From HTTPS to Mobile Web Crawling: a SEO Technical Audit Checklist
There are a lot of things going on "behind the scenes" of your website. Make sure your SEO efforts aren't going to waste. Conduct a technical audit today.
Think your SEO is solid? Not seeing results from your SEO? Haven't done a technical audit in a while. Sorry, friend. Think again.
If you're not thinking about your SEO, time to think again. 91% of online experiences start with a search engine, and the first organic result gets 33% of clicks. Buying a spot at the top won't help either - 70-80% of users scroll past paid ads.
Want your top spot? You'll have to earn it. Here's a checklist for your next technical audit to get you there.
Up Your Crawl Budget
Wait, didn't we just say you couldn't pay for a top spot?
Yes, yes we did just say that. That's not what a crawl budget is. Your crawl budget is the number of pages a search engine can crawl on your site in a given time period.
It's not a direct ranking factor, but slowing down crawl time means search engines have to work harder to find relevant content on your site - not something you want. No idea what your crawl budget is? You can get an idea by going to Google Search Console under Crawl > Crawl Stats.
Once you know what your crawl budget is, you can do some cleaning. Ditch duplicate content and disallow pages that aren't relevant (terms and conditions, old promotions, etc.)
Make It (Mobile) Crawlable
Oh, and while you're working on your crawl factor during a technical audit, make it mobile crawlable.
Google has shared that they're moving to mobile-first indexing, and most searchers are now using their phones. So you want to check how easy (or hard) it is for Google's smartphone crawler to check your website.
You've got a few tools available to check this: Google's Mobile-Friendly Test is a good place to start. There's also SEO targeted analyzers or crawlers with an option for 'smartphone Googlebot'.
Still not convinced mobile matters? Read our post on why you're wrong.
Really you should have done this like, yesterday, but better late than never. And if you haven't added it to your technical audit, you'll be kicking yourself.
Question: is it possible to get organic web traffic if your site isn't showing up in Google results? No. If you're not checking your indexing, you're shooting yourself in the foot.
Here's the good news: it's a simple fix. Just type your website name [cheekymonkeymedia.com] into Google's search bar and see how many pages on your site are ranking.
After that, you've got a few questions to ask: are you ranking as many pages as you expected? Are pages missing from the index? Are pages showing up that you don't want?
If you've got some fixing to do, here's how:
- Check the buckets of your site pages (product pages, blogs, that sort of thing.)
- Check old versions of your site to make sure they're redirecting.
- Go deep into the search results to check for anything uncommon - it could be a sign that your site was hacked.
- Check subdomains to make sure they're indexing.
A person doesn't care if your homepage can show up under one of five similar links - www.cheekymonkeymedia.com, cheekymonkeymedia.com, cheekymonkeymedia.com/home.html, etc.
Repeat after me: a search engine is not a person. It doesn't read your page like a person. A search engine cares if you have a lot of URLs. And you should care because search engines don't like it when your page has multiple URLs.
Since Google doesn't like it if your page has multiple URLs, it will usually pick one. Sometimes, though, they'll index a mixed assortment, which isn't a good thing either.
To check if this is happening, manually enter multiple versions of your homepage URL and see if they all resolve to the same thing. If they do, you've got URL canonicalization to do. You should also look for HTTP and HTTPS versions of your site - you should only have one or the other (hint: Google prefers HTTPS.)
What do you do about it? Start scanning your whole site at once with a scalable tool, and set up a schedule to monitor your URL canonicalization on a regular basis.
Structured Data: Use It, Optimize It
Google's SERPs just keep getting more complicated, and features like rich cards and answer boxes aren't helping much.
What does this mean for you? It means you can't just worry about your organic ranking - you have to also make sure your page ranks with these SERP features. How do I get some of these features for myself, you ask?
Yup. Structured data.
This starts by using your technical audit as a time to understand which of your pages has a chance to rank in these featured spots. Once you know that, you can optimize it accordingly.
Once you've tinkered with optimizing these pages, give Google's Structured Data Testing tool a whirl.
Don't get comfy yet though - you have to check what features you actually rank for once you do all that optimizing. And before you ask: yes, there's a Google tool for that. Use the Search Console Analytics report, with the 'Search Appearance' and 'Search Type' filters turned on.
Audit Internal Links
In this case, search engines and humans are similar - a shallow and highly logical site structure is a good thing. One way to spread your ranking power is through a more efficient system of internal linking.
There are a few things you want to check:
- Click depth - as in, none of your pages should be more than three clicks away from the homepage.
- Ditch broken links - they're wasting your crawl budget and damage your link power (oh, and they irritate and confuse your visitors to no end. Avoid that.)
- Fix orphan pages - or pages that aren't linked from any other page on your site, which makes them a doozy to find for a human and a search engine.
Better Technical Audits with Cheeky Monkey
If your head is whirling from the deep end of technical SEO, don't drive yourself up the walls. We can help these things make sense - and make them work better for you. Check out our SEO consulting services, or check out our blog for more SEO answers like 2017's 8 best SEO tools.
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