Technical SEO Audit: Tips For Successful Implementation
SEO is undeniably one of the most critical aspects of digital marketing. It is a viable and cost-effective way to reach customers. With a majority of the users initiating the internet browsing by performing a search, organic traffic makes up the central portion of the total viewership for any web page or website. And to convert this new traffic into regular visitors and users, website owners use numerous SEO strategies. There are many types of SEO techniques, but if your website’s technical SEO is not strong enough, other SEOs might be of little help.
What Is SEO?
Search engine optimization techniques are specifically formed to improve the ranking of a web page on the SERPs by engaging and attracting relevant traffic. Additionally, SEO strategies also aim to enhance the page experience for users since it plays a pivotal role in Google Ranking Systems. There are various types of SEO, but the three critical ones are the on-page, off-page, and technical SEO.
Traditional SEO aims to optimize the content on the web page and is of two types- on-page and off-page SEO. At the same time, technical SEO intends to improve the website or web page architecture to enhance crawling by search engine crawlers.
What Is Technical SEO?
Every search engine works by discovering and identifying your webpage content on the internet. It crawls, indexes, and then ranks your web page to be visible on internet searches.
But the question is, how does a search engine know if you have content for them to crawl through? And if the crawlers know about your content, are they reading it in the way you want them to? Technical SEO is the answer to all such questions.
Technical SEO checks if your website content satisfies the factors of search engines that may impact your ranking on their search result pages. Some of these factors are the site’s loading speed, mobile friendliness, accessibility to the content, and more. If search engines find these factors to be negative, they drop your ranking, affecting your conversion rates.
Why Is Technical SEO Important?
Only 9.37% of the content over the internet gets organic traffic on Google, leaving the rest of 90.63% of content untouched, which is a massive percentage. This high percentage of unseen content on the internet is mostly not available on the first page of the SERP. Implying that, if your website does not appear as a search result on the first search engine result page, your data is as good as invisible.
Now, this doesn’t necessarily have to be because your content does not provide rich knowledge or isn’t engaging. This can be because the search engine crawlers could not match your content to the search query. It also may be because the crawlers read your content but could not understand its intention and hence could not appropriately index and rank it.
Elements of Technical SEO Audit
- Files robot.txt
- HTML and XML Sitemaps
- HTTPS instead of HTTP
- Easy navigation
- Page loading speed
- Breadcrumb menus
- Canonical URLs
- 404 error and 301 redirecting pages
- Schema Markup
Implementing a Technical SEO Audit
Although a technical SEO audit sounds highly complex, and you may be wondering how to do an SEO audit, it is not as intricate. The technical SEO audit includes focusing your attention on the aspects that help a search engine read your content and your reader to use your website most efficiently.
You should conduct two types of SEO audits on your website –
1. Website-Wide Auditing
A website holds multiple pages together, and pages make the first impression on any visitor. To enhance the website’s user experience, optimize the essential pages and web pages that drive traffic to your website. These pages may include the home page, contact page, about page, and products page.
Use the following tips to perform a website-wide audit –
A. Improve the Web Page Design
The web page content should clearly distinguish headers, titles, body, and footers. The website should match well with the brand color codes and look welcoming to the user. The call-to-action buttons and forms should be readily available.
B. Enhance User Experience
The UX matters a lot for your page to rank well. While doing an SEO audit, you should ensure that your website ticks most, if not every, points on the technical SEO audit checklist. To enhance the user experience, there should be a navigational menu on every page; the content should not be dense and should be appropriately divided into subheadings for easy readability.
C. Create a Clean About Page
Usually, a visitor goes to the about page to learn about the owner. It also means that the user is interested in your services or products. Make a concise yet attractive about page, giving the visitor a reason to trust the content on your website.
2. On-Page Auditing
Compared to the complete website audit, on-page auditing is performed to optimize every individual page on your website that you want to rank in the SERPs. Since web pages make a website, they need to be appealing enough for users to stay on your website instead of bouncing back. During an on-page SEO audit, the elements to check for are content, HTML elements, and site-architectural elements.
Here are some tips for performing an on-page audit on your web pages –
A. Call-To-Action Buttons
To generate leads, every page should have CTA buttons and a form for the user to fill in and look at your services further. The CTAs should be evenly distributed through the content, with the first one being at the top. Moreover, you should keep only about three to four CTAs on a page, as too many of them can repel the users.
