Whether you manage your own website or you have a webmaster team dedicated to search engine optimization and online marketing, a website audit can be useful. It will uncover SEO mistakes and help ensure that proper SEO techniques are being used, throughout your website.
The main reasons for using SEO is to make your website easier for search engines to navigate, to increase your search engine rankings, and help boost the amount of traffic your website receives. If you are worried about the SEO on your website, then use these 10 steps to perform your own DIY SEO audit.
#1 Search Your Business
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The first step in this DIY SEO audit is to search your own company, using Google Search. If you search specifically for your business, your website should be the first result. Look at what other references come up in the search, including customer reviews and any articles or websites that mention your company.
#2 Setup a Webmaster Tools Account
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If you have not already done so, set up a Google Webmaster Tools account. This will allow you access to a variety of statistics related to your search engine optimization, including security issues.
When you performed your business search, if you noticed any results that include the message “this website may be hacked”, then you may have a security problem. Take a look at the security issues section in your Webmaster Tools account, for more details.
After you have resolved your security concerns, submit a request for Google to re-evaluate the security of your website, so that the warning messages can be removed from search results for your web pages.
#3 Remove Dead Links
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Using good link structure on your website helps ensure better navigation for users and for search engine crawlers. Dead links, which are links that are not active anymore, can lower your SEO and your search engine result rankings. A dead link can also cause a visitor to leave your website and go to your competition.
Use a free tool, or online resource, to check your website for dead links. These programs will scan your website, visiting every link on your website, and determining if there are any dead links. Remove any external links that go to a web page that is no longer active.
#4 Add Redirects
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If you have an internal link that results in a 404 error, then consider adding a redirect. This will help ensure your visitors are still able to reach the pages on your website, when the old URL is linked on another website or comes up in a search engine result.Using a 301 redirect, you are informing search engines that the web page has been permanently moved and not deleted.
#5 Check Your Title Tags
Title tags are the default titles that appear in search engine results and at the top of the browser window when a web page is opened. Check your title tags, either using your website editor software, your databases, or whichever option you have for editing your web pages. Try to use your main keyword at the beginning of your tag. Keep your title tag to a limit of 70 characters or less, but do not make them too short.
#6 Check Meta Descriptions
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After checking your title tags, check your Meta descriptions. These descriptions are also used by search engines when gathering results. Follow the same principles for writing a good title tag, but with a 155 character limit. Do not use special characters and try your best to describe your web page in a unique way.
#7 Include Image Tags
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Search engines cannot “see” your images, when crawling your website. Every image on your website should include an ALT text tag. This tag will contain a short description of what the content of the image is. Limit yourself to 100 characters and use unique keywords that are relevant to the image and your web page.
This tag was originally intended to help people with browsers that cannot load images and blind people that use voice to text for reading web page content. It has now become a major SEO factor, when determining search engine rankings.
#8 Check for Mobility Issues
The use of mobile devices has increased dramatically in the past decade. More people are relying on their smart phones and tablets to browse the web. If your website is not mobile-friendly, then you could end up losing a lot of the traffic to your website. Also, Google and other search engines have begun using mobility as a factor in creating SEO scores.
Google has their own tool that you can use to check for mobility issues. After checking a web page on your site, this tool will provide you with tips and suggestions for editing your code for better mobility. You can find this tool by going to your Google Webmaster Tools account.
#9 Avoid Duplicate Content
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While everyone knows that it is a bad idea to copy content from other sources, there may be occasions where you end up duplicating your own content. Whether this is due to the updating of a blog article, the creation of a second page offering similar information, or any other cause, you should let Google know which page is the preferred page.
Add Meta data containing a canonical link to the preferred page. When a search engine comes across this Meta data, they will understand that this is not a duplicate page. You will need to add this information yourself, using whichever method you normally use for editing Meta data on your website.
#10 Update Your Sitemap
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Every website should have a sitemap. This is an xml file that contains links to the pages on your website. You can have separate xml files for different categories of pages on your site or a single sitemap file containing all links. If you do not already have a method of creating a sitemap, there are several free resources available online for building a free sitemap. Whenever you update a page or add a new blog article, your sitemap should be updated and submitted to search engines using Webmaster Tools.
After performing all 10 of these tasks, you should have a much better idea of your current search engine optimization. Your own DIY SEO audit is something that you should perform at least once per month, to monitor changes to your SEO and make sure that you are continuing to do everything that you can to boost traffic and increase your search engine rankings.