It’s a good idea to conduct an SEO audit on your small business website, especially if you feel the site is not performing as it should. Decreased rankings, dwindling traffic, increased bounce rate, or slow-loading web page are all indicators that you may have SEO issues that need to be addressed. While you could hire a technical SEO to deep dive into your site, here are a few items you can look at on your own to see if your website has issues you can address before calling in the experts.

What is an SEO audit?

website auditAn SEO audit is an evaluation of a website that grades the site for its ability to appear in search engine results pages (SERPs). Audits are typically completed by checking each step on an audit checklist and finding any issues that need to be repaired or improved to boost a page’s search engine performance. Even if your website is performing reasonably well, it’s a good idea to occasionally run an audit to uncover areas of improvement to enhance the performance and effectiveness of your website.

Basic steps to follow when conducting an SEO audit

Here are a few simple steps to follow to check your small business website’s SEO. Before starting, here are a couple of tools that will help you with the process:

  • Google Analytics
  • Google Search Console
  • Screaming Frog

Both tools are free and can provide great insight into the health of your website. Here’s how to get started with Google Analytics. Once completed, set up a Google Search Console account too. Once these are both in place, you will be able to more effectively conduct a basic SEO audit on your site. One more tool you’ll want to get is Screaming Frog, as it will make several of the items on your SEO audit list easier to conduct. It is free too!

Check your site map

Websites should have either an XML sitemap or an HTML sitemap. Sitemaps help search engines better understand what is on your website and how to find it. Helping search engines understand the structure of your site and where to find certain pages is crucial for SEO. You can check to see if you have a sitemap by looking at the root pages of your site or using a tool like Google Search Console to see if one exists. Can’t find a site map?  You’ll need to create one. Using Screaming Frog, it’s quite simple to create an XML Sitemap. Just click on Sitemaps > Create XML Sitemap. Neil Patel wrote a great article on sitemaps, why they’re essential, and how to create them if you want to dive deeper into them.

Look for crawl errors

404 errorCrawl errors occur when a search engine tries to reach a page on your website but fails at it. It could be that the page no longer exists, can’t be retrieved from the server, or any other number of errors. Google divides crawl errors into two groups:

  1. Site errors. You do not want these, as they mean your entire site can’t be crawled.
  2. URL errors. You do not want these, but since they only relate to one specific URL per error, they are easier to maintain and fix.

To find if your site has crawl errors, use Google Search Console to identify any 400 and 500 server and not found errors found on-site. Or you can use Screaming Frog to find and identify 400 and 500 server error codes. Depending on what you find, these may be as simple as correcting a URL error or may require you to reach out to a webmaster to fix more substantial site errors.

Confirm your SSL certificate is active

It’s a particularly good idea to have an SSL certificate on your website. An unsecured website (one lacking an SSL certificate) can mean huge problems for both its owners and its users. To improve the situation, starting in July 2018, Google Chrome took serious measures to show its users, which websites have no data encryption. However, buying a certificate isn’t enough; it has to be installed on your website. The easiest way to check is to check your domain URL; if it shows “https,” you’re in the clear; if it only shows “http” you will need to fix it. Your hosting company or webmaster can help ensure the certificate is installed and help troubleshoot any issues you may have.

Image optimization

Many websites become sluggish over time because they are being bogged down with huge images. Large image files can really drag a site down and need to be addressed to keep page load times optimal. For WordPress sites, plugins such as Smush or EWWW can help. Here’s a list of 5 useful image optimization plugins. You’ll also want to ensure each image has an alt tag, a short description of the image. You can find missing alt tags using Screaming Frog.

Mobile optimization

mobile optimizationThis is a fairly new but crucial aspect of an SEO audit, making sure your website resolves well on mobile. This includes text size, readability, and much more. Google Search Console can alert you of any image issues with this. Just look for the tab that says “mobile usability” to see if there are any errors.

These are just basic items for an SEO audit. If you feel your site needs a more comprehensive SEO review, conduct the services of a marketing consultant or technical SEO to do a more thorough review. Making sure your site runs as smoothly as possible will help attract more traffic to your website and keep those visitors on your site. An SEO audit will help identify any issues and help you resolve them quickly, so be sure to have one done to maintain the health of your website.

Patty Hughes
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