What you need to know about website audits to improve SEO

What you need to know about website audits to improve SEO

Website audits are necessary to ensure your site is getting traffic. Here’s how to perform a complete SEO audit to check your site’s health.

What you need to know about website audits to improve SEO

Website audits are necessary to ensure your site is getting traffic. Here’s how to perform a complete SEO audit to check your site’s health.

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Webflow Team
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Webflow Team
Webflow Team

A comprehensive website audit can boost site performance, improve SEO, and enhance online visibility.

Site performance plays a critical role in your website’s conversion success for two key reasons: First, optimizing your site usability by creating a flawless user experience (UX) increases organic engagement. Second, maximizing your search engine optimization (SEO) will influence how search algorithms assess, rank, and display your website in search result pages. This boosts your visibility and helps users find your website.

SEO and online presence are deeply interconnected, so improving site performance is a bit of a circular challenge. More engagement leads to better SEO and a higher search engine results page (SERP) placement, but higher SEO leads to more visibility and higher user interaction.

If you’re unsure where to focus your efforts, a website audit is a great place to start. Keep reading to learn why audits are beneficial and how best to conduct them.

What’s a website audit?

A website audit is a thorough inspection to identify issues affecting your site performance, crawlability, and user experience, like broken links or confusing site navigation. It also detects problems behind the scenes, like inefficient caching that negatively affects page load times or missing canonical tags that impact your SEO.

Some factors to consider in a website audit include:

  • Site traffic: The volume of visitors engaging with your site within a specific time period
  • Site performance: The speed in which your webpages are downloaded and viewed by visitors, as well as how visitors engage with your content
  • Content quality: The accuracy, comprehensiveness, and relevance of your content within the context of your industry target audience’s needs
  • Keyword targeting: Your content’s inclusion of highly searched terms and phrases relevant to your target viewers
  • Metadata: The use of metadata, like title tags, descriptions, and canonical tags, that helps search engines categorize and rank your content
  • User feedback: Input generated by visitors through engagement such as surveys, customer service interactions, and iterative testing
  • Backlink quality: The value and relevance of content and sources linking to your website from other online locations

Examining these elements lets you assess your website presence and determine improvement areas. By uncovering and addressing weaknesses, a website audit provides actionable direction for streamlining your web initiatives and growing your bottom line.

Types of website audits

A comprehensive site review pulls together various auditing processes to appraise all aspects of your platform that impact performance. Here are a few standard website audits.

SEO audit

SEO is crucial to any marketing strategy because it generates organic traffic, which comes from visitors who land on your page from unpaid search results. High visibility and search rankings promote business, cultivate customer connections, and establish your site’s authority in your industry.

An SEO audit evaluates your website to identify and integrate improvements that increase its rankings in the SERPs. An SEO audit involves these key tasks:

  • On-page SEO audit. Conduct keyword research for your market and competitors using tools like Ahrefs or SEMrush. Then determine how well you’ve optimized your webpages for relevant keywords that align with user search terms. This boosts your chances of ranking higher in search results.
  • Off-page SEO audit. Assess the quality and relevance of your link-building strategies and the backlinks pointing to your site using SEO tools like Ahrefs or Moz. High-quality backlinks from reputable sources boost your website’s authority and search engine rankings.
  • 404 errors. Resolve broken links or page errors so your users don’t land on a 404 error page. This provides a better browsing experience and maintains user engagement.
  • Crawlability and indexability. Crawlability is how well a search engine can discover your website using web crawlers. Web crawlers review your pages to determine your site’s indexability — the ability to add your site to a search engine’s index of possible search results. A search engine needs to be able to crawl your site to index it and rank it in the SERPs. To help web crawlers index your site, you can optimize your sitemap with logical hierarchies, page breadcrumbs, and well-categorized content.

