November 21, 2022
November 21, 2022
While researching Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) you may have come across the phrase “technical SEO audit” or similar. This phrase may have you confused as to what a technical SEO audit is, why it’s important, and how it differs from other types of audits. According to Google, there are over 200 SEO ranking factors, however not all of them are technical; in this blog, we take you through a number of these technical SEO tasks and why they’re important for the health of your website.
So, what is a technical SEO audit and why is it important? A technical SEO audit reviews the technical fundamentals of a website including: indexing, search engine appearance, URLs, structured data, duplicate content, crawlability, linking, redirects, security, site speed, mobile usability & more. A website is more likely to succeed if these factors are optimised.
A technical SEO audit helps a Search Engine Optimiser, a website owner and any other involved parties understand where a website is failing or succeeding. Once a technical audit has been completed, an SEO professional will prioritise which areas of the website need focus first by understanding what technical SEO improvements will help the website gain searching ranking traction faster. There are many areas of technical SEO that are audited by SEO professionals. Technical SEO factors include:
While auditing for indexing and caching, an SEO professional will identify any obvious issues with how the site is indexed and presented in Google’s results. They should check for previous bad SEO practices that may now be harming the site, or issues that prevent desired pages from ranking and large numbers of low-value pages being indexed.
This is simply analysing how a site appears on a search engine results page by looking at the length, quality and appeal of meta titles and meta descriptions. Meta titles are an important factor that Google uses to determine what a page is about.
SEO professionals review the appearance, content and structure of a website’s URLs. This is important as it can influence how users and search engines first perceive and navigate through a website. This includes a review of URLs which are too long, contain unnecessary parameters or don’t reflect the content that is on the page, among other checks like canonicalisation.
Structured data can be used to help search engines understand the meaning of a page or classify information within a page. Websites which contain structured data may be indexed more accurately, and correctly marked-up pages could be eligible for ‘rich results’ when returned in Google’s index – an enhanced result which can have a positive influence on click-through rates. This is also referred to as Schema. By using the Rich Results Test tool from Google, we can easily check if a website has structured data on a page.
Google Analytics and website tracking play a vital part in the success of a website’s SEO campaign. Having an account that is configured in the correct manner is key as it allows tracking of KPIs, evaluation of progress, and identification of issues and opportunities throughout the website’s lifespan.
Duplicate content can be harmful to a site’s rankings as Google may interpret it as regurgitated, stolen, low value or unoriginal. To achieve high-ranking positions, it is imperative to have valuable content that is unique. Often duplication issues arise due to an oversight or because of third-party use. No matter how duplication comes about, it needs to be identified then addressed. Some duplicate content, such as quotations, is generally considered admissible, especially if linked to a source.
Learn more about duplicate content in our recent blog where we go into more detail about the different types of duplicate content, and how to fix it. Or, learn more about canonicals in our blog, How to Audit Canonical Tags for SEO.
A crawler (e.g. Googlebot) scours the web by ‘crawling’ from page to page, often via internal and external links. It’s important that search engines can effectively crawl key pages and all resources on a website to provide the clearest picture of what the site has to offer. Find out what Google actually sees when it crawls your website in our blog, What Does Google See When it Crawls Your Site?
Links between pages, both in a site’s navigation and contained within content, enable search engines to crawl more effectively and interpret each page’s respective importance and subject matter. Strong linking protocols are also important in ensuring a good user experience on site where all content can be accessed as intended.
A number of miscellaneous technical best practices which should be adhered to so that search engines can interpret a website in their intended way. Key problems to avoid include issues around redirects and how content is being served.
Site speed is an important factor in determining a good user experience. Having pages that load really slowly can have an adverse impact on ranking performance, though even if a site is fast there are often improvements that could be made. Google’s own site performance tool, PageSpeed Insights, can help understand how well a website is performing in this area.
We recently published an entire blog on how to audit your site speed and performance, as well as offering a few tips on how to improve your site speed. Learn more here.
Most search queries are now completed on a mobile device, which is why search engines are now primarily focusing on how content is served on mobile. For this reason, it’s very important to ensure a website has a high degree of mobile usability, avoiding issues in relation to intrusive interstitials, responsiveness and button sizes.
If your website is trying to appeal to users of different regions and languages, it is essential to get the fundamentals right in relation to international SEO. This means ensuring Hreflang values are correct along with basics such as content and currency.
Using Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider, a website can be crawled to find out whether Hreflang tags have been implemented.
By performing a technical SEO audit, it helps an SEO professional, along with any other involved parties, understand where the website is failing and succeeding. Once these have been identified, any website failures can be prioritised for fixes.
After completing a technical audit, website issues that weren’t previously understood can be uncovered, and some of these may have a massive impact on the website’s success. For example, if a key page is accidentally no-indexed due to a small setting within the admin area of the site, but this is changed as a result of the technical audit, it could result in an improvement in rankings over time, which can then result in an boost of traffic, and then follow with an increase in enquiries, sales, or conversions.
It is hard to determine the length of a technical SEO site audit for many different reasons. This depends on how experienced the person is conducting the technical audit, how many pages the website has, how fast the computer is, how fast different software is for different areas of the audit, how many technical issues there are (if there’s more usually the audit takes longer), what software is being used to conduct different areas of the audit, among many other factors. However, the average technical site audit can take 1.5 – 3.5 hours to complete.
It’s understandable that the layman would be confused with the two terms ‘content SEO’ and ‘technical SEO’. An SEO professional should conduct both a technical site audit and a content site audit as a part of a campaign setup. This is because both are very different but extremely important to a website’s campaign success.
Technical SEO refers to the technical factors of a website as mentioned above including:
Content SEO refers to how well produced the content on a website is, including on blogs, key landing pages, service pages, product pages, product category pages, and the homepage. This content has to be optimised for keywords, user experience, and conversions. By reviewing the content on a website, and then improving any that’s underperforming, it can result in an increase in search engine rankings and an increase in conversions.
Learn more about content audits in our recent blog where we go into detail about all of the various factors that should be reviewed as part of a content audit.
Wildcat Digital is a digital marketing agency in Sheffield that provides SEO services to businesses and organisations that want to punch above their weight online. We conduct technical SEO site audits within the setup of every campaign with information on where a website is doing well or needs improvement. Get in touch for more information regarding our SEO services or for a free, no-obligation consultation.