2018 White Hat SEO Audit | Professional SEO Audit
There is no denying that Search Engine Optimization and a professional SEO audit is the holy grail of dominating the interwebs as far as most modern ranking algorithms are concerned. In 2018 White Hat SEO audit it is an important step for a technical SEO expert take before beginning any SEO campaign. That’s the reason many webpreneurs and internet marketers invest heavily in making sure that they have the right SEO strategy using only white hat SEO techniques. As well as working behind their excellent and useful content that they put out to their readers and followers. However, far from what most people ( especially beginners ) tend to think, SEO is more of a continuous process than a one-off deal. To maintain your lead on Google, you have to schedule a professional SEO audit regularly to make sure you are at the top of your game at any given time. Remember that your immediate competitors will also be working day and night to outrank you too. It is a game that can only be won by utilizing the following comprehensive technical SEO audit checklist and reasons why do a SEO audit.
CHECKLIST OF A PROFESSIONAL SEO AUDIT:
- Run an In-depth Site Search
This is one of the best ways of evaluating and checking your indexed pages against those of your competitors. It should also be your first box you should tick off as a technical SEO expert regardless of the method you wish to approach it.
Start by doing a simple site search. How many pages appear? And does your homepage appear as the first default result of the search? If your homepage does not show up as the first result, you could have a serious problem in your hands. And this can range from issues such a Google penalty to poor site internal linking or architecture that is placing a hurdle on normal ranking.
- Review your Google Analytics Stats
Using Google Analytics, check the total number of organic landing pages that your site returns. Does this number correlates closely with the number of the results obtained from a site:search? This is actually of the best ways of evaluating how many of your pages are relevant to the search engine and their prominence in Google’s index.
- Evaluate Your Branded and Brand Terms
No in-depth technical SEO audit is complete without searching for branded and brand terms and comparing the results obtained with the expectations of a healthy site. For instance, ordinarily, the homepage should show up at the top after the search followed by the correct order of other relevant pages. If this doesn’t happen, then there is a high likelihood of deep-seated issues such as a Google penalty in play.
- Conduct a Mobile Search for Both Brand and Other Key Landing Pages
This should give you a rough idea of how ‘mobile friendly’ your site and its main landing pages are. Remember that you could be missing a significant chunk of organic visitors if your site is deemed as mobile unfriendly by Google’s internal ranking system.
- Content Optimization Audit
Although there is no foolproof exact formula of organizing content on your site, there are several hallmarks of the strategy that leading search engines favor. For starters, when conducting your initial technical SEO audit, it is imperative to make sure that the homepage has at least one ( 100-words or more ) paragraph of related content. As usual, the more the word count the easier it is for the search engines to understand of what your landing page – and ultimately your site – is about. The same applies to your landing pages which should only contain real, actionable, and substantial content.
That being said, it is also important to make sure that the intent behind your main keywords correlates with the intent of your landing page. And this is also a good time of using tools such as Moz Crawl Test to check for internal content issues e.g. duplicate page titles or content that could trigger hefty penalties.
- Proper Internal Linking and Site Architecture
Assessing your site’s basic architecture and internal linking is a good way of wrapping up any technical SEO audit. Start by estimating the number of links on the main landing pages. The optimal number should be around 100 to 200 but this depends on various factors such as your linking strategy. It is a good practice to ensure that the links in the content are placed in such a way that category pages are directly linked to other relevant and SEO optimized category pages. Your SEO optimized product pages ought to link to other internal related product pages as well.
The Ultimate Guide for a Technical SEO Expert
On a broad perspective, there are two categories of Search Engine Optimization. On-page SEO deals with on page optimization. Its primary focus is the content of the site. Its optimization is done based on relevant keyword density basis. Apart from that, ranking is also done by considering the visitor’s user experience as they navigate the site.
Off page SEO focuses on the interconnection or link between a website and other sites on the internet. A website having these links with other authoritative websites that are relevant improves the trust that the search engine has to your website, thereby giving it a priority when any user is searching for relevant keyword related information.
Technical Search engine optimization, on the other hand, is a term used to refer to the techniques and methods that can be carried out by web developers, to help a website have a good rank in search engine. If it is done correctly by a technical SEO expert, the search engine will always index its contents with a greater efficiency, as the crawler of the engine will have a better understanding of the website.
