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How an SEO Audit Solves the Problem of Attracting Search Traffic

Once it comes to attracting search traffic, it is not enough just to create a website and start selling. Website owners need to audit it and find new SEO approaches systematically. Here, thousands of web resources compete with each other in the same niche. The first step towards ranking in the top 10 and earning converting organic traffic is an SEO audit. An SEO audit is an evaluation of the website quality of a site according to the requirements of search engines.

This article will cover eight steps in SEO audit that every SEO specialist should complete understanding how to improve page ranking and attract more organic traffic.

Steps to Audit Website’s SEO

1. Crawl your site & fix errors

One of the essential components of website performance is its successful interaction with search bots (crawlers). Crawling is the process of search robots detecting and collecting new and updated pages to add them to the index of search engines. Therefore, crawling as part of an SEO audit is essential to understand. This helps to figure out when a website has problems with search engine visibility and also how effective the chosen website architecture is. There’s no way to attract search traffic if the crawling fails.

Depending on how the search engine evaluates your page, it determines your site’s positions in the search results for a particular query. If the quality of the page is low, the search engine may remove it so it will not participate in the results. The audit identifies pages that require revision and based on it, you can compile a list of necessary edits for the site.

A technical SEO audit involves more than crawling a site and fixing errors. Audits are an integral part of an SEO strategy, and with the right tools, you can bake quality into your promotion saving yourself from future problems. Tools like SE Ranking, go beyond the standard site health-check. It hosts an assortment of features such as the ability to check the not-so-obvious elements of your site – website loading speed, <meta> tag analysis, and image scanning for example. Take a look at its Issue Report in the Crawling section:

SEO Audit Solves the Problem of Attracting Search Traffic

Here’s a shortlist of basic crawling problems and how to fix them:

  1. The page is blocked from indexing with the “noindex” meta tag – delete it where necessary;
  2. A NoFollow tag for the whole page or single link – check the rel="nofollow” meta tag;
  3. The whole website is blocked from indexing – look for the “disallow” tag in your robots.txt;
  4. Non-existing URLs (404 pages) – if you have recently changed the site structure, added or deleted URLs, double-check them in robots.txt;
  5. Denied access to pages – be sure to check the status codes, and if there are any pages available only for specific users, mark them as “nofollow”;
  6. 5xx server errors – these may mean limited server capacity or misconfiguration.

After you’ve made the changes, you can compare crawling results in the SE Ranking tool from a start to end date to see whether the updated pages were added to the index or not and whether the problems were fixed.

SEO

It can take time for search engines to have your site crawled, weeks perhaps, even if this time frame doesn’t depend on the length of the website.

You may help Google crawl your site by submitting a sitemap or individual pages via Google Search Console.

2. Check for indexation

The indexing problem is one of the main errors that almost every website owner struggles with; this is especially the case for huge websites. Checking for indexation means monitoring whether the website information was added to the search engine database. Users will not be able to find pages that are not in the index, therefore, there will be no search traffic.

Search engines are interested in creating a base of well-structured sites with credible and updated information. Consequently, they regularly scan all sites in search of new content, and even if your page was indexed, it is not a permanent decision.

This process consists of cataloging the contents of web pages to improve their SEO on Google.

First, you need to check if you’re indexed in Google. The simplest way to do that is to type in Google search (without the quotation marks) “site:yourwebsite.com”. You will see several indexed pages, but that’s quite rough data.

Search console

If you want to check whether a specific page is indexed by Google, type “site:yourwebsite.com/web-page-slug”.

Also, you can check the indexation of pages in the Google Search Console. Go to Index > Coverage and see how many pages are marked as “Valid” – that’s your number of indexed pages.

To check the indexation of a particular page, use the URL Inspection tool from Google Search Console. You will see the “URL is on Google” text if it’s indexed.

If the page does not show and you want it to, click on “Request indexing” in the same URL Inspection tool.

3. Run a speed test

A fast-loading website is a must to attract organic traffic in 2021. The site and page speed are crucial for both visitors and search engines:

  1. Looking from the SEO point of view, site loading speed is a noteworthy component of Google’s ranking algorithms, and the introduction of Core Web Vitals emphasized that.
  2. From the UX point of view, the quicker the web page loads, the more chances you will have to get visitors staying on your website. And that also influences the bounce rate (which is good for SEO, again).

page load speed test boost sEO Audit

Also, you should remember that page loading speed is not the same as website loading speed. Some of the pages may take really long to load, while other pages load fast, and thus, the overall site loading speed will be OK. But in fact, in this case, you have serious problems with slow-loading pages that need to be fixed ASAP.

