This is an SEO audit focused on the most important parts of a website from the client’s point of view. There are many other site features and architecture that can be audited, but a quick audit such as this can give plenty of insight into what a site is doing well, and what it is missing from a SEO perspective.
General Site Description
Give a quick overview of what the website is about and what the site’s purpose is.
Defined Sections (main)
If there are obvious sections to the site, these should be noted:
Traffic and Conversion Analysis
Make note of trends in traffic and conversions. Peaks and valleys outside of the mean should be investigated further. Significant conclusions can be made based on the traffic reaction to specific content or video releases, social sharing, search engine algorithm changes resulting in decreased or increased rankings, and internal site changes (like a redesign) among other factors.
SERP Results (Visibility Report)
In most cases you should have access to the website’s analytics or webmasters account. With this access you can get a look at important keyword ranks, landing pages, traffic sources as well as general traffic trends. From this you can determine how well the site is viewed in the search engines.
Meta and HTML Tags
Review HTML Improvements in Webmaster Tools. This will help find missing, short, long or duplicate meta descriptions. Meta descriptions contribute to SEO as well as the first call-to-action that a searcher will see.
Title tags can also be reviewed in Webmaster Tools. Title tags are essential to SEO and is usually the first thing a searcher sees on the SERP. Essentially is the most important call to action because it reaffirms what was being search and if it is relevant.
Using a SEO Crawling tool (Screaming Frog SEO Spider) and it can determine if H1s and H2s are missing, duplicate or are too long.
Images should be checked for relevant file names. If it is picture of a panda, the file name should probably have “panda” in it, not “image546.png.” The alt and title tags should be relevant to the image as well.
Ensure that the anchor text is varied and relevant to the link, but not always including the exact keyword term. Using the same anchor text for the same link multiple times is not natural and will not be seen as such from Google. Cases in which the same anchor text is ok would be for branded terms like the company name and website.
rel=”author” and rel=”publisher”
These are used to connect Google+. While Google has yet to officially admit author rank as a ranking factor, it still provides many advantages in search engines such as acting as a call-to-action, search engine real estate (SERE) or tying all of the author’s posts together.
Schema markups are used to add structured data to web pages that help search engines crawl sites more easily. Checking to make sure these data tags are implemented, and if they are implemented correctly will ensures search bot crawling efficiency.
Functionality is all about how easy it is for a user to traverse the site. If finding the information you are looking for is challenging, the site doesn’t have good functionality. This can be arguing semantics to a point, but examples of poor functionality should be fairly cut and dry.
Backlinks are one of, if not the largest contributing factor to ranking. The backlinks should be analyzed from a quality standpoint and not in quantity. Ensure that links are not from article directories, comment or forum plugs, etc. Many times links can be promoted via a press release service (Vocus, PRNewswire), and while these are not high quality, in most cases will not be penalized.
Take stock of the different social avenues the company uses and measure their effectiveness. Most analytics programs allow for social signal tracking and much knowledge can be gained from studying those, but measuring effectiveness is constituted on what the intended result is to be. Social can be used for a myriad of actions such as traffic, conversions, sharing, link building, public relations, interactivity, etc. Just like anything, there must be a return on investment. Simple things like how many comments, shares, clicks, “likes,” “+ 1’s” can all be measured fairly easily.
The onsite content should be easily shared, and it should be obvious through tracking data if it is getting shared. There are many different configurations of sharing buttons and prominence and ease-of-use are determining factors of their effectiveness.
Similar to social media, interactions with videos can be measured. What videos have been watched the most? Are visitors taking action on the call-to-action? How long are they watching? If the videos are hosted on site, are they employing structured data and getting linked to? If hosted on a third party site such as YouTube they need to be optimized with titles, description, free ads as a call-to-action and closed captions.
Conclusions / Actionable Items
This is basically an executive summary of the most important findings and what can be done about them. This is the real selling point to the client. In my experience this should generally be at the top of the list because it is really the only thing the client is going to read.
The SEO audit is not only beneficial to the client, but is a useful tool for an SEO. Sometimes new avenues of optimization can be made aware, or new solutions arise out of a website analysis. Most importantly, and SEO audit allows for a measurable look into a website’s performance and gives evidence for the decision maker to take action.