Getting into the habit of a quick SEO audit on your website every week can improve the business from your website and fix problems before they become a difficult issue. The following plan uses Screaming Frog; it costs £149 per year and is worth that many times over.
Run Crawl First
Start Screaming Frog and enter only your domain name without the http or www. This checks that all 301 redirects are in place to the correct address for your website.
Before you start the app click configuration, API access, then Analytics. Follow the instructions on screen to allow the app to pull information from your Google Analytics account.
Click again configuration and give access to Google Search Console. Then start the app.
Too often reliance is given to SEO audit tools and a visual inspection of the website is missed. Just go to your website and flick through the site checking that pages are fully loading, images are not broken, and everything is as it should be.
Google Analytics Checks
My checks in Analytics are usually brief. Is the traffic steady and increasing, do the peaks tie in with newsletters or sharing on social media? A little used feature in Analytics is annotations. Simply click the down arrow just below the traffic graph and it will appear.
It is a great idea to add annotations when you are promoting via social media or a newsletter. I love stats and seeing if my efforts are producing results.
Then change the date range to the last seven days and compare with the previous period. I use seven days as I am checking the website every Monday morning. Once a month I check this month with last month and compare the statistics with the previous year. I am aiming for at least 30% year on year growth.
Important Stats to note for increases or decreases:
- Sessions – the number of visitors
- Pages per session and duration
- Bounce rate
It is worth noting that during holiday periods most business websites show a decrease in all metrics.
If there are large changes in any of these metrics it could warrant further investigation. If you have just published during the last week check that page. I have written posts thinking they are great, only to find that my visitors vote with their feet.
Click Acquisition on the left menu, then All Traffic, then Source Medium. I am looking for information on visitors from Google, Social Media website, and any referrals from links on another website that I have been unaware of.
Again, I am checking the same metrics as above and I am interested in keeping bounce rates low especially for Google traffic. I expect much higher bounce rates from Social Media websites.
When I see referral visitors from other websites I check what has been written about me and why they have linked to my site. To find the exact page that has referred the visitors, click on that domain, then Secondary dimension in the drop down menu just above the referral statics box. Click Acquisition, then Referral Path.
When I like what is written I take that URL and add it to my social media workflow. I will promote all pages that have links to my website in LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook over the next month. It is easy to quickly add to Buffer and let Buffer send to my social accounts a few times over the next month – but mix up the titles.
At that point I am finished with Analytics, as this is only a quick weekly SEO audit not a full overhaul.
Google Search Console Checks
Google provides a wealth of information in Search Console. These are the main areas to check:
Compare the total clicks with Google search traffic in Analytics, if they are roughly the same all is fine – usually plus or minus 10% is okay, (they are never the same). Within Search Analytic I click on Clicks, Impressions, and CTR. I don’t bother with position as I run a rank checker for this information, and Google is slow in updating this information.
I want to see increases in all three metrics month on month, however I can live happily with a lower click through rate when the Total Impressions and Total Clicks are both increasing. Often I will see a large increase in Total Impressions before CTR and Clicks increase. This is simply down to keywords starting to rank at the bottom of the first page of Google.
If you are a bit anal, like me, you will download and store this data. I have had very few occasions where I needed to refer to older date from GSC. Google currently only makes available the last three months’ data.
Other Search Console Quick Checks
Are linking domains increasing? Promoting your website will result in increasing linking domains.
Is there a manual action? Scream. Think about a new website. Best start with talking to an SEO consultant.
Under Crawl, check crawl errors. Sort by date and check for recent not found, blocked resources, or server errors.
Check Security Issues. Often this is the first place that website owner become aware of their website being hacked.
This is only a quick thirty minutes SEO audit, but as you can see there is a lot of information available in Google Search Console.
Back to Scream Frog Crawl
Here is a list that I check immediately before diving into any statistic:
- Sort on status code, are there any 400 or 500 errors – fix
- Again, on status code, any 302 codes, if so why?
- Title tags – any duplicates?
- Response time, first time could be longer, but best if less than 2 seconds
If you haven’t been doing weekly audits the following may take a while initially.
Click on Analytics. Here I am looking for dead wood to either cut or rewrite. Sort on GA Sessions and find the pages that have empty cells. Why are these pages getting no visitors – sometimes there are valid reason like: term and conditions page, or disclosure page. But if it is a page where you would expect visitors investigate.
Click on Search Console, sort on impressions. If a page is not getting any impressions I immediately no index, follow the page – unless the page has only just been published. No Impression means Google for whatever reason hates that page. It is quicker to no index and stop it effecting the rest of your website.
List all the pages that have low or zero impressions and investigate. It will simply be quality of the content, whether that be length or keyword targeting.
In about the time it takes to read this post I can usually run through all the above. Do the SEO audit once a week and it will become second nature. But more important – you will intimately get to know what is working on what is not. That will drive you to greater online success.