B. Add Pop-Ups
Along with CTAs, pop-ups also help in lead generation. Set the time for the pop-ups to appear. Make sure they do not appear as soon as the user lands on your website. Preferably, time the pop-ups according to how much the user has scrolled down already through the web page.
C. Simple URL Structure
The URL should be clean of unnecessary words and easy to read. The URL should show a simple hierarchy, so the user knows their location on the website. An ideal URL structure has a domain, a sub-domain, a directory, and a specific page route.
Additionally, the algorithms, especially Google, get constantly updated. And these algorithms need to be convinced that your web page is worth sharing with the people. Fortunately, the good part about updates in algorithms is that the changes are gradual, giving you enough time to improve and optimize your content for the best user experience.
As discussed above, every search engine works in three stages with your web page – crawling, indexing, and ranking. To ensure that the search engine conducts all these stages according to your preferences, performing a technical SEO audit is essential.
The Factors to Optimize During a Technical SEO Audit
1. Manage Your robots.txt Files
The robot.txt files available in the root folder of websites direct the crawlers on your website; this is called The Robots Exclusion Protocol. You can limit them to what they should view and what should not be indexed. Mostly the admin details are something you wouldn’t want everyone on the internet to know about. Moreover, you can also stop proxy robot crawlers and spammers from over-crawling your website, reaching email addresses, and blocking the pages you don’t want to be accessed by checking your robots.txt files. Google Search Central has detailed information about the robots.txt files.
Working and Creating a robots.txt File
Working and creating a robots.txt file can be easily understood by an example –
For a URL – https://www.dashclicks.com/blog/10-reasons-why-your-website-should-be-seo-friendly/
A crawler will go to the specific path of the web page, separating it from the URL itself. The crawler will read content after the first slash (/) in the URL structure. Now, to remove the access permission, you need to go to the root folder and change the structure to – https://www.dashclicks.com/robots.txt
Structure of a robots.txt File –
A robots.txt file is a text file that can have multiple records. An example structure would look like this-
Disallow: /path 1/
Disallow: /path 2/
Here, the “User-agent: *” applies the conditions to all robots, which can also be changed (See Conditions in a robots.txt files section). And, the “Disallow: /” removes access to the applicable robots from particular directories or pages. In the example above, two directories are not allowed to be read by any robots.
Conditions in robots.txt Files –
1. For excluding all robots from the complete server:
2. For allowing all robots full access, don’t create a robots.txt file or use the following:
3. For excluding all robots from exclusive paths:
Disallow: /path 1/
Disallow: /path 2/…..and so on
4. For excluding a particular robot:
5. For allowing a specific robot:
6. To allow a particular file within a page:
Disallow: /path 1/ file 1/
7. To disallow a particular file within a page:
Disallow: /path 2/ file 1.html
2. Adding Sitemaps
The HTML sitemap simplifies navigation for the users, while the XML sitemap helps the search engine crawlers suitably go through your website. The HTML and XML sitemaps are available in the root folder of your website.
If you can’t find them there, you can use the following Google search command-
It is essential to inspect your XML sitemap if you are facing errors related to crawling and indexing. Additionally, ensure that you have added all the content you want to be indexed into the XML sitemap. You should also submit your sitemap to the Google Search Console to notify Google every time your content is updated.
For WordPress: WordPress is an excellent content management system, and to create a sitemap here, you need a plugin. These plugins automatically create new sitemaps for you as soon as you add new content or update the existing one.
To Add XML Sitemaps:
You can use the following plugins in WordPress –
- JetPack: This tool is used by most WordPress-powered blog websites to create XML sitemaps. The JetPack has all the essential marketing tools needed for SEO audits.
- RankMath: It is a new tool for 2021, but it already has 900,000+ users. RankMath is packed with features after which you might not even need any other WordPress SEO plugin.
To Add HTML Sitemaps:
The most widely used plugin for creating HTML sitemaps in WordPress is the Simple Sitemap Pro. It is easy to use, efficient, and quick plugin to add HTML sitemaps to your website.
For Manually Creating Sitemaps
Manual sitemaps are created primarily when the sitemaps are heavily customized according to the user’s interaction with your website or if your website is not powered by WordPress. In both cases, you will have to manually add sitemaps to your website every time you add, subtract, update, or change the content of your website. The advantage of the manual creation of sitemaps is that the tools let you see the hierarchy of your website for better understanding. Further, even with automatic sitemap creation, it is advised to do a manual audit every 3-4 months for better results.
