In the loosest definition, an SEO audit is a backend website review. A program or software specifically coded for this process evaluates each and every element of your website—from the URLs to the scripts to the meta data—to determine how optimized your website is for search engines overall. It does this by combing through your domain and identifying potential errors or issues that could compromise the quality of your website in regards to typical search engine algorithms.
And besides being a glorified spellchecker for your website’s SEO setup, an SEO audit can actually help boost your organic SERP ranking. How, you ask?
1. Use SEO Audits to Crawl Your Website
Search engines like Google often determine a website’s content (and, by extension, their search engine ranking) by “crawling” the website. The search engine sends what is known as “spiders” to the domain to collect pertinent information about the page. The spiders then scan, gather, and analyze the website’s structure to determine its overall search engine friendliness—and how it’ll rank for certain terms.
Many free SEO audit tools can simulate how Google’s spiders will crawl—and ultimately analyze, categorize, and rank—your website. Running this simulation can help you determine how a search engine views your pages’ structure and SEO setup.
This, consequently, can give you further insight regarding the how and why of your overall ranking for certain terms. Thus, by using an SEO audit to crawl your website, you have a better overview and understanding of which elements are positively (and negatively) affecting your SERP rank.
2. Use an SEO Audit to Find Technical Problems & Potential Indexing Errors
There are at least a dozen website and domain errors that are hugely detrimental to your website’s SERP ranking and overall SEO setup. Duplicate content, missing images, lack of meta data, too long (or too short) meta tags, 4xx and 5xx errors, broken links, and redirect loops are examples of the more common ones.
The tricky thing about most of these errors is that they’re practically unnoticeable under cursory inspection. You need to know what you’re looking for if you want to find them and, most of the time, we just don’t know!
Unless you’re combing through each and every one of your pages every single day, you can’t really tell which elements are in danger of causing a redirect loop or which specific page has a missing meta tag. You need to find these errors before the search engine does, otherwise the quality of your site is compromised—and so is your rank.
An SEO audit can help bring to light indexation issues and technical errors that you most likely wouldn’t have found on your own. Duplicate content, tag issues, meta data errors, broken links … a thorough SEO audit can identify these kinds of errors and give you the exact location (read; URL) of them so that you can easily find them and fix them.
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3. Determine Your Website’s HTTPS Security
Consumers value online security, especially in the retail and ecommerce sectors. Online shopping has definitely gotten safer over the past decade or so with new encryption, authentication, and verification technologies coming to light. However, people will always look for proof or confirmation that a website is secure—and with good reason.
When it comes to online transactions, things like money, credit card information, and personal information are always at risk.
This is why search engines like Google prioritize a website’s security as one of their ranking factors. If you have something like an SSL certificate to prove that your website is safe, Google is more likely to recommend you to users rather than a website without one.
An SEO audit will tell you whether or not your page is secure. Aside from verifying your SSL certificate (or lack thereof), an SEO audit can also help identify other potential security warnings or elements that could compromise your website’s integrity, like non-HTTPS images and scripts.
If you haven’t adopted the habit of running a site-wide SEO audit on the regular, you might want to reconsider. Even if you aren’t doing it to boost your website rankings (which you really should), finding—and ultimately fixing—existing indexing errors and domain issues can only serve to improve your website’s quality and integrity overall.