Since enterprise SEO audits involve crawling thousands or millions of web pages in search of errors or opportunities for improvement, they can be difficult to parse. Whether you’re looking for errant canonicals or missing hreflang tags, a comprehensive enterprise SEO audit can provide you with the data you need to address your site’s technical SEO and boost its search visibility.
Wondering what an enterprise SEO audit should cover and how to deal with the data? Here’s an in-depth review of the process.
What Are Enterprise SEO Audits?
An enterprise website SEO audit is a comprehensive assessment of your site that aims to uncover on-page, technical, and off-page issues that may affect your search engine rankings.
Because of the size of enterprise sites, finding and fixing SEO issues can feel like a Sisyphean task, but it’s well worth the effort. An enterprise SEO audit can help you uncover orphan pages, break redirect chains, address error codes, and pinpoint what’s slowing down your pages so you can create a realistic strategy for improving your site’s optimization.
Think of an enterprise SEO audit as a complete checkup for your website. Using your findings, you can achieve enhanced performance and make sure nothing stands in the way of your website’s rankings.
Tools Needed for an Enterprise Audit
Enterprise websites have thousands of pages, so you can’t use just any tool to uncover SEO issues. The best tools for enterprise audits are robust, fast, and detailed, allowing you to uncover minute errors and pinpoint fixes that will have the biggest impact on your site’s performance.
Using tools unsuited to the task might yield less than stellar results. If you use a non-enterprise tool, it may not effectively assess your website, or it may generate an astoundingly long report that gives too much weight to unimportant factors, making it impossible to prioritize improvements.
For best results, you’ll probably want to use a few separate tools to complete your enterprise SEO audit. That way, you can capitalize on what each tool does best. Here are the types of tools you’ll need to complete your site audit:
These tools “crawl” your website, collecting information about broken links, duplicate content, and page speed. They go through every page, post, and publicly accessible piece of content on your website, so they have to be very fast and reliable to work for large enterprise websites. Use a crawler to find technical SEO errors like duplicate content, redirect chains, missing hreflang tags, and more.
The most popular crawler tools include:
Backlink & Content Tools
A key component to a comprehensive site audit is an evaluation of backlinks and content.
You’ll need one or more content tools capable of checking for keyword usage, backlinks, and referring domains.
These tools will help you identify keyword cannibalization (multiple pages that target the same search term) and keyword gaps, which represent terms you should create new content for.
The most popular backlink and content tools include:
While not necessary for a purely technical audit, analytics tools can be useful for evaluating content and page performance, which is an important part of a comprehensive enterprise SEO audit.
The most popular analytics tools include:
Learn more about popular enterprise SEO tools here.
Google Search Console
Google Search Console provides data about your website, but the two most important elements to review when conducting an enterprise SEO audit include the index pages report and Core Web Vitals.
The index pages report helps you ensure Google is properly indexing your pages, while the Core Web Vitals report gives insight into page speed issues.
Google Lighthouse is another powerful tool that provides information on page speed. It’s an open-source, enterprise-friendly alternative to the Google PageSpeed Insights (PSI) tool. Learn more about Google Lighthouse vs PageSpeed Insights and when you should use each tool here.
How To Do an Enterprise SEO Audit
If you use the right tools and follow best practices, conducting an enterprise SEO audit doesn’t have to be time-consuming or overwhelming. Follow these steps to start uncovering the most common SEO issues on enterprise sites.
1. Crawl Your Site To Uncover Technical SEO Issues
The first step in conducting an enterprise SEO audit is to crawl your website. This process mimics how search engine crawlers find information on your site and can help identify technical SEO issues like redirect chains and orphan pages. Not only can these issues prevent search engines from properly indexing your pages, but they can pull down your rankings and get in the way of your site’s overall performance by creating a poor user experience.
The first question you need to answer when conducting an enterprise SEO audit is: Are all of your pages being indexed by Google? You also need to check that you’re directing which pages are indexed correctly.
- Confirm all public facing pages have been indexed.
- Noindex pages you don’t want displayed in search results.
- Make sure internal search results and forums are blocked from SERPs by using robots.txt.
- Look for pages with no incoming links, or orphan pages.
- Check for index bloat, which can waste your “crawl budget” and take the focus away from more important content you want to rank.
Errors can interrupt the user journey and deter search engine crawlers. Some key technical errors your audit might find are:
- Broken links: These dead links lead to pages that don’t exist. It’s important to replace them with relevant links.
- 404 error codes: These codes include “page not found” and “file not found” errors. If content has been moved or deleted, you should set up proper redirects to ensure old links (including those on third-party websites) still take users and crawlers to the right place.
- Redirect chains: These happen when there’s more than one redirect between the URL a person clicks on and their final destination. While they might not seem like a big deal at first glance, every second counts when it comes to UX — and redirect chains can eat away at your crawl budget.
- Canonical errors: Improper canonicals can lead Google to conclude that you have duplicate content. Make sure your canonicals are implemented properly to avoid this.
- Misused hreflang tags: If you’re serving a global audience, using this HTML attribute will help search engines determine which content to display to users based on their location and language. Make sure different languages and pages are tagged appropriately to avoid inadvertently serving the wrong content to your audience.
As sites grow over time, it’s easy for site structure considerations to slip through the cracks, but it’s very important to regularly assess your site architecture. If you don’t properly structure your URLs and overall website architecture to ensure your content is user and crawler friendly, your site’s performance may suffer.
To thoroughly assess website architecture during your enterprise SEO audit, review the following:
- Internal linking: Identify additional opportunities for internal linking and ensure your topic clusters are properly aligned with your pillar pages.
