“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” works in real life.
But, when it comes to SEO, there’s always something broken that’s stopping your website from achieving its full potential—yes, even if you can’t see it.
That’s why performing a technical SEO audit is a must—it can help you identify and fix any issues with your site's structure or coding that are hurting your peak ranking capacity.
Stick with us as we talk about what goes into a technical SEO audit and how to perform one.
Table of Contents
What Is a Technical SEO Audit?
It tends to website and server optimizations so search engine spiders can easily crawl and index your site.
A technical SEO audit is an analysis of your website to ensure just that.
It can be performed manually or with the help of software.
This is done to identify any potential issues that could be holding back your organic search performance and ranking in search results.
Once the audit is complete, you will get a report detailing the findings and recommendations for improving your website's SEO.
The goal is to make your site visible and crawlable to search engines so it can rank accordingly.
While a technical SEO audit can be complicated, it is an essential step in ensuring your website is visible to prospective customers.
By taking the time to perform a thorough audit, you can establish your website has the best chance of being found by those looking for what you have to offer.
What Does a Technical SEO Audit Include?
A technical audit can be as broad or as narrow as you need it to be.
It’s always a good idea to consult with a specialist if you’re not sure what areas you need audited, but generally, technical SEO audits should include:
- Accessibility and visibility for search engines
- Indexing and canonical URLs
- Loading external resources
- Optimizing image files
- Structured data
- Core Web Vitals
- Page load time
- Redirects, SSL
... just to name a few.
How To Perform a Technical SEO Audit
There are several things you need to do to ensure your website is optimally positioned for success in the world of SEO.
Follow our technical SEO audit checklist to get there faster:
Step #1: Check Your Site’s Health
The first step in any technical SEO audit is to check the health of your website.
You can rely on any of the tools mentioned above or find an alternative.
These tools will help you identify any technical issues that may be affecting your site’s performance, such as crawl errors and broken links.
Step #2: Analyze Your Site’s Structure
Once you’ve checked the health of your site, you’ll want to analyze its structure.
This includes looking at your site's hierarchy, URL structure, and navigation. By taking a close look at your site's structure, you can identify any areas that may need improvement.
For example, if your site's hierarchy is confusing, it may be difficult for search engines to index your pages correctly.
Similarly, if your URL structure is messy, it may be harder for users to find the information they're looking for.
Your site has to be easy for both users and search engines to navigate, and by analyzing it, you can identify any potential issues that could be holding your site back from achieving its full potential.
Step #3: Evaluate Your Site’s Content
Your next step is to evaluate the quality and quantity of your site’s content—both the text as well as any images or videos you may have.
When it comes to quality, your content has to be well-written and free of spelling and grammatical errors. It also must be relevant to your target keywords, high-quality, and informative. Ensure each piece of content is relevant to your site's overall topic.
In terms of quantity, you should have enough content to keep users engaged.
According to HubSpot, the optimal word count ranges between 2,100 to 2,400 words, but don’t take this for granted.
Instead, test different lengths and analyze how your content is performing. Depending on your niche, the opportunity might call for shorter or longer blog posts.
Finally, pay attention to how often your content is updated.
If you're not adding new content regularly, your users will likely become bored and move on to another site.
This is where you'll need to put on your SEO hat and start thinking about how search engines see your site.
As you go through your content, ask yourself questions like:
- What topics are my readers most interested in?
- What are my most and least popular pages?
- Are there any broken links on my site?
- What keywords am I ranking for?
- Is my site mobile-friendly?
Of course, many of the tools we previously discussed can help you answer a lot of these questions. However, use your sense and be the judge of what your audience enjoys reading or seeing.
Step #4: Check Your Site’s Speed
Website speed has been one of the ranking factors on desktop since 2010. Come 2018, Google announced site speed is a ranking factor for mobile searches too.
To ensure you’re doing your best in terms of optimizing your site’s speed for SEO, technical audits are a must.
