Search engines remain the biggest driver of traffic to most of the websites on the Internet. It is also known that search engines use over 200 different factors to rank WebPages. Also, they keep introducing new factors on a regular basis to remain one step ahead of the spammers.
Businesses keep adding new content to their websites and sometimes, things do not go as planned. Therefore, experts recommend getting an SEO audit done on a regular basis to ensure that the live website is not in violation of any of the Webmaster guidelines issued by big search engines. While each SEO company has its own way of doing audit, an SEO audit includes eight or nine critical components. Here is a list of some of the common things an SEO audit includes.
An SEO audit includes checking for all types of website errors, indexing status of the website, web page speed, checking for duplicate content, checking for quality external links, checking all the images, checking the internal links, checking the URL structure, checking the website structure and an action plan to take care of all the issues.
One of the first things you need to check for is the presence of robots.txt file. While millions of website these days do not use this file, most of the old websites have this file. It is used to give directions to crawlers from search engine and other bots for searching and indexing the website. Webmasters can prevent indexing of specific directories and other pages by instructing crawlers to ignore that particular directory or pages.
While most of the files are formatted in the correct manner, there are times when an old file is uploaded unknowingly. Therefore, the first thing you need to check for is whether this file is present in the root directory and if it is formatted in the right manner. If the file is not formatted correctly, it can prevent crawlers from indexing all the web pages.
The next thing in an SEO audit is to check the indexing status of the website. The best way to check the indexing status is the set up the website in the Google Webmaster tools. Once the website is set up, you can login into the Google Webmasters tool to get a comprehensive overview of the indexing status of your website.
Ideally, the number of pages crawled by the Google boat should be roughly equal to the number of pages indexed. If there is significant difference in these numbers, there may be some problem with the indexing status and you need to address that problem.
However, if you do not want to use the Webmaster tools, a manual search can be performed by the auditor to find out the number of pages indexed in the search engines. This wonít be a comprehensive report but it is good for a start.
One of the biggest problems with many websites is presence of duplicate content. It can be in the form of site content, meta descriptions, title tags and other such things. Search engines typically penalize a website if duplicate content is discovered on its web pages.
There are a number of software available on the market today that can crawl the website and point out duplicate content issues. Such duplicate content issues should be fixed at the earliest as these negatively impact the search engine rankings.
If the website is a few years old, chances are that the internal links are pointing to pages that no longer exist. One of the best software in the market today for checking internal links to missing pages is Screaming Frog. It is a small desktop program that can crawl through millions of pages within a short period of time.
It provides a very comprehensive report and allows you to quickly analyze as well as audit a site when it comes to the on-page SEO elements. The software is extremely useful for medium to large sites where it is not possible to manually check each page.
In the past few years, page speed has become a very important factor in the rankings. Major search engines such as Google are pushing websites to reduce the page loading speed and having included it as a ranking factor in their search algorithms.
Ideally, an SEO audit should include the page loading speed of all the pages and if the page loading speed is too high, suggestions to improve it should be included in the audit. Ideally, the page load speed should be broken down by element in the audit report to ensure that it is clear where improvements can be made.
Another important part of an SEO audit is external links. Websites go down all the time and sometimes, these sites are taken over by spammers to rank their web pages. If your website linked to another website that used to be about a topic related to your particular website, it is possible that that the website may have shut down and has now been taken over by spammers to benefit from the quality of backlinks to the domain.
Therefore, it is important that you check the list of external backlinks and find out about the quality of those sites. External links play a very important role in the ranking of your website. If your website is linking to suspicions web pages, your website will be penalized by the search engines.
While backlinks are the most important factor used by search engines, the truth is that irrelevant back links can also hurt the rankings. An SEO audit should provide a complete report of the external back links to your own website. Also, if you feel that in the back links to your website are not relevant, you can submit those back links to the disavow tool provided by Google to ignore them.
Overall, these are some of the things an SEO audit includes. However, a complete SEO audit includes a lot more factors and a lot more suggestions. It is important that you hire the services of a competent SEO firm to do the audit instead of hiring someone who gives you a generic report spit out by a software.