A website audit is a process of reviewing all the factors that affect a website’s ranking on the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). The objective is to discover discrepancies that your website might be getting penalised for by a search engine.
You might get too caught up in other efforts, such as increasing the number of backlinks or creating new content. However, one should not forget that the key to increasing traffic lies in pre-existing web pages. Therefore, routine auditing is necessary.
This article is a step-by-step guide on how to audit your website. It also includes how to improve SEO rankings in 2021. Along the way, we will be using multiple tools with which you will need to be familiar. Here’s a list of tools we will be using:
- Google Analytics
- Google Search Console
- Google PageSpeed Insights
- Google Structured Data Testing Tool
There is no hard and fast rule that you have to use these tools only. You can also use their variants. Also, to help you navigate this long article, here’s a list of steps we will discuss:
1. Removing indexed pages that harm your website
2. How to improve page load time?
3. Mobile optimisation is imperative.
4. What to do about broken links?
5. Identifying indexing problems
6. How many versions of your site are indexed?
7. How to improve website traffic?
8. Tips to improve on-page SEO
9. Learning about content gaps
10. How to create better content?
11. How to work with structured data?
12. Analysing backlinks
Removing indexed pages that harm your website
Want to know a lesser-known fun fact? Google prefers websites that have fewer pages indexed. The next question, how do you find out the number of pages indexed from your website?
Use this search query-site: yourdomain.com.
Once you enter this query and hit enter, the SERP will have the list of pages from your website indexed on Google. Look at the number of results to find out how many pages are indexed.
If you skim through, you will find that many pages might be indexed while you have no idea about them. It is what we call index bloat. It is a phenomenon where many low-value pages (with little or no unique content) are indexed.
These pages are harmful to your website because they add no value to Google searches. Therefore, it is reasonable to de-index these pages. However, which pages should you remove? First, let’s set the criteria
- Pages with content less than 100 words
- Archive webpages
- Page filters from faceted navigation
- Pages created by WordPress (tag or category pages)
- Pages that consist of a single image file
- Broken links
- Old content that is no longer relevant
- Auto-generated user profiles
- Paginated pages
- Mishandled HTTP to HTTPS
- Inconsistent www vs. non-www.
What would be the expected result of removing these pages? Firstly, traffic should increase. Secondly, we now have fewer web pages to optimise.
How to improve page load time?
Why improve page load time? Because it directly affects the user experience of your website and, therefore, conversion rates. Longer loading times can harm your website and business. Two common ways of increasing the load time of any website are:
- Optimising the entire website to load quicker
- Getting a better hosting service.
Before that, however, you need to head to Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool. It is a fantastic tool because it tells you exactly what to do to improve the load time of your website.
Once you run the test, both versions of your website (mobile and computer) will be rated. Next, you need to scroll down and find a section named ‘Opportunities’. Here you will find suggestions that will help your page load faster.
You might need to do a bit of research to find out how to implement the given suggestions. However, remember, your objective should be to achieve a load time of fewer than 3 seconds. People tend to leave a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.
While your main aim should be to optimise the homepage- the priority can also be landing pages, top blog posts, and other essential pages. Also, if the load time doesn’t improve even after trying everything, then it is time to change your hosting service.
Mobile optimisation is imperative!
Most users on the internet prefer surfing the internet through their mobile phones. Therefore, mobile optimisation is crucial. You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Testing Tool to find out if your website is mobile-friendly or not.
All you need to do is enter the URL of your website, and it will give you a result in a short time. If at all your website is not optimised for mobiles, then you need to make it happen. If the content management system (CMS) you use is WordPress, you can move to a mobile-friendly theme.
What to do about broken links?
Firstly, are broken links a significant issue in terms of SERP ranking? It’s debatable. However, they affect user experience. So potentially, broken links do have the capability of hurting bounce rate and rankings.
How to find broken links from your website? Considering we need to fix internal as well as external links, this can be a severe headache. However, you can use Google Search Console for this task. Once you set it up, you will find an option called ‘Coverage’ on the left-side menu.
Once you click on that, you will get a report of all the potential fixes on your website. It includes broken links. Now that we have identified the links, the next step is to fix them.
Scroll down to the bottom of the page, and you will find a list of all errors. Click on any one of them to find out how to resolve them.
Identifying indexing problems
You can also use Google Search Console to identify indexing problems. The importance of this task lies in the fact that your web pages won’t rank if Google cannot crawl and index the web pages on your website.
The first thing to ensure is the submission of a sitemap to Google using Google Search Console. On the left-side menu, you will find an option called ‘Sitemaps’. Click on it. If there are no entries on this screen, then your submission is pending.
All you need to do is enter the sitemap URL from your website under the section ‘Add a new sitemap’. Once you submit it, Google will respond with a review. Then, go back to the ‘Coverage’ option to view potential crawling issues.
You need to look out for two errors: ‘Submitted URL has a crawl issue’ and ‘Indexed, though blocked by robots.txt’. Click on the errors for additional information on how to fix them.
How many versions of your site are indexed?
One of the lesser-known issues is that multiple versions of your website might be indexed. Usually, these are four different versions of a website
While all these URLs might seem the same to us, it is a different case for Google. What you need to do is test these URLs on your browser. If you have an SSL certificate installed, they will redirect you to the same version.
