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SEO 36 min read

Advanced SEO Audit Checklist For All Stages Of The Analysis [Infographic]

how to perform an seo audit
Stacy Mine
Ilkhom Chakkanbaev
Author of Seopulses Blog
Website SEO Audit is a check of a site for internal issues and compliance with search engines' requirements. An audit is necessary both in the case of a site being sanctioned by search engines and when everything is fine with the site. It can help accelerate site growth by identifying and fixing technical vulnerabilities.

A detailed audit check should always be carried out before starting on-site optimization. It will help you find minor bugs and serious problems. Let's check our technical SEO audit checklist.

General information


What is an SEO audit


An SEO audit is an assessment of the effectiveness of a web resource by measuring its performance in search. It allows you to establish the current quality of website optimization and find weaknesses or growth points for further improvement and increased search traffic.

Why do you need a site audit


Site auditing helps you find weaknesses in site optimization, making it possible to correct existing errors and increase traffic from search.

Additionally, the audit allows you to find:
Target audience portrait.
Collect primary information about the project.
Assess current SEO metrics.
On-page optimization. Helps customize meta tags and other parameters for optimization.
Backlink crawling.
Additional optimization related to the specifics of the work.

Stages of work


Gathering information about the project


First of all, you should decide on the launch goal, which can be different, for example:
Brief
Primary audit
Access
In the case of a brief, it will help obtain the maximum volume of information about the specifics of the client's work, business data, and approximate indicators during the work.
For a primary audit, you can use Serpstat or an analog, which allows you to get data on keywords for which the site is already ranking, links and visibility for the last year, and much more.
Required accesses:
Google Analytics;
Google Search Console;
Also, if the company has already worked with SEO contractors, it is best to demand reports, which will allow you to understand the work that has already been done, and you can pay attention to the items that have not yet been completed.
How To Evaluate The Profitability Of A Project And Form A Long-Term Strategy: Vintage Experience
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Analysis of audience, search demand and competitors


User portrait

Let's proceed with our SEO audit checklist. The portrait of the target audience should contain the following data:
age;
sex;
residence;
marital status;
area of employment;
income level;
position;
needs, desires, hobbies.
Additionally, we should understand that some topics may have several target audiences, each of which, in certain circumstances, may be interested in the promoted product.
Competitor analysis

There is a lot of work here since you should collect the maximum amount of data about your competitors:
1
Traffic from Google in the promoted regions. You can find it with the help of Serpstat summary report.
поисковый трафик анализ
2
Visibility over time on a promoted search engine.
3
Used keywords.
4
Link analysis, you can draw a parallel with the promoted site with Links Intersection tool.
5
Indexing.
You can find a complete list of all possible data about competitors here.
Analysis Of Competitors' Websites: An Extensive Guide
Content audit

Unfortunately, it will not be possible to give the content audit completely to robots. A specialist needs to work with texts and content.

However, you can automate collecting basic data, for example, through the Advego tool, which helps not only to count the number of characters but also to select the most used words in the text.
How To Do A Content Audit On Your Website

Traffic analysis


Traffic analysis can be performed using standard analytics system - Google Analytics.
Google analytics traffic analysis
It's also worth checking out reports from Google Search Console, for example, Devices.
 Google Search Console Devices
Google Analytics 4 Overview:
To Leave Or To Stay?

Analysis of the site structure


There are many types of site structure: linear, branched, tree, mixed, etc. First of all, you should see if it looks harmonious after expanding the semantic core or needs to be redone.

For example, in an online store, you can determine the category of goods that, e.g., microphones can be related to. Accordingly, you should think over the entire path of the user and the section. For example, you can start with the category "Microphones and accessories", after which they can be divided into "Microphones" and "Accessories", and so on.
check site structure
A large site is not homogeneous; it consists of several sections, each of which (with proper content structuring) corresponds to a sub-niche with its own search demand, competition, and user behavior patterns.

Therefore, an adequate audit must necessarily contain a comparative analysis of the sections. Moreover, without careful study of the site in parts, one cannot be sure that there are no technical problems. Different dynamics across sections can easily distort the indicators that we tested to catch problems.

The analysis itself is simple enough. You need to collect data on the number of pages, indexing, traffic, conversions, link mass, and so on in a pivot table. Then problems and inconsistencies appear at a glance.

General technical audit


Robots txt check

In the case of Google, you can use the following tool, where it is enough to select a property and start working. Here we also see the entire file with the rules.
robots.txt tester Google
If you need, you can check the ability to scan pages.
robots.txt tester Google
Then we see the result and the prohibiting rule.
robots.txt tester
After checking the indexing and understanding which pages should not be crawled by the robot, just add them to the robots.txt file.

