Technical SEO Audit Checklist Needed In 2021
A technical SEO audit involves analyzing aspects of your website to ensure it is functioning perfectly.
This checklist guide will assist you on what to do pertaining the tehnical aspect of SEO auditing.
A technical SEO audit is important for checking that your website is functioning properly, helping your users to enjoy using your site, as well as helping to improve your rankings in Google. In technical SEO audit, the website is analyzed in detail based on various factors such as URL structure, page architecture, keyword rankings, or other OnPage factors. You can derive concrete proposals from an SEO audit to try to improve your website’s overall rankings in search engines.
This checklist will guide you through your SEO audit, showing you which factors you need to check and optimize to ensure a technically perfect website.
1. Indexing and cache
2. OnPage Check
4. Page architecture and internal linking
5. Status codes and redirects
6. Page load time
7. International focus
Indexing and cache
1.2. Check the number of pages in Google’s index
The site review is a quick way of checking the number of your website’s indexed pages – the pages that will be visible for users to click on in the Search Engine Research page (SERPs).
- Run the site’s review in Google search box
- Is the homepage the first search result?
- How many pages were found in total?
Figure 1: Running a site review in Google
1.2. Check the number of organic landing pages in Google analytics
With Google Analytics, you can gather and analyze data on your website for free.
- Under “Behavior” – “Site Content” – “Landing Pages”, you will see a list of your landing pages.
- Do the pages found in Google Analytics match the number of pages found in the
- Checking Google Analytics means you can find out which pages have actually been indexed by the search
1.3. Search for your own brand and keywords associated with the brand
Branding is an important marketing instrument and plays a central role in search engine optimization.
- Is the homepage displayed at the top after searching for the brand name?
- If the homepage is not displayed at the top when searching for the brand, this could
indicate a Google penalty or other inconsistencies.
1.4. Run a mobile search
The page load time plays a very important role, particularly on mobile devices. Mobile friendliness has been an official ranking factor since April 2015.
- Do search results have the “mobile device” label?
- Is the homepage the first search result?
- Can the landing pages be navigated and operated easily using a mobile device?
Google’s test for the mobile-friendliness of a page
The robots.txt file gives instructions to the search engine, and must be saved in the root directory of the domain.
- Is the robots.txt in the top directory level?
- Are certain pages or directories blocked?
- Easily test your robots.txt file using the robots.txt tester
- Do the navigation links work?
- Is there a cookie acceptance obligation on the pages? Pages that can only be viewed by the crawler after acceptance of cookies present a problem for search engines, and are neither crawled nor indexed.
1.7. XML Sitemaps
The sitemap gives Google an overview of all URLs of your website, giving Google a complete overview of your website structure. This is also helpful in case any crawling problems arise.
- Is the XML site map in the root directory?
- Is the XML sitemap listed in the robots.txt file?
- Is your XML sitemap in the Google Search Console?
- Are the most important pages included in the sitemap?
- Are your XML sitemaps structured to show indexing problems?
- Do your sitemaps follow the XML protocols?
1.8. Orphan pages
Orphan pages are pages that are not linked from any other page on your website. This means that search engine crawlers won’t be able to find and crawl your page via the link structure, and users will also not be able to access the page. You can check for orphan pages with Ryte Website Success – in the navigation click on “Links” –> “Pages without incoming links”. You should ensure that these pages are incorporated within your internal linking structure.
Figure 4: You can use Website Success to easily identify orphan pages
1.9. “Noindex” meta robots tag
The noindex meta tag is the preferred method of preventing pages from being indexed by Google. This tag is included in the head area of the page in the source code. This tag should be used with caution.
- Was the “noindex” meta robots tag accidentally used on any pages, preventing the page from being indexed?
- Are there pages that should have the “noindex” command?
- Too much use of “noindex” could lead to Google reducing the crawl rate of the page.
1.10. Check Google cache on important pages
Websites change very quickly. You can always retrieve old versions of the website from the cache.
- Is the content displayed?
- Are there any links that are not visible on the page?
- Have you checked the text version of the cached page?
- Is the navigation available?
Figure 5: An older version of the website can be retrieved from the Google cache using the “cache:www.domain.com” request.
2. OnPage Check
2.1. Title Tags
The title is found in the head section of an HTML page. The content of the head section is enclosed by an opening head tag and a closing head tag. The title is important for conveying to search engines the content of the page. The title is also visible to users in the SERPs, therefore it should accurately describe the page content to encourage users to click on it
- Do all your URLs have titles? Missing titles could have a negative effect on rankings as search engines will not know the page contents.
- Are the title tags long enough? They should be 55-60 characters long (or up to 512 pixels) to be fully displayed.
- Are all title tags unique? You should avoid duplicating page titles as this makes it difficult for search engines to judge the relative importance of pages.
