An SEO audit for your website should provide all the information you need to determine whether your web page is fully optimised to reach it’s potential to rank well in Google and other search engines.
If you fail to optimise your site correctly, then you may run into issues online. Your site may not appear in Google at all which means you will get little or no organic traffic to your website.
You might think that a website SEO audit has to cost a lot of money but that’s not the case! It’s possible to perform a free website audit yourself if you are willing to invest a little time.
To do this, you need to know the important aspects of an SEO audit and the free website SEO audit tools that are available.
On this post, we’re going to cover both. You’ll find all the key aspects of your audit and great site audit tools you can access in minutes.
Focus on the technical SEO issues first
You should always start your SEO audit by looking at technical issues.
Screaming Frog is a great option here and there is a free version. This allows you to run various checks including explorations of broken links, metadata and duplicate pages.
Seemingly minor problems like this can cripple your search engine ranking. The first step is always identifying the issue. From there you can work to fix it.
As you can see, this tool provides a complex data set of information for you to sift through. It shows whether or not a page on your site is indexable and the first 500 results are included in the free version.
Look for Google penalties
Many people are not aware of Google penalties impacting their site. Penalties can be an issue after an algorithm change that you were not prepared for.
Whilst there are many Google updates that can result in penalties there are two types to focus your efforts on. Panda related penalties can be due to content or banners while Penguin related penalties assess with links on your site are natural or logical.
Barracuda is a free SEO tool that is described as a ‘Panguin’ checker. As the name suggests, you can use it to check your site for both issues.
When you access this tool, you will be provided with a number of algorithm changes that you can toggle on or off. If you select penguin changes as seen below, you will be able to look at when this was updated.
You can then zoom in on the graph and explore whether the change did impact organic sessions and visibility for your website.
Check your site speed
Google has determined site speed, including mobile site speed, is a ranking factor given it’s importance for a smooth user experience. It can lead to a high bounce rate as individuals click off in search of sites that load faster and Google like websites that users spend time on and explore!
So, if they immediately leave, then your visibility in the search results pages will be adversely affected.
You can check the speed of your site using GTMetrix. This gives you a report on how your site loads and allows you to detect bottlenecks fast. The report provides a ranking for your page speed as well as Yslow score. It also shows how long a page takes to load and the total page size a well as the number of requests.
It provides a clear indication of whether you need to improve the speed of your website pages. The page size also points to whether you need to cut down data usage.
Another free alternative would be Google’s Pagespeed Insights.
Is your website mobile friendly?
Fifty percent of web traffic is now sourced from mobile devices and Google recently made a big change to their algorithm with mobile first indexing.
If your site isn’t optimised for mobile, then you may find you struggle to appear in Google search results pages.
For this, you should use the Mobile Friendly Test from Google as part of your SEO website audit. To use the tool, you simply need to input your site URL.
Once the data has been fetched and a test has been run you will be presented with a report similar to the one below.
As you can see, the main information is whether or not the page is mobile friendly. You can also find information on issues with the page loading and a screenshot of how the page appears on a mobile device.
This will tell you whether you need to make changes to ensure that your website design is mobile friendly.
How many people can see your website is going to be a huge influencing factor in the amount of traffic that your website gets. As such, it is important to find out how discoverable your website is.
It is important to stress that if your site is not visible to the average user, your traffic is going to be significantly lower than it could be.
You can use a tool such as SERProbot to find out where your website ranks in the search results. This is a simple tool to use and allows you to find all the information you need regarding your ranking result at absolutely no cost.
All you have to do is enter your region as well as your domain name and the tool will do the rest.
After using SERProbot, you will be able to track the changes in ranking that occur as a result of your search engine optimisation work.
Check how your site appears to a search engine
Search engines do not view the website the same way a user does. A search engine will focus on key details and pieces of information that impact ranking. That’s again determined by the algorithm used.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could see your site as a search engine views it? Well, you can and for this part of your website audit, we recommend BROWSEO. The free tool can be used by simply typing the domain into the bar at the top of the screen.
