The 10 Step SEO Audit – follow the steps to increase the traffic to your site and get more followers, leads and sales.
If you are a website owner and you want more leads, subscribers or sales, then this SEO Audit will help you attract more relevant traffic to your site.
This 10 Step SEO Audit will help put your business in front of the right people at the right time. Whether you already know something about SEO or you are an optimisation newbie, you will find something to help you. Follow along with the suggested steps and you will see a great improvement in traffic from your target audience or customers.
The purpose of a search engine like Google, Bing, Yahoo, and others, is to deliver relevant content to their audience based on their search. Back in the old days of the internet, most searches brought up porn, gambling or MLM sites.
That wasn’t what the audience wanted at all, so search engines had to figure out how to better show their audience what they really wanted. They created algorithms that were designed to crawl the web to locate the best content for their users. That’s how SEO became so important. SEO helps you let the search engines know that your content is authoritative, well-written, and targeted.
Today, Google and other search engines make it their mission to deliver the best, highest quality content to their users that they can. Sadly, there is a lot of trash on the internet, so this not an easy job. Due to this, you can use SEO to ensure that search engines show your website as a choice when a customer searches for information related to your niche. In many ways, SEO is just a way to ensure that people find you, so that you can grow your traffic and your business.
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where—” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
Firstly it’s time to determine your goals for SEO. That’s the best way to start so that you can go through your website and fix any issues that are negatively affecting your SEO.
So first, to set your SEO goals, determine your strategic SEO objective. Here are some examples:
These are just examples, and your numbers will be different based on the time you have to spend on the project. As you see, to accomplish creating these goals you need to know where you stand now. So, before you go further with this, take a look at where you are now so that you know what numbers you’re starting with as you audit your SEO.
After determining your SEO Goals we then need to look at the technical side of search engine optimisation.
There are hundreds of options available for building a website and there’s only one that we, and most of the SEO community recommend: Self hosted WordPress site.
If youíre not using it and youíre using a builder like Wix.com, Shopify.com, or others, you may have problems figuring out how to fix SEO issues.
If you have built your site by coding it yourself, you will know how to fix your SEO issues. But, since we recommend self-hosted WordPress, most of the advice which follows will be directly associated with WordPress.
Having said that, our advice will still work for any type of site if you can figure out how to access the parts of your site you need to access to get the job done. These technical aspects are important to know so that you can structure your site to be SEO friendly.
One of the best SEO plugins for a self-hosted WordPress website is the Yoast SEO plugin . You can use the free version but if you upgrade it, you’ll get more benefits from it. Our particular favourite (and the one we use on 99% of the websites we build and optimise is SmartCrawl by WPMUDev. Both of these plugins will help you with all aspects of improving SEO from the start, and adjust each time there is an algorithm change. They only use white hat methods, which means your website will also be ethical.
One thing that is most imperative from the get-go is that your website is fast loading. If it’s not, no amount of traffic is going to help. No one has the patience for a slow-loading site. What’s more, they typically won’t go back to try again.
Google has tools that you can use to test your site speed: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/
There are other testing sites that will also tell you what to improve, but why not trust Google; most SEO is based on what Google wants since they’re the biggest traffic generator.
When you plug in your URL to the speed checker, it’ll let you know how well your site loads in mobile and with a desktop.
The results show various recommendations to fix the problem. This is free for you to use and an important task to go through. If you don’t understand some of the suggestions, you may need to talk to a web designer who is familiar with your builder and the issues the insights provided.
Page speed issues can be a real pain to fix, but usually the root of the problem is your website hosting. We’ve tried many hosting providers and the best so far are WPMUDev and 20i. WPMUdev provide a good hosting platform that works well with their page optimisation and page speed plugins. 20i provide hosting with many tools included such as caching and page speed optimisation so you need less plugins on your site.
Every day, more people choose to use mobile devices over desktops to conduct business on the web. People order groceries using their smartphones, attend online conferences on their iPad, and design graphics, develop YouTube videos and more – all on their mobile devices. There are tribes as yet undiscovered in the Amazon Rainforest that use their mobile phones for browsing the web. Therefore, don’t underestimate the importance of this feature to your audience.
