Back to Blog SEO-audit-checklist

A 34-Step SEO Audit Checklist to Improve Technical SEO

This 34-step tech SEO audit checklist helps you prioritize the important elements that improve your website technical SEO.

33 mins read time
Haley Kuehl
Haley Kuehl

Aug 03, 2022

Technical SEO: love it or leave it? Okay, you don’t have to love it…but you can’t leave it, either. Like it or not, technical SEO plays a large role in how well your website ranks in SERPs (search engine results pages), how much traffic it receives, and whether or not your visitors convert. 

It’s not something you can ignore. But you don’t have to be a master at it to understand the concepts and start to figure out which issues could be impeding your search success. 

But if you want to get it right, you have to start at the very beginning — an SEO audit.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

What is a Technical SEO Audit

Tech SEO Audit Tools You’ll Need

34-Step Technical SEO Audit Checklist

1. Use an SEO Tool to Run a Site Crawl

2. Install Analytics

3. User Experience Analysis

4. Ensure Your Content is Visible

5. Analyze COntent

6. Ensure Google Indexes Your Site

7. Check Canonicalization

8. Link Analysis 

9. Delete Zombie Pages

10. Remove Low-Quality Content

11. Ensure That Robots.Txt Isn’t Blocking Important Resources

12. Optimize Page Speed

13. Check for Manual Actions

14. Check the Schema Markup

15. Check That Each Content Piece Is Built Around a Keyword

16. Conduct Competitor Analysis

17. Make Sure Links Are Crawlable

18. Set up Keyword Rank Tracking

19. Improve On-Page SEO

20. Optimize Videos for SEO

21. Check for Mobile-Friendliness

22. Fix Broken Links

23. Analyze Keywords and Organic Traffic

24. Make Sure Deleted Pages Don’t Redirect to 404 Error Page

25. Check Sitemap Visibility

26. Create Better Content

27. Optimize Metadata

28. Find Low-Hanging Fruit

29. Optimize for Image SEO

30. Improve Website Architecture

31. Fix Speed Issues

32. Do More with Internal Links

33. Ensure Content Does Not Violate Google’s Guidelines

34. Optimize Content for Featured Snippets


What Is a Technical SEO audit?

A technical SEO audit is a deep dive into all of the components that ensure your site can be crawled, indexed, and rendered by search engines. It should be the first step you take in launching an SEO strategy for your brand.

But we’ll be honest — it’s a lot. Technical SEO audits are time-consuming and intense. It helps when you have support from a trusted and reputable SEO agency or tech SEO expert. However, if you haven’t found your SEO partner yet and you’re still itching to get started, you can conduct an SEO audit yourself. 

Like most things, it helps when you have the education and information you need. And that’s why we’ve provided this technical SEO audit checklist. We’ll walk you through everything you need to do to make sure your website is in great technical shape. 

A word of advice before you begin: don’t get overwhelmed. Take it one step at a time. And if you get stuck, find an experienced technical SEO specialist or team to lend a helping hand (we’ve got a hot tip on how to do that at the end).

But first, a little shop talk: 

Tech SEO Audit Tools You’ll Need

There are countless SEO tools on the market today, and many of them are absolutely fantastic at gathering data, creating reports, and giving you the insights you need to make SEO improvements. 

One little caveat: Some of them come with a price tag and a bit of a learning curve. Take your time to explore some of these top tools and learn how you can put them to work for your brand.

Google Page Speed Insight

We’re going to start with Google’s SEO tools because they’re free, and we really like free stuff. The Page Speed Insight tool is about as simple as they come — all you do is pop in a URL, and Google scores its load speed. We’ll talk more about optimizing page speeds in a bit, but for now, all you need to know is where to find this invaluable tool

Google Search Console

Go ahead and bookmark this one because — as you’ll see through the course of this guide — you’re going to be using it a lot. If you haven’t already set up your Google Search Console with your website, do it now. Go on — we’ll wait.

Source

All set? Great! Your Search Console will provide a ton of data as you work through your site’s technical SEO audit. We’ll give you more in-depth instructions on how to use it further down. 