Content audit

A content audit evaluates the quality, relevance, and effectiveness of your website content. Content audits typically assess:

  • Content freshness. Regularly refresh content on high-traffic pages with current trends and keywords to ensure that the content stays relevant and engaging. Consider implementing an ongoing refresh schedule to review and update content so you can enhance the user experience and your site’s SEO performance.
  • Keyword optimization. Just as with an on-page SEO audit, assess keyword usage for SEO and visitor search intent. If you identify gaps or discover new search-term trends, update your content accordingly to boost relevancy and visibility.
  • Engagement metrics. Analyze user engagement with your content by assessing visitors’ time spent on each page and clicks to other pages on the site (page depth). Use these analytics to determine which types of content perform well and which pieces don’t resonate with your audience, and then adapt or redevelop your pages accordingly.
  • Content gaps. Identify areas where your content lacks coverage, relevance, or value compared to your competitors. Then create a content strategy to fill these gaps.
  • Duplicate content. Duplicate and overly similar pages negatively affect your SEO because search engines can’t comprehend how to rank URLs that contain the same content. Review your site for repetition and remove duplicate content to improve your search rankings.

Technical audit

A technical audit scrutinizes the behind-the-scenes elements of your website, including technical infrastructure, server performance, and security measures. Checks may include:

  • Server response times. Evaluate the time it takes for your server to respond to user requests. A well-optimized server ensures your site operates smoothly and responds promptly to user requests. This reduces page load times and boosts user experience.
  • SSL certificate validity. Ensure your SSL certificates are up to date to secure data transmission.
  • Broken links. Identify and rectify broken links on your website. These disrupt users’ navigation and weaken your site’s reliability and credibility.
  • Mobile responsiveness. Check how well your website performs on mobile devices. Optimizing for mobile to make your site available and functional for users on their mobile devices reduces user friction and boosts engagement metrics.
  • Page speeds. Assess whether your site suffers from slow page load speeds and optimize technical aspects like caching to boost content delivery times. This includes considering image and video sizes since large media files slow down your website and frustrate users.

Usability and user experience audit

A usability and UX audit centers on how visitors interact with your website. The goal of this audit is to enhance your site’s user experience by making it as intuitive and pleasant as possible for your audience. Checks to reduce user friction may include:

  • Responsive design. As you would in a technical audit, ensure your website adapts well to various devices and screen sizes. Most designers begin with developing sites for desktop users, but it’s also important to optimize for mobile use.
  • Page load speeds. Assess the time it takes for webpages to load for users. If there are significant delays, visitors may grow frustrated and navigate away to another site.
  • Navigation effort. Evaluate the user-friendliness of your website’s menu structure and overall navigation to ensure visitors have an intuitive experience.
  • User feedback analysis. Generate user input through surveys, polls, and customer service interactions to identify improvement areas. Implementing suggestions and refinements into your website design and content shows you value your customers’ opinions and needs, and it improves site performance and engagement.
  • Customer journey analysis. Monitor your customer’s path as they navigate your site to determine pain points. Then devise a strategy to reduce user friction.
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Website audit tools for better SEO

You’ll need a few essential tools to perform a thorough website audit. Fortunately, many of these tools are readily available and free to use. Here are features and pricing information on some of the most valuable resources available.

Site audit tools

SEO tools like Ahrefs, Semrush, Lumar (formerly Deepcrawl), Screaming Frog, and Moz Pro use crawlers to scan your website and check its general health and performance. They look for factors that might harm your website’s organic performance, like slow page loads and duplicate content, and offer resources like link-building tools, keyword research tools, and more.


  • Ahrefs: Starts at $99 per month with free limited access to Ahrefs Webmaster Tools
  • Semrush: Free with paid enhanced versions available
  • Moz Pro: Starts at $99 per month with a free 30-day trial available
  • Screaming Frog: Free with paid enhanced versions available
  • Lumar: Pricing is available upon request

Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a tool that checks your site’s indexing status and how it appears on SERPs. It offers performance reports, your site’s indexing status, and insights into core web vitals like interactivity and loading performance. Use Google Search Console to perform an SEO audit and determine if you’re hitting target keywords. Remember to use structured data, which maintains a standardized format, to help Google crawl your site.

