What Is An SEO Audit And Why Should You Perform One?
The first thing to do when starting the SEO process is to assess the state of your site’s current SEO. The most reliable and comprehensive way to do that is to perform an SEO audit.
An SEO audit is the process of analyzing your site’s SEO signals in order to identify any issues that could be harming your website’s ability to rank on search engines like Google.
Why bother performing an SEO audit?
An SEO audit is a great starting point for optimizing your website’s SEO. An SEO audit can provide you with valuable insights into the health of your website. It can also point you in the right direction when it comes to optimizing your website in order to maximize SEO success.
If your dispensary website is not attracting enough organic traffic, an SEO audit can guide you toward developing an effective SEO strategy that will improve your site’s numbers.
If your website suddenly experiences a drop in organic traffic, an audit can help to identify the SEO problems behind it. Quickly identifying and fixing these problems will help your traffic to bounce back and will allow your site to regain its footing.
Additionally, regularly performing SEO audits can help you to stay up to date with changes in search engine ranking algorithms. Search engines are constantly updating their algorithms, and major algorithm updates can lead to serious shake-ups in site rankings. You should strongly consider performing an SEO audit at least every six months to keep up with algorithm changes.
With so many advantages, knowing how to do an SEO audit is critical to the health of your website’s SEO.
Getting Down To Business—How To Do An SEO Audit
Before auditing specific areas of your site, you should first take some time to crawl it.
Using a site auditing tool to crawl your website can give you a look into what Google’s crawlers see when they interact with your website.
Starting your SEO audit with a bird’s-eye view of your site’s SEO can give you a peek of what’s ahead and valuable insights into what needs to be improved or fixed.
These tools will quickly crawl your site to identify any potential problems or weaknesses.
Additionally, you’ll need to access your site’s Google Analytics and Google Search Console dashboards. These tools can provide you with priceless statistical insights into how your website is performing and into how you may be able to improve it.
There are essentially three major stages to an SEO audit. You will need to perform a technical SEO audit, an on-page SEO audit, and an off-page SEO audit.
How To Do An SEO Audit: Auditing Technical SEO Elements
For the first stage of your SEO audit, you will need to audit your site’s technical SEO elements. The technical part of your audit should come first because ensuring that your pages are accessible and indexable is the most important aspect of SEO.
STEP 1 – Check Your robots.txt File
All websites have a robots.txt file that is used to guide search engine crawlers by disallowing them from crawling and indexing certain pages. Your robots.txt file can block pages from being crawled even if they are included in your sitemap. It’s important to make sure that there are no mistakes in your robots.txt file so that your pages can be properly accessed and indexed.
STEP 2 – Optimize Your URLs
It’s also important to review your URL structure to ensure that it’s SEO-friendly. Your page URLs should be unique, free of unnecessary numeric clutter, and have fewer than 25 characters. Also, they should be properly formatted to include keywords and hyphens between words.
Additionally, you should ensure that your site’s pages have canonical URLs. Canonical URLs can be added to the head element of a page in order to communicate the preferred URL to search engines. Canonical URLs are great for avoiding duplicate content issues, to help search engines index pages appropriately, and to consolidate incoming links to a specific page.
You should also take some time to check your indexed URLs. If you type “site:yoursite.com” into Google, it will tell you how many of your pages it has indexed. Having too many or too few indexed pages can be indicative of an issue. Having too many indexed pages can be indicative of ‘zombie pages’ in your network, which may be hurting your SEO. Having too few indexed pages can indicate that certain pages in your network are not crawlable, possibly due to errors in your robots.txt file.
STEP 3 – Customize Your 404 Page
A 404 page is the page that is shown to a user when they attempt to view a page from your site that does not exist. Web browsers have a built-in default 404 page to show users, but 404 pages can actually be configured and customized in order to better direct traffic around your website and keep viewers on your website for longer.
Your site should not be redirecting to a web browser’s default 404 page, but rather to your configured 404 page. This way you can provide viewers with information as to why they are seeing the 404 page, and offer links back to other pages or to a search function.
STEP 4 – Check Your Site’s Speed
Site speed has been a ranking factor in Google’s algorithm for some time now. If your site is slow, not only does it increase the likelihood that visitors will leave it (potentially increasing your bounce rate), but it also sends negative signals about your site to search engines.
Pages can be slowed down by all kinds of things, from page elements to server speed. If your site’s speed is slow, consider removing any unnecessary plugins, optimizing image sizes, or redesigning your site for improved speed and user experience.
STEP 5 – Review Your Sitemap
A sitemap is a file that guides search engine crawlers around your website. Your sitemap effectively tells search engines, like Google, which pages to index and rank.
Your sitemap should include all new and updated pages, should only include canonical versions of URLs, should be properly formatted in an XML document, and should follow XML sitemap protocols. Additionally, make sure that your sitemap does not include any pages that you don’t want Google to index.