While self-hosted WordPress is a great website builder, when it comes to being mobile friendly you’ll need to ensure that you choose the right theme. Then, you must ensure that the type of images you add stay mobile friendly. The best themes to pick state that they are “responsive” rather than just “mobile friendly” – this means that they will work on every single device that your audience may use.
When you create a new page on your website, it’s imperative that it uses a unique keyword that is different from the other keywords you’re using. For example, if you sell red widgets, you don’t want every single page to use “red widget” as the main keyword. Instead, you want to find other terms to use for each individual page.
Remember that in terms of search engines, every single blog post is a page, and every single web page is a page. In other words, there is no differentiation to the search engines from a blog post and a web page. Therefore, each blog posts you publish should also have its own keyword. You don’t want any two pages on your site to compete with each other based on a keyword.
The reason is that if the keywords are the same, Google will not know which page to send to your audience based on their search. Therefore, try to be more creative when using keywords for each page of your site. If you have a page that is ranking for “your city your biz”, it would be a mistake to make another page with the same keywords – especially a sub-page.
Know exactly what page you want your audience to get to if they conduct a specific search using certain terms, and make sure you use the keywords with that in mind. It’s going to improve your site tremendously, even though it will take you more time to pay attention and search for keywords to use.
The plugin Yoast SEO will help a lot, because it warns you if you already have a page using the same keyword. Now, if you don’t care which page they land on in terms of that keyword, then you can keep doing it. But if you want more choices to be shown to your audience upon searching, choose different keywords.
URL redirects are a way for a page to show up under more than one URL. Sometimes this is called URL forwarding. For example, let’s say you own many domains, like yourbiz.com, yourbiz.org, yourbiz.net and so forth. Every one of those domains can be forwarded, or redirected, to the domain you want them to go to.
You’re likely familiar with redirects when it comes to a URL shortener like https://goo.gl/, https://bitly.com, https://tinyurl.com and so forth. Often these are used for really long and ugly URLs so that the link can fit in a smaller place and look nicer than if it had 30 characters in it – which happens sometimes with affiliate links. Redirects are also used to prevent broken links when web pages get moved and so forth. But, they are also used for nefarious purposes, black hat tactics such as phishing attacks, and to distribute viruses and malware.
Therefore, it’s important that you ensure that your redirects are built correctly so that the search engines don’t think you’re doing something fishy. Double check the following on your site.
Do not use 302 temporary redirects. Instead, use 301 permanent redirects. To ensure that all your redirects are proper and aren’t seen as strange to Google, conduct a test using one of the redirect checkers such as Screaming Frog (https://www.screamingfrog.co.uk/redirect-checker/), which is a spider tool that most SEO experts like to use. You can also use Redirect-Checker.org. (http://www.redirect-checker.org/)
Robot.txt files are what makes the bots index your website. If you use self-hosted WordPress, your robot.txt files are already set up. But you want to make sure that you don’t have a “disallow” command in there that is preventing the site from being indexed.
Now, naturally, you’re going to have some pages that you want to be no-index. When you are using WordPress and the Yoast SEO plugin, you can set up each page easily to be either index or no-index. In the code, it will then say “disallow” or “allow” based on your choice.
To ensure that your site is being indexed, the best way is to ensure that your website has a sitemap. If you have Yoast SEO, you can create one automatically without any issues. If you need to create it yourself, you can also install other plugins to create sitemaps with just a push of a button. If you’ve built your site from scratch, you’ll need to build the sitemap yourself.
Most people today probably worry too much about duplicate content issues, especially when it comes to having duplicate content compared to another website. But it is an issue when it comes to getting your site and pages indexed properly, and not being penalised for the problem. Often, you’re being penalised for duplicate content on your own website.
Sometimes, if we’re not clear on a goal it can be easy to get lazy when it comes to creating meta-information and data for each page in terms of when you add images, add descriptions on a blog post, and especially when creating product descriptions for a product that has different colours or sizes. It’s imperative to make the meta-information on every single page unique.