Pricing: Free

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a digital marketing tool that gathers website information and provides insights on performance, SEO, visitor retention, and more. This tool translates complex datasets into clear metrics, letting you gauge user interactions and understand traffic patterns.

Google Analytics provides essential data for an SEO audit, like:

  • Organic traffic: The total number of visitors from organic searches
  • Bounce rates: The percentage of visitors who only view one page before clicking away
  • Average session duration: The average amount of time visitors spend on the site
  • Percentage of new sessions: The percentage of visits from first-time visitors

Pricing: Free

Google PageSpeed Insights

Google PageSpeed Insights is a tool that works in tandem with the Chrome User Experience Report. It checks your website’s loading time for desktop and mobile devices and generates real-time reports on overall page speed. These evaluations help identify problems that slow down a site’s performance so you can adjust content, layout, or other hidden hindrances accordingly and improve page load times.

Pricing: Free

How to conduct a website audit: 10 elements to review

Once you have the right tools, it’s time to conduct a website audit. Here’s a 10-step checklist of things to look at during your audit.

1. Manual actions

A manual action is when someone at Google manually checks your website to determine if it meets the required guidelines. If your site doesn’t meet these criteria, it won’t be eligible for search engine rankings.

Visit the Manual Actions report in Google Search Console to examine manual activity.

2. Indexation

Google’s search engine indexes billions of webpages a day. If Google doesn’t crawl and index your pages, the site won’t just rank poorly — it’ll be absent from search results entirely. For searchers to find your website, it must stand out among the masses in this index.

Look for “no index page” warnings in your site auditing tool, which prohibit Google from indexing pages. These can result from issues like duplicate content, slow load speeds, and security risks. If you find a warning on a page you want to rank, modify your meta description or other relevant metadata.

Next, study the SEO report’s total indexable URLs. If this is unusually high, your website may have duplicate or similar pages. Duplicate content harms your SEO because Google can’t determine which page should rank higher in search results. If you have a blog with 300 articles but see 1,000 indexable URLs, Google may have indexed multiple article versions.

To fix this, determine the canonical page and implement 301 redirects. These are HTTP status codes used to correct indexed duplicate content. They alert search engines when a page moves to a new location, merging multiple page rankings into one and prompting search engines to remove duplicate URLs from their indices. This process focuses search engine authority on one version of content and clarifies which page should rank higher in search results.

3. Indexed URLs

Google may index your site under various URLs, such as:


These variations mean little to website visitors. However, they appear as different iterations of the same website to a search engine’s algorithm. It’s crucial to ensure Google indexes only one version of your website so site performance metrics are accurate and comprehensive.

To achieve this, enter “site:search” on Google and examine the number of indexed URLs. If you see duplicates, add 301 redirects and use Google Search Console’s Removals tool to remove certain websites from results pages.

4. Organic traffic

Organic traffic refers to interactions with users who land on your site through unpaid search engine results (as opposed to sponsored content). High organic traffic indicates you’re bringing in and engaging users with targeted interests, which grows your site’s credibility. Google often modifies its search algorithm through routine updates, which usually focus on limiting spam, vetting content quality, and addressing other SEO concerns.

Due to the algorithm’s ever-changing nature, spotting dips in organic traffic performance is essential to maintaining and growing visibility. To evaluate traffic, Google Search Console offers a free analysis tool. Navigate to the Search Results Report and select a period from the dropdown menu.

5. Site speed

Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool includes a page experience factor that considers both page load speeds and UX. If your site has long loading times, visitors may become frustrated and navigate away from your page to seek a better experience from competitors.

Go to the Google PageSpeed Insights Site Audit dashboard. There, you’ll find the Site Performance Report. This report will highlight existing issues and offer advice for improving your website’s performance, such as compressing design elements or optimizing images to boost loading speeds.