A fast website is essential for a good user experience, and it can also help you rank higher in search results.
There are a few different ways to check your site's speed.
One option is to use Google's PageSpeed Insights tool. This tool will give you a score for your mobile and desktop versions of your site, as well as some specific recommendations on how to improve your site's speed.
Another option is to use WebPagetest. It provides a detailed analysis of your site's loading time, including information on each element that makes up your page.
Once you know where your site needs improvement, there are a few simple steps you can take to speed it up, such as:
- Optimizing images
- Reducing redirects
Step #5: Improve Your Mobile Experience
With mobile traffic now accounting for over half of all web traffic, it’s only logical to optimize your website for mobile devices.
Google's algorithms take mobile experience into account when ranking websites, so if your website isn't mobile-friendly, you're likely losing out on valuable traffic.
Fortunately, you can take a few key steps to improve your mobile experience.
First, ensure your website loads quickly on mobile devices as users are more likely to abandon a website if it takes longer than three seconds to load —53% of them.
There are a number of ways to speed up your website, such as optimizing images and using a content delivery network.
Also, consider the design of your website. Your content has to be easy to read on a small screen, and users should be able to navigate your site easily. User experience is important for both SEO and conversions. If your website is difficult to use on a mobile device, you're likely to lose visitors.
Google's Mobile-Friendly Test is a great way to check how well your site works on mobile devices.
Once you've ensured your site is fast and user-friendly, you can improve your mobile conversion rate. You can do this in many ways, including optimizing your forms and calls-to-action for mobile users.
When Should You Perform a Technical SEO Audit?
Without audits, all your SEO efforts could go to waste—and that’s a risk you shouldn’t take. Auditing your site enables you to have an optimally configured website for search engines at all times.
But, when and how often should you perform a technical SEO audit?
Depending on the size and complexity of your website, you may need to perform a technical SEO audit more frequently.
For a small website with only a handful of pages, you could get away with auditing once per year.
However, for a large website with hundreds or even thousands of pages, there’s a fair chance you’ll need to audit monthly.
Of course, there are many factors at play here.
If you're making major changes to your website (such as a redesign), then you'll want to audit sooner rather than later.
Likewise, if you're noticing a decline in your organic traffic, that's another sign that it's time for an audit. Technical SEO audits can help you pinpoint the underlying issues.
In addition, if you are launching a new website, perform an audit prior to launch to ensure everything is set up correctly.
Ultimately, there's no hard and fast rule for how often to perform a technical SEO audit.
However, by monitoring your website closely and being aware of any changes or potential problems, you can ensure that your site remains optimally configured for search engines — and that your organic traffic continues to grow.
Tools for Technical SEO Audit
There are a lot of tools out there, but the best ones are easy to use, have a great user interface, offer a wide range of features, and allow SEO automation.
For example, Ahrefs is an excellent tool for analyzing backlinks, domains, and content. It has some great features like keyword discovery, link analysis, and many more.
SEMrush is another great tool for technical SEO audits. It provides access to hundreds of keywords, top competitors analysis, and a bunch of other stuff. You can also get access to historical data through their API or through Google's keyword planner.
Majestic SEO is a free tool that provides access to over 2 billion indexed pages in its database. It’s not as powerful as Ahrefs or SEMrush, as it is focused only on backlinks, but it's still pretty good for link analysis which can greatly help your technical SEO audit. Plus, it’s free!
Aside from these, you can also check out:
Google Search Console
Google Search Console (GSC) is by far the most popular tool for tracking your site's performance and ranking in search.
It provides information about your website's search performance, including the number of impressions and clicks your site is getting, as well as its average position in Google search results.
Additionally, Google Search Console can be used to submit sitemaps and test robots.txt files.
The tool helps you answer questions like:
- How many unique visitors do I have each month?
- Do my pages get indexed correctly?
- How frequently am I crawling my site?
- What does it take for a page to show up in Google's search results?
