The Ultimate SEO Audit Checklist for Beginners
Rumor has it there are over 200 ranking factors in Google’s search algorithm. Google is adamant there is no way to game the system, but careful research and testing shows otherwise.
This SEO audit checklist does not encapsulate all 200 of these variables. We’ll cover enough to unveil the mystery of what factors you’re targeting & get you started.
Step By Step SEO Audit Checklist 2017
1. Domain Criteria
Age of Domain
- Let’s start with a warm-up SEO audit checklist bullet point. Domain age reportedly doesn’t play a major role in search engine optimization rankings. Still, it’s worth noting for your competitors in determining how you stack up in marketing campaigns. Older domains will always beat out newer domains in Google rankings
- Here’s how to check the age of any domain:
- Navigate to https://www.whois.com/whois
- Enter the domain name or IP address in the search bar
- Bulk WHOIS lookup tool Whibse is useful for scoping a large number of WHOIS data in one go.
Search term appears in domain name
- It stands to reason that if the domain name includes the search term a user entered, that website will appear above domains without the query in the title.
- This goes for search term in the site’s subdomain, as well (albeit to a lesser extent).
- An exact match of search term and domain is even better.
Future of domain registration
- The longer the block of time a domain is purchased for, the more valuable Google’s algorithm assumes it to be. While not a major factor, it is easy to check how far into the future your company’s domain is paid for. If you’re within a year of it expiring, why not renew it for a 5-year stretch? It will only set you back about $50.
- For SEO audits of your competition, WHOIS can be used to check this criterion, too.
Past of domain registration
- Think of this as bad credit history you can inherit. Domains that have been owned before do not come with a clean slate when ownership changes hands, unfortunately. If someone owned your domain before you, and it scored low on Google’s rankings, it is likely you will continue to be penalized for those mistakes.
- To check for signs of previous ownership and peruse the extent of any residual rankings – good or bad:
- Navigate to WHOIS.com to check the current state of the domain ownership
- Check HosterStats.com to see domain ownership history. This past account will include things like past DNS information, hosting history, etc.
- Use Ahrefs or SEMrush to see whether the domains linking history is shady.
- If you already own a domain in which you have invested time into brand building, it is still worth checking your domain’s past. If it has a spammy history, consider engaging in link cleanup.
2. Page Criteria
SEO audit checklist cardinal rule: avoid thin pages. “Thin pages” are pages of a site that are primarily space fillers, and add marginal or no real value to the reader/customer.
Download page audit software like Screaming Frog, or check your site to ensure you’re including all of the following:
- Title starts with targeted keyword
- Targeted keyword included in description
- Targeted keyword used in H1 tag
- Targeted keyword/phrase is the most commonly used phrase on site
3. Copy-Cat Content
Find and fix any duplicate content related to your site
- Utilize the online tool Siteliner.com to discover the duplicative content of your site compared to others.
- Use Copyscape to complete the inverse: how many sites have plagiarized what percentage of your site’s content?
- Google also offers a spreadsheet to account for copied content across the world wide web. This is especially useful if you have any phrases or trademarks imperative to the integrity of your brand. Simply copy and paste the quoted phrase into the Google search bar to see where else the phrase appears online.
4. Content Criteria
Targeted keyword prominence
- The keyword you want to be highly ranked for in Google should be the word or phrase that appears most often on your website. The word or phrase should appear early and often: specifically within the first 100 words, for algorithm purposes.
- How easily-digestible your writing is plays a major factor in search engine ranking. People want blogs and sites to be clear and concise. Google algorithms reflect this and reward the following:
- Correct spelling and grammar
- Easy-to-read sentences
- Target keyword word order
Avoid broken links
- Regularly performing SEO audits will help you identify external and internal broken links before Google starts penalizing you for them in SRPs.
- It’s not enough to avoid duplicate content. Your site must add something of value and substance to your field of expertise. Plus, the more compelling your ideas and posts, the more likely others in your field will be to share them. These shares will boost your organic traffic: another way to improve your SEO.
How to Get in Touch
- A “contact us” page is one of the most important for your site to have. Offering customers at least one way to contact you increases legitimacy of your brand. The Google search ranking will climb in kind. The more contact mechanisms listed, the better. Think: phone, email, in-site messaging, and social media.
- Of course, Google doesn’t have its employees comb through every page of every site by hand. It’s important that the bots evaluating your page are able to navigate. The more easily crawlers can explore your site, the better your SEO ranking.
5. Site Extensions
Prevent and minimize crashes
- Register your site for free on Uptime Robot to be alerted within five minutes of your site going down
- In this day and age responsive web design is entirely necessary. Over half of browsing and purchases are performed on a mobile device or tablet. There’s no excuse to limit your site’s best foot forward to desktops.
We hope you put this SEO audit checklist to the test to improve your Google ranking. Good luck!