- Is the brand name in the title tag of the homepage?
Descriptions do not play such an important role as the title in the search engine evaluation of the page, and are no longer a ranking factor. However, page descriptions can heavily influence the click through rate of a URL in the SERPs, therefore are important factors to be included within your onpage optimization.
- Does each page have a description?
- Is the description structured as a call-to-action?
- Are there any descriptions that are too short or too long?
Figure 6: View of a search result with title and description on Google
To successfully optimize a website, you have to have the right keyword strategy.
- How are your keywords distributed in the SERPs? If a lot of keywords have a ranking position lower than 10, you should optimize the URLs for this keyword, for example updating the text, title and description.
- How does your keyword ranking compare to that of your main competitors?
Titles are marked using the h tag. Numbers 1-6 are used to signify the relevance of the titles, h1 being the most important headline.
- Are H-headers set in a descending order where H1 is the most important headline?
- Is there more than one H1 tag on a URL?
You can analyze your page headings with Ryte. In Website Success, click on “Content” – “Title” in the navigation to get an overview of your page headings.
Figure 7: Using Ryte to analyze the use of headers on your website
2.5. Alt tags
The ALT attribute is an important factor in onpage optimization. It conveys information to Google regarding the content of images, as search engines can not yet read images.
- Do the image files have relevant ALT tags?
- Are relevant keywords used in the ALT tags?
There are two types of URLs: static URLs and dynamic URLs.
- Are your URLs clean, and don’t contain special characters (e.g., ?, !, $, %)?
- Do the URLs have session IDs or long parameters? These should be avoided.
- Are the URLs static or dynamic? Search engines tend to prefer static URLs.
- Are the URLs expressive?
- While it is advantageous to have a URL that contains keywords, changing the URL could have a negative effect on the traffic. You should only optimize URLs if they really have to be changed, or when you won’t need to change any existing external links.
- Can the URLs be hacked? This would mean that the user can automatically access the overlying directory level by deleting the last part of the file name from the URL.
Figure 8: Example of a dynamic URL
Figure 9: Example of a static URL
The canonical tag is an indicator for search engines that the original content of a page is on a different URL. This is useful for example for avoiding issues with duplicate content – if two pages have similar content, a canonical tag can be used to convey to search engines which page is the more important, and therefore should be indexed. The tag is best defined in the head section of a page.
- Does each page have a canonical tag?
- Are there any contradicting canonical tags?
- Does every unique URL have its own canonical?
- Are there any invalid or wrongly declared canonical tags?
3.1. Amount of content compared to ads
Google has been improving the quality of search engine results by ensuring that top results contain relevant and high quality content. Therefore, the proportion of relevant content on page is an important factor for the evaluation of the page by search engines.
- Is there enough unique content in the upper part (above the fold) of the webpage?
- Does the section with unique content outweigh the ads on the page?
3.2. Keyword focus
The keyword focus is an important aspect of search engine optimization. Generally, there are two strategic keyword orientations: the short-tail and the long-tail strategy.
- Does the motive of the keywords match with orientation of the page?
- Are there pages that are optimized for long-tail keywords?
3.3. Duplicate content
Duplicate content is a source of risk for your website’s ranking, and presents a great challenge for many website owners, particularly owners of online shops, as search engines cannot judge which page is most important and should therefore be included in the index.
- Do the URLs have parameters or tracking codes?
- Do completely different URLs have identical content? This often occurs when the same content (e.g., products) is available in different categories.
- Copy a section of the content in quotes, and enter it in the Google Search.
- Does this content also appear elsewhere in the domain?
- Has the duplicate content already been deleted? If so, you should submit a request to remove the content to Google.
- Is identical content available on different subdomains?
- Are there any print-friendly versions? If yes, this could possibly result in duplicate content that is accessible from another URL.
4. Page architecture and internal linking
Do not confuse Google by pointing to different pages with the same link texts. It is important to maintain a clear keyword focus, especially with internal links.
- Are internal link texts selected so that they match with the content of the linked page?
- Are anchor texts the same when they have the same destination link?
Figure 10: You can use Ryte to analyze the use of link texts on your website
4.1. Number of links on a page
Internal linking is an important ranking factor and can have a significant effect on the website’s rating in Google search results.
- Does the website have over 100-200 internal links?
- Too many links on a single URL will weaken the link power, since the value of every link destination is divided by the total number of existing links.
4.2. Vertical link structure
The homepage is often the most frequently linked page, since every subpage has a link pointing back to the homepage.
- Does the homepage link to the category pages?
- Do the category pages link to the subcategories and product pages?
- Do product pages link to the relevant category pages?
4.3. Horizontal link structure
The more a subpage is linked to internally, the greater its importance will appear to be.
- Do category pages link to other relevant category pages?
