SEO Audit Hero Image

SEO Audit: Definition, Process, Tools, Checklist

Are you having trouble moving up the search engine results pages (SERPs) ladder despite your best efforts with SEO? An SEO audit looks for problems on your site that could keep it from ranking well on Google and other search engines. Consider conducting an SEO audit if you feel you’re not getting enough from your SEO efforts

A technical SEO audit can also give you insight into your competitor’s websites to see what is and isn’t working. Before starting an SEO audit for your business, find out everything you need to know.

Key takeaways:

  • It is crucial to stay up to date on SEO if you want your website to succeed.
  • Google considers site performance one of the most crucial ranking factors. 
  • There are many tools you can use to audit your website easily.

What is an SEO audit? 

An SEO audit measures how well a website aligns with the algorithms and standards set by the search engines. It helps identify any issues with your website and allows you to determine opportunities you have to tweak it to provide better results. 

An audit includes everything from ensuring the optimised content for search engine spiders to make sense of it to something extensive like resolving technical issues that might affect how efficiently Google can index your site. 

An SEO audit determines your SEO score, which measures how well your website’s technical and user-facing parts contribute to search engine optimisation. This score is on a scale of 0 to 100, with 80 to 100 implying your website meets the highest quality search engine optimisation criteria. Conversely, a score under 80 indicates that your website has technical and user experience concerns.

The following factors will determine your score:

  • On-page SEO.
  • Organic ranking.
  • Thin content.
  • XML sitemaps.
  • Technical SEO problems.
  • User experience.
  • Page speed (I.e., the loading time for specific pages on your website).
  • Google Search Console.
  • Mobile-friendly capabilities.
  • Internal linking.
  • External linking.
  • Indexability.
  • Meta descriptions, meta tags, structured data, etc.

The end goal of an audit is to help a website reach more potential customers through higher rankings in search engines by fixing SEO issues.

SEO audit statistics 

SEO audits are imperative because:

  • Only 0.78% of Google searchers go to the second page of Google results, and around 90.63% of websites get no traffic from Google at all. So your website must rank on the first page. 
  • The higher up in ranking you are, the better off you are – the first ranked website on Google search gets an average CTR of 31.7%.
  • When a user performs a search, the Google algorithm uses more than 200 factors to rank a website. If your website doesn’t meet those criteria, it’s less likely to rank on the first page, resulting in losing customers.
  • Around 52.2% of website traffic comes from mobile phones worldwide, so if you want to hit those people, you must ensure your website is mobile-friendly. 

The importance of a technical SEO audit 

Through an audit, you can find out many different things, including the existing website content, the user experience, and the website’s overall credibility. An SEO audit can show where to focus your SEO efforts. 

One of the most significant benefits of performing an SEO audit is maintaining control over your online presence without having any unplanned downtime or issues with Google. If your site isn’t correctly optimised for search engines, you will lose customers and organic traffic. Here are five reasons why you should consider conducting an SEO audit.

1. It helps you tackle frequent Google algorithm changes

Search engines are constantly evolving with their algorithm updates, and as we mentioned earlier, Google updates their algorithms numerous times throughout the year. As Google has a more significant impact on our traffic than any other search engine, you must keep up to date with their requirements to keep your website ahead of the competition.

With proper and periodic SEO updates, you can keep your website updated and ready to cater to your users anytime. 

2. Boosts your site’s overall performance 

Site performance is among the most important ranking factors for Google and other search engines. Running an SEO audit helps fix your website’s problems to enhance that performance, including your content, page speed and linking. 

After making changes, remember it may take weeks or even months for Google to pick up those edits. An SEO audit doesn’t change your ranking overnight, but it can help companies improve their website’s issues to ensure their site is more user-friendly and reachable.

3. Keeps your site mobile optimised and fast 

Since the introduction of search engine optimisation (SEO), site speed has been considered a major factor in ranking. In recent years, its importance has skyrocketed due to the growth of mobile devices.

People using mobile phones don’t want to wait to get results. 40% of people click the exit button if your website shows a delay of 3 seconds. Periodic SEO audits will keep your website away from the slow loading defects that pull down your ranking. 

