How often should you run an SEO Audit? Monthly? Quarterly? Annually?

Think of it as a health check. The healthier your website is from an SEO perspective, the greater the chance your content will be found via search engines which results in the growth of traffic to your website.

To help, we've put together a checklist of 10 SEO pointers that will improve your website’s health. This list isn't exhaustive, but we believe it's a great way to achieve excellent technical SEO and a healthy website.

  1. Mobile friendliness
  2. Indexing
  3. Speed
  4. On-page SEO
  5. Keyword ranking
  6. Internal links
  7. Backlinks
  8. Broken links
  9. Hreflang
  10. Duplicates

1. Mobile friendliness

Because over 50% of Internet searches come from mobile devices, it's a good idea to make sure your website is mobile friendly.

Taking a mobile first approach will give you plenty of brownie points with search engines. For instance, Google’s mobile-first algorithm indexes both the mobile version and desktop version of your website.

So, what makes a website mobile friendly? In short, your website needs to deliver a positive user experience. This means that your content, including images respond quickly to the device it's being viewed on, like a mobile or tablet.

Screen shot of mobile friendly website
Source:  Codehouse mobile-friendly website

 

2. Indexing

If you have more than one version of your website, make sure one version of it is indexed. For example, if you had a domain prefixed with http:// and you've since changed it to https:// ensure the https version of your website is the one being indexed. Also, make sure you assign a redirect to the preferred https: domain.

Indexing also applies to your web pages. Unindexed pages don't surface in organic search results. Use Google Search Console to see which aren't being indexed and fix accordingly to submit them for indexing.

Conversely, you can also deindex pages that you feel no longer have any SEO value – you don’t have to make sure you unpublish them first but do set the correct 'robots' definitions to ensure they're not re-indexed. Apply redirects if you unpublish the page.

3. Speed

Page load speed is a ranking factor. It's also a determining factor as to whether website visitors will bounce or not. After all, search rankings are aiming to reflect a good experience.

We've all done it, right? We visit a clunky website that takes an age to load, and we leave and continue our search elsewhere. That experience will forever be a negative one, as we'll be unlikely to visit that website again.

Make sure your images aren't too big as this slows down page load speed. Also, cleaning up your HTML improves load speed.

A useful tool you can use is Google's Page Speed Insights. The tool analyses your web pages and gives you valuable insights on their speed.

You could also run a page speed test with tools like WebPageTest or GTMetrix. These will show you any bottlenecks clogging up your page speed.

4. On-page SEO

On-page Optimisation is one factor that determines whether your pages rank highly in search results. Obviously you can’t go through all your existing web pages as that would take a while. What you should do is focus on your most important ones. Your high traffic pages for instance, and those that are meant to lead to conversions.

Look at things like Headings (H1, H2, H3, H4 and so on). Make sure your titles are wrapped with the correct HTML tag. Avoid duplicates of Page title and Browser heading. There are a multitude of tools you can use for this, but we recommend Siteimprove and/or Semrush. Talk to us about getting the most from them.

5. Keyword ranking

If you haven't identified your targeted keywords, then you must! When you've done this use those keywords in your content to boost your organic rankings and outrank your competition.

You can measure and track your ranking position with a number of tools. Our tool of choice is Semrush’s Position Tracking tool. It allows you to see how your targeted keywords rank against your competition. This gives you the opportunity to optimise existing pages accordingly and to also write more content to help you climb those rankings.

Example of position tracking graph 
Source:  Semrush Position Tracking tool
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6. Internal links

Link building is important. Internal linking is the process of linking your web pages internally within your domain. This creates 'link juice’ and gives 'link power' to each linked page.

Linking your web pages creates a better user experience. It improves dwell time (time on site) and informs search engines of the authoritativeness of your website - hence improving ranking.

There are four types of internal links you should be aware of:

  • Contextual: Internal links you share in the context of your website and your blog content
  • Navigational:  Links in your navigation bar to make it easy for your visitors to navigate your website
  • Footer:  Links in your footer like 'Privacy Policy', 'Terms and conditions' etc.
  • Image: Links that are placed in an image pointing to another page in your website

7. Backlinks

Backlinks correlate to ranking more than any other factor. These are really important.

Backlinks are links to your website from other sites and can improve the perceived authority of your site on a particular content topic thus improving your site’s organic ranking over time. Google may well use the authority of a domain in its algorithms.

Getting backlinks though requires some work. You'll need to identify those websites that you'd like to link from and contact their webmasters/marketing team to ask if a link can be added. Ideally, this would be reciprocal. Backlinking can also happen organically as you publish content that others deem relevant enough to link to.

Again, there are a lot of tools out there that analyse your backlinks and highlight any toxic ones that affect your website's health. We use Semrush as it has an easy 'Disavow' feature for those toxic backlinks.

8. Broken links

These can create a negative user experience. A broken link should be displayed as an 'Oops' page in your website's domain. It's a page with an apologetic message containing other links for you to continue your journey. The other way a broken link is conveyed is via a server side 404 page instead of the intended destination. This isn’t best practice!

The solution of course is to address any broken links with 301 redirects. But be aware that too many 301s negatively impact your website's health.

Keep an eye out for broken links and rectify them by:

  • Creating 301 redirects (not too many though)
  • Updating the broken links
  • Unpublishing and de-indexing the page

Semrush, Siteimprove, and Google's Index Report in Google Search Console are some tools you can use to flush out those broken links.

9. Hreflang

If you have an international business and your website has multiple versions of the same page in different languages, then hreflang is vitally important.

The hreflang HTML attribute is used to specify the language and geographical targeting of your webpages. It informs search engines like Google about language variations, so they surface appropriately.

If for instance somebody in Spain performs a search, your (‘es’) Spanish web pages will show in the search results. This helps SEO in the locations where you have a local language version.

10. Duplicates

Keep an eye on duplicated content. Although it won’t affect your ranking, duplicate content could confuse search engines to link to the wrong page.

First, if you have more than one web page on the same theme then those pages could be considered by search engines as duplicate content.

If you do have pages that are very similar, online shop product pages are an example, then the way around this is to create canonical URLs. This informs search engines which of the 'duplicate' web pages is the preferred URL to index.

Your web pages' rankings and your website’s Domain Authority will also take a big hit if you just publish content that's been duplicated from another website. That’s just plagiarism! Google doesn't like that.

Use your preferred tools to identify duplication issues and resolve them as soon as possible.

By using the above as a guide, we're confident that your website's health and your SEO will improve.

Pop a date in your calendar for your SEO audit, be it Monthly, Quarterly or Annually. We also recommend running regular reports on your website's health so you can keep on top of things.

Working with Codehouse

At Codehouse we have a team of SEO, analytics and content experts that can guide you to a healthy website.

We’ll help you get the very best from your website, so you achieve SEO success. No project is too small. If you have a project you want to talk to us about, get in touch.