Why is an SEO Technical Audit Important?

An SEO technical audit is akin to doing a regular check-up on your website. It helps you determine what’s working, what needs improvement, and where any critical fixes might be necessary. To be successful online, your website needs to function properly and be accessible for both the search engines and your website visitors. 

Websites are complicated. They are designed and created to engage the visitor but they must first rank well on search engines for common user-queries. Inevitably, the Internet will continue to evolve much faster than your website. Google’s algorithms are now AI influenced and seem to change daily. It often feels impossible to keep up with what Google wants.

SEO has become more and more complex but remains one of the most crucial elements necessary for online success. It’s important to remember that SEO is not a “set-and-forget methodology.” In fact, there isn’t one way to ensure your website will rocket to the top of Google and stay there.

Google, the Internet, and even your competitors’ websites keep evolving. This means that anything can change and change can happen quickly. Whether done externally or internally, an SEO technical Audit is a valuable tool to ensure your website evolves along with them.

How Often Should You Do an SEO Technical Audit?

Comprehensive SEO Audits should be conducted regularly, at least once per year; however, every six months is highly recommended. Some professionals like to run audits quarterly and may even conduct mini-audits monthly.

Here are some indications that an SEO technical audit may be necessary:

When Rankings, Traffic, and/or Conversions Decrease

If you notice a sudden decrease, or a gradual change in rankings, site traffic, or conversions, that’s a good indicator it may be time to conduct an SEO Technical Audit.

So many elements can affect your website performance and rankings can drop suddenly or gradually over time. As soon as you notice a consistent decrease, it’s time to look into why. It could be on-page or off-page elements that are affecting your results. Conducting a thorough SEO audit is a great way to determine why there has been a change and point out any fixes that might need to be made.

Before/After Making a Big Change to Functionality or Hosting Environments

Conducting an SEO Technical Audit before you make a major change to your website can help determine if any other changes need to be made in tandem. You can think of this as preemptive discovery. In addition, it is a good practice to conduct a full SEO/Website audit after you’ve made a big change. A big change can be a new feature, a change in plugins, a change in the hosting environment, etc.

When You Notice Poor Page Load Speed

Page Speed seems to be a common theme on the tongues of SEO professionals. This is because website visitors are impatient. Remember back in the early days, back when Netscape Navigator was the browser of choice and we all connected via dial-up connections? Back then, people expected to wait minutes for a website to load. Now, you’re hard-pressed to make a visitor wait seconds.

  • Nearly 50% of users will leave a website (and won’t return) if it takes more than 3 seconds to load

If your site is not performing at optimal speed, it’s time for an SEO audit.

Regularly Scheduled Audits

Ideally, you’re running SEO audits on a regular basis so that you can preemptively strike before a major problem arises. SEO and search engines are in a constant state of flux, which means things can change at any given time. Knowing your numbers and your stats inside out can help you determine when there’s a potential problem on the horizon.

Who Should Conduct a Website/SEO Audit?

Check your spam folder and you’re likely to have multiple emails advertising SEO audits. Generally, these are used as a sales pitch to earn your business or get you to sign up for something you likely don’t need. But, there’s something to be said for having an outside set of eyes looking in.

We recommend having your SEO technical audit completed by one of the following:

Internal SEO Professional

Your hired SEO professional should be running and sharing their regular SEO audit results. Good and experienced SEO professionals want to run regular audits (yearly, quarterly or even monthly) so they can have a good handle on what is working, what needs improvement and flag items that require an immediate fix.

You shouldn’t be concerned that your hired SEO professional will skew results to make their work look good. An experienced SEO professional knows that nothing in the realm of SEO is a constant and there is always room for more improvement. Running their own internal SEO audit helps them to do their job more proficiently.

External SEO Professionals

Having an external organization take a look at your website and SEO is also an option. In fact, even some SEO professionals will outsource the SEO technical audit every-so-often, as a second set of eyes with a different focus just might be able to uncover other issues.

An external SEO technical audit is also often a part of the quoting process when you shop around for SEO services.

What Elements Should Be Included in an SEO Audit?

