SEO Checker for 2018: The Ultimate Site Audit Guide
So, you finally decided to invest in your own small online business (or maybe you’ve decided it’s time to expand your sales to the online world). You read a few articles on the importance of SEO to online success and you’d love to have a handy SEO checker, but you’re not sure where to begin.
It seems a fundamental law in life and businesses to know exactly where we stand. Constantly reevaluating our strengths, weaknesses and opportunities is key to beating our competition and having success.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you had an SEO checker, or rather, and SEO site audit that allowed you to know exactly what you need?
I’m not going to sugarcoat it to you: the competition out there is downright brutal. Skipping a thorough SEO site audit could cost you a lot down the line. Not only is your competition getting better at SEO themselves, Google is also implementing new methods and variables to their algorithm that you need to be aware of.
Google has taken a shift when it comes to handling the variables in their algorithm, more specifically they’ve decided to let their deep learning artificial intelligence decide who gets the top spots in the search engine results pages.
The Ai’s name is RankBrain, and you’ll want it to like you and your website. In fact, our SEO checker guide is based on some of the most prominent factors we know (through trial and error) RankBrain enjoys.
There’s a lot of ground to cover, so we’re going to start with some basic, technical SEO site audit.
SEO Checker: Technical Elements Audit
Our SEO checker for 2018 starts with a brief analysis on your domain age. Domains that have been around for a longer time tend to be favored by Google, which is why certain websites and brokers decide to auction “aged domains”.
Buying aged domains is a whole other issue we won’t be discussing in our SEO checker, but you’ll want to check for Google manual penalties, spam or mass de-indexation events.
In order to check if your domain is “clean”, you’ll need to log in to your Google Search Console (if you haven’t registered, do so now!)
Click on “Search Traffic”, then “Manual Actions”. Google penalties can be divided in two:
AAS (Action Against Site): your site has been de-indexed. This is by far the worst kind of penalty, since you’ll have to make a formal appeal and hope Google reviews your case and sees that the spammy behavior that got your site in trouble is gone and that you’re honest about wanting to get on their good side again.
AAL (Actions Against Links): These penalties are more lenient, since Google understands that your competitors could’ve sent spammy links on your direction. This kind of penalties are becoming increasingly rare, since Google has decided to punish crappy spammy links by making them worthless in SEO terms rather than taking direct actions against your site.
Once you’re clear of Google penalties, the next step in our SEO checker is taking a look at how your URLs and 301 redirects are working.
SEO Checker: Canonical URL
One of the first steps in a SEO site audit is making sure the website is browsable. This is a deceptively obvious step that most people skip. Let me explain:
Your website’s URL could look like any of these:
Without an SSL certificate:
With an SSL certificate:
Do you know which one you should be using for max SEO benefits? If you don’t, that’s ok.
Let’s start with the first part of your URL, HTTP vs HTTPS
SEO checker: HTTP vs HTTPS
HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol, and it’s basically a system that allows users and servers to transmit and receive information on the internet. HTTPS is the same thing, but it’s known as “secure HTTP”.
This means that HTTPS is better for exchanging confidential information and protecting user data from unauthorized access.
Now that you have an SSL certificate, our SEO checker next step is making sure you have a canonical version of your website your 301 redirects to, which brings us to the second part of your URL: www vs non -www websites.
Honestly, this isn’t even an issue. You can choose to use the traditional www. Format or stray from it. There is no SEO evidence that indicates either format provides a boost to rankings. It is however, very important, that you set up 301 redirects to a single canonical version of your website.
SEO Checker: Crawl Audit
Making sure that your website is free of crawling errors is a critical step in our SEO checker. The term crawl/crawling comes from Google Bots referred to as “spiders”. The idea is to use an SEO crawler that will navigate and register the site the same way Google would and provide useful information on our site structure and SEO.
For this particular step, there are three different tools I recommend:
Google Search Console
Google Search Console has become incredibly helpful in locating and fixing crawl errors in websites. Simply go to the dashboard and click on “Crawl Errors”. They’ve categorized the different type of errors you can encounter, so just follow the instructions for each case and you’ll be good to go!
