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11 Tools to Perform Technical SEO Audit in 2020

Posted March 20th, 2020 in SEO/SEM. Tagged: , , .

In 2019, Google has rolled out lots of updates out of which March 2019 Core Update, June Core Update, September Search Reviews update, and BERT were the major ones.

BERT update was intended to better understand long-tail and conversational search queries while June Core Update impacted the websites that failed to implement E-A-T (Expertise, Authority, and Trust) Guidelines.

On September 16, 2019, Google released a new algorithmic update to review (crawl and index) review snippets/search results.

SEO audit

Sites that do not provide a great user experience have the highest chances of being impacted by the Google updates. Technical SEO audit helps your site to stay updated with Google’s guidelines, improve UX and stabilize your rankings in the search results.

Tools to use for technical SEO

1. Mobile-Friendliness: Google Mobile-Friendly Test

Google Mobile-Friendly Test

Google has been using the mobile-first index since July 1, 2019. For older websites, Google said it will continue to monitor and evaluate pages for their readiness and will notify them once they’re seen as being ready. The mobile-first index means that Google will use the mobile version of the website for indexing and ranking. Therefore, it is important to make sure your website is mobile-friendly.

You can check if your website is mobile-friendly or not through Google mobile-friendly test tool. Simply enter your URL and click on “Test URL”. This tool will also provide suggestions to make your website mobile-friendly. You can review the suggestions and implement them to make your site mobile-friendly.

2. Loading Speed: Google Page Speed Insights

Google Page Speed Insights

Google prefers websites that open quickly and automatically rank it higher than the ones that take more time to load. Besides, Google is planning to identify and label the slow-loading websites on its Chrome browser. Therefore, optimizing your website loading speed would give you an advantage over your competitors.

You can use the Google Page Speed Insights tool to check your website’s speed. A score of 90 or above means the website is fast, 50 to 90 is considered moderate, and below 50 is deemed to be slow. It also provides suggestions to improve the page’s performance and displays an estimate of how fast the page will load after the improvement is implemented.

Follow these steps to improve your website’s speed:

  • Optimize your images on the website by compressing it. Make sure you use the right format for images (PNGs are better for graphics while JPEGs are better for photographs).
  • Compress CSS, JavaScript, and HTML using Gzip and eliminate unnecessary codes.
  • Using a VPN also helps to improve page speed. VPN saves copies of your website on multiple locations globally and sends the copy from the nearest server which drastically reduces the server response time. Always compare the pros and cons of a VPN before choosing one. This will help you save money and have a great UX.
  • Minimize the number of redirects required. Each time you redirect a user to another page, it increases the waiting time.
  • Using Google AMP pages is yet another way to improve the website’s speed on mobile devices.

3. Broken Links: Screaming Frog

Screaming Frog SEO Spider

Broken links not only creates a bad user experience, but it also leads to lower rankings. This is why identifying and fixing broken links is important.

To check for broken links you can go to Google Search Console and then click on “Coverage” under Index.

If you use WordPress, then you can install the Broken Link Checker Plugin, it scans your website every 72 hours and sends you email alerts every time a new broken link is found.

Additionally, you can use Screaming Frog Broken Link Checker to find broken links. Enter your website’s URL in the “spider” box and click on start. Then click on “Client Error (4xx)” under the “Response Codes” folder. You can then block crawlers from indexing those pages (broken links) through “noindex”.

4. Robots.txt: Google robots.txt Tester

Robots.txt file tells crawlers which pages they can crawl and index and the ones they cannot. If you cannot find your website on the search engine, chances are robots.txt is preventing the crawlers from indexing your site.

You can test your robots.txt file with Google tester and change “Disallow: /” to “Disallow: ” to allow crawlers to access all the pages on your website.

5. XML Sitemaps: XML Validation

XML tester

An XML sitemap lists all the URLs on your website, allowing crawlers to find the URLs that may be isolated from the rest of the site’s content and index your website efficiently, thus ranking them accordingly.

You can validate your XML Sitemap and can make changes accordingly. If you have not submitted XML yet, you can build and submit a sitemap directly to the Google Search Console or you can add it to your robots.txt file.

6. Internal Links: SEMRush

SEMRush

Internal links are as crucial as backlinks. They link one page on the same domain to another. Search engine crawlers index all the internal links and errors in any of those links could hamper your position in SERPs. Besides, it also increases the average time spent on the website. Therefore, it is important to ensure there are no errors in the internal linking structure.
You can also add internal links at the bottom (footer) of the website. However, make sure that the links are relevant and/or similar to what the user is already viewing. Fix broken internal links, internal link redirects, and deep-linked important pages.

Use tools like SEMrush for internal link audits. You can then remove those links from your content and prevent crawlers from indexing those sites.

7. Site’s Health and Performance: Internet Marketing Ninjas

Internet Marketing Ninjas

Your site’s health and performance reveal important information such as your page authority, rankings on SERPs, and the total number of inbound/outbound links. This will help you figure out which areas need improvement. SEO relies on data. No matter whatever tool you use to do SEO, your dashboard comprises lots of data. It’s no wonder that by 2020, around 1.7 megabytes of data will be generated every second for everyone on the planet. You need to rely on data Science to measure your site’s health and eliminate guesswork from SEO.

Things you need to track:

  • Response errors: This will help you improve the user experience, thereby reducing the bounce rate.
  • The number of redirects: This will help you identify and reduce the number of redirects, thereby improving page speed.
  • Least crawled URLs: This will help you identify if your most important pages are being crawled or not.
  • Pages that crawlers aren’t supposed to index: This will help you identify and block those pages, thereby, improving your website’s ranking.

You can use tools like Internet Marketing Ninjas to track these metrics.