SEO Audits are more complex and comprehensive than regular reporting. An audit is meant to uncover vulnerabilities, successes, errors, and areas for improvement, whereas your regular marketing reports are generally performed to showcase key performance indicators.

15 Elements To Be Included in an SEO Technical Audit

1. Crawl Errors
A crawl report is a quick way to determine how your website is functioning from a technical standpoint. It shows you if there are places where a search engine is getting stuck or if there are page errors or crawl errors. 
You can automate this process with a number of SEO tools such as Screaming Frog or SEMRush. You can then begin to fix any of the errors or warnings in an effort to ensure your website is free of errors and as optimized as possible.

2. URL Status Code Errors
Let’s face it, it is difficult to check up on every page of a website regularly. Sometimes you don’t know a page is broken, or how long it has been broken. A regular SEO technical audit can help you assess broken pages and links. You can get a list of status code errors from your crawl report or right within Google Search Console. Any URL errors such as 404s will show up here. It is important you fix these errors as soon as they arise.

3. XML Sitemap Review
The XML Sitemap acts as a map to show Google and other search engines what pages are on your site. It should include all pages within your website. Make sure every page within your sitemap returns 200 status codes and proper canonicals. This helps to ensure you are not wasting your crawl budget on broken links and removed pages.

4. Site Load & Speed Testing
It is important to regularly check how fast your website loads. According to SEMRush, over 23% of websites have slow page load times. Poor site speed can affect SEO and other key metrics. You can check your site speed by using Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool.

5. Mobile-Friendly Test
It’s likely your website is mobile-friendly, and if it isn’t yet, it ought to be. It’s still important to run your website through a mobile test such as Google’s Mobile Friendly test.

6. Keyword Cannibalization
If pages within your website are all competing for the same keyword, this can cause confusion for the search engines and also reduce your opportunity for top results. Sometimes, Google and other search engines will even decide which page is best, which may not be the page you want your visitors to land on. By using Google Search Console’s performance report, you can identify pages that are competing for the same keywords. You should then determine canonical issues or consolidate pages.

7. Review of Robots.txt
A regular review of Robots.txt allows you to see the instructions you are providing to the search engine bots. For instance, if there are pages you do not want the search engines to spider and display, they will show up on this report. This is why it is essential to regularly review the robots.txt file. You can ensure you are only disallowing the pages you actually do not want Google to see. Sometimes developers block a page they are working on and forget to unblock that page or even the website. If you notice pages are not ranking, this is the first place you should check.

8. Google Site Search
Performing a Google search of your website will help you determine how Google displays your indexed pages. Go to google and search for “site:yourwebsite.com”

9. Duplicate Meta Data
Unfortunately, it is common for large websites and e-commerce sites to have duplicate meta Titles and Descriptions, or to be missing meta data. This can occur when you allow an SEO system to create meta data for you based on parameters, or you’ve copied descriptions from one page to the next. A detailed crawl report can alert you to issues with metadata. It’s a time-consuming process to fix, but worth it.

10. Meta Length Review
Ensuring your pages’ meta descriptions are the proper length may not help your SEO but it can help your click-through rate. The meta description character length has increased to 320 characters, which now gives you plenty of space for your keywords, specs, and a call to action.

11. Check for Broken Links
Any broken link, whether internal or external, can be bad for SEO and user experience, which can lead to lower rankings. Use your crawl report to identify any links that are broken and fix them as soon as possible.

12. Perform a Backlink Audit
Use a tool such as the popular Ahrefs to identify websites that are linking to your content. By assessing your link profile you can identify areas you can focus on with your link building and you can even assess your competitors’ backlinks and work to outperform them.

13. Duplicate Content Review
Over half of all websites have duplicate content issues, either internally or with external websites. Use a service such as Copyscape to run regular duplicate content checks. Duplicate content can cause confusion for the search engines and negatively impact your SEO.

14. Review H1s
Every page of your website should have one H1 header. Your crawl report can alert you to pages that have multiple H1s. An H1 is read by the search engines as the main point of the page. Your heading hierarchy should include one H1 and then can include multiple H2 subheaders and even H3 subheaders.

15. Determine Underperforming Pages/Content
The above metrics can help you determine underperforming or error-ridden pages and content on your website. From there, an improvement plan should immediately be put into place.