Other Google Testing Tools

Is it any wonder Google is the largest search engine in the world? Lucky for us, they’re also pretty committed to making sure web pages (like yours) get found. Check out these additional tools that showcase two of our very favorite qualities — easy and free.

Test My Site

This little gem of a tool will tell you exactly what your page load speed is on mobile devices. Enter your domain, and Test My Site will generate a report that gives you insights on how to make improvements.


Rich Results Testing Tool

Rich results on Google search are those results that really pop — think recipes, image carousels, featured snippets, and more. You can use structured data like schema markup to make sure your content has the best chance of being included in these results. More on that in a minute, but first, you need to make sure your website is ready — use the Rich Results Test tool to determine if your site is eligible for rich results. 

Google Analytics

Hopefully, you’ve already set up your Google Analytics account and have a basic understanding of how to navigate it. If not, no worries — the setup is actually pretty quick and intuitive. The great thing about Google Analytics — now GA4 — is that the data you compile can be streamlined, interpreted, and used in countless ways. The insights you glean from GA can help shape your SEO strategy and drive better results. What’s not to love?!

Screaming Frog

What do screaming frogs have to do with SEO? Beats us. But this Screaming Frog will help power your technical SEO strategy with their proprietary crawl spider. We know, we know — it’s starting to feel like Wild Kingdom in here. 

Screaming Frog’s spider can handle very large websites efficiently and quickly, so you won’t have to wait as long as you would with some other tools. It’s a great, in-depth tool to use when conducting your technical SEO audit, as it will find broken links, duplicate content, issues with site architecture, metadata, and much more. 


SEO Tools Like Semrush or Ahrefs

These are two top-class tools when it comes to tracking your SEO data, managing keywords and backlinks, and generally setting up your SEO strategy to kick some major ass. 

Semrush is an industry leader that’s fully focused on Google search, so you know the data you collect will always be useful when optimizing for the search giant. It’s also designed to support social media, paid advertising, and content marketing, so you’ll get plenty of bang for your buck.

 

Ahrefs fulfills a lot of the same functions as Semrush, but it pulls data from multiple search engines, including Amazon and YouTube. While Semrush takes a more holistic approach, Ahrefs drills down into the intricacies of SEO and delivers custom dashboards, trackers, and audit tools.

Pricing is pretty comparable, starting at $99 for Ahrefs and $119 for Semrush (recurring monthly). However, both offer either free tools and features or free trials to get you started. 

So, that’s our quick-and-dirty look at the tools you’re going to need to get started on your audit. Ready for the next step (or should we say, the next 34 steps)? Here’s your technical SEO audit checklist!

Without further ado…

Source

 

34-Step Technical SEO Audit Checklist

Here you have it — your 34 steps to a crazy thorough technical SEO audit! We recommend taking your time to explore the different tools and tips we’ve outlined here, and remember that technical SEO is critical to your brand’s performance and success, so don’t be afraid to reach out for expert help and advice when you need it.

1. Use an SEO Tool to Run a Site Crawl

Pretty much any of the tools we mentioned above will be able to run a site crawl for you. What you’ll need really depends on the size of your website and how many individual pages you have. If you’re just looking to tweak a page or two, it’s possible to do it manually, but for a total technical SEO audit, a tool — like Screaming Frog, Semrush, or Ahrefs — will save you time and may uncover issues you previously missed. 


Use a Website Audit Tool to Automate the Process

Building on that first step, what you really want to look for is a tool that will automate the audit process and deliver a simple breakdown of any issues found, so you’ll be ready to make fixes and adjustments right away. 

This goes deeper than a website crawl, and when you use a tool like Semrush’s tech audit, you’ll get more than a list of errors — you’ll get in-depth instructions on how to fix them, how to prioritize them, and how to ensure your site doesn’t get neglected by Google. Oh, and did we mention that it’s free for up to 100 pages (and you know how we feel about free).

 

Okay, deep breath, because we know we’re throwing a lot at you. Once you’ve selected the tool or tools you want to use, it’s time to set up your analytics. Hopefully, you took a few of those steps above to start implementing Google Analytics, or maybe you’ve already added tracking to your website. 

