SEO Audit Guide

Do you know a lot about cars?

Not about brands or features, but about the intricate details that make them drive like a dream. When all systems are firing perfectly to contribute to exceptional performance on the road.

There’s much more that goes into a car and how it performs beyond what the average driver considers and understands. But that’s ok – it’s not your job to know exactly what X should fit into Y to do Z. Unless, of course, you are the manufacturer or mechanic.

Your body is the same. Doctors and specialists understand the part each cell plays in your overall health. How joints, muscles, ligaments, and bones work together for a peak mind and body. While you may remember some details from your high school human biology class, it’s nothing compared with the knowledge of experts who can identify and heal serious health problems.

The same goes with your website and SEO. While you may think SEO is a whole lot of keywords cluttered on a page with a tonne of backlinks pointing to the site, that is not the case at all.

SEO is highly complex, with many technical elements involved beyond just backlinking and a bit of on-site optimisation. Behind the scenes, there are many things to be considered and understood. And they all play their part in your website’s search engine ranking for terms that will drive leads and sales for your business. If even one factor is missed or not working properly, it can derail your entire performance.

In-depth, high-quality, technical SEO audits are crucial if you want your business to succeed online. Like going to the mechanics for a car service or the doctors for a check-up, the right SEO audit involves a specialist SEO team of professionals. It involves thorough diagnostics of your website and search presence, and solid recommendations to fix any issues.

The results can be astonishing and immediate. Just one small change to a website file could boost you from search engine invisibility to top positions for key branded and conversion search terms within hours.

Sounds pretty good, right?

Read on to find out exactly what key technical elements your SEO audit should cover to make sure all foundations are solid and you’re set up for organic search success.

We’ve been listed in the top 5 companies worldwide for our SEO results, so we know what we are talking about. Click here to find out more about our SEO Audit services.

Table of Contents

Who’s This Article For?

Most companies engage in some form of SEO. Unfortunately, this often means paying for backlinks and basic on-site optimisation without realising that the fundamentals are broken. This results in a lot of lost money and time, as well as valuable leads being ‘left on the table’. What’s the point of getting high-value links back to your site if bots can’t crawl it efficiently to index it?

A thorough SEO audit is the first and most vital step in boosting SEO health and valuable search engine rankings.

We’re writing this article for:

  • companies that want to improve their organic search performance, including increasing traffic, leads, and sales, and need to develop a strategy to help get them there
  • companies that have recently seen a dramatic drop in their organic search performance and results, likely as a result of a poor website migration, black hat SEO tactics, or other severe website issues
  • companies that have previously enjoyed reasonably good organic search presence with no effort, but who have suddenly experienced the force of new competitors with a strong SEO focus, or current competitors that have suddenly added SEO to their arsenal, propelling them forward in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS)
  • marketing managers who have been asked to do SEO but who do not have the in-house technical expertise, or perhaps time, to implement
  • companies that are being affected by the economic downturn, and they need to generate more leads for $0 Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) through methods other than paid marketing.

What’s The Problem?

Clients often come to us because their results are stagnant or not as strong as they could be, despite spending considerable amounts of time and money with an SEO agency.

These companies are investing money and resources into SEO, but not seeing a strong return on investment, if any. Many don’t even know that SEO return can be quantified and measured.

They have no clear strategy for their SEO and how it should align to their business and marketing objectives. They may be chasing the wrong keywords or are not using their SEO, content strategy, social media and paid ads to strategically support each other.

SEO ends up being an expensive afterthought – with no real return or value.

Many companies don’t know that they can quantify and measure the effectiveness of their SEO beyond basic keyword rankings.

Another key problem that we often see is companies that have spent big amounts of money on a new website, only to see rankings – and customers – plummet due to bad site migration. This is incredibly costly to businesses that hoped to see a strong and fast ROI from their new site, but are now worse off than before.

Why Does This Matter?

Companies with large websites and a lot of content may believe they are doing onsite SEO well. What they may not realise is that changes to their website architecture, developing different content types and taxonomies, and technical fixes could mean quantum increases in website traffic.

When not done well, however, website changes can lead to wasted investment or poor business performance. This forces more money into paid channels to drive brand awareness and results.

