An SEO audit is performed using one or a number of specialist tools and is designed to identify any foundational weaknesses that may have a detrimental effect on a website’s rankings in organic search processes.
An SEO audit is often referred to as a website audit but it is in fact a more focused type of website audit. The latter may include elements such as UX and style consistency, whereas the former is focused solely on the website’s performance in search engines.
The recommendations that arise from an SEO audit are intended to be practical and capable of being implemented without causing disruption or creating new problems. Whilst SEO auditing tools are relatively simple to use, the recommendations that come off the back of them often require technical expertise, and are usually carried out by a web developer. Audits also form the backbone of any SEO strategy, and therefore require the analysis and expertise of an experienced SEO specialist.
A comprehensive SEO audit can be broken down into three broad areas:
The technical elements of an SEO audit include site security, indexation analysis, crawlability, page-loading speed, site maps and URL structure, redirects, canonical tags, duplications, domain issues and responsiveness. Page speed is very important for user experience since studies have shown that the average website visitor will rarely wait more than a few seconds for a page to load.
The importance of technical optimisation is especially pertinent since the advent of Google’s Core Web Vitals, which form Google’s Page Experience score, a ranking signal. These consist of loading, interactivity and visual stability.
The on-page component of an SEO audit concentrates largely on content, examining keyword use, the structure of page content, internal links, images and video, schema (microdata), page copy themes, topics and metadata analysis of page titles, meta descriptions and heading tags.
Particular attention will be paid to the suitability and placement of keywords, both in headings and as natural components of text (over-use of keywords can be as damaging as their omission). The selection of keywords and topics covered will be compared with those of competitor websites to identify areas for improvement.
The off-page focus of an SEO audit analyses SEO factors which are not entirely under the control of the website owner. The most important of these is the backlink profile. These are links from external sites pointing to the website in question. SEO audits will analyse these links at a macro level and give an indication of the spread of link quality and authority as well as other indicators of relevancy like country of origin and anchor text usage.
Depending on the nature of the business and website, SEO audits will also look at other off-page signals like citations, Google My Business profile and online reputation.