Technical SEO Audit | Process Street Technical SEO Audit – Process Street

Introduction:

When it comes to how a website performs, one of the best, if not the best way to get a solid understanding of what is going on under the hood is to run a good technical SEO audit.

A comprehensive audit will show what's working and what's not, and ultimately give all of the information required to identify the weaknesses in the current strategy and plan ahead to improve overall performance.

However, there is a lot to cover when it comes to a full SEO audit. That's exactly why this checklist exists - it's designed to be run as a repetitive process, and it'll definitely make your life easier in the long run if you're running regular SEO audits.

Let's get started with the checklist!

Pre-audit:

Make some basic preparations

First of all, you need to record some basic identifying information about the domain and some simple questions about how SEO is being conducted.

Just fill out the form fields and proceed to the next task.

Traffic analysis:

Check search volume

You can use a free tool like SEMRush to check the search volume of your domain. Be sure to check the root domain (e.g. "google.com" as opposed to "google.com/search").

You'll be able to see graphs and charts clearly presenting various metrics including organic traffic, search volume, keywords and competitors.

  • 1
    Look at recent search volume
  • 2
    Look at historical search volume

Check keywords

Keywords should be optimized for each page, but the keyword ranking for the root domain is one of the most important metrics in a technical SEO audit.

Using the SEMRush tool from the previous task, check the top keywords for your domain and record your findings in the form fields below.

Check competitor traffic

There are a lot of free and paid tools available to view keyword ranking and competitor traffic for an SEO audit, but we're sticking with SERMRush for the convenience of having a free tool that offers a variety of different analysis options that we can tweak to get a good look at the overall performance of a domain's SEO.

Scroll to the "Main Organic Competitors" section to see live updated metrics. 

  • 1
    Click on "View full report"
  • 2
    Check and compare against competitor graphs

Search Engine Results Page (SERP) presence:

Check page ranking

Search the root domain in a number of different search engines to build a more consistent picture of how the domain ranks.

  • 1
    Search all major search engines for your brand name
  • 2
    Search all major search engines for your brand name + your location
  • 3
    Search all major search engines for your root domain

Check for SERP features

SERP features are special results that Google shows based on a variety of different qualifiers, some of which you have control over, others you have very little control over.

There are four main groupings of SERP features. Here are the two which offer the highest degree of control:

  1. Rich Snippets these add an additional layer of information to a result, like a star rating, publication date or a review aggregation rating.
  2. Paid Results - these are paid, as you might imagine, by bidding on keywords (with a service like AdWords)

The remaining two are more determined by Google's algorithms and depend less on factors like microdata formatting, and are typically more difficult to access:

  1. Universal Results appear alongside organic results, such as images or featured snippets.
  2. Knowledge Graphs include data that appears in panels or graphs like stock value, celebrity information or weather reports.
  • 1
    Perform brand name searches and check for SERP features
  • 2
    Perform root domain searches and check for SERP features
  • 1
    Paragraph (Featured Snippet)
  • 2
    Bulleted list (Featured Snippet)
  • 3
    Numbered list (Featured Snippet)
  • 4
    Table (Featured Snippet)
  • 5
    Video (Featured Snippet)
  • 6
    Rich Snippet
  • 7
    Rich Card
  • 8
    Knowledge Graph
  • 9
    Knowledge Panel
  • 10
    Local Pack
  • 11
    Image Pack
  • 12
    Site Links
  • 13
    Twitter
  • 14
    News Box
  • 15
    Adwords Top (paid)
  • 16
    Adwords Bottom (paid)
  • 17
    (Untitled Option)
  • 1
    Paragraph (Featured Snippet)
  • 2
    Bulleted list (Featured Snippet)
  • 3
    Numbered list (Featured Snippet)
  • 4
    Table (Featured Snippet)
  • 5
    Video (Featured Snippet)
  • 6
    Rich Snippet
  • 7
    Rich Card
  • 8
    Knowledge Graph
  • 9
    Knowledge Panel
  • 10
    Local Pack
  • 11
    Image Pack
  • 12
    Site Links
  • 13
    Twitter
  • 14
    News Box
  • 15
    Adwords Top (paid)
  • 16
    Adwords Bottom (paid)
  • 17
    (Untitled Option)

Check for negative SERP listings

Sometimes search results can highlight negative reviews or feedback for a particular domain, and obviously, this is can be damaging to the brand's reputation.

This task is primarily concerned with producing an additional field of data for a final SEO report, so just check the SERP listings for the domain and brand and report your findings in the form field below.

  • 1
    Perform a root domain search in all major search engines
  • 2
    Perform a brand name search in all major search engines

Technical factors:

Check robots.txt

Robots.txt provides instructions for web robots - also aptly known as web crawers, spiders, or wanderers. These so-called robots are simply programs that automatically perform web searches and record information databases about web content, and robots.txt is used to allow or disallow them from accessing certain parts of a website.

It's important that robots.txt is configured correctly to ensure that nothing is being blocked unintentionally; the sub-tasks below will guide you through all the considerations necessary for robots.txt to be optimized for SEO.

  • 1
    Check that robots.txt exists
  • 2
    Check that robots.txt is not blocking any content it shouldn't be
  • 3
    Check that robots.txt is being used properly
  • 4
    Check that robots.txt does not contain information that could be exploited

Check the domain has HTTPS security encryption

Data has shown that HTTPS encryption is an important part of a domain's search ranking performance, so it's crucial that it be set up as soon as possible.

Whether it's already active or not, record your findings in the form field below and proceed.

Set up HTTPS security encryption

Domains not using HTTPS encryption will almost certainly be negatively hit in their search rankings.