Plus, when creating content, it can be tricky to ensure that each page is sufficiently unique not to trigger the duplicate content issue. Each page of your site should be as unique as possible, even if it’s talking about the same topic.
This may seem like a lot of work but if you just improve a couple of older pages each day, you will soon be done. If you want to check your own website for internal duplicate content, there is software that will do that. If you use Yoast SEO in the upgraded version, it does this for you.
A 404 page is a page that your visitors end up on when a page they wanted to go to no longer exists. It’s fine to delete pages that aren’t relevant to your goals, and its likely everyone will do that through the years.
For example, let’s say you wrote a blog post about a product that is no longer in production. That page is not good, so best to delete it if you can’t find a way to use the same URL to make a new relevant post about a product that fits the URL.
When someone does get taken to a 404 error page, what do they see? You can customize the 404 error page to make it productive for you. When you do this, avoid putting backlinks on the page. Instead, if there is a relevant page, you could use a 301-permanent redirect for that dead URL so that it goes to a real page on your site instead of an error page.
If you’re like a lot of people doing business online and trying to get traffic, your website has been built over time without much thought to its architecture. If you’re using a good self-hosted WordPress theme, your architecture may still be fine if you kept their menu structure. But if you altered it, get some feedback from your audience about how they feel about the architecture of your website. It should be user friendly, uncluttered, use effective anchor text, and make it easy to find what the user wants to find.
URL structure often is another thing that just gets decided willy-nilly. Poor URL structure can be detrimental to SEO because having clean, keyword-rich URLs that describe what the reader will find is best for helping the search engines send the right visitors. One problem is that if you’ve done it in a confusing way already, it’s hard to change because you will lose ranking that you already had.
But, making the URL structure clean is going to ultimately help SEO. To create a good URL structure, remember that you don’t want to keyword stuff; you just want the keyword to appear once within the URL. Within WordPress, you can alter the way URLs appear so that they’re friendlier. What you choose depends on your niche and your goals.
Most people don’t realise how important internal linking is for SEO. If you don’t know, internal links lead to other pages on your website from the page your visitor is currently using. Fix this problem and you’ll find that your SEO improves fast and dramatically. Having internal links builds authority, helps search engines crawl your site better, decreases bounce rate, and enables you to send users to the pages you think are most appropriate based on where they are now. This helps guide users through your funnel better.
We just talked a lot about some technical aspects of SEO. Hopefully, you don’t feel too overwhelmed. That was probably the longest part of this SEO audit, and now we’re at step three which is keyword analysis.
Sometimes people’s eyes glaze over when it comes to keyword analysis, because they don’t think it matters that much. And it’s true that some people have managed to build high-traffic, productive websites without ever doing any keyword research. But, this is rare. In fact, they are probably naturally using keywords that attract their audience without even realizing it.
Each keyword that you choose to target with your content should have a reason for being. The keyword should match up to a goal that you want to achieve. This means that you need to be very specific when it comes to choosing keywords so that you can measure how each keyword is performing.
Pick ten keywords to start with. You can move up to 100, but if you’re trying to use a list of so many right off the bat, you’ll be too broad with the terms. And when you choose your keywords, make sure they’re realistic.
If you have a diet site but a small budget, you shouldn’t use the keyword “diet”. Instead, focus on keyword phrases (long-tail keywords). If the keyword is too competitive, it’s going to be too hard. Finally, you want to give each keyword a deadline to perform before you move on to a new set of keywords. This takes a lot of practice.
To find good keywords, use a keyword tool to help. There are many to choose from. There is a great blog post from HubSpot that has a list of nine keyword research tools.
So far we’ve covered what SEO is, setting goals, some important technical information and finding keywords. Now let’s take this further and talk about the importance of competitor analysis when it comes to improving your SEO.
By studying your competition’s use of keywords, you can identify new keywords and keywords that are too competitive, as well as learn about what types of content are working for them. Also, you can find out who is linking to your competitor so that you can determine if you want to engage with those websites (and people) to get them to link to you too.
