September 11, 2015

On The Brink: How To Perform Your Own SEO Website Audit

On the Brink - Keyword Repetition

This is the latest installment of our Delucchi Plus blog feature, On The Brink, in which our Digital Analyst Manager and resident Batman expert Jonathan Brinksman breaks down the latest and greatest trends in digital marketing. Whether you’re a seasoned expert or total newbie, Jonathan will be offering expert, accessible insight into the ever-changing digital world.

SEO is complicated. But if your website is an integral part of your business (SPOILER ALERT, it is), than SEO is also very important. For most small businesses, though, knowing what sort of help you need (if any) is a big challenge. Fret not! Here’s a list of my favorite free tools that you can – and should – use to gauge where your website’s SEO health stands.

Screaming Frog SEO Spider                                      

Screaming Frog SEO Spider is the easiest, fastest, and one of the more comprehensive ways to crawl your site and see everything that search engines see. This is favorite of SEO professionals (myself included).

How To Use It                                                            

Download the tool and crawl your website. You’ll want to look at two big things:

  1. Duplicate Title Tags
  2. Duplicate Meta Descriptions

These are big no-nos in the world of SEO. You’re essentially telling Google that multiple pages of content on your website are identical (i.e., irrelevant). If you’re at a 201 level of SEO, you should also use this to check on the health of your website’s images. Are you making sure to use Image Alt Text? You probably should be.

Keep in mind, though, that if you’re using the free version of the tool, you’re limited to 500 pages of crawling. If you have a site that is over 500 pages, though, and you’re not sure how your SEO health is, that’s probably a really good sign that you should invest in a professional audit.

SEOQuake Toolbar                                                     

This tool is hardly a panacea, but it’s the most effective method of getting an immediate, high-level overview of not just your website, but specific pages of content.

How To Use it                                                              

First off, turn it off. Just browsing the web – and particularly Google SERPs – with this thing on is super annoying. However, at any time, you can click on it and use the diagnosis feature. This will tell you your specific page’s Title Tag, Meta Description, and Header Tags. If you’re worried that a page isn’t optimized, this is a really good first stop.

You should also use it to make sure that you’re Robots.txt file and XML Sitemap are in place and detected (though sometimes you’ll be fine and the tool will say you aren’t). It’s not a perfect tool, and I disagree with a few of its automated recommendations, but it’s a very good starting point for the layman.

Open Site Explorer                                                  

External linking is still an important ranking factor (unfortunately). So what’s the best way to increase your external linking? As always, it’s the content (not to mention a decent social messaging plan to disseminate that content). This tool helps you know at a high level where you and your competitors stand.

How To Use It                                                     

Plug in your website, plug in your competitors’ websites, press play. This tool will spit out a breakdown of your site’s linking and social performance/presence, with a really simple, easy-to-understand score.

So what if you’re not the best in your comp set? Well, then it’s time to rethink your content and/or your dissemination strategy. Also, you might want to really scope out your competitor domains to get a sense of what their strategy is and how it differs from yours.

Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools)           

Everyone should really be using this already! There’s a barrier to entry, sure (you need to verify your ownership of the site), but once you’ve done that, you should be in here at least once a month looking at all of the great reports.

How To Use It                                                                                   

It can do so many things. Primarily, though, you’ll want to check out the following:

  1. Check your crawl error reports. If you see a huge amount, or huge increase, of crawl errors, you’re probably doing something wrong. You’ll want to make sure that any dead/404 error pages of relevant 301 redirects in place to make sure that you’re taking advantage of your website’s links.
  2. Submit your XML Sitemap and Robots.txt files to Google. Google is probably smart enough to find these on its own, but sometimes it’s not (particularly if you’re using automated sitemap generators like the Yoast plugin for WordPress). Manually submitting these is the best way to make sure that Google is crawling and indexing your site the way you want them to.
  3. Check your organic search impressions.  I’m a data guy, so I love this report. If you’ve got a content strategy, and you want to make sure that it’s working, you’ll want to look at this impression data pretty regularly – not just your organic search traffic data.
  4. Disavow spammy links. Linking is important, but if you think you’ve got a link going to your site that looks sketchy, you’ll want to disavow it ASAP. Having too many spammy/sketchy links can seriously negatively impact your SEO rankings.
Google Analytics                                                     

Again, another no-brainer. Your analytics suite can tell you a lot about your website. You should really be in here regularly monitoring what your traffic is doing, and where it’s coming from.

How To Use It                                                      

Pull a channels report and see how your organic search traffic is performing. Don’t concern yourself too much with month over month fluctuations (seasonality!), but year over year trends are paramount. If you’re SEO traffic is seeing a decline, or not the healthy growth you’d like, give somebody a call (preferably Delucchi Plus!).