You’ve started a business, launched your website, and … nothing. No hits, no inquiries — just crickets. So what gives? It could be a lack of search engine optimization (SEO) features.
SEO can be intimidating, but if you want to improve your business, start by taking a look at your website. Determine its strengths and areas that need improvement, and adjust from there. This process is called an SEO audit.
Running an audit can help you identify areas of weakness that need to be fixed, increase traffic, and pare down your website’s content to the essentials.
When organic and paid search drives 68% of website traffic, it’s worth spending time improving your site’s SEO.
In this post, we’ll help you put together an SEO audit checklist so you can start enhancing your website right away. But first, we’ll define what an SEO audit is.
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SEO audit defined
An SEO audit is a road map for improving your search engine ranking. It gives you a series of questions and categories designed to determine why you might not be in the top results for Google and other search engines.
Your SEO audit checklist will help you look for both on-page and off-page factors, from backlinks to meta tags and more, and see what needs improvement. You might end up discovering useful elements that aren’t currently on your website at all.
SEO optimization takes time, and you’re unlikely to see instant results. However, conducting an SEO audit bit by bit furthers the chances of expanding your business and landing more sales.
How to do an SEO audit
You can use a variety of SEO analysis websites and tools to check your own site. Some are free but limited in scope. Others, like Constant Contact’s SEO tools, are paid and provide deeper analysis.
These tools can do everything from analyzing what keywords you’re ranking for to gauging the strength of your meta description. The best ones will analyze not only your ranking in Google but also other platforms like Bing and Yahoo search.
The steps we’ll outline here fall into a few distinct categories, all of which are important to your site. They include:
- SEO basics
- Website crawlability/indexability (how easily a search engine can read/categorize your site)
- Metadata and structured data analysis
Let’s start at the beginning.
1. Set up the basics
The first step of your SEO audit checklist includes checking whether you have basic elements set up to help monitor and analyze your website’s SEO. First up: analytics.
If you can install an analytics service like Google Analytics, do it. You’ll be thankful for the wealth of information it provides. You’ll be able to see website statistics such as who’s visiting your page, how often, on what kind of device, the bounce rate (how often people immediately exit your page), and more.
Next, you’ll want to set up a search engine property for your website, which is its domain. Linking that to a service like Google Search Console will allow tracking of site visitors and more granular data.
Most importantly, it will tell you how crawlers — search engine bots designed to find websites — view your page. Can Google see your website? Can it categorize (index) it? If not, you’ll want to fix that ASAP.
Once you have these ready to go, you should run a sample site crawl. Most SEO tools will be able to do this for you and return results like keyword ranking and site indexability. Any errors will be paired with ways to improve them. Here’s what that looks like in Constant Contact’s tool:
2. Check crawlability/indexability
Since you’re trying to rank on Google, you need to be sure your website is showing up there in the first place. While it seems like that should happen automatically once your site is created, some factors could keep Google from finding it. Running an SEO audit checks for those possible barriers.
A tool like Google Search Console will let you know if Google can find — or crawl — your website. But you can also run a “site:” search. To do that, just type the term “site:” followed by your website’s URL.
For example, running a “site:” search on Constant Contact’s website would look like this:
A return result would look like this:
The “site:” modifier tells Google to look for websites with that URL. If it can’t find a match, it can’t find your website. This search will return anything with that URL in it, so you’ll get multiple results.
If you want to check if that exact URL has been indexed by Google, it’s better to use the URL inspection tool in Google Search Console once you’ve set it up.
3. Analyze metadata/structured data
Your metadata and structured data are elements like meta tags, titles, and descriptions. These are the things users don’t normally see, but they help search engine crawlers find and index your website. Adding these if you don’t already have them can improve your SEO.
You’ll want to check your page for:
- A title element or title tag. You can usually see the title in the browser tab where your website is being displayed. If it’s empty, there’s no title tag and you should add one.
- Important keywords. These should be included in the first 60 characters of the title to ensure people can see them.
- A meta description. This tells Google what your page is about and gets displayed in the search result listing beneath the link to your site.
You may also want to add elements like a favicon (the small icon displayed next to the site URL in the browser and search results) and social media meta tags. Meta tags will change how your content looks when it’s shared on social media, so test them and make sure your posts look how you desire them to.
Lastly, check your robots.txt file and the sitemap. Make sure the robots.txt file doesn’t tell Google not to crawl your site and that your site’s URL is included in the sitemap.
4. Check for mobile usability
You’ll find this in a lot of SEO guides, but it bears repeating: your site needs to be accessible and usable on a mobile device. According to Statista, 61% of organic search traffic comes from mobile devices.
Tools like Search Console and Constant Contact’s SEO tool will easily tell you if your page is mobile-friendly. They’ll also let you know what errors exist and how to fix them. Just about every major website builder will also let you test how your page looks and functions on mobile.
To ensure a better mobile experience:
- Use white space.
- Use small file sizes for media like photos and video.
- Enable Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) if you can.
- Use a page layout that adapts to different screen sizes.
These practices will help ensure your page looks good and loads quickly on smartphones, tablets, and other devices.
5. Check your content
Your page content’s effectiveness is a critical part of your SEO strategy and shouldn’t be neglected. Apart from the widely known advice of working relevant keywords into your page content, you’ll also want to do the following:
- Check for duplicate content. Google is programmed to filter out pages that are similar in favor of those that are substantially different from the rest.
- Organize page content with hierarchical tags (for example, headings like H1, H2, H3).
- When possible, keyword-optimize all your content, not just blogs. That includes title tags, meta descriptions, URLs, and meta tags.
Check for backlinks and ensure that your pages link to one another in a way that makes sense. Where possible, link to relevant content within your own site or from authoritative outside sources.
Additionally, avoid keyword stuffing when modifying your content. This makes your pages unreadable and won’t help web crawlers find your page. Constant Contact’s SEO tool can walk you through the ways to further optimize your site content in easy-to-follow steps so you don’t miss a thing.
Use an SEO audit checklist to get your page in front of more people
This SEO audit checklist can be a jumping-off point on your way to better SEO. Go through your site page by page and adjust your content accordingly. Then, measure the results to stay on track.
The more you explore SEO, the more you’ll understand it. Keep revisiting and tweaking your page to rise through the ranks on Google. SEO results can take time, so be patient.