We put together this handy website audit checklist so you can make sure that your website is topnotch and if not make improvements on items that you have missed over time. It’s actually not as difficult as you might think and it can be done very quickly.
Here’s how to perform a website audit checklist to make sure your website is optimized to rank number 1 on the major search engines.
When improving your content, you need to keep in mind the following:
- Analyse your keywords and cluster those with similar topics. The cluster topic will be your page rather than creating individual pages for each keyword.
- Assess the ranking for each cluster keyword and determine what kind and format your content needs to be. Such features to consider are how media loaded your content will be, how content will be formatted and the word count.
- Aim for uniqueness in your topics and writing.
Avoid thin content
Google addressed this issue in the 2011 update called Panda. This algorithm penalized low-quality web pages.
- Avoid making content for highly specific keywords. Do not create separate pages for variations of keywords just to rank high in all keywords.
- Do not make a geo-page for each city or region with pretty much the same content.
Moz provides a google example of how you should alter your page to make it comprehensive with keyword variations:
no duplicate content
This refers to content between domains or between multiple pages in the same domain. Use the canonical tag in your HTML markup to point to the original version of your content. As much as you can content should be unique and not duplicated.
Although Google does not penalize you for duplicate content, it can filter out duplicate web pages. It will choose only the original page leaving your pages unindexed.
refrain from Cloaking
Never hide any content behind your HTML code that is not visible to users. Google will not rank your website if you perform cloaking. The guideline is to always show the same content to the engine’s crawler as you would show the human user.
Do not Overload Keywords
Overuse of keywords inside your content will not give any value. Google recognises the user experience when ranking your web pages. Simply using the keyword for a number of times in your content will get you nowhere.
Above is an example used by Google to indicate how content can stuff certain keywords for the sake of being ranked higher.
Page Meta Tags
Meta tags provide information to the crawler about the webpage in their HTML markup. This information is known as metadata and it is not visible to users.
Search engines use this metadata to understand better the structure and semantics of the webpage. This information is used in their ranking algorithms and to use them to display information as featured snippets.
There are a lot of metatags that you can use to make your page more descriptive. But the following are the must-haves:
- Meta content type – this tag will affect the way your page is rendered in different browsers.
- Title – Have a unique title on every page. This recommended length is 50-60 characters. More than this will not be displayed properly.
- Meta description – Use this to describe your page to search engines and users in search results. It will not affect your ranking but can affect the click-through rate of users. Limit it to 140 characters. The description must catch your user’s attention.
Header HTML tags are used to create different formatting for headings. They are used to clarify the topic and subtopics that the author is trying to articulate. Apart from giving the user a better understanding of what the page is about, it also helps search engines rank your page better.
The WWW Consortium defines headers starting from level 1 to 6. H1 is the most important. In fact, it is commonly used as the title.
Here are the reasons why you should use headers in your content:
- They provide keyword placement possibilities.
- Present the possibility of a featured snippet, review stars and decorated results in Google.
- Enhance the user experience.
- Google uses headers to understand the structure of the document when crawling.
And here are tips on how you should use your headers:
- Use H2 tag the most with every 200-500 words.
- Use H tags when updating content to make it easier for search engines to notice what’s new.
- Maintain header hierarchy.
- Use headers to spark the readers interest rather than giving it all away in the header.
When moving or renaming pages, it is easy to end up with 404 Not Found errors. This is bad practice and should be avoided.
Make sure to update all your links. In the sections below you can see the best tools that can help with finding broken links.
If this cannot be done, you need to redirect the link to a new location. However, be careful to only have 3 or fewer redirects. Google recommends avoiding chaining redirects.
It is essential to build a solid backlink profile. This means ensuring that your backlinks are not spammy and of high authority. Otherwise, this could affect your ranking in SERP over time.
You can perform a backlink audit in a matter of minutes by using audit tools like Ahrefs and Screaming Frog. Whatever you decide to choose, there are some steps that you need to take to perform a proper checkup:
- Check how your backlink profile performs to your competitors – Check for the number of backlinks compared to the number of referring domains. Match this value to your competitors.
- Compare your acquisition rate to your competitors – study the rate of how your competitors are acquiring links compared to yours.
- Identify link spikes (SEO attacks) – watch for short-lived spikes in traffic from referring domains. This may indicate an SEO attack. It is important to disavow these links.
- Identify heavy traffic from certain country code domains – traffic should have an even distribution unless targeting a specific region
Mobile Usability Issues
With the majority of users using mobile devices to search the web, it is crucial that your website can be viewed properly. Mobile Usability report from Search Console will report the pages that are not mobile-friendly.
Mobile usability report will show errors such as text being too small, or content wider than the screen and more. After fixing the errors, Google will recrawl your fixed pages if you click on Validate Fix.
Page Content Size
According to Forbes, anything less than 300 words is considered thin content (gives no value). The top results in Google are dominated by articles of 2000 words or more.
Longer content produces higher rankings because it receives more shares and backlinks. Why? They provide more information and seem to be more valuable or applicable.
According to Moz and Buzz Sumo, 85% of a million websites analyzed showed to be of 1000 words or less. Therefore, in light of this information, writing anything over 1000 words should give you a better ranking.
Site Performance issues
Another important thing to check is the performance of your website. PageSpeed Insights is a detailed tool by Google which gives a detailed overview of any latency issues. Here is a list of things it will show you:
- Field data – performs a Core Vitals assessment. For more information on how to do this, see this. Core vitals assessment takes care of measuring the page speed, visual stability and responsiveness.
- Lab Data – shows you the average time it takes to load pages. It indicates if the value has increased or decreased from previously.
- Opportunities – this section provides suggestions on how to fix these issues to make your pages load faster.
Tools needed for Audit
As mentioned previously, there are audit tools that can help eliminate the tedious work of checking all these steps manually.
Screaming Frog is capable of crawling all your pages on your website. While crawling it will identify any problems in your on-site SEO. The information is very detailed and presented in several different tabs in a tabulation form. The software is not cloud-based so you will need to install it on your PC. For a more detailed review, see here.
Another great tool is the Moz Site crawl. It will fix common technical SEO issues. Unlike Screaming Frog, it does not just report but it can also fix broken redirects, missing title tags and much more. For further information, take a look here.
Ahrefs also offers an impressive tool to audit your website. It crawls all your pages on your website, marks all possible SEO issues and provides suggestions on how to remedy them. What’s good about Ahrefs Site Audit is that it provides a lot of visual analysis, unlike Screaming Frog which resembles a spreadsheet application. If you would like to read more, see here.
Final thoughts and considerations
Follow the steps above and you will be on your way to having optimized on-page SEO. Whether it is done manually or using a website audit checker, its important to have this in place if you want to be ahead of the game in search engine rankings.
At Gainchanger we provide an end to end solution automate the tedious part of SEO to allow you to scale your results exponentially and focus on what really matters.