When I started out in SEO over 6 years ago article marketing was a widely used technique. Today, the same technique can result in a Google penalty leading to a large reduction in organic traffic to a website. This example is the tip of the iceberg. Toxic links, duplicate content, non-mobile friendly websites and canonical issues can all lead to adverse organic ranking results for a website. If you are working in SEO or digital marketing you need to be prepared for these possibilities. This post provides you with a complete SEO audit toolkit that will help you diagnose historical issues and equip you with the right tools to future-proof your website for SEO success. Let’s get started.
Webmaster Tools should be one of the first stops on every SEO audit. Check for Google penalties, indexation issues, rejected sitemaps and crawl errors.
Screaming Frog is a tool that can be used to quickly diagnose indexation, Meta Data or canonical issues on a website. It scans through every page of a website and provides information on all the key areas on the page. This tool is particularly useful if you need to scope and price a job as it gives you an understanding of:
Ahrefs is an invaluable tool for conducting backlink audits. The reports from the tool provide lists of websites that are linking to the website that you are auditing. I would recommend using a combination of backlink data from Ahrefs, Opensiteexplorer and Google Webmaster tool to conduct the audit.
Google Mobilegeddon, as it’s known, is an algorithm update that lowers the Google organic search result rankings for websites that have not upgraded to a mobile friendly platform (a mobile or responsive website). The Google Mobile test will give your website at a mobile user experience score out of 100 and will display the website as it is seen on mobile devices. This tool is an excellent way to demonstrate to your clients that they need to upgrade their website to mobile.
Duplicate content can be a major contributing factor to a website's underperformance. When Google finds two pages with the same content it will choose to only display one, the original publisher. If a website has multiple pages with copied content they will find their organic traffic will struggle to appear on the first page of Google. Copyscape scans a website and determines if there are duplicates of the content across the web. The report from Copyscape will help you diagnose and fix duplicate content issues on any website.
6. Webpage Test
Web page load time is a contributing ranking factor for Google. It is, therefore, vital for your web pages to load fast. Fast load time will also improve user experience which has a positive knock-on effect on your conversion rate. Webpage Test is a tool that examines your websites speed and outlines areas to improve performance. This tool is key for SEO performance auditing and optimisation.
7. Panguin Tool
The Panguin Tool connects with Google Analytics and compares your websites organic traffic against Google algorithm updates such as Panda and Penguin. The tool is a fast and easy way of diagnosing if a website has been adversely affected by an algorithm update.
8. Built With
Before you undertake any SEO work find out what you will be working with. Built_With is a tool that scans a website and reports on what system it is built with.
9. Htaccess and Robots file
Leave no stone unturned when conducting an SEO audit. Analysis of both the Htaccess and robots file may reveal errors which are causing serious indexation issues.
The Htaccess file is commonly used for authorization, authentication, URL directives and cache control.
Always check the robots file for directives that will block Google bots from indexing a website. One wrong line of code in the robots file can result in a whole website disappearing from Google SERPs.
If you are freelancing as an SEO or digital marketer communication needs to be central to your process. Talk with your client. Find out if they have hired link builders in the past, get a list of all domains they own and ask for full transparency in the SEO audit process. When all the facts are presented you will be able to spot red flags which help guide your SEO audit research.