Performing an SEO audit on your website is the first and most important step when beginning an SEO campaign. A proper SEO audit reveals the weak spots of a website in terms of SEO qualities like improper indexing of pages, duplicate or thin content, H1 tag inconsistencies, meta description hiccups, and internal linking misuses. An SEO audit gets the wheels of an SEO campaign turning, driving organic traffic to your site and improving your site’s search rankings. Let’s take a look at the five SEO audit “musts” every audit needs to ensure your site reaps all the benefits it can.
SEO Audit “Must Have” #1: “Noindexing” Pages
The first order of business when beginning an audit is to comb through your site for pages to “noindex.” Google and other search engines index pages depending on how and what their search engine spiders determine your site’s pages are about.
When performing an audit of your site or when an SEO company is conducting one for you, you’ll want to make sure that all pages that don’t provide valuable content for the site visitor, as well as pages with a minute amount of content are tagged for “noindexing”. This communicates to search engines that their spiders should not crawl the page for search engine result indexing.
Noindexing pages tells search engines that a site doesn’t want the “noindex” page to be catalogued for search results or pop-up on SERP’s. This way, Google doesn’t take these pages into account, so sites don’t drop in rankings or authority in the vast index of pages.
SEO Audit “Must Have” #2: Look Out For Thin and Duplicate Content
Coinciding with the “noindexing” of pages is optimizing the content on site pages. The main qualities search engines look for when they crawl content are the quality or value that the content poses for visitors, the length of the content, and if the content is duplicated elsewhere on the site or the Internet in general.
Pages with meaningless content should be “noindexed” or removed completely from your site. What’s the point of having a page that provides no beneficial information for site visitors? Often times, problems with thin content revolve around the lack of value the content provides. The point of content is to provide useful information in hopes that changes the visitor to a lead, and a lead to a customer. If the page has useless content, build it out to be better or trash it.
Google aspires to provide a unique, meaningful search experience for their users. When content is thin or duplicated, the search engine spider’s red flag goes up and communicates to Google that the page or site isn’t helping to provide the beneficial user experience Google aims to deliver.
SEO Audit “Must Have” #3: H1 Best Practices
The third part of a proper SEO audit is implementing H1 best practices. H1s are the main title of a page. Not the title of the content, but the title that a page’s structure communicates to search engines. H1s tell Google what a page is about and the beneficial content it offers so it knows when to display it on search engine result pages (SERP).
During an SEO audit, be sure to check for missing H1s, duplicate H1s, H1s that are over 70 characters long, and any multiple H1s. A best practice when optimizing H1s to have a single H1 per page. H1s are one of the first things Google crawls when analyzing a site for what the page is about, it’s purpose, or content’s focus, so make sure it’s following SEO best practices.
SEO Audit “Must Have” #4: Optimize Page Titles and Meta Descriptions
After H1s, move on over to optimizing page titles and meta descriptions with best practices in mind. Similar to optimizing H1 tags, sort through URLs for meta descriptions that are either missing entirely, duplicated, over 940 pixels, or under 70 characters in length.
Page titles are what Google displays on SERPs to convey what the page shown is about. Often times, page titles are too long, leaving the title cut off or in other cases are too short, leaving extra room for more information to be included about what the page is about. Utilizing as many characters as possible in a title and meta description can be the deciding factor in catching a visitor’s eye and converting them to a lead. Page title best practices are removing or adding content to URLs that are missing titles, have duplicate titles, have titles that are over 560 pixels or under 30 characters. A tool like Portent is perfect for ensuring the correct amount of characters and pixels.
SEO Audit “Must Have” #5: Internal Linking
Last but not least, a solid SEO audit includes the proper method of internal linking. By linking site pages to each other, search engine crawlers see a web of relevant, information-rich pages that speak authoritatively about a topic, industry, or vertical.
Proper internal linking is an on-page SEO best practice because it serves as a strong framework that supports your presence on the web.
Before jumping into a SEO campaign with any agency, take time to brush up on what white-hat SEO techniques are and ensure any agency you’re considering is providing what they say. Look for a top rated SEO company that will take you, your site, and your site’s rankings to the top of the charts.