In the ever-evolving digital landscape, having a website optimised for search engines is not just an option – it’s a necessity.
As of 2023, a search engine like Google processes over 5.6 billion searches per day, translating into 1.2 trillion organic searches each year. This staggering number shows just how crucial search engines have become in shaping online experiences. But here’s the critical point: the majority of users rarely venture beyond the first search engine results page.
Data from various studies consistently reveals that the first page of Google receives more than 70% of all clicks, with the top three Google results getting nearly 55% of all visits. The further down the page your website appears, or the more pages deep into the search results it resides, the fewer eyes will ever land on your content.
However, optimising your website for search engines isn’t just about securing a spot on that first page. It’s about harnessing the power of organic search to drive traffic, optimise your website’s performance, improve user experience and, ultimately, boost conversion rates.
At the heart of this digital transformation lies the art and science of technical SEO audits.
Technical SEO auditing is not just about sprinkling keywords throughout your content or acquiring a few backlinks. It’s about ensuring that your website’s technical foundation is rock-solid, that search engines can effortlessly navigate its digital corridors, and that your content shines brightly in the search engine spotlight.
This guide will you teach you everything you need to know about technical SEO audits, exploring how they work and why they are the cornerstone of modern digital marketing strategies:
What is a technical SEO audit?
As search engines like Google continue to refine their algorithms, achieving and maintaining a high search engine ranking has become a paramount goal for digital marketers.
Technical SEO, as the name suggests, deals with the technical aspects of optimising a website’s performance for search engines.
It’s about ensuring that a website is structured and configured in a way that search engines can easily crawl, understand and index its content in search engine results pages (SERPs).
Technical SEO is often considered the foundation of a successful SEO strategy because it forms the basis upon which other SEO efforts are built.
Technical SEO might seem like a labyrinth of technical jargon and code, but its importance for digital marketing cannot be overstated. Here’s why it matters:
Crawling and indexing efficiency
Search engines employ web crawlers or bots to scour the internet and index web pages.
Technical SEO ensures that your website is structured in a way that makes it easy for these bots to crawl and index your content.
If search engine bots encounter technical issues like broken links or poor site structure, they may struggle to index your pages, resulting in poor SERP visibility.
Page speed and user experience
The loading speed of your website directly impacts user experience and SEO rankings.
Slow-loading pages can deter visitors and affect your search engine ranking negatively.
Technical SEO focuses on optimising page speed and ensuring your website is responsive and mobile-friendly, catering to the needs of modern users who browse on various devices.
Content discovery and duplication
Technical SEO helps search engines identify the most relevant and authoritative version of your content.
It addresses issues related to duplicate content, canonicalisation and proper use of meta tags (i.e. snippets of HTML code that provide information about a web page to search engines and website visitors).
By doing so, it ensures that your content is presented accurately in search results.
Structured data and rich snippets
Implementing structured data and schema markup is a part of technical SEO.
These elements provide search engines with additional information about your content, potentially leading to the coveted rich snippets in search results.
Rich snippets can significantly enhance the visibility of your website.
In fact, it’s estimated that 12.29% of search queries have featured snippets in their search results.
In an era where online security is paramount, technical SEO also encompasses ensuring your website’s security through measures like implementing HTTPS encryption.
Secure websites not only rank higher but also build trust with users.
When is a technical SEO audit necessary?
Given the complexity and constant evolution of search engine algorithms, maintaining a website that adheres to best practices can be challenging. This is where technical SEO audit services come into play.
Technical SEO auditing is akin to a diagnostic check-up for your website’s SEO health, helping to identify and rectify any technical issues that might be preventing your site from ranking higher in search results.
Consider this scenario: you have a beautifully designed website with high-quality content, but it loads slowly on mobile devices, has broken links and lacks proper meta tags.
In this case, your excellent content might go unnoticed because search engines can’t efficiently crawl and understand it due to these technical issues.
A technical SEO audit would pinpoint these problems and provide solutions to improve your website’s overall SEO performance.
