How to Do an SEO Website Audit
There are two main elements to consider when creating your content: make sure it’s easy to read and built with specific keywords in mind before you get started.
We explain why here...
Even if you have done the work to build your backlink profile and have a technically sound website, it won’t make a big impact on your SEO without the correct content strategy.
That’s why we are showing you how to complete an SEO website audit of your pages which will analyse the main body text and give you a read on how helpful it is to your users, as well as bots, like the crawl systems Google uses to understand your website value. When you are showing valuable and useful content it will be picked up on by bots and show your readers you are a leader in your industry who can back them up and deliver results.
Earning user trust and loyalty is key to gaining and maintaining business growth.
Keywords do play a part, especially for accelerating your SEO rankings, so make sure you research the keywords for your business thoroughly and add these to your page titles, subject headings and meta descriptions, but also be sure to take it one step further with a full SEO website audit. We’ll walk you through the steps so you can see for yourself where your content ranks currently, and how you can boost your results.
Two main elements to consider when creating your content: make sure it’s easy to read and built with specific keywords in mind before you get started.
As well as writing clear and easy to read content that is well structured around the right keywords, we’ll also be looking to eliminate weak pages, i.e. pages that don’t have enough content, pages that have copied content or overstuffed keywords.
With the SEO website audit checklist, you can ensure that every aspect is covered, to help increase your content marketing efforts and attain your SEO goals.
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How to do an SEO website audit
SEO Website Audit Tools
There are a number of free and subscription content audit tools that can help identify any weaknesses in your content marketing offerings such as:
- poor readability
- duplicate content
- low word count
There is a wide range to choose from but we’ve compiled a list of tools that you might like to test drive and see about handling.
- SurferSEO – SurferSEO handles all SEO audits and is one of the best on the market. Inside their hub of resources you’ll find their content editor feature to help create and optimise your high performing content.
- Google Analytics – Google Analytics (GA) is another amazing SEO toolkit that is useful across the board. Part of their content suite provides conversion data to track how your readers interact with your site.
- Google Search Console – Google Search Console (GSC) has feedback on click-through rates for your landing pages and other performance metrics data.
If you want to audit the page optimisation of titles, titles, headings or meta descriptions you’ll need to use a different platform that can crawl your data, Screaming Frog is a good choice.
When you use tools to audit your content you get a decisive readout of where improvements need to be made, that way you are not putting up with niggling issues that are hurting your SEO performance or turning readers off, and you don’t need to resort to a hit-and-miss style of fixes that make take a long time, without yielding results.
The SEO website audit helps you to provide the best possible experience to your audience, and optimise your content for Google at the same time.
Even though the audit itself can take a while and feel tedious, the clarity you get from the feedback allows you to make incredible improvements to your content marketing strategies as well as avoid repeating mistakes going forward.
For business owners who have created an eCommerce website, the amount of time users spend browsing a website directly relates to the number of sales.
Your overall aim with your content is to keep your users reading. You want them to stay with a page or article from start to finish, and hopefully then click through a deeper element on your site, a related article or even take steps towards a sale. The amount of time they spend on your site sends back messages, too little time and you have little to offer that is relevant or useful to them, more time means more value, more relevance and more engagement that will reflect well on your SEO but also in building user trust and loyalty for your brand.
SEO Website Audit Checklist
Using the SEO website audit checklist, you can keep track of all of the important content metrics, making your content audit process that much easier.
Here’s what we’ll cover in the checklist items:
- Keyword strength
- Content quality
- Thin Content
1. Keyword Strength
When it comes to keywords, you’re not looking for words that show up most in the text, you are looking for the words users are most likely to input into a search box.
The only way to get this right is to know your audience well. It might take some research to understand why and what your users are looking for, but once you have that down there are plenty of ways you can test your keyword strength online before you start using them and play with similar words in your search category.
When you choose the right keywords and accurately match your content to be exactly what users are searching for, it shows that your content is one of the most relevant answers to the query.
The best keywords are actually keyword phrases, which is joining a chain of keywords together to drill down to the specific subject you are talking about. The aim here is actually not to be the most popular, it’s not about finding a keyword that more people will see, it’s about finding the keywords the RIGHT person will see. If your keyword phrase exactly matches five searches, that’s five-strong leads for people looking for your exact service.
Getting the match for your content and the search is key to making this work. It’s about relativity, not popularity.
That’s why adding in your service provision area (if you have one) is far more relevant. So if you’re a freelance WordPress developer in Singapore, you may not want people in Mexico, Germany or China to be reading your site, because they are not your target market.
Types of user searches:
Questions are used when people are looking for specific information and want an exact answer quickly. Usually, the question phrase will be used in its entirety. Blog posts are great for targeting question phrases by asking the question in the blog and then providing the answer directly underneath.