STEP 6 – Make Sure Your Website Is Mobile-Friendly
Mobile-friendliness is so important that many web pages are now being built using a mobile-first design process. In 2018, Google rolled out mobile-first indexing, indicating that the mobile version of your website is crucial to your site’s SEO.
You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool to analyze the mobile responsiveness and ease-of-use of your website. It’s also important to manually check your site using your own phone.
If your website is loading slowly or working poorly on mobile, it may be time for a redesign.
How To Do An SEO Audit: Auditing On-Page SEO Elements
After finishing the technical auditing stage, it’s time to move on to auditing your site’s on-page SEO.
STEP 7 – Check Your Links
Internal links are a valuable SEO tool. Linking your pages together improves the user experience, establishes a link hierarchy, shares link equity, and gives search engines a better idea as to the structure of your website.
It’s important to make sure that your site’s internal links are related to each other, and that there are an appropriate amount of internal links on each page. Scan your content for additional linking opportunities.
Additionally, you should take some time to sniff out any broken internal or external links inside your pages. Broken links are both harmful to the user experience and bad for SEO.
STEP 8 – Analyze Your Content
You should also analyze the written content on your site for possible SEO errors.
For instance, duplicate content on your website can hurt both the user experience and your SEO. According to Google’s guidelines on duplicate content, having duplicate content on your website can make it hard to index individual pages, and can lead to SEO penalties. Check that the content on your pages is unique (for the most part) and stay away from SEO strategies that try to manipulate search rankings with duplicate content.
Additionally, take some time to consider if the content on your website has been optimized for search intent. Neglecting to account for search intent in your keyword and content strategies will hurt your site’s ability to rank.
STEP 9 – Check Your Keyword Tracking History
If you don’t use a keyword tracking tool to keep tabs on your keywords, then it’s time to start! Tools like SEMRush’s Position Tracking Tool work to keep track of the keywords that your pages rank for, providing you with valuable insights into the performance of your site’s keyword strategy.
Take some time to check how your keyword rankings have been performing over time, especially compared to your competitors.
STEP 10 – Optimize Your Images
Don’t forget to analyze the images on your website—especially the ones added since your last SEO audit.
Image file sizes need to be compressed and optimized in order to improve the user experience. Having large image files on your site can drastically slow it down, making it harder to navigate and hurting your search engine visibility.
Furthermore, check to see that all of your images have well-defined alt tags, as search engines read this text in order to better understand and index images.
STEP 11 – Check Your Title Tags And Meta Descriptions
Last but not least, don’t forget to check that all of your title tags and meta descriptions have been optimized for SEO.
Title tags and meta descriptions tell search engines what your site is all about. Carefully scan your page’s title tags and meta descriptions to ensure that each one is unique, and that they contain the keyword (or keywords) relevant to that page.
How To Do An SEO Audit: Auditing Off-Page SEO Elements
After finishing the on-page stage of the SEO audit, it’s time to move on to auditing your website’s off-page SEO elements.
STEP 12 – Check Your Backlinks
Once upon a time, backlinks were one of the most crucial elements to SEO success. Nowadays, backlinks aren’t quite as important as they once were, but are still a major contributor to a website’s SEO signals.
Start your backlink analysis by looking at the anchor texts of your backlinks. A healthy backlink profile should contain a natural mix of branded, exact match, partial match, page title, and generic anchor texts.
If you do find spammy or low-quality backlinks, you should go ahead and disavow them using Google’s Disavow Links tool. Additionally, if you detect any links that may be intentionally trying to harm your SEO, disavow those immediately.
You should also take some time to check your backlinks for broken or dead links. If you do detect any, you should try to reclaim those links.
STEP 13 – Check That Your Pages Are Optimized For Social Media Engagement
Social media shares, likes, and other interactions will not only work to drive more organic traffic to your website, but will also affect your site’s SEO.
First and foremost, you should ensure that your social media links are included on all of your content pages so that they can be shared and linked as easily as possible.
Additionally, make sure that your social media profile pages are up-to-date and in good standing. Fill up your profile pages with content, including your brand name, as branded social media pages can show up in search results.
STEP 14 – Ensure That Your Google My Business (GMB) Page Is Up-To-Date
Your dispensary’s GMB page is crucial to connecting you with local customers. Having an out-of-date GMB page with inaccurate information will make it harder for customers to learn about and interact with your dispensary.
Additionally, having an incomplete or spammy GMB page can hurt your local SEO efforts. Make sure that your GMB profile is completely filled out with the latest information. This will not only make it easier for potential customers to find you, but will also signal to Google that you are a valuable and trustworthy business.
Still seeking more information about how to do an SEO audit? Contact us today to find out what MediaJel can do for your dispensary’s SEO!