Guide to Conduct Effective SEO Audits for WordPress Websites
There’s a good chance you’re following all protocols, doing everything right and still unable to get your WordPress website going as well as it should. Well, if so, you aren’t performing a vital exercise i.e. conducting an SEO audit for your website. What is an SEO audit? It is like a health check for your website. It gathers and analyses all on the page and off page data to improve the usability and functionality of your site.
Why do you need to conduct an audit? For two basic reasons:
- To identify all the things you’re doing wrong and fix the errors later on.
- Improvise and upgrade to the latest required practices for maximized efficiency.
It is advisable that you audit your website once in a quarter (four months). Without regular SEO practices, it is practically impossible to optimize your organic reach. Now if you’re convinced of its importance, let’s figure out how you can go about it.
To start with, a few tools can go a long way easing out this process for you. Listed below are a few widely used high accuracy tools you can get your hands on:
- Screaming Frog – This free downloadable tool allows you to crawl up to 500 links for free. It is used by everyone; individuals and experts to crawl their websites so as to identify all technical wrongdoings. For example meta descriptions, URLs, page titles, alt tags and more.
- Google Search Console: Formerly known as Google Webmaster, Search Console allows us access to search engines. So it’ll help you identify how your site is ranking and where are you going wrong. It will help you identify 404 errors, malfunctioning URLs, duplicate content and give you a clear idea of your keyword rankings.
There are a bunch of other tools that offer you a free trial and are pretty efficient such as Moz Crawl Test, Spy Fu, etc. Also, do not underestimate the power of the data Google Analytics provides you. Analyze the behavior of your users can give you major insights about your website and help you get on track.
So by now, you must have understood that SEO audit requires you to gather every data possible and analyze it so as to improvise it and fix errors. Here’s a step by step breakdown of how you can go about collecting this data.
Analyze your keyword
Keywords go a long way in increasing your organic reach. It dictates how you fare against your competitors in various search results.
What to do?
Start with an analysis of everything your competition is doing. Find out which keywords are they ranking for and what keywords are they targeting in PPC. Tools like Spy Fy or SEMRush should easily do this for you. Once you know what your competition is doing, take a look at your own site. Which keywords are you ranking for? Which keywords are you targeting in PPC? Among them, which are converting a good number of users for you? Once you have this data, it shouldn’t be hard for you to stand tall as against your competition.
How does this data help you? It will tell you whether your top keywords are giving you valuable traffic, whether or not the keywords you’re buying effective for you. It will also answer some primal questions like do you even need to buy keywords? How well are your keywords doing organically? This activity should give you an overall glimpse into your SEO strengths and weaknesses.
Glance through indexing
Indexing is basically how search engines read your website. That primarily depends on how you submitted it after setting up the website. If you’re on WordPress, you’ll most likely use Yoast SEO plugin which is pretty articulate about its indexing parameters.
What to do?
First of all, use the Google Search Console to confirm whether or not you’ve submitted the right sitemap URL. Moreover, visit Google Index to check how many pages of your site is google indexing. Now that should allow you to check whether the indexed pages are getting you organic reach or not.
Apart from telling you the basics, i. e. whether your sitemap is well functioning and whether your high traffic pages are being indexed, it will also give you an insight on whether or not you need more pages that need to be indexed.
After indexing, it’s time to check how search engines are crawling your website. This activity will let you know about your website speed and your 404 and 500 errors.
What to do?
Like I’ve mentioned above, conduct speed tests using more than one tool for thorough results. You can use Google Developers, GTMetrix, etc for this. After you know what your website speed is, figure out how you can improve it if required. Next, Use Google Search Console > Google Crawl to spot your 404 errors. You can even get in touch with your web hosting provider to check for any issues from their part. You can use Screaming Frog to identify your 500 errors.
Finding out the performance speed of your website will do wonders for the user experience of your website. At the very least, make sure your top 10 landing pages are super quick. This will also allow you to eliminate your 500 and other errors.
Time to analyze Links
This activity requires you to thoroughly analyze your internal as well as external links.
What to do?
Use Google Search Console to identify your most linked content, the external links leading to you, the anchor text and the internal text you’re linked to. This should help you identify your most valuable links.
This exercise will tell you what is your top content, what kind of external links are redirecting to your site. It will also help you understand whether your top links are connected to your top organic pages, whether your top links are leading your users to your top traffic pages. And most importantly, whether there is a scope to add new links; internal or external.
Architecture and User Experience
Analyzing your site architecture will tell you how smoothly your users are navigating through your website.
What to do?
Sort out your top 10 landing pages and make sure they’re easily visible and accessible from any page of your website. Take a look at the tags and categories in your sitemap and make sure they hold good valuable content for your organic users. You can even look for web developers to help you out.
This should give you an overall idea of how much value you’re offering to a potential user. It will tell you whether you’re giving out the right categories and whether your site is optimal from the perspective of a new user.
How’s your content?
Content is king and it can make or break your business. Find out whether your content is doing everything it can to drive your traffic.
What to do?
First of all, make sure all your content is 100% unique. This includes pictures. Once you’re sure of that, check if any of your images are getting search impressions and if so, find out if they’re being used by others. Similarly, search for your most popular content and find out whether it is being used by others.
This will ensure all your content is valuable and unique. And give you a heads up if you need to take any action against copyright violation.
Optimized for Mobiles
This is to make sure your site looks good on cell phones. As it is the need of the hour.
What to do?
Take the help of Google’s Mobile-Friendly tool to see how smoothly your website appears on a mobile device. Identify your top 10 high traffic pages and thoroughly do the test for those at the very minimum.
More and more people are now using smartphones and this activity will make sure you are offering them a website that is easy to use on their devices.
On-Page optimization determines and influences your SEO search rankings. Yoast Plugin is excellent for optimizing this.
What to do?
Make sure all your titles are within 60 characters and all your meta descriptions are within 155 characters. Crawl all your images and other content and make sure they’re optimized for SEO.
First of all, this will ensure you’re following all Yoast recommendations which can do wonders. Secondly, at the end of this, you’ll know whether all your content, meta, images, etc are optimized and properly uploaded.
If you are interested in SEO Analysis and would like to find out more about it, I recommend an SEO Competitive Analysis from Canonicalized.
At the end of collecting all this data, you’re likely to end up with a huge load of work. But once you start following all SEO guidelines, your next audit will be kinder on you. And needless to say, implementing the required changes will give you tangible results almost immediately.