What Is A Website Technical Audit?
A website technical audit is an audit of your website’s structure that uncovers issues search engines may have when crawling and indexing your website.
Performing a website technical audit involves having a bot analyze the coding and structure of your website.
This bot then provides you with a list of issues that are keeping your website from ranking higher in search results.
Additionally, there are manual SEO audits you can run to get even further insights into issues that may be hurting your search engine rankings.
Why Is A Website Technical Audit Important?
A website technical audit is important because it provides you with actionable steps you can take to increase your chances of being indexed by search engines and improve your organic search rankings.
Performing a technical website audit and consistently monitoring your website for technical audits will ensure the health of your website and its ability to maintain and improve rankings in search engines.
Best Website Technical Audit Tools
There are a number of different website technical audit tools and techniques SEO experts use to help improve the performance of a website.
In this blog post I will cover the tools and techniques I use that have helped my clients improve their websites and rank higher on search engines.
By far, my favorite site audit tool comes from SEMRush. This is a paid tool that allows you to run a complete scan of your website and schedule a daily, weekly or even monthly scan to keep your website up to date.
I highly suggest running an initial site audit to see the types of issues keeping your website from ranking as well as it could. You can use this link here to run your initial website audit for free!
Below are just a couple of examples of what you will learn from your free website audit from SEMRush.
- Crawl and Index Status – Learn what search engines see when crawling your website and whether or not individual pages of your website are indexed.
- Title Tag and Meta Descriptions Issues – Find out what pages on your website have too long of, duplicate, or missing title tags and meta descriptions.
- Broken Links – Find out if you have broken links pointing to internal pages of your website or to external websites that may have taken down content you were linking to.
- Technical Issues – Find out what technical issues with the structural makeup and coding of your website, themes or plugins.
- Ranking factor – Learn which technical SEO issues are having the biggest impact on the way your website is ranking in search engines.
- Redirect chains – See if you have redirect chains that are leading to confusion for search engine bots as they crawl your website.
Once you have completed your technical website audit you will be provided with a list of issues that are affecting the indexing and rankings of your website.
The list of issues are broken down into 3 categories; errors, warnings and notices.
Errors are critical issues having the most impact on the ability search engine bots have to crawl and index your site.
Warnings are less severe than errors but should still be addressed to improve crawling and indexing by bots.
Notices are the least severe of issues keeping your website from ranking as well as it could.
I start by fixing all of the errors first as they are the most critical and then move on to warnings and notices.
Once you have finished fixing all of the issues you can, the next step is move on to the next tool. Because you already fixed a ton of technical issues using the SEMRush audit tool, you will have less issues to worry about when using additional tools.
Google Search Console (GSC) is a free tool provided by Google that provides you with tools and reports that shows your websites search performance on Google.
To get started with Google Search Console simply connect GSC to your website by inserting a snippet of code to verify your ownership. Once this is complete, it may take up to 24 hours for data to start showing up in the GSC dashboard
Below are some sections within GSC you should pay attention to to make sure your website is being crawled and indexed properly.
- Xml Sitemaps – This section allows you to submit and see what pages are currently indexed by Google.
- Website Coverage – This section lets you know if Google is having issues indexing web pages on your website and what those issues are.
- Core Web Vitals – This section tells you the speed of your website and what you can do to increase page load time. This section will be covered later in the blog post.
- Mobile Usability – This section lets you know if Google deems your website as mobile friendly or not.
- Website Enhancements – This section tells you the type of enhancements that are available to be shown in Google search results when your website shows up on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
The first thing I do when auditing a website on GSC is, I check my sitemap listings to ensure they are being indexed.
To see your website’s sitemap simply type in your website url followed by /sitemap.xml. If your website is set up properly you should see your sitemap and a list of pages included in the sitemap.
GSC also allows you to add your sitemap inside of their platform. When adding sitemaps I like to include the index, the post and the page indexes. In my opinion, this helps Google understand the structure of your website better and improves Google bots ability to understand and index your website properly.
Next, I like to head over to the website coverage section of GSC. This section lets you know if there are any errors Google bot is having while trying to index your website. Additionally, GSC will provide you with a list of valid pages indexed and a list of excluded pages from its index.
You should take a look at the excluded pages to ensure you are not excluding any pages you want indexed. A good example of pages you would want excluded include login pages or checkout pages for ecommerce websites.
The next step I take is to look at mobile friendliness to ensure my website meets Google mobile standards. Here you will receive a list of valid mobile friendly pages and mobile friendly pages that have errors.
If you do find pages that have errors, GSC will provide you with a list of reasons and pages that have issues that need to be addressed.
The last thing I look at when auditing a website with GSC is the website enhancements. Website enhancements simply refer to all the extra information that may be displayed in Google search results such as breadcrumbs, review snippets, FAQ, images and videos.
When showing up in Google search results you want to take up as much real estate on the page as possible. Having website enhancements that show additional text and visual information will help improve your click through rate.
Site speed is critical when it comes to your rankings on search engines and user friendliness. A slow website will not rank as well as a fast one and users typically expect a website to load in under a second.
Below are the tools I use to get a better understanding of how fast my website loads and what I need to do to make it load faster.
All 3 of the tools listed above are free to use and provide you with issues that are keeping your website from loading as fast as it could.
Generally speaking, these tools are going to provide you with many of the same errors. However, it is still a good idea to use all 3 tools as you will find a few errors on one that may not be listed on the others.
Simply go to each page speed tool and enter your url to get results. Take a look at the errors they provide you with and then fix all the errors you can.
It is likely these tools will provide you with some errors that do require technical expertise to fix. In my opinion, hiring somebody with the experience and knowledge of fixing page speed issues is worth the investment.
Google Analytics is a free tool that provides you with data that is extracted directly from users interacting with your website.
To get started with Google Analytics, you can either add a snippet of code to your website or install a plugin that helps with the integration. Once this is complete, it usually only takes a couple of hours before data starts showing up in your Google Analytics dashboard.
Below are a few items I look at when using Google Analytics to audit a website…
- Page Load Times – This data shows how long it takes for an individual web page on your website to load. This allows me to inspect the pages that are taking longer to load and do more research to see what can be done to improve it’s load time.
- Time on Site – This data shows how long a visitor typically spends on your website and on individual pages. This allows me to determine which pages have engaging content and which pages need better content.
- Bounce rate – This data tells me if the page is optimized for the search terms it is showing up for in Google. If a page has a high bounce rate, it is likely the content on the page is either not relevant to the search term, the page takes forever to load or the page is not informative enough to keep the user on the website.
Google Analytics provides so much more data but if you start at the points above you will find enough issues to fix to keep you busy for a while. I often find myself going down rabbit holes of data that lead to more questions and more testing to continually improve rankings and user experience.
Performing A Technical SEO Audit
Below is a technical SEO audit I performed for an auto care website using SEMRush and some free page speed tools mentioned above.
I chose to run an audit on this website simply because they spam emailed me. This to me is a sure sign they lack traffic to their website and there is a good possibility poor website structure is partially to blame.
Owning a website in today’s world is essential, but owning a website is not enough to guarantee high rankings and great user experiences.
Auditing your website is an essential task that needs to be well monitored to ensure your website is structurally optimized to provide search engine bots with the information they need to deliver your website as high as possible on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
I suggest, at minimum, finding a tool such as the SEMRush site audit tool and setting it up to run on a weekly basis. This will at least keep you aware of critical errors that can have a damaging effect on your rankings.
And as always, if you are in need of an SEO expert to take a look at your website for you, be sure to request your free 30 minute SEO consultation and I will give you some tips to help you improve your rankings.