SEO Audit is one of the most done activities by any SEO in the world. Every day, every week, every month, and every year Google keeps adding and updating their ranking algorithms. Experts say there are over 200 ranking factors that Google have in their algorithm. Brian Dean, an expert SEO came up with this exhaustive list of Google ranking factors and that’s how I came to know all about them.
After doing SEO audit for almost 10 years now, I have observed that most SEOs take audit very casually. Audit is mostly done once when the proposal is created to suggest the client all that can be done and forgotten after the project is won. SEO audit is a continuous process. There are items that you need to cover at the beginning and while many items need to be re-audited in between. Different SEOs do audit differently, they use different tools, but the objective is more or less the same.
An SEO audit helps us in identifying not only the issues in technical SEO but also the good work that can be leveraged later. While SEO has been ever evolving, the audit checklist has changed a lot. If you are a regular SEO auditor, this is going to be your ultimate SEO Audit checklist for 2018. But, before you get started download & install the SEO spider software from Screaming Frog.
Title & Meta Description tags
This one has gone through a major change over years. Open your Screaming Frog and put your website URL to check if all pages in your website have a unique Title Tag. You don’t want to lose out here. Google allows around 60-65 characters including spaces in the Title tags.
Meta Description tags are no more used as a ranking factor but is a very important element for increasing your CTR. But Meta description is your best option to woo the customer to click on your website link and drive the traffic to you beating competition.
Broken links in the website give a bad impression to the audience. It is like broken expectations. For every broken link there is a “404 Error: Page Not Found” which slowly effects your site ranking and not something you’d want. It also means that the Google crawler bots will not be able to find what’s there on the other side of the link which has an adverse effect on your site indexing. Screaming Frog can help you identify broken links very easily.
Schema markup is a form of microdata. Also known rich snippets, structured data makes your webpage prominent in SERPs. Schema markup is important in 2018 because of the continuous Hummingbird and RankBrain algorithm updates. Schema gives context to your content and the improved visibility increases click-through rates.
Once you start auditing, visit Google webmaster Search console to test if Google was able to detect Structured Data on your site. It will also show you if there are any warning or errors detected.
Use of keywords & LSI keywords
SEO and Content cannot exist independently. Initial days have seen multiple SEOs trying to dupe the algorithm by stuffing their meta tags with keywords. There we keywords in Title, in description, in images, and all over the content. While keyword implementation is important, the issue was with over-using them meaninglessly. Though there were reasons behind it, since most of the SEOs had no idea how to create good content, they used this method to rank higher in SERPs. As Google evolved, they started noticing the effect of keyword stuffing. That was when LSI was introduced.
Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) is a mathematical method used to determine the relationship between terms and concepts in content. The contents of a webpage are crawled by a search engine and the most common words and phrases are collated and identified as the keywords for the page. (Source: SEJ)
So don’t over burden yourself with keywords today, trying to introduce them everywhere. Just maintain natural flow of writing and use words or phrases that has some relationship to your topic. Google does the rest. And, if you get stuck, there is an interesting tool that you can use to get LSI keywords.
In 2015, Google added Mobile as a ranking signal. Though many websites had not taken them seriously at that time, now Responsive Website Design is a must. In a Responsive Website it is the same website that is shown to the user irrespective of the device they use and irrespective of their screen size. Different media queries are introduced in the code to show the same site to all users giving them an optimized browsing experience. Basically, your website looks the same on desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile. Gone are the days of pinch and zoom.
To test if a Website has a Responsive Design, Google has their tool called the Mobile-friendly test. Just enter your website URL and Run Test.
After mobile-first index, Google has announced that Page Speed will be another ranking factor. So 2018 is going to be all about Speed. Since, mobile is taking over the world, majority of your website traffic is going to be from mobile. Check Google PageSpeed Insights to test your website speed on mobile and desktop.
Google has been focusing a lot of security and safe-browsing and webmasters are all focusing on making their site secure. It is high time you migrate your website to HTTPS. Get a security certificate from your hosting provider or you can also use Let’s Encrypt for a Free SSL. According to Mozilla there has been an increase of 21% HTTPS in 2017 with 67% websites encrypted loading.
Now Go and Audit your Website
Remember, these are not the only SEO Audit that you need to do but the one’s the most important and high priority in 2019. The about Checklist will help stay ahead of your competitors and give you an extra boost in the year 2019.