Web Site Audits for SEO

By Kalena Jordan

As a web site designer or SEO consultant, from time to time, you’ll need to conduct a Web Site Audit.  These are especially crucial in the following scenarios:Target-Customer

  1. Prior to implementing / costing a search engine optimization strategy.
  2. Prior to rolling out a new web design or CMS.
  3. In advance of seeking Venture Capital or investment of some kind.
  4. Prior to putting a web site / business up for sale (to accurately determine site value).

The content of your audit will be slightly different depending on the scenario you face. Below are my recommendations for what to include in any Web Site Audit in scenario number 1 – ahead of launching a search engine optimization strategy.

A Web Site Audit for SEO is a detailed overview and analysis of a site’s performance in the search engines and the site’s overall search engine compatibility.  The audit should look at a range of elements of a site and how these may be impacting visibility in search engines as well as suggestions for how any issues can be addressed.

Recommended Web Site Audit Inclusions:

SEO Metrics:

  • External Backlinks
  • Citation Flow
  • Trust Flow
  • Domain Authority
  • mozRank (Global Link Popularity)
  • mozTrust (Global Link Trust)

The above metrics can be gathered via RavenTools

  • CMS compatibility
  • Image filenames
  • Alt Img Attributes
  • Page URL and Filename compatibility
  • Link Referrals
  • Title and META Tags
  • Text Content
  • Target Keywords
  • Keyword Density
  • Sample Search Term Ranking
  • Google Webmaster Tools Account Check
  • Bing Webmaster Tools Account Check
  • Google PageRank
  • Viewed as Googlebot
  • Check against Google Quality Guidelines

Site Metrics:

  • Load Time
  • Page Speed
  • Robots.txt Check
  • Malware Check
  • Canonical URL Check
  • Domain Registration
  • Google Analytics Integration
  • Site Auditor

The above metrics can be gathered via RavenTools.

  • HTML Validation
  • Browser Compatibility
  • Spelling / Grammar Check
  • Dead Link Check
  • Check for XML Sitemap
  • Copyright Date
  • Mobile / Tablet friendly version
  • Hosting location

Analytics Metrics:

  • Traffic Sources
  • Geographic Share
  • Conversion Sources
  • Site Engagement / Returning Visitors
  • Top Entry Pages
  • Top Exit Pages
  • Search Engine Share
  • Top Search Queries
  • Most Popular Content

The above metrics can be gathered via Google Analytics or another Analytics program, provided you have access to the site account.

Competitor Metrics: (Assuming competitor URLs are provided)

  • External Backlinks
  • Citation Flow
  • Trust Flow
  • Domain Authority
  • mozRank (Global Link Popularity)
  • mozTrust (Global Link Trust)

The above metrics can be gathered via RavenTools, provided you know the URLs of competitors.

  • Target Keywords
  • Sample Search Term Ranking
  • Google PageRank

Specific Recommendations:

This is where you highlight problem areas found during the audit that are currently impacting the site’s visibility in search engines. This area of the audit should include a list of recommendations, specific to the site being audited, to resolve the highlighted issues.

General Recommendations:

This is where you list less critical issues found during the audit that may not be impacting the site’s search engine visibility, but could improve the site’s overall compatibility / usability as a whole.  This area of the audit should include a list of general recommendations for improvement and maintenance going forward.

Glossary of Terms:

Web Site Audits can contain a lot of jargon that stakeholders may not be familiar with. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to include a glossary of terms and/or a list of definitions for each of your reports so that recipients can fully understand the findings.

Next Steps:

In most SEO Web Site Audits, I like to include a Next Steps section to help clients understand what options they now have to address all issues discovered during the audit process. Depending on the complexity of changes required, this could include one or more of the following steps:

  • Linking to your consulting services and fees (assuming you have the skills/time to make the changes).
  • Recommending the company complete a SEO Requirements Document to establish the precise project parameters, so you can accurately quote and tailor the SEO campaign to their exact needs.
  • Recommending an industry expert or outside consultancy become involved (assuming specialist knowledge is required or you don’t have the skills/time to make the changes).
  • Suggesting SEO-specific training for staff to take (if the changes are minimal and/or your client wants to keep things in-house).

Provided you include the above sections in any Web Site Audit for SEO purposes, there should be no nasty surprises that crop up during the SEO process.