Moreover, Google Search Console lets you see which pages are ranking for specific keywords in your niche. It also provides data on how many organic clicks each page gets, whether or not it's been indexed by Google, and whether it has been optimized for mobile devices.
In addition to these metrics, it also provides information about the percentage of queries that returned relevant results, bounce rate, and of course, the technical quality of your site's content.
For example, you can see if your website has any broken links or if pages have redirects from one page to another — indicating they're not optimized well enough.
GSC is a 100% free solution.
Screaming Frog is a desktop program you can use for technical SEO audits. It's available for Mac, PC, and Linux.
The program crawls websites' links, images, CSS, script, and apps to find errors in your code and provide data on website health which is an essential part of a technical SEO audit.
This information can then be used to identify potential issues with your website.
The tool also allows you to check for broken links and redirects, which is useful for finding duplicate content.
You can also use Screaming Frog to check for duplicated SQL queries and other common problems found within your website's code.
Screaming Frog crawls the entire website, including all subdomains, so there is no need to worry about crawling in the wrong places or not being able to see certain pages. The tool even works across multiple domains!
Once Screaming Frog has crawled a site, it provides an HTML report showing all of the issues found during the crawl process.
You can export this data into Excel or Google Sheets for analysis.
The free version allows you to crawl up to 500 URLs per website, while the paid version starts at $209 per year and gives you unlimited crawling and bonus features.
Lumar, previously known as DeepCrawl, is a technical SEO auditing tool that helps you with crawling and indexation. It’s one of the favorite tools for auditing a website's technical setup.
It's trusted by some of the biggest brands in the world, including PayPal, Microsoft, and Adobe.
Lumar is a web-based application you can use to crawl websites of any size. It's easy to use and provides a wealth of data on how to improve your website's SEO.
It works similarly to Screaming Frog, but it offers more features and flexibility.
It allows you to crawl websites and collect data about the URLs, titles, meta data, and other elements on each page. However, it also offers more advanced features, such as creating custom reports and exporting data into Excel.
For example, let's say you want to know why your blog posts aren't ranking on Google. You could look at your blog's analytics data, but it would take hours of manual labor and leave you with more questions than answers.
Instead, Lumar can crawl through your entire website and identify all of the technical issues that are slowing down your site's performance—and then suggest fixes for each issue.
Lumar crawls through all of your pages in the XML sitemap, images, CSS files, and other static content.
It crawls and analyzes millions of pages at speeds of up to 450 URLs/second. You can then rely on 200+ built-in reports or get any other metric you’d need with custom extractions.
Depending on your needs, Lumar’s pricing varies.
Xenu's Link Sleuth
If you're a technical SEO expert, you know the importance of auditing your website for broken links.
Not only do broken links negatively impact your website's ranking, but they can also frustrate your users.
Fortunately, there's a tool that can help you quickly find and fix broken links: Xenu's Link Sleuth.
Link Sleuth is a free, standalone tool that crawls your website and checks for broken links.
It produces a report that lists all of the broken links on your site, as well as the specific pages where they're located.
Link Sleuth is simple to use and highly effective, making it a valuable tool for any technical SEO audit.
W3C Markup Validation Service
The W3C Markup Validation Service is a free online tool used to check if a web page is properly formatted according to HTML or XHTML standards.
It helps you check the markup of your web pages for technical SEO audits.
Simply enter the URL of your page into the service, and it will analyze the code to find any errors. If there are, the service will provide a list of them, along with information on how to fix them.
In addition to helping you find errors in your code, the W3C Markup Validation Service can also help improve your website's performance and compliance with web standards.
Technical SEO Audit: Key Takeaways
Technical SEO is one of the most important parts of SEO.
If your website isn’t optimized for search engine crawlers, you’ll never rank in SERPs. That's why a technical SEO audit should be at the top of your to-do list.
Ensure your website is technically perfect so you can focus on creating awesome content and enjoying those organic traffic gains with the help of an SEO firm.