When it comes to maintaining your website, technical SEO plays a vital role in the process. And contrary to popular belief, performing an effective technical SEO audit is not as complex as it sounds.
Conversely, it is vital that you understand the basics of technical SEO before executing your first audit. This means having a better comprehension of the different errors that might affect your website in one way or another.
For example, results from a SEMrush study published in 2017 show that more than 80% of websites have 4xx broken link errors. In the same study, it was also discovered that more than 65% of webpages copy content from another source found online.
Technical SEO focuses on fixing any errors afflicting your website, with the aim of boosting traffic and bettering your conversions.
Usually, there are a number of elements involved when executing an effective SEO audit. Here are 10 of the most effective.
Performing a Site Audit to recognize crawl errors
One of the most vital elements of technical SEO starts with executing a site audit for your website. A site audit, or commonly known as a crawl report, gives you insight on some of the errors plaguing your web pages.
Once you perform a crawl report, you can be able to highlight the most pressing issues that need addressing; such as failing to see H1/H2 tags in your content, your web pages loading slowly, or the proverbial nuance of duplicate content.
Fortunately, performing a site audit is fairly easy. The task can be automated to comb through your content and alert you of any errors created by the crawl. And you can set up a site audit on a monthly basis.
Going the HTTPS route
Switching to HTTPS has become mandatory today as search engines heavily favour HTTPS over HTTP URLs. Failure to do so might cost your website considerable traffic and exposure. That’s because users clicking on your website will not see your content; rather, they will get either 4xx or 5xx HTTP status errors.
After doing so, you will also need to comb your website for other status errors using a site audit and rectify them. Chaing your site to https also makes your site a little more secure and less vulnerable to hackers.
Analyze your XML sitemap status
The XML sitemap is an integral navigation tool that search engines such as Google use to discover your webpages and rank them.
Which means that you should ensure your sitemap is optimized by meeting the guidelines below;
- Ensure your sitemap is within an XML document and has been properly formatted.
- Your sitemap should adhere to XML sitemap protocols.
- Any new pages you have created or updated should be added to the sitemap.
- Once you have updated the pages, your sitemap should be added to Google Search Console. This can be done by either forwarding it to the Google Search Console Sitemaps tool or inserting it into the robots.txt file
Check Your Websites Loading Speeds
Site speed plays heavily on user engagement and experience. If your sight speed is fairly slow, not only will your bounce rate be higher, but also translate to fewer conversions.
To determine your site’s load speed, you can check it via Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. Simply insert the URL of your website within the tool and Google will calculate the time for you.
Google recommends that your page load for both mobile and desktop should not exceed 3 seconds. If it does, then you will have to tweak your web pages to reduce loading time and consequently improve your ranking.
Optimize Your Site for Mobile
For you to boost your overall ranking, prioritize your website to be as mobile-friendly as possible. To get started, simply use Google’s mobile-friendly test to determine your current positioning, then obtain valuable insight on how to improve your mobile interface.
That being said, some of the most common mobile practices include;
- Publishing your content with a bigger font size
- Having videos embedded in the text
- Having images within text compressed
- Taking advantage of AMP (Accelerated mobile pages)
Perform a Check on Keyword Cannibalization
Keyword cannibalization is an undesirable situation where your web pages are ranking for the same keyword, confusing search engine algorithms altogether. In turn, the search engine may opt to demerit some of your webpages in a bid to determine which page deserves the higher ranking.
To avoid such you can take advantage of Google Search Console’s performance to see which of your pages are in competition for a similar keyword. You can then change one of the pages for a different keyword, or consolidate the pages altogether.
Analyze Your Robots.txt file
If you discover that some or all of your pages have not been indexed, then you might have to look at your robots.txt file.
There are times where you might unknowingly block your pages from being seen by search engines when they are crawling. In such a case, you will have to audit and edit your robots.txt file.
While looking at your robots.txt file, search for the term “Disallow: /”
If you find it within the text, you can change it so that your relevant pages are allowed once more.
Execute a Site Search on Google
When it comes to search engine indexing, you can easily check how your site is performing on Google. Simply type ‘site: (the name of your website).com
This will highlight to you all the pages within your website that have been indexed. If you notice one of your pages is missing, then it’s probably been penalized by Google and you’ll have to rectify this.
Look out for metadata duplicated in your content
This technicality is quite common in large websites and e-commerce stores. By duplicate data, this refers to content that has been copied and pasted in meta descriptions of similar products.
By performing an audit, you can highlight these issues and proceed to repair them.
Optimize the length of your Meta Descriptions
While performing a crawl for duplicate meta descriptions, you can also optimize the length of your descriptions which is an important part of technical SEO. The ideal length for meta descriptions ranges from 160 to 320 characters to give you enough room to add keywords and vital content.