Summary

Ensuring you are regularly auditing technical SEO elements and content both on-page and off-page is an essential part of any SEO strategy. While SEO professionals may have their favorite tools to get the job done, they all agree that it is essential to perform an SEO technical audit regularly.

Consistency is key. If you are consistent with evaluating your technical SEO and website, and making fixes, your site will continue to gain strength in the search engines. Taking an hour or two to perform a regular SEO technical audit is well worth the effort. It will provide a road map for improvements to be made while ensuring your website is up-to-date.

Best practices, market trends, competition, and search engine algorithms are always in flux. Make sure your website is keeping up. 

If you still have questions about an SEO technical audit or you would like more information, please call our SEO experts here at 1st on the List at 1-888-262-6687.

The popular SEO authority Search Engine Land recently shared an article by Stephan Spencer titled, “Understanding & Explaining A Realistic SEO Timeline”.

While there has never been a simple answer to the age old question How long does SEO take to kick in,  Spencer explains several factors that can impact your SEO timeline and how long it will take before you start seeing results.

Here is the TLDR (Too Long Didn’t Read) Version:

  • There are many variables going on with your SEO such as design, code, previous SEO efforts and so on.
  • SEO is a team effort and depends on the cooperation of many team members as SEO is essentially managing the entire movement for the direction of the site.
  • The technical side of SEO is like troubleshooting and it isn’t always evident why rankings are fluctuating.
  • When rankings or conversion rates do not improve immediately after implementing  site changes you may not be able to just “SEO it faster” because uncontrollable factors such as manual penalties, competition, and how often Search Engines refresh their index come into play.
  • SEO can be compared to Fitness in that it is about correcting problems in the present and about taking preventative measures and continual improvement for the future.
  • Like fitness, you don’t just stop SEO once you’ve achieved your goal. SEO needs to be maintained for optimal results.
  • It is important to take the time to assess the situation and plan both short and long term strategies.

This is why at 1st on the List we carefully take the time to assess your current website’s health, competitors’ efforts and your industry to develop short and long term strategies in order to reach your goals.

Each of our custom SEO Campaigns start with a comprehensive Site Audit so we fully understand what is going on in the background of your site. This enables us to set realistic timelines with your team for making corrections for continual improvement.

For more information about our Search Engine Optimization services please call us Toll Free at 1-888-262-6687 or complete our quick Quote Request form.

Website speed matters. In fact it is one of our main priorities when helping our clients optimize their websites. Site speed affects how well your website ranks, how much traffic you get from the Search Engines and how your visitors engage on the website. Ultimately, a slow website speed can cost you a lot of money.

Remember that before a page can load there are a number of steps that must be completed:

  1. Person types the URL into their web browser (Chrome, Safari, etc).
  2. Web browser performers an SSL handshake.
  3. Web browser connects to the server.
  4. Web browser sends data to the server.
  5. Web browser waits to receive data from the server.
  6. Web browser receives data from the server.
  7. Web browser loads data on your computer screen.

A slow down can occur at any step. Often the problem arises from not one but several issues. Here are a few main areas that commonly cause slow website load times:

[checklist]

  • Your site server and host is slow to respond.
  • Image and video files are too large.
  • Complex coding issues can be a nightmare for website slowdowns
  • Archived content could be hiding several problems
  • A combination of these and other problems could be the cause.

[/checklist]

The slow load problems could be buried beneath several issues that have built up through time and page revisions.

If you are running into site speed problems contact us! Our site speed experts can help you pinpoint the reasons for site speed problems and provide recommendations on how to fix each problem.

Watch our Site Speed Slideshow to learn more or call us at 1-888-262-6687.

Recently a business owner emailed us with some good questions about us as he was obviously searching for a new SEO company to hire. We felt we should share these with everyone as these are the types of questions (and more importantly answers) that will help you find an ethical and experienced SEO provider. You can find more information like this on our complete FAQ page as well as our brand new eBook “14 Questions You Must Ask Before Hiring an SEO”.

If you still have questions we’d be glad to help! Send us a quick email to contact@1stonthelist.ca.

How will you determine which keywords will be the target of your optimization efforts?

