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Learn To Do Search Engine Optimization Audit In 6 Steps

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Search Engine Optimization as per Wikipedia is the process of affecting the visibility of a website, or a web page in a search engine’s unpaid organic results. The affecting of visibility here means to rank at the top most position of the search engine’s results page organic listing (SERP) for certain keywords. Below is an example which shows that when I recently searched for a keyword “SEO Courses” what was the result: Top result.

Search engine optimization top result

Search engine optimization audit- top result

 The job of a search engine optimizer is to see that his/her website is ranked or positioned at the top of the SERP.

Why is ranking at the top position of any search engine page necessary ? The answer is that according to IAMAI in India by June 2015 there were more than 350 million internet users, and it is expected that by the year 2017 there will be more than 500 million internet users, and most of them before buying they research their desired product or service over the internet first, read about the product or service and then actually buy it. So if we want many customers to buy our product or services, our website has to be ranked at the top when-ever a customer searches for our products or services keywords. But how to do that ? simple read the complete blog here !

To optimize our website the first thing that we need to do is an SEO Audit. Doing an SEO Audit is like doing a health check-up of our website, it helps us understand where our website stands. It helps to know whether our website is search engine friendly or not & what we need to do if our website is not search engine friendly. Below are the components/steps for doing an search engine optimization audit.

Learn To Do Search Engine Optimization Audit In 6 Steps :

  1. Overall Summary of your website.

    • site: Type this command followed with your domain name (site:domain.com) in the search engine, and see how many pages of your website are indexed by the search engine. Example “site:digitalvidya.com” . Ideally after running this query all our web pages which our domain name has should come in the result page. Which means that all our web pages should be indexed by the search engine, and if there is any discrepancy with the total number of pages indexed and the total number of pages our website has, then there are good chances that our website will not rank at the top position in SERP. Indexing means how many pages our website has and how many of it the search engine has read and stored a copy of it in its server.
    • links: Use this command with a domain name (link:domain.com) in the search engine and find out how many back links does that website has. Higher the number of relevant back links your website has, means higher will be the rank in SERP. We can also say that the number of back links tell the search engine in machine language that if a website has got many genuine relevant back links then that website is having a very good quality content and it should come at the top in SERP.
    • Cache : This command show us which version of our website search engine has stored during indexing. (cache:domain.com) It shows the date and time when the search engine has saved a copy of our web page in its database. If we are unable to see the same then it means there is a problem with our SEO, and we are loosing optimal ranking in SERP. This command also helps us to know whether, the latest changes made to our website are indexed or not.
  2. Domain Review

    • Domain Name : What is a Domain Name? It is the address of our website, by which visitors can find our web pages. So for the benefit of our visitors, and for excellent organic search ranking Domain names play a very crucial role. We should always use domain names which are relevant to our business name, It must be relevant to our target audience (geographically, demographically), relevant to our content and most importantly search engine friendly. If our business is focused in India then we should use .in or a .co.in domain, if we have a global scale business then use .com domain. Previously domain names with targeted keywords were used to gain higher ranking in SERP’s, but with the latest Google Algorithm changes, exact match domains are not a good idea. Our domain name is our identity on the web, hence we should choose it smartly.
    • Domain Age : It means how old is our domain name, when was it purchased. We can find this information from websites like whois.com etc . Having a old domain is supposed to be good for getting higher position on an SERP.
    • Domain Expiry : It should be also noted that whenever we purchase a domain name it should be having an expiry of 5 to 10 years, which is not in near future. This assures other stake holders that we are serious about our business and going to do this business for the next 5 to 10 years.
  3. Server Review