Beam Us Up
Neat tool that allows you to export your crawl errors to Excel sheets, find out duplicates, etc. Does the job and it’s free!
SEO Checker: Page Indexation
Most website owners assume that because a page loads on their browser (and other people’s browser), it means their page is automatically indexed by the internet, or more specifically Google.
We’ve talked about the Google Sandbox phenomena before for newer websites, but once your website has passed Google’s initial spam checks, it’s a good idea to check for indexation issues. Our SEO checker will use Google Search Console, simply log in to your account and click “Google Index”, then click on “Index Status”
If you don’t see any pages indexed, then your website audience has found one of the biggest roadblocks in SEO traffic (simply said, if Google doesn’t index your site, you don’t get any organic traffic), since we’ve already checked for Google Penalties, we’ll have to consider a robot in your .htaccess or header.php file that is wreaking havoc.
AHREF also has a built-in feature to check for indexation issues. Click the “Internal Pages” tab and check for pages with the “noindex” tag. Keep in mind AHREF does almost completely automated SEO site audits, and it’ll save you tons of time, but it comes at a price. And rightfully so!
Fixing these issues takes a few minutes if you’re convinced on doing it yourself. Yoast has a very thorough article on the subject, so check it out!
Indexation issues are closely related to robots and configuring your .htaccess correctly. You’ll also set up most of your 301 redirects to canonical version while you’re tweaking with your .htaccess file, so might as well do that as part of our SEO checker routine.
If you’re wondering how to make a 301 redirect in your .htaccess file, simply edit it with your Notepad and add the following lines:
Redirect 301 /oldfile.htm /newfile.htm
Many websites that are redesigned and make the transition from regular .html to WordPress need to do this for ALL their previous webpages.
It’d look like this
Redirect 301 /oldfile.html /newfile.htm
Notice the .html and .htm file extensions differences. This is key to preserving SEO efforts over time, and it’s a SEO site audit key step in case it was recently redesigned.
SEO Checker: Page Speed
Page Speed is a major User Experience signal, and it’s also recognized by Google as a variable in their ranking algorithm. This is why making sure our websites load as fast as possible is a top priority in our SEO checker guide.
Our goal should be to have a website that loads in under 3-4 seconds. Anything more than four is a huge problem. Thankfully there are a few tools we can use to optimize our website, but deep, thorough speed optimization is a topic worth addressing in its own article. So, we’ll keep things simple for now.
Google PageSpeed insight Tools is perfect for getting an overview on what’s needed. However, if you want to go a bit deeper and find optimization opportunities, you’ll want to use other tools:
If you register an account you can even switch between testing server locations, which is especially useful if you’re performing a SEO site audit on a local business website (since you’ll get loading speeds similar to the customers you’re targeting).
Pingdom is also great for running speed tests. You can also get some important insight on resources that are delaying your loading process.
If you’re using WordPress as your CMS, there are tons of plugins that you can use to optimize your website. I highly recommend you check with your theme’s author/coder for compatibility issues.
Optimization plugins can be great, but they can also break your theme and cause a plethora of recurrent issues that’ll drive you to the wall. Proceed with caution, and always ask your theme’s developer for advice on optimization plugins.
SEO Checker: Duplicate Content
Checking for duplicate content is another important step of our SEO checker. Google has stated that:
“Duplicate content on a site is not grounds for action on that site unless it appears that the intent of the duplicate content is to be deceptive and manipulate search engine results. “
However, we’ve found that what Google considers a search engine results manipulation can be tricky. Pages with content under 200 words, or very similar content (especially if this content is repeated on different websites) can get you in trouble. Which is why, it’s highly recommended you perform a SEO site audit and remove certain pages or use 301 redirects if needed.
Will that disclaimer you copied from another website (and slightly tweaked it with your name) get you in trouble? Most likely not. However, if you’ve decided to copy and paste entire blog posts from another website, you could very well get into trouble.