2. Install Analytics

If not, it’s important to do that now so you can be sure the data you’re pulling in is accurate and up to date.

To make sure your tracking is set up correctly, you can install the Google Tag Assistant. This Chrome plug-in will help you verify that your GA tracking is set up correctly across all the pages of your website. 

3. User Experience Analysis

Google is placing more importance on user experience than ever before, so if you want to move up in SERP ranks, you’re going to need to place equal emphasis on it. 

Start by utilizing Google Analytics’ Behavior Flow to find out how your site visitors act at various points in their experience. This will tell you what visitors do directly before/after they take a particular action, the sequence in which they take certain steps, or where they’re dropping off the page.

Make sure you’re also checking bounce rate, time spent on page, conversions, and exit pages to get a feel for how your visitors navigate your site and when and where they decide they’ve got better things to do.

Optimize for UX Signals

So, you have a handle on visitor behavior — now what? Now you optimize your site for user experience (UX). This includes carefully mapping your keywords and your content to user intent (what the user wants to find when initiating a web search) and considering the keywords that will have the most impact with Google’s RankBrain algorithm. 

What’s RankBrain, you ask? RankBrain is how Google uses AI to detect meaning. It looks at how visitors interact with your site and checks to see if your site is delivering what they want.

Source

If the content visitors find on your page fulfills their search intent (giving them the info they were looking for), it may very well improve your rank. If not (which Google/RankBrain will know based on how quickly they leave or how deep they have to go to find the right information), it could send you down several spots. 

4. Ensure Your Content Is Visible

Here’s an easy step after all that technical jargon: You want to make sure that the content on your site is visible to all visitors. Start off easy by simply searching your site in Google and viewing it in Chrome (as Google uses a Chrome-based engine to render pages). Looks good? Great. 

Now, take it a step further to ensure that Google’s bots are regularly crawling and rendering your site. To begin, type in “site:yourURL.com” in the search bar, then click the three dots next to your result. It should bring up a box that displays when your site was first crawled by Google. At the bottom right, click on “Cached.”

This will pop up a cached version of your site, displaying exactly how it was rendered during the most recent crawl. Just remember — if you’ve made changes or updates to your site since then, those changes won’t appear here.

Make sure everything looks good here. If so, you can rest assured your site is rendering just fine and your content is visible.

5. Analyze Content

Content and SEO are best buddies, and generally, you don’t find one without the other. And yet, a lot of brands don’t have a documented content strategy.

Source

We’ll save that for another day (but seriously, you need to get on it). But no matter how you slice it, content needs to be a big part of your SEO audit. Start by asking yourself these questions:

  • Is my content unique? You don’t need to reinvent the wheel in every blog post, but you do need to regularly say something fresh and distinctive — especially if you want to stand apart from the competition.
  • Is it informative? Does your content give out useful information that fulfills visitors’ search intent?
  • Is it accurate? It doesn’t have to be “just the facts, ma’am,” but you do want to make sure that everything your content claims is factually correct and not misleading.
  • Is it the right length? Longer content generally performs better in search, but you want to find the sweet spot to get to the top spot — usually just under 2,000 words.

Source

  • Is it grammatically correct? Is there any worse turnoff than coming across a promising website that says something like, “Your Going to Love This”? (Hint: It’s “you’re.”) Use a tool like Grammarly to run through your content and make sure you haven’t missed any typos or other errors. 

  • Are there broken links? Sure, they’re a minor annoyance in the grand scheme of things, but if visitors have to navigate broken links to find what they want, they won’t stick around for long. Use something like Ahrefs’ free broken link checker to find and correct them.

 

6. Ensure Google Indexes Your Site

Didn’t we already do this? Not exactly. We checked to make sure your site is visible, but now we’re going to check to make sure it’s being indexed. And here’s the catch — you may actually have different versions of your site being indexed by Google. 