When done right, a website that ticks all of the boxes from a technical SEO audit can power tremendous business growth.

A strong SEO plan can propel your business to high rankings and market domination. Not only that, it can drastically increase the amount of business your website generates, at a much lower CPA than other means.

Here are some real-world examples of SEO success:

A Results-Focused Solution

The solution is to carry out an SEO audit of your website to identify problem areas or opportunities for improvement.

But beware – not all SEO audits are created equal. There are free SEO audits available online. Some marketing companies even use this as a prompt to get your information before they try and hard-sell their SEO services.

These are not comprehensive SEO audits. They only cover the basics, ignoring critical factors that could be limiting your website’s success.

Instead, you need an advanced SEO audit designed to dig deep and find the root of any problem as well as identify every single opportunity.

Our detailed and in-depth SEO audit covers the major technical and ranking factors that affect your website and company’s presence in search engines. We’ll also tell you why each factor is important and exactly to fix any issues.

Let’s look at the main aspects of what a comprehensive SEO audit covers.

Technical SEO Audit

A thorough technical website review allows us to see if there are any technical or navigational issues that may be stopping search engines from properly crawling or indexing your site.

There are multiple technical factors affecting SEO. A technical analysis of the following factors provides an overarching indication of site health and visibility.

Visibility

There are several sub-factors that come under ‘visibility’ but in short, it’s about how your site appears to Googlebots and human website users.

A ‘Googlebot’ is software that crawls websites, as both a desktop user and a mobile user, to understand how and what to index in search engines.

An SEO audit should confirm that Googlebots can successfully view your site without any issues. It should also make sure there are no differences between what a bot can ‘see’, and what a human user would see. Any differences could indicate cloaking – a black-hat SEO practice. This part of the audit also confirms that user experience, website navigation functionality, and conversion ability –  to complete a purchase or submit a form – isn’t negatively affected by lack of cookie visibility, or JavaScript and CSS visibility.

Managing Duplication & Multiple Versions

Having multiple versions of the same page can result in considerable issues from an SEO perspective. Search engines don’t know what is the right version to show in the search results, and it can dilute any page authority from on-site and off-site optimisation. This affects how high you might appear in search engines for your key terms.

You may not even realise this is a problem, but it’s something we pick up in most audits we carry out.

For example, you can have the following versions of your home page (which are the exact same page, but on slightly different URLs):

  • https://livingonline.com.au
  • https://www.livingonline.com.au
  • http://livingonline.com.au
  • http://www.livingonline.com.au
  • https://livingonline.com.au/
  • https://www.livingonline.com.au/
  • http://livingonline.com.au/
  • http://www.livingonline.com.au/

If the right technical elements haven’t been implemented, you can see how search engines could be confused as to what’s the true version. The same goes for every page on your website.

Just like a snail mail redirect from the post office, redirecting is vital to ensure that there is only one version of each page, recognised by website users and by bots. It’s also important for moved pages, that either don’t exist or have new URLs, as it manages non-resolving URLs and reduces crawl errors.

When implementing redirects, it is preferable to use either a 301 (permanent) or 302 (temporary) redirect as these types of redirects do not lose PageRank. Avoid JavaScript redirects because these may not pass ‘link juice’, meaning you miss out on considerable SEO benefit.

Along with redirects, you can implement smart use of canonicalisation, meta directives and content copywriting to reduce duplicate content and enhance the user experience (UX).

Site errors and setup

The correct structure of Robots.txt, XML Sitemaps and Page Indexation can have a significant effect on your SEO results. They all play a part in determining what pages appear in search engines, and what remain hidden. One of the most common causes of a sudden drop in rankings and pages disappearing from search engines, is a change to the robots.txt file. Simply adjusting one word in the meta robots tag, from “index” to “noindex”, which can often be done by a simple button press in the backend of a website, can cause your website to disappear from search results.

The structure of the XML Sitemaps and analysis of the page indexation is also important, as these provide insights into which pages are indexed, or shown, in search engines, and what causes may be preventing them from doing so.

Lastly, SEO audits should review SSL certification errors, security and malware notifications. This will uncover any major  – and minor – penalties and trust issues affecting your site.

