Potential clients call us frequently “wanting SEO.” Yet, the majority are asking without proper understanding of what SEO really entails, or the time requirements needed to simply jumpstart the process. And, who can blame them? SEO is constantly changing and bettering itself, thanks to Google waging a decade long battle on bad SEO practices. If you’ve read our previous post, “Why SEO” you’ll already have a good grasp on what has changed in SEO and what’s most important today. “SEO is a process, not a product” requiring long-term commitment and flexibility. In addition to current day trends, it’s also imperative to understand where your website is falling in the search landscape. You’ll need to define the areas within your website that are performing well, and those that are in need of a little refinement. The first step in this process is an SEO audit. I know, the word “audit” elicits fear and loathing; but it’s truly a necessity. Your goals will obviously dictate the amount of detail and time spent on your website’s SEO audit, but a myriad of information can be extracted from it. We’ll give a high-level overview of what an audit can entail.
What’s in an Audit?
There are many things an audit can tell you about your website and, because I know you want to eventually eat dinner and go to bed tonight, we’re only going to cover a few.
500’s, 400’s, 300’s & 200’s
A crawl of the website that’s being audited will first show a list of 500’s, 400’s, 300’s and 200’s. What are those? Generally, we can think of anything that’s not a 200 as “bad.” 200’s are good, we like them.
500’s: Server Error! Something is broken! This means that something isn’t configured correctly on the server, or the page is trying to do something the server simply won’t allow. Blimey.
404: Not Found! (Where did it go?) These are 404’s from internal links- something decided to take a holiday, it seems.
301’s: also known as a 301 redirect, this means that a web page has been moved permanently. A 301 redirect will be used when a page no longer exists and users need to be directed elsewhere.
302’s: also known as a 302 Redirect, this means that a web page has been moved temporarily. For example, if you’re having a promotion and you’re temporarily driving traffic to a certain page, a 302 redirect will be put in place. Then, when the promotion ends, you’ll shut off the 302 and life returns to normal!
200’s: This is the proverbial website green light- It’s the GO! flag, an all clear signal… you get what I mean.
Webpage titles should be 512 pixels each. Anything under 400 pixels is considered underutilized and you’re missing potential opportunities!
Meta Descriptions & Meta Keywords
Meta descriptions are HTML attributes providing brief descriptions (no way) of pages’ content. They display preview snippets of said content when they show up in search results.
Meta Keywords, then are meta tags appearing in the HTML code of a page. These help tell search engines the topic of each page. If these are missing, or duplicated, spiders can’t index the pages properly.
H1 & H2’s
What are these? We’ve detailed that in a super-helpful previous blog post: H1, H2 and H3 Header Tags. For SEO, we really want to make sure there are no duplicate H1’s and H2’s, and that each page is using them properly.
Aside from being one of my favorite SEO Audit-related words to pronounce, canonicals (or canonicalization) refer to web pages that are able to load from multiple URLs. This creates a problem when various pages have the same content, yet different URLs, links that are really meant to point to the same page are then split up. An example of this would be:
Ensuring each page has a minimum of 400 words is ideal. However, be aware that spiders crawl every single word on a page, and pages that are ranking in the top 1 or 2 search results have well over 1,000 words. Aim high, land high!
Inlinks, Outlinks & External Outlinks
These three terms are pretty much just what they sound like. Inlinks are links coming to a page, outlinks are links coming from a page and linking to another page internally. External outlinks are therefore, links going to another website from a page inside your website. Generally, you need to be sure there are enough inlinks coming to important pages on your website, and that there aren’t more than 150 links coming from one page on your website.
Response time is the amount of time it takes to find a page, access it, and subsequently load it. In theory, this should take approximately 1 second. Slower load time leads to a lower conversion rate and less time spent on a page. Overall, it means that your website visitors will be less happy than they could be, and you may be making less money, as well!
The end output, after a website has been audited, is a list of potential fixes and suggestion to improve the website under scrutiny. It’s ultimately up to you what you want to work on, and what’s most important to you. Everyone has different goals and timelines, but the end result should be the same. The best websites are ones that are the most user friendly, with great original content, and (of course) this means great SEO! If you’re ready to get started, visit our SEO Audit information page!