4. Keeps you ahead of the competition 

SEO audits can benefit your business by bringing valuable information about your competition. Some of the information you might learn includes their strengths and weaknesses and what keywords they are using on top of how well they are doing with SEO. 

By understanding your competition, you will better know your audience and where to find them. And if you want to beat the competition, try implementing similar keywords to see how well you do with them. 

5. It lets you refresh your old content 

If people are visiting a particular site but aren’t coming back or re-visiting in a relatively short period, it might be due to old or irrelevant content. Fresh, high-quality content is essential for search engines to notice you, and in turn, this will improve your ranking. 

With SEO audits, you can find and fix any dead pages and out-of-date content to help you attract and retain new website visitors.

The advantages of an SEO audit 

  • It helps you optimise every corner of your site, enhancing its overall performance. 
  • It puts an end to any historic SEO practices that have led you to be penalised with new updates. 
  • It helps keep your site refreshed with all the frequent Google algorithm updates. 
  • It helps dust off old and irrelevant content so your site isn’t outdated. 
  • With periodic audits, you can find the best-performing keywords and optimise your content accordingly.
  • It gives insights about your competitors. 
  • It helps in finding the top-performing pages and the pages that give leads. 
  • It helps in tracking your competitor’s moves in terms of SEO.
  • Provide visitors with a better user experience.

The disadvantages of an SEO audit 

  • SEO audits can be time-consuming.
  • There is no guarantee of results, and it’s hard to predict the impact of the changes. 
  • It requires constant and keen monitoring to scale the efforts. 
  • It takes time for the implementation of changes to be reflected in the search results.
  • It needs to be consistent, with regular audits 2-4 times a year.
  • Not all warnings need to be fixed and implemented.

Examples of an SEO audit 

The following examples show the benefits of a detailed SEO audit.

Example 1: Brian Dean increased his organic traffic by 652% in just 7 days

In this example, Brian Dean published an SEO checklist article with all elements in its place. The result was pretty good at the initial stage, as shown below:

Source: Backlinko

But, it decreased over time. Brian Dean smashed the defects and boosted his organic traffic by 652%. 

Source: Backlinko

Here is what he did:

  • Enhance content by updating it with rich media and videos.
  • Tailor content according to search intent by analysing the keywords used in his article. 
  • Optimised his page’s structure by giving sufficient whitespace, enriching media, and a table of contents to enhance the user’s experience.
  • Brian Dean used the Skyscraper technique 2.0

Example 2: Ahrefs scaled their organic traffic by 7% in just six months 

Ahrefs ran an SEO campaign for their blogs and achieved tremendous results, boosting traffic to the site by 7.39% in six months.

Source: Ahrefs

Here is what they did: 

  • Prioritised their SEO opportunities. 
  • Fixed their SEO objectives. 
  • Updated their content. 
  • Built powerful backlinks to key pages.

Example 3: Diggity 4X’d traffic and doubled revenue with their SEO strategy 

Matt Diggity generated around $48k consistent monthly income organically with an SEO audit to an eCommerce store. 

Source:  Diggity Marketing

Their content strategy has redefined the analytics metrics of their blog. As a result, Diggity saw a vast improvement in traffic and returning visitors, which opened a whole new pool of potential customers for the business.

Here is what he did:

  • Image optimisation.
  • Site optimisation for a better user experience. 
  • Technical audit.
  • Internal link building. 
  • On-page optimisation. 
  • Backlink building. 

How to conduct a simple SEO audit?

If the examples above inspire you, it’s time to start working on your own strategies. Here are some things to include in your SEO audit checklist.

Step 1: Mobile page optimisation 

Mobile SEO is now more important than ever before. For starters, 5.32 billion people worldwide use mobile phones, capturing 67% of the global population. It’s important to note that 60% of consumers use their smartphones to conduct product searches on the internet. 

Based on these stats, you can see that optimising your site for mobiles is crucial. To test your site, you can use Google’s mobile-friendly testing tool. All you have to do is, enter your site URL and click Test URL.

Source: Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test

It may take 2-3 minutes to run the test, and based on the suggestions, you can improve your mobile page optimisation. 

Step 2: Check for Google penalties 

The next stage in boosting your rank and decreasing Google penalties is determining whether your website has been penalised. You should make some changes if your website is subject to a manual or algorithmic penalty.

