How to Do an SEO Audit (in 20 Minutes or Less) [AMS-09]
Get 300 checks per monthabsolutely FREE!
No credit card needed. No strings attached.
In today’s video.
In today’s video, I’m going to show you how to perform an SEO audit for any website in 20 minutes or less. Stay tuned. [Music] Hey guys, it's Joshua Hardwick here with Ahrefs. Before I dive into this process, let me first introduce the tools I’ll be using for this SEO audit. So I've got Google Analytics, Search Console, PageSpeed Insights, Google Structured Data Testing Tool, Ahrefs obviously, Copyscape, a SERP Simulator, and a Web Page Word Counter And as you can see, I’ve already got these already open in multiple browser tabs. So if you’re following along with this video, I’d advise you to do the same. Get all of these open and you'll be good to go. And this final tab is the website I’ll be using for the bulk of this demonstration, which is simplelifeinsure.com. But obviously you can use your own website or a client's website or whatever you want to use. So, let’s get to it. Now, the first thing that I'm going to do is I'm going to check that only one version of the site is actualy browsable. Right now, I’m viewing the website at https://simplelifeinsure.com. But I want to make sure that this is the only location at which I can access this website. So all of the versions of this site should redirect to this version, which we call the “canonical.” So first, I'm going to check the non-secure version at http, rather than https. And straight away, you can see that this does in fact redirect to the canonical https version, which is a good start. Now I’ll try the www version with and without https. So, let's type those in http, that seems to redirect and https with the www. So that also seems to redirect too. So there are no problems there. All of those different versions that someone could kind of type in are in fact redirected to the canonical version of the site. So moving on, I need to actually crawl the website so that I can check for any other
Issues. And for this, I'm going to use Ahrefs’ Site Audit tool, which if you’re following along.
As I've investigated this already.
as I've investigated this already. Is being caused by Google indexing a few individual elements from the homepage, which is something that, you know, needs to be fixed at some point. So next up, I'm going to run a quick check and check if the site ranks for its brand name. So to do that, I'll just type in simple life insure into Google. And as you can see, it does in fact rank and it's the number one result too. So there are no problems there. So now I’m just going to jump back to the site and I'm going to run a few basic on-page checks for all the most important pages on the site, starting with the homepage. So to do this I'm just going to right-click and hit “view page source,” which will show me the HTML for the page. Then I'm going to start by taking a look at the title tag. So if you’re struggling to spot this, just hit CMD+F or CTRL+F I believe on Windows and type a less-than sign, followed by the word “title.” You can see that it then gets highlighted in the HTML and you can see that title tag. So here, the title tag reads, “Instant affordable life insurance quotes - Simplelifeinsure.com.” So at first glance, this looks pretty good, you know. But I want to check a couple of things: Number one, is this a good length? Because title tags that are too long get truncated in the search results, which doesn't really look good. And number two I want to check whether this is optimized around any worthwhile keywords, which it should be, ideally. So number one is easy to check. Just copy and paste the title tag into a SERP simulator such as SERPSim, which is what I"m using here and it’ll kick back whether or not it’s too long. In this case, you can see that everything looks good. So let’s move on and check the keywords. So to me, it looks like this title tag has been formulated around the keyword “affordable life insurance,” or perhaps “life insurance quotes.” So I'm going to check both of these in Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer. So if I just quickly type that in, you can see that both of these appear to have a decent
Amount of search volume, so again, you know, there's no problems there.
amount of search volume, so again, you know, there's no problems there. It looks like this is quite a well optimized title tag. So let's move on and check the meta description. Again, you can find this easily by searching. Just type in the less than sign and then you know, meta, and you'll get kind of all of the meta descriptions and title tags and all that kind of stuff. So I'm just going to paste this again into the SERP simulator later. And as you can see, length is totally fine. And it also looks to me like it's been pretty well-written, you know, it's quite a nice description that kind of sums up the site quite well. So finally, I’m just going to check the H1 tag on the page. Now, it’s not an absolute requirement these days, but I do generally prefer there to only be one of these on the page, so one H1 tag. And it’s also best, in my opinion if the keywords are sprinkled in there as well. So on this page, you can see that there are actually two H1s, which are effectively just duplicates of each other. So this is not a big deal. Personally I’d prefer to remove one of them, but aside from that, you know, it's a nice length and I can see the keywords we just checked are indeed sprinkled in, so this is another pass for this website. So I recommend performing these manual checks on all the most important pages on your website. And by “important,” I’m generally referring to those with the most traffic. You can use Google Analytics to find this out, or alternatively, if you're not using Google Analytics you can go to Ahrefs’ Site Explorer, enter your domain, and then go to the Top Pages report, which will show you the pages that perform the best in terms of organic traffic. Then it’s just a case of working down this list and performing the same manual checks on each of those page. But anyway, let's move on and let’s get back to the crawl report in Ahrefs’ Site Audit. This tells us a ton of information basically. But I’m going to start by checking the “HTML Tags” report to see if it found any other on-page errors across the site. And as you can see, it did. 44 pages with multiple H1 tags, 33 pages missing a meta description, and 7 pages where the
Title tag is too long. And there's also one page where the meta description is too short.