This is a great question. You can check your main keyword now with our Instant Site Evaluator tool. It gives you a quick overview of the URL you provide (usually your home or index page), with an analysis of your keyword ranking, your content, your popularity and technical health. For a full site review, we perform Keyword Research which investigates what your website(s) already has credit for with the Search Engines, what your potential customers are actually searching, search volumes and competitiveness of different search terms, all while considering your target areas and what is achievable within your budget

Will the optimization program include an analysis of site’s design, navigation, coding, content, and incoming links?

All of these items are addressed in our detailed Site Audit. The Audit is the very first thing we do on any SEO project. We believe our thorough analysis (most client’s audit reports are 60+ pages and include a prioritized list of recommendations) allow us to achieve the best results possible for our clients. Many times we can find issues that have gone unidentified by previous SEO companies.

Do you have a link strategy for your site and the ability to promote the site through content on appropriate third-party sites (i.e. article directories, blogs, video, images)?

Backlinks have changed dramatically in the last few years with Google’s strong stance against artificial links. This includes any links you personally pay for or hire an SEO company to build for you. Our approach to help our clients develop unique, useful content that others will naturally link to.

Are your techniques White Hat or Black Hat?

We follow 100% White Hat SEO that you can read more about on our SEO Ethics page. As a side note I don’t think that any shady SEO would actually admit to you that they use “black hat” or questionable techniques.

Can you please provide with some references or samples of successful results in the major search engines?

You can read both our Client Results page and our Client Testimonials page. We will gladly provide some relevant testimonials based on the type of project you are interested in once we have determined what your project needs will be.

Kindly tell us how long have you been in business?

Our company was founded January 1997. Take a read through our Corporate introduction which covers our background in the business and our philosophy.

Kindly tell us the price and the pages and the words optimization?

Each website and SEO campaign has its own specific needs and we develop a custom strategy to help each client meet their goals. Because each site and campaign has its own timeline and focus we gladly provide custom pricing once we have had a chance to discuss your project in more detail. In the meantime, here is an overview of our general pricing.

What is your Google Places strategy?

We highly recommend Google+ Local for locally-based businesses who serve customers within their own city. This said we help all clients by claiming the listing, writing optimized descriptions, coaching the client on how to get more reviews and so on.

What offerings do you have in traffic generation or conversion rate optimization? 

Traffic generation and conversion rate are part of the strategy we build with you. We have several options and a Conversion Optimizer on staff. Once we know more about what you are looking for we can provide more details.

How will you take care of Panda and Penguin Algorithm?

Panda is Google’s algorithm regarding Content on your website. Our optimization services focus on quality, onsite updates including unique and relevant content. Since the last Panda update on May 20 we have seen several of our client’s traffic increase because of how we have helped them build great content.  If you feel you have been penalized because of Panda we can help strategize on how to generate new, unique content for your site.

Penguin is Google’s algorithm regarding Backlinks. Over the years we have avoided link building and focused more on the quality of your own website. As a result our clients have not been affected by Penguin because of linking from our end. If you have a Penguin penalty (you can see a Manual Penalty applied in your Webmaster Tools) we have several different approaches to helping you clean this up, depending on your budget.

What question are you itching to ask?

We are here to help. For the past 17 years we have worked to find the solutions to helping businesses like your find their niche in the online marketplace. Whether you have an existing website that needs updating, a new business just launching into the marketplace, or are reaching out in new directions into social media, we have the team that will help you define your strategy, tweak your content to its optimum potential, or even build your site. You can find many of your answers in the Resources section of our site or just drop us a note at contact@1stonthelist.ca

If you have email addresses listed on your website chances are you can get quite a bit of spam and unsolicited messages. We get quite a few emails a day from companies trying to sell us their SEO, SEM, Design and IT services.

Here are just a few examples of emails we get on a daily basis from SEO companies around the world looking for new customers.

Greetings,

Would you be interested in a possible Design/redesigning of the websites or addition feature that might benefit the overall usability and user experience which usually leads to better sales.
Want to See your website on the Top Page of major search engines/increase sales from your website.

We will be happy to help execute SEO & Web Design and Development projects at a much Lower cost than what you have in house – No compromise on quality!