Check if the correct pages are closed in robots.txt. You will find this recommendation in the Serpstat Site Audit.
seo audit tool
One move with your magic wand and "Allow: /" turns into "Disallow: /". In this case, do not be surprised why your site is not indexed or, even worse, dropped out of the index and lost all positions. How can these problems be avoided? Similar to Meta Robots - keep track of positions and regularly check the site with a crawler. Be careful when setting up robots.txt on test subdomains (for developers and QA) - these subdomains obviously should not be indexed; therefore, it is advisable to close them in robots.txt, but there are times when such a robots.txt file goes to production, and everything becomes sad.
— Alex Wise, CEO & Founder of Netpeak Software
Formation of XML sitemap

To generate a sitemap on a standard CMS, you can use modules or plugins. For example, in the case of WordPress, it is enough to install the Yoast SEO plugin, where you can enable the generation of an XML sitemap in the general settings.
Formation of XML sitemap
If you are using a non-standard CMS, you can use the free SiteAnalyzer tool to generate a sitemap in XML format. After that, you need to download the file to the file's root folder and use it to download to the systems you need.
Indexing check

You can check the indexing of site pages in Google through Search Console, where in the Coverage section, you can see the following types of indexed pages:
Error
Valid
Valid with warning
Excluded.
Search Console coverage
By going to one of the items, you can see the indexed pages with the date of verification.
Search Console coverage
You can also use filters to speed up your search.
Search Console coverage
To check the indexing of a specific page, you can enter a URL, the indexing status of which will be shown by the system.
Search Console coverage
How To Carry Out The Indexation Analysis Of The Website
Optimization of pagination pages

Optimization is needed to eliminate the problem of indexing pagination pages, which are sequential URL numbers. For example, page 5 of an online store catalog.
pagination
In some cases, search engines can crawl these pages and add them to search results. To solve this problem, it is enough to add the "rel ="canonical" tag to the site page code.
You can find errors related to misuse of the canonical tag in the SEO site Audit tool reports.
Canonical tag
Multilingual websites

For the search engines to consider all versions of the site (language), it is necessary to arrange them on separate URLs. Additionally, you should set the hreflang attribute for alternate pages. Also, do not forget about the Sitemap, in which you need to add several versions of the page through the "loc" element.

The hreflang attribute is recommended for search engines and is relevant primarily for Google.

The most frequently encountered error in using this attribute is the lack of links from one page to another. After all, if there are several versions of a page in different languages, then each of them must contain a link to all variants.

You can easily find errors related to incorrect use of the hreflang meta tag in SEO Site Audit checklist tool.
hreflang attribute
Server parameters

Server parameters play a significant role in the site loading speed, which affects the usability and the position in the search results.
To optimize your site at the server level, it is recommended to use:
Caching
Compression
CDN
How To Check Server Response Time And Reduce It

On-page SEO guide


Title, Description and H1 heading (meta tags)

This is an essential item for page optimization, so first of all, you should check all site pages for accurate and optimized titles and descriptions.

To do this, right-click on the checked page in Google Chrome and then select "View page source" in the drop-down menu.
how to find metatags
You can find the values you need in the page code.
find metatags
For easier verification, you can use a simple method, for example, the Google Chrome extension SEO META.
You can also view meta tags using the free Serpstat Website SEO Checker extension.
Serpstat Website SEO Checker
For mass checking of website pages, you can use crawlers, for example, Netpeak Spider. You can also use Serpstat Site Audit, which allows you to quickly and easily get all errors in the meta tags and site titles.

Title

I consider titles up to 45 characters unoptimized; you can always put one more key in them. Plus, I know many companies and SEOs who deliberately write titles longer than 65 characters, giving robots one or two more keys that humans cannot see, but robots perceive and skip into the ranking.

Recommendations for beginner SEOs on how to make a Title tag:
The site pages' indexing depends on how Title is created, so write about information/goods on the page as accurately and concisely as possible.
In Title, use the main key (product name, service, type of activity); if this is an article, indicate what a person can find out by visiting your page.
Do not use adjectives and quality keys like "best phone", "best hotel". Headlines like these often increase CTR, but they are also often ignored by robots. So be careful!
Do not write page titles like "Main- development company ...". Nobody cares that this is the home page of the site.
Do not copy Title from others. Your page title should be unique and meaningful. Do not borrow other optimizers' possible mistakes, do not forget about constantly checking the site for optimization.
Do not overuse regular and special characters. Search engines themselves will try to remove or replace them. For example, if you compose the title "Promotion!!! Mass sale and credit at 0%," the search engine will remove unnecessary signs or alter the Title at its discretion.
Don't spam with keys. One page - one key. There is no need to list everything possible. The robot and people will not understand what is on the page. Use keys in content.
Description

As with Title, different search engines have different optimal lengths. There are sometimes 425 character snippets on Google. Also, the description attribute is increasingly being replaced by search engines with their own. And its importance in optimization is no longer so significant.

