Marketers who take their SEO chores seriously know that search engine optimization is not a task that you can be done with. It’s an ongoing process, and, as such, you need to regularly perform SEO audits on your website to make sure everything is well-optimized and running smoothly.
However, the search engine regulations are ever-changing, which makes it easy to miss important updates and new requirements that can influence your performance. Furthermore, even if you’ve done everything by the book, there still may be performance issues.
To help you stay in line, we’ve prepared a comprehensive, yet simple, SEO audit checklist including all the pertinent tasks you need to take care of in order to ensure your SEO success in 2022.
However, bear in mind that an audit implies that you already have an SEO strategy in place, and want to review and revisit it to make sure there aren’t any setbacks.
If you are just starting your SEO efforts, consider reviewing the following resources:
- The Top 15 Benefits of SEO for Business in 2022
- How to Create the Perfect WordPress Structure for SEO
- What Are Search Engines Looking For in 2021? 16 Facts About SEO You Need Right Now
- SEO for Startups: Why Startups Need Search Engine Optimization
- Top 7 Benefits of SEO for Small Businesses
- Forget Black Hat SEO, Think White Hat SEO
- What Is SEO Writing: The Essential SEO Writing Guide for Marketers
- 7 Ways to Use Long-Tail Keywords in Your SEO Strategy
Without further ado, let’s get started with your SEO audit checklist for 2022.
Technical SEO Checkup
Technical SEO plays an important role in how visible your website is in search engines. To that end, some aspects of it improve the way search engines are able to crawl, understand, and index your pages, while others focus on user experience.
By delving deeper into the nitty-gritty technical stuff, you can make sure that your website checks off all the important benchmarks and lives up to Google’s standards.
- Speed Optimization. Your website’s speed is imperative for user experience and an important ranking factor. You can use PageSpeed Insights to check how your pages perform and fix any issues that come up.
- Core Web Vitals. Last year Google announced core web vitals as part of their top page experience signals. These focus on the page’s loading time, interactivity, responsiveness, and stability. There is a dedicated report in the Search Console that shows you whether there are issues with your website, and Google has provided a list of tools that can help run an in-depth diagnosis – Chrome User Experience Report (CrUX), Web Vitals Chrome Extension, Lighthouse, Chrome DevTools, and Page Speed Insights.Depending on how tech-savvy you are, fixing core web vitals issues can be a challenging task, so, if you find any problems in your GSC report, make sure to contact your IT or a professional WordPress agency.
- Indexing Issues. Check if all the pages you want to be visible to Google are being indexed. To do this, you can use the Index Coverage report in the Search Console. There you can find what pages are visible, and whether there are any blockers.Also, make sure that all indexed URLs are using the same version of your website. Google considers HTTP, HTTPS, www, and non-www variations as different websites and this can dilute your ranking. Furthermore, as Google prioritizes HTTPS, so should you.
- Redirects. Review what redirects you have on your website, and double-check if they are all necessary. Too many redirects can affect loading and performance.Also, make sure that you are using the proper status codes, otherwise, you risk confusing the bots and causing indexing issues.
- Canonicals. Content duplication is a common issue, especially on eCommerce and WordPress websites. It can be caused by URL parameters that indicate a product’s size, color, etc.; tracking cookies; content syndication; and other factors.Whatever the case, it’s important to use the rel=”canonical” tag to show which page you consider as the mother copy. Although Google has the final word on which version to show to the user, your suggestions reduce the chances of the bots becoming misinterpreting the importance of your pages.
- Information Architecture. The way that content is organized on your website is vital for the experience of both humans and robots. To ensure nobody “gets lost and confused” on your website, you should flatten your information architecture, and make it intuitive for people (and bots) to navigate your pages.Each page should be reachable within three clicks from your homepage, following a logical path. Also, make sure that there aren’t any “orphaned” pages that are not connected to any other URL on your website. These tend to be partially invisible to the bots, or remain neglected as they seem less important.
