With 90% of clicks on average, the results displayed on the first page of Google search are for the most part the only content consulted on several thousand links. In this context of strong competition, succeeding in positioning yourself requires two things. On the one hand, knowing the SEO criteria set up by Google – more than 200 currently – and on the other hand, knowing how to apply good SEO practices to meet them.
With this in mind, carrying out an SEO audit of your website is a good starting point for analyzing the shortcomings and opportunities of your SEO strategy, with the aim of improving it. To help you, here is the ultimate guide to carrying out an effective SEO audit!
What is an SEO audit?
SEO audit: definition
As a reminder, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) corresponds to all the techniques used to improve the organic traffic of a website. It is opposed to SEA (Search Engine Advertising) which ensures the visibility of a website on search engines for a certain time, for a fee.
The SEO auditing services makes it possible to make a complete analysis of the sources of the visibility of a site on the web and to know the causes of a bad referencing. Generally, there are two subcategories to the SEO audit: the Onsite SEO audit and the Offsite SEO audit.
Onsite SEO Audit
The Onsite SEO audit is both a technical and semantic audit of the website. It focuses on the aspects inherent to the site itself: coding, loading speed, relevance of keywords, review of pages…
Offsite SEO Audit
Conversely, the Offsite SEO audit takes into account elements external to the site. It therefore analyzes incoming links to the site as well as its environment: anchor text, domain authority, trust rate, etc.
Why do an SEO audit?
Done well, the SEO audit is a strategic tool for implementing concrete actions to improve the visibility of a website. It allows in particular:
- To diagnose the SEO situation of the site;
- To improve the ranking of the contents of the site;
- To increase the relevance of keywords and their adequacy with the target audience.
When to do an SEO audit?
While it is always interesting to analyze the relevance of your SEO strategy, several situations can reinforce this need. It is particularly appropriate to carry out an SEO audit if:
- Your site fails to emerge in the first search results of Google;
- Your competitors’ sites get all the organic traffic;
- You are starting a redesign of your website.
How to do an SEO audit?
To correctly carry out a complete SEO audit, it is important to proceed step by step so as not to neglect any of its aspects.
#1 Resume your SEO objectives
Like any strategy, your natural referencing must be based on specific, achievable and above all measurable objectives over time. For example:
- Increase your organic traffic by 50% within the next 8 months;
- Acquire 50 new backlinks in the next 5 months;
- Increase conversions from organic traffic by 20% within 1 year.
The challenge is to define an SEO strategy adapted to your objectives.
#2 Semantic Audit
To be effective, a semantic audit must take into account the search intentions of Internet users and the strategy of the competition, in order to improve the performance and relevance of your keywords. Its accomplishment goes through three phases.
Essential for any SEO strategy, the analysis of the competition helps to identify the SEO practices that work best according to its sector. To do this, you must take into account:
- Domain authority: it corresponds to the degree of influence of the site that we are trying to analyze. The higher it is, the more the pages of the site in question are likely to rank well in search results. This authority is evaluated by a number between 0 and 100 or between 0 and 10. A tool like Ranxplorer will easily give you this information.
- The keywords used: it is interesting to know the keywords used by your competitors, especially within their well-referenced content. This will give you a first idea of the keywords to (re)invest on your own site. To determine the keywords, present on a page, there are free or paid SEO audit tools such as SEMrush or Uber suggest.
- The number and relevance of backlinks: this is a relevant indicator for evaluating the efforts to be put in place to improve the performance of your incoming links. Tools such as Majestic, Rank signals or MOZ Open Site Explorer are able to determine where your competitors’ backlinks come from.
Analysis of the user’s search intentions
Determining what the Internet user is looking for is a good way to improve your SEO strategy. A user can have a search intention:
- Informational : he seeks to expand his knowledge on a subject;
- Navigational : he seeks the site of a company or a media;
- Transactional: he is looking to buy something.
It is important to adapt your SEO strategy to the type of searches made by your target. For example, it would be counterproductive to offer an informational blog article when the Internet user has a transactional search intention.
Analyzing the performance of your keywords
Once the search intentions are known and the competition analysis is done, it is time to determine the best performing keywords, the keywords with high business value for your company. For that:
- Pay attention to the specificity of your keyword strategy: it is impossible to position yourself on all the keywords specific to your sector. One of the challenges therefore consists in selecting a limited number of keywords specific to the products or services that you sell, with an interesting volume of monthly searches.
- Identify long-tail keywords: these are search terms that correspond to more precise intentions – therefore generally longer – but which do not benefit from a very high volume of searches. Using them is strategic because their precision attracts Internet users who are already interested and qualified, and therefore more likely to buy your products or services.
- Measure the performance of your existing keyword strategy: several tools allow you to measure in detail the effectiveness of a keyword strategy. Monitorank, for example, provides monthly monitoring of keywords, taking into account the evolution of your positioning and the performance of the competition.
#3 Technical SEO audit
The technical SEO audit aims to analyze your website on the basis of technical and structural criteria. To carry out an SEO technical audit, you must look at two essential parameters: the accessibility and the indexing of your website.
Here, it is a question of evaluating the level of difficulty of access to your site by Internet users, but also by Google. This accessibility depends on a set of parameters and influences the referencing of your site. Here are the main criteria to meet:
- Have an SSL certificate to make your site accessible under the https protocol: sites that do not have one are downgraded by Google.