In essence, a technical SEO audit is like giving your website a health check-up. It helps ensure that your site’s technical foundation is robust, providing a solid base upon which you can build your online success.
Without this critical step, even the most compelling content can get lost in the vast expanse of the internet, resulting in missed opportunities and revenue that even the most experienced digital marketer will fail to rectify.
So, if you’re serious about your online presence and achieving top rankings in search engine results, the technical SEO audit is your first and most crucial step towards that goal.
How does a technical SEO audit work? A step-by-step guide
Understanding the inner workings of a technical SEO audit is essential to appreciate its significance fully.
Here’s a comprehensive breakdown of the SEO audit process and how each step contributes to enhancing your website’s search engine visibility:
Crawling and indexing analysis
At the core of a technical SEO audit is an assessment of how search engines crawl and index your website.
Search engine bots use crawlers to navigate the web and collect data from web pages. The audit starts by examining key metrics such as:
- Robots.txt file: This file instructs search engine bots on which parts of your website to crawl and which to avoid. A misconfigured robots.txt file can inadvertently block important content from being indexed.
- Sitemap.xml: An xml sitemap is like a roadmap for search engine bots, guiding them to essential pages on your site. It’s crucial to ensure your sitemap is up to date and accurately represents your website’s structure.
- Accessibility: Auditors check for any roadblocks that prevent search engine bots from accessing and indexing your content. This includes issues like broken links, server errors, or pages with excessive redirects.
Site speed and mobile optimisation
Metrics like page loading speed and mobile friendliness are paramount for SEO success. Slow-loading pages can lead to high bounce rates and reduced search engine rankings. The audit addresses these aspects:
- Page speed analysis: Auditors use various tools to measure your website’s loading times and responsiveness. Recommendations may include optimising images, leveraging browser caching, or using Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) to speed up content delivery.
- Mobile optimisation: With the majority of organic traffic coming from mobile devices, ensuring your site is responsive and mobile-friendly is essential. Auditors assess how well your website performs on different screen sizes and provide suggestions for improvement.
On-page SEO involves fine-tuning individual pages to make them more search engine-friendly. The audit scrutinises elements such as:
- Title tags: These should accurately describe the content of each page and incorporate relevant keywords.
- Meta descriptions: These brief snippets should entice users to click while summarising the page’s content.
- Header tags: Proper use of header tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.) helps structure your content and makes it more accessible to both users and search engines.
- Keyword usage: Via in-depth keyword research, auditors evaluate how effectively keywords are integrated into your content and meta data, ensuring it aligns with SEO best practices.
Duplicate content and canonicalisation
Duplicate content can confuse search engines and dilute the visibility of your web pages. The audit includes:
- Duplicate content identification: Auditors look for instances of duplicate content across your site, such as identical product descriptions or replicated articles.
- Canonicalisation: Implementing canonical tags directs search engines to the preferred version of a page, consolidating the ranking signals and preventing duplication issues.
Technical errors and broken links
Technical issues can hinder user experience and harm your SEO strategy. The audit identifies and addresses issues like:
- 404 Pages: Broken links leading to non-existent pages should be fixed or redirected to relevant content to maintain user engagement and SEO integrity.
- Redirect chains: Complex redirect chains can slow down page load times and confuse search engine bots. Simplifying redirects is recommended.
Structured data and schema markup
To enhance search engine understanding of your content, the audit covers:
- Structured data implementation: Using schema markup to provide context to search engines about your content, potentially leading to rich snippets in search results.
Security and HTTPS
Ensuring the security of your website is crucial for SEO and user trust. The audit assesses:
- HTTPS implementation: Secure websites with HTTPS encryption are favoured by search engines. Migrating to HTTPS is recommended for all websites.
Content is at the heart of your website’s appeal. An SEO content audit will typically include:
- Content quality: Assessing the quality of your content, including its length, relevance to keywords, and how effectively it serves user intent.
