website seo audit

How to perform an SEO audit
Part 1: Content SEO & UX

How to perform an SEO audit. Part 1: Content SEO & UX

December 05th, 2017 – 16 Comments

A couple of years ago, we did about 40 to 60 SEO audits a month. Although consultancy has not been in our product range for some time now, we do occasionally perform these audits, for instance when a friend asks us to have a quick look. An SEO audit like that is not as elaborate as the ones we used to present our clients, but do give a nice overall view of how your SEO is doing. In the coming three articles, I’ll give you a condensed overview of how to go about this yourself.

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Steps in the SEO audit

In this SEO audit, we’ll use our holistic SEO approach. That means we will address some content SEO issues, technical SEO issues and more. The entire website needs to be right for your SEO to be right. In the coming posts, we’ll go over these steps:

Part 1:

  • User experience & Content SEO

Part 2:

Part 3:

User experience

The first things I do when reviewing a website is simply looking for low-hanging fruit. What are the obvious improvements? How can we make things easier for our readers?

Colors

Are the colors on the website appealing and do they match the brand? I like my websites to use a certain color scheme that keeps the focus on the content. So, headings should stand out as such, and it needs to be clear what links are. Contrast is an issue I’d check at this point as well.

Use of images and videos

Images and videos are great to present a product, direct visitors to the right spots on your pages or set a mood. In all cases, these should support the written message you have for the visitor. In your SEO audit, you should check if there is a nice balance between textual and visual information. I also have an opinion on sliders and video backgrounds, by the way. Note that a video background isn’t the same as adding a video to your text: the latter can be beneficial.

There is a fold

Yes, there is a fold and I would like to see your primary call-to-action and your central message (what is your added value for the visitor?) above it. If your primary call-to-action is much lower on the page, or just not there, I would fix this asap. Especially on your homepage, where your main goal is to direct people to the different sections of your website, it should be clear immediately where you want them to go.

Reassurance

Social proof, security signs and testimonials all contribute to a pleasant user experience. They will reassure the visitor of how well your products are, and how good your company is. They will tell the potential buyer that your website is safe and they can purchase without having to worry about security, for instance. Of course, this depends mainly on the type of website.

Content SEO

The basis of any SEO strategy is writing good content. You need a killer content SEO strategy. In the end, your content needs to answer any question a user ‘asks’ Google. Good content starts with keyword research, so the content part of your SEO audit starts there as well.

Keyword research

As you are doing this SEO audit yourself, there is a trap you might fall into. If you are renting holiday homes, but tend to call these cottages yourself, please consider what your visitor would be looking for first and check if your site is optimized for that. That’s a quick check that is very valuable. When you have determined the main keyword for your website, check if you have one main page to rank for that keyword. If so, check if you used any related keywords to optimize other pages as well. If you want to deep dive into keyword research, please check our ultimate guide to keyword research.

Site structure

The next thing I would check is site structure. Does it make sense, to begin with? Does the menu include the main pages of the website, and are these perhaps accessible from a footer menu and the homepage? Is there a sitemap that tells me more about the site structure, in XML or HTML?

We like to think of that site structure as a pyramid, in which the main articles are supported by other, pages that target, for instance, long tail keywords. This process, and more, is explained in our guide to site structure. Be sure to read that. After reading this article, it’ll be so much easier to understand and check your own site structure, and find things to improve.

Introductory content

Another quick and valuable check is a check for introductory content. Regardless of the type of site you have, there will be pages that have large collections of other content. Think along the lines of product categories, blog archives, landing pages of some kind. The important thing is to make clear to both your visitor and Google, what it is that this collection has in common. Usually, approximately 200 words will do as an introduction, if you want a guideline for your SEO audit.

Duplicate content

I’m not going to explain here why you don’t want duplicate content. Go read about that here. Bottom line is that you want to prevent it. A fast way to get at least some insight into your duplicate content is CopyScape. It will tell you were (snippets of) your content is found anywhere else on the web. I also like their SiteLiner product, which checks for internal duplicate content. Go try for yourselves.

Internal search

The one thing that annoys me the most on a website, especially on large ones, isn’t when Google directs me to the wrong page (fix that using cornerstone content, for instance), but when a website that’s over, say, 20 pages has no decent internal search option. People add that option, and forget to optimize the internal search result pages. It’s a common thing with WordPress sites, really. It’s improving, but you might need to give it some TLC on your own site. Just do an internal search on your site and see for yourself.