    • Registrar : Suppose if our website is targeting customers in India but it is hosted in USA ,then it is not supposed to be a good practice from an SEO point of view, instead having a country specific hosting (.in or co.in) can help us in getting better ranks in SERP. We can find out about where our website is hosted by using various websites like whois.com or allwhois.com and take appropriate decisions. But in-case if this information is not easily available then we should contact the customer support team of our Hosting company.
    • Server Neighborhood : If we are using a shared hosting , where on the same server space many other websites are hosted we have to check the neighborhood, whether the neighborhood is good or not. If there is any adult website, any gambling website, or any spam website hosted along with our website then it can have a negative effect on the health of our website. Search engines might tag our website as spam due to our neighborhood. So to check our server neighborhood there are many free websites like majestic.com etc, we should check if there is any unwanted website hosted with our website. Hence during search engine optimization audit if we find that our server neighborhood is not clean, then change the hosting server and try to get a different I.P address, ideally we should try to get a dedicated hosting server.
  4. Robots and Sitemaps

    • Robots.txt : It is a text file used to instructs the search engine robots how to crawl and index pages on our website. To check our Robots.txt file we need to type our domain name as following : ” www.example.com/Robots.txt ” This file also helps us to instruct the search engine which web pages it should not index , for example if we have a confidential or private web page then we can use this robots.txt file and write in a predefined format to instruct the search engine not to index that particular page. We should always check if the robots.txt file is present on the root folder (public_html folder) of our website server. Below are some examples of formats for robots.txt files. Having a robots.txt file with instructions for allowing the search engine to index our web pages is the first and most important step towards getting our website search engine friendly.
      robots txt file formats

      robots txt file formats

       

    • Sitemaps : Sitemap is basically an index/list of text links for all our pages of our website. Sitemaps helps us to utilize important keyword phrases. It quickly shows visitors how to get where they need to go. There are two types of sitemaps HTML sitemap and XML sitemap. HTML sitemap are readable and user friendly. HTML site map helps the user navigate the website easily, but an XML sitemap is made of markup language and very difficult for us to read. XML sitemap is search engine friendly and is like a door way for the search engine robots to follow, as it tells which pages to index. XML sitemaps helps the search engine to discover all our web pages easily. Whenever we create a new page or add a new content to a page we should immediately add it in our sitemap so that search engines can index our changes and show the updated page on the SERP. In case we do not have a XML site map then it will take months for the search engine to discover our web pages and index it, which will result in zero visibility of our website on an SERP. To create a XML sitemap there are many free tools like www.xml-sitemaps.com and after creation, we have to submit it into the webmaster console tool to inform the search engine about pages on our site which are available for crawling/indexing.
  5. URL’s and Error Handling

    • Canonicalization : To check this issue we should check that whether our website opens when we type www in our web browser before our domain name and if it also opens when we don’t type www before the same domain name. If yes i.e the website opens in both the cases, then it is called an canonical issue. This issue needs to be rectified because search engines cannot identify these as the same domain or same web page, search engine thinks that the domain with www is different from the same domain without www, this leads to duplicate content issue which is not a good thing for the search engine and hence we can get a lower rank in the SERP. To resolve this issue we should tell our developer to redirect our website to any one type only i.e either with www or without www but not for both.

      SEO Audit Canonicalization

      SEO Audit Canonicalization

    • URL Format : URL means unique resource locator, it is a link that points to our webpage uniquely. A URL basically is an address/path of our page/file which is stored in a web server where our website is hosted. While doing an search engine optimization audit we should always check that the URL contains the targeted keyword for which the page is created. There are certain conventions which we need to check during the audit and follow while naming our web page. To make the URL readable to a visitor we should use a hyphen ” – ” into the URL to create space between two words. Now here we should not use any other special characters like {@ # % ^ _ } because hyphen is a very search engine friendly separator. It gives a very clear idea to the search engine that in the URL there are two words. We should also check that the URL is shorter than 2083 characters to render correctly in Internet Explorer web browser. Example for correct URL format can be like : http://www.example.com/category-keyword/subcategory-keyword/primary-keyword.htmlOther factors which we should check during URL format audit are session ID parameters presence, static or dynamic, excessive URL parameters & folder depth.
    • Error handling : If a website visitor types incorrect url then it leads to a 404 error page, which says “page not found”. Now after seeing this error page the visitor/user will simply exit that page, and we lose a potential customer. But here we have an opportunity to retain this visitor by creating a custom 404 page which redirects the user to the correct home page and not lose them. This is a good practice, now-a-days many websites are doing it. Having custom 404 page is like providing a good user experience which results in increased site visits and thus increase in our ranking on SERP. Hence we should always check the error page link and have some content and markup on it instead of a blank page showing “page not found” message.
  6. On Page Elements :

