The 12 most important elements of a technical SEO audit
Every business is looking to push their website up the search engine charts, gain online traction and obtain more conversions. In order to facilitate this, it is important to give due focus to technical SEO, which is nothing but optimizing the technical aspects of your website that support the indexing mechanism of search engines, ensuring your business consistently features on search engine results. Technical SEO involves certain principles that we as digital businesses probably may be fulfilling but may not be aware that we are doing so. Below is a comprehensive insight into elements that go into a complete technical SEO audit that will help you understand and implement these best practices more effectively.
A crawl report will pull up some technical errors in your website such as duplicate content, speed issues, missing tags, plagiarised content, etc. Such site reports can be automated to a large extent leveraging popular industry tools that optimize and clean up your site. It is a healthy practice to run this exercise on a monthly basis and draw out common site errors that are largely responsible for your webpage’s poor SERP features.
Check HTTPS status codes
HTTPS has proved to be a very strong ranking factor and is critical to your webpage’s listings on search engines. If you are still on HTTP, you must make the shift to HTTPS at the earliest to avoid 4xx and 5xx status codes in your content.
Check XML sitemap status
An XML sitemap, simply put, is a map for search engines like Google to help their crawlers locate and scan your webpage. A healthy XML sitemap usually possesses the following features:
Ensure accurate and correct formatting of your XML document
Make sure it is in accordance with the XML sitemap protocol
All new recently added or updates pages on your website must be part of the sitemap
This sitemap must be shared on the Google Search Console via the Google Search Console Sitemap Tool. Your sitemap can be inserted anywhere in your robots.txt file. Your sitemap should be spotless and precise with no broken/duplicate pages or incomplete formatting.
Jack Up Your Site Load Time
Site speed is pivotal to providing a good user experience. Slow site load time can deter visitors from proceeding with their activity on your page. Site load time is an important metric of technical SEO too. It impacts key SEO metrics such as time on page and bounce rate, the latter measuring the percentage of people who leave your website from the landing page itself without browsing further. You can check your site load time using Google’s PageSpeed Insights. A healthy measure of 3 seconds is a sought-after industry benchmark for site load time.
Create a Responsive Mobile Friendly Website
Browsers today surf websites on the go from their handheld devices, making it very important that all websites today go mobile. Measure how mobile friendly your website is by using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. Some mobile friendly aspects for a responsive webpage to possess include compressing images, increasing font size and using accelerated mobile pages (AMP), an open-source website publishing technology designed to improve the performance of web pages on mobile interfaces.
Run an Audit for Keyword Cannibalization
Keyword cannibalization happens when a website relies on a single keyword across multiple of its pages including the home page and its subpages. This can cause confusion for search engines to decide which page to feature and can diminish the authority and lower conversion rates. Use filters and search engines to check keyword repetition in multiple pages on your webpage. It would be a good idea to consolidate pages that deal with the same concept or keywords.
Check your Site’s Robot.txt File
Make sure all your pages are indexed by looking into the robots.txt file. When examining your txt file, look for the phrase ‘Disallow:/’. This particular element does not allow the search engine to crawl that particular subpage. This is a common occurrence for updated pages or new blogs/posts put up on your webpage. Make sure none of your relevant subpages is accidentally being blocked from crawlers by your robot.txt file.
Run a Google Site Search
This is an effective way to check how well Google is indexing your webpage. Open Google and type in ‘site:yourwebsite.com’ in the search tab. This will show you all the pages on your website that are indexed by Google, helping you identify pages that are not indexed on Google for reasons such as a robot.txt file.
Check for Duplicate Content on Your Webpage
More than half the websites in existence today face content duplication issues. Since web pages deal with a certain product or service offering, content duplication is often an error they indulge in. Duplicate content in meta-descriptions can also confuse search engine and result in poor features in SERPs. Various industry tools such as Copyscape and Screaming Frog help fish our duplicate content on a webpage.
Pull Up Broken Links
Check your crawl report to make sure your website does not feature any broken links. These can be disastrous from an SEO perspective and unnecessarily seep your crawl budget, also resulting in poor user experience. You can also use tools such as DrLinkCheck.com to look up broken links. Broken links are common when you rename or remove a page and forget to change the internal link or format a URL incorrectly.
Check For Duplicate Meta Data
Sites with multiple subpages such as e-commerce websites or educational websites often face the problem of duplicate metadata. More than half the web pages do not have metadata descriptions, and those that do largely have duplicate or erroneous ones. A crawl report should help you pull up these commonly faced errors.
Keep a Watch on Meta Description Length
Maintain an ideal Meta description length of about 160 – 320 characters as an over length description can affect your SERP features. Try and load your meta description with a couple of keywords, product descriptions, location and other such important elements that are crawler favourites.
It is very important to focus on various aspects of SEO such as content, backlinking, technical SEO, etc, in order to put together a comprehensive SEO strategy for any business. We hope this insight into technical SEO and its features has helped you draw out areas of focus for you to work on in your next SEO audit.