This last week, a colleague of mine had mentioned that he had a client that seemed to be stuck in rankings and he wanted an SEO audit of the site to see if there were any issues.
Over the years, search engines have evolved to the point that old site audit tools aren't really helpful anymore. In fact, it's been 8 years since I really irritated search agencies and consultants by saying SEO was dead. While the article was clickbait, I stand by the premise. Search engines are truly behavior engines, not just crawlers that scan the bits and bytes of your site.
Search engine visibility is dependent on four key dimensions:
- Your content – how well you organize, present, and enhance your content and optimize your content management system for search engines to crawl and identify what your site is about.
- Your authority – how well your domain or business is promoted on other relevant sites that search engines are able to digest and recognize your credibility and authority from.
- Your competitors – you're only going to rank as well as your competition allows you to, so understanding what competitors are doing that keeps them ranking higher is critical to your success.
- Your visitors – search engine results are largely tailored to your visitor's behavior. So, you need to provide a compelling, engaging overall strategy to get shared, promoted, and for visitors to keep being presented with you in their results. This may be dependent on location, device, seasonality, etc. Optimizing for human behavior will absolutely result in greater search visibility.
As you can see, this means that you've got to do a ton of research for an audit… from onsite coding and performance to competitive research, to trending analysis, to recording and reviewing on-page visitor behavior.
When most search experts perform an SEO audit, they rarely encompass all of these aspects into their overall audit. Most are just speaking to doing a basic technical SEO audit for onsite issues.
An Audit Is Instantaneous, SEO Is Not
When I describe SEO to a client, I often share the analogy of a ship crossing the ocean. While the ship may be in perfect operating condition and heading the right direction, the problem is that there are other ships that may be faster and better… and the waves and winds of the algorithms could favor them.
An SEO audit takes a snapshot in time to show you how you are performing, how you are performing against competitors, and how you are performing with regard to the search engine algorithms. For audits to work, you need to continuously run and monitor the performance of your domain… not just think it's a set it and forget it approach.
SE Ranking Website Audit
One tool out there that will do this quick check for you is SE Rankings's Audit Tool. It's a comprehensive auditing tool that can be scheduled and provide you scheduled reports to help you optimize and improve your search engine visibility and ranking.
The SE Ranking Audit evaluates against all key search engine ranking parameters:
- Technical Errors – Make sure your canonical and hreflang tags are set up correctly, check redirect settings, and find duplicate pages. On top of that, analyze pages with 3xx, 4xx, and 5xx status codes, as well as those blocked by robots.txt or marked with the noindex tag.
- Meta Tags and Headers – Find pages with missing or duplicate meta tags. Configuring the optimal title and description tag length will ultimately allow you to identify tags that are too long or too short.
- Website Loading Speed – Check how quickly a website loads up on mobile devices and Internet browsers and, if it’s taking too long, get Google recommendations on how to optimize it.
- Image Analysis – Scan every image on a website and see if any are missing an alt tag or have the 404 error. Plus, find out if any images are too large and, as a result, slow down the site’s loading speed.
- Internal Links – Find out how many internal links there are on a website, their source, and destination pages, as well as whether or not they contain the nofollow tag. Knowing how internal links are spread out across the site will help you improve it.
The tool doesn't simply crawl your site, it also incorporates both analytics and Google Search console data into the overall audit to provide you with a clear report of your site, how well it's ranking on the keywords you wish to rank on, as well as how you're performing against your competitors.
SE Ranking's platform is comprehensive and allows website owners to control every aspect of the crawl as well as Whitelabel the reports if you're an SEO consultant or agency:
- Automated scheduled reports and rechecks allow you to keep your website under constant review.
- SE Rankings's bot can disregard directives from robots.txt, follow URL settings, or just follow your custom rules.
- Customize your website audit report: add a logo, write comments, and make it yours as much as possible.
- You are able to define what should be treated as an error.
Download a sample PDF report:
Alexa has shared this infographic, A Technical SEO Audit Guide for Beginners, that points to 21 issues in 10 categories – all of which you'll find in the SEO Ranking Audit tool:
Disclosure: I'm using my SE Ranking affiliate link in this article.