6. Mobile optimization

In 2023, mobile devices generated over half of all global website traffic. Google incorporated mobile indexing in 2019, and it’s been a crucial ranking criterion for content ever since. Because so many users are searching from phones or other mobile devices, considering and optimizing mobile UX supports your site’s overall performance.

To check your website’s mobile friendliness, use Google Lighthouse to run an audit for performance, accessibility, SEO, and progressive web apps (PWA). After the audit, Lighthouse will generate a report and notify you of URL issues compromising your site’s usability on mobile devices. Creating responsive designs ensures that users on any device have a cohesive viewing experience.

7. Broken links

Broken links disrupt the user experience because they don’t redirect to other pages, so it’s important to find, report, and repair them using your preferred site audit tool.

Google Search Console has an indexing option in its navigation menu. There, you’ll see a list of 404 error pages that indicate broken links. Rectify any errors by removing the links or setting up appropriate 301 redirects, then request confirmation from Google to validate and implement the solutions.

8. On-page elements

Your website’s indexed pages must include an H1 (header) tag, a title tag, and a meta description. These fundamental on-page metadata elements help Google grasp a page’s content to match it to search queries and increase clicks and traffic to your website.

Write compelling title tags and meta descriptions containing relevant keywords for each webpage. Google often displays these in the SERP, so ensure they stand out with high-quality, effective writing.

9. Content value

Your site’s content should be comprehensive, answer users’ specific questions, and meet SEO standards. If a webpage has a content gap, like missing crucial information, it delivers less value and is unlikely to rank higher than more thorough competitors. These gaps might include:

  • Keywords
  • Instructions
  • Images

For example, a page providing instructions for how to tie a friendship bracelet that’s missing instructional images and essential keywords will rank poorly.

If your content doesn’t fulfill its purpose, searchers will likely click away from the page and seek information elsewhere. When checking for gaps, examine SERP rankings, traffic, and click-through rates. Low rankings, traffic, and visitor retention suggest that people aren’t getting what they want from your content.

Your site audit tool should contain a content gap report or equivalent that indicates the webpages outranking yours with similar content. Here you can find primary and secondary keywords that affect ranking and incorporate them into your content to drive the webpage higher on the SERP.

A website audit tool may also check your page authority, which is a score that predicts how well a page will rank on SERPs. To improve your score, seek external links from high-authority pages that outrank yours. Google recognizes the value of these pages, so the links lend credibility to your content quality.

10. Outdated content

Google’s search engine algorithm constantly receives updates, but it’s not the only dynamic factor influencing SEO. Pages with high rankings on Google three years ago may not have the same performance now because the content is outdated.

When content quality declines, page rankings drop off. Resolve this by frequently updating content to keep it high-quality, relevant, and up to date. But be sure to update publishing dates on new content and confirm that it’s crawled — otherwise, search engines won’t be aware of your refreshed content, rendering this work ineffective. You can ask Google to recrawl your page using the URL Inspection Tool.

Optimize your site with Webflow

Maintaining a successful website is a constant process, and website audits aren’t a one-time task. To maintain your site performance and match the latest user needs and SEO trends, make site audits a part of your regular workflow.

Learn more about SEO best practices to stand out from your competition and stay on top of your game. See how Webflow helps you complete your audit and optimize your website to increase your bottom line.

Unleash your creativity on the web

Use Webflow's visual development platform to build completely custom, production-ready websites — or high-fidelity prototypes — without writing a line of code.

Get started for free
Unleash your creativity on the web

Use Webflow's visual development platform to build completely custom, production-ready websites — or high-fidelity prototypes — without writing a line of code.

Get started for free
Get started for free
Last Updated
April 15, 2024
Unleash your creativity on the web

Use Webflow's visual development platform to build completely custom, production-ready websites — or high-fidelity prototypes — without writing a line of code.

Get started for free
Get started for free