How to Perform an SEO Technical Audit: The Complete Guide

Why SEO Technical Audit?

An SEO Technical Audit can help improve website rankings by identifying and fixing technical issues that may prevent a website from ranking highly in organic search. By assessing the technical aspects of a website’s SEO, SEO experts can identify the areas that need to be improved in order to increase its ranking on search engine result pages (SERPs).

By looking into things like keyword stuffing, backlinking from micro-sites, and other ranking factors, SEO experts can ensure that your website is up-to-date and remains relevant in the constantly-changing search algorithms. Additionally, conducting mini-audits on a monthly basis and a full-fledged technical SEO audit every 4-5 months can help continuously monitor the performance of the website.

By improving the technical aspects of your website, your website will be able to rank higher and bring in more traffic from potential customers.

What is an SEO technical audit?

A technical SEO audit is a detailed analysis of the technical aspects of a website related to search engine optimization. The primary goal of a technical SEO audit is to ensure that search engines like Google are able to crawl, index, and rank pages on a website. This is done by regularly auditing a site to identify and fix technical issues that may be hindering its performance in search engine results pages (SERPs). The audit focuses on backend elements such as page speed, index status, crawlability, hreflang errors, canonical issues, and more. A technical SEO audit is an important part of website maintenance and can make a major difference in your website’s ranking and visibility in the SERPs.

Why perform an SEO technical audit?

1. To identify and fix technical on-page SEO issues

A technical audit can help identify and fix on-page SEO issues by providing insight into a website’s errors through a crawl report. This report can identify pressing technical SEO problems such as low page speed, duplicate content, or missing H1/H2 tags. Fixing these issues can result in a website ranking better, resulting in more traffic and better conversions.

2. To identify and fix code-level SEO issues

A SEO technical audit can help identify and fix code-level SEO issues by providing insight into the most pressing technical SEO problems, such as duplicate content, low page speed, or missing H1/H2 tags. Through automation of site audits using a variety of tools, webmasters can work through the list of errors or warnings created by the crawl to keep their sites clean and optimized. Additionally, a technical audit can help identify and fix common issues such as 4xx broken link errors, duplicate content, and URL errors. Fixing these issues can lead to improved search engine rankings, increased website traffic, and more conversions. Technical SEO is also important for making changes to URLs, as redirects can slow down page load time and be counted twice by Google. Lastly, it is important to use Google Search Console’s change of address tool if the website has gone through a domain name change or platform migration.

3. To identify potential crawlability issues

Crawlability issues are errors or problems that prevent search engine crawlers from properly indexing and ranking your website. These can include broken internal and external links, robots.txt issues, sitemap issues, nofollow or noindex code, slow page speed and HTTPS security issues, among other things.

A technical SEO audit can help identify crawlability issues by looking at a website’s code, content and keyword strategy. With the help of automated tools, such as a crawler report or site audit, potential issues can be uncovered and addressed. Fixing these issues can help improve the performance of your website in search engine results pages (SERPs). Additionally, running a crawl report can uncover other errors or warnings that may need to be addressed.

4. To assess the website’s usability

An SEO technical audit helps assess website usability by identifying potential issues that could be frustrating users, such as slow page loading, broken links, and HTTPS issues. It checks a website’s technical aspects, such as viewport configuration, plugins, and size of text and clickable elements, as well as the content by analyzing the title tags, meta tags, and H1 tags. It also checks for usability issues such as intrusive ads, interstitials, or a lack of structured navigation. Finally, it checks for mobile-friendliness to ensure that the website is responsive and compatible with different browsers. By doing all of these steps, an SEO technical audit can help assess website usability.

5. To identify speed optimization opportunities

An SEO technical audit can help identify speed optimization opportunities by assessing a website’s performance on various factors that affect page load speed. This includes examining the size of images, reducing bloated javascript, reducing server requests, ensuring effective caching, and looking at the server speed. Additionally, tools such as Google PageSpeed Insights and Google’s Test My Site can provide valuable insights into how a website is performing on mobile, providing data such as speed in seconds, rating, and potential revenue impact from slow loading speeds. Lastly, best practices such as image optimization can be implemented to help boost page speed. All of these measures can help to improve page load speed, providing a better user experience for visitors and improving SEO ranking.

6. To increase website visibility and authority

An SEO technical audit can significantly increase website visibility and authority. By ensuring website speed and stability, ensuring all backlinks are active and don’t lead to broken pages, and making the website mobile-friendly, website owners are able to ensure their page is easily indexed by search engines and users. Additionally, optimizing titles, headings, descriptions, and content across the website can help make a website more credible to users and search engines, which can improve its organic click-through rate. Furthermore, as Google places more emphasis on ranking factors revolving around user experience, an audit of the website’s user experience can help increase its visibility and authority.

