Technical SEO Checklist – The Roadmap to a Complete Technical SEO Audit
Imagine running a diagnostics test on your car before a long journey. A technical SEO audit acts similarly for your website, ensuring everything works perfectly before exposing it to search engines and visitors. This comprehensive checklist will guide you on the road to conducting a complete technical SEO audit.
The complete technical SEO checklist audit
A technical SEO audit checklist helps with a comprehensive examination of a website from the perspective of search engine bots. By performing an SEO audit, we ensure that search engines like Google and Bing can efficiently crawl and understand your site.
Step 1. Accessing Google Search Console
Our journey begins with Google Search Console, a free service provided by Google to manage your website’s search functionality. The Google Search Console offers various tools to find and fix technical errors, submit sitemaps, view backlinks, and more.
Step 2. Manage Website Indexing and Crawling
Next, you need to check how search engines view and index your site. Tools like the URL Inspection Tool in the Google Search Console and the Bing Webmaster Tools can provide insights into this. You need to ensure that all your pages are indexed and that none are blocked by the robots.txt file.
A Website Auditor is an SEO tool that crawls your website like a search engine bot and checks it for common SEO issues. It can identify problems with broken links, duplicate content, on-page SEO elements, and more. It’s a good way to get a quick overview of what’s happening on your site.
Check for Manual Actions
A manual action means that a human reviewer at Google has found that pages on your site are not compliant with Google’s webmaster quality guidelines. Manual actions can dramatically affect your site’s visibility on search engines. Therefore, regularly checking for them is crucial.
Spot and Fix XML Sitemap Issues
The XML sitemap is like a roadmap of your website that leads Google to all your important pages. It is important to have a well-structured, up-to-date XML sitemap system that includes all your relevant pages. Tools like Google Search Console’s Sitemap report can help identify any issues with your sitemap.
Scanning Your Site for 404s
404 errors, indicating “page not found,” can create a poor user experience and lead to lower rankings in search engines. Regularly scanning your website for 404 errors and fixing them is important. Google Search Console’s Coverage report is an excellent tool for this.
Having clean and readable URLs is important for both users and search engines. URLs should be simple, descriptive, and contain keywords where possible. Remember to use hyphens to separate words in the URL and avoid unnecessary characters.
Set Up Correctly the 301 Redirects After Site Migration
301 redirects ensure that users and search engines are directed to the correct page if the website or a page has been moved. Always verify that 301 redirects are set up correctly after site migrations to avoid broken links and ensure that the link equity is passed to the correct pages.
Test Your Robots. Txt File to Show Google the Right Content
The robots.txt file instructs search engines on which pages on your site they should and shouldn’t crawl. It’s essential to test your robots.txt file regularly using tools like the Robots Testing Tool in Google Search Console to ensure its directed search engine bots correctly.
While an XML sitemap is for search engines, a TXT sitemap can be useful for visitors, providing a simple, plain text version of your site’s structure.
Make Sure Your Tracking Is Working Properly
Ensure your Google Analytics or other tracking tools are set up correctly. These provide valuable data about your site’s performance and user behaviour, so it’s crucial to check they’re capturing the right data.
An HTML sitemap allows users to navigate a website, which is different from an XML sitemap that is intended for search engines. It is a bulleted outline text version of the site navigation, which includes anchor text of the internal links.
Improve Server Response Time
Slow server response times can harm your site’s performance and, ultimately, your rankings in search results. Tools like Google’s Page Speed Insights can help identify server performance issues.
Audit Your Site Performance
Regularly checking your site’s performance is crucial. Use tools like Google’s Page Speed Insights, and Core Web Vitals report in Google Search Console to identify opportunities for improvement.
Perform Log File Analysis
Analysing your log files can provide valuable insights into how search engine bots are interacting with your website. This can help identify crawl issues and areas for optimisation.
Meta Robots Tags
Meta robot tags guide search engines on what to do with a webpage. They can prevent search engines from indexing a page or following links from a page.
Using Hreflang for Multi-Language Websites
If your site has content in multiple languages, using hreflang tagsit ensures that the right content is served to the right users. This can help reduce bounce rates and increase conversions.
Multiple Versions of URLs
It’s essential to ensure that there are no multiple versions of the same page (duplicate content). This can confuse search engines and may lead to a negative impact on your site’s SEO performance.
Reasons for Duplicate Issues
Duplicate content can occur for a number of reasons. Whether due to URL variations, www and non-www versions, or content scraping, it’s important to identify and resolve duplicate content issues to avoid a Google penalty.
Fix Internal Linking Issues
Effectively internal linking especially with the Link Whisper plugin boosts your SEO. It helps distribute link equity across your site, can help your site’s navigation, and can aid in site structure and hierarchy.
Build Search Engine Friendly URLs
Building SEO-friendly URLs is an important aspect of optimising your website for search engines. A well-structured URL provides both humans and search engines with an easy-to-understand indication of what the destination page will be about. So, use descriptive keywords and avoid unnecessary punctuation and characters.
Find and Fix Problematic Status Codes
Website status codes, like 404 (Not Found), 503 (Service Unavailable), or 301 (Moved Permanently), provide essential information to search engines about your pages. Tools such as Google Search Console can help you find and fix problematic status codes.
Verify the Indexed Content
Verify that all your web pages appear in the search engine results, and that no relevant pages are left out. You can check this through the “site:” operator in the Google search.
Audit Internal Links to Improve Your Chances of ranking Higher
Internal links help search engine bots find new content and establish site architecture. Use them strategically to improve the visibility of your important pages.
Discover Mobile-Friendliness Issues
With Google’s mobile-first indexing, mobile-friendliness is a must. Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool to discover if your site runs smoothly on mobile devices.
Technical duplicates can cause SEO Issues. These are multiple URLs leading to the same content due to parameters, session IDs, or protocols (http vs https). Identifying and resolving these using canonical tags or 301 redirects is crucial.
Using Structured Data to Highlight Your Content
Structured data is a great way to help search engines understand your content and enhance your search listings. Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool can help you validate your structured data.
Avoiding Canonicalising Blog Pages to the Root of the Blog
Avoid canonicalising blog pages to the blog’s root. It’s a common error that can result in search engines ignoring individual blog posts.
Test On as Many Platforms and Devices as Possible
Since users can access your site from various devices and platforms, testing your site on as many as possible is crucial. From desktop to mobile, ensure your website delivers a consistent and user-friendly experience.
Technical SEO Audit Checklist: Your Must-Have
Here’s a summarised checklist of everything we’ve covered in the technical SEO checklist. This checklist will serve as your roadmap for a thorough technical SEO audit.