You can’t overlook the performance of your website any longer – it is the window into your business and can greatly impact ALL aspects of your success: lead gen, sales, investments, recruitment, and more. A website audit can help identify SEO (and other) weaknesses, bubbling up the priorities that you need to fix ASAP.
To put it lightly, SEO is a beast to master and you will either need internal team members that are already familiar with (or willing to learn) best practices and tactics, or outsource your efforts with a trusted SEO partner. Here are the top resources we found on the interwebs to conduct website audits, and summaries of what you need to know.
1. Technical Site Audit Checklist: 2015 Edition – Geoff Kenyon, Moz
This post is a great resource & truly helps folks figure out what parts of their startup’s website SEO is holding back their organic performance in checklist format. Here are important take-aways by category:
- Make sure your title tags are optimized – include your brand name and follow character length requirements
- Make sure the titles of your most important web pages have optimized titles AND meta descriptions – you should have no pages missing either of these – and make sure all pages have enough content & important keywords within
- Label your image files with keywords as well
- Keep URLs short & keyword heavy
- Optimizing content is a science & an art. Focus on crystalizing the messages that speak to users & ultimately are optimized for conversion
- Each page needs about 150 words (above the fold) so search engines know what it’s about
- Make sure you have more content than ad space
- Keyword targeting is as important as keyword cannibalization – use the Moz Pro Crawl Test to check for duplicate content/page titles
- There should NO duplicate content – one URL for each piece of content
- Google explains this in-depth if you want to read up. While it’s not always malicious on the part of the startup, it can happen and Google will treat all duplicate content the same – “Google tries hard to index and show pages with distinct information. This filtering means, for instance, that if your site has a “regular” and “printer” version of each article, and neither of these is blocked with a noindex meta tag, we’ll choose one of them to list. In the rare cases in which Google perceives that duplicate content may be shown with intent to manipulate our rankings and deceive our users, we’ll also make appropriate adjustments in the indexing and ranking of the sites involved.”
Accessibility / indexing
- Here’s where you need your dev team or a trusted partner to help you out – you’ll need to understand the difference between crawling and indexing
- Robots.txt, a simple text file, will be your best friend to control how crawlers access your webpage
- Robots meta tags can be used to indicate you don’t want an HTML page to be indexed – assuming that is not the intention of your site, in your audit make sure that pages aren’t accidentally being tagged with the meta robots noindex command
- Google for developers is useful and has a particularly digestible resource on how to control crawling & indexing from search engines.
Site architecture / linking
- Get a good number of links on each page – Moz says 100-200
- Install vertical and horizontal linking structures – i.e. link product to category, category to category, and product to product, etc.
- Check for content links, anchor text, broken links & footer links
- Make sure all redirects are correct & working properly
- Use Google Webmaster tools to check for technical problems & canonical versions of the site
- Kissmetrics says that 40% of people will close a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load – what’s your load time for key pages?
- Enable compression, caching and optimized images
- Are you working with a fast & good host?
- Take a look at existing traffic – how much of it comes from mobile? (Enough said, right?)
- Google rolled out mobile friendly rules last year, made some updates this year, and you can run a quick test of your site here
- Make sure your mobile & desktop URLs are separate but connected – more insight from Google on this here
- Expansion and then localization is a big project, but make sure you get the easy stuff right off the bat – make sure your international versions have a matching URL and enable country based targeting in webmaster tools
- Don’t make translation mistakes and if there are multiple countries with the same language, make sure the copy is unique
- Set up your tracking code on every single page, but use one GA property per page
- Make sure analytics is set up to track: internal searches, demographics, Adwords/Adsense, event tracking
- Use UTM parameters for URLs you want to track – here’s the Google URL builder
2. The Advanced Guide to SEO – Neil Patel & Sujan Patel, Quicksprout
Feeling lost when it comes to the tech-heavy aspects of your SEO site audit? Neil & Sujan created a detailed infographic for chapter one of their advanced guide to SEO by digging deep on indexation and accessibility.
The infographic is lengthy, with 19 sections detailing the nitty gritty, such as:
- How to use jQuery’s post method to create crawlable AJAX
- Pagination tips like rel=”next” and rel=”prev”
- How to optimize RSS feeds
- How to create a video sitemap especially if it’s marked up with metadata
- How to block malicious links to your site
- and more!
Check out their other chapters, too – site speed & performance, new search, WordPress, advanced data research, keyword research, link building with content, link building techniques, and search verticals.
3. 58 Resource to help you learn & master SEO – Zach Bulygo, Kissmetrics
We like this resource because it highlights the tools and resources that non-SEO experts can leverage to learn more and cover their bases, and also helps SEO-experts refine their skills.
- For beginners, Zach highlights a lot of documentation & resources folks should read to get up to speed – how Google crawls, SEO tips for bloggers, creating a SEO strategy, PageRank and more
- Free tools are especially useful for early startups that don’t have the capital to invest in a partner or SEO hire, but want to make sure they aren’t hurting their performance – Webmaster tools, broken link checks, keyword suggestions, robots.txt checkers, test page speed, and more
- Website status tools help those actively engaging in SEO practices to know whether it’s working or if they have some gaps to fill in – HubSpot’s Marketing Grader and the anatomy of a perfectly optimized website printout are helpful
- Tips, tricks and staying updated – blogs and articles on SEO are extremely common. Zach pulled together dozens for you to bookmark – Patrick Mckenzie’s SEO Tricks, SEO Tips from Gabriel Weinberg, SEO for Ecommerce, the Google Algorithm Changelog, and much more
4. Solution Providers Guide: SEO Firms – VENTUREAPP
The VENTUREAPP platform collects data from solution providers, experts and businesses interacting on our marketplace. We present this data to help determine the top solution providers, as referred or used by businesses on our network. This edition focused on SEO & SEM firms, such as 190west, Chimaera Labs, Eucalypt Media, Ideometry, Ignite Digital, Innoppl, Magnetude Consulting, Resound Marketing, Rocketshp, Soap Effect Studios, and more.
Good luck & happy auditing!
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