As you study your competitor’s website, ask yourself questions:
You can use the same tools to research their URL as you use to conduct research for your own site. But remember that just because a competitor is doing something, it doesn’t mean that you should. Instead, use the information to fill in the gaps, do it a little better, and know where you stand.
A great tool to use for competitor research is Ispionage.com, which will help you find the keywords they’re using and other information that can help you improve your own SEO.
Take your research further; join their email list and follow them on social media. Get to know your competition because even though they are competitors, you never know when an opportunity will present itself to either work together or buy them out. Don’t laugh; it happens. It can also happen the other way, if the competitor is just slightly more successful and worried about you encroaching on them.
So far, we’ve talked about SEO, how to find good keywords, why your competition matters, and more. But, one of the most important aspects of your site is that it provides users with what you claim it does, and that it’s set up so that users know what you offer and can easily accept your offers.
Even if you get a lot of traffic, no one is going to stick around on your site if the user experience is poor. If the site loads too slowly, doesn’t work on mobile, not enough content – or the wrong content – or the structure of the site is not compelling enough, the people who do visit your website will leave quickly. Conversely, if it’s set up properly, they’ll be more likely to stick around.
If your users feel listened to, you’ll build brand loyalty, attract more customers, and of course earn more revenue. You can, of course, test your site out by simply trying to look at it as if you’re a user. Click around and try to determine how your users feel as they’re trying to navigate the site. But, it really helps to use technology.
Google Webmaster Tools have a lot of ways to help you study user experience, such as bounce rate, return visitors, unique visitors, time spent on your site, which pages they exit from, and if they complete the goals you’ve set for them. If you get really into Google Webmaster Tools, you can also discover how people are finding you and your brand, and more. (https://www.google.com/webmasters/)
Another way to find out what your users think is to put a survey on the site. You can also send it via email to your email list, asking them to come to the site and give you an evaluation based on the survey. Incentivize them by giving them a freebie once they submit the form.
Keep in mind that once you are getting the traffic, you have some very useful ways to find out how your users feel – through email, social media, and even the phone. This gives you a clue about what your audience is having a really hard time finding on your site, as well as what they like in terms of the content you’re providing to them.
Are people signing up for your email list? Are they filling out forms properly? Are they abandoning their cart? Keep in mind that a lot of this information can be obtained automatically using Google Analytics via their webmaster tools.
While the technical aspects of your website are very important, user experience is probably one of the most significant. Being at the top of search results does no good if your users dislike your website.
Now that you’re well versed in user-friendliness, let’s get into talking about writing and creating SEO-friendly content. After all, your website must deliver compelling, targeted, well-developed content to your users to stay popular, convert people to your email list, and ultimately get visitors to become customers. The first and best way you can do all of this is to provide amazing content.
To conduct a content audit, you want to determine if the content you’re currently publishing is doing what you want it to do, or if you need to rethink the type of content you’re developing. The first place to turn to is of course Google Analytics.
Use Google Analytics to determine:
Once you know this, you’ll want to look at the content that is performing well and create more content on this subject or related to this subject. For poorly performing content, try to determine why it’s not doing anything. It could be something simple such as poorly formatted content, off-topic content, or even that it’s not promoted enough. It doesn’t have to mean that the content which isn’t performing is bad. Conversely, well-performing content that is not converting may not actually be good content.
When evaluating your content, ask yourself the following questions:
Sometimes, to do this effectively you may need to employ outside eyes to analyze your content. You can hire someone, or you can ask your audience to help you improve your content with website surveys, social media questions, and by asking your email subscribers. Remember, your job is to provide your audience with useful and accurate content that solves their problems. When you do that, you can’t lose.
You’re now more than halfway down this page. Congratulations!
In this section, we’re going to get into the importance of link building for SEO. Link building means that you not only include links within your site to your own content (internal linking), but also build links from outside of your site to your website (backlinks).
The most important aspect of links, whether internal or backlinks, is relevancy. First, look at the links that you have on your site and then look at the links outside the site. You want them to be relevant to your audience, otherwise there is no point for the link. You can use Google Analytics to study this on your site.
