SEO audit checklist to improve search ranking of your website
Why do some websites generate a lot of traffic while others, despite having great content, don't? The answer lies in the fact that Google(1) has a list of over 200 factors for ranking websites, and that an SEO audit can help you make sense of it.
The SEO audit is done to assess a website, or, in other words, to understand the roadblocks to the traffic that can potentially come to your website. SEO audit helps you identify the weak SEO factors in your website and point out what is stopping Google from giving your website a better ranking.
When your website has errors, technical glitches, or does not follow the SEO requirements, you will not only attract less traffic, but whoever does visit your site could leave sooner due to the poor website experience. While you can check many areas of the audit yourself, there are some factors that would require technical expertise.
Getting on with it, here is a list of must-check areas in an SEO audit
1. Site Crawling and Site Indexing
The first thing you could check is if search engines can easily crawl your website. You can check which pages on your website are allowed to be crawled and which are not by looking into the robots.txt file. This is a publicly available file that can be accessed by typing- yourwebsite.com/robots.txt. The website's indexability comes next. It is important that the search engine is able to index each page that you want to show to your audiences. Try typing site:domain (e.g., site:https://example.com) in the Google search field, and you will get the complete list of indexed pages. Further, you could use tools such as Screaming Frog to check for broken links to pages or pages that have not been indexed at all.
2. Core Web Vitals
This is an important report to check, as it indicates metrics essential for improving user engagement. These include Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)—indicating page loading speed; Cumulative Layout Shift—referring to the loading of page layout; and First Input Delay—referring to the time taken for the first interaction to take place on the page. Note that a slow-loading page could lead to a high bounce rate, something that could benefit your competitors. If you are using Google Page Speed Insights, a performance score of 90 or above is good, 50–90 needs improvements, and below 50 is poor.
3. User Experience
A continuation of the above point is the user experience. Google now considers the Core Web Vitals when gauging the user experience provided by the website. Additionally, things like content organization, page design, mobile responsiveness, etc. can also be optimized for a better experience.
4. On-Page SEO
This is everything that is happening on the pages. It includes meta descriptions for pages, alt text for images, internal linking of related content within the website, and use of appropriate keywords in the title and the main content. When these elements are done right, Google values them more and can rank your website better. Ahrefs is a comprehensive and trusted tool for generating reports on these factors.
More than half of the world's population (68.6%) uses mobile phones(2), which includes your customers too. So most likely, your customers are searching for information on their mobile devices while on the go. A simple tool like the Google Mobile-Friendly Test can help you find out if your website is mobile-friendly or not.
6. Backlink Profile
Backlinks are good for search engine ranking, but bad backlinks are equally detrimental. Tools such as SEMrush’s Backlink Audit help identify the toxic links that are pulling down your ranking and suggest opportunities for building credible backlinks.
Useful SEO Audit Tools
Here is a list of tools that are super handy for doing an SEO audit yourself: Google Page Speed Insights, Google Search Console, Google Analytics, SEMrush, Ahrefs, Screaming Frog, GTmetrix, etc.
Once you have a thorough understanding of how your website is performing in terms of driving traffic and user experience, you can take the next step of rectification. The good news is that the tools mentioned above will also walk you through the steps
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