Your website’s ability to appear in the search results depends on many factors. Most SEO articles focus on On Page SEO, which is making sure you have H1 headers in the right place, have proper use of keywords etc but not many DIY SEO enthusiasts are knowledgeable about Technical SEO. So I decided to write this guide to accompany my technical SEO audit checklist – “How to do a technical SEO audit”.
I have been building WordPress websites for 10 years and, when the client wants search engine visibility, I always make sure their technical SEO is up to scratch.
What is technical SEO?
If you haven’t really heard of technical SEO before then let me explain it to you. Technical SEO is everything that controls how your website is crawled and indexed by search engine robots. Technical SEO is the groundwork you need to do so your content has the best chance to be ranked in the search engines. Improvements to technical SEO improve your whole site, not just an individual page (On Page SEO).
Why is technical SEO important?
Bad technical SEO can severely affect your sites visibility in search engines. If Google bots can’t crawl your site or they crawl a lot of poor quality pages then your site won’t be given preference in search engine results. Your site will be hidden away and you will get no traffic.
What does a technical SEO audit cover?
In a nutshell, it covers;
Crawl and indexing errors
Crawling is what happens when the Google bot visits your sites to see what’s there and whether it’s worth putting in its index. The index is a fancy word for the Google database. If your site isn’t being crawled properly it can’t be indexed properly. Two scenarios can happen.
- Google crawls and indexes way more than you want it too. Everything on your site, the good, the bad and the ugly is laid bare for the world to see. Well, the problem is, no one will see it because Google has decided you have too many low quality pages and your site is not worth showing.
- Google doesn’t crawl enough so your content takes a lifetime to get in the index, if you are lucky!
The ideal scenario is: Scenario 3: You are strategic about what you want Google to crawl so it only sees your best content, thus deciding your site is of high enough quality to show on Google.
I can guarantee that you are stuck in scenario 1 or 2. The goal of fixing your crawl errors is so you experience scenario 3.
The crawl and indexing part of the technical SEO includes;
An audit of error codes such as 404 page not found errors, 301 redirects and server 500 errors.
A sitemap audit, this covers what content has been indexed and whether this matches your expectations and requirements.
Sitemaps and robots file
Poor quality, thin content
Use of structured data
As you can see quite a lot gets covered.
Past / existing penalties
Tools I use for a technical SEO audit (All are free or have a free level)
The tools I use are;
Google Search Console, free tool provided by Google.
Google Analytics, another free tool provided by Google.
Google Page Speed tool.
Google Mobile Friendly Testing tool.
Google’s schema structured data testing tool.
Screaming Frog, you can check up to 500 pages for free.
SEMRush, you can check up to 100 pages for free.
WebPageTest. this tools helps you analyse the page speed and the hosting environment.