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How to Conduct a Complete SEO Audit: An Actionable Step-by-Step Guide

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Have you audited your website’s SEO health lately? Performing regular SEO audits provides immense value for businesses looking to improve their search visibility and growth.

This in-depth guide will walk through exactly how to conduct a holistic SEO audit to maximize your organic rankings, traffic, and conversions. We’ll cover what to analyze, best practices for auditing, how to prioritize issues uncovered, and tips for continuing to drive progress after the audit.

Follow these steps to unlock your website’s full SEO potential!

What is an SEO Audit and Why is it Important?

An SEO audit is a systematic review of all key elements that affect your organic search presence, from technical SEO factors and content to backlinks and user experience.

Comprehensive SEO auditing is crucial because it:

  • Identifies technical obstacles hindering your search visibility.
  • Pinpoints usability problems impacting conversions.
  • Uncovers new opportunities to reach more customers.
  • Provides insights to improve website content.
  • Allows benchmarking of rankings against competitors.

In short, auditing gives you the data-driven insights needed to optimize the customer journey and improve search rankings.

Who Should Perform the SEO Audit?

SEO audits can be conducted internally by your in-house marketing team or agency SEO specialists. Larger websites may benefit from a third-party audit by an independent SEO consultant.

The most important criteria is that whoever performs the audit has expertise in areas like:

  • Crawling and indexing site architecture.
  • Analyzing mobile speed and technical barriers.
  • Reviewing on-page optimization elements.
  • Assessing backlink profiles and metrics.
  • Identifying keyword targeting opportunities.

Look for seasoned auditors that take a comprehensive approach across both on-site and off-site factors to assess the full SEO picture.

How Frequently Should You Audit Your Website’s SEO Health?

SEO audits should be conducted on an ongoing quarterly or biannual basis.

Here are some best practices on cadence:

  • Start by establishing a baseline with an initial comprehensive audit.
  • Conduct quarterly check-ins to identify changes and new issues.
  • Perform a yearly audit that is deeper and more thorough.
  • Run spot audits if major website changes occur.

Ongoing auditing provides regular visibility into SEO progress, while in-depth yearly reviews help reset strategy.

Why Perform an SEO Audit?

SEO audits help:

  • Uncover technical problems impacting crawling, indexing, rankings.
  • Assess the competitiveness of target keywords.
  • Identify issues with content structure, optimization.
  • Evaluate engagement metrics and conversion paths.
  • Review link building efforts and backlink profile health.
  • Discover new SEO opportunities and growth channels.

Auditing all these factors provides the 360-degree view you need to refine your SEO strategy.

Step 1: Technical SEO Audit

A site that can’t be properly crawled and indexed won’t rank well no matter what. Start by auditing foundational technical SEO:

Check Crawlability

  • Use tools like Screaming Frog to confirm your important pages are being crawled and indexed by search engines.
  • Identify any pages blocked by robots.txt or metatag noindex instructions.
  • Review server response codes – flag any 4xx/5xx errors preventing crawling.

Evaluate Site Architecture

  • Ensure your site has a clean information architecture and hierarchy.
  • Check for proper use of heading tags H1-H6 to structure pages.
  • Confirm XML sitemaps are present and submitted to Google Search Console.

Review Page Speed

  • Use PageSpeed Insights and WebPageTest to measure mobile and desktop site speed.
  • Identify opportunities to improve page load times – aim for under 3s on mobile.

Check Mobile Friendliness

  • Test site on different devices using Google Mobile-Friendly Test.
  • Confirm a mobile responsive design and proper sizing of tap targets.

Remedying any technical problems or crawled errors lays the foundation for SEO success.

Step 2: On-Page Optimization Audit

Next, audit key on-page SEO factors:

Evaluate Title Tags & Meta Descriptions

  • Review title tags and meta descriptions for target pages.
  • Check they contain primary keywords, entice clicks, explain page content.
  • Ensure each page has unique, compelling tags.

Analyze Keyword Usage

  • Use tools like SEMrush to see which keywords you’re already ranking for.
  • Confirm target primary and secondary keywords appear in content.

Check Content Quality & Readability

  • Assess word count, readability, depth of top pages.
  • Identify thin content that needs to be expanded and improved.

Review Internal Linking

  • Use a crawler to map out the internal link structure.
  • Check important pages are linked from key hubs like homepage, category pages, etc.

Audit Media Optimization

  • Ensure images have descriptive alt text and videos have transcripts.
  • Confirm videos and media are indexed in Google.

Assess Schema Implementation

  • Use Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to check for schema.
  • Identify areas to improve structured data for richer snippets.

Tightening up on-page SEO establishes a solid content foundation for driving search visibility.

Step 3: Conduct a Competitive Audit

Gauging your search visibility against competitors reveals opportunities:

Review Rankings for Target Keywords

  • Use tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, or Moz to check your current keyword rankings versus competitors.
  • Identify where competitors are outranking you for coveted search terms.