Since you cannot control all backlinks that happen, don’t worry if some of them aren’t relevant unless they’re from a questionable site. If that’s the case, contact the site to have them removed if possible. But, the best course is to just work on getting higher quality authority sites linking to you instead.
The best way to get good backlinks is to simply share and promote your content in the right places. Every piece of content that you publish should be promoted across social networks as if it’s the best product you’ve ever created. Below are some other ways to get that process going.
Backlinks affect ranking a lot more than people realize. That’s because when someone takes the time to link to your site, it gives a signal that your website is authoritative, accurate, and relevant. Most people don’t even work on getting backlinks because it often happens naturally. But, if you can improve your SEO just by getting relevant people to link to you, why not give it a go?
Additionally, creating an active and engaging social media presence, sharing all your content on social media, and keeping your brand values in mind will assist with your link building efforts.
There are plugins you can use to help with internal linking under blog posts. A good one to try is Internal Links Generator (https://wordpress.org/plugins/internal-links-generator/), but there are others. Don’t forget Yoast SEO which also has this capability. It’s always best to use fewer plugins than more.
Internal links help your audience navigate your website, outlines the structure of your website, and boosts page rank and authority throughout your website. Internal links guide your audience to view the content that you want them to see based on where they first entered your website, by pointing them to more relevant content.
Internal links should focus on using anchor text over images. And when you do use images, ensure that you’ve created a good alt tag description. Did you know that originally alt tags were created to make the web more accessible to people who were blind? If you imagine that your whole audience is blind, you’ll start creating much more creative descriptions. These descriptions will be helpful to search engines as well as blind members of your audience.
Don’t just link back to your homepage. There is hardly any purpose to that, since people can usually just click “home” to get there. Additionally, don’t link to the contact page on every single post, and avoid linking to other top-level menu items which are showing up on the menu anyway. Instead, create internal links that go deeper into your website, helping your audience find content that they may miss otherwise.
When you’re creating internal links, place all your focus on the audience and users. Ensure that the content you’re linking to will provide value to that reader based on what they just read. Your goal is to improve user engagement and make your site “sticky”; therefore the internal links you choose should be relevant.
Nofollow links are great for helping you avoid duplicate content issues, such as when you have multiple sales pages for different platforms for the same product. For example, product A is sold on your site via ClickBank.com, Zaxaa.com, and JVZoo.com. But, if you’re linking to a blog post or article within your site that is not a top-level menu item, make the link “follow”, because that will help search engines know that this link is important and relevant to the content the user just read.
Finally, don’t go nuts. You don’t need to have 100 internal links on each page. Less is more. The reason is that you want the links to be super-relevant, and it might be hard to be targeted if you try to include a broad array of links. Of course, in some cases having more links is best and still relevant, so decide this on a case-by-case basis. To begin, go back to your old content that you’ve already published and add internal links that are relevant to each page.
Check your title tags, URL, heading tags (H1, H2), and descriptive image file names; fill in all description tags, link internally to relevant content, and keep your code clean. Remember, Yoast SEO will help with most of this.
Go to all your social media platforms and update your profiles. Include branding that makes it clear it goes with your website and overall business goals. Create an amazing profile to use for each place you want to post anything – including guest posts, social media updates, and more.
Video is super-hot. Thankfully, you can use it to improve traffic to your site. Conduct Facebook Lives regularly, and cross-post your live events to YouTube. Right now, there are no duplicate content issues related to putting your videos on multiple platforms.
When you publish anything, share it in a blog post, send an update to your email subscribers so they come check out the blog post, and then share on social media, creating a special blurb for each platform along with a special unique image. Change the format and create a video linking back to the original blog post. But, share everything in every way that you can. Also, don’t think you only can share once. If a blog post or something you’ve created is relevant, share it often.
Getting more traffic is a function of SEO that provides more organic traffic, designed to convert more users into customers. Organic means that it wasn’t paid advertising. But more and more, SEO is starting to include pay for play due to how social networks are changing their business models to increase revenues. In the next section we’ll talk about promoting and marketing (including using paid ads) to increase the results of all the work you’ve put into SEO.