#10_V1

This usually isn’t much cause for alarm, as long as all of them direct back to your primary URL. If that’s not the case, it’s a pretty simple fix — just use a 301 redirect to make sure it lands on the right URL.

Fix Indexing Issues

Ready to take your Google Search Console out for a spin? Here’s where you’ll find any issues with page indexing. Simply navigate to your Search Console and select “Index Coverage” — you’ll get an instant report with all pages that have indexing errors. 

From here, you can compile a list of pages that need some attention, or, if you need more in-depth analysis, use a tool like Screaming Frog to dig even deeper into the issue and get the problems fixed.

7. Check Canonicalization

Duplicate content happens to the best of us. And sometimes, you can’t control it. As in the above example, where you have several URLs directing to your homepage, Google may index this as duplicate content, which could seriously impact how your site ranks. 

Canonical tags help you avoid this problem by telling Google to ignore some of those duplicate URLs when indexing. Canonical tags are also helpful when running A/B tests, so you get the data you need without being penalized by Google.

You can check your canonicalization with another shiny tool (oooh, ahhh) called Lighthouse by Google.

Lighthouse is another Chrome extension that runs a free audit of your website and returns valuable information on your site’s performance, accessibility — and, yes — canonicalization. With Google’s recent focus on Core Web Vitals, Lighthouse offers a quick and simple (and free!) way to stay on top of key metrics.

8. Link Analysis

The more backlinks, the better, right? Not always. While you want to have a robust backlink profile, having the wrong backlinks will end up hurting you more than helping. Here’s how to make sure your backlinks are high quality and bring value to your site:

Analyze Backlinks

No matter what SEO tool you ultimately choose, you want to be sure it can deliver a detailed backlink report. 

Take a look through your backlinks, and keep a close eye on the following factors:

  • Relevance: Are the backlinks coming from legitimate websites in your industry? If you sell a B2B SaaS product, but your backlinks are coming from an ecommerce shoe store, you need to dig a little deeper and find out what’s going on.
  • Authority: High-authority websites send a signal to Google that your website is also trusted and legitimate. But backlinks from spammy or scammy sites won’t give you any kind of value — in fact, they could bring your site’s authority down.
  • Diversity: If all your backlinks come from a single site or even one type of site, they aren’t going to help much. Ideally, you want different types of backlinks from different types of pages — directories, resource pages, forums, blog comments, etc.

Remove Suspicious Backlinks

If you find you have an unsettling number of illegitimate backlinks, you may need to take drastic action. Disavowing links comes with some risks, as it can impact your traffic (though it’s usually not the kind of traffic you want). It’s not a recommended step for beginners, but if you’re certain you’ve got a spammy backlink you need to get rid of, you can disavow it through your Search Console.

9. Delete Zombie Pages

Sounds like Night of the Living Dead, but it’s really more Search of the Undead Pages. Zombie pages happen to all of us, usually as a result of archived pages, old press releases, boilerplate content, and more. Want to know if you’ve got zombie pages haunting your brand? Search “site:yourwebsite.com” and look at the number of results that come up.

You may find 50 percent (or even up to 75 percent) more results than you should! It’s a sure sign you’ve got zombies on your back.

The great news is, once you delete zombie pages for good — gruesome headshots not required — you might find an immediate improvement in rank, as Google is able to more efficiently crawl and index your site.

10. Remove Low-Quality Content

More isn’t always better, at least when it comes to content. Google isn’t ranking your site according to who pushes out the most content or does it most frequently. In fact, too much content — especially when it’s too brief, too clunky, or just not good — can have a detrimental effect on your ranking. 

So get out the garden shears for some content pruning. This strategy is used by some of the biggest brands — and content marketing experts — out there. In fact, HubSpot routinely prunes their content to cut off the dead weight and let better, more accurate, or more timely content shine. 

And it works, as evidenced by the fact that their overall Ahrefs rank moved up more than 40 spots over three months.

Source


11. Ensure That Robots.Txt Isn’t Blocking Important Resources

At some point, you may want to block Google from indexing a certain part of your website. To do that, you’ll need to update your robots.txt file. But be aware — if not done cautiously, you may end up blocking something you very much do want indexed, like images or multimedia content.