- Fix Errors and Redirects: Missing and temporarily or permanently moved pages look bad on Google’s algorithm. Some SEO plugins such as Rank Math, Yoast SEO or SEOPress help to correct these problems.
- Ensure the page loading speed: too long, it can annoy Internet users who will not hesitate to leave your site and look at the side of the competition. The Page Speed Insights tool offers an accurate insight into page load times.
Indexing is the process by which a search engine scans and lists all the accessible pages of a website. Thus, it is thanks to this principle that your pages appear on search engines.
Although there is a difference in treatment between sites – pages from sites with a high degree of influence will have a better chance of being indexed – it is always a good idea to take the following points into account when making a technical SEO audit:
- Check for duplicates and eliminate them: sometimes, some content is indexed several times, by mistake on the part of search engines. These pages then risk interfering with each other and being penalized by the Google algorithm – because they are considered plagiarism. You must therefore delete them at all costs.
- Create a sitemap: when a site has a sitemap, the source code of each of its pages uses its URL. In fact, when a search engine visits a page, it has full access to the rest of the site. The indexing of all the pages is therefore ensured.
- Ensure the responsiveness of the site: the site must be accessible on all media: computer, mobile phone, tablet… This involves coding certain parts of the pages so that they adapt according to the size of the screen of the user. Internet user.
#4 On-page SEO Audit
An on/page SEO audit takes into account the way the pages are organized on the site and the content they contain. To improve your SEO, these two aspects must be optimized.
Analysis of the structure of the site
To optimize the structure of your site, you must take into account:
- The tree structure of your site: logical and coherent, the plan of your site must be immediately understandable for Internet users, but also for search engines. Indeed, a poorly organized site will be less highlighted than a site that meets the calculations of semantic relevance of proximity on which the search engines are based.
- The internal mesh: essential in a SEO strategy, it is he who distributes the juice of SEO links and increases the visibility of the pages. To optimize it, it is essential:
- Eliminate orphan pages: they are called “orphan” because they are not cited by any internal link. To reintegrate them, take the time to add them internally to an already indexed page on your site.
- To set up a topic cluster: this strategy consists of creating a main page for each major theme mentioned, and linking it by internal linking to all the other pages subcontracting the same subject. The power of SEO on this pillar page will be multiplied.
Analysis and optimization of strategic pages
This analysis aims to integrate characteristics specific to the content that promote the natural referencing of a web page. With this in mind, several things must be taken into account:
- The URL: it must be short and contain keywords to maximize the SEO of the page.
- Semantic markup: this involves optimizing the title tag and the HNs. For the title tag, whose content does not appear for Internet users, it is easy to integrate the most relevant keywords for the page. For HNs, you need to strike the right balance: optimizing titles for search engines while keeping the content self-explanatory for the reader.
- The Meta description: it must contain the main and secondary keywords, and be more or less 155 characters.
- Duplicate content analysis: duplicate or worse, plagiarized content is severely penalized by Google in terms of SEO. During an on/page SEO audit, you must therefore ensure that the content of your site is original. To do this, you can set up a canonical HTML tag, which prevents search engines from indexing pages several times under a different URL.
#5 Offsite SEO Audit
This audit aims to analyze the relevance and strength of backlinks. If they are qualitative, they indeed contribute to improving the referencing of a website because they accentuate its domain authority. Domain authority is the level of trustworthiness and legitimacy that Google perceives of a website. The greater this authority, the more Google’s algorithm tends to put the site forward.
Backlink Quality Criteria
Also, we advise you to multiply the backlinks but above all, to ensure their quality. This depends on:
- Their relevance : links pointing to a page on your site must be consistent with its content;
- Their domain authority: the power of a backlink is proportional to the authority of the site in question. Thus, favor links from sites with significant domain authority.
- Their diversity: the multiplicity of sources pointing to your site increases its credibility.
- Their destination: ideally, the backlinks should point to the most strategic pages of your website (those that you must highlight at all costs).
In order to improve your net linking strategy, the Ahref tool is relevant because it allows you to know the number and quality of links pointing to your page.
Not all backlinks are beneficial
Attention, an incoming link is not systematically beneficial for your website. Some links, rather than improving your SEO, contribute to pulling you down the rankings: this is the case, for example, of backlinks from hacked sites or advertising spam, sanctioned by Google. During an off-site SEO audit, it is therefore essential to track down these bad backlinks in order to remove them.
SEO audit: putting it into practice
You will have understood it: the SEO audit aims to analyze the existing of your site in order to improve it. It should allow you to identify the SEO practices to put in place to improve the visibility of your site on the web. Once the audit has been carried out, you must therefore put in place concrete actions that will allow you to optimize your referencing. In addition to correcting technical malfunctions and optimizing your pages, you can, for example:
- Create SEO articles : well, done, this type of content will allow you to position yourself on keywords with high business value;
- Set up a net linking strategy: well, conducted and with the right partners, it will allow you to acquire regular and quality backlinks, which will increase your visibility.
SEO audit: what’s next?
The implementation of an SEO strategy generally takes several months before bearing fruit. After the implementation of the solutions identified during your SEO audit, you will therefore have to be patient… After a few months, you will be able to observe:
- Increase in natural traffic to your website;
- Increasing your conversion rate;
- The growth of your turnover.
If carrying out an SEO audit can be complex, successfully implementing good practices to improve your SEO is all the more difficult. This requires advanced skills and regular monitoring to adapt to Google’s constantly changing criteria. This is why it is often preferable to call on a team of professionals.