- Anchor text: Are your internal links optimized with appropriate anchor text? Check that the anchor text for your internal links help users and search engines understand where they lead and reference the keyword of the destination page where appropriate.
- Breadcrumbs: Verify your breadcrumbs are optimized and use anchor text related to the linked pages’ primary keywords.
One element that directly impacts a user’s experience on any given page is page speed, which you should further analyze using Core Web Vitals. Google assesses your page speed based on:
- Largest Contentful Paint: A metric that tracks the speed at which a page loads
- First Input Delay: The time it takes before a user can interact with a page
- Cumulative Layout Shift: A metric that tracks the visual stability of a page
Use Lighthouse or Google Search Console to see if Google has flagged any pages for improvement.
With so much search traffic originating from mobile devices, Google puts a lot of weight on a page’s mobile-friendliness. For your content to be considered mobile friendly, it needs to load quickly and function properly on mobile devices.
When assessing mobile friendliness, ensure all of your site’s content and features work equally well across all devices. This means making your website fully responsive, rather than relying on an alternative mobile version, which was once common practice.
Metadata & Schema
The final step in the technical part of your audit is to comb through the metadata attached to your pages and posts.
- Make sure every page has a unique page title and meta description.
- Check that you’re using descriptive alt text for images.
- Look for schema issues in the GSC structured data report.
2. Investigate Content
The next step in your enterprise SEO audit is to look more closely at the content across your website. This portion of the process is often more time consuming and requires more manual review and critical thinking, but it’s extremely valuable.
Keywords are at the core of any content audit. If you haven’t conducted keyword research lately, pause your audit efforts to do that, so you can come back to this review armed with updated keyword information.
As you begin investigating the content on your site, the first thing to focus on is which keywords are associated with your critical, revenue-driving pages. Are the keywords you want to target used in the page copy? If not, make a note of which keywords need to be added to which pages. Also look for instances of keyword stuffing that should be addressed.
Duplicate & Thin Content
During your content evaluation, identify “thin content” so your content marketing team can decide whether to remove it or improve it. At this point in the process, you should also check for duplicate content.
Keyword cannibalization is when two unique URLs on your site are competing for the same or similar keyword with the same keyword intent. This can easily happen with enterprise websites as they grow over time, and it can hold back your rankings.
If you identify two or more pieces of content that are targeting the same or similar keywords with the same search intent, consider merging them and redirecting the page with the least backlinks. You can also delete the older/thinner content altogether or rewrite it to focus on a new, related — but not directly competitive — keyword.
An h1 is the first of six heading types that you can use on a page, and it tells crawlers and readers what the overarching topic and purpose of a piece of content is. H1 tags are often styled as the largest heading on the page, and they should be visible to the reader. There should only be one h1 tag per page, and ideally, it should include the page’s keyword.
A content gap analysis can transform your enterprise website SEO audit report into a more strategic planning document to support future website growth. Using a content gap tool, you can do a side-by-side comparison of your website against your competitors’ sites and identify the keywords that are driving traffic for them that you haven’t captured yet.
Google gives preference to search results that demonstrate Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness (E-E-A-T). Assess your content based on each of these characteristics. For instance, you should revise older content created before “Experience” was added to include any personal or first-hand accounts you are able to contribute, since Google now prioritizes that factor. This is even more critical if your site is considered YMYL (Your Money or Your Life).
3. Check Backlinks
Backlinks remain a major ranking factor. To capitalize on the links to your site and ensure they don’t harm your SEO, monitor the health of your backlink profile (the collection of inbound links pointing to a website from other websites). Check yours for:
- High-quality backlinks: Links from reputable, authoritative, and relevant websites carry more weight in search engine algorithms and can positively impact your website’s rankings.
- Diverse sources: Having backlinks from a variety of referring domains rather than just a few helps demonstrate that your website is widely recognized and respected within your industry or niche.
- Natural anchor text: The anchor text (the clickable text in a hyperlink) used in backlinks should be relevant and varied, rather than overly optimized or stuffed with keywords.
- Balanced link velocity: Link velocity refers to the rate at which a website acquires new backlinks over time. A consistent and natural link velocity is preferable, as sudden spikes or drops may be perceived as manipulative by search engines and could lead to penalties. There is no one-size-fits-all target when it comes to link velocity, and a “good” benchmark truly depends on your industry and how your competitors are performing. If you compare your link velocity to others in the industry and find you’re acquiring backlinks at a slower rate, this is a critical issue you’ll want to address in the coming months.
Compiling Your Enterprise Website SEO Audit Report
When you’re finished conducting your enterprise SEO audit, take the time to compile the results, derive meaningful insights, and format the information in a way that’s digestible for key stakeholders.
For example, while it’s okay to present crawl data, make sure to always have a section that explains what the crawl data means and how you’ll address the issues you’ve uncovered. It’s also useful to share the amount of effort necessary to fix issues, the priority of the improvements, and a reasonable timeline for implementation. An enterprise SEO agency that offers SEO audit services can handle this for you.
Collaboration between different teams and departments is essential for addressing the findings of an SEO audit. By sharing your data in a manageable format that’s easy to digest, you can secure the buy-in you need to tackle each problem your analysis identified.
Your Enterprise SEO Partner
Conducting an enterprise SEO audit can be complicated and time-consuming, but it’s an essential element in preparing your website for optimal performance. If you don’t have the time to run an audit yourself, let our team of experts lay out a clear roadmap for you. Schedule a free consultation with our team to learn more about our enterprise SEO agency.