However, if that is not happening, you need to set up a 301 redirect to the canonical version of the URL. It will ensure that all four versions of that URL go to the same address. Also, it is advisable to use HTTPS:// as a secure site with a ranking advantage.
How to improve website traffic?
To review organic traffic, you will need to use Google Analytics. First, you need to select the ‘Audience’, then head over to the ‘Overview’ tab. Next, you can choose a date range from the top right side. It is advisable to review data from the past six months.
You can also compare this data from the previous year. All you need to do is click on ‘Compare’, then select ‘previous year’. Finally, apply the filter for organic traffic, and you will have some data to work to analyse.
To apply the filter, go to the top menu and click on ‘Add Segment’. Next, you need to uncheck All Users and select only ‘Organic Users’. Save this configuration. The result will be an overview of all organic traffic from the past six months compared to the previous year.
What do we do with this data? First, if there is a drop in traffic, consider these factors:
- Have I implemented any changes around the time of the traffic drop?
- Has the SSL certificate expired?
- Check Google Search Console to see manual penalties
- Has there been a change in the Google algorithm? What has been its impact on my website?
- Maybe the traffic drop is related to the seasonality of my service?
How to manage click-through rates?
The first step to achieve this goal is selecting a group of most important pages. To do this, you need to head back to Google Search Console. Next, click on ‘Performance’ on the left-side menu. Next, select the data range filter and click on ‘Last six months.
To include the click-through rate metric in this data, you need to check the ‘Average CTR’ box. Now, scroll down to the bottom and click on ‘Pages’. Next, select ‘Impressions’. The result should be a list of pages that rank descending in terms of the total number of impressions received in the last six months.
It is advisable to select pages with a high number of impressions but less than 2% CTR. The question now arises, how to improve these pages? You need to work on the following components:
- Title tags
- Rich snippets
You can improve page titles by capturing a user’s emotions. Using lists also enhances the content considerably. You must remember to add the primary keyword of a page to its URL.
Tips to improve on-page SEO
Again, the first step is to select a group of essential pages to work on—however, this time, you need to work on Ahrefs. Then, from the left-side menu, click on the option ‘Organic Keywords’. The data we require are keywords that rank from 5 to 20 (as they have a scope for better ranking).
To get this data, click on ‘Position’ (you will find this option on top of the table). Set it as 5-20. Some of the keywords you see in this data might be irrelevant. Ignore those. We need to focus on the primary keywords on which we want to rank.
Once you have the list of pages, you need to work on these points to improve your SEO strategy with Nukind Digital in 2021:
- Mention the primary keyword in the meta description and title of the page
- Mention the primary keyword in the h1 tag
- Mention the primary keyword in the first paragraph
- Mention the primary keyword in h2 and h3 (optional)
- Add LSI keywords and secondary keywords
- Increase relevance by adding high-quality content
- Alt tags used for images must be descriptive
- Ensure high readability
Learning about content gaps
The idea of content gaps is to find out the keywords your competitors are ranking on and you are not. You are required to create content on these topics. It will not only open new doors for content creation but improve overall rankings as well.
You can use Ahrefs to get this data. First, click on the ‘Content gap’ option on the left-side menu. Now, you will need to type the URL of websites that are your competitors. You can start with 4-5 websites.
If you set the volume between 250-1000 and KD between 0-25, you will get keywords you are not ranking for, but your competitors are. Also, these keywords will not be very competitive. As a result, you will have a list of keywords that provide ample new opportunities.
How to create better content?
To understand how to create better content, we will need to focus on Google’s RankBrain algorithm. Websites that get more clicks and keep the users engaged to retain their ranks (or improve them).
However, those pages that get lesser clicks or from which users bounce off get penalised. It is an indication that users are not satisfied with the content. Therefore, the key to creating better content is understanding what the user wants.
A great way of doing it is by focusing on specific search queries. You can also dive deeper by simply visiting the pages that rank on top of the keywords you have shortlisted. Try to understand how they are catering to what the user needs. You might get some ideas.
How to work with structured data?
For this, you will need to use Google’s Structured Markup Testing Tool. It scans pages for errors to ensure that the structured data is proper. However, what is the benefit of working with structured data?
The main benefit is that it enables rich snippets of items for your webpage on the SERP. Rich snippet items like customer reviews have a drastic effect on click-through rates. And as explained above, high CTR can improve rankings.
Arguably, backlinks play one of the most significant roles in achieving good ranks. Therefore, you must do a routine link profile audit. You can use Ahrefs for this purpose. But, first, scroll down on the main screen until you see the section ‘Referring domains’.
A promising sign would be to see an increase in backlinks. However, if you are observing a decline, it is imperative to understand why it is happening. Even stagnation can become a problem. Whatever might be the case, if you lack high-quality links with high DR, then you must start a link-building campaign.
And that will be it. We hope this article was helpful for you. Auditing your website can take a significant amount of time. Therefore, it is reasonable to do it properly. Hopefully, this checklist will help you with the same. If not, you can improve your SEO in 30 minutes with Nukind Digital’s Call Session.