Unfortunately, there aren’t that many free tools that can help us with this particular part of the audit. CopyScape has a limit on how many times you can look for duplicate content, on the other hand, AHREF (premium tool) has a “Content Quality” Tab on its Internal Pages subsection that can help you locate duplicate content in a heartbeat.
While you’re performing your website audit, make sure you check for pages with content below 200 words. This Word Counter Tool can help you check for webpages that can trigger spam alerts.
SEO Checker: Scout For Underperforming Pages
This next step in our SEO checker guide is going to require some Google Analytics data. If you haven’t already, check out our article on Google Analytics SEO and SEO Analysis. We discuss why and how you should use Google Analytics data to improve your SEO rankings.
I’m going to assume you’ve already read the article or are familiar with Google Analytics. The idea is to perform a SEO site audit of pages with the best combination of Click Through Rate, Impressions and Search Engine Results Rankings, and re-direct SEO efforts towards these high converting pages (or popular content) to climb the rankings and boost conversions.
Log in to your Google Analytics dashboard, click on the “Search Engine Optimization” report tabs, and then click on “Landing Pages”
You’ll have an overview of your website pages, the idea is to pinpoint based on the data presented, which are your best converting pages and which are your highest traffic generating pages.
After that, it’s time to invest your efforts into them. You could improve your SEO On-page Optimization, buy PBN backlinks from professionals or even land guest posting opportunities in exchange for links to your website.
This is obviously decided on a case by case (and budget) evaluation, but keep in mind Private Blog Network backlinks have little to no limitations on what can be linked, while leveraging guest posts for highly commercial pages or content can be challenging.
Once you’ve decided what to do, it’s time to enter the last step of our SEO checker: On Page Optimization
SEO Checker: On-Page Optimization
We’ve discussed SEO On-Page optimization on other articles, (and if you haven’t already, I highly recommend you take a look on some of our previous pointers), but we’ll go a little further on our SEO checker for 2018.
On-page optimization is a big deal. A combination of solid on-page optimization and PBN backlinks can help you outrank high DA websites with little to no backlink work done to it. It’s a matter of specializing and beating the competition’s content in terms of quality and promotion.
Getting that highly coveted and converting #1 spot on the SERPs means you’ll need quality, original content. Forget spinning content from industry leaders and passing it as your own. Creating quality articles and blog posts is tough, but it’s absolutely necessary if you wish to compete for keywords against other marketers or businesses, and it’s a factor you can’t overlook in your SEO site audit.
This also includes images, by the way. Perform some minor edition if necessary, but make sure your images are unique!
Content Length and Keyword Density
You’ll want your content to be over 1250 words, and your main keyword prominence or density around 1.5-2%. Sprinkle LSI keywords on your content. Use Word autocorrect and Grammarly to double check your spelling and avoid potentially embarrassing mistakes during your SEO checker efforts.
Make sure you use plenty of images. One image every 300 words or so seems like a good rule of thumb. Feel free to embed YouTube videos (especially if they’re in your channel!). One video every 1000 words is good, round number.
Titles and Subheadings:
Your main keyword should be included in:
- Your title
- Your h1 subheading
If you can include them in your h2,h3 subheadings go ahead, just don’t be spammy about it. Relevant subheadings are better, and they’ll allow you to segment your content making it easier to read and digest.
If you’re using WordPress, Yoast SEO plugin lets you know if your keywords are missing, which is always great.
SEO Checker: Closing Notes
Congratulations!! You’ve made it all the way to the end of our SEO checker for 2018. This guide is thorough enough to perform a deep SEO site audit in most pages, but there’s obviously many other factors you shouldn’t overlook.
You should always ask yourself if your website navigation is easy to understand and intuitive to your users, if your blogs and posts are properly optimized and above all you should check on your Google Analytics data while you follow our SEO checker to double check and detect specific issues on your content, and of course perform a backlink analysis of your website.
Performing a website audit will dramatically improve your rankings but remember that backlinks are still key for any business or marketer that wants to compete for highly converting keywords. Remember to check out our full ranking plan, and to purchase PBN backlinks from proven industry professionals.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our SEO checker! Feel free to contact us with doubts or suggestions.