Recommendations for beginner SEOs on making Description attribute:
Your page descriptions should be meaningful and engaging.
I recommend using icons and special symbols to attract attention. Even at the top positions, you will be more quickly noticed through the snippet's bright colors.
In the page description, it is advisable to use the main page keyword in the first sentence. Do not fill your descriptions with promotional offers alone, they rank poorly.
Do not copy fragments of text into the description; the robot can do it for you.
Do not copy descriptions from others.
Although the description attribute is less and less taken into account by robots in ranking, you should not ignore it. It boosts CTR very well.
Stick to the optimal length. If there is not a lot of information on the page, you should not create large descriptions. But if the page contains a lot of information, try to describe the page well and tell the robots and people that they can get it on this page.
Optimizing website loading speed for desktop

To improve the speed of loading the site on computers, you can use the following methods:
Image compressing
Compressing pages in zip or gzip
Using WebP images
Lazy Load
Caching
Reducing CSS and JavaScript.
Slow download speed is still common as speed optimization on medium to large projects can be challenging. Often, the creation of new types of documents (for example, tag pages) requires database queries that were not provided at the design stage.

To speed up, complex work is required, with testing all kinds of pages using various tools. Sometimes SEOs limit themselves to checking the home page in Page Speed Insights. Of course, this is not enough.

Google Analytics reports contain a lot of useful information about different loading stages (server response, redirection, HTML loading) for users.
Optimizing website loading speed for mobile

For mobile devices, in addition to the methods used in the PC, you can use Google Accelerated Pages (AMP).
 Google (AMP)
How To Optimize Images On A Website For Mobile Devices
AMP issues

AMP pages are an accelerated mobile version that can significantly increase loading speed, and are also distinguished by a special badge in Google search results.
AMP issues
You can use this tool to check if a page has an AMP version.
AMP issues
You can use the documentation here to connect to AMP.
Configuring Accelerated Mobile Pages On A Website: How To Avoid Mistakes
404 error page

The presence of broken links on the site must be regularly checked, and this can be done using various tools, for example:
Serpstat Site Audit
Screaming Frog SEO Spider.
SiteAnalyzer.
The presence of incorrect server response codes is not a problem as long as it does not become a mass thing. If only a few pages give incorrect codes, there is nothing wrong with that, but as soon as they start to expand, it is necessary to fix this technical problem urgently. Otherwise, it will lead to poor indexing or losing credibility and, accordingly, position in search.

The search engine will define 404 and 500 in the same way - the page does not exist. If there is a 503, it will come back later to see the changes, but if it stays for more than 2 days, it will also be evaluated as 404. Try to avoid 4xx and 5xx errors on the site, unless, of course, you create them specifically for others goals.
Personal demonstration
Our specialists will contact you and discuss options for further work. These may include a personal demonstration, a trial period, comprehensive training articles, webinar recordings, and custom advice from a Serpstat specialist. It is our goal to make you feel comfortable while using Serpstat.
Optimizing images on the site (multimedia)

The images on the promoted page are the main reason for slow loading, so they should be fixed first to improve loading speed.

You can also use Serpstat Audit to find images that are too large.
seo web site audit
You can resize an image if it is too large using almost any tool such as Paint. You also need to compress the image, for which you can use the IloveIMG tool or Imagecompressor.
Full Guide For Optimizing Images On The Site
Display in SERP (Markup issues)

Micro-markup allows you to highlight a site in the search results, for example, you can get a search line from the main page of the site. Or add a rating.
rating markup
To check the markup on the current pages of the site, you can use a tool from Google.
to to check markup
After checking and determining the error, you can proceed to troubleshooting and adjusting to one of the schema.org formats.
To make it easier to optimize your site, use the Serpstat Checklist tool. There you will find simple and understandable checklists for different areas of work with the site, which you can adjust to suit your goals.
checklist for seo audit

Link analysis


Growth dynamics


You can check the number of links and the dynamics of site growth via Serpstat Backlink Analysis tool.
backlink analysis

