SEO Audit Checklist – Website Keywords, On-Page Optimization, Backlinks
If your website is not getting maximum organic traffic then it’s time to do SEO Audit. Whenever our company takes any SEO work first we do a detailed SEO Audit to understand how much work is needed in order to rank that website.
In this post, I’m going to share my secret SEO Audit checklist that helped me to grow rapidly my website organic traffic. Before starting any audit process you need to understand that:
- Total time depends on the number of pages, ages of the website.
- Always ask step by step questions to understand the website’s past SEO strategies.
- Always perform detailed SEO audits.
I have divided our SEO Audit checklist into 10 steps:
- Step 1: What Are Your Strategic Objectives?
- Step 2: Analyze targeted Keywords
- Step 3: Analyze website Organic traffic in GA
- Step 4: Do Comparision with your Competitor
- Step 5: Check all Technical issues
- Step 6: Analyze Page Level elements
- Step 7: Check Content Quality
- Step 8: Check User Experience
- Step 9: Backlinks Analysis
- Step 10: Local Presence Analysis
Before we start discussing all the points let’s understand some concepts behind the AUDIT.
You will Learn
- What is Website SEO Audit?
- When Should You Do A Website SEO Audit?
- Complete Website SEO Audit Checklist
- Step 1: What Are Your Strategic Objectives?
- Step 2: Keyword Analysis
- Step 3. Organic Traffic AUDIT
- Step 4. Competitor Analysis & Audit
- Step 5: Technical SEO Audit
- Step 6: Page Level SEO Audit Checklist
- Step 7: Content Audit Checklist
- Step 8: SEO Audit for User Experience
- Step 9: Backlink Audit
- Step 10: Audit for Local SEO
- Conclusion on SEO Audit Checklist
What is Website SEO Audit?
The reason for doing an SEO audit is to identify why the website is not generating organic traffic.
SEO Audit provides detailed actionable steps and suggestions that need to improve in order to get higher organic search traffic.
Some Myth Related to SEO Audit that I would like to clear
- It’s not the SEO Strategy, it’s only the process of identifying website issues.
- Anyone can perform an SEO audit – It’s not true, without understanding core SEO concepts, it’s difficult to do SEO Audit.
- It’s not a step by step guide – You can take any area at any time and fix it. If something is suggested then the further process is involved to fix the issue.
- SEO Audit is performed easily by placing the URL in the SEO audit tool. I say that tools only provide basic suggestions that you can easily apply by learning basic SEO.
When Should You Do A Website SEO Audit?
Whenever I onboard new clients, I start by doing an SEO Audit, and I recommend you to follow the same approach. Because, Initially it takes time but, In the future, it will save time, efforts and money in creating an SEO strategy.
SEO is an ongoing process and changes come daily and that’s why it’s important that you do audit when
Starting a new campaign
- Every 4 month perform an audit.
- Redesigning any website
Now it’s time to check the full SEO audit in detail.
Complete Website SEO Audit Checklist
Performing below 10 step SEO audit will definitely improve your online presence. There are some technical changes that are required and you need to guide your web developer to fix them.
Step 1: What Are Your Strategic Objectives?
This should always be the first step in the process. Understand your client’s company goals and plan.
SEO Goal: Understand your client’s goals related to website organic traffic.
Understand the company’s strategic objectives related to marketing. Because SEO is also one of the highly targeted traffic generation mediums.
Clear Strategic objective helps you to focus on SEO activities to achieve the SMART goals that your client company has defined.
Does the company have Smart Goals defined?
By the way, SMart Goal means
- S – Stands for Specific
- M – Stands for Measurable
- A – Stands for Achievable
- R – Stands for Relevant
- T – Stands for Time-bound
In most cases, strategic objectives for the SEO campaign are not defined, and if not available this is time to start with creating objectives.
Here is an example of Strategic Objectives for an SEO campaign created for VJ SEO Marketing company using the S.M.A.R.T. principle:
- VJ SEO Marketing will easily increase its organic traffic by 50% within the next 90 days
- VJ SEO Marketing will easily generate 30 backlinks to root domains in the next 90 days.
