5 Tips for Performing Your Own Technical SEO Audit

October 15, 2018

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Technical SEO has a pretty steep learning curve and it’s changing all the time. Since search engine ranking factors are always shifting, it’s difficult to know what to prioritize (or even where to start). Auditing your website and staying updated on the latest search engine news from reputable sources is necessary to stay sharp.

The two main components of a technical SEO audit are the front-end elements of the site such as the website’s content and the back-end technicalities. In this post, we’ll guide you through some key considerations when doing a technical SEO audit for your website. We also want to define some of the SEO terms and tactics that will help marketers fill in any gaps in their technical knowledge.

Here are 5 key steps to understanding the status of your technical SEO efforts:

1) Recognize how search algorithms work and how bots are crawling your website.

A search engine bot (also called a crawler or spider) crawls your website to include your website’s content in its index. Search bots allow search engines like Google to build their databases. The larger the site (the more pages it has), the longer it will take search bots to crawl the contents.

Search engine algorithms are the reason why search engines are able to comb through billions of webpages in their Search Index to provide the useful, relevant results you’re searching for in seconds. For example, Google’s ranking system is comprised of a series of algorithms that are constantly evolving, with bigger updates every couple of months or so.

The goal is to make user experience the best it can possibly be, but oftentimes the algorithm changes switch things up in an unfavorable way. If you follow best SEO practices overall, you’re better off staying consistent without drastically changing your strategy.

2) Understand what your XML sitemap should look like.

A sitemap tells a search bot which files you, the website creator/owner, think are the most important in your site. Sitemaps also provide valuable information about these files. For example, Google’s bots can more efficiently crawl and index your webpages if you indicate when/how often the webpage was updated and whether or not there are alternate language versions of a page. Indexing is basically the way a search engine’s bots collect, organize and store data for use by the search engine. Google explains the crawling and indexing process starts with crawls and sitemaps provided by the creators/owners of a website.

If you want search engines to crawl your site in a smart way, provide a sitemap. Moz does a great job of giving a concise but comprehensive overview of XML sitemaps and how to submit them to Google in this blog.

3) Check the status of your Indexing Directives, Annotations, and Robots.txt.

Directives tell search bots which webpages to crawl on a site and which pages to add to the search engine’s index. Indexing directives are tags such as no-index tags, canonical tags, mobile alternate tags, or AMP alternate tags. They can be found in sitemaps, Google Search Console settings, HTTP headers, and/or JavaScript-rendered vs. hard-coded directives.

Annotations are search engine ranking signals. These signals allow search engines to have a better understanding of the structure of a website and how it relates to other pages or files across the Internet, but they are not directives. Examples include content language tags and rel=”nofollow” tags.

It’s also worth noting if your site uses robots.txt. A robots.txt file tells a search engine which webpages not to crawl. Making sure your robots.txt file is formatted correctly is critical. We’ve emphasized in a previous post how important writing it correctly is, especially if you have a huge site with thousands of URLs associated with it.

4) Figure out your website’s structured data.

We’ve written about the importance of structured data before, and we want to re-emphasize why it matters for technical SEO efforts. Structured data is key because it gives Google another dimension of context for deciding how to crawl and rank your website’s content.
Google suggests adding structured data markups mainly on 2 things:
1) Content items on your site
2) Lists of items on your site
The main point of structuring your data is to improve communication with search engine bots (like the Google Bot) that are determining your website’s rank on their SERPs.

5) Familiarize yourself with Google Search Console and the Google Knowledge Graph.

GSC allows you to monitor and maintain your site’s presence in Google Search results. It’s a free service offered by Google that you don’t have to sign up for. Utilizing GSC can help you understand how Google views your site and optimize its performance in search results.

Also, if you’re not familiar with Google Knowledge Graph, it’s worth educating yourself. GKG is basically an expansion of search results (located adjacent to the organic search results) and displays related information to a search term. Google Knowledge Graph matters because it can result in less users navigating to a website because of being able to gain the knowledge/information they need from the Knowledge Graph right in the search results. It’s important to be aware of because it might cause a loss in ad revenue, despite the general positive effects it is believed to have.

To Wrap It Up…

A large part of succeeding at SEO is understanding how users and search engine bots react to an online experience. Sometimes even the most SEO savvy marketers find it challenging to find a balance between creating an online experience that is ideal for their target customer while also making it ideal for search engine crawlers.

At Chainlink, we’re committed to helping our clients strike that balance and excel in all areas of SEO. Reach out to us to learn more about how we can help you increase your online visibility with a holistic approach using cutting edge digital marketing tactics. Also, don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter for more of our exclusive tips.

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