If you want a checklist to help you carry out a high-quality SEO audit, then you have come to the right place!
I have provided two lists; the first section looks at the technical factors of doing a website audit.
The second section of the list details the non-technical aspects of an audit that you need to consider.
After each list, I have shared a brief explanation of the list items for reference (should it be needed).
BUT before we dive into this list, if you are not sure about carrying out an audit on your site.
You might want to check out my SEO audits service to save yourself the hassle of doing it yourself.
Technical SEO Checklist for Audits
- Check for a working SSL certificate.
- Check for www vs. non-www and trailing slash vs. non-trailing slash.
- Check page speed using the Google Page Speed Insights tool.
- Check core web vitals in Google Search Console (aka GSC).
- Make sure there are no manual actions or security issues in GSC.
- Check coverage in GSC.
- Make sure an XML has been added to GSC and visually inspect the sitemap.
- Check GSC for mobile usability.
- Check for broken links.
- Crawl the site and check for problems.
- Check the robots.txt file and ensure that it links to the XML sitemap.
Check for a working SSL certificate – There are lots of free tools online that you can use (I always use this one), but you should also check the padlock in your browser to ensure it’s ok.
Check for https vs. http, www vs. non-www, and trailing slash vs. non-trailing slash – Your website should only load one version of each URL.
If we look at this URL from my site: https://southlakesseo.co.uk/about-me/
There are three incorrect variations of this URL that could easily occur:
- With the www – https://southlakesseo.co.uk/about-me/
- Without the trailing slash – https://southlakesseo.co.uk/about-me
- Without the “s” on the http – http://southlakesseo.co.uk/about-me/
These URL variations should be redirected to the correct version to prevent multiple versions of the same page from existing.
Check page speed using the Google Page Speed Insights tool – Using this tool, check the website page speed and then use the more detailed data to analyze any potential problems.
Check core web vitals in Google Search Console (aka GSC) – Core web vitals are a set of data used by Google to assess your web pages’ technical performance.
Explaining them in detail is beyond this post’s scope, but you need to check for them in GSC and do your best to fix any errors.
Make sure there are no manual actions or security issues in GSC – If your site has been hacked or have a manual penalty, you will get a large red warning sign telling you that you have a serious problem.
Check coverage in GSC – Coverage tells you which pages of your site are indexed and which have problems stopping them from being indexed.
Make sure an XML has been added to GSC and visually inspect the sitemap – Your website should be an XML sitemap, it should be submitted to GSC, and then you should get a notification saying it has been accepted.
You should also visually inspect the sitemap as they can be glitchy.
Check GSC for mobile usability – It is vital for your SEO that your website is mobile-friendly.
Check for broken links – Google does not like websites with broken links (internal or external), so you need to check for them regularly.
You can use a paid tool like Screaming Frog, you can use Ahrefs, but this little free tool is also great if you are on a low budget.
Crawl the site and check for problems – Screaming Frog is an excellent paid SEO tool for this, but you can also use the free version of Ahrefs if you are on a budget.
Check the robots.txt file and ensure that it links to the XML sitemap – Your site should have a robots.txt, and it should have a link to your XML sitemap in this format:
NOTE – You might also like to read this post asking what is an SEO audit?
Non-Technical SEO Checklist for Site Audits
This section includes anything not included in the technical SEO audit checklist, factors that can affect a website’s rankings, but that is not considered “technical.”
- Do a desktop visual inspection of the site and its navigation.
- Do a mobile visual inspection of the site and its navigation.
- Check to see how well the site is indexed in Google.
- Check to see what pages of your site are indexed in Google.
- Check in GSC to see how pages of the site are doing for specific keywords.
- Check organic traffic and organic visitor behavior in Google Analytics.
- Check the site’s backlink and anchor text profiles.
- Check that target pages are well optimized.
- Check target keywords and compare them to ranking keywords.
- Check contextual linking.
- If the site targets local search terms, check for local on site optimization.
Do a desktop visual inspection of the site and its navigation – This one is essential but often forgotten. Just give the website a really deep visual inspection.
SEO tools are great, but some things can be missed that the naked eye will catch.
Do a mobile visual inspection of the site and its navigation – Same as the previous point, but done using a mobile device (NOT a simulator) and carried out focusing on mobile usability.
Check to see how well the site is indexed in Google – Simply search site:yourdomain.com in Google to get a rough idea of how many pages are indexed.
Check to see what pages of your site are indexed in Google – Once you have done the site:yourdomain.com search.
Scroll through the results and see what is and isn’t indexed, keeping an eye out for things like old, unused sub-domains, etc.
Check in GSC to see how pages of the site are doing for specific keywords – The performance section of GSC is a gold mine of ranking information. Use it and use it a lot!
Check organic traffic and organic visitor behavior in Google Analytics – Check on the amount of traffic you are getting, to which pages, and how the traffic reacts once it lands on the site.
Check the site’s backlink and anchor text profiles – I would suggest using the paid version of Ahrefs and the backlinks export from GSC to do this.
Then give all the backlinks a careful examination, keep an eye out for negative SEO, over-optimization, and anything else that could hurt your site.
Check that target pages are well optimized – They should have optimized titles, H1s, H2s, relevant content, etc.
Check target keywords and compare to ranking keywords – What keywords are being targeted, and what keywords are ranking? How big is the gap, and what can be done to improve it?
Check contextual linking – Are contextual links and supporting content being used to help target pages rank?
If the site targets local search terms, check for local on-site optimization – Is the business’s physical location clearly placed on the website, ideally in the footer and the content?
NOTE – These two checklists for auditing your website are not comprehensive. Each site is different and may need attention in an area not listed here.
I also have not included schema markups in this list, and the subject is complicated and deserves its own blog post just about how to audit schema for a website.
I have also not dived into local SEO very much as, once again, this is a topic all on its own.
But hopefully, I have given you enough suggestions to do an extensive SEO audit and, more importantly, to get you to think about the best way to optimize the website you are working on.
What Should You Do Now?
Well, the obvious thing is to get stuck into carrying out your website SEO audit!
Hopefully, this list and associated explanations have given you a good idea of what needs to be done to make your website into a finely tuned ranking machine.
But if you are still not sure, please feel free to take a look at my freelance SEO service and let me do all the hard work of the SEO audit for you.
That is it for this blog post about website audits and checklists. Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.
It is much appreciated, and I hope it helps you with your success in the search engines!
Last Updated on January 12, 2021