Technical SEO should be described as the redheaded stepchild of search engine optimization. Often overlooked and undervalued, but still a very valuable member of the family. As a top digital marketing company, we’ve seen firsthand how often sites shoot themselves in the foot by not showing enough love and attention to technical SEO. That’s why we encourage all of our clients to perform a quick technical SEO audit on a regular basis to find basic errors and issues that can be easily resolved if they were known.
Why is a technical SEO audit important?
People talk a lot about SEO, but most articles and tips are intended for so-called “on-page SEO”. In reality, search engine optimization has three real areas of focus: on-page SEO, off-page SEO and technical SEO.
Technical SEO focuses on website and server optimization. On-page SEO focuses on content and optimizing individual pages. Off-page SEO refers to links and other external ranking signals such as social media marketing or influencer marketing.
Like the other areas of search engine optimization, this area will perform better when a company regularly uses a quick technical SEO audit to find issues. These problems are usually very easy to solve. We also recommend that companies conduct a more in-depth SEO audit annually, but that’s another article for another time.
Technical SEO audit steps
Collapsibility Checker – Great content with perfect keyword usage is pointless if a search engine can’t crawl and index your site. Therefore, the first step in a technical SEO audit is to always check the robots.txt file. A robots.txt file tells a search engine which parts of a site to crawl and which parts to ignore using the “allow” and “disallow” commands. The reason for not allowing sections is to save server resources and reduce bandwidth. The Google Search Console can be used to check crawl speed and crawl errors, which can then be corrected in the robots file.
Index check – Once you know that search engines can crawl the site, it is important to know if the important pages on the site are indexed correctly. Again, Google Search Console is the best place to use the coverage report to get the status of each page. Free tools are available that can also provide excellent Index insights. Screaming Frog is one of the most popular, and they have a free option that works well for smaller sites with less than 500 URLs. A tool like Screaming Frog generates a report of indexable and non-indexable URLs, including a reason why a URL is non-indexable.
Sitemap Review – The sitemap is a critical part of SEO because it provides a clear view of the website for search engine crawlers. Proper practice is to direct a search engine crawler to the sitemap in the Robots.txt file. A good sitemap must be properly formatted as an XML document according to the standard sitemap protocol. It should only contain canonical versions of URLs and never “noindex” URLs. Whenever new pages are added to the site or are updated, the sitemap should also be updated. There are a few useful tools available that can do this for you, such as Google XML Sitemaps or the Yoast SEO plugin.
Double content check – Multiple copies of the same information or very similar information cause problems for Google and other search engines when evaluating your site. Search engine confusion is never a good thing, as it can affect page rank. Google has an easy option to search for duplicate content. Just use Google Search and use the following string: info: www.yourdomain.com. Duplicate content is found on the last page of the search results.
Check page speed – Google PageSpeed Insights should be used to complete the technical SEO audit. This is another great free tool that will score a website’s speed on both mobile and desktop, along with recommendations for improving page speed. Page speed is a critical part of both SEO and user experience. Both users and search engines appreciate a fast site.
The bottom line is that optimizing all areas of your business will yield better long-term results. When it comes to search engine optimization, running a regular technical SEO audit can ensure that your site performs optimally for search engines.