To Add XML Sitemaps
- Slickplan: This tool has a complete suite for your website. Slickplan will create customizable XML sitemaps for your website in minutes and build a website structure.
- Dynomapper: This tool allows you to create sitemaps in different styles, namely, default, circle, and tree. Dynomapper is a visual sitemap creator with a high crawling capacity.
- Sitemap by click5: The sitemap by click5 tool generates sitemaps for your website, creates robots.txt files, and has custom post-type support.
3. Build a Good Website Framework
A solid outline of your website’s content will help visitors and crawlers easily access pages and posts. Make a simple yet effective structure defining all the pages and precisely relating one page to another. View the following aspects for a good website architecture –
A. Content: Keep your content streamlined and connected. Get rid of any content that may not be useful for the present times or is an old concept. Update your content with new statistics to make it more relatable to the current scenarios.
B. URL Structures: The URL structures should be clean and void of anything that makes them look stuffed up. An ideal URL structure is detailed in Tip#5: URL Structure section.
C. Menus for Easy Navigation: To enhance the UX of your website, you should create menus for easy navigation. These menus should define and link to every primary page present on your website so the user can reach the preferred content quickly.
D. Breadcrumbs: A breadcrumb menu is created at the footer or a header to show the user’s path to the current web page. A breadcrumb menu also allows the user to reach several pages back with a single click. This menu can also show the hierarchy of the path for the website. A breadcrumb menu looks like –
Home>Blogs>White Labeling>SEO Reselling Guide (Updated 2021)
E. Internal Linking: Integrating pages using hyperlinking on the source page is called internal linking. They establish an information hierarchy, making navigation more manageable, and grouping the content to reduce cluttering.
4. Simplify the Content
Search engine crawlers consider websites with too much content irrelevant. Moreover, websites with a complicated hierarchy are not preferred by the users either. Streamlining the content will help users and crawlers to read through your content quickly and easily. To simplify your website structure, you can combine the content in the following ways-
A. Group the Content Based on Similar Keywords: Combine all the content with identical keywords so the user and crawlers will have only one place to target when they need it.
B. Group the Content Based on Relevancy: Although grouping the content according to keywords will also combine them with relevance, sometimes topics could be related and still not share keywords. In those cases, employ your manual skills to divide or merge the content.
C. Highlight Essential and Updated Content: To stay at the top of the game, keep updating your content with the latest data, information, and keywords. You can highlight crucial information by bold formatting or changing the text color to enhance its visibility to the reader.
5. URL Structure
Long and complicated URLs are discouraged by search engines and frowned upon by the readers. The URL should only contain the major elements of the page and website. You should follow the following for a good URL structure-
- Remove the unnecessary words and digits from the URLs
- Use a maximum of two keywords
- Use HTTPS over HTTP for enhanced security
- Use canonical tags to stop crawlers from reading drafted versions of the same content
- Follow a standard structure
The above example is a simple structure clearly defining the path of the blog.
6. Check the Loading Speed
The page should load quickly, preferably within three seconds. Any reader usually searches for a topic to get answers in urgency. If your page takes too much time to load, the reader will leave to check out another page. This will increase your bounce-back rates, which is not suitable for getting a rank in the SERPs.
To optimize your website for loading speed-
- Use Google PageSpeed tools and modules,
- Check the loading speed of your content regularly,
- Compress the included images and videos,
- Avoid too many plugins,
7. Enhance Mobile Friendliness
Your website will earn a higher rank if it is accessible by the users through a mobile phone. The guideline by Google in early 2021 mentioned that mobile-friendly sites would be prioritized since most searches today are done through mobile phones. Moreover, using a responsive web design, you can make your website viewable on any device. Using HTML and CSS, an RWD design adjusts and resizes the website content according to the device the reader uses without pixelating anything.
You can check out the following tools for using responsive web design for your website –
- Bootstrap: It is the world’s most popular tool for developing mobile-first websites. Bootstrap is a tool to quickly design highly responsive websites, with mixins and Sass variables, responsive grid systems, and much more.
- Webflow: It is a complete web design tool, CMS, and hosting platform. The flexbox is the most bougie feature of the Webflow tool, which allows you to customize layouts that are hard to work on.
8. Improve Content Structure
Content is the most crucial part of your web page and website that provides you with good traffic. For top-class content, you can use the following tips-
A. Use Schema Markup Strategies: To enhance the quality of your content, use strategies that involve writing content with a decent amount of keywords or phrases that help search engines quickly locate your web page. Moreover, add structure to your content for enhanced readability.
