A Website SEO Audit should be a complete review of your site’s level of search visibility, and contain an in-depth analysis of the structure, keyword strategy, linking of the site; and how the current status of those factors are affecting the website’s goals.
A correctly done SEO audit will be portable, meaning that the contents – from analysis to recommendations – should be understandable and actionable by more than just the document’s author.
How to Audit a Website for SEO
Before you can determine the status of your site in connection to your goals, you should first understand what to look for. So much money is wasted when companies start swinging at phantom SEO problems.
In a great website SEO audit, what you actually should be seeing are 3 mini audits tied together to paint the full picture. These 3 essential categories include:
- Site Crawlability Audit - This section should help determine the health of the website in terms of how it’s viewed by the search engine spiders. Major bullet points include identifying errors, missing structural elements, and other site structure related problems that could be causing potential ranking issues.
- Website Content Audit - Having great content is seldom a strategy by itself. The presentation and structure of the content plays a major role in achieving ranking goals. A content audit encompasses everything from keyword strategy to the markup of the content and how it’s organized and displayed on the website.
- Link Audit - With all the search engine updates in recent years, link audits are quickly becoming the first place to look when diagnosing search engine visibility concerns. This area of the audit should provide a clear analysis of the website’s current link profile, along with insight into the state of linking within industry related search results.
SEO Audit Tools
While you can find software products that claim to automate the SEO audit process, the truly valuable tools are those that provide research data for an experienced SEO professional to analyze and prescribe solutions. While the they will certainly vary across websites, here are a few paid and free SEO audit research tools:
- SEOMoz - A suite of link profile analysis tools that can be used to determine how your site stacks up against competitors link campaigns.
- Majestic SEO - Another link profile tool that offers several views into the state of a website’s link profile.
- Screaming Frog - A desktop software that acts like a search engine spider and crawls a website to locate errors and other key factors used to determine site crawlability.
- Pingdom - An online service that determines how fast a website loads, and offers insight into any potential opportunities for load time improvement. This could be particularly important for sites that use a lot of images or client side scripting.
Your SEO Audit Checklist
A complete site audit should be robust, leaving no stone unturned. The only way to ensure I cover everything for each audit is to use a checklist. While every detail of my own checklist is beyond the scope of this article, I have listed a summary of everything I look for during each phase of an SEO site Audit:
- Overview: Make sure I understand exactly what the goals for the SEO Audit include.
- Crawlability: Check the site for all crawlability and on-site structure improvement opportunities.
- Content: Review the keyword strategy and its implementation on the site.
- Linking: Compare the site’s link profile with other sites already achieving similar goals, to help pinpoint improvement opportunities.
- Recommendation Summary: Prioritize issues found from each main category by the severity of existing or potential negative impact.
The SEO Audit Report
The final step to the SEO website audit process is to create an easily understandable and ACTIONABLE report you can send to the people responsible for making any adjustments recommended in the audit.
For example, if you’re sending recommendations to the site developers, you want to cover everything that pertains to their department. Likewise, if executive managers are going to be reviewing the report, it should contain the full scope of the audit in a concise problem/recommendation format.