Metadata helps search engines better understand and index your website. They also use it to display information about your content in the SERPs, and if you haven’t provided it yourself, the bots extract it automatically.
However, when you create the metadata manually, you are in control of what the users see, and you make your links more compelling and clickable. Depending on the query, Google may still choose to display different text instead of yours, but in most cases, it’s easier for the bots to use ready-made information.
When going through your SEO audit checklist, makes sure to double-check that all of your important pages have the following:
- Structured Data. Use the proper type of structured data, and update any generic filler with original information about the content. If you have too many pages that need to be updated, prioritize the more important ones and those with the most irrelevant auto-generated data.
- Title Tags. Last year, Google updated its title tag policy and now focuses more on the HTML tag provided by the page owner. While they still may choose to deliver to the user a different title, if yours is good enough, it’s a safe bet that they will stick with it.To ensure that, create title tags that match the content and include the main keyword. Also, make sure that these are below 60 characters and sound catchy and engaging.
- Meta Descriptions. The meta description is your chance to “sell” the content to the user and stand out on the search results pages. Try to fit into 155 characters and end the text with a call to action. The main keyword should be included here as well.
Adding images to your content improves the user experience and can make your content easier to understand and digest. If the visuals are unique and specially designed for the purpose of the page, they can boost your SEO performance, because they provide added value to the user.
However, on the other hand, adding too many and too heavy images can cause performance issues, and hold your content back. That’s why you shouldn’t skip image SEO.
Here’s what you can do about it:
- Image Size. Bulky images can create page loading issues and slow down your website speed. Make sure to identify, compress, and optimize all troublemakers, by using a tool such as TinyPNG.
- Lazy Loading. Implementing lazy loading for images below the fold improves the user experience on your pages, and boosts your core web vitals score, so if you haven’t done it already, now is the time.
- Attributes. All the images on your website should be optimized with the proper alt attributes. Although Google is getting better at crawling images, the bots still have a long way to go. By providing enough information, you are making it easier for them to index the graphics on your pages. Amongst other things, this increases your chances of ranking in image search, which is becoming more and more popular every day.
Mobile Friendliness and Optimization
In 2022, the mobile experience on your website should be flawless. Almost 60% of all website traffic is from mobile, which means that, if your pages don’t render properly on small-screen devices, people probably won’t lose their time trying to figure them out and will move on to the next link in the SERPs – your competitor’s.
Furthermore, Google has already switched to mobile-first indexing, so they are prioritizing the mobile version of almost all of the websites online. If your layouts are with responsive design, you are on the safe side.
However, if your website is running two separate versions, you must make sure that all of the content you have on desktop is available on mobile as well. Otherwise, it won’t show on the search result pages.
If you haven’t done it already, you can double-check if your website is mobile-friendly, using Google’s dedicated tool.
Aside from that, there are a few other things that you should take into account when auditing the mobile SEO of your website:
- User Behavior. You can review your mobile traffic report in Google Analytics (go to Audiences, then Mobile, then Overview) to analyze user behavior. If there are issues such as high bounce rates, or low dwell time, investigate them and take timely actions.
- Content Optimization. Check if your content is legible and easy to interact with on mobile devices. Short paragraphs and sentences, large enough clickable surfaces, and generous white space between elements make for a better mobile experience.
While on-page SEO alone is not enough to ensure the success of your strategy, without it, your website performance in the SERPs will definitely suffer. Even if you have hundreds of pages on your website and can’t revisit all of them, you should make sure that your most popular content is optimized, and apply best practices to the new pages you publish:
- Content Structure. When your content is well structured, it’s easier for search engine bots to crawl and understand it. At the same time, this improves the user experience, because it allows people to scan the content and see whether it has what they need.To that end, you should organize your content with H-tags and limit the information in each section to 300 characters. If you need to fit more, you can break the section with bullets. In fact, bullets are a great way to structure information and make it more comprehensible to both bots, and readers.
