Search rankings play an important role in the performance of your website.
The higher your website ranks in Google's and Bing's search engine results pages (SERPs), the more traffic it will generate.
Search engines, however, will only rank your website high if it's properly optimized for the respective keyword.
By conducting a search engine optimization (SEO) audit, you can identify weak points that are prohibiting or restricting your website's search rankings.
What Is an SEO Audit?
An SEO audit is a methodical process that involves the evaluation of factors affecting a website's search rankings.
Search engines use hundreds of ranking factors, each of which can influence your website's rankings.
During an SEO audit, you'll analyze these ranking factors on your website, as well as off your website, to determine whether they need improvement.
Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
When conducting an SEO audit, go through your website's pages to ensure they all have a unique and well-optimized title tag and meta description.
According to the Seattle-based SEO firm Moz, title tags are the second-most influential on-page ranking signal, surpassed only by content.
A type of HTML element, the title tag reflects a web page's title.
Search engines typically use the title tag to create the main headline of a page's organic listing, and they use the meta description to create the longer description of a page's organic listing.
Therefore, creating irrelevant or otherwise poorly optimized title tags and meta descriptions can negatively affect your website's rankings.
The keywords for which you want a page to rank should be used in the page's content.
If a page doesn't mention a keyword, search engines won't deem it relevant to that keyword.
As a result, the page will rank low or not all for the keyword.
You shouldn't force keywords into a page's content.
Rather, use them naturally to maintain the page's readability.
Content in which a keyword is unnaturally and excessively used is difficult for visitors to read.
And if visitors don't stay around to read it, the page won't rank high in the search results.
Statistics show over 60 percent of all internet traffic originates from a smartphone, tablet or other type of mobile device.
Not all websites are accessible to mobile users, however.
If your website features static units of measurement, it may fail to render properly when viewed on a mobile device.
Your website may still rank high in the desktop search results, but search engines will likely bury it underneath other, more mobile-friendly websites in the mobile search results.
With nearly half of all online users expecting websites to load in just two seconds or less, search engines have adopted speed as a ranking signal.
It may not hold the same weight as title tags or content, but it can still affect your website's search rankings.
Google has prioritized fast-loading websites in its desktop search results since 2010. In 2018, Google expanded the use of speed as a ranking signal to its mobile search results.
Several tools that can measure your website's speed, one of which is Google's PageSpeedInsights.
Available by visiting developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights, it reveals a speed rating of zero to 100.
The higher your score, the better optimized your website is to load quickly, which may lead to higher rankings.
You should also check your website for duplicate content when conducting an SEO audit.
Ideally, each page on your website should consist entirely or mostly of unique content.
If multiple pages have the same content, search engines may only index one of the pages.
To see if your website has duplicate content, use Siteliner at siteliner.com.
Developed by Indigo Stream Technologies, the company that created Copyscape, it will scan your website for duplicate content.
If Siteliner detects instances of duplicate content, it will reveal the pages on which it was published as well as the number of matched or duplicate words.
Duplicate content is inevitable when building a website.
Nonetheless, you should try to limit the amount of duplicate content on your website.
If multiple pages consist primarily of the same content, either set up a 301 redirect or use a canonical URL to prevent SEO issues associated with duplicate content.
No SEO audit is complete with a backlink analysis.
Backlinks provide the link juice that's responsible for projecting your website's authority.
When another website willingly links to your website, search engines view it as a vote of confidence.
In turn, search engines use backlinks as a heavyweight ranking signal.
How do you check your website's backlinks exactly?
Google Search Console will provide some information regarding your website's backlinks, but it's limited at best.
Instead, consider investing in a premium backlink-checking service like Moz's Site Explorer, SEMrush or Ahrefs.
Don't just look at the number of backlinks your website has; look at the quality of your website's backlinks.
High-quality backlinks are those that originate from relevant, authoritative websites.
A backlink from some random blog that generates little traffic doesn't offer much value.
A backlink from a high-traffic blog with content similar to your website's content, on the other hand, offers substantial value.
In addition to backlinks, you should analyze your website's internal links during an SEO audit.
Internal links are linked elements, such as text or images, on your website that direct visitors to another page on your site.
They help visitors discover other pages of relevant content while also encouraging search engines to crawl your website more thoroughly.
Google Search Console offers data on internal links.
Assuming you've already added your website to Google Search Console, you can see how many internal links it has and the pages on which they are located by clicking the "Links" tab.
Conducting an SEO audit takes time, but it can pay off by revealing on-page and off-page ranking signals with your SEO strategy that need improvement.
Without this knowledge, you'll have to cross your fingers while hoping your website sends the right signals to search rankings.