- “Is it ok to own a pet in an apartment?”
- “What are website maintenance costs in Singapore?”
- “Who is Priyanka Chopra?”
Subjects are general searches for animals, places, people or objects and are usually limited to only a few words.
- “Elon Musk”
- “Laksa recipes”
- “Website design Singapore”
These are times when users want to get to a website that is not saved as a favourite quickly. They will usually search with the brand in the search box.
- “Pinterest log in”
- “Spotify radio”
When users have a purchase in mind and want to find more specific information about it and where they can buy
- “Hairdresser near me”
- “Best website design services Singapore”
- “2XU leggings”
Google is looking to provide the person searching with the best and most relevant pages to answer their query. Being able to meet these needs (and meet them better than anyone else) is what gets your listing into the top five results.
In order to deliver pages that are relevant and of high quality, Google has put complex (and ever-evolving) algorithms in place to gather data from a host of places on your web pages to determine where you’ll rank in a search return.
Your keyword choices need to accurately predict what words your users will be entering into search boxes so that your content marketing strategy is able to highlight topics for discussion or product connection and follow through with solving that problem or answering that question.
How to audit your content keywords
If you are using great keywords but not seeing great results it might be because your content doesn’t fit the keywords well. For keywords, the best way to check how you are performing is to compare your site to others that are using your keywords and ranking in the top levels. What content are they offering with those keywords? You might be missing the mark. The solution here is to find keywords that better match your business.
If you have a lot of pages (and if you have products on your e-commerce website then you can expect hundreds of pages to go through) don’t expect to be able to audit them all, it’s simply not worth your time.
Most of your product pages will be created using a template, so select the most popular products and audit those few pages and apply any fixes through your templates and content creation systems so that you are creating great content going forward.
Make a list of the main pages you have and make them a priority for your SEO website audit.
By running a Google search for your keywords and most frequently used keyword phrases you can see what other providers are using these terms and how relevant they are to your business brand. Just note that paid ads will be shown first, then the top ten results will be listed under these, so look to the organic listing rather than ads.
Here are some main points to cover in your content comparisons with high ranking websites:
Look to see what content medium stands out as popular in the Google returns (i.e. video, text, images, lists)
Look at how the content is presented. It could be a website home page, a blog post, a news report, study or professional article or a product on an eCommerce website.
Who is presenting the piece, is it an affiliate blogger, an online store, an expert guest or a news site?
How quickly is the answer to the question delivered and how easily can the reader then access more information?
The reason your user is searching this particular keyword or keyword phrase will enable you to tie all the points here together and deliver exactly what they need. Checking in to see what the top-ranking companies are doing is a great way to see how they have accurately estimated their market needs and created content to meet that.
Used Where Needed – Stuffing a sentence or page with too many keywords might seem like a good way to get noticed in search returns, but Google are on the lookout for pages over-optimised with keywords and little else. You’ll be ranked lower as a result. Be sure to use a handful of keywords intermittently through the content and provide lots of valuable text around them.
Relevance – Make sure your content is relevant to the keywords and relevant to your user’s search. There needs to be a strong and clear match between the words you choose and the information you provide, as well as the services or products you deliver.
Headings and Titles – Headings and titles are great places to double down on keywords and keyword phrases so find ways to incorporate these naturally.
Organic Placements – Knowing what your keywords are before you start writing means you can write around those specific keywords and insert them into the content naturally instead of forcing them in with keyword dumps that may be confusing or feel like they were computer-generated.
Length – Make sure every page contains the information with enough words to clearly provide the answer a user is looking for. How long the content piece is will depend on a range of factors including where it is sitting on the website (i.e. blog, home page, article) as well as what type of keyword you are using (or why they are searching). People searching for the answer to a specific question will want a neatly presented and fast answer, however, for more general questions and topics, a long and detailed explanation will be expected and valuable.
Varied Use – One thing to be careful of is using the same keywords for every piece of content across your web pages. It can hurt your results and make it hard for Google to assess which of your pages to present in a search return list. Rather than limit your keywords and keyword phrases to a handful, pull up relevant words across a wide range of topics in your field.
Vary your keywords across your pages so that the biggest hits are paired only with your most important pages.
This avoids what is known as keyword cannibalisation, which is where your pages start competing with themselves for rankings, which is a lose-lose situation for you and waters down your SEO effectiveness.
It’s important to consider why your user is searching that information (use the ‘Types of User Searches’ above) so you can deliver content length to meet those needs. For some questions, a great way to create content is to have a blog that contains multiple questions within an overall subject and then answers them each in turn.
For example in an article “How to use effective keywords in your online content” you may have a heading:
How do you know if a keyword is working?