We’ve talked about what to do audit your SEO. Now, let’s look at how to really bump up conversions through marketing and promotion. While most people don’t think of marketing and promoting as SEO, they are super-important these days to ensure that you meet the goals you set for yourself.
This is especially true when you use social media as the way to promote your website. With the right strategy, you’ll get more inbound links (or backlinks) to your website and content. Getting more authoritative links and bringing people to your website (especially internal posts and not just the front page) will boost traffic, sign-ups, and sales. That’s the goal, right? That’s why we’re including this step.
Let’s assume you’ve gone through your website and ensured that everything is as up to date as possible in terms of on-page SEO. Your website is user friendly, has plenty of amazing content, and you solve problems for your audience while educating, engaging, and informing them about all things important to them within your defined niche. Now what?
The best way to talk about this is to include marketing and promotion as part of your overall process. Most SEO will start coming naturally. You’ll naturally use appropriate URLs, headers, subheadings, anchor text and so forth once you realize it’s important. The next step is to ensure that you add to that process the marketing and promoting component.
Let’s say you have a topic that you want to teach your audience about because you have a product to offer to help them solve whatever the problem is that you’re teaching them about. For example, let’s assume you have a website that is about home finances and home management. Your audience consists of parents who work with children and mostly moms, although you do have a few dads in your audience too.
You want to explain the importance of buying life insurance for a growing family. You’ve made a deal with someone who sells life insurance to provide $50 for every completed appointment they make resulting from your referral.
Ensuring that you create a process will help you succeed in reaching your SEO goals. But, as everyone always likes to point out, you’re still not done. Why? The paperwork still isn’t done. In this case, paperwork has nothing to do with real paper, but it does have to do with tracking progress to ensure that you’re reaching the goals you set for doing search engine optimisation. We’ll talk about this in the what you’ll be relieved to find out is the last section.
We’ve covered a lot and are now at the end. If you’ve taken your time to go through each step thoroughly, you may even begin to see results by the time you get to this point. Certainly, you will notice a huge difference within a month to 90 days of implementing a solid SEO strategy. But, the only way you’ll know for sure is if you track your progress.
The best way to do this is to create a spreadsheet based on the goals you set for the SEO work you’re doing. Enter your starting numbers, then periodically update the numbers so you can see if what you’re doing is causing you to receive more traffic, get more sign-ups, and make more sales.
You should get more traffic quickly if you’re using these methods, once you start sharing on social media. But, be patient; it can take some time depending on how much work you needed to do. When you’re studying Google Analytics, always look deeper.
Are you getting more search engine traffic and more referral traffic? And what about direct traffic? Sometimes people will learn about you while reading something, remember the domain name and type it in directly. SEO can cause everything to go up but for true organic SEO, the results will come from search traffic. Search traffic is directly related to someone searching certain terms in a search engine and then clicking to go to your website.
What is your most popular content today compared to what it was before? Can you figure out why? How about comments? Are you getting more comments now that you’re actively focused on SEO? How can you use these comments to get more content ideas? Be sure to comment back to people who do post a comment.
If you set goals within Google Analytics, how are they working out? Are you meeting your goals? If not, why not? Can you identify anything wrong that you can fix to improve?
Using a service like Copyscape.com, make sure no one is stealing your content and that you don’t have duplicate content issues outside of your site. You should no longer have duplicate content issues within your site if you fixed the problems with internal duplicate content mentioned earlier, by updating descriptions, not using the same keyword on more than one page, and so forth.
If you made a goal, check it to compare with where you started and where you are now. From increased newsletter subscriptions to more sales, it all matters. If you set a goal, always check the numbers to ensure that you really are making progress. You may discover that some things aren’t working with your audience – if so, stop doing them. You’ll find others that work better, so do more of them.
By following this ten step SEO Audit to improve your SEO, you’ll enable yourself to provide better service to your audience and attract more of them to your solutions. After all, since search engines have a goal of sending just the right content to the right audience member, by improving your SEO you’ll also be improving the service you provide to your audience. That’s a win-win for everyone.