Do let me know if you are interested and I would be happy to share our Methodologies, past work details and client Testimonials.
Including special benefit for you!

Kinds Regards,
Martin
Business Development Executive

Hi,

Hope you are doing well.

My name is Prince and working with a reputed leading Search Engine Optimization Company in India having the experience of getting our customer’s websites top in Google and producing high revenue with top page rank.

I was recently visiting your website and saw your website is not on first page on Google for most of the relevant and user oriented keywords pertaining to your domain so I was wondering

If you would be interested in getting very Affordable Search engine optimization done for your website.

Let me know if you are interested and I would happy to send you more details on this.

I look forward to your positive response.

Regards,
Prince
( SEO Marketing Strategist )

 

Dear Web Owner,

Want more clients and customers

We will help them find you by putting you on the 1st page of Google.

We have some special offers this season.

Email us back to get a full proposal.

Thanks
Supriya Sen

Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Spam team, says his rule of thumb is:

If someone sends you an email with an SEO offer out of the blue, be skeptical. 

The moral of the story is if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You can file many of these unsolicited emails away with the other ones that come through along with those pesky Dr. Oz spam emails.

Last week an interesting study by Econsultancy in partnership with Adestra came across my desk thanks to MarketingCharts.com. The headline read “Global Marketers Still Rate SEO … as Tops for ROI”

The study found that 3/4 global marketers rated SEO as being either “excellent” or “good” when it comes to Return On Investment. This makes SEO the top rated digital channel in terms of ROI for the second year in a row (see 2012 Results).

The following results were collected from over 1,300 participants who took part in an online survey this January and February 2013:

These survey results are just another way to help answer the question “Is SEO…” that Google’s autosuggest brings up …

Is SEO Dead Google Autosuggest Search

No. 

Search Engine Optimization is very much alive, worth it and still relevant.

 

Knowing that S-E-O stands for “Search Engine Optimization” may seem like just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to SEO vocabulary, terms and definitions.

Here are 25 of the most popularly used terms when it comes to learning SEO, speaking with your SEO Company and optimizing your website.

Algorithm or Search Algorithm – a set of instructions for determining which web pages should be listed for a Search Result and in what order. Google uses over 200 factors to determine what results to deliver to an individual searcher.

Alt Tag – text assigned to graphical elements to help the Search Engines see and understand the graphic.

Anchor Text – the clickable (hyperlinked) portion of a backlink on a webpage. The words used in the hyperlink help Search Engines associate the content on the linked-to page and contribute to PageRank.

Blog –(short for web log) – the part of a website that is regularly maintained with new content and encourages interaction with visitors through comment fields. Search Engines favor fresh new content which is easily achieved through a blog.

Canonical URL – the standard form of a URL used for accessing a webpage (http://www.examplesite.com).  Canonicalization translates all other versions (such as www.examplesite.com) into this standard form.

Duplicate Content – content that is used on more than one webpage; only one webpage is given credit for content that is duplicated.

Google Analytics – official Google software that helps measures website traffic by including specific HTML coding in the source code.

Hosting Company – a service provider that makes an individual website visible on the World Wide Web. The reputation of an individual website (and its Search Rankings) can be influenced by the reputation of the hosting company.

HTML – Hyper Text Markup Language – the basic building blocks of a website that is read and interpreted by a web browser and delivered in its visual form to the web user; HTML is what search robots read.

Indexing or Indexed pages – the process of a Search Engine’s robots visiting a website and recording or indexing its content so that it can easily recall the content.

IP Address – Internet Protocol address – a number given to a device to identify the host and to provide a location address.

Keywords or Keyword Phrases – the words and phrases used by searchers to find a particular answer, product or service.

Link Popularity – the number of inbound links directed towards a website.

Links or Backlinks or Inbound Links – a hyperlink listed on a site that points the visitor towards another site which are also used by Search Engines to determine the importance or popularity of a webpage.

Natural Link – a backlink that naturally occurs when one website decides to promote the content of another site.

Link Farm – an unethical practice where a number of websites are simply linked to each other in order to increase the PageRank which is now considered spamming.

One Way Link – a single backlink that connects one site to another site.

