Are technical problems holding your website back?
Even if your website appears to be performing well, you never know what technical problems could be lurking under the surface. Technical issues can prevent your website from ranking optimally in search and cause a poor user experience. Fortunately, in today’s article we will explain how to execute technical SEO audits to evaluate the health of your website.
Performing a technical SEO audit on your website will highlight all technical problems with your website, helping you to bring your website up to scratch and stop missing out on valuable opportunities online.
Read on to find out more about what a technical SEO audit is and how to perform one.
What is a technical SEO audit?
A technical SEO audit is an in-depth analysis of your website’s technical infrastructure. An audit checks the health of your website and identifies technical SEO problems and areas where there’s room for improvement.
During a technical SEO audit, a checklist is used to scan different elements of your website and flag up any issues that need to be addressed to improve its performance.
Once you have the results of the audit, you can get to work fixing and refining the technical elements flagged up to improve your website’s performance and unlock its revenue potential.
A technical SEO audit is different to a full website audit. Technical audits are usually faster to complete than a full website audit because it is primarily interested in optimising the technical infrastructure of your website for search engines, while a full website audit analyses more elements of your website, including on-page and off-page content.
Whilst a technical SEO audit focuses on making changes that will improve your website’s visibility in search results, these changes will have far wider-reaching benefits than this.
Key reasons to perform a technical SEO audit include:
- Optimise your website’s overall performance.
- Ensure your website is adhering to SEO best practices to avoid receiving a Google penalty.
- Improve organic search visibility.
- Improve conversion rates.
- Improve user experience.
- Increase revenue.
Now we know why SEO technical audits are so important, let’s find out how to get started with one.
When should you execute a technical SEO audit?
Performing an initial audit on a newly created or a client’s site – if you’re a professional – on a quarterly basis is a usual practice that I adhere to. It is essential to develop a routine of conducting regular audits as part of maintaining the site’s overall health, particularly if the site continuously produces fresh content.
In addition, if you observe that your website’s rankings are stagnant or decreasing, it is necessary to conduct an SEO audit to identify and resolve any technical issues hindering your website’s success.
What's our technical SEO auditing process?
Here at topflight, our specialised technical SEO auditing process for clients commences with a mini SEO audit. To become acquainted with their market landscape, we invest at least an hour manually researching their survey responses. Think of it like dating someone you have yet to meet.
As an illustration, here is a sample set of questions we use:
- What are your overall business aspirations? What are your channel objectives (PR, social, etc.)?
- Who is your target audience?
- What technologies are you using (CMS, CRM, web hosting)?
- How frequently is the website updated? Do you have a web developer or an IT department?
- Have you collaborated with an SEO consultant before? Or, have you received any prior SEO services?
Subsequently, if we determine that we are a good fit, we will provide a formal proposal and contract to the client.
These SEO audits may require anywhere between 15 to 30 hours to complete, depending on the website’s size. We divide the audits into three categories and present them on a PDF report:
- Technical: Crawl errors, indexing, hosting, and more.
- Content: Content analysis, competitor analysis, content errors, audience analysis, and more.
- Usability and Conversion: Sales funnels analysis, usability audit, user behaviour, and more.
After the initial month, if the client approves of our work, we will begin to execute the SEO audit’s recommendations. Going forward, we will conduct a mini-audit monthly and a comprehensive audit quarterly.
Why use a technical SEO audit checklist?
So, where do you start with a technical SEO audit?
Performing an audit is a big job, so first, you need to make a plan.
As for other complex SEO procedures like site migrations, this plan usually comes in the form of a website migration checklist, detailing every technical element that is to be reviewed during the audit.
Using a checklist will help you to be methodical and ensure that nothing important is missed and you don’t end up duplicating any tasks!
Taking the time to prepare a checklist before you start will help you to make sure that the audit covers everything important and help you to work faster and more efficiently to produce better results.
Need some help preparing your checklist? Our team of technical SEO specialists want to share their comprehensive technical audit checklist with you. Use this checklist to discover how healthy your website is and pinpoint the fixes and changes that will help to optimise your website’s performance.
Who can perform a technical SEO audit?
A technical SEO audit can be performed by anyone with a good understanding of SEO principles and technical website aspects. This includes web developers, SEO specialists, digital marketers, and website owners themselves who have the knowledge and tools to identify and fix technical issues on their site.
However, for more complex technical audits, it may be best to seek the assistance of an experienced SEO professional or agency with expertise in technical SEO. They can provide in-depth analysis, identify critical technical issues and provide actionable recommendations to improve your website’s performance and ranking.
What tools are available for performing an SEO audit?
Once you’ve decided what elements of your website’s technical infrastructure you’re going to audit and made your checklist, you’ll need to figure out how you’re going to perform the audit.
Even the professionals use specialist tools to simplify and speed up the audit process and remove the risk of human error. Deciphering the results produced by these tools can be complicated and implementing the recommended technical changes difficult, so investing in a professional website auditing services will help to improve the results you achieve from the audit
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular technical SEO tools available:
Free tools from Google:
1. Google Search Console
Google Search Console is your bread and butter when it comes to auditing your website. The Search Console is a free tool offered by Google that provides valuable data and insights into your website’s current position in search results.
