Search engine optimization (SEO) remains a top focus of digital marketers across industries and niches. Understanding the basics of keyphrase research and usage, proper tagging, link building, and other on-site and inbound marketing techniques matters for ongoing success. However, leaving your efforts to chance can leave them incomplete or ineffective. If you want to ensure improved traffic, acquisition, and conversion numbers, a technical SEO audit makes sense.
What Is Technical SEO?
When Internet business owners and online marketers think about optimizing their site and its content for the search engines, they usually consider the types of things listed above: keywords, links, etc. However, these only represent part of the picture when it comes to ensuring higher placements on the search engine result pages (SERPs).
Technical SEO has to do with website ranking factors that make it possible for Google and other search engines’ bots to find, crawl, and index all of the pages effectively. It is about creating accurate code, ensuring fast load times, improving site security, and optimizing everything from design to database access.
For people without high degrees of technical knowledge, these types of things seem much more difficult and misunderstood than non-technical SEO practices like creating keyword-appropriate blog posts or creating a social media link strategy. However, options exist to make the process simpler. First, you can hire a professional team to take care of these things for you. Also, you can follow the steps below to get started on your own.
Why Perform a Technical SEO Audit and When Should You Do It?
The simple answer to the first part of this question focuses on the fact that badly operating or performing websites do not rank high in search engines. Things like slow load time, security issues, and errors indicate that the website is poor quality and Google should not recommend it to the people searching for information, products, or anything else. From a business owner’s standpoint, a technical SEO audit increases the chance of improving traffic flow, impressing site visitors, and ultimately snagging new customers or clients.
With all of these benefits, you may think technical investigations of your website’s optimization should be done as frequently as possible. Of course, no one has time to do this every day. Also, the search engine algorithms do not significantly change that frequently. Although some set up a monthly optimization check, most audit their sites every six months. If you make massive changes to the website or are aware of a Google algorithm update, do one sooner rather than waiting for a particular date.
Five Steps to an Effective Technical SEO Audit
Now that you understand why and when perform an audit that focuses on the technical side of things, follow these steps to set your site up for SEO success.
1 – Find All the Technical Errors
More than anything else, actual errors on your website will cause more problems with technical SEO than most other things listed below. These errors stop the search engine bots from accessing and crawling all the pages on your website. While crawl errors can cause considerable problems, understanding exactly what they are matters more if you want to fix them. Check for these common errors on your site:
- broken links
- 404 “page not found” errors
- messy page URLs
There are free link-checking services that can scan your site and identify broken links. Use them!
When writing the URLs for pages, you want to ensure they’re concise and include the keyword for the page. Doing this helps both readers and search engines understand what the page is about.
Here are some examples:
2 – Check All Security Features
People and search engines prefer security when browsing, communicating, or shopping online. Although many factors go into overall safety when it comes to constructing a website, one of the most important for SEO purposes is the hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) with security built in. If you do not have an HTTPS in front of your website URL, you may put people in jeopardy and end up penalized by Google and other search engines. As more consumers gain knowledge about security issues, they are much more likely to abandon a site if they do not see that S.
3 – Test Website Load Time
Google’s PageSpeed Insights test allows you to understand not only how quickly your website loads for search bots and users, but also gives specific information about what is causing the hang ups. In this world of ubiquitous high-speed Internet access and short attention spans, things need to load in three seconds or less to capture attention. A technical SEO audit must include an examination of how fast your content, navigation, and interactive elements appear on each page.
When it comes to maximizing search engine placements, speed matters. It influences things like bounce rate and stickiness. For a competitive edge over similar websites and content pages, you want all of these numbers to be as good as possible.
4 – Analyze Content and Keywords
Although both on and off-site content marketing and keyword research usually focus on non-technical SEO, they also represent a large part of every website from a technical standpoint. Make sure you focus on individual keyword phrases for different pages of your site to prevent keyword cannibalization. Keyword cannibalization is when you have multiple pages targeting the same keyword—it’s like competing against yourself.
You want to compete with other businesses, not yourself. Avoid duplicate content that can confuse the search engines and make them view all your pages as less focused and thus less important. Likewise, perform investigations to ensure that all of your metadata and descriptions are unique and powerful.
5 – Check for Mobile Friendliness
Google and other search engines reward mobile-friendly websites. The internet is becoming increasingly driven by mobile devices, so you need to ensure that your site looks great and is functional on the smaller screens. Tools like Google’s Mobile Test allow you to see how the layout, graphics, and content work on different devices.
A technical SEO audit done every six months or so ensures that your website is operating effectively for the two main audiences you need to target: your human readers and the bots that index your site.
Unlike traditional optimization methods, technical SEO creates the architecture and atmosphere that all of the content, keywords, and links exist within. Both aspects of your optimization strategy are essential for ongoing Internet business success.
Free Website Audit
Staying on top of your technical SEO is essential to maintaining your search result rankings. MLT Group provides regular SEO maintenance to many clients. Checking and redirecting links, monitoring loading speed, even updating old content—we do what it takes to keep your site running on a solid foundation for great SEO results.
Contact us today for a free site audit from our SEO professionals!