SEO Audit Checklist For Every Skill Level

SEO Audit Checklist for 2014

This is Part One of an article discussing how to do an SEO Audit on your website.

We also discuss what off-page SEO factors affect your website optimization and search engine rankings. Read Part Two here.

What Is SEO anyway?

You hear about it amongst your peers. You heard someone at your table at the weekly chamber of commerce meeting mention that their website “needed SEO badly” and was dropping in Google’s search engine rankings. You’re asking yourself What is SEO and what does search engine optimization mean, and do I need an SEO Audit?

Essentially, SEO is the work behind increasing the visibility of your website and/or content in a search engines “natural” and unpaid search results. Otherwise known as the “organic” search results. All search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, Ask, etc) have complex search algorithms that take a search query and scan the internet for the most relevant websites and content matching the users search query.

Google is a Referral Engine

This is why I like to call Google a referral engine as opposed to a search engine. They are taking the most relevant information, in their algorithms opinion, and presenting it to the user. The users search queries are getting more and more complicated as we all grow comfortable searching using voice search, or searching on mobile and tablets.

SEO can also target many different types of search. Examples include local search, image search, news search, and video search. Which means not only does your website need to be optimized for search, but all of your content that you post on your website and share through your social networks, needs to be fully optimized for search as well.

The question is how do you do this? There’s got to be some sort of a checklist for an SEO Audit. You’re in the right place. Keep reading to find out how to complete a website SEO Audit in less than 30 minutes.

So How Do I Do an SEO Audit?

This post is intended for those who are at least a little familiar with SEO and understand what search engine optimization actually means and how it’s directly related to content and website optimization.

If you haven’t yet done an SEO Audit, this post will help understand a comprehensive step-by-step process. If you’ve already done and SEO Audit in the past, I hope this post helps you uncover some new tools you were previously unaware of.

If however you’re new to SEO and could use 3 in half minute video briefly answering the very common question, What is SEO?, then please watch this informative clip from Search Engine Land.

What a great synopsis of the complicated, and sometimes misunderstood, subject of search engine optimization. The question now becomes, how do I make sure my website is set up for success with SEO? I have you covered! Let’s change that question to How do I do an SEO Audit on my website?

The following is a step by step action list on what you need to look for when auditing your website for search engine optimization issues. It’s not over yet though!

Additional information on Google’s algorithm changes and updates, SEO tactics to avoid, New School SEO tactics, Author Rank, Social Signals, Link building, and more will be discussed in Part Two of this post which you’ll find here tomorrow. Let’s get Part 1 One started. Here’s what you need to do when performing an SEO Audit:

Your SEO Audit Check List

1. Web Browser

  • You can expose crawling issues by disabling JavaScript and cookies in your browser settings.
  • Make sure that the website is free of any duplicate content issues.

2. Home Page

  • First impressions are lasting impressions, so check your website meticulously for problems regarding user experience (UX).
  • Note any thoughts/emotions that run through you as you examine the page. Find out what you feel is negative or positive about different areas. Address problems.
  • Test for UX issues by turning JavaScript on/off in different browsers.
  • Always test your site in not only in different browsers (Google Chrome, FireFox, Safari, or dare I say IE), but also on different devices (smartphone, tablet, laptop/desktop computer, television screen).
  • You’ll need to do this twice – once for each operating system (OS). Test on Mac OS as well as Windows OS. Don’t forget mobile, and test on iOS and Android.
  • Make sure the website does not have the following canonical issues:
    • www and non-www versions of your website.
    • A home page url that redirects to another domain.
    • Title tags that are poorly written and/or duplicated on other internal pages.
    • Two versions of your home page: and

3. Global Navigation

  • This is the set of links found in the navigation, header and fitter bars.
  • Inspect your global navigation for missing or broken links with JavaScript turned off in your browser.
  • Make sure you use descriptive keyword rich for title tags for all links in the main navigation.

4. Categories & Subcategories

  • Every category/subcategory page should have a definable purpose. Then, justify that purpose with well-written, optimized content.
  • Evaluate category/subcategory links for the following:
    • Do the links point to the correct pages?
    • Is there excessive hyperlinking to irrelevant pages?
    • Is effective anchor-text nomenclature being employed for backlinks?

5. Optimized Web Content

  • Make sure the following elements have been optimized with keyword rich text:
    • (i) Title Tags
    • (ii) Meta Descriptions – not a “ranking” factor but a huge “relevancy” factor
    • (iii) URL’s
    • (iv) Image Alt Tags – don’t need to be keyword rich
    • (v) Image Title Tags – should be keyword rich
    • (vi) Link Title Tags – should be keyword rich
    • (vii) H1 & H2 tags – should be keyword rich
    • (viii) H3 & H4, etc – don’t need to be keyword rich
    • (ix) Limited use of Flash/JavaScript

6. Off-Page SEO

  • Use Open Site Explorer to pull important metrics about the website. Compare the metrics to the site’s competitors.
  • Use a keyword tracking tool to see that your whole website has been indexed and that it ranks or competitive keywords.
  • Check for duplicate content off page. You don’t want your open pages competing with each other, nor do you want your site penalized by search engines for plagiarism.

7. Site Speed

  • Page load time is often forgotten when it comes to SEO Audits and website optimization. What is the idea page load time? It does depend on what content is being served. Or does it?
  • All content should be optimized in terms of file size. I tend to keep all website images, wherever possible, between 200-300kb maximum. I also prefer page load times of 3-4 seconds maximum. On mobile sites I prefer them faster.

8. Is your site trustworthy?

  • Would you trust the information printed on this website?
  • Would you refer the website to a friend or relative?
  • Would you give the website your credit card number?

9. Maximize for Readability

  • Is the content placement logical?
  • Are the text blocks too chunky?
  • Are the columns too wide?
  • Is the line height appropriate?
  • Are there any distracting images?

10. Don’t forget these two files

  • Ensure the Robots.txt files in place and that you have successfully submitted your full site map (and image site map if needed) to Google and Bing.

This wraps up Part One of this post. We’ve only just begun. As you all surely know, SEO is a beast. A complicated one at that.

You need to spend quality time with all the authoritative SEO knowledge you’ve accumulated all these years, crafting the most effective keyword research and search engine optimization strategy, designed to achieve results.

Tomorrow’s Part 2 SEO Audit post continues covering more of the following SEO essentials: 

Google’s New Algorithm Hummingbird, The SEO Zoo of Google Algorithm Updates (Panda/Penguin/Zebra?), SEO Tactics to AvoidNew School SEO Tactics, Author Rank, Social Signals, Link building,…and More.

Please share this post, comment below, and read Part Two of this article here.


Ben Norman:
SEO Audit Checklist on Pinterest: