How to Do an SEO Audit in 10 Steps

An SEO audit will help you identify the biggest issues and opportunities impacting your website, and if you're looking to find out how to run one then look no further. This article explains how to run an SEO audit in 10 easy steps.

How to Do an SEO Audit in 10 Steps

What is an SEO Audit?

An SEO audit is the process of analyzing your website to identify issues and opportunities that are impacting its organic visibility and performance. This analysis should result in insights and recommendations which will help you improve your websites rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

How you structure and present your SEO audit will be a matter of personal preference, and there are several SEO tools and techniques available which will help you with your SEO auditing which we will cover throughout the rest of this article.

Remember, you can always reach out to a seasoned expert to enquire about their SEO audit services, since someone who has been practising SEO for multiple years will be able to carry out a more comprehensive and detailed SEO audit than you might be able to as a beginner.

What is Included in an SEO Audit?

The SEO audit involves comprehensive analysis across all areas of your website and SEO performance.

In your SEO audit, you will be looking at things like:

  1. The speed and performance of your website.
  2. Any security vulnerabilities.
  3. The technical setup of your website, and how easy it is for search engines to crawl, index, and rank it.
  4. On-site optimization factors.
  5. Off-site optimization factors.
  6. The searcher intent behind your target keywords.
  7. User experience (UX) and engagement signals.
  8. Any errors reported in your Google properties (Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Google Business Profile etc.).

Your audit can take as little or as long as you want, but you should leave a good amount of time set aside to carry it out. Naturally, how long your audit takes will depend on how large and complex your website is.

A local business website with only 20 indexed pages will take less time to audit than an enterprise website with 1 million+ pages indexed.

Regardless of the size of your website, you will want to make sure that your audit covers all of the main areas of SEO (technical, on-site, and off-site).

SEO Audit Tools

Before we dive into how to carry out your audit (including what checks you should be carrying out), we will list some of the most powerful and popular SEO auditing tools.

Below we have categories a number of SEO tools into the tech SEO, on-site SEO, and off-site SEO areas. However, most tool suites actually overlap between the three and you should explore the websites of each tool provider to get to grips with the full functionality on offer.

Technical SEO Tools

  • Semrush - Useful for rank tracking, keyword research, technical analysis, and off-site SEO.
  • Screaming Frog - One of the most powerful SEO spider tools available. You can use Screaming Frog to crawl and better understand your website (and/or your competitors websites!) on the technical and on-site side.
  • Google Search Console - Useful for understanding how Google is seeing your website, and particularly any crawling, rendering, or indexing errors that they are coming across.
  • Google Analytics - A SEO reporting tool which can be useful in identifying what pages users are visiting (and diagnosing technical issues).
  • Page Speed Insights - Use this tool to diagnose speed, performance and usability issues.
  • GTmetrix - Another useful tool to test your speed and performance.
  • Google's Mobile-Friendly Testing Tool - Highlights mobile and UX issues.
  • Botify - Another powerful tech SEO tool.

On-Site SEO Tools

  • Google's Rich Results Testing Tool - Check your content's schema mark-up.
  • Copyscape - Useful for checking content duplication issues.
  • Surfer SEO - Perfect the optimization of your content and effectively target your keywords.
  • Inlinks - A useful way to manage and update internal links at scale, and a semantic SEO tool too.
  • Moz - A hybrid tool useful for a range of SEO activity.

Off-Site SEO Tools

  • ahrefs - Use this tool to identify broken backlinks, competitor links, and more.
  • Majestic SEO - A great tool to judge the authority and trust of a website based on its backlink profile.
  • Bright Local - Local SEO link building can be slightly different to other kinds, and this tool helps with citation building.
  • BuzzSumo - A tool to help with backlink prospecting and content marketing.
  • BuzzStream - One of the go-to outreach tools, perfect for large scale digital PR and link building campaigns.
  • Google Alerts - Setup realtime alerts to make you aware of new brand mentions, and studies/trends/news in your industry which you can use in your link building efforts.