- Content gaps and opportunities: Identifying missing topics or keywords, analysing competitor content strategies and striking a balance between evergreen and time-sensitive content reveals valuable content gaps and opportunities on your website.
- Content optimisation: Optimising keyword usage in content, expanding or updating existing content, implementing effective internal linking and optimising images and multimedia elements enhance the overall quality and SEO performance of your content.
- Tracking and ongoing strategy: Continuously tracking content performance, monitoring content rankings in search engine results pages, assessing user engagement and feedback, and informing future content creation and optimisation efforts are all key elements of an ongoing content strategy.
Your website’s backlink profile is a critical element of its overall SEO health. Backlinks, also known as inbound links, are links from external websites that point to your site.
External links are among Google’s top three ranking factors, as they are votes of confidence and authority in the eyes of search engines like Google.
While primarily an off-page SEO factor, a website audit may assess the follow aspects of your link profile:
- Backlink quality: Reviewing the quality and nature of backlinks pointing to your site to identify any potential issues that could impact your SEO performance.
- Relevance: The relevance of the linking domains and pages to your content is evaluated. Backlinks from websites in a related industry or niche tend to carry more weight.
- Anchor text: The anchor text used in backlinks is important. Natural, descriptive anchor text is preferable over keyword-stuffed or irrelevant text.
- Link diversity: Auditors look at the diversity of your backlink sources. A healthy backlink profile includes links from various types of websites including blogs, news sites and industry-specific directories.
- Toxic links: Identifying and disavowing toxic or harmful backlinks is crucial in order to optimise your link building strategy. These links can have a detrimental impact on your SEO and should be removed or disavowed through Google’s Disavow Tool.
Reporting and recommendations
Technical SEO audit services culminate in a detailed report that outlines all findings and provides actionable recommendations for improvement.
This report serves as a roadmap for enhancing your website’s technical SEO health.
By identifying and addressing technical SEO issues, you pave the way for improved search engine rankings, increased organic traffic and, ultimately, a more successful website’s performance.
Performing a comprehensive technical SEO audit requires a toolbox filled with a range of specialised tools.
These instruments empower SEO specialists to dissect a website’s key metric, identify technical issues and formulate SEO strategies for optimisation.
Here are some of the essential tools necessary to conduct a thorough technical SEO audit:
- Google Search Console: This free tool from Google provides insights into how Googlebot sees your website. It offers data on indexing, crawl errors and search performance.
- Bing Webmaster Tools: Similar to Google Search Console, this tool provides insights into your site’s performance on Bing.
- Screaming Frog SEO Spider: This desktop software is invaluable for crawling websites, identifying technical issues and generating detailed reports.
- Xenu Link Sleuth: A free tool for finding broken links on your website, which can negatively impact SEO.
- Google Keyword Planner: Ideal for keyword research and identifying search volumes and competition levels.
- SEMrush: A comprehensive SEO suite that offers keyword research, competitor analysis and more.
- Ahrefs: Known for its robust backlink analysis, Ahrefs also offers keyword research and tracking features.
- Google Analytics: Provides essential data on user behaviour, traffic sources and website performance.
- Google Data Studio: Helps visualise and customise your Google Analytics data into informative reports.
- Adobe Analytics: A more advanced analytics solution for enterprises with complex tracking needs.
- Lumar (formerly DeepCrawl): Specialises in technical SEO analysis, providing insights into site structure, duplicate content and more.
- Sitebulb: A website auditing tool that offers in-depth technical SEO analysis and reporting.
- WebPageTest: Assesses your website’s loading speed and performance, helping you identify areas for improvement.
Content optimisation tools
- Yoast SEO (for WordPress): A popular WordPress plugin that helps optimise content for SEO by analysing readability, keyword usage and more.
- SurferSEO: Analyses top-ranking pages for chosen keywords, offering optimisation suggestions based on real-world data.
- Ahrefs: Not only for keyword research but also renowned for backlink analysis and tracking.
- Majestic: Focuses on link analysis, helping you evaluate the quality and quantity of backlinks.
