A comprehensive SEO audit is critical for identifying opportunities for improvement and growth and helping you reach your SEO goals. Your audit can uncover technical issues holding your web pages back and highlight opportunities for improved page and site optimization.
What Is an SEO Audit?
An SEO audit is an in-depth look at how well your website is optimized for search. It can uncover on-page, technical, and off-page issues affecting your site’s performance in search results. Depending on the type of audit and how thorough it is, an SEO audit can identify and diagnose crawling and indexing problems, duplicate content, misapplication of robots meta tags, and toxic backlinks.
Who Should Get an SEO Audit?
Anyone looking to drive organic traffic to their website should do an SEO audit or have an SEO audit completed on their site to analyze opportunities for improvement.
Google has over 200 ranking factors that determine where a web page will rank in search engine results pages (SERPs). An audit can pinpoint which factors you should prioritize to improve your chances of ranking well for your desired keywords.
When Is the Best Time to Get a Website SEO Audit?
At Victorious, we like to do a 200+ Point SEO Audit after completing our initial keyword research for a new customer. We start each of our campaigns like this because it immerses us in our customer’s industry and sheds light on which competitors consistently rank well.
However, there’s no wrong time to do an SEO audit. Even if you’re in the middle of an SEO campaign, running an audit can verify that you’re on the right track, find issues you hadn’t considered, and help you shape the future of the SEO campaign.
How Frequently Should You Do a Site Audit?
There are a variety of different audits you can complete on your site. The audit I describe below is more of an on-page SEO audit which covers technical issues and on-page optimization. In most cases, site owners should run this type of audit annually.
Of course, you can always audit particular aspects of your site more frequently if they’re problematic. For example, if you have duplicate content on your site that you’re trying to clear up, you can run a content audit when you think you have it cleaned up to verify your efforts have paid off.
Similarly, as part of your link-building strategy, you may want to run a backlink audit to analyze bad backlinks, gain insight into your anchor text profile, or determine how many unique referring domains you need to boost your competitiveness.
How Long Does It Take To Run an SEO Audit?
Some tools offer what they call an SEO audit, which is essentially a crawl of your website. These tools may identify issues and even provide a generalized fix. However, they can’t analyze the results and suggest process improvements like an SEO strategist.
Since strategy is critical to transforming an audit into measurable results, it can take weeks for SEO strategists to create an SEO audit that details the issues and prescribes fixes. The more pages your website has, the longer it generally takes. However, since an SEO audit is the cornerstone of a comprehensive SEO strategy, the time and effort pay off in the long run with a targeted strategy built to remedy technical concerns and garner competitive parity.
Uncover Issues With These SEO Audit Tools
To complete a website SEO audit, you’ll need website audit tools to pinpoint issues and analyze them further. Some, like Google Search Console, are free. Others may require a license or monthly subscription. Alternatively, you can use an SEO audit service to save time and skip the learning curve. An SEO audit service with a proven process can systemize your approach to SEO so you can focus on implementing tactics with the greatest potential impact.
Google Search Console
Google Search Console (GSC) is a free tool that allows you to see how your website is performing in search results.
In GSC, you can:
- See manual actions against your site,
- Learn about indexing issues,
- Track your Core Web Vitals,
- Find which pages are most popular in search,
- And more.
Learn how to set up and use Google Search Console here.
Screaming Frog is an SEO audit tool that functions just like a search crawler. It crawls all the pages on your website and highlights things like:
- HTTP access codes
- Structured data
Screaming Frog can find redirect chains, orphaned pages, and duplicate content. The free version allows you to crawl up to 500 URLs. Purchase a license to crawl unlimited URLs.
SEO Tools like Ahrefs or SEMrush
SEO tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush advertise their own SEO audits. These are different from what you would get from an SEO agency.
Whereas these audits provide data regarding a variety of SEO issues like bad backlinks, anchor text profiles, and indexability issues, they can’t always dive into deeper technical issues that may impact your SEO performance. An SEO agency can provide insights into why certain errors are occurring, how to fix them, and how to improve processes so they don’t happen again.
Ultimately, these are both great tools, but to get the most from them, you’ll want to partner with an SEO agency that can decode the reports they provide.
The Victorious Blog
Not sure what something means or how to unearth a specific problem? Our growing list of how-to articles can help! Use the search function on our blog landing page to learn how to use Google Search Console, what index bloat means, how to identify orphan pages, what to do about duplicate content, and lots more. Toggle by category to see posts relevant to on-page SEO, technical SEO, content, or local SEO.
You can also use our SEO checklist to guide a self-run audit. Follow the in-depth SEO checklist and note issues as you encounter them. Check out the resources provided to learn how to address particular concerns.
Want to get an idea of your site’s SEO needs? Here’s an easy SEO audit you can complete. For a more in-depth analysis, I recommend our 200+ Point SEO Audit.
How To Do an SEO Audit
Before doing an SEO audit, I suggest completing keyword research so you can identify important industry keywords, get an idea of how the competition is faring, and see whether your content is well-optimized. Also, look at how well you’re currently performing in organic search results so you can track the effectiveness of your SEO campaign.
Once you’re ready to roll, start by ensuring your content is crawlable and that Googlebot is indexing it.
SEO Audit Checklist: Indexability
1. Check for Manual Actions
Check Google Search Console to ensure there are no manual actions against your site. If there are, investigate the manual actions and create a plan for addressing them. Learn how to find and fix manual actions here.
