“The best place to hide a dead body is the 2nd page of Google search results”
Well, it seems funny but the sad part is it’s true. Most web users will never find you if you are not on the first search results page. It’s kind of an uphill task to reach the coveted spot of Google’s first page.
Search engine optimization is one of the vital digital marketing concepts that has been providing incredible results to business organizations. Hence, many enterprises rush to get this right by including this as a part of their core digital marketing strategy but not all are successful. For many, it remained a wild goose chase. Why is it such an elusive thing? Why are businesses find it so difficult to get successful in their endeavor?
Let me tell you something not many are even aware of where they stand and what they are doing wrong. So, we recommend conducting a thorough SEO audit that sets the stage for your current SEO efforts. It provides great insights into your wins and where you rally behind.
However, many SEOs struggle to audit their websites for delivering immediate results and instilling long-term confidence in the SEO strategy.
Here, we are to help you overcome this issue by providing you an SEO audit checklist that can enhance your visibility and search rankings.
SEO Audit Checklist
Technical SEO Audit
Robots.txt file - This file has the directives for the search engines on how to crawl your website and very rightfully, this is the first file viewed by the search engines before they start crawling the site. It has all the information about the folders, pages to omit and it is a good practice to link this to your XML sitemap. You can manually check this file from mydomain.com/robots.txt. Verify if it has anything that potentially limits or prevents your site from crawling. Let each subdomain has a separate robots.txt file. When you audit the robots.txt file, you can find if there is any code that blocks the search engines from crawling the domain which impacts the visibility negatively.
XML Sitemaps - Contains the list of all pages on your website and hence search engines use it for finding the site structure and for finding the URLs. While auditing, see if it is the root folder of your server and linked to/from the robots.txt file. You can submit your XML sitemaps in Search Console and see if there any non-indexed URLs. The XML sitemap file should be error-free & no redirects and non-canonical URLs. We recommend you find a Content Management System that automatically maintains an XML sitemap and in the desired format. If you have a robust ecommerce website, we recommend you to go for multiple sitemaps like one for product pages, one for category pages, and so on.
HTTPS and SSL encryption - Security is of utmost priority and hence you need to have an active SSL certificate for establishing a secure connection between the browser and the server. Both HTTPS and SSL encryption are used as ranking factors. If you have a padlock icon on your browser, it means you have a secure connection. So, ensure that all your non-HTTPS pages have auto rewrites to the HTTPS version. You can use some crawling tools like webconfs for testing the status code of your pages.
Check your DNS settings - Search engines are nothing but bots that check your DNS settings. So, make sure you do not have any errors while they crawl your website. You can use Google Search Console for this. It’s a completely free tool and you can check the current status on your dashboard. Depending on that you can fix if there is any breakdown and make sure you are good to go.
Better Your Usability SEO
Go for Mobile Responsiveness - In the current times of the smartphone revolution, mobile responsiveness is imperative and your audit process should include this aspect as well. If you have an ecommerce app, you can quickly check the templates, product pages, blog pages, category pages on your mobile app. Page loading also matters in the case of mobile friendliness. Readable text format and fast-loading images are two other aspects you need to focus on.
Increase your Page Speed - Page speed can either make or break your user experience. Higher page speed drives more conversions. Tools like Page Speed Insights helps in evaluating your key templates and helps you track your page speed by monitoring and evaluating your pages. Find the detrimental factors that are limiting the page speed and work on them to boost up your site performance. Don’t bloat your website with too many rendering elements, heavy images, and also go for caching. Check out Google's core web vital to increase age load speed and visual stability.
Improve Accessibility - Your website should be accessible by everyone including people with disabilities. Search engines also reward websites that incorporate accessibility principles. You can conduct an accessibility audit to uncover any accessibility issues on your site and find remedial measures around it. Elements on your website should be used by any assistive technologies like screen readers. Look out for proper heading hierarchy, color contrast, alt tags in images, captioning for video and audio content, etc.
Provide Best UX - Search engines have shifted their focus on to user experience as well. They now reward those websites that have good UX. So, if your UX is bad, be prepared for a dip in your search rankings as well. Of course, there are a countless number of ways to improve your user experience but find the low-hanging fruits like colors that resonate with your brand and maintain consistency all along. Make the headings stand out, add images and videos, and create good designs that boost engagement. Also, keep your call-to-action (CTA) visible on any page.
Optimize Your On-page SEO
Build Your Internal Links - Search engines have to crawl your pages first before they start indexing and ranking a site. This can be done through internal links. Any errors, broken pages, or complex site architecture results in the loss of accessing critical content. You can an SEO crawler to look at which generates some reports of crawl issues due to broken links, redirects, unnecessary URLs, etc. You can start removing any hindrances in the site crawling. Provide links thoughtfully in the content and design all the menus in a logical hierarchy. Make sure if there are any dead-ends you include the “nofollow” tag to let the search engines.
Do a HTML validation - Some of the HTML tags and attributes like meta title, meta description, headings, play a crucial role in boosting up your SEO score. These tags help the search engines to let understand the exact content. You can use tools to look if these elements are present in the HTML sections. You can have data reports about the potential issues in these HTML tags and attributes if any. Optimize these elements if required. Any duplications, no proper canonical indexes, or no index should be taken care of.
Build your Off-Page SEO
External links are key indicators to see how your off-page analysis is. You can review the top links that are pointing to your competitors. You can see where they are coming from - viral content, media mentions, sponsorship, etc. Also, have a look at the links related to the frequently used keywords. You can also rely on data analytics to see the traffic analysis from your referral sites. Once you review your backlinks, you will have a fair understanding of your external links.
Work on finding many links to your other pages as well and not just the home page. Sketch out a plan to improve your referral traffic through strategic linking. Fix any broken links and redirect your content to not disrupt the link paths for users. You must work on proving value to the audience through effective link-building.
Content is Still the King!
You can take an in-depth look at the content marketing of your website. Determine which pages are driving the maximum traffic and which gained the least traction. Find the stale content, duplicate content, and get rid of them. Making a qualitative assessment of your website content helps in grabbing opportunities for ranking better. Focus on what content resonates with your audience, engages them and leaves an impact.
Do a Keyword Research
I call it shooting in the dark if you do not know what the customers are looking for. Keywords are like the compass for your SEO strategy. They help you to have a better understanding of your target audience and gives you some insights into where and what the customers are searching for. Do a deep dive into the keywords research to optimize your website effectively, target phrases for link building, and what content to develop for your target audience.
So, if you are looking for ways to improve the traffic or search rankings and get an edge over your competition, you need to go for regular SEO audits for determining your current progress and eliminating any potential hindrances. Also, the focus has now been shifted to users from search engines. So, see how you can improve your overall user experience and reduce the usability issues on your website. It is advisable to go for regular Website SEO Audits for determining your current progress and eliminating any potential hindrances.
Remember, SEO is not about getting one thing right. There are a multitude of things you need to focus on and improving is the only way to get the better of it.
As a leading SEO Service Company in USA Skynet Technologies is assisting many enterprises bolster their SEO services for boosting search visibility and improving their rankings in search engine page results (SERPs). We uncover many elements in the SEO audit process to improve your SEO positioning. Apart from identifying any missed opportunities, we also try to fix the poorly executed ones. We dig into your core issues on the site, inspect your technical framework, and evaluate the efficacy of your website to drive organic traffic, generate leads, and drive conversions.
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