8. Canonicalization: CognitiveSEO

Cognitive SE)

Sometimes, it’s possible that the same content is spread across multiple pages on a website. Unfortunately, the search engines see these links pointing to different URLs, as a result, you lose your position in search rankings.

Canonicalization is the solution for it. Canonical tags inform the search engine to ignore similar or duplicate content present on different web pages of your site. It also allows you to specify the original content. You can use tools like CognitiveSEO to find canonical pages.

9. Schema Markup: Structured Data Testing Tool

Structured Data Testing Tool

Schema markup improves the way search engines read and represent your page in SERPs. In a nutshell, schema markup helps search engines categorize and index your content. This means better results for searchers.

You can check your website’s schema tag through the Structured Data Testing Tool.

10. Backlink Analysis: Ahrefs

Ahrefs

Backlinks help you improve your website’s visibility and ranking on SERPs. But bad backlinks can do more harm than good to your SEO.

Therefore, it is important to find and eliminate bad backlinks. You can use tools such as Ahrefs for checking backlinks.
Eliminating bad backlinks could be difficult. You can either contact the website’s owner and request them to remove the link or disavow those backlinks to your website.

11. Duplicate Meta Tags/Content: CopyScape/Grammarly

Grammarly

Meta tags allow you to summarize the page’s content in up to 155 words. Search engines then display the meta description in the search results. Having a duplicate meta tag will confuse search engine crawlers. So, it is important to create and optimize unique meta descriptions for each page carefully.
Similarly, duplicate content can do more harm than good. Google loves new and unique content. Therefore, you should check the content for plagiarism before uploading it.

You can use tools like Copyscape or Grammarly to identify duplicate content.

Bonus: 4 good hints

Now it’s time for some helpful hints to help you manage your site more efficiently and improve your website score.

1. Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs are like maps for a website. It allows a user to track their path on your website by allowing them to currently view the homepage of your website. Breadcrumbs a.k.a breadcrumb tail is a navigation system that allows a user to track their presence on a website. It’s a small text file mostly mentioned in the header of your website. For instance, if you’re using yoast.com, the path for your plugin will be like Dashboard > Plugins > Yoast SEO in WordPress. This breadcrumb trail shows you where you’re right now. Every step of that path is clickable and tracked, all the way where you started. In short, breadcrumbs help you track your presence on a website.

Breadcrumbs are beneficial for both search engines and users. They help search engines understand the website’s structure and allow users to move through the website easily. Therefore, it is important to add breadcrumbs to your website.

There are three types of Breadcrumbs:

  • Location (Hierarchy) Based Breadcrumbs: It starts from the home page, then displays the category name, and then the current page
  • Attribute (Dynamic) Based Breadcrumbs: Attribute-based breadcrumbs are used for products with too many attributes
  • History (Path) Based Breadcrumbs: History-based breadcrumbs follow the path built based on the pages a user has visited

All breadcrumbs have only one goal i.e. to ease the site navigation process for both your visitors and search engine crawlers.

2. Security

HTTPS indicates that the website is encrypted (256-bit). Google favors websites that are secured and certified. It ranks websites with security higher than those without HTTPS status. Besides, it ensures your site visitors that their information (email, phone number, credit card, etc) are safe with you. Therefore, it is important to switch to HTTPS, whether or not any confidential information is involved.

Follow these steps to secure your website:

  • Buy an SSL certificate from one of the top providers like BuildThis.io.
  • Activate and install the certificate on your website.
  • Update your site to use HTTPS.

SSL certificates will add privacy and security to your website. It will also boost your website’s rankings on SERPs.

3. Zombie Pages

The pages that don’t have any unique or interesting content on them are referred to as zombie pages. They don’t offer value to visitors or search engines. Many website owners use zombie pages to rank certain keywords and/or improve internal linking structure. Since search engines focus on performance metrics such as pages viewed per visit and traffic signals, zombie pages will hamper your SEO efforts.

To identify zombie pages, measure the following metrics:

  • Pageviews
  • Unique pageviews
  • Average time spent on a page
  • Bounce Rate
  • Exit Rate
  • Pages per session

These metrics allow you to find out the pages that are not serving any purpose. Deleting zombie pages not only helps you make your site better but it also makes your SEO audit much easier (fewer pages means fewer errors).

4. E-A-T Guidelines

Last but not least, you need to make sure that your website complies with the E-A-T guidelines. Improving your E-A-T score will increase your chances of ranking well in SERPs.

Expertise-Authoritativeness-Trustworthiness

Expertise: At the minimum, Google expects you to be an expert in your niche. Adding outdated information on your new content can hamper your expertise value. Hence, it is important to do proper research before writing any content (and back every claim you make).

Authoritativeness: It is all about the credibility of your website. This is informed by reviews, testimonials, and how useful users find your website.

Trustworthiness: How trustworthy is your website? It is determined mainly by things such as site security and overall site quality.
Start with optimizing your About Page Google as well your users want to know who is behind the website and if they can trust you or not. You can also include your experience, awards you have won or been nominated for, testimonials from clients (about you), and academic qualifications.

Other steps you can follow include:

  • Include author names and a short bio at the end of each article.
  • Optimize low E-A-T content.
  • Update old posts with outdated information.
  • Get reviews

Final Thoughts

Technical SEO is as important as on-page and off-page SEO. Once you’re done with a technical SEO audit, you would start noticing positive changes in your ranking in some time. Though it is a time-taking and lengthy process, it should be done every month.


About the Author

Usman Raza

Usman Raza is the co-founder of Christian Marketing Experts, a marketing specialist at Best PSD to WordPress, SeedX, and Nano Hearing Aids. He has been writing for magazines and newspapers since 2001, and editing and managing websites since 2006. A generalist, his most covered topics are business and technology. Follow him on Twitter @usmanintrotech.

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