And another later on:
What is a good way to insert question phrases into a blog post?
This way you are creating SEO friendly long-form content but are able to parcel up the answers to specific questions in neat little subheadings within that, which will be highlighted to a user in a search return snippet.
Knowing what your audience needs is vital for getting keyword selection and keyword application correct.
As well as showing you how other businesses are applying the same keywords, you can also see if the content media type you plan to use will be the best received and if you are mixing your mediums, how to present the pieces. It will help you create the right content be it a video, informative blog, step by step instructions or just an upfront price for comparisons to others.
The readability of a web page is all about how easy it is for visitors (and search engines) to read and understand the content.
Reading a big block of text or trying to unjumble a lot of difficult terms and phrases is a big turn off for readers. Your job is to make your content as easy for them to read and understand as possible.
If readers see a huge block of text they will probably click out straight away, it’s too much work to find what they need. The feedback you’ll get if you have provided content that is too heavy is a high bounce rate (Google Analytics can help with getting you this data).
Make sure your content is easy to read so that visitors have a reason to stay.
Part of getting this right will be in researching and knowing your target audience well enough to speak to them on the level they need, so not delivering the ABCs to a doctor and a complex research paper to someone reading an article for fun.
The other part is providing clear breaks, images, illustrations and headings within your text content to break it down into small and easy to see parts.
Here are the key things to cover for your content readability checks:
Go Short – You want to keep sentences and paragraphs as short as possible. It’s about having information that is clear and easy to understand over fancy writing styles.
Take Breaks – Make sure big blocks of text are broken up with paragraph spaces, headings and subheadings as well as highly visual components like videos, images and quotes.
The Hemingway Editor is a quality free tool for auditing content readability. It will give you a score (with lower numbers being better quality – aim for 9 or under) and can also provide suggestions for simplifying your text.
3. Content Quality
When it comes to the quality of your content there are three things you are looking to demonstrate…
That you are:
- An expert at what you do
- An authority in your field
Google not only ranks these highly in terms of analysing page content quality, but it also makes sure you are doing the right thing when it comes to advice that can impact a person’s happiness. That’s why online businesses around money and lifestyle choices will be analysed even more critically than other pages because the mental, physical and financial health of the person reading it depends on it.
Content quality is something only humans can judge (at this point in time).
When it comes to creating quality content, it’s very much up to each writer to define. Communication styles vary widely from industry to industry and audience to audience which is why no one expects a rule to follow.
That means when it comes to analytics, there isn’t much to help you audit your content quality, and when it comes to crawl bots, Google doesn’t bother there either, they ask the option of SEO evaluations (aka humans) to get a read on content quality.
A big asset with getting content quality right is you’ll be rewarded with links and agreements for backlinks too. You’ll also see better conversion rates and more social engagement through likes and shares.
Content Quality Checklist
Even though there are no specific rules and no tools to help identify writing quality issues, there are still some points to cover to help prove your expertise, authority and trustworthiness in your business.
Write What You Know – If you have created an online business it’s because this is what you do well, have gained experience in and have something to offer others. This is the material you target for topics and discussions for your content. By writing about what’s in your field, you are able to showcase your skills and experience and it will always be relevant to your business. For example, don’t write about Harry Potter if your business is plumbing.
Write Long Articles – If you are writing content (blogs and articles) in excess of 900 words, it proves that you know what you’re talking about and have a lot of valuable information to pass on.
Provide Accurate Information – Make sure the factual content you post is accurate. If you are posting something that might be contested or unusual, quote or reference where the data came from (stats, research bodies, experts or other proof to back you up).
Show How To – Provide advice and instructions that have steps to proven results. This also allows you to pick up a range of multimedia methods including text, video, infographics and animations.
Be Current– if you use dates in your titles (and it’s a great use of keyword long phrases if you do), use this consistently year to year so you always have a modern piece to showcase (or update and repost previous content) which demonstrates you are nurturing your content library and paying it attention. Don’t just change the tags and headlines, you’ll need to rework the entire article to bring it up to speed.
Ask For Reviews – Positive reviews are social proof that you are producing great stuff. Ask your satisfied customers to post reviews about their experience on trusted business listing websites and respond to positive feedback by asking if you can turn it into a testimonial. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how many people say yes! If you don’t ask, customers are likely not to provide feedback, even though they are more than happy to if requested.
Broadcast Your Skills – Take advantage of places online where you can showcase your skills and qualifications. Be sure to link to business pages like your LinkedIn account as well as these are trusted and respected sources for business profiles.
You can list the credentials of the author at either the top or bottom of the article. You’ll see plenty of examples of this online, usually with a photo of the author. Google looks for credibility on a page by page basis, rather than the overall website, so be sure to provide a skill summary on every article. As well as this you can utilise the About Us page on your main menu to list the business owners, CEO, board members and employees, along with their credentials and level of expertise.