Naturalness


Unfortunately, there is no exact way to automate the process of determining naturalness; you can only reduce labor costs. For example, you can upload all link anchors through the Serpstat report "Link Anchors".
anchors backlink analysis
Then evaluate the domains by Domain Rank, which will help you understand how authoritative the site can be.
анализ ссылок Serpstat анкоры
In future, it is best to separately consider each link and its naturalness, for example, how concisely and unobtrusively the link is.
Serpstat Backlink Analysis Tool: A Comprehensive Guide

Link quality


To more accurately understand how the links correspond to the quality indicator, you should use a table in which you need to write out all the links from the Serpstat or use the API to get data. In the table itself, we fill in:
number;
date of indexation/appearance;
donor;
acceptor;
anchor;
donor page;
acceptor page;
traffic - can be obtained via Serpstat or Similarweb;
traffic analysis
trust;
spam;
backlinks;
external links.
These two indicators can also be checked through Serpstat. The service has a special report for external links.
outbound link analysis
After that, you can already determine the quality indicators of each link or domain.

Spamming anchor list


Thanks to the above table, you can additionally add an indicator by link type, for example, mixed, non-anchor, anchor. After that, check that the link ratio is respected:
Anchor: 20%
Non-anchor: 65%
Mixed: 15%
If not, then it is best to try to restore these proportions in the future when building the link mass.
How To Build An Anchor List For Link Mass Increasing

Density and commercial analysis of anchor list


It can be carried out using the same Link Anchors report.
анализ анкоров входящих ссылок
It can also be carried out through the analysis of the created file.

Conclusions on the link mass


Based on how many requests a site can be promoted by and how many links already exist, it is possible to understand the approximate level of link growth, as well as to which URLs (landing pages) they should be directed.

Checking for sanctions by search engines, risk assessment


To check for sanctions from search engines, just use the Google Search Console. You can see the existing issues in the Manual Action section.
Google Search Console manual actions
Google's Automatic Sanctions: How To Get Your Website Out Of The Filter
SEO audit infographic

Additional checks related to the specifics of the project


Before finishing the report, it is recommended to look again at both the competitors' sites and the possibilities of the project specifics, which may be related to:
Business niche.
Company itself.
For example, in the second case, a company that sells goods or services in several regions should consider the possibility of promotion through subdomains or other means.

For the field of activity, you can see the possibility of rebuilding the site for the specifics of the business, for example, some sites that are engaged in design or construction work have a counting calculator that allows the client to see the approximate price of the service in advance. Additionally, this will improve the behavioral indicators of the site, allowing you to keep the user longer.

Search for effective ways of project development


The first step is to make a plan. For example, it is best to approach these tasks initially:
1
Check technical data, robots.txt, sitemap, micro-markup, 404 errors, etc.
2
Then check the indexing and block unnecessary, technical pages or duplicates in robots.txt.
3
Further filling in and adjusting the title, description and H1.
4
Then create new landing pages and make other changes to the site.
5
Further, it is already possible to introduce complex technical issues, for example, the refinement of the micro-markup, AMP pages, improving the site loading speed, and many others.
How To Automate The Work Of An Internet Marketer: All Tips And Tricks Of Serpstat API

Reporting and optimization plan


After all the necessary points of the analysis have been completed, you can start drawing up a report on the audit results. You should understand that the final report should be as simple and understandable as possible so that even non-specialists could realize that there is an N series of problems and issues, and they will need X hours and a certain budget to fix them.

You also need to remember that the report may be different for different sites, not only in size but also in the content of some blocks, for example, the performance of work to eliminate existing errors.

It is necessary to indicate additional blocks in the report:
SWOT analysis. Here we indicate the strengths and weaknesses of the project.
Analysis of competitors.
So that each person can understand what needs to be done, you should add a summary, where we indicate a shortlist of the most severe mistakes, an assessment of the site's risks and condition, and the time frame for the project and the required budget.

To speed up the SEO reporting process, you can use custom reports in Serpstat.
Serpstat custom reports
This will not only simplify the collection of statistics, but also make them more accurate, as well as automate some of the processes.

Conclusion


In this article, I have tried to describe the fundamental site analysis points that can be applied to most sites. These points should be checked first.

It should also be understood that there is no perfect solution that can be applied to all sites since it cannot take into account the capacity of the project, its budget, and other features.

It is best to use a systematic approach and, after initially checking all the site factors, proceed to their solution to achieve the maximum result with minimum labor costs and then move on to more and more complex tasks.
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