Page Speed and Loading Time

Pingdom found that if a page takes 5 seconds or longer to load, bounce rates rise to 38%! Uncovering the issues that lead your website to load slowly times can improve user and keep them ‘on the hook’.

Why does this matter from an SEO point of view? In the past, the measure of a ‘good’ website and how high it appeared in search engines was about the quantity of keywords and backlinks. After realising that this only contributed to spammy tactics that resulted in less than ideal websites, search engines such as Google changed their algorithms to reward websites that focused on the user experience first.

Having a fast loading website, crucial today with impatient users, is something Google takes seriously. If visitors, leads, and sales is important to you, your business should also take it seriously.

Mobile-friendliness

World Advertising Research Center predicts that almost ¾ of internet users will be mobile-only by 2025. A considerable number of websites are seeing high numbers of mobile vs desktop users already. As such, Google is changing to mobile-first indexing, emphasising the importance of mobile-friendliness. This is again about Google prioritising user-experience. If your website not only looks great on mobile but is easy to navigate and take action, it will be rewarded with high rankings and more business revenue.

The testing protocols Living Online undertake as part of our SEO audit will uncover any issues and provide recommendations to propel your site to the top of the pack on mobile searches.

On-page SEO Audit

Internal linking, keyword relevancy and targeting, and correct placement of relevancy-based search terminology can create a create a clear road-map for search engines to find and prioritise your site.

There is a fine art to this. Done right, and you can appear as one of the first options when somebody searches your keyword. Done incorrectly and you could be penalised and be invisible to potential customers.

The 2019 BERT algorithm update changed how Google assessed quality signals. It introduced a neural network-based technique for natural language processing (NLP). In other words, it improved its ability to understand human language, as we talk, think, and search, in organic search results. You can learn more about this in ‘BERT Is Here So Watch Your Language’.

Many sites were affected – often without even knowing why their rankings significantly declined.

A comprehensive review of the language, placement and context of keywords on your website, combined with analysis of quality factors such as E-A-T (expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness), gives you an SEO profile that will not only pass, but impress, Google’s quality raters.

Long gone are the days creating unnatural sounding text and stuffing your page with keywords. Instead, understanding algorithm updates and other quality factors when it comes to your on-site SEO is what’s going to make the biggest improvements to your organic search results. This is something Living Online focuses on considerably.

Correct use of title tags, meta descriptions, image ALT Text, URLs, headings and other on-site elements all play a part as well. As part of our SEO audit, we will give you an in-depth analysis and recommendations for these.

Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) Audit

The current branding, positioning, and messaging of online assets gives valuable insights into your SEO health, and also your brand reputation in general.

Our goal is to maximise the real estate of your brand on search engines. We will review where your company sits in relation to your competitors and provide recommendations on how to capitalise on your exposure through branded search, Google My Business, and social media. We also analyse the visibility of your website tools, such as your store finder or calculators, and diagnose any unusual crawler behaviour.

Customised Audits

Are you a large forum with millions of articles and pages? Or an international eCommerce store with thousands of products? A standard SEO audit won’t cut it when it comes to analysing SEO performance and identifying fixes to assist you in achieving your business objectives. We can adjust our audits depending on the type of site, taking into consideration such things as:

  • Hreflang and internationalisation
  • SEO for category and individual product pages
  • Google News and Bing News performance

How You Will Benefit

The objective of an SEO audit should be to give you a high-level understanding of the primary current SEO issues on your website, as well as ways to fix these SEO problems and improve performance in organic search. The flow-on effect is increased organic search traffic, leads, and sales.

The resulting analysis and recommendations are compiled into a solid plan, prioritised and scoped for implementation. This is the most comprehensive SEO diagnosis on the market.

Stop Losing Market Share!

Living Online has worked with many companies just like yours. We conduct in-depth audits and implement action items to generate amazing ROI and solid CPAs, in line with, or exceeding, business objectives.

Tired of wasting time with vague or non-existent SEO efforts? Chat to our friendly, SEO Audit team today and:

  • stop losing website traffic, leads, and revenue because your potential customers are finding your competition but not you
  • stop throwing away good money building a new website that, post-migration, can’t generate the leads and sales you need to justify the cost due to severe migration issues
  • reduce your investment in paid advertising and start ranking and attracting clicks organically

Get an SEO Audit for your business