Staying informed on the latest search engine optimization (SEO) best practices can take a lot of work. On top of knowing what SEO strategies to implement on your website, you have to perform SEO audits to ensure your website is compliant with the latest updates.
It’s important to invest in website audit tools that accurately show your business errors and necessary changes to your website. There are a variety of SEO monitoring tools you can use to check in on best practices on a regular basis, or your brand can choose to get a full SEO audit every once in a while. This can be confusing to businesses who are not very familiar with search engine optimization, but our team of digital experts is here to answer your SEO questions. We’ll discuss our SEO audit process and recommend the best SEO tools to choose from.
What is an SEO Audit?
A search engine optimization (SEO) audit is a detailed breakdown of your website’s overall health as it relates to search. Simply put, search engines are constantly evaluating your website. If you have a lot of "SEO errors", your website is considered unhealthy and won't rank well in search results. If you have a small amount of errors, your website is considered healthy and will rank higher in search results. It gives digital marketers an idea of how many on-page SEO errors need to be fixed and where technical SEO enhancements can be made to improve SEO compliance and organic rankings. It’s important to conduct SEO audits on a regular basis because as you’re continually updating your website and adding new content, you may be creating more errors. Your website health can have an impact on your website traffic because if you have too many errors, Google and other search engines may leave your site without completing a crawl and start ranking you lower in search results.
How to Know When It’s Time For a Website Audit
Have you made substantial changes to your website lately? Has your website recently undergone a redesign? Do you want to rank better in search engine result pages? These are a few of the top reasons to conduct an SEO audit. Even if you are not making significant updates to your website, our SEO experts recommend frequently performing SEO audits, because best practices can change. If you consistently add new content or are making high volume changes, our team would recommend checking your website audit once every three months. Even if the website has minimal content updates, you should still follow SEO audit best practices and run an audit every six months.
Consistently checking in on your website will show where you have the opportunity to improve your website. Every time our team runs an audit, we find new errors or areas on the website that need more attention. New errors can occur when search engine recommendations and requirements change, when code within the website is updated or even when other websites make updates. This could happen whena website you link to frequently makes big changes, like switching to HTTPS, resulting in unneccessary redirects for you to fix.
Different Types of Errors You’ll Find in an SEO Audit
Let’s discuss the different types of errors you’ll find when you perform a full website audit. On-page SEO errors involve issues with elements like meta titles, meta descriptions and heading tags. These types of errors can impact what Google considers to be the main topics and keywords on the page. Technical SEO errors are issues found within the coding of a website, such as broken links. Too many of these errors can slow down your site, keep your important pages from getting indexed, and even result in search engine bots leaving your website.
- On-page SEO Errors:
- Missing H1 tag
- Duplicate H1 tag
- Multiple H1 tags
- Missing H2 tag
- Meta title same as H1 tag
- Missing meta title
- Duplicate meta title
- Meta title over 65 characters
- Meta title under 30 characters
- Missing meta description
- Duplicate meta description
- Meta description over 150 characters
- Meta description under 70 characters
- Technical SEO Errors:
- Unsecured content
- Non-responsive pages
- 3XX redirects
- 4XX errors
- 5XX errors
- Image Errors:
- Image missing alt tag
- Image over 100kb
With this list of errors in mind, we’re going to run you through some of our favorite SEO tools for a full website audit.
Our Favorite SEO Tools to Improve On-Page & Technical SEO
Free SEO Monitoring Tools
Google Search Console. This SEO tool should be one of the primary sources used to check on your website health because it’s the best way to understand how Google is crawling your website. Google Search Console is where you’ll find technical errors that have been discovered by Google and need to be corrected, plus plenty of other helpful SEO monitoring tools.
The Coverage feature in the new Google Search Console Beta, allows you to see what pages Google has indexed and excluded. This is a good starting point to identify main pages with errors and recurring errors, then turn to other tools to determine the specific problems. Their Structured Data section is a great technical SEO tool which allows you to see what schema Google has indexed on your website and if there are any errors within it. Google likes to reward websites with clean code because it’s easier for their bots to read, so take advantage of them pointing out where things are off. To find on-page SEO errors, turn to the HTML improvements section. If you don’t use a tool to crawl your whole website, this is where Google will show headings or meta tags that are duplicate, the wrong length and more.
One of the most important roles of Search Console in an SEO audit is monitoring your sitemap. This is what Google’s bots use as a starting point to crawl and find details about your site. After you correct all the errors found in your website audit, be sure to submit a new sitemap so Google has the most updated version to crawl. If you have a large site with a substantial number of on-page and technical SEO errors, our SEO audit team suggests performing error corrections in stages. Once you’re finished with each stage of the process, submit a new sitemap so Google can see your improvements as you’re working on them.
