How To Conduct a Quick On-Site SEO Audit (Part 1)

By Houston

 

This will be a two-part series on how to conduct a quick on-site SEO audit.

The first thing an SEO should do when given a new project – before any attention is paid to the development of an off-site SEO strategy – is conduct an on-site SEO audit.

With regards to on-site SEO audits, an SEO has two options:

  • A quick-hit site audit where you go through the top-level diagnosis with the site in a few hours.
  • An exhaustive site audit that can take days.

For the purpose of this article, I’ll only be going over the steps to conducting a quick-hit site audit where you go through the top-level on-site SEO factors within only a handful of hours.

To begin an on-site SEO audit, you will begin with the most obvious points (title and meta description tags, for example). Despite this fact, the end result of your audit may result in a fairly exhaustive document. That said, you’re better off creating an Excel spreadsheet with your pages (or site categories) in rows with each on-site SEO element discussed below as columns, to create for yourself a simple check-list.

Let’s begin!

We’ll start by looking at some of the most important on-site SEO factors, why they’re important, alongside tips on what exactly you should be looking out for when conducting your audit.

Title Tags

A title tag is the main text that describes an online document. It is also the single most important on-page SEO element (behind overall content), appearing in browsers (at the top and in applicable browsers), search engine results pages, and external websites (many websites use the title of a web page as its link anchor text).

The purpose of the title tag is to make each web page unique in terms of the page’s content.

Since each page on your site should be unique, you need to have unique title tags for each page.

In addition to this, title tags carry a lot of weight with regards to how a web page ranks. As a general rule of thumb, the keywords most relevant to a web page’s content should make an appearance in it’s respective title tag. For example, let’s take a website that sells women’s suits. Due to the fact that women’s suits is the keyword that’s most relevant to the website, the title tag might be written as follows:

Women’s Suits: Brand Name Suits for Women at [company name]

Notice that the keyword is foremost in the tag. This is done because studies have shown that the closer to the start a web page’s keyword appears, the more helpful it is for ranking and the more likely it is that a user will click on the web page in the search engine results pages.

Meta Tags

Much like pay-per-click (PPC) ad copy, the meta description tag should be written to increase your organic search click-through rate (CTR). When writing a web page’s meta description, make sure you adequately describe what the content of that specific web page is about, how the user will benefit from that content, followed up by a good call-to-action (CTA). That said, make sure your meta descriptions stay within 200 characters.

Any longer and you run the risk of part of the meta description being truncated.

We will cover the remaining on-site factors in part 2 of this series.

 

  2 COMMENTS
Search Engine Optimization
  • Written by: Marcus Miller

    Hey Houston

    A problem I often see when performing these kind of site audits is that whilst people get the one page elements they lack any kind of cohesive plan that ties everything together. So, we may have a lot of ‘optimised’ pages where the basics are in place, we may have several pages competing for the same terms and therefore undermining some of the good work that has been done.

    A benefit of doing a very simple audit like the one above is that we can get all of this info into a spreadsheet and then order by various terms and see which pages are targeting which terms. We can sort by page titles, or even create a column for common keywords and sort by that.

    This, whilst hardly technical, can make a huge difference in the sites ability to target some competitive terms and once this kind of plan is in place, we can also feed that intelligence into the navigation, internal linking etc.

    Often, it’s just a case of stepping back, taking a look from 10,000 feet and giving people some form of strategy & plan so they can stop oscillating wildly between tweaking that pushes their pages further and further into spam country and despairing at the lack of results for their efforts.

    Folks, this is important stuff, be fastidious in your approach and be sure to take care of the details!

    Marcus

  • Written by: Houston Barnett-G

    Hi Marcus,

    First off, thanks for the comment!

    I’m glad you were able to read this and take away one of the points I was trying to hammer home, that is, the importance of starting a 10,000 foot look at your site’s on-page SEO before going through it with a fine-toothed comb.

    The tendency is to run right into things, which isn’t necessarily a terrible tactic for experienced SEOs, but something that could be potentially detrimental to inexperienced SEOs or mom-and-pop business owners who are handling their own SEO. However, even experienced SEOs would be better served by starting their SEO work with a cursory audit.

    As the old saying goes, “We must learn to walk before we can run.” This perfectly analogizes why this post and the rest of the trilogy will best serve the vast majority of people wishing to conduct an on-site SEO.

    Anyways, thanks again for the comment! Part 2 of the series will be published later this week, so be on the look out!

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