How to Perform a Quick Technical SEO Audit
Technical SEO should be described as the red-headed stepchild of search engine optimization. Often overlooked and under appreciated, but still a very valuable member of the family. As a top Digital Marketing Firm, we have seen firsthand how often sites are shooting themselves in the foot by not showing technical SEO enough love and attention. That is why we encourage all of our clients to regularly perform a quick technical SEO audit to find basic mistakes and problems that could be easily resolved if they were known.
Why is a Technical SEO Audit Important?
People talk a lot about SEO but most articles and tips are for what is called “on-page SEO”. In reality, search engine optimization has three true areas of focus: on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO.
Technical SEO is focused on website and server optimization. On-page SEO focuses on content and optimizing individual pages. Off-page SEO refers to links and other external ranking signals such as social media marketing or influencer marketing.
Just like the other areas of search engine optimization, this area will perform better when a business regularly uses a quick technical SEO audit to find problems. These problems are usually very easy to fix. We also recommend businesses perform a more in-depth SEO audit annually, however that is another article for another time.
Technical SEO Audit Steps
- Crawlability check – Great content with the perfect keyword usage is rather pointless if a search engine can’t crawl and index your site. That is why the first step in a technical SEO audit is to always check the robots.txt file. A robots.txt file tells a search engine which parts of a site should be crawled, and which parts should be ignored through the use of “allow” and “disallow” commands. The reason to disallow sections is to save server resources and reduce bandwidth. The Google Search Console can be used to check crawl rate as well as crawl errors which can then be corrected in the robots file.
- Index check – Once you know search engines can crawl the site, it is important to understand if the important pages on the site are being properly indexed. Again, Google Search Console is the go-to spot using the coverage report to obtain the status of each page. There are free tools available that can also provide excellent Index insights. Screaming Frog is one of the most popular and they have a free option which works well for smaller sized sites with less than 500 URLs. A tool like Screaming Frog will generate a report showing indexable and non-indexable URLs including a reason why an URL is non-indexable.
- Sitemap review – The sitemap is a critical part of SEO as it provides a clear picture of the website for search engine crawlers. Proper practice is to direct a search engine crawler to the sitemap within the Robots.txt file. A good sitemap should be formatted properly as an XML document following standard sitemap protocol. It should only include canonical versions of URLs and never include “noindex” URLs. Whenever new pages are added to the site or are updated, the sitemap should also be updated. There are a few useful tools available that can accomplish this for you such as Google XML Sitemaps or the Yoast SEO plugin.
- Duplicate content review – Multiple copies of the same information, or highly similar information, creates issues for Google and other search engines when reviewing your site. Confusion from a search engine is never a good thing as that can affect page rank. Google has a simple option to look for duplicate content. Simply use Google search and use the following string: info:www.yourdomain.com. The last page of the search results is where any duplicate content will be found.
- Check page speed – Google PageSpeed Insights should be used to wrap up the technical SEO audit. This is another great free tool that will score a websites speed on both mobile and desktop along with including recommendations for improving the page speed. Page speed is a critical component of both SEO and user experience. Users and search engines both appreciate a fast site.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that optimizing all areas of your business will produce better long-term results. When it comes to search engine optimization, performing a regular technical SEO audit can help ensure that your site performs its best for search engines.
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