With SEO, the devil is in the detail.
And if you’re familiar with SEO, then you know there are unfortunately a lot of details!
That’s why you must use a checklist to pinpoint problems preventing your website from ranking high in Google. It’s simply impossible to remember every little detail if you try to wing it.
Of course, some details are more important than others and if you have limited time and resources, then you need to focus your SEO efforts where you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck. That’s why I put together this 16-minute SEO audit.
If this is your first time going through the audit and you’re not familiar with SEO, then it may take a bit longer, but once you’re comfortable with the steps, then each one should only take about 2 minutes to complete…
Step 1: Review Page Titles (Title Tags)
One of the most important page elements for SEO purposes is your title tag. In case you’re not familiar with HTML, the page title tag is everything in between the HTML code <title> and </title>.
This can be a bit confusing because your title tag does not actually display on the page!
That’s right, you can’t see the title tag by looking at your website. Most web browsers will display the title tag as the name of the browser tab, or window. Plus, you can view the source code to find your title tags (on a PC right-click, and then select “View page source”).
What should you review?
Since we’re limiting ourselves to a couple of minutes, just make sure the keyword phrase you want to rank for in Google is mentioned in the title tag. If your keyword is not in the title tag, then adding your keyword is one of the lowest-hanging fruit opportunities to improve your rankings.
The first page to check is your homepage and then continue to review the other main product or service pages on your website.
Step 2: Review Meta Descriptions
The next element is the meta description. Again, this is not visible when you look at the page!
You have to view the source code to review your meta descriptions. When you view the source, search for, <meta name=”description“, and you’ll find the meta description for any given page.
What should you review?
First, make sure you have a meta description, and second, make sure it’s compelling. It’s possible you don’t have a meta description, and when that’s the case Google will make one up for you. Google uses your meta description in the search results as the description for your page.
The more compelling your meta description, the more clicks you’ll get when you do show up in Google. And those clicks to your website are a key factor in your rankings.
(Related article: How to Find Meta Tags on a Website)
Step 3: Review H1 Tags
We’re finally to an element that actually shows up on the page.
The H1, or main header, of your page is similar to your Title tag in that it tells Google what your page is about. If your H1 includes a target keyword phrase, then Google knows your page is relevant for that keyword and should be considered in the search results.
So what do you think you should review?
That’s right, make sure a variation of your target keyword is in the H1 of your page. To find the H1, view the page source and search for <h1>. Everything in between <h1> and </h1> is your main header.
Step 4: Review Page Copy
Next, you need to take a minute to review your page copy. There’s nothing technical here and no need to view the source code. Simply read the copy on your page.
What should you review?
First, the length of the copy. Generally speaking, you want to shoot for at least 500 words of text on a page that you want to rank in Google (and we recommend shooting for 1,000+ words since Google tends to give preference to more in-depth content).
The second factor (and even more important) is quality. Google’s mission is to show the best information in their search results and that means weeding out low-quality pages. If you don’t think it’s great content, then chances are Google doesn’t either and that will hurt your rankings.
Remember, that ranking in Google is all relative. You need to have better content than all the other pages trying to rank for your target keywords.
Step 5: Check Domain Canonicalization
This sounds extremely technical, but it’s actually quite simple. And don’t worry if you can’t pronounce “canonicalization” :)
Go to “mainstreetroi.com” and see where you end up. You’ll automatically go to www.mainstreetroi.com. That means there is no way to access any page on our site without including “www”.
The reason that’s important is that technically speaking, mainstreetroi.com and www.mainstreetroi.com are different websites!
If you allow access to both versions then that can negatively impact your SEO because you’ll be spreading out your SEO efforts across two websites. To avoid this problem you need to make sure you specify your canonical URL with or without the “www”.
How do you check this?
Simply try to access your website with and then without the www. If one automatically forwards you to the other, then you’re all set. If you can access both, then you have a problem that needs to be fixed by an experienced web developer.
Plus, it’s also a good idea to have your website’s pages load with HTTPS:// by default as well. Google considers whether sites load with HTTPS as one of hundreds of factors when determining rankings.
Step 6: Check for Broken Links
The remaining steps require the use of some tools to do the dirty work for us.
In this step, we’re going to check for broken links on your website, which provide a bad user experience. Google hates broken links because that can be frustrating for their users when they are trying to navigate your website. So if you have broken links, you’re hurting your rankings.
To check for broken links I recommend the tool, Screaming Frog. It’ll take some time to download the tool and get familiar, but once that’s done then using this tool will only take a couple of minutes and you’ll see right away if broken links are an issue on your website.
Step 7: Check for Duplicate Content
Next, we need to check for duplicate content.
If your page is a duplicate of another page either on your website or on another website, then that’s going to make it nearly impossible for you to get ranked in Google.
Why? Because Google will only rank one version of the duplicate content. There’s no reason for Google to rank a duplicate page because that provides no additional value to their users.
Step 8: Check Website Load Speed
The final step is to check your website load speed.
In other words, how fast (or slow) does your website load? Google uses page load speed as a factor in their ranking algorithm because let’s face it, no one wants to sit around a wait for a page to load up. That means the faster your load speeds, the better.
Google provides a free and easy tool to analyze your page speed and even get information about how to improve your speeds. It’s called PageSpeed Insights and all you have to do is copy and paste your page URL into the tool and click Analyze. Or better yet, ask your developer to use this tool and go through the recommended steps to improve your site speed. Another site speed tool we use and recommend is GTMetrix.
That’s it! By going through the 8 steps above and fixing any problems, you’ll quickly get your website ranking higher in Google.