First, you should determine when the penalty was levied and why it occurred, and then devise an action plan to address these issues and adequately resolve the matter with Google.

You can check penalties with the help of Google Search Console. Select ‘manual actions’ from the left menu of Google Search Console. Then, if any manual action is imposed on your website, you can see the reason(s).

Source: Reliable Soft

You can also compare your website’s visits as charted in Google Analytics (your primary web analytics platform) for the dates Google added or removed a search ranking factor from its algorithm. 

A sudden drop could indicate that your website was affected. Compare the dates you see significant traffic changes with the dates Google released a change to its search engine formula.

Suppose the above tests indicate that your website is indeed into trouble. In that case, the best approach is to find out as many details as possible about the Google updates and adjust your SEO strategy accordingly. 

For example, if a site gets dinged by Google because of “thin content” (content that has little or no value to readers), you should check your content’s quality in your on-page SEO audit section. Then, you can either improve, redirect or remove pages that don’t meet the quality standards.

Step 3: Check for technical SEO issues

A website should be optimised periodically to ensure search engine spiders can scan and index your pages hassle-free. Some of the considerations include:

Is your site registered with Search Console?

Google and Bing Webmaster Tools are free tools that give web admins information to help them better maintain their websites. Both of these tools provide valuable data, so you’ll know how well your site is performing, and you’ll be able to identify what might need some improvements. 

You can find the following data with Google Search Console: 

  • The number of indexed pages.
  • The keyword for which you are ranking.
  • Keyword organic traffic. 
  • Mobile usability issues.

Have you set your preferred domain in Google Search Console?

You might already know this, but it’s possible to have different versions of your site indexed in Google. For example, here are four different versions of the same site:

  • http://example.com. 
  • http://www.example.com. 
  • https://example.com.
  • https://www.example.com. 

And unless you redirect these variants accordingly, Google will consider their unique domains.

Specify your preferred domain in Google Search Console. Doing this will ensure that all versions of your URLs are recognised, saving you potential issues with duplicate content.

Did you activate breadcrumbs? 

Site navigation is often the most challenging thing for website owners and corporate marketing managers to manage. But it has to be done. Look at the image below. It has the breadcrumb for precise navigation.

Source: Inidigit

Google always recommends having a breadcrumb trail on your site to make navigation easier for visitors. Ensure your site’s breadcrumb trail is configured correctly according to Google’s specifications.

Apart from this, you should also consider:

  • Structured data.
  • Set canonical URLs. 
  • URL optimisation. 
  • Optimise 404 pages and implement 301 redirects for 404s. 
  • Optimise XML sitemap. 

Step 4: Enhance your site’s structure 

If you don’t optimise the internal linking structure within your website, users may be unable to find information and are less likely to remain engaged. Use these tips to enhance your site structure:

  • Develop user-friendly solutions that enhance your website’s UI without compromising the user’s experience. 
  • If your blog index page only contains ten posts at a time, this pushes older posts some 20-30 scrolls away from your site’s front page (where all of the most equity is held). To keep more people scrolling down through your content, reduce the number of posts to bring those older posts closer to the front page.
  • Keep a reasonable number of links on each page. Your ultimate goal is to keep your reader engaged with the content and explore other pages with internal linking. So balance both factors. Blogely suggests using 3-5 links per 1000 words for striking a balance. 

Source: Blogely

5. Find and fix duplicate content 

According to Google, occasional duplicate content won’t negatively impact your SEO rankings, and a study by Raven found that up to 29% of pages have duplicated content. 

Google is smart enough to know whether or not you’re intentionally and maliciously adding duplicate content to your site to improve its reputation through backlinks. Perhaps your website dynamically generates new pages similar in content, title, description, and URL structure to a canonical page in Search Console. WordPress does this with archive pages.

Duplicate content won’t cause Google to flag or penalise you. However, if Search Console is not set up correctly, Google might be indexing these duplicate pages (or not indexing the version you want to rank).

You can identify the duplicate content using tools like Siteliner, which will scan and pinpoint the duplicate content. Just enter the URL of your site and click on ‘go.’ 