title tag is too long. And there's also one page where the meta description is too short. So I'm not going to bore you by sifting through every single one of these errors in this video, but these are issues that should at least be investigated and probably fixed at some point. So let's move on and next I’m going and check for duplicate and thin content. So, sticking with the Site Audit, I'm going to go to the “Content Quality report.” And under “Clusters of duplicate pages,” you can see that it’s reporting no duplicates found. So again, this is a pass for this particular site. But it's worth noting that this only looks for duplicate content on your domain. On the domain that you actually crawled. It doesn’t check if any of our content is duplicated across other websites. To do this, you'll need to use Copyscape. So I'm going to do this and I'm going to enter a URL from the site, and I’ll just use the homepage for this example. And in this case you can see that Copyscape has actually found a few matches, but despite this, I don’t think they’re anything to worry about here. If you look closely, these look to be triggered by the disclaimer in the footer which, in all honesty, is probably just a stock disclaimer and nothing to worry about whatsoever. So for this site, I’m not too worried about stolen content or anything like that so I'm not going to bother checking any more pages. But I do want to check for thin content, which is content that's kind of short and pointless and doesn't really provide any value. So I'll just quickly hop back to Site Audit and check the "Content Quality"report once again. And here I’m looking for “Low word count” errors, of which as you can see, this site doesn't appear to have any. So you know, we’re all good at the end in this instance. So next up we've got site speed. Now, the most obvious tool to use for this is Google’s Pagespeed Insights which is a good tool, when it actually works. If I try this with the Simple Life Insure for the homepage, for example, you can see
That it kicks back a “Speed unavailable” error. Which is obviously pretty useless.
that it kicks back a “Speed unavailable” error. Which is obviously pretty useless. There are other tools that you can use to check site speed, such as GTmetrix, but actually, this is something else that Site Audit should have already checked. So jumping back again to Site Audit, I’ll check the “Performance” report this time and see if there are any “Slow page” errors. So there are in this instance. And clicking through to the full report on this issue will reveal a list of all the slow-loading URLs so you can kind of investigate those individually. And you can even order this list by organic traffic so you can then prioritize the fixes, which is a nice hack in my opinion. So moving on, next up, I'm going to check for structured data issues. So for those of you not familiar with structured data, it’s basically a type of structured markup that some sites choose to add to their pages so as to supply Google with a more structured view of that page. If you’ve ever seen results with star ratings, or reviews, or calorie counts or any of that stuff in the SERPs, then you’re probably familiar with structured data or at least the results of it. So to test structured data, there’s a Google Structured Data Testing tool. So basically, you just enter a URL, and it kicks back whether or not there are any errors with the structured data on that page. Now the site I’ve been using thus far doesn’t have any kind of special structured data markup, so I’ll use a different URL for this example, which is a pizza dough recipe from Martha Stewart dot com. So I've pasted this into the structured data testing tool and run the test and it kicks back a couple of warnings. The lack of an author name and the lack of nutritional information for the recipe. Both of these things, not a particularly big deal, but worth fixing nonetheless. Ok, so before I continue, I should mention that I’m just going to switch gears here and use the Ahrefs blog as the example site for the next few steps. The reason for this is because I’ll need to access data from analytics and search console,
And I don’t actually have this data for Simple Life Insure...
and I don’t actually have this data for Simple Life Insure So, next step, a quick organic traffic analysis. So for this, I’m going to head over to the Acquisition report in Google Analytics, and then I'm going to go to Overview and then Organic Search. So I'm also going to set the time period for the past month. And it looks like, as you can see, we’re averaging around 1,800 visits a day from organic search on the Ahrefs blog, which isn’t too bad at all. So next, I'll check the “Landing Page” report. So this shows you the pages that are bringing in the most search traffic. And as you can see, for the Ahrefs blog, it looks like it’s our website traffic article. So finally, I’m going to set the period to the last 12 months to get a sense of whether traffic is increasing or decreasing. And as you can see, it looks like it’s rising quite nicely actually. So if for whatever reason, you don’t have Google Analytics installed, you can instead use the Top Pages report in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer to get a sense of the pages that receive the most organic traffic. So it’s clear that organic traffic is moving in the right direction for Ahrefs' Blog But what about rankings? So to check this, I’ll go to Ahrefs' Site Explorer, enter the blog URL, and then check the Organic Search tab on the Overview report. Looking at the Organic Keywords graph, I can see that the rankings are indeed on the increase. Which again is good and is what you would probably expect when you see a rise in organic traffic as we are doing with Ahrefs' blog. But actually, as we recently rewrote our “SEO tips” article, I kind of want to know how that specific page is performing. So next up, I'm going to enter that into the search bar and check this same graph. So it looks like there was a slight dip in January, but it’s now ranking for more keywords than ever. Which again, is definitely a good sign.
Digging a little deeper.