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Related posts and products

On your pages, for instance for blog articles, or product pages, is there an ‘escape’ to the next page available at the end of your main content? Do you direct people to the next page, if they decide not to buy yet, for instance? Just check if it’s there, if for instance your WooCommerce install provides this, or if your theme builder has an option for that. It provides a better user experience, will keep people on your page and creates valuable internal links in the process.

Coming up in part 2: General SEO

This concludes the UX and content SEO part of the SEO audit. Since combining all the parts of an audit in a single post would lead to a behemoth, we’ve split it in three parts. Next, we’ll publish part two of the SEO audit series in which we’ll dive deeper into the general SEO checks you should perform to determine the SEO quality of a website. In part three, we’ll look into site speed and engagement. See you next time!

Read more: ‘How to perform an SEO audit. Part 2: General SEO’ »


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16 Responses to How to perform an SEO audit. Part 1: Content SEO & UX

  1. Jason Lowey
    By Jason Lowey on 13 December, 2017

    Very helpful in terms of content SEO and UX design. Will definitely use in next post. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Van Wijk
    By Van Wijk on 9 December, 2017

    Very useful information. There is still a lot for me to learn on SEO and you are helping me going forward in the right direction!

  3. nexvan
    By nexvan on 8 December, 2017

    hi, edwin is so helpful

  4. Christopher
    By Christopher on 8 December, 2017

    wow this is so helpful Thank you very much :)

    • Edwin Toonen
      By Edwin Toonen on 8 December, 2017

      You’re welcome, Christopher!

  5. Toudjidoum
    By Toudjidoum on 7 December, 2017

    My comment is more simple that I would like to be dotted for every technology which helps our company to grow its capacity of doing its work. It’s what I do now thank to your technique.

  6. Digember Dangwal
    By Digember Dangwal on 6 December, 2017

    Extremely helpful article. I would like to ask some question regarding:
    Internal duplicate content: Is it really affect badly for SEO perspective. My blog has few same or similar content ( mainly 1 or 2 steps ) in my 3-4 articles. Should I change that if they are actually meaningful?
    Call-to-action: Do search engine index our CTA pop-ups? If yes, will it be good for SEO or bad?
    Keyword Research: I have been using Google trends to find the right focus keyword for my blog posts. Apart from the main keyword, how can I optimize my post for LSI keywords?

    • Michiel Heijmans
      By Michiel Heijmans on 11 December, 2017

      Hi Digember,

      Duplicate content is duplicate content right? If you have duplicate content on your website, you might confuse Google: what page should I index? You could fix this by pointing both canonical URLs to the same URL, this tells Google what the original source for the content is.

      Call-to-actions are for UX and conversion, and a good UX helps SEO. The call-to-action as such has no specific SEO value.

      LSI: my first idea would be to simply do a search for the desired keyword and check what related words Google returns. But apart from that, I assume these words surface when you write the post already as well?

  7. Cori Ramos
    By Cori Ramos on 6 December, 2017

    Hi Michiel,

    Thank you so much for putting this SEO audit checklist together. I got some great tips. And thanks for reminding me to do an internal search of my posts or pages.

    I can’t wait to read part 2!

    Cori

    • Edwin Toonen
      By Edwin Toonen on 8 December, 2017

      Yup, internal search if often forgotten. Thanks for reading, Cori.

  8. WWE Hindi
    By WWE Hindi on 6 December, 2017

    Thanks for telling me about this topic because after read it, I am understand how SEO audit work.

  9. Matt
    By Matt on 5 December, 2017

    Helpful post. I’ve been using yoast for a while now and even though my blog is fairly new, the tips and insights are helping me to start ranking in Google. Thank you.

    • Edwin Toonen
      By Edwin Toonen on 8 December, 2017

      Great to hear, Matt!

  10. John Kelly
    By John Kelly on 5 December, 2017

    Speaking of UX, please consider changing the font style and size of your blog posts. This font is difficult to read, and the 1em size just isn’t large enough. Thanks

    • Edwin Toonen
      By Edwin Toonen on 8 December, 2017

      Thanks for the tip, John!

    • Green Web Hosting
      By Green Web Hosting on 7 December, 2017

      This article is very very helpful. I like that your company provided names of all the tools used in a SEO audit. Thank you so much.


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