How To Do An In-Depth Technical SEO Audit [Checklist, Tools & Examples]
Are you struggling to rank for your target keywords despite regularly publishing high-quality content and building strong and relevant backlinks?
If yes, your website might have technical SEO problems.
Never heard of this term before? No problem.
In this article, I’ll tell you why technical SEO is crucial for your site’s rankings and how you can perform an in-depth technical SEO audit yourself.
Let’s get started.
What Is A Technical SEO Audit?
Technical SEO is one of the three essential SEO components, along with on-page and off-page SEO. It pertains to a website’s performance, architecture, user experience, indexing, and interaction with search engine crawlers.
A technical SEO audit is a series of steps to ensure that a website’s architecture and performance align with search engine recommendations. It evaluates a site’s user experience, indexability, security, speed, device compatibility, and several other crucial factors.
Technical SEO is as important to a site’s search rankings as on-page SEO and off-page SEO. A site with poor technical SEO would struggle to rank for its target keywords, even if it has the best content and the highest authority backlinks.
11 Step Technical SEO Audit Checklist For Marketers
Ideally, experienced professionals offering SEO services should perform a technical SEO audit.
However, if you want to perform a quick technical SEO audit yourself, here are the steps you should follow.
Step 1: Setup Your Google Search Console And Analytics Accounts
To perform a technical SEO audit, you need insights into how search engines interact with your website. The best way to get those insights is by setting up Google Search Console and Analytics accounts.
Google Search Console allows webmasters to:
- Submit sitemaps
- See their site’s indexing, crawling, and visibility in Google Search
- Identify performance issues.
Here’s how you can set up a Search Console account.
Google Analytics shows your website traffic stats, insights on your best-performing content, and several metrics to gauge your site’s user experience.
Together, these two platforms provide you with the necessary insights to perform your site’s technical SEO audit.
Step 2: Fix Your Website Structure
Analyzing the website structure is one of the first steps of a technical SEO audit. An organized website structure allows search engines to navigate content easily and discover new pages.
Poor internal link building is one of the most notorious link-building mistakes.
To do this, you need to develop an internal link structure where no page of your site is more than three clicks away from the homepage.
Here’s an example of a clean and organized flat website structure. Note how all pages are internally linked and easy to discover.
A flat website structure resolves most of your crawling issues as well, since it makes it easy for Google to find your content. In addition, your site structure impacts your sitemap and URL structure, both important for SEO.
Step 3: Check Your Site’s Crawlability And Indexing
A cohesive website structure should solve most of your crawling and indexing issues. However, some technical issues can still prevent Google robots from crawling and indexing your site.
Go to your site’s coverage report in Google Search Console to detect crawling problems.
SEMRush site audit is another helpful tool to get a comprehensive report of your site’s coverage issues.
Both these tools identify the problem pages so that you can make the necessary corrections.
Step 4: Fix Duplicate And Thin Content
Duplicate and thin content are among the most common technical SEO problems for bigger websites. It can therefore significantly impact their search rankings.
To fix them, start by identifying all the pages of your site with the same titles and meta descriptions using SEMRush Site Audit. You could also use Raven Tools Site Audit to get a quick report on pages with duplicate content and meta.
You can merge or remove pages with similar content or apply redirects to ensure Google indexes only your best content.
Both SEMRush and Raven Tools also help you find pages with thin content. Again, you can add more content unique content to such pages, merge them with other similar pages, apply redirections, or simply remove them to solve this problem.
Step 5: Find And Fix Broken Links
Broken links are links pointing to web pages that do not exist anymore. They hurt your site’s user experience, which ultimately impacts its search rankings as well.
So, it’s recommended that you check for broken links on your site from time to time using a tool like Screaming Frog. It is among the best SEO crawlers that dive deep into your site’s content and find any broken links for you.
Once you find broken links on your site, replace them with links to new and updated resources.
Step 6: Locate And Handle Orphan Pages
When a page exists in complete isolation without any incoming links from your site, it is called an orphan page in SEO terms. Orphan pages are hard to locate for search engines which is why they’re often left unindexed.
Once you find such pages, you have two options.
- If they’re useful, get them internal links from other relevant pages of your site.
- If they’re useless, remove them from your site or use the noindex tag to stop search engines from indexing them.
You can find orphan pages by running a site audit with Ahrefs, Screaming Frog or SEMRush.
If you want to go more in-depth about this topic, read our full guide on finding and fixing orphan pages.
Step 7: Use HTTPS With Your Domain
Google uses website security as a ranking factor and recommends that all webmasters use an SSL Certificate (HTTPS) for their sites.
Thankfully, getting an SSL Certificate is easy. You can purchase an SSL Certificate from your web hosting service if you want advanced protection.
Otherwise, even a free SSL Certificate from Cloudflare or LetsEncrypt will do the job.
Step 8: Run A Website Speed Test
Website load speed is another critical technical SEO facto. It impacts user experience and plays a crucial role in determining your search rankings.
You can use GTmetrix to measure your site’s speed, and Core Web Vitals, a set of user-experience factors Google considers when ranking pages.
GTmetrix gives you a performance report identifying the factors slowing down your site and how you can improve its performance.
Step 9: Check Your Site’s Mobile-Friendliness
Since July 2019, Google Search has adopted a mobile-first approach to indexing. Which means it primarily looks for a website’s mobile version for ranking its content.
As a result, sites that are not mobile-friendly are either omitted or downgraded in search results.
You can use Google Mobile-Friendly Test to see if Google considers your site mobile-friendly.
If your site isn’t mobile-friendly yet, you’ll need to switch to a responsive website design that adjusts content dimensions according to the user’s device.
Step 10: Resolve Keyword Cannibalization Issues
In SEO terms, keyword cannibalization is when multiple pages of your site start competing for the same keywords and end up damaging your site’s authority and reducing its search CTR.
To resolve this, you must first identify the pages competing for the exact keywords using the keyword report in SEMRush or Ahrefs.
Then once you find such pages, you can handle this in several ways.
- Copy the content from all the different pages ranking for the same keywords to only one page of your site, and redirect the remaining pages.
- Only keep your preferred page and remove the rest.
- Remove the keywords from the pages you don’t want to rank and optimize them for other keywords.
Step 11: Improving Keyword Optimization For Existing Pages
An easy SEO win is to improve the keyword optimization of your existing pages to give them a ranking boost.
How? Let me explain.
First, make sure your content is correctly optimized for your target keyword. It should be used in your page’s title, meta description, body text, H1, H2, and H3 headings, and image alt-text. In addition, you should use your primary keyword’s variations and other related keywords in your content wherever relevant.
Then use a tool like Clearscope to generate a report for your target keyword. Based on your keyword, Clearscope gives you a list of additional keywords you can include in your content for better optimization.
Simply improving your keyword optimization can drastically increase your search rankings and help you grow your traffic overnight.