If you've heard about search engine optimisation (SEO), you'll know that it determines how well your website ranks in search engines. In this blog, we have put together a jargon-free guide to doing an SEO audit of your website.
The first step is making sure that your website has a sitemap so that search engines can crawl each of your pages successfully. Check to see if you have a sitemap. If you don't have one you can use a tool like XML Sitemaps to create. They are important as they give search engines a map of your content and mean your pages can be found in search engine results. Once you've got a sitemap, make sure you submit it to Google and Bing so it can get crawled.
2. Site Structure
It's important to make sure your website is user-friendly for your visitors, so run a few tests to find out how many clicks you have to do to get from your homepage to other pages on your website. Are the important pages easily accessible, and do you have links between relevant pages?
3. Page Speed
You'll know yourself that a slow website is an instant turn off. Check to see how quickly your site loads using Google's Page Speed tool. The tool will rate your timings and give you suggestions on how to improve.
4. Check your indexing
If you want to see roughly how many pages from your website are indexed on Google, go to the search bar and type in 'site:' followed by your website (without the www). So for our website, we would type in 'site: extravismarketing.co.uk'.
This gives you an idea of the page count that Google has indexed. Using your site map, you can see whether this is about the same, lower or higher. If it is a lot lower, it may be that there are problems on some of your pages that mean Google can't index them. If it is a lot higher, it may that some of your pages have been duplicated.
5. Website URLs
Your website URLs should be short and user-friendly, using keywords related to the page they link to and words in the string should be separated by hyphens, rather than underscores. Pages with long, nonsensical words and letters are not as easy for search engines to index and may mean your pages don't rank as well.
6. Content is king
There is no hard and fast rule in terms of how many words to have on each page, but aim for about 300 words per page. The content should be valuable and useful to your site visitor and include keywords that are relevant to the content. It's basic but make sure spelling and grammar is on point and that text is easy to read - break it up with headings and bullet points. Also, you may think that a Flash banner makes your webpage look amazing, but Flash graphics can slow down your page load time and mean that content doesn't display correctly on all devices. Keep it simple.
7. Page titles and meta descriptions
In the HTML of a website, one of the most important parts of the page is the page title. Make it succinct and ensure it describes the page it refers to. Try to include a targeted key word relating to the page.
The other important thing to remember on pages is to have a meta description. This shows up below the page title in search engine results and can improve your click through rates (CTR) if optimised properly. Keep it succinct (no more than 155 characters) and ensure it describes the page it relates to, including and relevant keywords.
8. Image alt tags
Make sure that whenever you use images on your site that their filename and alt tag both have keywords in, relating to the surrounding text, and they describe what the image is about. Ensuring these two pieces of information are present will help in image search as well as standard search results.
9. Links out to other websites
If you have links out to other websites from yours, make sure they are trustworthy sites. Use anchor text (the hyperlinked text) to describe what the link is about and ensure that the link is relevant to the page it is on. Regularly check your website for broken links to avoid a bad user experience.
10. Check analytics
The final part of your audit is monitoring and measuring. Check Google Analytics to see that your website is getting traffic. Use reports to find out where your backlinks are coming from and whether they are relevant and trustworthy. Also, keep an eye on social media referrals. This 'social currency' is becoming an important part of site traffic as it can be a measure to how popular your content is which will feed into how Google ranks your webpage.
For a more technical run down of an SEO audit, check out a blog from Moz about conducting an SEO audit. And if you need any help analysing your data in Google Analytics, check out our Google Analytics for Beginners online event.