Analyze Link Profiles

  • Assess domain and page authority metrics for competitors using Moz or Ahrefs.
  • Review their top linking domains and landing pages.

Evaluate Their Content Strategies

  • Check competitor content types, topics, and formats they focus on.
  • See what performs well to inform your own content plans.

Monitor Their Ranking Fluctuations

  • Use rank tracking software to monitor competitors’ rankings over time.
  • Identify target keywords where their rankings change or slip.

Learning from high-performing competitors provides optimization insights you can apply to your own SEO.

Step 4: Local SEO Audit (If Applicable)

For businesses targeting local search visibility, also audit:

  • Google My Business listing optimization – completed profile, photos, reviews, etc.
  • Local content and geo-optimized pages referencing city, region, etc.
  • Citations and local directories like Yelp, FourSquare, etc.
  • Local link building and mentions on directory sites.

Tightening local SEO strengthens local search presence and drives foot traffic.

Step 5: Link Building Audit

Since links remain a key ranking factor, auditing backlinks is imperative:

Review Link Authority

  • Use Ahrefs, Moz, Majestic or SEMrush to analyze domain and page authority metrics.
  • Check total backlinks and referring domains pointing to your site.

Evaluate Link Quality

  • Categorize backlinks by type – editorial, web 2.0, directories, social shares etc.
  • Flag any worrying low-quality link sources.

Analyze Link Velocity

  • Review historical link growth rates over the past year.
  • Identify new impactful links driving growth.

Uncover Broken Backlinks

  • Use link indexing tools to identify any 404 broken backlinks that need outreach.

Assessing backlink profile health pinpoints link building wins and opportunities.

Step 6: Review Analytics Insights

Your website analytics provide the usage data to inform SEO decisions:

Analyze Top Landing Pages

  • Identify your most-visited entry pages from organic search.
  • See which pages attract the most clicks for target keywords.

Evaluate Bounce Rates

  • Flag any high bounce rate pages that need content improvement to increase engagement.

Review Goal Conversions

  • Check conversion volume and conversion rates from organic traffic for key pages and site segments.

Uncover UX Pain Points

  • Review heatmaps and scrollmaps to see where users are clicking and scrolling on pages.

Check Search Query Data

  • Analyze search terms driving traffic to see new keyword opportunities.

Analytics insights should directly feed into shaping your SEO optimization priorities.

Key Takeaways and Next Steps

Conducting a comprehensive technical, on-page, competitive, local, and backlink SEO audit identifies the areas delivering results along with opportunities for growth.

With your audit findings in hand:

  • Prioritize issues to tackle based on potential search visibility impact.
  • Develop an optimization roadmap to address these priority areas.
  • Track progress in monthly/quarterly audits to showcase SEO wins.

Regular SEO audits help continuously improve your organic search performance and provide the data to demonstrate tangible ROI from your optimization efforts.

How Frequently Should You Audit Your Website’s SEO Health?

SEO audits should be conducted on an ongoing quarterly or biannual basis.

Here are some best practices on cadence:

  • Start by establishing a baseline with an initial comprehensive audit.
  • Conduct quarterly check-ins to identify changes and new issues.
  • Perform a yearly audit that is deeper and more thorough.
  • Run spot audits if major website changes occur.

Ongoing auditing provides regular visibility into SEO progress, while in-depth yearly reviews help reset strategy.

What Should I Do After Completing the Audit?

The audit gives you a blueprint – now comes executing on the opportunities uncovered:

Prioritize Quick Wins – Address any urgent technical flaws hindering crawling or mobile speed.

Create an Optimization Roadmap – Outline longer-term initiatives and realistic timelines.

Set SEO Goals – Establish KPIs for social and link building based on competitive analysis.

Monitor and Refine – Continue tracking progress in future audits to showcase ROI.

With a data-backed post-audit plan, you can boost SEO results and demonstrate continued improvement at the next audit.

Start Unlocking Your Site’s Full SEO Potential Today

Regular comprehensive SEO audits are crucial for maximizing your organic search visibility. By identifying technical obstacles, content gaps, and competitor insights, audits provide a roadmap to improved rankings and traffic.

Implement these best practices for auditing your website’s SEO health and acting on the findings. Within a few quarters, you’ll start seeing tangible results in the form of more customers, lower cost per acquisition, and greater brand visibility in search. Don’t leave easy SEO wins on the table. Start unlocking your full potential with professional audits today.

Picture of Ali Safari

Ali Safari

Ali is the founder and CEO of SEMburger, a leading SEO agency, and has over 10 years of experience in the SEO industry helping businesses improve their rankings, traffic, and sales. He keeps up-to-date on the latest trends and frequently speaks at marketing conferences. Ali shares his extensive SEO knowledge through industry publications, webinars, and the SEMburger blog. With a proven track record over the past decade, he brings strategic vision and real-world expertise to every client project, ensuring SEMburger delivers high-impact, customized SEO solutions focused on long-term success.

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