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All too often SEO is treated like a ‘fire and forget’ exercise. Companies tick off a checklist of SEO essentials when they create or update their website and then forget to go back and look how their SEO is performing.
Is it delivering the goods as you would expect?
A technical SEO audit is one of the primary tools for ensuring that your SEO is in place and working as it should.
A technical SEO audit is the process by which you ensure that the technical aspects of your website’s SEO are working as you intended. You will check the overall health of your website and then find out what fixes you need to carry out in order to improve how it performs.
The algorithms used by search engines such as Google to rank websites are constantly evolving and your website will need to take account of these changes. During a technical audit you will correct glitches, update information and add new elements all of which should help when it comes to your search engine performance.
As SEO is constantly evolving, and some of your competitors will be abreast of these changes, you should aim to conduct an in-depth technical SEO audit every 4-5 months. In between these times it can be good practice to undertake mini-audits every one or two months.
There are a number of elements you will need to be attentive to when conducting an SEO audit.
Any technical audit should begin by crawling your website. For this you can use a variety of tools such as SEMrush and DeepCrawl. Screaming Frog is also a good free option for websites under 500 urls. These crawlers will locate poor images, page title issues, bad keywords and broken links. They should also spot duplicate content, excess redirects and any unlinked pages.
Following on from this deep crawl of your website you should remove any duplicate content, repair links and amend any bad keywords. You should also address any issues that were discovered with the content of your website. The crawl programme you choose will be able to identify these issues and guide you through repairing them.
You can find your SEO score by using websites such as SEO Site Checkup. This is a score out of 100 which lets you know aspects that are performing well and those that are doing less well, identifying glitches and allowing you to tackle them. Google Lighthouse is a good tool for doing this. As this tool is produced by Google, it has the advantage of matching what Google is promoting as ‘good practice’.
If there’s more than one version of your website available to search engines, such as an old, outdated version, then you will be sending mixed signals to the search engine about which is the correct version. It can also occur due to duplicate mobile and desktop versions, or HTTP and HTTPS versions. This will, in turn, negatively impact your Google ranking.
Make sure there’s only one browsable version of your site available online by using a crawl programme and looking for http and https variability – if there is a mix on your site, then there may be more than one version. It is also worth checking for exact match text on the internet. if Google can find more than one copy of your text, there may be duplicates.
A technical SEO audit should look at the sitemap because it informs the search engine about your site’s content and layout. It should be clean, with any errors removed. It should be concise, so remove any unnecessary pages. It will also need to be up-to-date. You can view your sitemap at https://yourwebsite/sitemap.xml or /sitemap_index.xml to check.
All of your internal links should be working and your site should be straightforward to navigate. Check the click depth of each page. This is how many clicks it takes to reach a page. The fewer clicks for each page the better, so you may need to rethink and reorganise your website layout and navigation. Repair broken links and delete any orphan pages that are no longer needed.
No technical SEO audit should leave out a speed test. People don’t like to wait for websites to load so the slower your website the higher your bounce rate will be. Google takes into account website speed so if yours is sluggish, your chances of featuring highly in search results is lower. Google Lighthouse is an ideal tool for this.
Backlinks play a crucial role in establishing the credibility of your website with search engines. You should regularly check to see how many backlinks your website has, as well as the status of the websites on which they’re appearing.
Are the links still current and are the site they’re featured on credible? If you’re appearing on websites that look as if they’re spam generated as a means to try and game the SEO, then Google are likely to look less favourably on your site. Intelligent use of social media can help you build a portfolio of high-quality backlinks. You can check how Google sees backlinks at https://search.google.com/search-console/links. If you think you have a problem with poor backlinks or have received a Google Manual action for poor backlinks, then you should engage a professional SEO company to review this for you.
If certain pages are underperforming, have low value content or are duplicated you may want to consider de-indexing them from Google. Poor content and pages riddled with errors are likely to have a negative impact on your search rankings. Removing them from the Google indexes will prevent them from becoming a drag on the rest of your site. You can do this in a variety of ways, the easiest being to add a ‘noindex’ tag to the page Meta.
A technical SEO audit can be as extensive and thorough as you like and the tasks listed here are just a snapshot of what can be done. Some of these processes may seem technical and easy to get wrong. They can also be time-consuming. Unless you’re confident you have the necessary technical skills it can make sense to get professional help for your regular technical SEO audits.
At Aqueous Digital, we are SEO experts. Not only will we ensure your website has outstanding SEO from the outset, we will also make sure it keeps working.
Talk to our experienced team today to find out how we can help. Call us on 0800 285 1424 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to have a chat about how we can support the success of your business with our award-winning search engine optimisation. We offer a range of packages to suit your budget including technical only SEO. We offer a full technical SEO audit and consultation free of charge.