This SEO audit guide was written to help creatives, webmasters, SEO specialists, and business owners alike.
It lays out exactly what you need to know. The process for an SEO audit, the specific steps and data points to look to improve your website’s organic traffic and ranking in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Most SEO audits are too technical and hard to decipher; we get it. Sometimes they are manually created and compiled – that would only make sense if there wasn’t an SEO checker like Running SEO around.
Once complete–you’ll be in a much better place to kickstart your growth and conduct important next steps.
The 7-step SEO audit process involves:
- Preparing for an SEO Audit
- Identifying your strategic website goals
- Conducting a representative audit of your website with an automated SEO checker
- Determining issues Google knows about (and likely dings you on)
- Compiling an issue log
- Creating your website optimization/SEO action plan
- Charting your path towards growth by taking the next steps to optimize your website
1. Preparing. Here’s what you’ll need for your SEO Audit:
- A website that is publicly-accessible
- Google Sheets, Excel, or another spreadsheet tool (for tracking errors)
- Search Console (for seeing if Google has identified issues for you) or simply use google.com or the SERP simulator if you don’t have access to Google Search Console
- Running SEO (for running a representative crawl of your pages and identifying issues automatically)
2. Identifying your strategic website goals.
Do you know what your website objectives are? The idea here is to know what your goals are for long-term growth that will be achievable through SEO for your business. Since SEO is something that you use to get to growing your business, and you should think of it as a road to growth and not a means to an end.
Your strategic goals, if you don’t know what they are, can be identified by following the S.M.A.R.T. framework.
- Are your business and website goals Specific?
- Are they Measurable?
- Are they Actionable?
- Are they Relevant?
- Are they Time-bound?
To add an additional layer on top of the SMART framework, we have added additional steps to the framework to make it SMARTER.
- Evaluative- is it working? Like, are you hitting your specific objectives and KPIs?
- Reevaluative- is it really working towards improving your bottom line?
Why should you evaluate and re-evaluate your goals and strategy?
A solid optimization plan requires constant tending to through a nonlinear, agile-like process. If you need help with this or any strategic process, we urge you to connect with an SEO expert to ensure maximum success.
Let’s move on to the nitty-gritty part of your SEO audit.
3. Conducting a representative audit of your website
Let’s optimize your site to gain rank and organic traffic together.
First, a little background. We were bothered by the expensive subscription-based tools and SEO software on the market. This led to the creation of Running SEO as an optimization resource and SEO checker tool.
Now, simply run our automated SEO analysis to get started. The first piece of the analysis would be to have your publicly-accessible website link handy.
We’ll then crawl your site and take a representative audit of interior (child) web pages, not just your homepage.
- Enter your URL and submit your site for analysis
- Within three minutes, viola, your audit report will be generated
- Read and follow the report’s guidance. If you’re stumped, you probably need professional SEO assistance
4. Determining issues Google knows about (and likely dings you on)
This will help you determine technical website issues Google knows about.
You want to check the Google Index status in Google Search Console > Index > Coverage for errors such as usability issues and crawl errors (see figure below from GSC). Google may be dinging you because of your errors, some may include:
- 404 not found
- 50X server errors
- Tap targets are too close
- Accelerated Mobile Pages validation errors
- Structured data validation errors
Source: Google Search Console
This is also pulled as a data point in your Running SEO Audit report, so you can skip this part if you’d like.
If you couldn’t find that in Google Search Console, don’t fret.
There are two other method you can use.
- Simply navigate to google.com and type in site:yourdomain.com to see what google sees in your index.
- Alternatively, you can also use the SERP Simulator.
Not showing up in the search results?
Your site may not yet have been crawled and indexed if it’s new.
Not seeing your website crawled in Google’s index?
If it’s been around for over a month, then the issue is likely that your website is not crawlable.
Is your site not crawlable?
You can start by identifying opening up the robots.txt in your root folder (if it exits) and also check your website to see if a robots meta tag exists.
Then, determine whether or not you’re telling Google not to index your site.
5. Compiling an issue log
Compile a list of issues in a website issue log. If you don’t have one yet, go ahead and create your first website issue log with the following columns:
- Issue: this could range from a bad user experience/usability, accessibility concerns, not mobile-friendly, no structured data, no internal linking, duplicate meta titles and descriptions, and has non-optimized content.
6. Creating your website optimization action plan
In your newly created website issue tracker, also include the following critical and strategic pieces of information and weigh them by priority for maximum results and efficacy:
- Suggested improvement: like updating optimizing content, improving site structure and navigation. Technical improvements may involve: implementing SSL, resolving hosting/server issues, implementing redirects, creating a more user-friendly error page, and so on.
- An estimate on the overall investment. This includes details about the time, energy or money for us to implement the improvements, as well as for Google Search, as well as searchers and customers to recognize the improvements.
- Estimated positive business impact. The impact may be a ranking improvement that leads to more conversions, or a backend change that cleans up the site and helps your brand be more agile in the future.
- A plan on how to iterate and improve the implementation. This is the added layer on top of the SMART framework to identify strategic goals that we mentioned in part two. Evaluating and continuously re-evaluating your goals help determine what’s working and what’s not very early-on in an agile, nonlinear process.
Source: SEO Audit Guide by Key Medium
7. Charting your path towards growth by taking the next steps to optimize your website
How to Improve Your Website’s SEO
If your SEO score was disappointing, don’t fret. In fact, it’s a common problem. So many businesses with top-rated products and services have difficulty gaining new customers online simply because their website isn’t primed for people to find them.
Next steps involve more tactical SEO and business activities such as keyword research, an in-depth content audit/inventory, and competitor analysis, and preparation of a complete and thorough action plan that will help you gain more organic traffic, conversions, and grow your organization.
Chief Optimization Officer
Ali Jaffar has been building dazzling websites and creating amazing online experiences for over a decade. His mastery of the latest innovations in web development results in world-class website experiences set apart by show-stopping style and seamless functionality. A Google Mobile Sites and Google Analytics qualified individual and award-winning web development guru, Ali lends his talents to build and bolster digital experiences for a wide array of clients. When Ali’s not helping his clients grow, you can find him doing yoga, walking his dog, and enjoying a nice bike ride around Philly.
Pro Tip: the more love your website needs to be optimized, the more you should consider investing in a website redesign or a whole new website built with SEO in mind from the start. Key Medium can conduct a thorough technical website and SEO audit and walk you through recommendations to develop an action plan customized to your business goals, needs, and budget.