To be sure those pesky robots aren’t blocking anything important, pull up your handy dandy Search Console and click Index Coverage. Issues with robots.txt, like the one listed below, will appear in your results so you can fix the problem and ensure your content is being indexed appropriately. 


12. Optimize Page Speed

Page speed is one of Google’s official ranking factors, and while the search engine recommends no more than 5 seconds for load time, in reality, most visitors will bail after about 3 seconds. 

This is where Google’s PageSpeed Insights — mentioned above — will come in really handy. All you have to do is input your URL and Google does the rest.

As seen above, a score of 97 indicates good page load speeds. But there’s always room for improvement here. Keep scrolling and Google will give you a list of ways — based on its speed audit — you can make improvements. 

Look for the easy wins first — like compressing files and resizing images — and go from there.

13. Check for Manual Actions

Manual actions are rare, but they can really bring you down (in terms of ranking), so it’s critical you check on them regularly.

Manual actions are those taken by actual Google engineers rather than the algorithm, and they send up a flag that something on your site has been found to not be in compliance with their quality guidelines.

To check for manual actions, go to your Search Console and select “Security & Manual Actions > Manual Actions.” If an issue is detected, it will be flagged, and you’ll need to take speedy action. If it’s a genuine issue, get it fixed ASAP. Once it’s done — or in the event you think a manual action has been filed in error — submit via the “Request Review” button.

If you neglect to fix an issue once a manual action has been taken, Google will either push your page down in results or remove it entirely.

14. Check Schema Markup

Structured data like Schema markup isn’t a ranking factor for Google, but it does impact the way your site appears in search results, which could entice more people to click. For instance, using Schema markup can help you get rich snippets, which pulls content from your website and displays it before the page results. 

Google’s Structured Data Testing includes a two-for-the-price-of-one (free!) deal — the Rich Results Test mentioned above and a Schema Markup Validator. 

These tools will tell you if your schema markup is utilized correctly and can be applied in search results. You can also see a preview through the markup validator, so you get a sense of how your schema will appear in results. 

15. Check That Each Content Piece Is Built Around a Keyword

While you want to avoid keyword-stuffing at all costs, it’s still important that your primary keywords are featured at all the right spots within your content. Some of the places you want to include your keyword are:

  • URL
  • Title tag and meta description
  • Headlines and subheads
  • Image alt text
  • Body copy (only where relevant and natural)

Remember that the copy should fulfill the search intent of your selected keywords. It isn’t enough to just toss it in there — it has to make sense, and it has to deliver what visitors want and expect.

16. Conduct Competitor Analysis

If your competitors are outranking you, a competitor analysis is a must. Even if they’re not, you still ought to be keeping tabs on any who might be planning a sneak attack. The easiest way to start your analysis is by conducting a Google search for “related:yourcompetitor.com” and sifting through those results.

After that, it’s time to dig deep. Put their URL into your SEO tool and look at the keywords they’re ranking for. There may be gaps here where you can jump in and rank for lower-volume, high-intent keywords they’ve neglected.

Finally, do the same thing with their backlink profile. You can find out who’s linking to them and may even uncover opportunities to seek out links from the same sites. 

17. Make Sure Links Are Crawlable

Your internal linking structure is more important than you know. Not only can it improve authority on your pages, it also helps Googlebot crawl from page to page (thereby making it easier to index and render them). Ultimately, it could give your SERP rank a lift. But conversely, if your links aren’t crawlable, you’ll likely face the opposite problem — a rank demotion.

Be sure you’re always using <a> tags with href attributes when setting up your tags. 

18. Set up Keyword Rank Tracking

Understanding how you rank for your priority and long-tail keywords will help you stay on top of SEO. Setting up tracking is a key part of your SEO audit, but continuous monitoring will be an ongoing part of maintaining your SEO strategy.

Getting it formatted now will save you some time in the long run. Plus, using one of the SEO tools we’ve mentioned previously will make it a snap.