- SEMrush: Offers competitor analysis features, including insights into keywords and backlinks of competing websites.
- Ahrefs: Provides a competitive analysis toolkit, helping you understand what’s working for your competitors.
For more information about how to run a competitive gap analysis, check out our latest guide, How to Run a Competitive Gap Analysis to Outrank Your SEO Competitors.
Beyond the technical aspects, the user experience is a pivotal factor that can greatly influence search engine rankings. This is where Google’s Core Web Vitals come into play.
Google’s Core Web Vitals are a set of user-centric performance metrics that evaluate the loading speed, interactivity and visual stability of web pages. These metrics include:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): Measures the loading performance. It assesses the time it takes for the largest content element, such as an image or text block, to become visible to the user.
- First Input Delay (FID): Evaluates interactivity. It quantifies the time between a user’s first interaction (like clicking a link) and the browser’s response.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): Gauges visual stability. It measures unexpected layout shifts that occur during the page’s load.
Incorporating Google’s Core Web Vitals into your technical SEO audit is paramount for several reasons:
- User experience focus: Google emphasises user experience in its ranking algorithms. Websites that offer better user experiences, as indicated by positive Core Web Vitals scores, are likely to rank higher.
- Mobile optimisation: Core Web Vitals place a strong emphasis on mobile performance, ensuring that your website is optimised for users on smartphones and other mobile devices.
- Algorithm updates: Google’s algorithm updates often incorporate user experience metrics. Prioritising Core Web Vitals can help your website remain competitive in evolving search landscapes.
- Competitive edge: By addressing Core Web Vitals issues, your website can stand out from the competition, attracting more engaged users and potentially outranking similar sites.
Several tools can aid in evaluating and improving Core Web Vitals:
- Google PageSpeed Insights: Provides insights into Core Web Vitals metrics and suggests optimisations.
- Google Search Console: Offers Core Web Vitals data and alerts you to issues affecting user experience.
- Lighthouse: An open-source tool that audits web page quality, including Core Web Vitals assessment.
- Chrome DevTools: Offers real-time insights into Core Web Vitals while simulating user interaction
Remember that the choice of tools may vary depending on your specific technical SEO audit needs, budget and preferences.
Using a combination of these tools and integrating them into your technical SEO audit process can provide you with a comprehensive and holistic view of your website’s technical health, enabling you to make informed decisions and optimise your online presence effectively.
How long does a technical SEO audit take?
The duration of a technical SEO audit can vary significantly depending on various factors, including the complexity of your website, the scope of the site audit and the resources available to the SEO agency or SEO consultant.
At Astrid IQ, we understand the importance of delivering timely and comprehensive audits to our clients.
Our goal is to provide you with actionable insights as quickly as possible.
Our SEO agency typically aims to complete and return your technical SEO audit to you within ten days from the start of the audit process.
This timeline is designed to strike a balance between thorough analysis and prompt delivery.
We understand that you’re eager to enhance your website’s performance and rankings, and we work diligently to meet your expectations.
During this ten day period, our SEO specialists generate and compile five essential reports to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of your website’s SEO status and opportunities for improvement. These reports are:
Technical SEO audit services: This report delves deep into the technical aspects of your website, ensuring that it is structurally sound, efficient and optimised for search engines.
Competitor landscape analysis: We analyse your competitors’ online presence to identify strengths, weaknesses and opportunities in comparison to your website’s metrics.
Content performance audit: This report assesses the quality, relevance and effectiveness of your existing content, providing insights into content gaps and opportunities.
Google quality compliance: We evaluate your website’s compliance with Google’s quality guidelines, addressing issues that may impact your search engine rankings.
SEO content marketing strategy: Our experts outline a tailored content marketing strategy to boost your SEO efforts and engage your target audience effectively.
Each of these five separate reports is conducted by at least one of our in-house experts, who specialise in various aspects of SEO, including SEO copywriting, senior researchers, technical SEO analysis, webmaster and web development, as well as SEO campaign development.
Our SEO team ensures that your audit is thorough, accurate and tailored to your specific needs.