    • Keyword Research : We have to understand the consumer behavior and map keywords with consumer behavior and then only we can optimize and insert those keywords in our website content. We can use Google Adwords Keyword Planner tool to find out the most relevant keywords for our business. With this tool by researching on the seed keywords we can get new ideas of keywords for our website which we can target. Hence while doing our search engine optimization audit we should do a keyword research and utilize them optimally.
    • Title Tag : It is a meaningful description of our web page which appears on the search engine results page as per the below image. As this title tag appears on the SERP we should keep this in our mind that when somebody is searching for our keyword then our title tag should be optimized with that keyword so that our website is shown at the top of the SERP. Always make sure that our title tag makes sense and is not just stuffed with keywords, it should help start a conversation with the reader. Also keep in mind that the title tag should be under 55 characters. Hence while doing a search engine optimization audit we should check the title tag and make changes accordingly.
      SEO Audit Title & MetaTags

      Search Engine Optimization Audit : Title & Meta Tags

       

    • Meta Tags : As per the above image we can see the Meta tag appears on an SERP below the title tag & URL . Meta tags can be more lengthy than a title tag, but search engines generally truncate them if they are longer than 160 characters.We should always think of using Meta tags like ad-copy, they should be able to inform, engage, it should be unique, compelling & should clearly communicate the call to action. We can also call meta tags as a small snippet or summary of the page which tells the searchers that if they click on this link what they will get to see. We need to insert our keywords in a very intelligent way in the meta tags so that it makes sense to the reader and the reader click on the link, and ultimately helps us in getting higher page rank/position on the search engine result page.
    • Alt Tags: It stands for Alternative text or Alternate text, it is used for images. When we put our mouse cursor over an image it shows some text as per below image, this is called Alt text/ Alt tag. We should use a proper meaningful & relevant Alt tag for each of our image on our website. We should always have Alt tags with relevant keywords which we are targeting. Alt tag is important because suppose due to some reasons the image on our website does not load, then the Alt text shows there instead of that image. This helps the user to know that here there was an image of this product or service which is not loaded. Alt tag also helps the search engine know which keywords our website is targeting. To tell in simple language, search engines cant read and understand images so they need to be told about the images used on our website, and Alt tags are readable by the search engine. Search engines refer to Alt tags to read and index the images and consider to rank them against relevant search query.
      SEO Audit Alt Tag

      SEO Audit Alt Tag

       

    • Heading Tags : Heading tags on a website are similar to the headline on a newspaper article. Heading tags helps human readers and search engine spiders to understand the content better and focus on key themes. Heading tags are classified into first H1, then H2, and so on H3, H4, H5, H6 etc. Each Heading tag has a specify font size, where H1 has the largest font size and consecutively the other Heading tag have smaller font size as per the below image. Properly using Heading tags shows that we are organizing our content in a better way. Heading tags also gives us the opportunity to use our targeted keywords and help us optimize our website. We should think  H1 tag like a root of tree structure and ; from one H1 tag there can be multiple branches of other H2 tags, and from these H2 tag there can be multiple branches of other H3 tags, just like this blog content !

      SEO Audit Heading Tags

      SEO Audit Heading Tags

Following these above 6 steps can definitely help us to perform search engine optimization audit, and give us valuable information about what needs to be done to rank our website on higher position on a search engine results page. If you liked this blog please share your valuable comments, and add value to this blog.

Image Credits: Google

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  • There are 6 comments


    • 2 years ago

      Swati   /   Reply

      Awesome post … Such technical thing explained sooo nicely.. Thanks

    • 2 years ago

      P Prashant   /   Reply

      Well-written. SEO Audit Simplified……Cheers!

    • 2 years ago

      Ashok Sajwan   /   Reply

      Nice reading Sachin….will wait for more such article..

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