When you look at your keywords, be sure you aren’t just checking those you’ve selected as your priority. Instead, look at those for which you’re already ranking. Some won’t be a good fit — and some will be downright bizarre — but you might find others that work well for your brand and put you in an optimum position to move up in SERPs.

19. Improve On-Page SEO

Optimizing your copy and building it around keywords is a great way to ramp up your on-page SEO. By now, though, you’re probably feeling up to your eyeballs in all this tech-speak. Fortunately, this should be a welcome change of pace.

To improve your on-page SEO, take a good look at your content and optimize by taking the following actions:

  • Implement keywords strategically, as previously mentioned, in title tags, H1s and H2s, meta descriptions, etc.
  • Use your keyword naturally in the first 100 words.
  • Break up content into consumable chunks using H2s, H3s, and H4s, incorporating lists and bullets to make it more scannable.
  • Adjust the language used to be more conversational, at around a ninth-grade reading level.
  • Check for grammatical errors.
  • Optimize navigation for better user experience with clear, single-action CTAs.

YouTube may be your go-to for hosting video content, but you want to make sure Google can crawl, index, and render it in search results as well. To do this, you’ll need to take a few specific actions:

20. Optimize Videos for SEO

  • Host your video on a public, indexable URL. Remember that Google doesn’t rank videos alone but rather the pages on which they’re embedded.
  • Use the right HTML tags to indicate to Google there’s a video on the page (<video>, <embed>, etc.).
  • Include videos in your site map, along with relevant information like title, location, description, and thumbnail.
  • Use schema markup on your video so it has a better chance of appearing in a rich video snippet, like the one below.

21. Check for Mobile-Friendliness

Mobile search is swiftly taking over, and if you’re not ready, you might be left behind. Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test (linked above) to determine how ready your site is for the mobile revolution. 

Your test results will break down which specific pages need some attention. Some of the fixes may be pretty simple, and you can make them and test them immediately by browsing your website on your mobile device.

22. Fix Broken Links

You’ve already located broken links in an earlier step; now, it’s time to do something about them.

Prioritize any broken links for pages you want to rank — every second they’re down is another missed opportunity.

Other broken links pay direct to pages you specifically wanted gone, like zombie pages. In that case, remove or adjust the links and Google will take care of the rest (it will eventually stop trying to crawl/index deleted pages). 

23. Analyze Keywords and Organic Traffic

Using the right keywords should, in theory, get you more traffic. But this is where you want to keep a close eye on your SEO tool to track how your keywords are performing and how it’s impacting your organic traffic.

Use your chosen tool, but also, when you want to quickly scan your incoming search traffic (for instance, during a site audit), check it with Google Analytics. From your sidebar, click on “Acquisition,” then “All Traffic,” and “Channels.” Next, tap “Organic Search” and adjust the dates you want to monitor accordingly.

Look for pages with the most traffic, and cross-reference this in your Search Console and your SEO tool. Find the ranking keywords on those pages, and look for opportunities to improve by finding related or long-tail keywords. 

Remember, some SEO tools only give traffic estimates, so you’ll want to take this roundabout approach by confirming real traffic numbers on GA, then referencing your keyword report for growth opportunities.

24. Make Sure Deleted Pages Don’t Redirect to 404 Error Page

Sometimes pages on your website will need to be deleted. It isn’t ideal, and it can cause numerous headaches, but it happens to most of us at some point. How you handle deleted pages is critical to your SEO performance. 

Above all, you do not want the URLs for bygone pages to land on a 404 error. To mitigate this, consider why you’re deleting a page and if there’s a better option, like a 301 redirect.

Source

If a 301 isn’t possible (because you don’t have any equivalent content on your site), you’ll want to make sure to send a 410 HTTP header, which indicates a deleted page (whereas a 404 simply indicates “content not found”). 

If you’re contemplating deleting some pages but aren’t sure, look at ways you can keep the URL and repurpose the content so you can keep it and avoid broken links and missing pages altogether.

25. Check Sitemap Visibility

Your sitemap outlines the relationship between pages on your website. You don’t have to have one to be crawled and indexed, but you’ll certainly find it easier to rank if you do.