Source: Siteliner

It gives an easy-to-read view, showing you which pages have a matching percentage and which pages match other pages.

By using Siteliner, you can quickly identify if there is any duplicate content that exists along with the URL, as shown below. 

With this data, you can find and remove them to enhance your site’s performance. 

6. Optimise your site speed 

Page speed is vital after Google launched its Speed Update and Page Experience Update. This is partly due to the increased usage of mobile devices to perform searches. 

Anyone using a phone to search on the internet isn’t going to wait for a slow-loading site. The faster your site is, the more likely Google will reward you with strong organic rankings. Google has an excellent tool at its disposal called PageSpeed Insights. It gives you granular looks at page speeds and offers suggestions for improvement.

If you need to optimise your site speed, here are a few suggestions:

  • Optimise your images. When looking toward simple tools that can help improve speed, compressing your images is one of the more straightforward routes to turn. 
  • Implement lazy loading for a considerable performance gain to the first point of any app or website. Often websites are overwhelmed by all the data initially loading at once. It results in a poor user experience when it comes down to loading times on mobile devices. This strategy will make sure that this issue won’t arise.
  • Clean your site’s HTML code. By running a website analysis, you can find out if your site’s HTML code is growing in size. When cleaning your site’s HTML code, remember that not everything will be helpful for your site. Find out what is slowing down your site and remove it.
  • Use code optimisation tools like CSSNano and UglifyJS to increase your pages’ speed. Also, eliminate formatting and code comments because they’re unnecessary to deliver optimised content. In fact, Google recommends it.
  • Enable file compression. Using Gzip can save you money. Compressed files take up less disk space on your server, so you don’t have to pay for as much data as you would if you left the files uncompressed. Less data costs less money, and that’s always a good thing in the eyes of a small business.

SEO audit tools

Performing an SEO audit can be daunting. The following SEO tools will help you conduct an audit efficiently.

1. Hubspot Website Grader 

The HubSpot Website Grader is a free web tool that takes only a few minutes to run a complete website scan. The grade you receive will give you actionable insights into your SEO strategy to help improve your overall score. 

Generally speaking, most SEOs do not use Hubspot Website Grader. But instead, the tool is valuable to businesses with limited SEO knowledge who are looking for general insights that are not yet using a full suite of SEO tools (Ahrefs, Semrush, Screaming Frog, Moz, etc.).

It helps to:

  • Analyse website performance. 
  • Spot and fix the issues. 
  • Optimise for mobile. 
  • Personalise your website UX for a better user experience. 

Source: Hubspot’s Website Grader

2. Google Search Console 

Google Search Console has several features that help you track and monitor what you want. Analytics can help you conduct an initial SEO analysis from scratch or update your existing SEO strategy with new keywords.

You can use this for: 

  • Identifying new keywords.
  • Identifying crawl errors that appear on your website.
  • Optimising your site for mobile responsiveness.
  • Identifying the number of pages indexed on Google.
  • Identifying the metrics that matter the most with the search console. 

3. Semrush 

Semrush’s Site Auditor allows a user to quickly identify common SEO problems with a website, such as issues with duplicate content, loading speed, mobile responsiveness, and much more that plagues small businesses. The tool also gives suggested remedies that allow one to rectify problems and improve SEO and overall crawlability of the site, which benefits search engines.

It helps in:

  • Analysing backlinks.
  • Finding keywords.
  • Spy your competitor’s strategies.
  • Perform entire site audit. 
  • Review the SEO status of your site. 

Source: Semrush

4. Ahrefs 

Ahrefs is a free SEO-checker tool that aims to help website owners learn about their site’s current level of rule compliance. By simply entering your URL into the form and clicking on, ‘site audit,’ Ahrefs will analyse your site, and you’ll receive tips on how you can better optimise it for search engines.

It helps in:

  • Finding technical errors.
  • Analysing SEO scores for page quality, link structure and more.
  • Discovering optimisation opportunities.
  • Finding link structure suggestions.
  • Fixing server error fixes. 
  • Local SEO.

Source: Ahrefs

5. Check my links 

Check My Links is a Google Chrome extension you can use to ensure your internal or external links on the website work or if they are broken.

It helps in:

  • Identifying broken links.
  • Exporting the broken links for further analysis.

