Conduct Your Own SEO Site Audit – Part 1

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Improving user interaction and the user experience will ultimately improve your search engine rankings. A primary concern of any search engine is the accuracy of its search results. If they send a user off to your website, will that user be happy to land there? Will your site answer their query? If so, they’ll happy go back to that search engine, safe in the knowledge that it can direct them to useful, relevant sites. If not, the next time they search for info they will do so via a different search engine.

Keeping these points in mind and regularly checking that your site is relevant for its key terms and offers a positive user experience will not only help to convert site visitors into long standing clients but will also help to win favor with the search engines.

Conducing a site review at regular intervals is essential when carrying out SEO work. As your site grows and develops, important elements can be overlooked in the rush to build links and add keyword rich new content. Ask yourself the following questions at least once per quarter…

Do All Pages Have Unique Page Titles?

It may be a basic consideration, but unique and accurate page titles are the foundations on which more dynamic search engine optimization changes are built. As new products are added to the site and content is uploaded, page titles can be overlooked. If you have a large site, running through all pages will take time. The title tag of a page tells the search engine and the user what that section of your site is about and more importantly, will normally be used by the search engine to populate the site’s listing information in the SERPs. The title can include not only keywords but details of your geographical location – showing search engines and users that this page is relevant to their query.

Have You Created A Short, Unique Description For The Meta Description Tag Of Each Page?

When checking page titles, take the time to cast your eve over the ‘meta description’ tag. While a succinct summary won’t turbo power your rankings on Google, it will tell the search engine and user what the page is about. Like the title of the page it may be used to populate the ranking when your site is listed in the results pages so keep it accurate. If you target various sectors or offer numerous products, this tag is a powerful traffic targeting tool as it tells your visitors what they can expect to find on that page.

Are Your URL Structures Suitable?

An organised site is one that is easily accessible and easily read by the search engine spiders. A logical file structure with information arranged into folders should be accompanied by URL that uses recognizable words and could be used to ascertain what the page is about. For example, rather than www.thisismywebsite.com/web/docs/page677890/x/0078.html a URL such as www.thisismywebsite.com/articles/seo-site-audit.html would be much better. Site users and search engines would be able to make an educated guess as to the content of the page. The first example is unwieldy which may also cause problems when targeting backlinks – the second URL can be easily copied and pasted and any missing parts such as the second half of the title of the page would be apparent whereas a structure using parameters and codes as in example 1 is not easily readable. In this instance, it would not be apparent if a section of the link had been missed when copying and pasting for a backlink.

Is Your Site Navigation As Simple As It Can Be?

Often as a website is developed, you’ll find that some new pages simply don’t fit into existing categories, making for ad-hoc navigation development. If you’ve added lots of new pages, introduced new categories and launched new services or even removed old ones, site navigation could become tricky. Google’s guidelines also state that while its results are shown at page level, their spiders like to have a global overall view of where each page sits in relation to the rest of the site so a logical navigational structure will help the search engine build a more accurate view of your site as a whole.

Site navigation can be thought of like the layers of an onion; users peel back each layer to go from one stage to the next and travel deeper into the site. For example, a site selling pictures may have a root page about the various types of pictures available – canvas, photo, poster – this is the skin. Peel that back and you’ll reach a lower level. For a website this will be the category landing page, providing more information about that particular section that was available at root level. From there, you may want to go deeper still and so will uncover a new level of the site – the product information page.

Creating a site that flows naturally won’t happen overnight so revisions to navigational structures may need to be introduced gradually over the course of several site audits. Each time changes are made, don’t forget to update the sitemap (the on-site directory of pages within the site) and the XML Sitemap (the sitemap submitted to the search engines).

Look for the part 2 of the SEO site audit series next week.

About the Author

Rebecca is the managing director of search engine optimization agency Dakota Digital a full-service agency offering SEO, online PR, web copywriting, media relationship management, and social media strategy. Rebecca works directly with each client to increase online visibility, brand profile, and search engine rankings. She has headed a number of international campaigns for large brands.

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4 Comments

  1. great introductory post to get started with an SEO checklist

  2. All good advice, I'm moving on to the next section ;-)

  3. Great seo techniques will recommend this post.

  4. Rebecca - really nice start to the seo audit. I have also put one together - http://www.searchmuse.com/blog/2011/5/7/how-to-conduct-an-seo-audit.html - that looks a little wider and as search is about 'searching for stuff' also includes social media, conversion rate and ppc.