2. Verify Protocols
Is your site secure? Is it reachable by multiple protocols? Check that your website is on the HTTPS protocol and that all other versions of your site — HTTP, www, non-trailing slash — are being redirected to the primary version of your site.
At Victorious, our website address is: https://victoriousseo.com/
Our site can be reached through a variety of URLs (www.victoriousseo.com/, http://victoriousseo.com/, and victoriousseo.com, for example), but they all redirect to https://victoriousseo.com/.
3. Check Crawled Pages
Use the Page Indexing Report to see how many pages Google has indexed. If you know your site has 100 pages, but Google has only indexed 50, check to see if your robots.txt file or a robots meta tag is inadvertently blocking valuable pages.
One easy way to do this is to enter the URL into Google Search Console’s URL inspection tool and hit enter.
GSC will let you know why a page hasn’t been indexed.
If the pages are important and you’d like them to appear in search results, edit the respective file or tag and ask Google to recrawl it.
On the other hand, if your site has 100 pages and over 200 pages have been indexed, Google may be indexing your internal search results. Verify that your robots.txt file disallows crawling of internal search results and other subdirectories you don’t want appearing in SERPs.
4. Crawl the Site to Find Errors & HTTP Status Codes
Crawl your site with Screaming Frog to find out if you have any URLs returning a 404 error. If you do, investigate why you’re receiving a 404. If the page no longer exists but still has backlinks pointing to it, redirect it to a related page. If the page does not exist and has no backlinks, make sure it isn’t listed in your sitemap.
SEO Audit Checklist: Website Architecture
5. Website Structure
Site architecture can impact how easily a search bot can crawl and understand how the pages relate to each other. Take a look at how your website is organized. Is there a clear hierarchy? Is each page at most three to four clicks from the homepage? If it’s difficult to navigate your website, consider what it would take to change it.
Subdomain vs. Subdirectory
Are you using subdomains? If your blog is reachable at blog.companyURL.com or your store is located at store.companyURL.com, you’re using subdomains as an organization tool for your website.
Unfortunately, Google views those subdomains as separate websites. To better spread link equity, we recommend the use of subdirectories instead of subdomains.
6. SEO-Friendly URL Structure
An SEO-friendly URL is easy for both humans and search bots to understand. It can also increase your chances of click-throughs from SERPs. Check the URLs from your crawl (Step 4) to make sure they follow our recommendations.
7. Orphan Pages
Orphan pages are those with no internal links. In most cases, site visitors and search crawlers can’t find orphan pages, which negates their value.
Follow these steps to find and fix orphan pages.
8. Mobile Responsiveness
With more and more searches occurring on mobile devices and Google implementing mobile-first indexing, mobile responsiveness is crucial for ranking well in SERPs.
Follow our guidelines here to determine whether your site is mobile friendly. If not, create a plan to optimize your website for mobile.
9. Page Speed & Core Web Vitals
Because Google aims to provide a great user experience, it wants to highlight web pages that load quickly and don’t leave site visitors waiting. If your web pages take too long to load or have annoying interstitial content that makes them hard to use, Google may rank your pages lower.
Use Google Search Console to uncover how your site is performing on Core Web Vitals measures.
PageSpeed Insights and Google Lighthouse can provide insight into how quickly your pages are loading.
Learn more about increasing site speed here.
Content Optimization & Quality
10. Identify Internal and External Duplicate Content
Duplicate content can lead to index bloat and wasted crawl budget. Plus, if the duplicate pages end up competing with each other in SERPs, they’ll likely suffer from keyword cannibalization. Follow our steps for finding and fixing duplicate content.
11. Check That Pages Have Appropriate Meta Data
Optimizing your metadata is an important part of on-page SEO. Make sure pages have title tags, h1s, and meta descriptions specified. Check that your images are using alt text.
12. Verify Core Pages Include Keyword You Want To Rank For
Since you’ve run keyword research, now is a good time to check that your important pages feature the appropriate keyword. Remember, each keyword should be the focus of only one page. Check keywords are used naturally in the on-page copy, that the copy has word count parity with other pages ranking for that keyword in SERPs, and the keyword is used in the metadata.
Addressing Issues Uncovered During Your SEO Audit
Once you’ve completed your site audit, it’s time to create a strategy to fix any problems.
Fix Major Issues
First, if you have any major red flags like manual actions, create a plan to address them immediately. Otherwise, your other efforts will go to waste.
Identify other stakeholders that can help you tackle SEO concerns. For example, your web developer can assist with page speed and Core Web Vitals concerns. Your content team may be able to better optimize on-page content by reworking copy to include keywords.
Grab Low-Hanging Fruit
Next, look for low-effort, high-value wins. Note who should own that fix and the process they should follow if there isn’t one in place.
Create an SEO Strategy
Create an SEO strategy to address other findings and improve your website so that it can outrank your competition.
While you’ve completed a quick SEO audit, note that you’ll need to conduct a more thorough analysis of content and backlinks to diagnose problems and create a plan to reach competitive parity.
- Content: How does your content stack up against the competition? Do you have enough content to establish topical authority? Is your content properly optimized? Does your content match the search intent of your targeted keywords? Would your site benefit from content pruning?
- Backlinks: Are there toxic backlinks hindering your search performance? Is your link-building strategy meeting your link velocity needs?
Work Toward Page-One Results with a Proven SEO Audit
At Victorious, we’ve synthesized years of SEO knowledge into our 200+ Point SEO Audit service. Our proven tactics have delivered for our customers time and again. If you’re ready to improve your site and drive more traffic to your most important pages, schedule a free SEO consultation to learn how an SEO audit can support your business objectives.