEO also includes social media activity. 

Review your competitor’s social media profiles. 

How many followers do they have? How often do they post? How much engagement do their posts receive?

Step 7: Evaluate Online Reputation

Online reviews and reputation can impact SEO. 

Check review sites and social media to gauge your competitor’s reputation.

Step 8: Look at Content Marketing Efforts

Content marketing, such as guest posts on other sites, can contribute to off-page SEO. 

Check if your competitor is using this strategy.

Step 9: Assess Influencer Partnerships

Influencer marketing and collaborations can help to build backlinks and increase online visibility. 

Check if your competitor is using this strategy.

By analyzing your competitor’s off-page SEO, you can better understand their strategy, identify any gaps in your own strategy, and find new opportunities to improve your off-page SEO. 

Remember, building a solid off-page SEO strategy takes time and consistent effort.

Understand Your Competitor’s User Experience

Business people analyzing documents and discussing business strategy at conference room.

Step 1: Choose a Competitor’s Website

Start by selecting one of the key competitors you identified in the previous steps.

Step 2: Visit Their Website

Visit the competitor’s website and approach it as if you were a potential customer. 

Pay attention to your first impressions and note any immediate positives or negatives.

Step 3: Assess Site Navigation

Review how easy it is to navigate the site. 

Can you quickly find what you’re looking for? Is there a logical flow to the information presented? 

Tools like Crazy Egg can provide heatmaps and user recording insights, but much of this analysis must be manual.

Step 4: Test Page Load Speeds

Slow loading speeds can significantly impact UX. 

Test how quickly the competitor’s pages load using a tool like Google’s PageSpeed Insights.

Step 5: Evaluate Mobile Responsiveness

With mobile internet use increasing, a mobile-friendly site is crucial. 

Check how the competitor’s site performs on a mobile device using a tool like Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.

Step 6: Review Content Quality

Look at the quality of the content on the site. 

Is it engaging and valuable to the target audience? Does it effectively communicate the company’s value proposition?

Step 7: Look at Visual Design

The visual design of a site can significantly impact UX. 

Note whether the site’s design is aesthetically pleasing, consistent, and aligns with the company’s branding.

Step 8: Check Out Checkout

If applicable, go through the checkout process (you don’t have to complete a purchase). 

Note how easy it is to use if it seems secure, and if there are any unnecessary steps or barriers.

Step 9: Contact Customer Support

Try contacting the competitor’s customer support. 

This can give you insight into how they handle customer inquiries and issues.

By analyzing your competitor’s UX, you can understand their strengths and weaknesses, providing you with valuable information that you can use to improve your own website and SEO strategy. 

Remember, a positive user experience can lead to higher customer satisfaction, increased trust, and improved SEO rankings.

For more on competitive analysis, check out this post.

Post-Audit Actions

Double-checking the information

Performing an SEO audit is only half of the equation; what truly matters is your actions following the audit. 

Post-Audit Actions are critical steps to fix the issues discovered during the audit and implement improvements. 

This is where you convert your findings into actionable strategies that enhance your website’s performance, user experience, and, ultimately, ranking on search engines. 

Addressing the identified problems promptly can significantly improve your site’s organic traffic and visibility, reinforcing the fundamental importance of Post-Audit Actions in the overall SEO audit process.

Let’s dive into it…

Make the necessary changes based on audit findings.

First things first

Step 1: Prioritize Findings

Not all findings from your audit will have the same impact on your SEO.

Prioritize the issues based on their potential impact on your website’s performance. 

Prioritization can be done using tools like Trello or Asana.

Step 2: Create an Action Plan

For each identified issue, define the actions necessary to resolve it. 

This should include who is responsible for each action, the timeline for completion, and the expected outcome.

Step 3: Implement Changes

Start implementing changes based on your action plan. 

It may be necessary to involve a developer or an SEO specialist for complex issues.

Step 4: Document Changes

Keep track of all the changes made to your website. 

This documentation will be helpful in future audits and help you understand your actions’ impact.

Step 5: Monitor the Impact

Use tools like Google Analytics or Google Search Console to monitor the impact of the changes. 

Look for improvements in metrics like organic traffic, bounce rate, and conversion rate.

Step 6: Re-audit as Necessary

Depending on the impact of your changes, you may need to re-audit certain aspects of your website. 

This will help you confirm whether the changes have resolved the issues and led to the expected improvements.

Remember, making changes based on audit findings is an ongoing process. 

SEO is not a one-time activity but requires consistent monitoring and optimization to maintain and improve your website’s performance and rankings.

Track and analyze results over time.

speech bubble with inscription KPI

Step 1: Define Your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Identify the KPIs that are most relevant to your business and SEO goals.

This might include organic traffic, bounce rate, conversion rate, average session duration, page load speed, or ranking for specific keywords.

Step 2: Set Up Tracking

Use a tool like Google Analytics to track your KPIs over time. 

Use Google Search Console to track your website’s performance in Google’s search results.

Step 3: Set Baselines

Before making changes based on your audit findings, record your baseline data for each of your KPIs. 

This will give you a point of comparison for assessing the impact of your changes.

Step 4: Monitor Your KPIs

Regularly check your KPIs to track the impact of your changes. 

Look for trends and significant changes.

Step 5: Analyze Your Data

Interpret your data to understand what’s working and what isn’t. 

If you see improvements, keep doing what you’re doing. 

If you still need to, you may need to adjust your strategy or investigate further to identify issues.

Step 6: Make Data-Driven Decisions

Use your data analysis to inform your future SEO strategies. 

Continue making and tracking changes based on your findings.

Step 7: Regularly Review and Adjust Your Tracking

As your business and SEO goals evolve, your KPIs and tracking methods may need to change. 

Regularly review your tracking setup to ensure it’s still relevant and practical.

Remember, SEO is a long-term strategy that can take time to see results. 

Regular tracking and analysis will ensure you’re moving in the right direction and allow you to adjust your strategy for optimal results.

Well, that’s it for that one! Have questions? You can reach out to us here

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