There are specific elements that are taken into consideration per requirements of a search engine to optimize its crawling. Over the years, the requirements have been changing on a continuous basis. They are becoming more complex and refined each day. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the web owner to keep up with these changes for his/her website to compete favourably and have good traffic.
Factors that a Technical SEO Expert Considers
1. Average Web Page Speed.
Website speed is a measure of how fast all the contents of web pages load and is displayed. Recently, the webpage speed has been receiving a high priority since its inclusion as one of the SEO ranking factors.
What a technical SEO expert has to say about page speed:
According to separate studies conducted by teams of technical audit experts, with a sample of over one million Google search engine results, it is noteworthy that the faster a web page speed, the better its user experience. On the same study, there was an interesting conclusion drawn, that with every 100 milliseconds delay in a web page loading speed, there was up to 1.12% decrease in traffic in most of the e-commerce sites, corresponding to a decrease in sales.
The Importance of web page loading speed:
The loading speed directly relates to abandonment rate of a webpage. According to a survey conducted, most web users expect that a web page will load within 2 seconds. This sample typically abandons the site typically after 3.5seconds delay in loading. By abandoning the site, the bouncing rate increases, and as a result, its ranking on the search engine will lower dramatically. However, some tools can be used to check if your website speed is good. Such technical SEO tools for site speed include:
To maintain a better website experience for your users and your SEO profile, some pointers can be observed to increase loading speed. This is what an SEO audit company would do:
- Upgrading your servers.
Getting a better server will do you good if you have a website that requires executing many lines of code commands because there will be multiple database queries. On the same note, if you share a hosting account, getting an upgrade to a dedicated server increases speed.
- Improve the images and videos on your website.
Large images slow down the loading time as they are very heavy. These images can be reduction can be done by a technical SEO expert, by adjusting their sizes correctly. Not only will it have sharper images that will improve the visuals in your website, but also the loading speed will reduce significantly. For photographs, using jpg format is recommended, while png should only be limited to graphics.
Despite the fact that including videos is an excellent way to keep your visitors motivated, those that use Iframes can slow down your site. The embed code makes a page to load within the main page. Technically this will lower the loading speed by half.
III. Using Brower’s cache.
Cache allows a local computer to store information about a web page that has been previously visited. That increases the loading speed as the PC will not have to load the page afresh from scratch the next time the user returns to this page. By using good caching plugins such as Word Press, the performance speed of the PC loading the web page is guaranteed.
- Limiting the number of ads on the website.
Despite the fact that having many ads on a website is a good alternative source of money, they come at a cost. First, the load time is slowed down because of the graphics and images used in the advert. In addition to that, most visitors become annoyed due to the confusion the ads can cause in a website. Consequently, the bouncing rate of the web page will increase which will reduce your SEO ranking in a search engine.
- Maintaining a simple code.
A beautiful and organized HTML is the foundation of having a good website. There are very many advantages of having simple code than a dense but poorly written markup. Some pointers worth observing on the same include:
- Maintaining a strict DOCTYPE.
- Clear declaration of the character set i.e. the encoding characters.
- Proper indentation of the lines containing code characters.
- Eliminate the unnecessary and overused divits in HTML markup.
2. Structured data markup.
Data markup is the second element of technical SEO, and it is as important as the load speed. Adding Rich Snippets is a simple way to allow search engines to understand better the information that is contained within a web page. By incorporating them, the listings on your web page automatically stands out.
According to Google webmaster tools, this page-markup are the extra bits that make it possible for a summary of your web content to be displayed depending on the query.
The main types of Rich Snippets that are used include:
- Review ratings
- Software applications
It is obvious that a web page containing pretty yellow rating stars and a smiley face is catchier than a plain old looking page. As a result, websites with carefully set up snippets automatically get higher rankings than those without.
Tips on how to incorporate Snippets to a website:
With the basic knowledge of HTML, the following data formats can be used to incorporate the markup content.
However, Google suggests the use of microdata. With the marked up content, a test can be conducted using a structured data testing tool.
Using a Google Authorship:
It can be done by attaching the face of the website’s owner to the websites homepage. With a good Google+ profile and a nice headshot profile photo, you can verify the authorship of your content by associating it with your profile.