One of the best features included is a Search Engine Result Page (SERP) preview. This shows exactly how your landing pages appear in the SERPs. For instance, as in the example below, it’s possible that no meta description is available. That weakens your position significantly.
Other information available includes the number of internal links and external links. It’s great to have this data in a simple format that is easy to digest.
You are going to need to do two things when it comes to keywords. The first is to check the health of the keywords that you are currently targeting on your website.
This is going to be vital to realizing whether the words you are currently targeting are effective to your overall website. To do this, I recommend using a tool such as Add Me. This will allow you to check the keywords you are using on your site and find out if they are healthy.
It’s simple to use and will provide Y or N next to key aspects of your page. More than 70% yes for each keyword shows that they are healthy.
The second thing that you are going to need is to check what keywords you should be using. There are free keyword research tools that allow you to find any semantically related keywords to a root keyword, and Google Keyword Planner is one of the tools I would recommend you use.
By using this tool, it is a lot easier to find keywords that you should be targeting based on a root word. The benefit of this is that you will then have a collection of keywords which will help more people to find your website when they type them into a search engine.
A lot of websites that I have come across use duplicate content, often unknowingly. If you are putting out duplicate content, your site is going to be penalised.
One of the issues that you could face here is that the www. version and the non www. version exist at the same time. Check that this is not the case for your site or you could be facing a lot of issues with duplicate content.
This is another great option where you can use Screaming Frog. Using this tool, you will be able to quickly ID pages with duplicate content. It’s simple, it’s quick and in no time at all, you can remove the pages Google hates.
Check your links
I recommend that you look at links in two different ways. Think about the internal and external links for your website.
Your external link profile should be natural. All pages (except some sales pages) on your website should attract links but your home page should attract more links than any other.
In addition the anchor text, the text that actually contains the link, should be a mix of branded, website URL, keywords and generic ‘website’ / ‘click here’ words depending on the page linked to the the context of the link.
You should ensure that there aren’t irrelevant links, spam links, or purchased links.
Checking the health of your links as part of your free website audit can be accomplished using the Small SEO Tools Backlink Checker. Simply enter your URL and you will be provided with a report like the one below.
As you can see, the website I have used as an example has a strong backlink profile and a domain authority of 80.
This is a basic snapshot and should be enough to determine whether you need more focus on building links from other websites.
Internal linking should ideally mean that all pages within your website are no more than 3 clicks away from your home page.
Again you can use Screaming Frog to do this by analysing the crawl depth from the home page of your website.
Image alt attributes
When completing a free website audit, it is important to remember that search engines cannot see image files, which is why it is important that there are alt attributes to help the search engine decipher what the image is about.
The only thing to be careful of here is that you don’t try and keyword stuff the descriptions. A short, simple description with the main keyword will be more than sufficient.
This is also an important consideration because some of your viewers could have a disability and be using software such as a screen reader. Image alt attributes make your site more accessible to these readers as they describe the elements on the page to them including image alt attributes.
A tool like SEO Site Checkup can help you discover how well your site is using these image alt attributions. It will also help you to improve if necessary which will come in handy if you receive a low score.
Robots.txt and sitemap verification
A key part of your SEO site audit should be checking the XML Sitemap and robots.txt files. You need to make sure that they are functioning as they should.
An SEO website audit will involve ensuring that the XML Sitemap is up to date and that the robots.txt file is not blocking crawling for a particular section of the site.
Here, you will be able to check both the Robot.txt file as well as add and check your XML Sitemap.
I hope this helps you complete your own free SEO audit. It can be overwhelming to conduct this type of report yourself. However the tools I have recommended make this easy and best of all, they are completely free.
By focusing on areas such as mobile optimisation, keywords, links and appearance in the SERPs you can eliminate all SEO issues.
After successfully completing your free website audit, you should rank higher online.
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