The Search Console can be used to:
- Verify that Google can crawl your website’s pages.
- Receive alerts about indexing issues or spam on your website.
- View a website’s backlink profile.
2. Google site search
Did you know that you can find out which of your pages are being indexed by Google simply by performing a search in the Google search bar?
All you need to do is type into Google’s search bar “site:yourwebsite.com”.
Google will then display all the pages it has indexed. If your site does not appear at the top of the results, it could mean that you have a Google penalty or there are technical issues with your website that are preventing Google from indexing it.
3. Google PageSpeed Insights
Google PageSpeed Insights is another free tool from Google that is used to measure and analyse how long web pages take to load and suggest changes that could be made to a page to improve its load speed.
Specialist technical SEO auditing tools:
Specialist technical SEO tools will usually require you to sign up and pay to get access to their full range of features but are invaluable for making an otherwise labour-intensive job quick and simple and helping you to achieve the best results from the audit.
Most specialist technical SEO tools work in the same way, they will quickly crawl all the pages on your website searching for different technical and on-page issues.
They then present you with the results, providing you with an overall view of your website’s health and highlighting any technical errors or problems they have found.
You will usually be able to access in-depth information about each issue and recommendations on how to fix them.
Some of the most popular specialist SEO auditing tools include:
If your website is very small, you may be able to get by without using a specialist technical auditing tool, but most websites would take too long to audit manually without one.
10 essential elements of a technical SEO audit
When putting together your technical SEO audit checklist, we suggest prioritising these 10 basic elements, essential to any technical SEO audit:
#1 Indexation and crawlability
One of the most important things you’ll need to check is that your website is set up correctly to allow search engines to easily crawl and index its pages. This is fundamental to ranking well in search, if Google can’t see or index your webpages, then the rest doesn’t matter.
You can check which pages have been successfully indexed by Google by performing a Google site search and find out how many of your website’s pages have been crawled by Google by viewing your website’s Index Status report in the Google Search Console.
#2 The robots.txt file
Your website’s robots.txt file tells search engines which URLs on your website they should crawl.
During a technical SEO audit, you need to check that your robots.txt file is up-to-date and correct, ensuring that it is not blocking search engines from crawling any important pages.
#3 Site and URL structure
A technical SEO audit should check that your website’s architecture and URL structure is consistent, simple, and optimised.
Your website should be organised in a way that is structured and logical. Pages and content should be grouped by topics and site navigation and URL structure should be intuitive, simple, and consistent.
This is beneficial to both SEO and user experience.
#4 Meta tags
Meta tags are key to successful search optimisation. Meta tags signpost to search engines what your webpages are about.
Examples of different types of meta tags that are important to SEO include title tags, meta descriptions, header tags, alt text, and canonical tags.
Using a specialist technical SEO audit tool like Screaming Frog, SEMrush, or Ahrefs, will quickly and efficiently provide you with information about any meta tags that your website is missing and any errors with meta tags that could be blocking Google from crawling a page.
#5 Canonical tags
Canonical tags are usually used in the header section of a webpage’s code to tell search engines which is the preferred version of a webpage. This can help to prevent problems caused by duplicate content appearing on multiple pages.
Most specialist auditing tools will quickly crawl your website to check for missing canonical tags and identify and review existing ones.
Your website’s XML sitemap should list all the pages of your website that you want search engines to crawl. Search engines use your sitemap to help them to find and crawl your website, so ensuring that it is up-to-date, optimised for search, and free of errors is an essential part of any technical SEO audit.
#7 Website Security
Is your website secure?
Google prefers secure websites, so ensure your site has an SSL certificate and is using HTTPS. This will not only improve your site’s security but also boost your search engine rankings.
#8 Website Speed
Ideally, Google likes to see your web pages load within three seconds. Slow page load speeds can harm user experience, so page load speed has become an important ranking factor. Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to discover your website’s load time.
#9 Mobile-friendly, SEO-ready web design
Your website should have a responsive design that allows it to adapt to any screen size, making it simple to view and use on any device, including mobile phones. A mobile-friendly design is an important ranking factor and checking the responsiveness of the design is a vital part of any SEO technical audit. Google offers a free and simple mobile-friendly test, and you can also view a mobility usability report in Google Search Console.
SEO web design involves creating a website that is visually appealing and user-friendly while simultaneously being optimised for search engines. The end goal is to improve the website’s ranking on search engine results pages and drive more traffic to the website.
#10 Review your Analytics Data
Review your site’s analytics data to gain insights into user behavior, popular pages, and conversion rates. Use this information to identify areas for improvement and optimize your site accordingly.
Does you website require a technical SEO audit?
Need help or advice with carrying out a technical SEO web audit?
Curious to know how healthy your website really is? Here at topflight, we specialise in technical SEO services and offer a comprehensive website analysis service that can help you to resolve technical issues with your website to boost its performance.
For more information about our website audit services, send us a message and we’ll be happy to help.