7. To improve user experience

An SEO technical audit can help improve user experience by identifying UX pain points that could be frustrating users. It can also help improve the speed of the page and its interactive functionality, as well as its navigability on mobile devices. By auditing the user experience of a website, developers can ensure a clear and intuitive hierarchy of the site, faster page speed, web core vitals, mobile-friendliness, structured navigation, non-intrusive ads or interstitials, and a good design. Furthermore, developers can also use SEO-friendly pagination and make sure the website is mobile-friendly by compressing images, increasing font sizes, and utilizing Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). All of these measures can help to raise the SEO performance score of the website, ensuring a better user experience overall.

How to do an SEO technical audit?

Step 1: Crawl your website

Crawling a website is an essential part of an SEO technical audit, as it allows the auditors to gain insight into how Google is viewing the website. By using Ubersuggest or other crawlers, auditors can check for potential issues such as duplicate content, pages with too few words, pages that are not linked, and too many redirects. They can also monitor the website’s position in SERPs by conducting specific keyword searches. Additionally, auditors can check the robots.txt file to ensure that certain parts of the website’s URLs are not excluded, and look at the crawling stats in Google Search Console to check for crawl errors. By monitoring the crawl budget, auditors can determine if too much of the website’s old or low-value content is taking Google’s attention away from the better pages. Finally, auditors can use Google Analytics to check the installation of the tracking code and to compare the number of pages found by the search query to the number of pages in the analytics report. By doing all of these things, auditors can identify and address any issues that could be negatively affecting the website’s ranking.

Step 2: Review Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools

Reviewing Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools can help with an SEO technical audit by providing important insights into how search engines are crawling a website. This information can help identify potential issues, such as incorrect preferred domain settings, backlinks that are not meeting Google’s standards, and crawl errors that may be affecting rankings. By identifying these issues, SEO consultants can take the necessary steps to fix them, such as removing unnecessary backlinks, submitting a sitemap to search engines, or creating 301 redirects for dead pages.

Reviewing Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools can help with an SEO technical audit by providing detailed information about how these search engines crawl a website. With access to these tools, it is easier to take additional steps to help boost a website’s rankings and visibility, such as submitting a sitemap or targeting an international audience. Checking for backlinks, keywords, and crawl errors is also made easier with these tools, helping to ensure the website meets Google’s standards and is not adversely affected by old redirects.

Step 3: review Google Analytics

Reviewing Google Analytics can help with an SEO technical audit by comparing the metric data to the results of a “site:rootdomain” search. This can reveal if certain pages aren’t properly accepting crawl requests. Furthermore, the bounce rate data from Analytics can help to determine if people are finding what they are looking for on a website. If the bounce rate is high, it can be an indication that the content needs to be optimized. By examining and analyzing the metric data from Google Analytics, businesses can identify areas of their website requiring improvement and address any technical issues that may be causing the website to perform poorly.

Step 4: check on-page technical elements

Step 1: Check page titles and title tags to ensure they include the primary keyword and are relevant.

Step 2: Check meta descriptions to make sure they are unique and include the primary keyword.

Step 3: Ensure canonical tags are in place to help prevent duplicate content issues.

Step 4: Check hreflang tags to ensure the correct language is being served to the right users.

Step 5: Implement schema markup to help search engines better understand the content on the page.

Step 6: Check for broken links and 404 errors to ensure visitors can access the content they’re looking for.

Step 7: Check for duplicate content to make sure that search engines are not indexing multiple versions of the same page.

Step 8: Review the site structure, breadcrumbs, anchor text, and link sculpting to ensure navigation is easy and natural.

Step 9: Check headings to ensure the primary keyword is included in the H1 and additional keywords in H2s.

Step 10: Review internal links to ensure users can easily find the content they need.

Step 11: Utilize tools such as Ubersuggest to crawl the website and check for technical errors.

Step 12: Conduct a competitive analysis to ensure your website stands out from the competition.

Step 5: Check for and fix crawlability and indexability issues

Checking for and fixing crawlability and indexability issues in an SEO audit is an important step to make sure your website is properly indexed and ranked by search engines.

Here is a step-by-step guide to help you get started:

By following this checklist, you can be sure that you have covered all the important aspects to help search engines understand your website’s content and optimize it for better ranking.

Checking external links can help with an SEO technical audit by allowing you to identify toxic links, analyze your competitor’s external links, and track your website’s external link growth. This information can help you identify areas of improvement for your website’s SEO, such as where you need to remove or replace links to low-quality websites, where you need to update or fix broken links, and where you should focus your efforts on acquiring more high-quality external links. Ultimately, checking your external links is an important step in any SEO technical audit and can help you make informed decisions to improve your website’s SEO performance.

