We love a thorough SEO audit! Lots and lots of beautiful, useful data just waiting to be uncovered. Here’s a list of the items we check during an SEO audit. Not all items will apply to every single audit, and there may be additional things examined that aren’t in this list.
These items mostly apply to all sites, whether you’re an ecommerce store, a SaaS app, or a large blog. The concepts are the same. Local business are similar, but just need to include the local SEO audit items as well.
What We Check in an SEO Audit
SEO audits are broken down into the 3 primary phases of SEO: on-page, off-page, and technical.
On-Page SEO Audit Items
- Keywords. We always try to have a handful of keywords in mind when starting my review of a website. That gives us a handy measuring stick to see how optimized pages are for individual keywords. Keyword optimization isn’t what it used to be since we’re living in a post-Panda world, but it’s still important.
- Page Titles and Meta Descriptions. The title and meta description together form the search result that shows up in the search results page. It’s important that these are optimized for your primary keywords for each page. They should also be written so that a searcher actually wants to click on your result.
- URL’s. Are your url’s too long? Do they include a keyword? We check to make sure everything looks exactly as it should.
- On-Page Keyword Usage. Are you using your keyword effectively on the page? Are you trying to optimize for too many keywords? Does anything look spammy or unnatural?
- Image Optimization. Image alt tags are still a great place to put keywords that you’re looking to rank for. Are you using them? If so, are you getting the most out of them? Are you using a human-readable image file name, and does it include a keyword?
- Page Headings. The heading tags (<h1>, <h2>, and so on) in your page announce to search engines that these are important sections of your site, thus it’s crucial that you A) use h tags and B) use them effectively with your keywords.
- Links. Are you linking to other pages, either internally or externally? Sites that only link internally are generally considered spammier than sites with more natural link profiles that link out to external authority sites.
- Crawl Errors. Are there any broken links on the site? Are there any 4XX errors? Do you need to create any 301 redirects?
- Duplicate Content. Do you have pages with substantially identical content? Is the duplicate content benign, or spammy in nature?
- Head Tags. Are you using canonicalization, hreflang, and other tags properly?
Off-Page SEO Audit Items
- Link Profile. What kind of backlinks do you have coming into your site? What links are of high value? Are there any spammy links that could be hurting you?
- Domain Authority. How much trust and authority does your site have?
Technical SEO Audit Items
- Indexing. Is your site being indexed by Google? If so, is it being indexed regularly? Are the majority of your pages being indexed?
- Sitemap. Do you have an XML sitemap being generated? Is it listed properly in Google Search Console? Does the sitemap include all of your relevant pages?
- Site Speed. Speed is an increasingly important SEO ranking factor as the mobile web takes over. How long is it taking your site to load? Are there any quick fixes that can reduce your page load times?
- robots.txt. Do you have a robots.txt file? If so, is it working as intended?
- Site Architecture. One of the more important aspects of SEO that often gets overlooked. Is your site organized in a way so that it can be crawled and indexed well? How many clicks are required to get from your home page to your deepest level of content?
If you’re a local business or focus on a specific geographic region, then we will also review your Local SEO. A local SEO audit has a larger set of things to check, some of which are:
- Location page. Do you have a page dedicated to each business location, or a contact us page for a single location business?
- Schema. Schema markup tells search engines exactly what your name, address, phone number, etc. are so you don’t have to rely on them figuring it out.
- Reviews. Local companies thrive on customer review. I’ll make sure that you’re getting the most out of your reviews.
- Name, Address, Phone Number (NAP). Are your NAP citations consistent across the web? Items like changing the name of your business, or moving locations, can have a long-lasting negative effect on SEO.
- Penalties. If you think you are being penalized then we can check on that as well. It’s not always obvious that a site is being penalized, it could be some other reason that you aren’t showing for a particular search term.
What’s Included in the Audit Report?
The report that I send you will be organized into sections. You will see Action Items that I recommend be changed immediately. You will also see Recommendations, which are things that I think should be done on your site, but may not be immediately necessary.
I also make a point to send along any corollary data. So, for instance, if the audit discovers that you have 38 page not found (404) errors on your site then I’ll make sure you have that list of pages so you can easily track down and correct them.
You can review some sample SEO audits to get a better feel for what you’ll receive.