There’s a misconception that a website audit needs to take days (or perhaps weeks) to complete and that only someone with deep technical knowledge will understand the conclusions. Whereas this is true for a comprehensive audit, quick audits that you do yourself periodically are also hugely useful. They allow you to root out problems and make changes immediately to improve your SEO as well as your UX, lead generation, and web design.
Step 1: Consider the Overall Design of Your Site
A good place to start is to think about the design of your website. If it’s been more than a couple years since you had a redesign, the likelihood is your site already looks outdated. It may be harder to see this yourself, as you’re so used to your website. All the same, you need to try and compare it to the other sites you visit regularly. Think about whether some aspects may feel old fashioned or clunky to users.
In addition, assess your site for poor design features that you may have overlooked. These can include:
- Fonts that are too small
- Color choices that make text difficult to read
- Full-screen popups that appear the instant someone reaches your site
- A lack of headings, whitespace, or images to break up the text
Step 2: Analyze Your Navigation
Like your web design, you’re probably used to your navigation. Whereas it may now be second nature for you to navigate around your site, you need to think of the experience from the perspective of a new visitor. Starting at the home page, check if it’s easy to reach all the key pages and whether visitors can easily find the information they’re searching for, such as the answers to questions that brought them to your site. If possible, recruit the help of a few people who have never used your website before and ask for their feedback.
Step 3: Test Your Site Function
You can check if your site renders correctly on mobile devices by using the mobile-friendly test from Google. In addition, you should confirm your site renders on all major browsers on any device. A couple more ways to improve function include updating all plugins and modules on your site and checking that logins, contact forms, and integrations with social media are working properly.
Step 4: Confirm There Is Only One Version of Your Site
Make sure search engines are only indexing one version of your site. Users may be able to reach your site at:
However, you only want search engines to index the last of these. The others should use a 301 redirect to send users to the “https://www” version. You can check what Google is indexing by searching for “site:” followed by your domain name.
It’s extra important that your site is using HTTPS and not redirecting to the HTTP version, both for security and SEO reasons. If it’s not, use a tool like Let’s Encrypt to implement an SSL certificate for free.
Step 5: Check What Pages Google Is Indexing
Using the same Google search as above, you can see what URLs come up for your domain name. If the number is higher than you expected, you may have some duplicate content, whereas too few results suggests Google is not crawling or indexing your entire site.
If you have duplicate content, you’ll need to search for those pages. A great tool to use is Copyscape, as it allows you to check if any content from a URL appears elsewhere online.
If you find the search results are missing pages, this could mean pages have “noindex” tags, are redirects, or are broken. There is also the chance that pages are not appearing because your site has a manual action issued against it, which can happen if a human reviewer decides your pages are not compliant with webmaster quality guidelines. This means that some (or even all) of your pages will stop showing up in Google search results. You can use a manual actions report to find out if this is the case and then follow the instructions from Google to fix the problem.
Step 6: Crawl Your Site
Use a tool like Ubersuggest or Ahrefs to crawl your website. The tool will provide you with a summary of the main problems on your site. This could include duplicate content, low word counts, a lack of links, or too many redirects, among many other things. The tool may organize issues in order of severity and also give you advice on how to solve them.
One crucial piece of information crawling gives you is site speed. This is important because users rarely wait around for a slow-loading page — it’s for this reason site speed is now a factor for SEO. To increase the speed of your slowest pages, you may need to remove unnecessary data (this is called minification), optimize images, or use browser caching. The tool you’ve used may give you recommendations as to what a particular page needs.
Something else to pay attention to is your site report. It is through your sitemap that search engines know what pages to index. Errors may redirect URLs to another page, go to pages with the same content, or have non-200 status codes. You can quickly correct your sitemap by removing any incorrect pages you find.
While working on your sitemap, check for orphan pages. These pages appear in the sitemap, but there are no links to them from other pages on your site. This is something else you can fix fast: simply add an internal link from a relevant piece of content or, if the orphan page is a key page, add a link in your site navigation.
Step 7: Identify Your Main Pages
If you have a large site, you may have hundreds of pages. Trying to solve all the minor issues on each one of them is no longer a quick audit. A better approach is to choose around 10 pages that matter the most to your business and focus on these for your on-page SEO efforts. In addition to your home page, this should include other key pages as well as all the pages that receive the most organic traffic.
In particular, check factors that impact your rankings and influence clicks. This means including relevant keywords in title tags, meta descriptions, and the main body of your content. You should also check that you’re using the correct header tags, including just one H1 tag. Finally, make sure pages contain both internal and external links.
Talking about links, it’s also essential you check all the links on your site still work. Once again, Ahrefs can help with this — with its Broken Link Checker. Replace any broken links you find with new ones to avoid them having a negative effect on your SEO.
Step 8: Find Thin Content
Other content that has a big impact on your SEO includes your worst-performing pages — in particular, ones where the content is too thin. To make sure these pages contribute positively to SEO, either add a noindex attribute or improve pages by adding original, useful content.
Step 9: Fix Structured Data Errors
A final category of pages to fix is those you want to have a structured data markup. This may include product pages, reviews, pages detailing upcoming events, and some other types of content. Use the Structured Data Testing Tool from Google to check these pages and fix any errors you find.
Step 10: Perform an Offsite SEO Audit
Although you have much less control over your offsite SEO, the major role it has to play means it’s still worth including in your audit. The first thing to do is count how many backlinks there are to your website, which you can do with the Backlink Checker from Ahrefs. Next, it’s a good idea to compare how you measure up to your main competitors. Together, these two pieces of information will give you valuable insights into how you can improve your offsite strategy.
A quick website audit is a great start. It reveals issues you can fix immediately, many of which you can deal with on your own. However, a quick audit is never a replacement for the more occasional full audit. Only through a full audit can you make sure you haven’t neglected any part of your website. Receive a full website audit, as well as support for any issues you’re unable to solve on your own, with our SEO services.