Before you start with search engine optimization, an SEO audit shows you the technical (loading times, page structure, etc.) and content (headings, link quality, etc.) status of your website. Weak points become visible and can be optimized.
In this article, you will find out what an SEO audit looks like and which SEO factors are particularly important.
Table of Contents
- The SEO Audit – A website audit with a big impact.
- Technology, on-page, off-page – these areas are examined carefully.
- The technical aspects of your website:
- On-page measures
- Off-page measures
- Google vs. Human – Optimize for Google, write for your readers.
- SEO audit tools.
THE SEO AUDIT – A WEBSITE AUDIT WITH A BIG IMPACT
An SEO audit always has the goal of analyzing your website using current search engine standards. Weak points in your website become visible and can be optimized. After a successful audit, the foundation for good search engine rankings is laid. Combined with high-quality content, you gain visibility and reach.
Before the audit, you should plan which areas will be analyzed and which employees will be responsible.
The focus is on:
- Technical aspects of your website.
- On-page measures.
- Off-page measures.
Technology, content, and co. It should not only be optimized for Google search. Other players such as Bing, Yahoo, and Baidu must also be given attention – depending on the target market. (Baidu is the market leader in the Chinese market with over 60%)
TECHNOLOGY, ON-PAGE, OFF-PAGE – THESE AREAS ARE EXAMINED CAREFULLY
Companies can start a wide variety of measures as part of an SEO audit. An extensive cheat sheet from Explido lists all starting points. So that you can get a good overview of the most important key factors, we have listed twelve quick wins below, i.e., areas with little optimization effort and high outcomes:
THE TECHNICAL ASPECTS OF YOUR WEBSITE: KEYWORDS IN THE URL
All URLs of your (sub) pages (product pages, blog posts, contact pages, etc.) should contain keywords relevant to your topic. How strongly Google and Co. actually weigh this ranking factor is unclear. Nevertheless, giving search engines a good overview of the website structure and relevant topics is a simple way of giving search engines.
It looks like this with our blog article.
A crawler is a software that searches the Internet for websites and sub-pages to enter the search engine index. Only when all pages have been crawled and indexed are they displayed in search queries.
The no-index tag, a disallow command, or the HTTP status code 404 or 410 helps you to hide individual pages from search engine crawlers. For example, this is useful with duplicate pages, internal search results, test pages, etc.
Fast website loading times are extremely important because if you let Google and Co. wait, it costs ranking places. For example, reduce your file sizes for images and graphics, use CSS instead of graphics, pay attention to quality CMS plugins, or find other “brakes” with tools like PageSpeed Insights or GTmetrix.
In 2020 around 3.5 billion people will use smartphones. That is why websites have to be optimized for smartphones, tablets, and co., in order to make positive UX across all devices. Not only Google pays attention to mobile optimization in the SERP ranking: 96% of all users inform themselves on their smartphone before making a purchase and require an optimal display and simple and clear navigation.
One tool that helps companies build their own mobile websites is Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). A programming language based on HTML ensures that data volumes are reduced, and loading times are accelerated.
Do you also have an app? App indexing ensures that your apps appear in the SERP.
Whether companies should optimize their website for “mobile”, create their own mobile websites or program apps ultimately depends on the target group’s device usage behaviour.
ON-PAGE MEASURES META TAG “TITLE TAGS”
The title tags name your page title in the HTML code. These should be short, descriptive, and unique. Keywords should be added at the start of the title.
META TAG “META DESCRIPTION”
Your site is described in the meta description. The same applies here: short, unique, and descriptive. A CTA (Call-To-Action) can additionally increase your CTR (Click-Through-Rate). For desktop and mobile websites, Google suggests different specifications for the number of characters (desktop: 150-160 characters, mobile: 110-120 characters).
Whether companies now use the mobile-optimized meta description for the desktop page or consider both versions separately, this should be decided depending upon the source-specific traffic intensity.
Example: “You need a digital and social media strategy”.
Your content should be well-structured with the right headings in order to convey the content structure to search engines.
There are the main headlines (H1) and subheadlines (H2, H3, etc.). Make sure to keep the structure of 1 – x correctly.
All search engines agree: uniqueness is rewarded. Companies should be creative when creating content and pay attention to topic relevance, including the right choice of relevant words.
PICTURES WITH ALT ATTRIBUTES
Sometimes images cannot be displayed. ALT attributes, i.e., alternative image texts, help to describe JPEGs, PNGs, and the one with text. If an image cannot be displayed, a descriptive text is displayed or read out instead. Thus, these are optimized for voice output and image searches.
Alt attribute: laptop, mobile phone, coffee cup, and notepad on a wooden table (Alt attributes are not imaged headings, as these are usually not displayed, but only when the image cannot be loaded).
Internal links connect related subjects of your site with one another. Ensure that the most relevant page to you (e.g., a pillar page with a long dwell time and many views) has the most links.
For example, you can link to individual product pages within a blog article. In addition, your keywords can be built into the links.
OFF-PAGE MEASURES BACKLINKS
When it comes to links that point to your website, it’s not just quantity that matters, but quality. Links should come from relevant and reputable sites. Google recognizes link farms and sanctions them with poor SERP rankings.
Such spam backlinks can be found manually using tools such as “Disavow” via the Google Search Console and declared “invalid”.
Content should be divisible and likable in order to promote engagement (retweets, shares, etc.) in social media. The backlinks created in this way helps you indirectly to generate reach and traffic. This suggests to Google and Co. that you are well-received and increases your popularity. An important ranking factor! Successful social media posts also rank in the SERPs.
GOOGLE VS. HUMAN – OPTIMIZE FOR GOOGLE, WRITE FOR YOUR READERS
It often happens that companies optimize their website according to all relevant ranking factors and still do not make it into the top three search engine results.
An SEO audit is an important prerequisite for optimizing rankings. But the adjusting screws shown alone do not ensure the top 1 results. At the day end, the content has to be tailored to the user’s needs.
Legibility and qualitative content are becoming more and more important as ranking factors, especially thanks to new Google algorithm updates.
SEO AUDIT TOOLS
Whether visibility index, website structure, competitor analysis, keyword research, backlink tests, or checking social signals: the SEO all-rounder offers a very wide range of functions. Individual tools (SEO, links, optimizers, ads, social, etc.) can be booked as modules.
Unlike many other tools, the SEO spider “Screaming Frog” is downloaded directly to the PC and is available as a free and licensed version. URLs or domains are mainly analyzed and evaluated for on-page factors.
The fee-based backlink expert among the SEO tools offers competitive analyzes as well as keyword and content research. Depending on the version (Lite, Standard, Advanced, or Agency), one or more projects can be carried out in parallel.
Whether backlinks, keywords, or page structure, depending on which version (lite, pro, API) is used, the tool provides different SEO functions.
An SEO audit can get very technical, and many programs require certain SEO know-how. In addition, ranking algorithms are constantly being adapted.
Companies can, therefore, commission external consultants or agencies to plan, carry out, and evaluate SEO audits. It is worth it! Because these people have many years of experience with search engines and know what to focus on.
SEO audits are important in today’s battle for high places in search engine results. Companies have to take on this digital homework if they want to be found online. If you know what you are doing “wrong” in the first step, you can make targeted and strategic improvements in the second step.
In order to do justice to the constantly changing algorithms, SEO audits should be carried out regularly. Any optimization potential that has been discovered should be exploited to obtain a clean SEO basis.
This frequency depends on the content output, and SEO audit priorities must be set differently depending on the web project. Business models based exclusively on digital services often have to adapt their website to current ranking factors.