Reciprocal Link – an exchange of backlinks between two or more websites.

Meta Data or Meta Tags – included in the HTML code (but not visible to browsers) to further help Search Engines understand the information on the webpage. This data includes a Title, Description and Keywords.

NoFollow – an attribute assigned to a link to signal to Search Engines that the hyperlink should not influence the ranking.

PageRank – Google’s method of determining the relative importance of a webpage; the rank is calculated using an algorithm that measures the number of incoming links or back links; more links equate to a higher PageRank.

Robots.txt – a file placed on the website to signal the structure of the website to Search Engines; can also be used to block access to specific folders or restrict certain search robots from visiting the site.

SEM – Search Engine Marketing – involves marketing your business, products and services online through Search Engines using both SEO and PPC practices.

SERP – Search Engine Results Page – the page returned by a Search Engine when a specific keyword is searched.

Spiders or Robots of Googlebot – a software tool used by Search Engines to crawl websites in order to read and determine the content on the site to be indexed.

To learn more about the Basics of SEO watch our SEO Tutorial Video or call our office at 888-262-6687 to speak with an SEO Professional today.

When writing new content keep in mind how you typically read (or ‘scan’) a web page for the first time. Typically, people spend the first 8 to 12 seconds scanning the page to see if it contains what they are looking for.

Studies show people scan the pages using an “F” pattern or “F Behavior”.

Visitors will not read your web page word-for-word (especially in their initial stages of research). This means that you need to write your page so it is easy to scan . Use headings to signal what the text is about. Subheadings, lists and bullets are a great way to break up the text and make it even easier to scan, as long as it is done within reason and not overdone.

Place important words at the start of subheadings, paragraphs or bullet points so that they form the stem of the “F” down the left side of the page; these words will be easy for the reader to spot and find what they are looking for in the text.

If you want your pages to rank well you will also have to design the pages to cater to the Search Engines as well. Be sure to include a Page Header (“H1” tag) as well as sub headings (H2, H3, etc.). These show the Search Engines the importance of information as it is presented.

Finding a balance between pleasing the Search Engines and your reader can be quite tricky and often takes time to develop but is well worth the effort.

● ● ●

For more information about Search Engine Optimization or any of our other services at 1st on the List Promotion, please:

Call us toll free 1-888-262-6687

Email our SEO Consultants

Complete our Form SEO Request for Proposal

Keyword meta tags are included in the HTML code (source code) of each page:

The original purpose of a keyword tag was to help Search Engines understand the content of the page by listing the most important words within the text. Over time people began to take advantage of boosting their listings by placing popular keyword phrases within the keyword tag even if the corresponding page did not support these words. Today the major Search Engines are much smarter and able to read the content on their own in order to determine the main keyword phrases relevant to the text.

For this reason most people believe that the user submitted Meta Keyword Tags have very little value as they have little influence on major Search Engines rankings.

However, some smaller search engines still take the meta keyword tag into account when determining their rankings so it can be beneficial to still include the Keyword Tags.

● ● ●

For more information about Search Engine Optimization or any of our other services at 1st on the List Promotion, please:

Call us toll free 1-888-262-6687

Email our SEO Consultants

Complete our Form SEO Request for Proposal

This was true in previous years when big sites with a lot of pages always seemed to rank better than smaller sites.

However, thanks to the sophistication of Search Engines, the quality of the website plays a much larger factor in determining rankings. Creating a lot of web pages just for the sake of having a large website will likely hurt your rankings; creating web pages that purposefully support your products and services (and support each other) will likely help your rankings.

The reason that some people may still feel that larger websites rank better than small websites is because larger websites are generally owned by large corporations or brands recognized around the world. These popular companies have huge resources to invest in their websites and to perform search engine optimization. These sites also naturally attract a lot of visitors, attention and backlinks – which are a large factor in ranking algorithms.

If you are a small company or own a small website – do not be discouraged – it is possible to rank very well for your relevant keyword phrases with a website that has only five to ten pages.

● ● ●

For more information about Search Engine Optimization or any of our other services at 1st on the List Promotion, please:

Call us toll free 1-888-262-6687

Email our SEO Consultants

Complete our Form SEO Request for Proposal