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Everything you need to know about SEO audits

Everything you need to know about SEO audits

An SEO audit is necessary to ensure your website earns clicks. Here’s how to perform a complete SEO audit to check your site’s health.

Everything you need to know about SEO audits

An SEO audit is necessary to ensure your website earns clicks. Here’s how to perform a complete SEO audit to check your site’s health.

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Webflow Team

SEO audits ensure your website is ready to perform.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial for any marketing strategy. It's a valuable tactic for generating organic traffic to a site to promote business, cultivate connections with customers, and establish authority as a leader in any industry.

SEO relies on many elements, and how they interact with your website can make or break its performance. Improving your SEO strategy positively affects your website's impact by increasing traffic and providing more opportunities to convert visitors into paying customers.

To ensure your website’s SEO is top-notch, you must regularly conduct SEO audits.

What is an SEO audit?

An SEO audit evaluates a website's performance to determine how it ranks in search engine results. The process involves identifying errors within a website and creating a plan to address them.

Think of an SEO audit as a routine health check for your website — you should perform one regularly to ensure your site is functioning smoothly. A site that’s buggy, slow, or difficult to use doesn’t just turn away visitors, it also discourages search engines from ranking the content high on a search engine results page (SERP).

There's no one-size-fits-all approach when performing an SEO audit, the process differs from website to website. However, there are a few fundamental checks across most websites:

  • On-page SEO audit (keyword optimization)
  • Off-page SEO audit (backlinks)
  • Technical problems (server issues)
  • User experience disruptions
  • Duplicate content
  • Security vulnerabilities
  • 404 errors
  • Page loading speeds
  • Image/video size and loading speeds

SEO audit tools

You’ll need a few essential tools to perform a thorough SEO audit. Fortunately, most of these tools are readily available and free to download.

Site audit tools

SEO software like Ahrefs, Semrush, and Moz Pro use "crawlers" to scan your website and check its general health and performance levels. They look for factors that might harm your website's organic performance, such as slow page loads and duplicate content, and come with additional resources such as link-building tools, keyword research tools, and more.

Any dedicated on-page SEO audit tool will do the job, but we recommend testing tools through a free trial before purchasing one that best suits your needs.

Pricing:

  • Ahrefs: starts at $99 per month, free limited access to Ahrefs Webmaster Tools
  • Semrush: starts at $119.95 per month, free 7-day trial available
  • Moz Pro: starts at $99 per month, free 30-day trial available

Google Search Console

Google Search Console (previously known as Webmasters) is a tool that checks your site's indexing status and how it appears on SERPs. Indexing refers to a process where Google crawls and analyzes your website's content before adding it to the Google index. Your site must be indexed in order to appear on Google SERPs — it provides the platform’s ranking systems with the necessary input to determine how high the site appears in the results.

Google Search Console is used for purposes such as checking technical SEO audits, target keywords, and organic search results.

Pricing: Free

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a digital marketing tool that gathers website information and provides insights on its performance, SEO, visitor retention, and more. It presents data in straightforward metrics so you can measure consumer behavior and website traffic.

Google Analytics provides data essential to an SEO audit such as:

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

Pricing: Free

Google PageSpeed Insights

Google PageSpeed Insights checks your website's loading time for desktop and mobile devices. This tool helps identify problems that slow down a site's performance so you can improve page load times.

Pricing: Free

How to conduct an SEO audit

Once you have the tools, it’s time to conduct an SEO audit. We’ve compiled a list of 10 vital areas that could inhibit your website’s SEO performance if left unchecked.

Here’s how to do a website audit:

1. Check manual actions

A manual action occurs when someone at Google manually checks your website to determine if it meets the required guidelines. If not, specific pages — or your entire website — won't be eligible for search engine rankings.

Visit the “Manual actions report” in Google Search Console to examine manual activity.

2. Check indexation 

Google's search engine index has trillions of web pages in its database. If you want searchers to find your website, it must be included in this index. 

To do this, look for "Noindex page" warnings in your site auditing tool — Google won't index pages with a Noindex warning. If you find a warning on a page where you want to rank, modify the meta description (the short text describing the page’s content for the SERP).

Next, study the SEO report's total indexable URLs. If this appears to be unusually high, your website may have duplicate or similar pages. Duplicate pages can harm your SEO because Google cannot determine which should rank higher in search results. If you have a blog with 300 articles but see 1,000 indexable URLs, Google may have included duplicate article URLs in other languages.

To fix this, you can turn to 301 redirects. These are a type of HTTP status code used to correct indexed duplicate content. They consolidate link authority into a single page so that search engines delete duplicate URLs from indexing.

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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

3. Check your indexed URLs

Your site could be indexed under various URLs, such as:

  • http://www.yourwebsitename.com
  • http://yourwebsitename.com
  • https://www.yourwebsitename.com
  • https://yourwebsitename.com

These variations don't mean much 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.

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

4. Check organic traffic

Google often modifies its search algorithm through routine updates. These updates usually focus on limiting spam, vetting content quality, and other SEO concerns. Due to the algorithm’s ever-changing nature, looking for dips in performance is essential to ensure you maintain and grow organic traffic.

Google Search Console offers a free analysis tool to check traffic. Go to "Search Results Report" and select a period from the drop-down menu.

5. Check your site’s speed

Google released its PageSpeeds Insights tool in 2018. In 2021, they updated this to include a page experience factor that considers both page load speeds and user experience (UX).

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. Check if your site is mobile-friendly

In 2022, more than half of all global website traffic came from mobile phones. Google incorporated mobile indexing in 2019, and it's been a crucial ranking criterion for content ever since. 

To check your website's mobile friendliness, go to Google Search Console and look for the "Mobile Usability Report." This report will notify you of URL issues compromising your site's usability on mobile devices. Creating responsive designs will ensure that users on any device have a more cohesive viewing experience. 

7. Check for broken links

Broken links disrupt the user experience because they do not redirect to other pages. To find broken links, use your preferred site audit tool to search for them.

Once you find these links, report or repair them. Google Search Console has a "Coverage" option in its navigation menu. There, you can see a list of 404 error pages that indicate broken links. Rectify any errors by either removing the links or setting up appropriate 301 redirects, then request confirmation from Google to validate the fixes and have them go live.

8. Check 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 elements help Google grasp a page's content to match it to search queries and increase clicks and traffic to your website.

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

9. Check your content

If a web page has a content gap, such as missing crucial information, it’s unlikely to rank higher than competitors with more complete content. Crucial information 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 are likely to click away from your page and seek information elsewhere. When checking your content for gaps, begin by examining SERP rankings, traffic, and click-through rates. Low rankings, traffic, and visitor retention suggest that people aren’t getting what they are searching for from your content. 

Your site audit tool should contain a "content gap report" or equivalent that indicates the web pages 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 web page higher on the SERP.

An SEO audit tool may also check your page authority, a score that predicts how well a page will rank on SERPs. To improve your score, you can seek external links from high-authority pages that outrank your content. Google recognizes the value of these pages, so the links act as a “vote of confidence” in the quality of your content.

10. Check for 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 begins to decline in quality, page rankings will 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 see 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.

Prepare your SEO strategy

Maintaining a successful website is tweaking your SEO strategy to match Google’s algorithm and current trends. It’s worth learning the best SEO practices to stand out from the competition and stay on top of your game. SEO is an ever-evolving routine that requires constant tinkering and attention to be the most effective.

At Webflow, we have all the free tools and resources you need to build better websites. Keep your website relevant with our SEO resources and watch your business grow.

Last Updated
December 28, 2022
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