Additionally, checking external links can help with an SEO technical audit by providing valuable insights into the quality, relevance, and authority of the websites linking to your own website. By monitoring and analyzing the external links on your website, you can identify broken links, low-quality links, and irrelevant links that may be hurting your website’s SEO performance. This information can then be used to develop and adjust your SEO strategy to improve your website’s ranking in search engine results. With a thorough external link audit, you can improve your website’s SEO performance, authority, and visibility.

By checking the authority and relevancy of the linking website, identifying broken links, and avoiding low-quality websites, website owners can improve their website’s SEO performance and user experience. These improvements can lead to a higher search engine ranking and more visitors to the website. Additionally, with tools such as SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Google Search Console, website owners can easily and effectively monitor their website’s external links and ensure that they are of high quality and relevant to the content.

Schritt 7: Analyze site speed and performance

Analyzing site speed and performance can help with an SEO technical audit in many ways. Faster loading speeds have been shown to have a positive impact on user engagement and retention, which can lead to higher search engine rankings. Additionally, Google has made it clear that page load speed is a significant factor in their ranking algorithm, so faster-loading pages generally enjoy higher search engine visibility. Analyzing the speed and performance of a website can also reveal opportunities to improve the overall user experience, such as reducing server requests and optimizing images and JavaScript. Taking these optimization steps can result in improved rankings and increased organic traffic. Lastly, using tools like Google PageSpeed Insights and Test My Site from Google can provide valuable insights on how to maximize page speed, as well as benchmarking your website against competitors to identify opportunities for improvement.

Schritt 8: Ensuring your site is mobile-friendly

Ensuring your website is mobile-friendly is essential for a successful SEO audit. Mobile-friendliness is taken into account by Google when crawling and indexing websites, and it’s even more important since the introduction of the mobile-first index. This means that instead of using the desktop version of the page for ranking, Google will now use the mobile version of the page. With over 52% of global internet traffic now coming from mobile devices, having a website that is optimized for mobile is more important than ever. Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test is a great way to quickly assess the mobile state of your website, and by making sure your website is mobile-friendly you can improve your technical SEO and search engine rankings. Additionally, manually checking your website yourself, and making sure contact forms, phone numbers, and key service pages are functioning correctly, is also important. By taking mobile-friendliness into consideration and ensuring your website is mobile-friendly, you can improve your SEO audit.

Step 9: Identify high-value keywords

Identifying high-value keywords for an SEO technical audit is an important step in improving your website’s visibility and ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs). The following steps will help you identify high-value keywords for your audit:

By following these steps and using the right tools, you can identify high-value keywords for your SEO technical audit and improve your website’s ranking and visibility in SERPs.

Step 10: Perform log file analysis

Log file analysis can be very helpful in performing a successful SEO technical audit. By analyzing the log file, it’s possible to gain insight into the behavior of search engines and users when they visit a website. The analysis helps to identify errors that impede the crawling of a website, as well as the pages that are being crawled the most and those that are not being crawled.

Furthermore, it reveals structural issues that can hinder the accessibility of certain pages, and it can provide data about how efficiently the crawl budget is being spent. All of this information can be used to refine an SEO strategy or resolve issues with indexing or crawling.

What are the common mistakes made during technical audits?

Failing to review links in a technical audit can have a number of consequences. Firstly, it can lead to broken links, which can create a frustrating user experience and stop the flow of link equity. Additionally, Google may view this as a sign that the page is outdated and unmaintained, resulting in a lower ranking. Secondly, it can result in 404 errors, which can hurt both the customer experience and the search engine’s valuation of the website’s authority. Finally, redirects should be used sparingly, and redirecting to the home page should be avoided if possible, as this can slow down page loading time and be counted twice by Google.

2. Poor site architecture

The impact of poor site architecture on a technical audit can be significant. Search engines will have difficulty crawling and understanding the relationships between pages, making it harder for them to index your site correctly. This in turn can lead to low rankings or even complete exclusion from indexes. Furthermore, a poorly organized website can make it hard for users to navigate, leading to fewer visits and conversions. Issues such as deep site hierarchies, confusing navigation, and unoptimized URLs can all lead to a negative user experience, resulting in a lower ranking for your website.

3. Site speed issues

When it comes to technical audits related to site speed, there are several common mistakes that are often made. These include not optimizing images, having bloated JavaScript, not reducing server requests or implementing effective caching, having an inadequate server, and not using a Content Delivery Network (CDN). Additionally, not checking page load times or ensuring that page load times are under 3 seconds, particularly for mobile, is another common oversight. Furthermore, not taking into account the Core Web Vitals metrics (LCP, CLS, and FID) in addition to the traditional ranking factors can be detrimental. Finally, neglecting to use the available speed testing tools such as Google PageSpeed Insights and GTmetrix, or utilizing a speed optimization tool like WPRocket or NitroPack, are mistakes that should be avoided.