The 10 Step SEO Audit

Now that we have discussed what an audit even is, and the tools which will help you carry one out, let's jump into the actual process of running one.

1. Check That Google Can Crawl Your Website

First, you need to confirm that Google (and the other major search engines) can actually crawl your website.

Google relies on their search engine bots to explore the web, jumping from link to link, to find new interesting content and pages that they can include in their search index and return to relevant searchers.

You need to make sure that your website is configured to allow such search engine bots to crawl and understand your content.

But how do you do that?

The first thing you can do, is get yourself a Screaming Frog license (assuming your website is over 500 pages, if it isn't you can skip this and use the free version!) and download the SEO Spider tool.

Once installed, you should try and crawl your website.

Explore the Screaming Frog tutorials and test to find out if you are able to crawl your website.

Most likely, if you can crawl your website then Google will also be able to do so.

You should also try taking the URLs of some of your key pages, and visiting them in Google with 'cache:' added to the beginning of them:

This should show you what Google saw when crawling that page, assuming they have cached it.

If you see an error message like the one shown below though try not to be alarmed, this could be because Google hasn't cached that page yet.

If it is a key page on your site returning this (like your homepage) though, and this has been live for a while, you will need to investigate why Google isn't caching it.

You may need to speak to a web developer or an SEO professional if you aren't sure where to start, since a number of things could be preventing Google from crawling and caching your website (e.g. you could be mistakenly blocking them from crawling your domain in your robots.txt file).

2. Check That Google Can Index Your Content

Example of a "site command" - a quick check we can do to get Google to return some of the indexed pages belonging to a particular domain.

Next, you will want to check that the search engines can index your content.

If they can crawl your website, but every important page is being excluded with a noindex tag, then you are going to see zero search engine visibility.

Fortunately, Screaming Frog will also report on the indexability status of your key pages whilst it is crawling your website.

Use this useful tool, alongside other ones like Google Search Console and/or Botify, to confirm that your main content can be indexed and that thin and/or low quality pages are not being indexed.

You can also use a site command, like the one in the screenshot above, to return a list of pages indexed in Google which belong to a particular domain.

Once you've confirmed that Google can technically index your content, a site command can help confirm if they actually are doing so. You should also check in Google Search Console, specifically the coverage report, to identify if Google is deciding to index your pages which can be indexed.

If you notice that your pages can be indexed, but Google is deciding not to index it, there may be some quality issues with the content found on those pages.

You should check in Google Search Console to see if any on-site signals may be causing any issues, and if not you can then start thinking about how you can improve your content and website to make it more useful and unique to searches and to search engines.

3. Analyze Your On-Site Optimization

The next step, after you've confirmed that your website can be crawled and indexed, is to analyze your websites on-site optimization.

You should use any tools that you have at your disposal, alongside your intuition and industry knowledge, to list what keywords the main pages on your website are targeting.

Check that your pages have the main keyword(s) in prominent positions like:

  • The page title.
  • Your H1.
  • In the first paragraph of content.
  • In the meta description.
  • Throughout the content when relevant and useful.

Now, keep in mind that old school concepts like "keyword density" have been long since left behind by the best SEO experts.

You should be conscious of what keywords you want to rank for, but avoid forcing them into your content where they do not belong.

Check that your key pages are internally linking to other pages on your website also, using those pages main keywords as the anchor text.

On-site optimization does not end with keywords either, optimizing your website for the searcher intent behind your highest priority keywords too.

If you are trying to rank for a keyword like 'income tax calculator', you will notice that the top ranking results are not exceptionally long articles, but concise and easy to use calculators.

The above is a good example of what searcher intent looks like.

Should you try and target this keyword with a long-form article, you won't get very far.

Optimizing your website in this case would involve not only including the keyword "income tax calculator", but also turning your page into an interactive calculator which will be of immediate use to those searching for that keyword.