- VJ SEO Marketing will start capturing 20% of the total leads from organic traffic in 6 months
We have prepared our Strategic Objective mixing SEO KPIs and business goals.
Now let’s do the keyword audit.
Step 2: Keyword Analysis
Keyword Audit Goal: Here our main goal is to study targeted keywords and identify new keywords that easily rank.
Understand the targeted keywords and ask yourself
Are we targeting the right keywords?
Most of the time we make mistakes and waste time focusing on targeting highly difficult keywords like ” SEO ”.
Doing keyword audits will help to identify those mistakes and allows us to focus on less competitive long-tail keywords.
Instead, I suggest always prepare S.M.A.R.T Keyword goals to identify the right keywords.
Are we Targeting Specific Keywords?
- Most of the time we noticed that we focus on too many keywords for the website.
- Always decide how many keywords you want to target for 1 page, whether it’s 5, 10, or just 3 keywords.
- Take decisions based on your SEO budget and the team you have.
Getting clarity on page level keywords will help you do better on-page SEO to rank fast for that keyword.
Are we Measuring Keyword Performance?
Many SEO experts will suggest that you don’t focus on tracking keyword positions. But, always measure the performance of your focused keywords.
Tracking keyword position will help you to know the effectiveness of your campaign.
Is Your Website Targeting Achievable Keywords?
Check whether the website is capable of getting first-page ranking for the targeted keywords.
In most cases, new websites focus on highly competitive keywords and they struggle to rank. This is because
- The website is just launched and has very little authority.
- Your competitor has high authority, backlinks, trust, and the old domain.
- If your competitor is ranking for highly competitive keywords then you must understand that they have allocated a higher budget for SEO.
- A higher budget means flexibility to get high-quality backlinks.
Instead, I recommend that you refine your focus keyword with less competitive keywords. Create a new keyword list with long-tail keywords and build website authority.
Are we Targeting Relevant Keywords?
For SEO relevancy of targeted keywords is king. Always understand the search intent and prepare content focusing on those keywords.
Check whether the page has relevant keywords that match content or not.
Do we Know How much Time Required to Rank Keywords?
Although we didn’t predict the deadline to rank keyword but to achieve fast results we must define.
- You must know how much effort and cost will be required to rank that set of keywords.
- Always create a deadline. This will keep you engaged daily to take small actions.
S.M.A.R.T Goals are only the first step in identifying your own status, authority, and activities.
Step 3. Organic Traffic AUDIT
Now check the pattern of your google organic traffic here you need to monitor below
- Check pattern of overall organic traffic
- Whether organic traffic is increasing over time or declining
- Is traffic declined on specific days? If yes then compare with Google Updates or with your website updates.
Understanding your website google organic traffic will help you to fix any penalties or changes you have done on websites.
Step 4. Competitor Analysis & Audit
Here our main goal is to find how our competition is doing. You need to check below
- What activities your competitor is doing
- Your competitor domain and page authority.
- Targeted keyword competition
- Check which type of content is performing better for your competitor.
- Common Link opportunity
To do further audits you need to use the Moz tool to understand your competitor’s website strength. Take one keyword and prepare your competitor list.
Here is a template that I use for my competition analysis work.
Competitor Analysis Template
Use this template to find your competitor’s performance.
Step 5: Technical SEO Audit
A technical audit is the same as a site-level audit. Here we are going to check various sitewide issues and fix them. To perform audit you need to use tools like
- Screaming frog
- Google Page Speed Insight
- Search Console
- Google Mobile-Friendly Test
1. Website Speed Audit
When you are doing a technical audit, Always first start with website speed testing. Fixing all issues in the speed report will fix most of the technical issues.
Having a fast or slow speed on your website gives a positive or negative effect on customers.
Here I am going to show you Speed test of one of my page – https://www.vjseomarketing.com/on-page-seo/
Google Page Speed Insight – Understand the overall score.
Here is the same page showing speed. Monitor Page Size, Request.
Here you check how much page request, page loading time and page size. They also provide some suggestions to fix it.
It is always best practice to check your tool with multiple websites. Here you will also get the details for further improvement.