There are several tools that can check page loading speed and get recommendations from Google.

page rating

As a rule, the following factors slow pages down:

  • External JavaScript files;
  • Not using CDN;
  • Excessive files in the database;
  • CSS is not optimized;
  • Caching issues;
  • Too large media files (images & videos);
  • Sloppy site code;
  • There are missing files that cause errors;
  • Scripts are poorly written;
  • Too many plugins, etc.

4. Review HTTP status codes & redirects

An HTTP status code is a server reaction to a browser’s request. When you navigate a website, your browser sends requests to the site’s server; the server then reacts to the browser’s request with a three-digit code: the HTTP status code.

There are five categories of HTTP status codes:

  • 1xx Informational responses;
  • 2xx Successful responses;
  • 3xx Redirects;
  • 4xx Client errors;
  • 5xx Server errors.

Any website owner and SEO expert need to understand the status codes that will impact their site’s traffic in the Google search engine.

For example, 5xx errors refer to server issues. A 4xx error means that there is some client-side problem. Codes starting with 3 refer to the redirection of both server and search engines to another URL.

Speaking of redirects, it is very common to redirect from one URL to another, but use this wisely. There are multiple options to execute it, but the preferable way is to set a 301 redirect which means permanent movement of the content from one page to another.

Remember that the search engines (Google, for example) will take some time to discover the 301, accept it, and credit the new page with the rankings of the previous page. Moving content becomes more arduous when a full site changes its domain or when specific content moves between domains.

So yes, there are many status codes that need your attention and revision. Here are some options to check the status code:

  • Developer’s tools right in your browser (F12 + ‘Network' tab);
  • Browser extensions (like Check Status Code);
  • Check the status code in any of your favorite SEO tools;
  • Open an online service of your choice (for example, httpstatus.io).

One of the free tools you may use is Google Search Console to help you with errors and audit traffic resolutions to SEO.

5. Evaluate the quality of textual content

Content is still the king and the source of organic traffic for your site. Website copy and blog articles are of great importance for ranking. Unique texts with relevant keywords and a well-thought-out structure can easily bring your website page to the top of the search results.

However, it is worth remembering that Google pays more and more attention to high-quality content that fully responds to the user's request. Low-quality, overly complex, or non-unique texts spammed with keywords will no longer rank high. Therefore, it is important to check the quality of your content. You can use Copyscape to check it for uniqueness, and SEO Writing Assistant by SEMRush or On-Page SEO Checker by SE Ranking to check whether the text is well-optimized.

What you must look at specifically is:

  • Page title: it’s important for both users and search engines as it helps identify the content of the page;
  • Meta description: between 50-320 characters for search engines to create operative units or snippets of your website;
  • Page URL structure: between 78 - 80 characters display on search engines in the SERP;
  • Index status: when you index the page, it will appear in the SERP if it’s not it won’t;
  • Image analysis: using a unique image is a positive factor in the ranking process as SEO appreciates the usage of original content;
  • Content analysis: at least 250 words of non-duplicate content to index the page as quickly as possible by the SE algorithm;
  • Header tags: H1-H6 were created to separate content by a hierarchical order to optimize navigation;
  • Keyword analysis: you will have the number, the position, and the density of your keywords on the page;
  • Link analysis: you will have the full analysis of the links on your page;
  • Load speed: it’s the estimation of page speed by Google between 0-100 where 90-100 is the highest speed;
  • Usability and technical analysis: the usability of your page has to be assessed for visitors' positive experience.

6. Analyze organic search traffic

Organic traffic is an almost free source of people who are interested in your products and services. By analyzing traffic, you can understand which marketing channels users come to you, which pages of your site generate more interest among the audience, which lead to conversions, which pages serve as a “bridge” to other site pages, and which cause bounces. It also helps you better understand your audience, their interests, and demographics. You can see all this in different sections of Google Analytics – it's a free tool that is a must-have for any site owner or marketer.

To efficiently analyze organic traffic follow these steps:

  1. Understanding what search queries generate the most of your traffic is vital to audit website performance, understand the correct customer intent, and SEO strategy.
  2. You need to efficiently recognize the difference between unique visitors (first website visit), page views (which pages have the most views, therefore are more popular), and visit (number of visits a person has made) to know which content works and which doesn’t.
  3. Measure your bounce rate, which is the number of visitors visiting your page and then suddenly leaving to another site. Your analysis will give you an audit of your website’s individual pages showing which are performing and which aren’t, and finally, the overall bounce rate of your website. The average bounce rate that is considered optimal is around 26-40%. Still, it differs significantly depending on the niche and site type.

website bounce rate

  1. Work to increase the Time Spent metric on every single page of your website, looking at what your traffic focuses on, what your visitors like the most, and where you can improve.
  2. Segment your audience to provide details and personalize marketing strategies resulting in more traffic and higher conversions. Segments shouldn’t be too complex: start with segments by traffic source, user type (mobile or desktop, new or returning), location or language, engagement, or content views.

