The Technical SEO Audit

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Websites are made out of a lot of different pieces, and each one wants to be treated like a special snowflake. Every page or post has its own content, every category has its relevant content, and the website that contains all of them contains broad strokes which can produce sitewide ramifications for all of them.

In order to discover any structural problems in these snowflakes, a technical SEO audit is necessary.

Technical SEO Website Audits Explained

When we talk about audits, the first thing that comes to mind is a financial audit, which none of us ever wants to experience. The process of a website audit is along the same lines, but in this case, issues that arise are for the benefit of the audit recipient.

There are a few different types of audits that combine together for a comprehensive site audit, but we will be focusing on technical SEO in this article.

Technical SEO Audits are performed to be sure that the website is search engine friendly. Search engines like Google and Bing look for certain factors that help determine their rankings, and the overall health of a website plays into that.

Here are some issues we consistently see in a tech site audit that may affect SEO results:

  • Slow site speed
  • Broken links
  • Redirects
  • Page titles and metadata that are missing, too long, or too short
  • Duplicate content
  • Search engine blocking
  • Incorrect or incomplete sitemaps
  • Orphan pages

While one or two of these issues may not seem like a big deal, they can add up to give search engines a negative view of your site. Google specifically emphasizes that websites provide a positive viewer experience, and sites that load slowly, provide poor content, or are hard to spider will not rank well in most cases.

Let’s go into some highlights from the above list.

Slow Websites

For the last few years, Google has focused on great user experience in the mobile space. The speed in which a page loads is an important factor in that. In late 2019, Google officially announced that websites may end up being tagged as a fast-loading or a slow-loading website.

PageSpeed insights website overview

How Search Engines Find Your Content

As an ever-expanding web of sites and pages linking to each other, search engine spiders crawl from one page to another in a never-ending crawl. If they see that what they are looking for does not exist, or has been moved to another location, they can get confused and delay or stop their current crawl.

Too many broken links and redirected pages can flip this switch for search engines, so try to remove every instance that you can find.

Crawl Blocking

There are certain website settings, usually in the backend but sometimes in page code, that can tell a search engine that your website or page should not be indexed, or even crawled. These issues can come up because of a bit of leftover code from when the site was on a staging server, or if a page was edited for branding issues and then never restored correctly.

If Google is told not to put your site in its index, it won’t.

Tech SEO Audit Tools

Auditing a website can be performed in many different ways, but the important thing is that the results you get from the audit are all based around best practices. The amount of data that is produced from a site audit can easily overwhelm you at first glance, but once categorized into action items, it becomes invaluable. Always have a plan in place before beginning the audit.

To efficiently audit a website, it is highly recommended to use a 3rd party tool. Manually checking every single page on a website is tedious, time-consuming, and nearly impossible in an acceptable time frame with larger sites. In addition, these tools are set up to look for things that the naked eye may not easily find.

Here are two examples of technical SEO audit tools that we use at 201 Creative.

Screaming Frog

A website crawler designed to mimic the way a search engine spider might crawl your site, Screaming Frog is an amazing tool. Starting from the home page, or any page you like, it will jump from link to link within your website or any site you point it at. Results can be exported in spreadsheet, CSV, and other formats, and it can be integrated with Google Sheets to create reports.

Sample copy of a result exported from Screaming Frog website

There is a free version of Screaming Frog which can produce a decent set of data, but the paid version allows for more options, more pages available to spider, and much data from a technical viewpoint.

Screaming Frog Pros

  • Mimics search engine spiders
  • Highly customizable
  • Outputs data that can be integrated into reports
  • Can integrate with different APIs like Google Pagespeed
  • Free version available

Screaming Frog Cons

  • Reports are based on raw data, so often need to be massaged into a readable format for non-tech clients
  • Free version is limited
  • Does not provide data like SERP and keyword ranking

SEO Site Audit Tool by Ahrefs

Ahrefs is a subscription SEO service that has established itself as a powerful and useful hub for tools that give you backlink information, keyword ranking analysis, SERP tracking, and competitor research. Their SEO Site Audit Tool starts off much the same as Screaming Frog, but their results are incredibly user friendly.

Overview of Ahrefs' SEO Site Audit Tool

In addition to the technical site issues that can be found with a spider-based website audit, they also include data from their powerful SEO database, helping you focus on how the technical results affect your SERPs.

Technical issues audited by Ahrefs do not quite get as fine-tuned as Screaming Frog straight out of the box, but they have added controls for manual search queries.

Ahrefs SEO Site Audit Tool Pros

  • User-friendly interface and reports
  • Integrated with other Ahrefs tools
  • Excellent for checking social media tags
  • Uses their backlink database to check issues with broken incoming links

Ahrefs SEO Site Audit Tool Cons

  • No free version, 
  • May need an expensive higher-tier subscription for larger sites
  • Not as much technical data as Screaming Frog

Wrapping Up

To be sure that your website is in the best possible position to earn a high rank in search engines, a technical SEO audit is a must. Even the most well-designed website can have unseen flaws, especially after numerous content and backend changes, so be sure to have an audit performed on a regular basis.

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Jared Bauman

Jared Bauman is the Co-Founder of 201 Creative, and is a 20+ year entrepreneur who has started and sold several companies. He is the host of the popular Niche Pursuits podcast and a contributing author to Search Engine Land.