Compare speed audit on all the tools and fix it.
2. Is your Website Mobile-Friendly?
Always keep your website Mobile friendly. This will not only improve user experience but also helps in improving conversions.
Use Google Mobile friendly tests to identify issues if any. Here is the status of my On-Page SEO Page.
3. Is There a Keyword Cannibalization?
Check whether there are the same keywords targeted for multiple pages. You can identify this by analyzing all page titles.
Use the Screaming Frog tool to analyze page titles in detail. Identify duplication and fix it.
4. Check Redirect Issues & Fix
There are four types of redirects that can hurt a website’s SEO performance:
- 301 and 302 redirects: If you have changed Page URL of important pages and notice sudden changes then check the redirection. If you have set 302 redirections then fix it and make it 301 redirections.
- Redirect chains: This happens when we add redirection for one page with multiple rules. Identify the redirect chains available on your website and fix them.
- Always do 301 redirects to the non-preferred version of the domain. Like my website https://www.vjseomarketing.com we use www, so we have done 301 redirect to without www version.
- If you are using an SSL certificate then do 301 redirects to the non-secured version of the domain.
- Handle unnecessary 301s redirect.
5. Are all WebSite Pages Indexed?
You will only rank in google when your website is indexable.
Check robotos.txt file and fix crawling issues. Most of the time during the development phase developer has blocked the site from indexing.
So if your webpages are not indexed then check robots.txt file and robots tag.
Add a sitemap so Google can easily find your pages and index it. If you have developed a custom website, you need to create a sitemap on your own.
If you are using WordPress or any other CMS sitemap provision is available.
6. Is There any Duplicate Content issue?
Check your website duplicate content issues and fix them. Most of the CMS like Bloggers, WordPress, and eCommerce platforms like Magento, Shopify, and custom websites have duplicate issues.
- Check Google Search Console to find duplicate meta tags.
- Check pages related to tag, categories, author
- Check product descriptions
- Check page-level content and fix it.
Once you have prepared a duplicate content list start fixing it one by one.
7. Do 404 pages have Link Value?
404 pages are important for SEO. If you have an expired page returning a 404 page it tells google that the page no longer exists.
In most cases, the 404 pages have link authority. Monitor all your 404 pages and if you find any link authority page do a 301 redirection with the relevant page.
8. Analyze site architecture
Do an audit of website architecture and navigation are designed to keep your users in mind. Analyze your site architecture to check whether it follows SEO guidelines or not.
Here you need to check below points
- Navigation structure
- Use of Anchor text in Internal linking
If you find any issues, discuss it with the authorized person and advise them to improve it.
9: Are the URL Structures SEO Optimized?
Clean URL structure plays an important role in improving organic ranking, CTR and Internal linking.
Always do an URL SEO Audit to understand whether it is SEO friendly or not. Make a list of URLs that you can improve. Before you take any actions please note
- Do not change Page URL if it’s already performing well.
- If you rename it doesn’t forget to add 301 redirections.
- Find an over-optimized URL and fix it. These are different URL which targets the same keywords in subcategories or subfolders.
10: Fixing Internal Linking
During the audit, I have personally observed that people are using anchor text variations for internal linking. Always use the exact match anchor text on all pages.
If your clients have made mistakes doing the wrong practice of Internal linking then it’s going to lots of time in optimization.
This will vary on the basis of pages you have.
Step 6: Page Level SEO Audit Checklist
There is one more checklist under the main hood. There are lots of steps that you need to fix at the page level.
Main Goal for Page-Level Audit: Here we need to understand Page Level Keywords and their targeting.
Always perform detailed page-level site audits to make a complete SEO friendly website. Every page has different keywords targeted and the page intent is also different.
You need to consider each page as a new website for SEO and fix all page level issues.
Here are the points that you need to look at a page-level SEO audit.
Page-Level search intent
This is one of the biggest issues we have noticed while auditing websites. Sometimes search intent and page content is not matching, and although the content is the high quality still struggle to rank. IF the content and Keywords both satisfy the user experience, check content duplication.