4. Lack of mobile optimization

Mobile optimization affects a technical audit in a number of ways, including content matching between the mobile and desktop versions of a website, meta robots tags, title tags and metadata, content, heading tags, images, links, structured data, and robots.txt access. Mobile-first indexing, which Google has implemented for the vast majority of websites, means that any content that is missing from the mobile version of the site will not be indexed in the same way as it would be on a desktop. There are several approaches to creating a mobile-friendly website, including responsive design, dynamic serving, and a separate mobile version, each of which has its own pros and cons. Mobile-friendliness is assessed on a page-by-page basis, and web developers should focus on providing the best user experience across all types of devices. Google’s mobile-friendly test includes criteria such as viewport configuration, the use of plugins, and the size of text and clickable elements. It is important to remember that more than half of web traffic occurs on mobile devices, and Google primarily indexes the mobile version of all websites, so websites must be optimized for mobile devices.

5. Technical defects on the site

What are some examples of technical defects on a website that can lead to a technical audit failure?

6. Issues with on-page SEO

What are the issues with on-page SEO that are common during technical audits?

Common issues with on-page SEO that can be identified during technical audits include thin content, duplicate titles, headings, and descriptions, poor optimization of titles, headings, descriptions, images and multimedia files, inadequate optimization of HTML tags, and insufficient content coverage. Additionally, it is important to ensure that websites are mobile-friendly and optimized for search engine results pages (SERPs). Further, a content audit should be conducted to identify any weak spots in the website’s content, such as thin content, duplicate titles, headings, and descriptions, and inadequate optimization of HTML tags.

Finally, off-page SEO should also be reviewed to assess the quality and quantity of backlinks and outside references to the website from other websites.

7. Issues with off-page SEO

When conducting a technical SEO audit, there are a number of off-page SEO issues that should be checked. These include backlinks, external references, and link-building strategies. As Google Search has started to prioritize mobile-friendly websites, it is important to make sure that the website is mobile-ready. Additionally, it is important to keep an eye out for broken links and 404 errors which can negatively affect the ranking of the website. Additionally, one should be mindful of duplicate content and make sure to keep redirects to a minimum. Lastly, one should strive to update the actual links as often as possible to ensure maximum SEO optimization.

8. Security issues

During a technical SEO audit, some of the security issues commonly found are expired certificates, old security protocol versions, lack of server name indication, and mixed content. An expired certificate indicates that the security certificate needs to be renewed. An old security protocol version may mean that the website is running an old SSL or TLS protocol. Server name indication is important in order to host multiple certificates at the same IP address, while mixed content can trigger a “not secure” warning in browsers. Additionally, it is important to check for links, canonicals and redirects that point to HTTPS pages. Finally, it is important to check for mixed content in order to ensure that secure pages do not load unsecured content.

9. Inaccessible content

Accessible content is essential for a technical audit, as it can have a significant impact on a website’s ranking in search engine results. Content must be optimized for both desktop and mobile devices, as Google has enabled its mobile-first indexing system. Additionally, text embedded in images should not be relied on for indexing, as it is nearly invisible to search engines. Ads should also be monitored, as a heavy ad presence can distract visitors from the main content and can result in a penalty from Google.

Content optimization is also important, as Google favors content-rich websites. It is important to audit the indexation rate of the website’s content to ensure it is being recognized by Google, and to identify any issues that are causing a low rate. If the content is of quality and relevant, it should be optimized using keyword research and updated with longer, better-optimized posts. Content that is low in quality should be removed or have noindex tags applied to it. Furthermore, the use of iFrames should be avoided when possible, as Google may have trouble accessing the content. Finally, Flash should be avoided, as it is now dead.

Overall, having accessible content that is optimized for both desktop and mobile devices is essential for a technical audit, as it can have a significant effect on a website’s ranking in search results.

10. Overuse of keywords

Overusing keywords can negatively affect a technical audit because it can lead to keyword cannibalization, which causes confusion among search engines. When two pages are in competition for the same keyword, both pages have reduced CTR, diminished authority, and lower conversion rates than one consolidated page would have. This issue is typically seen when optimizing home pages and subpages for the same keyword, which is common in local SEO. Additionally, overusing keywords can lead to keyword stuffing, which should be avoided. This can be checked by auditing the page and searching for target keywords in the URL, title tag, meta description, headline, subheads, main body text, and image alt attributes. Finally, if images have text embedded in them, it can be difficult for search engines to index, leading to a lower ranking. All of these issues can impair a technical audit, so it is important to make sure that keywords are used in moderation.