No matter how many years of experience an SEO expert has, all of them understand that search engine rankings can be extremely unpredictable at times. And that’s because there are constant updates being made. However, there are a few ranking factors that continue to carry more weight than others. This is especially the case when it comes to the quality of your content, authority, website responsiveness, and speed.
Once you know how to improve these factors, it makes your digital marketing a lot easier. The key is to perform regular, in-depth audits. Let’s talk about a few things that you need to keep in mind during this process.
1. Crawl Your Website First
Before starting the audit process, you need to know exactly what is going on with your website. So do a thorough crawl of the entire site. Crawling your website prior to the audit will provide you with a roadmap for the rest of the process. If you try to audit your website before crawling it then it is basically a guessing game. Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider is a great crawling tool. It is simple to use and reasonably priced. You could also use the free tool BeamUsUp. Simply enter your web address into the URL field. You can even crawl your subdomains.
2. Prioritise Accessibility
If neither the users nor the search engines can access your site, then your landing pages won’t be of any value to you. So make sure that you position your website so that the search engine can index it. You won’t necessarily need the search engine to crawl and index every single file on your site, so use the robots.txt file to tell it which folders and pages to crawl and which ones not to. You can “disallow” certain sections of the site.
Just make sure that you are not restricting access to the most important pages because it could have a negative impact on your ranking. When the meta robots noindex tag is used it can block certain pages from the search engine indices. So be on the lookout for pages that have mistakenly used this tag.
If you are using Screaming Frog, select the “Response Codes” tab. There are several codes to pay attention to. For instance, 200 means that both crawlers and users have access to the page. 301 means both the crawlers and the users have been redirected to a new location. 302 means that both the crawlers and the users have been redirected to a new location, but only temporarily. 404 means that the desired page is completely missing. 503 means that the server is not currently able to process the request.
While it’s said that 301 and 302 will not affect your page rank, it’s a good idea to only use 301 redirects. 404 pages don’t necessarily hurt your ranking either but they tend to make your website look sloppy. So if the page still holds value for searchers, restore it or tell the server to redirect it to a different page.
In addition to paying attention to errors, you should also keep an eye on your XML Sitemap. In this way, your crawlers will be able to easily find each page on your site. Just make sure that your Sitemap conforms to the format that the search engine prefers. This will ensure that it is processed correctly. In the instances in which the pages in your sitemap are not being crawled, you may need to find a location for them in your site architecture and make sure that each has at least one internal backlink.
You should also keep the loading speed of your website in mind. Both the users and crawlers have a limited amount of patience. So test your website speed on tools like Pingdom. This tool and others like it will give you a list of everything that is affecting your load time.
3. Consider Your On-Page Ranking Factors
When it comes to on-page ranking factors there are several things that you need to investigate. First and foremost, your content will determine how highly you rank in the search engine results. Your content is the main reason people visit your website. So creating valuable posts needs to be one of your top priorities.
Questions to Ask Yourself about Your Content
In terms of SEO, there are a few crucial questions that you need to ask yourself. For instance, is there a substantial amount of content? Does my content provide value? Have my images been optimised? Are my keywords targeted? Can my content be easily read? Can the search engines process my content?
What to Look For in Your Content
When looking through your content, you need to be aware of 3 major factors. Make sure that you do not have duplicate content. This confuses the crawlers and harms your ranking. Make sure that there is information architecture. This will define how your site presents its messaging. Ensure that there is no keyword cannibalism. This happens when you have several pages that target the same keywords. You can avoid this by making a keyword index for your site.
URLs and Outlinks
You should make sure that your URLs are less than 115 characters. They should only briefly describe the content that they link to. Also, make sure that your outlinks, the things that connect your website pages to others, go to websites that are trustworthy.
4.Consider Your Off-Page Ranking Factors
External sources are just as valuable as your internal sources. And the first step to making the most out of your off-page SEO marketing is to consider how popular your website is. How much traffic are you currently getting? Google Analytics can help you find your answer to this question. You need to know how much organic traffic you are losing over time.
Compare these results to that of your competitors. Use Quantcast to figure out how unique you are to your competitors and how well your audience is responding to you. Another great way to find out how popular you are is to examine the number of backlinks you have. Use MozRank to research your metrics.
Keep an Eye Out for Trustworthy Websites
It’s also a good idea to make sure that the websites that are linking to you are trustworthy and free of malware or spam. There are a few red flags that you should look out for along the way. For instance, you may notice an untrustworthy website keyword stuffing. This occurs when there is an unnatural amount of keywords in the content.
You may also notice that they participate in cloaking. This is when the site shows different versions to the users and the search engines. Some website use hidden text. This happens when content is presented to the search engine but is not visible to the users. If any of these harmful sites link to you, disallow them.
Finally, SEO is becoming more and more social with each passing day. So it is no surprise that many believe that social engagements play a significant part in your rankings. Each social media platform has its own type of currency such as shares, likes, and retweets. Pay attention to how well you are able to earn this currency. Establishing a social presence for your brand is a must.
Google and other major search engines are known for changing their algorithms at a moment’s notice. That’s why it is so important that you stay up-to-date on all of the latest trends. A big part of staying up-to-date is auditing your website. We’ve just discussed a few things that you need to keep in mind during your SEO Audit.