If you’ve ever worked with an SEO consultant, or if you read articles about SEO online, you’ve likely encountered someone giving you the advice to run an “SEO audit.” It’s something of a generic term, so different people using it may define it in different ways. To one person, an SEO audit could constitute nothing more than a quick check-up to see how you’re ranking for various keyword terms. To another, an SEO audit could be an intensive, weeks-long process that involves every facet of the SEO process.
As a simple start, we can categorize SEO audit approaches into two broad groups: tactics designed for an SEO content audit and tactics designed for a technical SEO audit. If you’re just getting started, or if you’re struggling to achieve growth and you need better insights, you’ll need to incorporate tactics from both.
Let’s start with the SEO content audit side of things. Here, your goal will be analyzing the type, volume, and effectiveness of the content you produce for SEO. At minimum, you’ll need to check for:
- Content posting schedule and volume. First and foremost, you’ll need to see how much content you’re posting (and when you’re posting it). How many articles per week are you publishing? How many words, on average, do those articles include? Are you consistent, like publishing every Thursday, or does your content tend to be published sporadically?
- Content keyword optimization and keyword mix. This is also a good opportunity to look at the keywords and phrases you’re using, and how they’re incorporated into your content. Ideally, you’ll have a handful of keyword “groups” and lots of keyword variants and long-tail phrases worked into your articles. Are all your articles optimized for something relevant?
- Duplicate content and other technical issues. There’s some overlap with technical SEO auditing here, but pay attention to any duplicate content you have; at best, duplicate content will result in confusion over which page will rank in Google, and at worst, your rankings could actively decline.
- Onsite content performance metrics. Check to see how your content is performing. Metrics like organic traffic and referral traffic can tell you how much attention a post is getting, while metrics like times spent on page and bounce rate can tell you whether readers are enjoying your content.
- Backlinks and traffic sources. It’s also a good idea to evaluate how many backlinks each piece of content is getting, and what mix of traffic sources they’re receiving. Understanding these metrics can help you develop more strategically targeted content in the future.
Technical SEO Audit
In a technical SEO audit, you’ll be looking more closely at the technical elements of your SEO strategy, and how you can improve them in the future. These are some of the most common metrics to analyze and features to explore:
- Keyword rankings. Most SEO professionals see keyword rankings as the be-all-end-all of any SEO campaign. While this isn’t exactly the case, keyword rankings are important. Seeing how you rank for various terms and phrases related to your brand can help you evaluate your progress and determine new directions to try in the future.
- Competitive analysis. While you’re at it, see where your top competitors are ranking. There may be key opportunities to exploit.
- Backlink profile analysis. Where are you getting your backlinks? How powerful are they? How many are there, and how often are you getting them? These questions are key for building your domain-level and page-level authority. A backlink profile analysis tool can help you evaluate this portion of your audit.
- Page loading speed. Faster-loading sites tend to rank higher than their slower counterparts. Take the time to analyze how fast (and how completely) your pages are loading, then work to improve that speed.
- Mobile optimization. Mobile-friendly sites have a tendency to rank higher as well. You can use Google’s mobile friendliness checker to start, but make sure to test your site on an actual mobile device as well.
- Redirects and 404s. Are there any 404 errors on your site? Do you have any 301 redirects or other types of redirects to compensate for them? Are they working the way you intended?
- Indexation and site architecture. Technical SEO audits also require you to look at the architecture of your site, ensuring it’s designed efficiently. Are all these pages being indexed properly by Google?
Obviously, there’s some degree of overlap between these two types of SEO audits, and if you want to better understand and improve your SEO strategy overall, you’ll need to employ tactics from both. Make sure to run a comprehensive SEO audit before you begin any new SEO strategy, and regularly throughout your campaign to make sure it’s running smoothly.