If you want to stay on top of recent changes and make sure that your website is conforming with SEO and internet marketing best practices, it’s essential that you audit it regularly and make the appropriate changes. Far too many website owners though still don’t know how to perform a proper website audit, while some still don’t understand what the term actually means. But unless you perform a thorough audit of your website, you might find your site slipping in search results, and your website traffic and engagement dropping. Here are what you should be looking for when performing a website audit.
Mobile Usability and Responsiveness
The majority of web queries are now conducted on mobile devices, and mobile friendliness is now one of the biggest determining factors when it comes to search engine rankings. As a matter of fact, Google unrolled its mobile first index in 2017, which uses the mobile version of the site as the default one for search results. This means that no matter how good the PC version of your site is, you will suffer if the mobile experience isn’t up to par.
So, it’s important that you check if your pages are responsive and usable on smaller screens. This means paying special attention to navigation as well. If your buttons are too small, for instance, you’ll eventually lose some of your visitors, and have lower conversion rates.
Your site shouldn’t have inactive pages and dead-end links, and poor internal link structure will have a direct effect on how the quality of your site will be perceived by search engines. But more importantly, you want your visitors to be able to find the information they’re looking for.
If you want to see the status of your pages, you can do so by using a crawling tool. A tool like Screaming Frog, for instance, will allow you to check pages in bulk and see if any have some kind of issue.
You also have to understand the main codes and know what they mean. A 500 error code means that there is an internal server error. While this might be caused by your site’s file system, it could also be caused by the server you’re using. So, you might want to check with your provider and see if you could go for a better host or package.
404 errors are when a page is missing or was removed. This can be fixed by redirecting users to a suitable page. 301 and 302 redirects are when a page sends users to another URL.
There is still a debate on which one of the two is the best for SEO. The main difference between the two is that a 301 redirect indicates that a web page or site was moved permanently, while a 302 indicates that the move is only temporary.
You should only use a 301 redirect when you’re 100% that the move will be permanent, as all your link equity will be passed on to the target page or site. With a 302 redirect, however, the original page remains stored in the search engine’s index and keeps all of its value.
Another thing that you should check is if your site and pages can actually be indexed in the first place. If they can’t, then they’ll simply be invisible to search engines.
Tools like Screaming Frog will also allow you to look up meta robot tags and check if you have any pages that are marked as “No-index”. This will signal to search engine robots to not index a particular page. This is often used by developers to launch beta sites but could be left on pages by accident, so it’s always important to check. In addition, you should also check your robot.txt file to make sure that no areas are blocked from search engines.
You should also check each page and make sure that they’re properly optimized. This means checking things such as page titles, meta descriptions, image alts, keyword usage, and H1s.
When it comes to titles, you want at least an iteration of your main keyword to be present there. This will ultimately help search engines figure out what the subject of the page actually is. Having the keyword in the H1 tag can also help, but it has to fit naturally.
Meta descriptions are what people see on search engine results when they conduct searches. This will basically work as a form of advertisement for your page, so don’t take this lightly as it could literally make or break your SEO efforts. The goal of the meta description is to draw people in, so you have to make sure that it is actionable and descriptive.
The images on your site should have descriptive alt tags as well. Not only will it contribute to SEO but it can come in handy if they can’t be seen for some reason. And when it comes to keywords, you have to make sure that your main keywords are present but flow naturally within the text. Instead of forcing the keywords in, use your main keywords as a theme. Keyword stuffing is a no-no, and there is no magical ratio, so focus on providing relevant and valuable information to your visitors first and foremost.
Last, but not least, you have to make sure that you rate the quality of the content on your site. The first thing you have to do is check whether there are any grammar mistakes or typos. Second, check for pages with thin content. These are pages that provide little to no value to readers and are too short.
Make sure that the content on your page is unique. This means changing or removing pages within your site that have content that is either identical or too similar. This could end up confusing search engines as to which page should be featured in results. Also, make sure that the content on your page can’t be found on another site.
All of these tips will allow you to perform an audit of your website. If you see any anomaly and want to set your website on the right track, don’t hesitate to speak with a professional that will be able to correct the situation, and start improving your visibility with search engines.