Digging a little deeper, I also want to know how it’s performing for the main target keyword, which in this case is “SEO tips.” I’ll check this by searching for “SEO tips” in the Organic Keywords report and then viewing the history chart. So it looks like rankings have increased since the update in September, and now the rankings are reasonably steady in positions 3-5, you know, hovering around that area. So pretty good, but still room for improvement. Which leads me neatly onto the next step of the audit process actually, which is finding low-hanging keyword opportunities. So let me go back a step and view data for Ahrefs’ blog as a whole. And then I’m going to navigate to the Organic Keywords report once again. And in here, I’m going to filter for keywords where Ahrefs’ blog, pages on Ahrefs' blog, currently rank in positions 3 to 5. And I'm I’ll also going to add a search volume filter, and set that at a minimum of 1,000 searches per month. So now I can see keywords that have a good number of monthly searches, for which we already have rankings in positions 3-5. Basically, these are low-hanging opportunities. If we could increase rankings by just one or two positions for any of these keywords, it would no doubt result in a nice traffic boost. So you’ll actually notice that one of these keywords on the list is “SEO tips,” which is definitely a keyword that we should focus on. So again, this brings me nicely onto the next step which is a backlink profile analysis. So much like the organic traffic analysis, this isn’t so much about finding specific problems and fixing them as it is about making sure things are generally heading in the right direction. So I’ll start by going to the Overview report in Site Explorer, and checking out the Referring Domains graph. So it looks like the number of referring domains is steadily increasing as is the traffic. But what kinds of anchors are those domains using when linking to us? So let’s scroll down to the "Anchors Cloud" and take a quick look.
So it looks as though there’s a mixture of anchors, but as you can see.
So it looks as though there’s a mixture of anchors, but as you can see, it's mostly branded anchors, which is again quite good. So finally, I’m going to dive a bit deeper and make sure there are no dodgy sites actually linking to the Ahrefs blog. So for this, I’ll go to the Referring Domains report, then sort the domains by domain rating from lowest to highest. So nothing is jumping out at me particularly in this report, so on the whole, things I would say are ok. Obviously, this is a very quick and high-level view. So if you’re concerned about dodgy sites linking to you, then I would recommend spending more time in this report and delve in a little bit deeper. Ok so next up, I want to make sure there are no broken pages on the blog. And especially not broken pages with a lot of backlinks. So, I’ll go to the "Best by Links" report and then filter for 404 pages. So it looks like there are a few broken images, but nothing too worrying. No pages with a lot of backlinks. Most of these images are likely the result of old blog posts being updated or deleted. None of them, as I say have a lot of links pointing to them, so these are nothing really to worry about. If you do see broken pages with a ton of referring domains, then you may have issues. In that case, I would actually recommend checking out the full guide to finding and fixing broken links, which you can find at ahrefs.com/blog/fix-broken-links. So I’m also going to check for broken outbound links on the blog. And for this I'll use the Broken Links report under Outgoing Links. So it looks like there are a few of these either need to be removed or updated, ideally. Which brings me to the final two steps in the SEO audit process, both of which revolve around content. So the first is a content gap analysis. This basically involves finding keywords that competitors currently rank for yet, we currently don’t. So for this, I’ll use the Content Gap tool within Ahrefs'. So I already know a handful of competitors for Ahref. Backlinko for example, Siege Media,
And Hobo Web. And I'm going to enter these domains as a target in the Content Gap tool.
and Hobo Web. And I'm going to enter these domains as a target in the Content Gap tool. Then I’ll add Ahrefs blog under the, “But the following target doesn’t rank for” option. By the way, I should stress that all of these need to be set to domain mode. So finally, I'm just going to hit “show keywords” to uncover any content gaps. So right away, there are quite a lot of results. But to filter these down, I’m going to filter only for keywords with a search volume of at least 5 thousand. So now I can see a few good keywords that our competitors are ranking for, yet we currently aren’t. These would be well worth us creating some content around. After all, if our competitors are ranking for such terms, then what’s to stop us ranking for them? So onto the last step in our SEO audit process, which is running a full content audit. Now we did this a couple of years back and ended up deleting over 200 pages from the Ahrefs blog. All of these were low-quality pages that served no purpose and brought virtually no traffic to the site. But the cool part is this: our organic traffic actually increased after we deleted these pages. So what exactly did we do? Well, it was quite simple, actually. We found low-quality pages with little to no organic traffic and if they had potential and could be easily improved, then we updated and relaunched them. If not, we deleted them and redirected the URL to another relevant page on the blog. To be honest, this is quite an in-depth topic, and it’s one that we plan to tackle soon with a full post on the blog. But for now, I would advise that should you choose to perform a content audit, you should avoid deleting content unless you’re absolutely certain that it serves no purpose and has no value. Even then, it may be better to just improve and relaunch that content. And that just about brings us to the end of our 16-step SEO audit process. So I hope it was useful and of course, don’t forget to check out the full post on the Ahrefs blog, where you can find a much more in-depth write-up of this entire process. And again, if you enjoyed this video, don’t forget to hit “subscribe” because there’s
plenty more where this came from. Cheers guys! [Music]
plenty more where this came from. Cheers guys! [Music]
Get 300 checks per month absolutely FREE!
No credit card needed. No strings attached. 👍