- Simple Sentences. Shorter sentences are easier to read and understand. Search engine algorithms use natural language processing to analyze text and find it difficult to understand long winding constructions. Cutting down the fluff will help Google better index your content.
- Keywords Review. Double-check if your content is optimized for the desired keywords and that they are properly distributed and included in all the right places – meta description, title tag, the first 100 words of the intro, H-tags, etc.Also, make sure to audit for keyword cannibalization issuers and topic duplications, as they may affect your ranking.
- Links. Your content should have enough internal and external links (which means at least five of each type). There used to be a limit of how many links Google could crawl on a page, but not now you can add as many as you like.However, keep in mind that if you overdo it, these may distract the reader, so make sure to add only relevant links with on-point anchor text.
- Featured Snippets and Passage Results. Special results in the SERPs may not always result in clicks, but they can do wonders for your SEO brand awareness. While there aren’t any specific rules on how to optimize your content for featured snippets and passage results, there are steps you can take to try.These types of results usually directly extract information from the content on the page. This means that by providing short and concise paragraphs of information that directly answer possible use queries, you have better chances to rank. The same applies to lists and tables – if you provide them and they are on point, Google may use them to make a snippet.
Links are one of Google’s all-time favorite raking signals. Backlinks show that your content is good enough to be recommended by other websites, and boost your credibility. Internal links, on the other hand, help the bots rate your pages by how important they are and contribute to their understanding of your information architecture.
- Backlinks. Google’s John Mueller recently mentioned on Twitter that toxic backlinks are not as big an issue as many SEO specialists consider them to be. This means that, in your audit, you can spend less time disavowing suspicious links, and focus more on building new ones to the pages you consider most valuable.
- Internal. Internal linking allows search engines to better understand how the content of your website is connected, provides additional context (especially when you are using the proper anchor text), and shows the bots what pages you consider important. Furthermore, internal links help the bots discover and index the new pages that you publish more easily.
- Broken Links. Fix broken links, internal and external alike. These may not be a major SEO issue, but they create a bad user experience and, as a result, can affect your website’s overall SEO score.
Local SEO is integral for companies that have brick and mortar shops, and provide localized services. In fact, 99% of consumers say that they have researched a business online before they visit it in person. What they find in search results defines whether they will choose you or opt for a competitor.
When it comes to local SEO, the most important things to keep an eye out for are your visibility (showing up in relevant queries), reputation (reviews and mentions), and information accuracy (contact details, open hours, location on the map, etc.)
- Google My Business. Update your Google my business listing with fresh and relevant information. Manage negative reviews, if any, and encourage happy customers to speak their minds – the more reviews you have, the better, as this will minimize the chances of one unhappy client ruining your overall score.Also, take advantage of all the features the tool provides – add images, answer user questions, provide detailed information about your working hours, and anything that your clients may care about.
You can look for inspiration in the “People also ask” section of the search results and provide all the relevant answers in one place.
- Contact Information (NAP). Your name, address, and phone number (also known as NAP) should be easily accessible in the footer and the contact section of your website. Also, review third-party platforms where you are listed and make sure the information there is accurate and up-to-date.
- Local Keywords. Optimize your website with keywords that match “near me” and localized searches. If you operate in different areas, consider creating content that applies to the needs of customers in each location, and optimize it properly.
- Directories, Listings, Mentions. You can boost your local SEO performance by getting your business featured in relevant directories, listings, and charts, and obtaining mentions in PR publications and industry media. These make you seem more credible and boost your online reputation.
When it comes to SEO, there are always things to tinker with on your website. Search engines update their rules and regulations multiple times through the years, and to keep your positions in the SERPs, you need to stay in the loop.
The SEO audit checklist we’ve provided in this article will help you revise your pages and improve their performance. However, make sure to follow the new and upcoming SEO trends, and implement them in a timely manner. This way, you’ll never miss a beat and will maintain your competitive advantage.