12 most important elements of technical SEO audit
Once you understand the basics, technical SEO is easy to do. In fact, you’re probably using some of these tactics without knowing.
The ultimate goals are for your site to rank better, generate more traffic and conversions. This is the essence of technical SEO: to fix the errors so you can achieve these goals.
What follows are 12 technical SEO elements to consider for maximum optimization of your website.
1.Run a crawl report to identify crawl errors
A crawl report, or site audit, reveals the errors in your website, while allowing you to see the urgent technical SEO issues that need attention like low page speed, duplicate content, or missing H1/H2 tags.
Do this every month to ensure your site is optimized and clean of errors.
2.Switch to HTTPS
If you still have HTTP URLs for your site, search engines and users won’t access it. Instead of your content, they’ll get 4xx and 5xx HTTP status codes so you need to check your status codes and switch to HTTPS.
HTTPS is a strong ranking factor, plus it has an impact on your website’s rankings.
Your crawl report can also indicate other status code errors as it gives you a list of URL errors. However, you can get a more detailed list from Google Search Console that breaks down the potential errors on your website.
Fix these errors as they arise, and ensure you have the correct SSL certificate.
3.Check the status of the XML sitemap
The XML sitemap helps search engine crawlers find your website pages, and rank them accordingly.
Check that your site’s XML sitemap meets the guidelines below:
•Proper formatting in an XML document
•Adhering to XML sitemap protocol
•Has all your site’s updated pages
•Submit it to Google Search Console –via Google Search Console Sitemaps tool, or insert the sitemap in your robots.txt file
Ensure all URLs return 200 status codes with the correct canonicals. This saves you time and money that would’ve otherwise been wasted on crawling broken or duplicate pages.
4.Check site speed
This technical SEO metric affects user experience and other key metrics used by search engines to rank your site – like time on page and bounce rate. Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool can find your site’s load time, for both desktop and mobile, especially with Google’s mobile-first indexing system.
The ideal page load time should be less than 3 seconds. Anything beyond this means you need to tweak your site’s elements to reduce load time and rank better.
5.Make your site mobile-friendly
A mobile-friendly site improves technical SEO and rankings on search engines. Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly test for valuable insights on improving your site for mobile. You can also embed YouTube videos, increase font size, compress images, and use AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages).
6.Perform Keyword Cannibalization audit
Keyword cannibalization creates confusion for search engines, as they have to figure out which page is better than the other especially where there are pages in keyword competition.
Use the Performance report from Google Search Console to find competing pages and filter them to see those with similar keywords in the URL. You can also search by keyword to identify the number of pages that rank for those keywords, and then consolidate the pages.
7.Check the robots.txt file
If your pages aren’t indexed, check your robots.txt file for “Disallow:/”, which signals to search engines not to crawl a page or even your whole website, thus affecting rankings.
8.Carry out Google site search
Go to Google and type in “site: yourwebsite.com to see the pages indexed by Google. It will also reveal where your site ranks on Google, which may indicate that either your site is blocked from indexing, or you have a Google penalty.
9.Check for duplicate meta descriptions (metadata)
This is a technical SEO gaffe common with sites that have many pages.
Duplicate metadata occurs where the same products or pages have the exact same copy in the Meta descriptions field. Your crawl report will identify such issues, so you can get unique descriptions for each page.
10.Optimize meta description length
This tactic helps improve your CTR in SERPs.
The current maximum character count is 320, up from the previous 160, so you have plenty of space to add product specs, keywords, and location among other key elements.
11.Check the entire site for duplicate content
Duplicate content doesn’t only affect Meta descriptions, but your entire site. Tools like Copyscape or SEMrush and Site Bulb find duplicate content across the web, so you can change the copy to avoid duplicity.
12.Check broken links
Broken links are not only bad for SEO, but also create bad user experience, waste crawl budget, and lead to lower rankings.
Your crawl report gives a detailed view of each URL with broken links. You can also use DrLinkCheck.com, for a report on broken links in your site.
Technical SEO is easy to do once you understand the elements that need to be checked during an SEO audit. Be proactive about optimization your on-page and off-page SEO for better performance and ranking of your site.