The process for enabling HTTPS on a domain is as follows:

  • 1
    Acquire (usually purchase) an SSL certificate and a dedicated IP address
  • 2
    Install and properly configure the SSL certificate on your web server machine
  • 3
    Perform a site backup, to be safe
  • 4
    Manually change any interal links from HTTP to HTTPS
  • 5
    Update all website frameworks and dependencies for HTTPS support
  • 6
    Manually change any external links from HTTP to HTTPS
  • 7
    Update all htaccess applications for HTTPS support
  • 8
    Update Content Delivery Network configuration for HTTPS support
  • 9
    Manually update all canonical tags to HTTPS
  • 10
    Update all email links
  • 11
    Update any paid search links
  • 12
    Configure Google Analytics with the new HTTPS URL

Check canonical legitimacy

There are many ways to reach a single URL, and canonicalization, or "canonical legitimacy" is one way to make sure all search engines are being redirected to the correct location.

This process depends on using HTML tags to talk to search engines crawling a particular domain and direct them to a "master" URL, solving problems relating to duplicate content appearing on more than one URL.

You can use the free MozBar tool from Moz or just look at the page's HTML code to check whether canonical tags exist for that specific page.

Make the following checks and confirm them by marking the sub-tasks and completing the form fields below.

  • 1
    Check http://domain.com for canonical tags
  • 2
    Check https://domain.com for canonical tags
  • 3
    Check http://www.domain.com for canonical tags
  • 4
    Check https://www.domain.com for canonical tags
  • 5
    Check http://domain.com/index.htm for canonical tags
  • 6
    Check https://domain.com/index.htm for canonical tags
  • 7
    Check http://domain.com/index.html for canonical tags
  • 8
    Check https://domain.com/index.html for canonical tags
  • 9
    Check http://domain.com/index.php for canonical tags
  • 10
    Check https://domain.com/index.php for canonical tags
  • 11
    Make sure all canonical tags point to the same URL
  • 12
    Make sure the URL in each canonical tag is correctly formatted

Screaming Frog:

Crawl the entire website

Screaming Frog's default setting is to crawl only the specific subdomains entered into the search directory. If you want to crawl your entire website for insight into each and every page, you'll need to change the settings in the Configuration menu.

Make sure you check "Crawl All Subdomains" in the "Basic" settings tab, to be sure that all links are followed and every nook and cranny of your site is crawled.

Follow these sub-tasks and check each one of them as you go:

  • 1
    Open the Configuration menu
  • 2
    Click on "Spider"
  • 3
    Check the "Crawl All Subdomains" box
  • 4
    Click "Ok"

Content:

Check landing page formatting

This task calls for another round of Moz's SEO Toolbar. You'll want to visit the domain's homepage and check the On-Page Elements.

A lot of SEO optimization can be squeezed out of simple formatting decisions on important pages like the landing and main content pages. Simple things like making sure that there is only one H1 tag, and that it contains the page's keyword, are some of the most important considerations.

  • 1
    Make sure there is only one H1 tag on the page
  • 2
    Make sure the H1 tag contains the page's keyword
  • 3
    Make sure all of the images on the page have correctly formatted alt text
  • 4
    Make sure there is no hidden content on the page

Check site navigation

Site navigation is a crucial part of user experience, and determines whether or not a visitor to your website will be optimally following your carefully strategized link structure. If the website navigation is poorly organized and not thought out properly, visitors will not understand what content is most important and this will reflect in search rankings.

Follow the sub-checklist below and fill out all form fields in this task.

  • 1
    Make sure site navigation is hierarchical
  • 2
    Make sure content pages make use of structured data formatting
  • 3
    Make sure all links contain unique and relevant keywords

Authority:

Check Ahrefs Rank

You can use Ahrefs to check the domain authority across a variety of different metrics; a free account will be fine for this.

The instructions for how to get started are outlined in this sub-checklist:

  • 1
    Search the root domain in Ahrefs
  • 2
    Go to the main dashboard view
  • 3
    Check the Ahrefs Rank number in the top right

Compare against competitors

Still with Ahrefs, next make sure to have a look at how your main competitors rank for search volume and backlinks.

Simply follow the sub-checklist down below and be sure to fill out all form fields in this task.

  • 1
    Check competitor domain ranking in Ahrefs
  • 2
    Check competitor backlink ratio in Ahrefs

Social media:

Evaluate your brand’s social media presence

Obviously, the main impact of a socially integrated SEO strategy is an increase of backlinking and general visibility for your website's landing pages.

As such, making sure your brand and domain have a presence when searched against their social profiles is a must.

Follow this sub-checklist, which contains steps to search against all major social media platforms, and continue on to fill in the form fields for this task.

  • 1
    Search all primary search engines for "brand name" + "facebook"
  • 2
    Search all primary search engines for "brand name" + "twitter"
  • 3
    Search all primary search engines for "brand name" + "linkedin"
  • 4
    Search all primary search engines for "brand name" + "reddit"
  • 5
    Search all primary search engines for "brand name" + "instagram"
  • 1
    Twitter
  • 2
    Facebook
  • 3
    Instagram
  • 4
    LinkedIn
  • 5
    Reddit

Final report:

Export the audit report

Now that you've done all of the tasks pertaining to the actual SEO audit, you have a handy report that's been auto-filled with all of the forms throughout this checklist.

Process Street checklists are designed to be easily exported so you can save and share them as you need. What's more, the results of this checklist have been formatted into a "Send Email"  widget in the style of a comprehensive report, so you can forward it to your client or marketing team.

Just check that all of the information is correct and hit "Send".

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