Source: Chrome Web Store 

6. PageSpeed Insights

PageSpeed Insights is a tool that helps SEOs and developers optimise analyse and a website’s performance based on Google’s best practices. The tool provides opportunities that can be addressed to improve an overall site’s performance.

The tool is easy to use. Just enter a website’s URL, and then it will provide a list of optimisation issues for mobile and desktop users.

It helps in:

  • Reducing unused JavaScript.
  • Serving images in next-gen formats.
  • Properly sizing images.
  • Reducing initial server response time.
  • Reducing unused CSS.
  • Reducing the impact of third-party code.
  • Plus, a lot more.

Source: PageSpeed Insights

7. Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider Tool

Screaming Frog is an SEO spider used to crawl both small and large websites. One clear advantage that Screaming Frog has over other site audit tools is that it can handle large, enterprise websites and find issues quickly to visualise a site’s architecture.

It helps in:

  • Finding broken links.
  • Analysing page titles and metadata.
  • Allows for the extraction of data using XPath.
  • Generating XML sitemaps.
  • Identifying redirect chains and loops.
  • Discovering duplicate content.
  • View URLs blocked by robots.txt.
  • Canonical tags.

Source: Screaming Frog

Summing up 

An SEO audit may not provide quick results, but it is highly effective for resolving technical issues. The main objective of conducting an SEO audit is to generate a responsive and updated website. The more in-depth analysis you do, the more you increase your chances of ranking higher in the organic search results. 

It’s also essential to stay up-to-date with changes and progressions that occur in SEO, as Google makes thousands of algorithm updates each year. To do so, you should consider performing dynamic SEO audits (between two and four times per year), so your website can adapt accordingly.

Earned Media SEO audit services

An SEO audit will determine problem areas that can be fixed. At Earned Media, our SEO audits will help your website to perform better, increase traffic, and improve your SEO to help your business grow. Our website audits involve the following:

  • Core Web Vitals check.
  • E-A-T check (expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness).
  • Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) check.
  • Off-page SEO audit.
  • Site architecture.
  • Meta descriptions, meta tags, and title tags.
  • Monitor keyword rankings fluctuations.
  • Backlink audits.
  • Content optimisation checks.
  • Site speed and web hosting issues.

Want to find out more? We’ve helped plenty of businesses and can help your business too. Schedule a quick 15-minute call with Nick Brogden, the founder of Earned Media, by clicking on the blue button in the right-hand corner. It takes just 30 seconds to set up a meeting.


Frequently asked questions 

1. Are SEO audits worth it?

Yes. It helps business owners identify opportunities to enhance a website’s performance, get insights into their competitor’s marketing strategies, and ultimately make more money. An audit will reveal cracks in the foundation, such as pages that aren’t optimised for search engines or ones with broken links.

2. What is a technical SEO audit?

An SEO audit helps assess the current state of your business’s web presence and reveals how you can improve it. It is highly beneficial, primarily as it will ensure your website is found in search results. 

The main aim of an SEO audit is to identify as many search engine optimisation issues as possible so that you can create an action plan to increase your website visibility in organic search rankings quickly.

3. How often should you run an SEO audit? 

SEO audits are an essential part of any digital marketing strategy. They help you diagnose issues with your website and fix them to achieve better ranking, visibility, traffic, and conversions. A good SEO campaign requires a sweep every 3 to 6 months to ensure optimised performance and the maximum ROI possible.

4. Is Earned Media a digital marketing agency?

Earned Media is an SEO-only agency specialising in both technical SEO and off-page SEO, including digital PR, SEO copywriting, content marketing, and link building. A digital marketing agency typically offers web design, social media advertising, Google ads, conversion rate optimisation (CRO), etc.

5. How much does an SEO audit cost?

Most SEO agencies will not charge a fee for an SEO audit that covers the basics. However, suppose businesses are looking for a detailed analysis. 

In that case, some SEO agencies or SEO consultants might charge between $3,000 to $8,000, which will also likely include keyword research opportunities, a competitor analysis, and issues requiring more complex investigations. However, if it’s an SEO audit for an enterprise site, then an SEO audit may cost over $10,000 if it includes detailed strategies.