To make sure Google can find your sitemap, submit it directly through your Search Console. If you’ve already done that, take this opportunity to make sure it’s accurate and up to date.

While auditing your sitemap, make sure there are no 404s, redirects, or non-canonical URLs.

26. Create Better Content

Great content is non-negotiable at this stage in the game. Everything you publish should be optimized for search, fulfill user intent and, frankly, just be better than what the competition is doing. 

Many of the steps here will help you ensure your content is ready to work successfully for your SEO strategy. But as you audit your existing content, make sure to find places to incorporate these best practices:

Source

These technical and on-page SEO adjustments may seem small, but they are mighty. Once you get into the habit of publishing consistently high-quality, optimized content, you will see it reflected in your SEO results. 

27. Optimize Metadata

Metadata helps search engines understand your pages and the content on them. Metadata also improves accessibility and user experience, so getting it right may give you a boost in SERP rankings.

Here are a few steps you can take to nail your metadata:

  • Create a concise and descriptive title tag, usually 60 characters or less.
  • In those 60 characters, be sure to include your primary keyword.
  • Make sure it’s unique and not duplicated elsewhere on your site.
  • Add a brief and unique meta description (do not use the same one multiple times!).

Source

  • Define a unique and easily-identifiable favicon to appear in search results.
  • Create unique social meta tags.
  • Optimize your structured data for rich snippet consideration.

28. Find Low-Hanging Fruit

In this context, low-hanging fruit refers to keywords that provide quick and easy opportunities for growth. There are two ways to find these keywords and verify they are ripe for the picking:

  1. If you’re already ranking for keywords, go into your Search Console and look through your traffic. Under “Search Analytics,” select “Impressions” and “Position.” Sort lowest to highest. The first page of results are your biggest opportunities for fast improvement.
  2. If you don’t yet rank for any of your keywords, take another approach. Plug in a competitor’s URL to your SEO tool. Again, sort ranking positions from lowest to highest. Here you will find a wealth of keywords you can start optimizing to outrank the competition.

A quick tip: Start with low-volume keywords, as they are the easiest to rank for. 

29. Optimize for Image SEO

Images are an important part of your website (or they should be), but how you handle them in regards to SEO can have a big impact — positive or negative — on how the pages rank. Keep in mind some of these tips when optimizing your images.

Google isn’t the best at understanding image text. So, for example, see the slick image below? It looks great and contains a lot of important information. But if we don’t clearly outline that information, it won’t contribute to SEO in a meaningful way.

Source

 

How to get around this? Sure, we could reiterate all the points made so beautifully in the image here in the text below. But that gets tedious and risks duplication.

Instead, we can optimize the image by including the most important information elsewhere, like:

  • Title
  • Alt text
  • Captions
  • Sitemap
  • File name

30. Improve Website Architecture

To optimize for SEO, think pancakes. Not a stack — just one thin hotcake. Drizzled with syrup and a pat of butter…

Well, we’re getting off track. The point is, when it comes to your site architecture, flatter is better. Lengthy, sprawling site structures with inconsistent linking make it hard for Google to understand what your pages are about and what relationships exist between them.

Instead, keep it simple and keep it flat.

Source

You want to make sure that every single page is no more than three clicks away from the homepage. Also, pay close attention to that second row of pages after the homepage — they’re the ones Google recognizes as the most important.

A flat, simple structure will help Google crawl and index your site, and it will help it understand how they’re connected to one another.

31. Fix Speed Issues

If you found in the page load speed step above that there was room for improvement, now is the time to make it happen. At this point, you don’t just want to know the load speed for a single page — you want a baseline for your entire site. From there, here are the steps you need to take:

  • Compile load speeds for each page, working from your baseline and indicating a +/- for each.
  • Check your Core Web Vitals through your Search Console or through Lighthouse, and work your way through Google’s suggestions.
  • Check image size and look for areas they may be slowing you down (GIFs vs. videos, responsive images, etc.).
  • Enable text compression to manage file size.
  • Get rid of unnecessary JavaScript and CSS; if you can’t eliminate it, minify it.
  • Utilize browser caching to improve speeds for return visitors.

