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SEO audits should be an important part of your SEO strategy. They allow you to find and fix problems that sometimes you didn’t even realise you had.
Not only can you fix issues but you can use what you find to build out your SEO routines so that these issues (where possible) don’t keep recurring.
If you complete the common sense SEO audit which we are about to look at, you can also get a good feel for the type of content your audience wants and how they would like to receive that content.
Search engines are paying more and more attention to user experience and you should too. A happy user means higher search rankings.
Why You Should Follow These Steps
2018 was a terrible year for me when it came to traffic. The numbers just kept going down and down:
So… I decided to do something about it.
But just running my site through an auditing tool wasn’t going to be enough to bring back my traffic.
I will show you exactly what I did in a moment but first… I’m gonna show you the results.
My blog had a 45% increase in organic traffic compared against the worst month from the previous year.
So if you weren’t convinced before about the value of SEO audits then you should definitely be now.
Common Sense SEO Audit Steps
There are 5 main steps you need to take to complete this audit to have a confirmed list of issues that need fixing and updates you need to make across your site.
It not only focuses on technical SEO but on the user experience your website provides. As I mentioned earlier… user experience plays a crucial role within the search engine rankings meaning it should play a part in your SEO audits.
The first 3 steps focus on the manual part of the audit.
- Listen To Your Visitors
- Conduct Manual Observations
- Technical Spot Checks
Let me show you exactly to perform each stage…
Listening To Your Visitors
This part is actually quite simple.
You need to reach out to your audience and get their feedback about your website. Their honest opinion (whether it is hard to hear or not) provides extremely valuable information which you can use to improve your site and make it more user friendly.
You should ask questions like:
- What do you like & dislike about my site/blog?
- What sort of content do you want me to provide?
- How would you like me to share that content with you and what format do you prefer?
You can do this by conducting a ready survey or perhaps use social media. Where ever your audience spends their time is the best way to reach out to them.
Keep a record of all your findings but don’t start fixing things just yet.
Conduct Manual Observations
Now it’s time to swallow your pride, take off your SEO hat and dive in to take a close look at the findings from the previous step.
Take the time to have a good poke around your site from a visitors perspective. You’ll probably be quite surprised by what you see and add a couple of issues yourself to the list.
Then go through each piece of feedback and put yourself in their shoes. Experience the problems they are facing and then you can decide exactly what steps you need to take to solve them. Record all of this down but don’t start actioning anything just yet.
So with these two steps you have gone out and got a list of issues, experienced those issues for yourself and know exactly how you are gonna tackle them.
Let’s move on…
Technical Spot Checks
Now you need to complete a few technical checks.
These will take a quick look at the most common problems struggling websites face and you can either rule them out straight away, or add them to your list.
You need to start by collecting 5 URLs from your website to test.
You should always use.
- Your homepage
- A category page
- Content/image heavy page
- 2 others at random
I have a spreadsheet you can use to record your findings and track your results, just head to my page to page to get access.
You will then need to run each of these tests…
Test #1 – Mobile Indexing
You need to make sure your site is mobile friendly. With more and more users accessing the internet from mobile devices this is a high priority for search engines.
Use the Google mobile friendly tool and check that your website passes.
I’m happy to say mine did:
Test #2 – Page Speed
Then you need to review the page speed on a mobile device and on a desktop device.
Site speed is an official ranking factor and I can’t stress enough how important it is for you to have a fast website is.
You can get a speed reading by using the Google PageSpeed Insights tool.
Record the results in the spreadsheet.
Test #3 – Performance Metrics
You need to now test each of your 5 pages for their page speed performance metrics.
Aiming for a speed of 3 seconds or less will keep a higher percentage of visitors on your page.
I recommend using GT Metrix to test each URL and review your scores.
I have a bit of work to do but it’s not a complete disaster:
Make a note of these results on your spreadsheet so you can reference back to them at a later date.
Test #4 – Structured Data
This step reviews the structured data that displays in your SERP result, like ratings, prices, addresses etc, and checks to see if you have any errors.
Just enter your homepage URL into Google’s Search Console Structured Data Testing tool. Check for any errors and warnings and record them in the spreadsheet.
When I ran this testing I had a range of results:
So those are the manual checks you need to do… next it’s time to get an SEO auditing tool on the job!
Use An SEO Audit Tool
This step is mega easy because the tool will do all the heavy lifting for you.
Pick your tool, I would recommend either:
If you want to be extra thorough you can use 2 tools.
Then just enter your website into the websites auditing tool and record all the problems on your list from the earlier steps in this audit.
If you don’t already have any of these tools in your toolkit, they all have decent trials you can take advantage of so you can see their real value before buying.
Then last but certainly not least…
Put Together A Solid Plan Of Attack
This stage is really important if you want to execute your audit effectively and efficiently.
You must be chomping at the bit by now to start fixing/changing/improving your website. But take a bit of time to complete this step.
It’s very simple.
Consolidate your lists of all the issues and solutions you have gathered across each stage of this audit. And then rank them in order of priority with your visitors in mind.
So ask yourself ‘What problem, when fixed, will make my visitors the happiest?’. And then create a plan to fix each point on your list, ranked in that order.
This may sound very basic but it really is just common sense and following this plan will be the quickest way to turn around any losses in traffic.
Then all that’s left to do… is get started!
Following these steps will enable you to fix any problems that are affecting your rankings, get valuable feedback from the people that really matter and create a strong SEO & content strategy to grow your website.
SEO audits shouldn’t just be about fixing what’s wrong with your website, but they should help to build a stronger website that your visitors will love.