18 High-Level SEO Audit Areas
A good SEO strategy includes knowing how to build a website into folders and files, the types of content to create, the personas of potential users, learning from performance to optimize for growth, and the biggest one, building a product that resonates with real users.
The first step in being able to understand what is presently working, and where there might be issues, is conducting an SEO audit.
Yes, there are tools like Moz, SEMrush, Conductor, Clarity and Searchmetrics to name a few. However, these are software’s. They are not humans. They are great for gaging progress, but they don’t have the human intellect to clarify the why or why not behind the metrics.
An audit should be a detailed, careful look at your entire SEO efforts from an experienced practitioner. The more experience the person or team conducting the audit, the more likely they will be able to zero in on what’s wrong and understand how and where to dive deeper.
There are a number of types of SEO audits: Competitive Audits - will examine competitors’ SEO strategies; Technical Audits - digs into the technical architecture of your site; Backlink Audits - look at a website’s backlink portfolio, and General SEO Audits – which look at 18 different areas.
18 High-Level Audit Areas
Penalty Analysis – Are there any unexplained drop-offs in metrics that align with either Google manual actions or known algorithmic updates?
URL Structure – Do the URLs have a nice clean and clear structure for both the users and search engines to determine what contained on each page?
Duplicate Content/Canonical Usage – Duplicate content issues will require Google to determine which URL to index, which may not be the desired URL. This is where canonical can help determine the preferred URL and improper usage of canonicals can be extremely detrimental to a site. This is also known as duplicate content penalty. But is it not a penalty, this is actually how search indexation is designed to work.
Internal Links – Are they in good working order for proper crawling and indexation? This is a critical step because internal links can be more important than external links.
Backlinks – Which sites link to our site and are they helping or hurting?
Indexation – Is the site properly index for search?
Script Usage – What scripts are being used and what are the implications?
Keyword Usage – What keywords are being used and what gaps exist?
On-Page SEO – What title tags (titles, descriptions, H1, H2, etc.) are being used?
Content Quality – What content is being used and of what quality?
Robots.txt – How effective are the directions to search engines on what pages of the site can crawled?
Sitemaps – How effective are the current XML and HTML sitemaps?
Site Speed – How fast do pages and the site load on both desktop and mobile? Site speed is factored into Google Core Vitals.
Expired Content – Are any content or product being shown to search engines and users who are no longer relevant?
Spam – Is there any?
Schema Markup – Where are the current markup and the available markup to help us find new opportunities for growth?
Mobile vs. Desktop - How will mobile search experiences interact with the site?
International – How do all the areas above function in different countries?
When deciding what to fix, prioritize based on impact. Think of an SEO audit as a health checkup to generate a baseline of how a site measures up against SEO best practices. And remember, the most important takeaway is the “so what”.
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