Screaming Frog. This is a free application as long as your website is 500 pages or less; if your site exceeds this, there will be a small annual fee. Our SEO marketers really like Screaming Frog because it is a customizable SEO tool that’s easy to use. It gives you the option to set your own parameters for ideal title lengths and image sizes (Blue Compass uses the specific size restrictions listed above), and you can create custom filters if you want to extract more in-depth information about your website. For example, if you want to see if you have open graph tags, you can have Screaming Frog search your website for “og:” to get a complete list of all instances. They continue to add more advanced technical SEO features, like AMP monitoring, as search engine optimization evolves. These exports are very robust, so each time you perform an SEO audit using Screaming Frog, you’ll leave with a full list of areas that need improvement.
The best feature Screaming Frog has to offer, is that it crawls your website in the same format a Google bot would. Unlike other tools which only rely on your sitemap, Screaming Frog gives you the most accurate look at your website health. It also does a great job categorizing all three types of errors (on-page SEO, technical errors and image corrections).
Paid SEO Audit Tools
SEMRush. This option works well for marketers looking for a set up that’s as easy as plugging in your website and pressing go. Their website audit tool gives you a quick and easy summary of your site’s SEO health. It runs an SEO audit and outputs the errors and more details about your secured pages, sitemap, technical SEO errors and more.
Once you’ve completed the SEO audit and are ready to tackle error corrections, this SEO tool will show you which pages you should prioritize and fix first. We determine this by looking at which pages have the highest rankings, the largest number of errors and the greatest potential to start ranking once they’ve been cleaned up. SEMRush also has an in-depth backlinks tool that shows other websites linking to yours, and if there’s any redirects you could actively be correcting.
MOZ. If you’re looking for a way to easily stay updated on any on-page SEO changes or big updates, MOZ is the SEO tool you’re looking for. They will send you weekly email reports that include your rankings, top keywords, domain authority and more. This is an SEO tool that relies on your sitemap. That means if you’re making multiple changes to your website and not continually resubmitting updated sitemap, the information they provide could be misleading.
How to Fix Errors After Running an SEO Audit
You’ve completed your website audit. What’s next? It’s important to develop a strategic plan to fix your SEO audit errors before you jump in and change things. If you don’t, you might end up repeating work, or making more errors in other categories. Our recommendation is to prioritize the most harmful website errors. We usually tackle any technical SEO audit errors or missing information first, followed by image errors and other on-page issues. Let us walk you through why we approach errors in this order, and find out how to correct these errors on your own in our SEO audit checklist!
Technical SEO Errors
We begin the error correction process from the technical SEO audit section since these errors can have the most detrimental effects on your website. With too many technical SEO errors, search engine bots will leave your site before they’re finished crawling it. If your errors make things too hard on the bots, they could even stop showing your pages in search results.
While correcting some technical SEO errors, you may reveal more substantial problems or find underlying issues that might need a developers’ expertise to fix. When you choose to have the professionals at Blue Compass perform your SEO audit, we can cohesively fix problems since we have marketers and developers all in one place. Some of the technical problems you might encounter are issues with canonical tags or, if you have WordPress website, plugins you do not have full control over.
These are the most important on-page SEO errors to resolve because there’s no content for search engines to reference. Essentially, you are giving them free reign to choose what your page is about and what to display in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Bots can get confused when there’s missing information, by adding strategic keywords in these sections, you can boost your SEO value substancially.
Problems involving images arise when large images are slowing down your website or when they’re missing alt tags. Simply shrinking down your images using tools like optimizilla can really help your pages load faster. Site speed is crucial considering users will only wait about 3 seconds for a web page to load before switching to a different site, according to Google. Image alt tags are great for SEO value and will help your images show up in search, but they’re also necessary for ADA compliance. By including a description of your photo, people using assistive technology will have a better understanding of what the photo is about.
Other On-Page SEO Errors
We recommend tackling remaining on-page SEO errors, like meta titles which are too long or too short, in the last phase of SEO error correction. These errors are not as critical as technical errors, but are still important to fix.
Maintaining SEO best practices can be daunting, depending on the number of errors you find in your website audit. While it can take quite a bit of time to correct all the mistakes, it’s worth it for SEO compliance that leads to improved search visibility.
Looking for a complete SEO audit? Blue Compass has the SEO Tools You Need
If you’re wondering how to get started with a website audit or you’re looking for an expert to help you perform a complete SEO audit, contact Blue Compass today and let our search engine optimization team handle it for you! Our digital marketers use SEO monitoring tools and conduct thorough on-page SEO and technical SEO audits to keep your website in great shape.