- Do product pages link to other relevant product pages?
Figure 11: Using Ryte to improve the structure of your link hierarchy
4.4. Links within the content and footer
Link texts can frequently repeat themselves (e.g., in the footer), and they can consist of a single word.
- Make sure you link to other relevant pages when linking internally.
- Are there massive link blocks in the footer instead of a correct user-friendly navigation?
- Is the correct anchor text used in the footer?
5. Status codes and redirects
5.1. Status codes
When checking the status codes of a website, you should fix 4xx and 5xx status codes as quickly as possible as too many errors could have a negative effect on the quality properties for Google.
- Are there any 4xx or 5xx status code error pages?
- Are there any 302 redirects?
- It’s worth checking whether there might be a better alternative than a 301 redirect.
Figure 12: Using Ryte to identify 404 errors and redirects
5.2. Correct use of 301 redirects
301 redirects are very important because without, both URL variants would be seen as separate pages.
- Are permanent 301 redirects used for all redirects? This saves the crawl budget.
- Avoid incorrect redirects.
5.3. Redirects lead directly to the target URL
If changing a URL is imperative, you should configure a 301 redirect.
- Bear in mind that redirect chains significantly reduce the link power of the destination URL.
- Google suggests not following redirect chains that have multiple redirects.
5.5. Use of iframes
iFrames are used to display other web content as independent documents in a defined area of the browser.
- Are iFrames still used on your website?
- Make sure that important content is not placed within an iFrame.
5.6. Use of flash
With regard to search engine optimization, there is nothing wrong with using Flash. However, certain rules should however be observed. Flash should not be used for important content, as search engines cannot crawl flash. Therefore, makes sure that no entire pages are built with Flash.
6. Page load time
6.1. Load time of important pages
The load time of a website is very important for search engine ranking. It should be reduced as much as possible, and can be affected by many factors.
- Are the load times of important pages too long?
- Does the page take more than 3 seconds to load?
- How long is the “Time to First Byte”?
- Are large CSS/JS/HTML files compressed?
- Is caching activated?
- Is Gzip used?
- Are image sizes optimized?
- Is CDN used for images?
Figure 13: Use the PageSpeed Insights tool from Google
Particularly with mobile devices, users expect fast load times, as they want to access their desired information as quickly as possible when on the go. Mobile friendliness has been a ranking factor since 2015.
- Are the pages optimized for mobile devices?
- Is there a mobile version of the homepage?
- If yes, is it a mobile page, responsive design, or dynamic serving?
- Has analytics been set up for a separate mobile page?
- Is the mobile page experience satisfactory for mobile visitors?
- Do mobile visitors have different intentions compared to desktop-based visitors?
6.3. Mobile redirects
When designing your page, make sure it has good mobile usability. One possible way of doing this is redirecting to a mobile page.
- Are there any faulty mobile redirects?
- Are mobile visitors redirected from the actually desired URL (typically to the homepage)?
- Is the connection of the mobile page to the desktop page clear?
- If a mobile page (m.domain.com) exists, does the equivalent desktop URL also redirect to the mobile page with a rel=“alternate” and a canonical tag?
7. International focus
7.1. Is there an international version of the URL?
The more languages the content of your website is available in, the higher the workload required to ensure visitors and search engines find their way through the website.
7.2. Is country-based targeting activating in the Google Search Console
Search engines usually have different reference points to identify the language and geographic orientation of a website.
- In the Google Search Console, is it specified whether a page is targeted towards a specific country?
- If the page has international sections, are these defined in the Google Search Console?
- Is href lang/rel alternate implemented?
- If there are several versions of a page in the same language (e.g., a /us/ and a /uk/), is there a copy of the page so that two independent pages are available?
- How is the currency of the destination country used?
- Is the URL adapted to the language of the destination country?
- Try to avoid having all URLs in the original language.
7.3. Google Analytics
Google Analytics evaluations are detailed, and allow a fundamental data analysis.
- Is the analytics tracking code implemented on each page?
- Is the analytics code integrated correctly on all pages?
- Are internal search requests captured properly?
- Is demographic tracking activated?
- Are AdWords and AdSense linked properly?
- Are internal IP addresses excluded?
- Are UTM campaign parameters used for marketing measures?
- Is event tracking activated for the desired user interactions?
Just like your own health, your website can be kept “healthy” through regular maintenance. An SEO audit is, for many reasons, the perfect way to check your website’s health. With our SEO checklist, we provide a plan with which you can regularly review the most important technical factors of your website.
Such a comprehensive analysis requires a certain amount of time, regardless of the size of your website. Long-term planning, conducting regular technical SEO audits, and continuous monitoring using common web analytics tools, will pay off in the long term. This is how you can sustainably improve the quality management of your website, and ensure that your website has the necessary quality to obtain good rankings in search engines.