Once your reports are ready, we don’t just send them to you and leave you to navigate the data on your own.
Instead, we schedule a personalised session to take you through each report step-by-step. This ensures that you not only receive the insights you need but also understand how to implement the recommended changes effectively.
At Astrid IQ, we are committed to delivering valuable insights and actionable recommendations that empower you to optimise your website for improved search engine rankings and overall online success.
Visit our website for more information about our SEO Audit Services.
What companies can profit from a technical SEO audit?
A technical SEO audit isn’t reserved for specific types of businesses. In fact, virtually any company with an online presence can profit from this service.
In essence, a technical SEO audit is a versatile tool that can be tailored to suit the needs and goals of virtually any business, regardless of its size or industry.
It’s not merely a service; it’s a means to unlock the full potential of your online presence in today’s digital world.
Whether you’re an e-commerce giant, a local coffee shop, a non-profit organisation, or a startup with big dreams, a technical SEO audit is the first step towards achieving your online goals and maximising your digital impact.
Here’s a detailed exploration of the types of businesses that can benefit from a technical SEO audit:
For online retailers, search engine visibility is often the lifeblood of their business. The ability to rank well for product keywords can directly translate to increased sales and revenue. A technical SEO audit ensures that your e-commerce website is structured in a way that search engines can efficiently crawl and index your product pages. It also helps identify and rectify issues like duplicate content, slow-loading pages and broken links that might be hindering your e-commerce success.
Local businesses, such as restaurants, brick-and-mortar stores and service providers, can significantly benefit from a technical SEO audit. Local SEO is all about optimising for location-based searches, and this often starts with technical SEO. Ensuring that your website is well-optimised for local organic searches can help you appear in the coveted local pack results on Google, increasing foot traffic and inquiries from nearby customers. This is more important today than ever as 30% of mobile searches are related to user location.
Blogs, news websites and content creators rely on organic traffic and engagement to thrive. A technical SEO audit can help these entities improve their content’s reach and audience engagement. By addressing technical issues like slow page load times, mobile-friendliness and proper structuring of articles, content publishers and digital marketers can ensure their content is not only captivating but also easily discoverable by search engines.
For startups looking to establish a digital presence, a strong foundation in technical SEO is crucial. It’s often the first step toward gaining visibility in search engine results pages. Startups can’t afford to be invisible in the online landscape, and a technical SEO audit provides a roadmap for ensuring their new website is search engine friendly from the beginning.
Even established corporations can’t overlook technical SEO. Maintaining a strong online presence and staying competitive in the digital age is an ongoing effort. Large enterprises with complex websites often have more intricate technical SEO needs, and an audit can help them stay ahead of the curve.
Nonprofit organisations can benefit immensely from a technical SEO audit. Effective SEO strategies can increase online visibility, drive more donations and raise awareness about their causes. By optimising their websites, nonprofits can reach a broader audience and achieve their missions more effectively.
Affiliate marketing websites
Affiliate marketers rely on attracting visitors to their websites to generate revenue through affiliate partnerships. A technical SEO audit can help ensure their websites are optimised for high search engine rankings, leading to increased organic traffic and more affiliate sales.
Business-to-business (B2B) companies often have niche markets and specialised services. A technical SEO audit can help them target specific keywords and phrases that potential clients are searching for, increasing their chances of being discovered by businesses seeking their services.
Colleges, universities and online course providers can use a technical SEO audit to optimise their websites for attracting students and learners. This includes ensuring that programme pages, admission information and course listings are easily accessible to search engines and prospective students.
Government and public sector websites
Government agencies and public sector organisations can improve their online presence and provide better access to information and services through technical SEO. Ensuring that government websites are well structured and easily navigable can enhance citizen engagement and satisfaction.
At Astrid IQ, we’ve helped a wide range of companies optimise their SEO performance.
Find our full list of SEO services on our SEO Consultancy Services or simply call us between 9am and 5pm on 07976 642348 or email email@example.com.