Contact Us – Be sure to list your contact details. This is something an untrustworthy site is sure to leave out. Contact forms, phone, email and address are proof that you are a genuine and legitimate business there to help. If possible have contact details for both the person responsible for the overall website as well as the person responsible for content.
Respectable Links – If known and trusted brands and sites are referring to your content in their links, it provides great proof that you are trustworthy and worth taking notice of.
4. Thin Content
Overall thin content is a page that doesn’t offer enough value to readers. It’s a term typically used to describe a page that doesn’t have a high enough word count (i.e. 300 words or less), however, it’s a much bigger issue than just being too brief and this will show up in a number of ways that are usually a result of not putting enough effort into website page content.
Thin content is not just about how many words are on the page, but a symptom of thin content pages typically is word count shortage.
Here are some reasons behind thin content:
- Duplicating content multiple times across your web pages or within a web page.
- Plagiarism and copy/paste with minimal rewriting from other sites.
- Affiliate content that has been used multiple times by multiple websites (or multiple times within your own pages).
- Forced push through using doorway pages that provide teasers but no end goal, forcing users to click through (sometimes multiple pages) to get what they are looking for.
Thin Content Checklist
Make sure you have the following in place to stamp out thin content:
Unique Content – Having unique content is the number one thing you can do to eliminate thin content. When the information you provide is unique to your website it shows that you offer real value that users can’t get anywhere else. This needs to be addressed across all aspects of your content pages, including eliminating duplicate content that shows across your own pages, as well as material that may have come directly from other sites.
- Reword similar content across your internal pages so that the same content is displayed in different sounding ways (or convert some text to infographics or videos). And yes, this does include eCommerce websites with boilerplate product descriptions). With eCommerce descriptions, expand the text with your own description in addition to the content that is there.
- Completely rewrite information that you copy and paste from other sites.
- In the case of affiliate information (so reviews or product descriptions), it’s not plagiarism because you have permission to use that content and re-distribute that information, so while on a copyright level that’s perfectly okay to do, what it’s showing to search engine algorithms is that you haven’t added any further value. They can get this info from plenty of other sites that are already ranking well, so why promote your site? To do this properly and appeal to Google algorithms, you’ll need to make enough changes, add introductions or supporting facts that make it unique to your website.
Human to Human Language – Never use computers or codes to write your content. Always use people. Distributing large volumes of data through auto-generated content doesn’t pay off in the long run and adds absolutely no value to readers.
Open Book – Doorway pages are frustrating for users. Make sure that everything your reader needs to know is provided upfront on the page and their question is answered in full within that content piece. If they want additional information that compliments this, then they can click related articles or fill in a gated content form or make an enquiry.
Having thin pages showing online can impact your bounce rate and user engagement, sales conversions rates and search engine rankings.
It’s really important to note that just changing one or two words within a sentence or phrase doesn’t make it unique and Google will pick it up as duplicate content. You need to rearrange the sentence order and change a large volume of words for it to register as yours.
Plagiarism and duplicate content are huge SEO hindrances that you need to avoid at all costs.
If there are repeated and severe instances of copied content through your website, Google will remove you from their web index entirely.
There are plenty of ways to locate duplicate content, the simplest one is to copy and paste your text into Google and see what comes up. A unique site will have search returns with words sprinkled in randomly, while duplicated content will show up in bold text together.
Other than using the Google search box to identify duplicated content, you can also use online tools.
- Siteliner can help you locate duplicate content within your own pages
- Copyscape will alert you to any other domains using the same information
If you notice that someone is using your data as their content on their own website you can (and should) report them. File a DMCA request to Google and they can remove the offending copy under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
How to do an SEO website audit – In summary
Without a solid content strategy that produces and implements great content, your conversion rates and social shares will stay stagnant and your website will struggle to rank well on search engines like Google.
Taking the time to regularly audit your content is a great boost for your website performance and SEO, so be sure to include this as an essential step in your content marketing strategy within your main web pages (Homepage, About us, Product descriptions) as well as your content media library articles like blogs and how-tos.
The checklist provided in this article will help you cover all the bases as you go and cover every aspect of effective content management so you can bring it together for amazing results for your business website SEO and user engagement.
As well as fixing issues that may be sabotaging your current search returns and turning prospects off, you now know how to create powerful content going forward and to avoid those traps altogether. That means you get the right message across from the start and reduce the work you’ll need to do on your next audit.
If you need any help identifying the issues that are holding your business website back, or if there are factors you find in your audit that are too tough to handle, contact us today and we’ll fix the issues for you.