B. Remove Duplicated Content: While performing a technical SEO audit, make sure the content is not copied from another source, as this deteriorates your ranking. Remove paraphrased sentences and plagiarized text to enhance your content for the crawlers.
C. Address the Demand: Quality content will resolve the problem in focus for the user. The solution should be easy to follow and at a level that your average readers can comprehend.
D. Add Visuals: Good content is not only about the text but also about making sure that the information reaches the user. Images and videos help better communicate to the users, as visuals can be understood and remembered quickly and effectively.
E. Content Should Be Accessible: The content available on your website should be available to everyone. If your content is hidden or saved as e-books, it takes longer for the reader to reach it, and as a result, they give up and leave.
Google also prefers websites with HTTPS instead of HTTP because of the higher security level. The HTTPS provides encryption to users’ data, enhancing their trust in sharing their personal details with your website. HTTPS also has an SSL certificate that uses a third party to verify the reliability of your website. Security and privacy play a vital role if your website falls under the category of YMYL websites.
10. Improve Clarity of 404 Error Page
The 404 error page informs users that the content they are looking for is no longer accessible. The 404 error page should clarify the issue and help the user to reach other pages easily.
11. Use 301 Redirecting Pages
The 301 redirecting pages are used to send the users to authority pages when you give preference to one page over the other. 301 redirecting pages can also be used to club multiple URLs if many pages exist for similar content on your website, acting as a tool for canonicalizing (Read canonical URLs section). Moreover, the 301 redirecting pages should also load quickly, providing all the details to the user for a better experience. Further, these pages should have a similar web page architecture as the rest of the pages to simplify navigation for the user.
12. Set Canonical URLs
Canonical URLs are used when there are multiple copies of the content on your website. The duplicates may be due to the updated content on those web pages. Canonical URLs allow you to direct the crawlers to the principal or preferred page that you would like it to index. Canonical URLs are meaningful because if the crawlers read the duplicate copy you did not want them to, they may rank that web the lower and irrelevant page.
For adding canonical URLs to your website, use the following methods –
Method #1: Use the “rel=canonical” tag in your website’s header. Most CMS platforms allow specific canonicals even if you are not a web developer.
Method #2: For WordPress: Setting up canonical URLs is straightforward with the use of the correct plugins for WordPress SEO audit. You can use the following plugins in WordPress –
- Yoast: The canonical URL creating tool by Yoast is a highly efficient tool that lets you manually customize your canonical URLs, provides security and developer controls, and reports to you which pages you shouldn’t put under canonical tags.
- RankMath: It is a complete set of SEO tools. For adding canonical tags in RankMath, follow the following steps-
Step #1: Open the page containing duplicate content that needs to be added to the canonical URL and open the editor.
Step #2: Open the advanced mode in the editor. If you cannot find the advance tab, you can enable it from WordPress Dashboard > Rank Math > Dashboard.
Step #3: Edit the canonical URL by changing the directory domain to the main content you want crawlers to read.
Step #4: After completing, you can save the settings. Now, the updated URL will direct the crawlers directly to your prioritized page.
For example, if you wish Page 11 to be read instead of Page 3, you can go to the advanced tab on Page 3 and edit page 3 to page 11. Canonical URL will help the crawlers to reach and index page 11 instead of page 3, even if they are on page 3.
Tools for Technical SEO Audit
1. DashClicks’ InstaReports Tool: This tool highlights your online marketing campaign’s pain points so you can fix them and achieve the best results. Create in-depth performance reports in seconds to help close deals faster with InstaReports, a white-label digital marketing audit tool.
2. SEMRush Site Audit Tool: The SEMRush site audit tool scans your website for a thorough SEO audit report.
3. SEO Audit Report Tool: You can get a comprehensive website audit report with this tool. SEOptimer reviews your site to identify the problems keeping your website from reaching its potential.
4. Screaming Frog SEO Spider: It is an SEO website crawler that you can use to identify your weak points. The SEO Spider tool extracts data and audits your website for common SEO issues.
Technical SEO plays a vital role in making your content readable for crawlers and users. It is not the traditional SEO strategy that only aims at the keywords and structure, but a complete architecture of the web page and website. The tips mentioned above should be a valuable and detailed guide to improving your website’s technical SEO audit for better ranking and enhanced user experience.