Internal linking is one of the most powerful yet underutilized tools at your disposal. It’s easy, efficient and — there it is again — free.

32. Do More with Internal Links

Here’s how to do it: Go to your Search Console, and under the legacy tab, select “Links.” This will give you a rundown of all the pages on your site and how many links they receive.

You can find opportunities here with pages that have been largely neglected and could use a boost. Make it your mission to link to them from your high-performing pages to give them an injection of authority. 

This is also where you can start looking for content groups — pages with similar topics — and begin pulling them into a topic cluster. 

Source

Your pillar page should be your high-authority page, while the cluster content can include some of those wayward pages with few links. This is your opportunity to let them shine while ensuring your content can more easily be found and indexed.

33. Ensure Content Does Not Violate Google’s Guidelines

This refers to all content, including your backlinks. Google’s guidelines are strict, in particular after the Penguin update, and the penalties can set you back and destroy all of the SEO progress you’ve made. 

Google has said that it simply ignores bad links most of the time. However, if for some reason the search engine thinks you may have been involved in unethical link purchasing or manipulative link building, they will likely assess a penalty.

Of course, prevention is the best course of action, and by simply not engaging in these practices, you can avoid any issues. But you’ll still want to keep an eye on the manual action section in your Search Console in case you become a victim of someone else’s Google violations. 

If you’re concerned, refer back to the earlier step on disavowing bad backlinks. But remember to exercise caution, and whenever possible, consult a professional for advice.

34. Optimize Content for Featured Snippets

Snagging a featured snippet is the ultimate SEO success story. But you need to do some work up front if you want your content to be eligible and selected. 

Featured snippets highlight content above the search result, meaning your content could offer a no-click answer or reach the highly-coveted Position Zero.

To raise your chances of getting a featured snippet, you’ll want to take the following steps:

  • Install HTTPS.
  • Break up content into small sections with H2 and H3 headers.
  • Link high-authority sources.
  • Optimize your content for mobile.
  • Answer Google’s People Also Ask questions.
  • Create content that is concise and conversational.

Conduct Regular SEO Site Audits to Stay Search Engine Friendly

There you have it! We hope this monster guide to SEO auditing wasn’t too terrifying. Especially considering you’ll need to do it again and again and…

Okay, now that’s scary. Don’t worry — we’re here to help you slay the SEO beast. Our team of knowledgeable, reliable SEO experts can audit your entire website, gather insights, and find opportunities to grow your traffic, your audience engagement, and your bottom line.

Best of all, if you go with FPS, we can help you craft a rock-solid SEO strategy and implement tactics that will bring you long-term, sustainable growth.

Want to hear more? Hit us up, and let’s face this monster…together.

 

Haley Kuehl

After getting her start in teaching, Haley fell in love with SEO because it let her combine two of her favorite things: writing and getting nerdy with data and code. She now has more than 12 years of SEO and inbound marketing experience with clients ranging from small ecommerce brands to huge associations and SaaS companies. She prides herself on being able to see the big picture while also noting the nitty gritty details that make a difference for users and search bots. In her free time she bakes a LOT of bread and cookies and loves to travel.

Get your free content audit now

Dip your toe in growth marketing with no obligations, no commitment: just a valuable sneak peek at what we can do to grow your brand.

Latest Articles

Organic SEO Consulting: A Game Changer for Your Business

Organic SEO Consulting: A Game Changer for Your Business

Dive into the ins and outs of organic SEO and why it’s time to invest in an organic SEO consulting agency to see game-changing results for ...

We Use HubSpot for Lead Generation Tactics, and Here's Why...

We Use HubSpot for Lead Generation Tactics, and Here's Why...

We're big fans of HubSpot at FPS. Here's what we love so much about using HubSpot for lead generation.

A 34-Step SEO Audit Checklist to Improve Technical SEO

A 34-Step SEO Audit Checklist to Improve Technical SEO

This 34-step tech SEO audit checklist helps you prioritize the important elements that improve your website technical SEO.