An audit can be defined as the process during which an individual conducts inspection. In this case, in terms of SEO, we can define the process where SEOs conduct an inspection of a website (either concerning their client or a competitor’s website) in order to evaluate its weaknesses and define the starting point where these weaknesses will become its competitive advantage in terms of SEO.
The audit can be separated into 3 areas (but these areas depend on the availability of data given by the client or the availability of data is depended upon the level of depth on the extraction of information that SEOs perform when they try to spot weakness on a website.
These 3 areas are separated into:
- Onsite SEO Audit
- Offsite SEO Audit
- Web Analytics Audits (depending on the availability of data given by clients)
Of course the onsite SEO Audits should not concern only your clients’ websites; they should also concern the auditing of your competitors ’websites so that you evaluate their weaknesses and creatively adopt their techniques and improve them for your client’s benefit.
Title tags are part of meta-tag optimization which is a part of your onsite SEO auditing is one of the important SEO factors that must be taken into consideration. During the SEO audit, what must be identified is if best practices have been implemented for this purpose. How to identify it?
- Number of characters that has been used for the title tags
- Quality of title tags and what kind of (targeted) keywords have been used
It is not uncommon to ascertain, during an SEO audit, that even established players on the market, that they don’t have optimized meta-titles or their meta-titles are not targeted enough. If your client has a new business and seeks the establishment of his business in a competitive market, meta-tag optimization must not be overlooked.
The optimal process should focus on the extent of the characters – no more than 70 characters, including spacing. Another optimal practice is the quality and how targeted this brief text is. Best practice example:
Primary Keyword | Secondary Keyword – Brand Name *
*Depending on how established a brand name is within its market, the SEO can place it accordingly. E.g Coca Cola can easily be placed on the position of the ‘’Primary Keyword’’.
Meta Description Tag
Meta-description tag is another important factor that should not be overlooked, because it matters for the CTR. During your onsite SEO Audit what you need to do is to:
- Check the relevancy of the descriptive text with the page that it describes.
- Is the meta description text the same for all pages?
- What is the length of the characters (including spacing)
- What is the quality of this descriptive text?
- Are any targeted keywords been used?
Google needs to use this descriptive text as snippets on the SERPs. In other words the descriptive text is the part that advertises one page of a website. So it needs to be unique, eye-catching for the user who is on the SERPs in order to click on the link and summarize what this page is all about.
It is quite common for many business owners (who have invested poorly on SEO) to overlook this part or they use the same descriptive text for all their pages.
An accurate job in terms of SEO will be made, if during your SEO Audit, have found out that:
- The number of characters (including spacing) does not exceed 160 characters
- The descriptive text includes important and targeted keywords enhancing the chances of CTR
*Meta Keywords Tag
The meta-keywords tag carry no significant SEO weight (due to excessive keyword stuffing in the past), but in order to have a full onsite SEO audit overview just make sure that the overall number of characters does not exceed 265 characters (including spacing).
Another important factor that should be taken into consideration during an onsite SEO audit should be the URL structure. What variables you need to take into consideration:
- Structure of URLs in terms of simplicity – are they descriptive? Are they user friendly and search engine friendly?
- Are they targeted enough?
Additionally during the SEO audit you need to identify if any targeted keywords have been used.
A bad practice example:
A good practice example:
- What’s the number of characters and they are structured?
Ideally the overall number of characters should not exceed 100 characters.
There are cases, where some CMSs ‘remember’ the users when they visit a website by providing a ‘session ID’ parameter which can be extremely painful for the SEO, because the CMS uses different versions of the URL which makes it visible to search engine spiders. In other words, this is what they may see:
Each session ID corresponds to a different user and this situation causes many SEO issues, like duplicate content issues and the link juice is not distributed in one page but in many pages.
During your onsite SEO audit you need to make sure that within the website relevant keywords and key phrases are being used that are closely related to the page that they describe. It is quite difficult to identify the keywords that are used within each page of website, in terms of time, so ideally it’s an important procedure that needs to be more automated, but will give you abundance of info to process.
With the Web SEO Analysis tool of Web SEO Analytics you can get a full keyword analysis by identifying which keywords/key phrases are repeated and turning into spammy. The deeper the competitor keyword analysis is for your SEO audit the more useful it’s going to be in the long-run when you are going to generate keywords and key phrases for your clients.
With the same tool, you can have a complete overview of the metatitles and metadescription and if the overall length of titles and description, exceed the suggested limit of characters. It’s important to stretch out the fact, that by putting the keyword early within the content will help search engines to identify that the content is about your keyword.
Another factor that should not be overlooked during your onsite SEO audit is the identification on whether or not a sitemap.xml exists.
Simply type out the website and include after the slash, the sitemap.xml.
Once you proceed to the action (as typed above), what you need to see is:
- Does a string of consecutive links in XML appear?
- What is the priority of this consecutive string of links?
- What is their frequency?
The SEO process of the SEO audit your website or your competitor’s website will be problematic if:
- The consecutive string of links does not appear at all
- If the priority is always 1 or always 0.05 for example.
The best practice on what you need to have in mind:
- The priority and the frequency of each page should be in direct proportion to its importance. So, by editing the priority and frequency of each page, you tell to the search engine crawlers which page is more important than the others.
In most cases, during an SEO audit most website owners do not have a sitemap.xml and it’s something that should be highlighted.
This means that the homepage tells to search engine spiders that is very important (priority set to 1) and it has to be crawled daily (frequency set to daily)
Pages, less important, will have lower priorities and frequency (e.g. Contact Us etc.)
Stay tuned for the 2nd part of our onsite SEO Audit…