Points to note while using the Google Authorship.The profile photo should be clear with a recognizable headshot.
There should be a byline containing the name of the website owner on each page with content. (for example, “By Mike Donald”). It is important to note that the name should match the one in Google+ profile, preferably in the same order.
It is advantageous to have an email address on the same domain as the content.
Using multi-author Blog. Setting up a multi-author blog is harder than using a single Google authorship. It can be done using any of the following ways:
By having all the authors include a link to their Google+ profile on each article
If the website has biography pages, all the authors can directly link their Google+ profiles to the website.
Pro tip: Once you are done, you can test the snippet using the Webmaster Tools Rich Snippets test. If the snippet doesn’t appear, then the URL used for the contributing site should be checked to ensure it has been correctly embedded
Despite the fact that Google claims that marking up your data and including rich snippets won’t have a significant effect on page rankings, it guarantees that the content of your website will make the users want to use it more and even share. By increasing the click rate to the website, the rankings in the search engine will increase.
3. Working on mobile friendliness.
As from 21st April 2015, mobile friendliness has been used as a ranking signal. By including the following g two factors in your site, you can improve the compatibility of your website to mobile phones.
Ensuring the site is easy and friendly to the customers. The goal is to make the customer’s lives easier by keeping the site as simple as possible. The design of the site should be such that the users can complete most of the tasks without much of a hassle. A good way to ensure user-friendliness is by outlining the steps that a customer will go through to the final step.
Use templates and design that can be consistent for all devices.
That can be done using a responsive web design. It means that a single URL is used both for the desktop computer, tablet, and phones. Since the same code has been used, the display will automatically adjust itself based on the screen size of the device being used. Its benefits include the fact that you get to maintain only one site thereby increasing the site visit of the customers to the website. Consequently, the web ranking increases.
4. Maintaining proper site architecture.
Improving site architecture involves making it easy for users and search engines to find their way around your website. It involves getting the most relevant content in the shortest time possible. By using a simple architecture, the site can perform much better in the indexation.
How to ensure your site architecture is SEO friendly:
- Using the Correct Hypertext Transfer Protocol.
There is only one SEO friendly hypertext transfer protocol. In August 2014, Google announced that the protocol would be used in the search engines factors list. If you want your website to perform, you should definitely use the secure protocol HTTPS.
The Google’s revealed factor should not be taken lightly since all the criteria used in ranking the websites is usually kept a secret. Most of these known factors are arrived at from webmasters analysis.
Despite the fact that the explanation as to why using the secure protocol increases the ranking is still unknown, the fact that using HTTPS:// in a website gives it a better ranking still stands. Apart from that, HTTPS comes with additional security bonus to the website.
- URL Structure.
A URL (uniform resource locator) is a term used to refer to a reference text to a web resource which specifies its location on a computer. In simpler terms, it describes the page both for the search engine crawlers and the users.
URL can be utilized as a ranking factor by making it as descriptive as possible. That does not mean that it should be very long. In fact, the shorter it is, the better it will perform in search engine ranking. Adding a keyword that will guide the users to understand what a link is all about will make the difference. That is because the search engine will rank it much higher due to its classification based on relevancy.
The last important factor of site architecture is the breadcrumb trail. A breadcrumb trail is a navigation tool that allows a user to identify his/her location on a website or a web application in respect to the site’s hierarchy.
Basically, breadcrumbs fall into three categories.
Attribute or keyword breadcrumb
Breadcrumbs increase the user friendliness of the web as they show a clear structure, enabling the user to determine the number of actions he/she has to take to go back to the home page, to return to the last two pages visited or move to the next section.
Breadcrumbs can improve SEO in the following ways:
They reinforce and improve the website’s internal linking structure. Contextual interlinking to other related pages can occur when off-site SEO ranking is applied thereby boosting the site’s rank.
Keywords used in it can establish the relationship between your web page and other websites.
The advanced search engines such as Google can understand that their robots are looking at a breadcrumb. That will enable the engine to display breadcrumbs in SERP. As a result, more users will be able to browse the inner pages of the website.
Concluding 2018 White Hat SEO Audit
Those are just but a few elements that a professional SEO audit would entail. The list is broad and dynamic since the advanced search engines update the elements that are considered to refine the process. However, this is a great start to 2018 White Hat SEO audit.