Duplicate Content Audit
There are different ways to identify duplicate content. Either you can use tools to find duplicate content or do manual work by copy and paste some sentences in Google.
Always use the targeted keywords in your title. Make sure that you have used only one or max 2 variations.
Page Title and your keyword search intent must be matched to improve CTR. Ideal Page title length is 0 – 60 characters.
Your targeted keyword must be also available in the META description tag. Although google rewrote your description while showing but still it’s important that you include 1 keyword in your description. Do not stuff keywords in description tags.
Use a heading tag in sequence. Use only a single H1 tag followed by H2 and H3. Focus keyword variation in your heading tags.
First Paragraph Analysis
To maintain the keyword and content relevancy adds your targeted keywords in the first sentence.
Keep the URL short and clean. Add your targeted keyword in the page URL. Do not overuse the same keyword in the URL.
ALT tag in Images
Check all your page images that the Image alt tag is available. If not found, identify those images and targeted keywords in the image. Do not use the same keyword in all images.
The best practice is to add the targeted keywords in the first image itself.
Use Internal links whenever you need to share additional resources to justify user search intent. Always use targeted anchor text in your internal links.
Use of Keyword in the Last sentence of Content
Like the use of targeted keywords in the first sentence, do the same practice while ending the page content. Use the Focused keyword in your last sentence.
You need to analyze all the mentioned points not only for one page. You need to prepare a detailed audit for each page and fix it one by one.
I have created an On-Page SEO Checklist in detail, you may read that for more clarification.
Step 7: Content Audit Checklist
The above-mentioned SEO audit checklist can be performed easily as they are performed with tools and basic modification.
Main Goal: Check existing content performance and prepare page-level content issues and improve them.
Website content audit is highly time-consuming work. If you understand the core concept behind the content audit process you can rank any content, this will also help you to write high-quality content.
This is why you have heard the sentence as “Content is King“
- Check Whether the Content is Unique and Original. always create unique content and with more accurate information that readers get more value.
- Check whether the content is solving customer issues, sharing information that is valuable?
- Check whether your content is of higher quality compared to your Competitors? Always study the first page results and create high-quality content for your readers. If the first-page results content is already high quality then you need to make it far better content with new information.
- Check whether your Content is Engaging?. While writing content makes sure that it keeps engaging readers to finish the whole content. Check whether the content has stories, results, case studies, reviews and check the use of words like You and Yours.
- Check that the page information is accurate and up to date
- Check that your content length, You need to make engaging longer content compared to your competitors.
- Check Grammar and/or Spelling Errors at the page level. You need to fix all those errors.
- Check how many Broken Links on the page? Make a list and start fixing broken link issues to improve user experience.
- Check whether the website is monetizing? Check how many ads appear in the content. If yes, then make sure that you use limited ads.
- Check whether the website has set auto-approval blog comments or handled manually. To avoid spam links approval you need to monitor all comments and approve it manually.
After performing a detailed content analysis, measuring the page and content matrix will prove whether the content is engaging or not.
Step 8: SEO Audit for User Experience
Identifying what all your customers are thinking about your brand is impossible. But, with some specific data from Google Analytics, you can easily understand your 70% of customers.
Here we are going to use Google Analytics data to understand your customers.
If you are receiving organic traffic then analyzing your website bounce rate will help to improve it. Doing an SEO Audit for the bounce rate will provide you a clear signal regarding your website content.
Check your website bounce rate. Generally bounce rate is considered on a case to case basis. Educational blogs, eCommerce websites have lower bounce rate compared to websites that sell services.
Also, the bounce rate is different from the paid ads. So Do Bounce rate comparisons with your competitors and improve it.
Average Time Spent on Site
Average time on a website indicates how long the customer stays on the website.
If your website has less than 60 seconds time spends then check your targeted keywords, information and fix it.
Improve the page content by adding new information like a case study, reviews, testimonial, or more.
This will refresh your page content and improve overall time spent and average time spent.
Goal Completion tracking will give a strong signal to Google that your content is quality and informative.
Create some forms on the website and track small events. Track your website purchase, leads, email subscriber.