7. Scan for keyword optimization

Keywords are search queries that bring traffic to your site from the SERP. Thus, every page on your website containing textual content should be optimized for particular keywords, keeping user intent in mind. While performing a website audit, your task is to check whether your pages are well-optimized for keywords. They should be present in all content throughout your page in the:

  • Title tag;
  • Meta description;
  • URL (slug);
  • “Alt” attribute for images and file names;
  • Anchor text of the links ;
  • Texts, of course, whether it’s a product description or a how-to blog article.

You can check whether your page is optimized for a specific keyword with any SEO tool of your choice, like the content analysis service by Seoreviewtools. You just paste the text there and enter your target keyword to see how well the text is optimized.

Keyword optimization is an ongoing process where you always search for new profitable keywords to implement your site traffic by growing your keyword databases. While performing such keyword research in any SEO service (like the one by Keyword-hero.com), pay attention to the following metrics of each keyword:

  • Search volume – the more people who are using this search query, the better. There is no use in optimizing your content for keywords with a search volume close to zero.
  • Keyword difficulty – it shows how difficult it would be to rank in the SERP for this keyword. For younger websites, it is more profitable to target less competitive keywords with a mid or long tail, where the shadow of the guru website and their authority won’t reach you.
  • Keyword relevance (intent) – the keyword you choose should match the page topic and the intent that is behind it. For example, experienced SEOs use informational keywords for blog articles and commercial keywords for product pages or categories.

8. Analyze backlink profile & fix broken links

Backlinks are links from other sites that point to your website. They are among the top ranking factors for search engines like Google. If you have many backlinks from reliable websites, your ranking will be higher. Still, the process of gaining backlinks should be gradual, and there should be no “toxic” backlinks that may spoil your backlink profile. So, it’s crucial to check your backlinks from time to time – one of the best services for that is Majestic.com.

Here’s a short guide on how to conduct a backlink analysis:

  1. Start with the total number of backlinks you have right now – it’s good for an understanding of where you are right now and compare the backlink profile to the competitors.
  2. Check the number of unique domains – getting hundreds of backlinks from the same 3-4 sites will not benefit you. Links should come from different, versatile sources;
  3. Analyze the anchor text usage in the backlinks you get – the anchor text should be relevant to your website niche and the specific page.
  4. Check the new links you’ve got – this data will help you understand whether your backlink strategy works, whether all the donors with whom you’ve agreed on placing links have fulfilled their promises. Also, checking fresh links will help you spot “toxic” backlinks in time – those that come from an adult, pharma, and other scam websites.
  5. See whether you have any lost backlinks – some of the backlinks may disappear simply because time has passed, or because there were some changes on the donor page, or other reasons. If you’ve agreed on permanent placement, you should contact the site owner to get your backlink back.
  6. Analyze your top pages that get the most backlinks – some of your pages may get more backlinks than others. Usually, this is your homepage, but you should not get 100% backlinks to your homepage only. Make sure that the pages that are important to you get backlinks and perform well.

Fix broken internal and external links

The first step to fix broken links is to find them. To find broken internal links on your website, Google Webmaster Tools will identify all internal links.

To check external links, you may use Monsido, which will give you a weekly report of all your external links avoiding the struggle of checking them manually one by one.

Broken links are dangerous to your site as they tell visitors that your site is not trustworthy. Therefore they shout to Google that your site is outdated; and, your ranking will fall.

To fix a broken external link, remove it and replace it with one that works.

To fix a broken internal link, you have a few options, depending on what caused the fault:

  • If it’s a typo error, then you just need to check the spelling, to sort the problem;
  • You can redirect the broken internal link to a page with relevant content. In this way, you will keep your traffic alive maintaining your SEO content under Google approval;
  • You may delete the broken link permanently, but make sure it is not a link that leads your traffic, or your SEO ranking will have a downfall.

Conclusion

So, an SEO audit of a site is an assessment of the site's compliance with the requirements of search engines. With the successful implementation of all recommendations and basic requirements, sites receive more search traffic and gain visibility in the search engine for the target keywords.

Search engines consider that the more optimization on the site, the higher positions in the search results it gets. In particular, SEO specialists should:

  1. Pass crawling tests and fix website errors
  2. Index target pages
  3. Fast website loading
  4. Deal with HTTP status codes
  5. Put all efforts into creating top-notch content
  6. Know the website’s audience (organic traffic particularly)
  7. Make keyword research and optimize selected keywords
  8. Control the backlink profile and fill it with high-quality backlinks

Achieving results requires the help of in-depth analysis and planning - this is the purpose and task of an SEO audit.

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