A complete SEO audit is an essential maintenance duty every website owner must fulfill with frequent regularity. This is because technical audits can reveal many kinds of technical issues and standard problems that may go undetected, all while slowing down your website’s performance and its ability to rank well in searches. Audits provide you with a clear overview of the current state of your website and give you detailed insight into its workings. The process leads to an altering of the website’s components in order to strengthen its online relevancy.
SEO audits encompass different website elements ranging from content-related issues to indexing, site architecture, social media engagement, and backlink analysis, among many others. Gaining insight into these components and how they stand in relation to your overall online marketing scheme is crucial in identifying the strengths, weaknesses, as well as the potential that your website has when it comes to organic search.
A comprehensive SEO audit and analysis generates an evaluation report that highlights and details all present issues and lists down recommendations that can help website owners and SEO specialists fulfill goals in line with overall business objectives in the most resourceful and efficient way possible. Audit reports can be used as a solid basis for a brand new, more focused, and potentially more efficient SEO strategy.
Failing to conduct frequent and regular SEO audits on your website may leave you with potentially catastrophic technical problems that are quietly ruining your optimization efforts or sending dangerous SEO signals to search engines without your knowing. This is common when issues are a result of honest glitches that cause you to violate webmaster guidelines. The following are common technical problems SEO audits detect when website owners don’t even have any idea they are breaking best practices:
- Cloaking. Crawling your site for analysis may reveal excessive amounts of links on your pages. This analysis may reveal exact-match anchor text links from site pages or sections that aren’t necessarily visible on the page or are globally present on your site code-wise, but may not be visible to users. This means you may be providing exact-match text links to engines but not necessarily giving users the content they need (providing different content to search engines than to searchers). Cloaking is a violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines, and it can happen unintentionally and undetectably, which is why monitoring your site through technical audits is essential.
- Rel=canonical. This simple line of code can cause you all kinds of issues when not handled properly. When your site has hundreds of indexed pages (such as in the case of e-commerce sites), using rel=canonical poorly could send a great deal of bad signals to search engines, effectively destroying your rankings and throwing your organic search traffic to the trash. Rel=canonical tags should be used when you have duplicate pages or pages that contain very similar content to another page. This code helps engines consolidate the correct URL for proper indexing. Used poorly, it could fire thousands, if not millions of bad SEO signals to search engines, severely (and negatively) impacting your rankings and traffic. Upon discovery, be sure to fix rel=canonical catastrophes by implementing a stronger more appropriate strategy as recommended by your SEO consultant.
- Non-redirecting 301s and dirty sitemaps. When your sitemaps contain all kinds of bad URLs (URLs that 302, 404, 500, etc), search engines will lose trust in your site. Engines have little tolerance for disorganized and dirty sitemaps because they lose much bot resources trying to index bad pages. Non-redirecting 301s, for instance, may cause 404 (Page Not Found) errors, which, not only messes up indexing but thoroughly annoys users who are not getting what they are looking for. When migrating your website and using 301s, make sure to test your redirects before each release so there won’t be any surprises when doing your audits.