The more goal conversion the more chances of staying high in the ranking. Tracking goal competitions is the most important metric in Google Analytics.
Fix the issues related to page exists. While doing SEO audit if you find pages that have a maximum percentage of a page exists to look at the page and check below
- Page information
- Broken links
- Page Speed and loading time
- Mobile friendly
- Number of Advertisement
- Check External links [ Always Open in New tag ]
In most cases, the website that generates higher traffic has a higher bounce rate. If you’re running an eCommerce website and if you have a higher bounce rate on category pages then improve the first listing page product collections.
If your website is not generating return visitor traffic, then it gives google a strong signal that people don’t like to visit it again.
If your website has more return visitors then you can sell them anything because they have lots of trust in your product, solutions, and offer. Fewer return visitors gives a strong signal to check
- Content Lacking more information
- Technical Issue
- Page Search Intent
How does anyone know that the website has a strong brand presence?
Simply by monitoring your search console data, check how many keywords impression and clicks are showing for branded terms.
These are all the visitors who know you from your previous content or through a social network and find you on google.
The more branded signal to google, the more chances to keep staying in rank. That’s why people are spending lots of money on branding.
Just creating too many likes, comments, and shares for a page will not improve ranking. But, If the website has strong other signals then it will help.
It shows the trust and authority of social signals.
To get a real social signal you need to create awesome genuine content that your customer loves. Create content that solves problems and people will start talking about your solution.
Audit Goal: Fix low quality, spam links issues, and build more.
There is a proven step by step process for doing technical, content, site-level audits. But, When it comes to link building there are no proven methods, and acquiring all high-quality links depends on creativity.
But still, there are some link building guidelines that we need to follow. To do detail backlink audit you need have access with tools like
- Link explorer
By using the above 3 tools you need to extract all your backlink profile data and study the matrix below.
Check the link relevancy ratio. Check and divide all your backlinks with the relevancy. how many links are 100%, 75%, 50%, 25% and 0% relevant.
Once you have detailed data you can decide which link to remove, which type of links you need to acquire.
Check the backlink authority, like previous we did for link relevancy. Here we need to add the link page authority and domain authority. Create a table with 0 to 100 link authority.
All tools have different data, so I advise you that you track all your backlinks in multiple tools.
Link diversity plays a major role in link analysis. It’s time to check link diversity to group your backlinks.
- Check how many contextual links?
- Total site-wide footer links
- Total site-wide Sidebar links
- Business directory links
- Links from Resource Pages
- profile backlinks from Niche
- forums content and Signature links
- comment links from relevant blog
Check out how many backlinks you have dofollow and nofollow.
Make a list by link targeting. Check how many links you have on your home page and on Internal pages.
There is good practice to acquire links for internal pages as well as your home pages. If you are receiving maximum links to domain level then generate backlinks for the internal page.
Anchor Text Diversification
Check your backlinks exact match anchor text ratio, If it’s high then you need work on anchor text diversification.
After that check branded anchor text.
Your branded anchor text should be higher than your exact match anchor text.
Total Referring Domains
Improve the total referring domain backlinks. Check with your competitor’s total referring domain for the page. Try to get more and you will easily outrank the competitor.
Historical Link Velocity
Natural links stay for a longer period of time, but if you are acquiring or buying links and if links keep dropping above the level then it creates an issue for you.
Monitor the link velocity ratio of the website and try to maintain a ratio to acquire new links.
Now it’s time to do Local Audit to understand your true brand value.
Step 10: Audit for Local SEO
Goal: Check local ranking and business directory link gap.
This Local SEO audit is useful for companies that have local presence and services. Still, it’s advisable that we maintain consistent NAP across all the business listing and directories.
Here you need to check the points below.
- Check for which local keywords the business ranking
- Business listing accuracy
- Total Reviews and quality
- Regular Updates on the business profile
Here is a guide to learn how to do Local SEO.
Conclusion on SEO Audit Checklist
This was a detailed SEO Audit checklist that you can perform on any website and improve performance.
I have tried to cover the SEO Audit checklist in detail, although the content is too long, I am sure fixing all the points I have shared will improve any website organic traffic over the long period of time.